It's NC State week at FSU, one of only three road tests that have the Seminoles actually leaving the state of Florida this season. This weekend it will be to Raleigh, NC, then in a few weeks to Blacksburg, VA and finally College Park, MD. That's it for the travel portion of the schedule, an away game at Miami that will be similar to this past weekend's split-crowd faux-bowl game feel is the only other game on the Florida State road slate.
While FSU was locking horns with USF in Tampa this past weekend, NC State (3-2) was down in Miami playing in a shootout that featured an ACC Record for passing yardage in a game getting set by Hurricane QB Stephen Morris.
Coming into the season NC State viewed it's secondary, which featured highly-touted David Amerson (13 INTs in 2011), as a strength. But Tennessee gashed it week one, and after a squeaker against UConn in week two and gimmes against South Alabama and the Citadel the next two weeks, the Hurricanes exploited the Wolfpack secondary again on Saturday.
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray hit a couple TD's and threw for 333 yards in week one as the Vols beat the Wolfpack 35-21. This past weekend Stephen Morris connected on five and threw for 566 yards including the game winner from deep with under a minute left as Miami won 44-37.
NC State is going to need to be in fix-it mode this week because the Seminoles are in the top ten in scoring and total offense and they are currently ranked 97th in pass defense. Miami actually has quite a talented collection of skill players, they're young, but they can run. But Florida State's receiving corps is equally if not more talented, but far more experienced and their quarterback more savvy.
NC State's coverage breakdowns are going to need to get cleaned up or else Florida State will have the passing game at its disposal all evening next Saturday.
Part of that is going to be getting all the guys in the secondary on the same page, after the Miami game some of the discontent seeped out when NC State safety Brandan Bishop told Joe Giglio of the News and Observer:
"We've got guys that are turning around and, you know, you're supposed to be covering a guy. You can't just let him run by you and do it over and over and over again. It's frustrating. It's really, really frustrating."
It's never good to have that going on, even worse when it gets into the media.
On the tape of many of the Hurricanes' big plays (and some of the Vols'), what Bishop is referring to is obvious though, you have players that seem enamored with the INT looking into the backfield instead of playing their responsibility and against teams with speed and good QB-play, it ended up costing them.
Florida State will see that on tape themselves today and tomorrow. Expect plenty of pump fakes, double moves and deceptions aimed at getting the Wolfpack's nosey secondary to look back at the quarterback and free up the receivers downfield.
There are still plenty of things to look at with NC State over the course of the week, Jimbo Fisher is set to speak at noon today followed by EJ Manuel, and I'm sure both will talk the NC State secondary up. We'll likely get a better feel from Tom O'Brien in the ACC Coaches call on Wednesday.
But definitely at first blush, after looking at their game last weekend against Miami and their opener in Atlanta against Tennessee, the Wolfpack better have their secondary shored up the best they can come Saturday or the 'Noles will have no shortage of opportunuties to attack it.
Of course, playing in front of their home crowd in a nationally televised game against a top-five opponent should give the Wolfpack a big boost. But eventually adrenaline wears off and when that happens it would behoove the 'Pack to keep their coverage tight.