Tonight's game against NC State will be the Seminoles' first true road test. It's a game they should win on paper, but you never know in college football and a hostile crowd can do a lot in a game like this.
As the Seminoles have said all week, the difficulties in last week's road trip to Tampa were a good learning experience for this team.
"There’s no need for talk, they understand, last week was a good lesson because we could have lost that because of all of the mistakes we made on offense, defense and special teams," Toshmon Stevens said earlier this week.
This week, with the student section right on top of the sideline and a loud stadium rooting against them, Florida State will need to manage its emotions.
"Everybody knows what we’re here for, it’s a business trip," said Stevens. "We’re trying to conduct ourselves that way, it does get emotional but we try to keep ourselves calm because if our emotions play any part in the game we have a chance of losing."
That chance, that the Seminoles might trip themselves up in a tough environment, may be the Wolfpack's best shot tonight. Here are three things to watch for...
1.) Florida State's Composure
The Seminoles have the ability to be their own biggest enemy. When they play under control, stay within the gameplan and just make plays they are one of the top five teams in the country. But fans have also seen that this team has a propensity to make mistakes at key moments. Muffed punts, blocked punts, holds on big runs and drive killing breakdowns in pass-pro have all halted momentum for Florida State this year. Granted, they've dodged almost every bullet so far, but on the road with the crowd in the game the Seminoles can't afford any mistakes. If the 'Noles can't keep their heads, if they start going for the big hits and making mental errors, things could be more difficult than expected.
2.) NC State's Offensive Line vs. Florida State's Defensive Line
NC State is down to just two of its original starters, they've had five different configurations of linemen start this season and for a unit that requires cohesion, that's a problem. Florida State's defensive line is not without a few of its own casualties, Brandon Jenkins went down in week one and this week the team announced Chris Casher and Jacobbi McDaniel would indeed miss the year. The difference is depth. The 'Noles have a deep rotation at both end and tackle, the Wolfpack don't. Look for Florida State to pin their ears back and come after Mike Glennon.
3.) Florida State's Rushing Attack vs. NC State's Defense
The obvious matchup would be the receivers against the NC State secondary. But after getting scorched last week and in week one, you know the Wolfpack worked on coverage leading up to this one and they're not going to want to get beat in the air. Florida State needs to establish its rushing attack and force the Wolfpack to walk a man up into the box. Confidence is not going to be at a premium for this secondary, I doubt NC State is going to start the game loading the box. The Seminoles need to take advantage of this, gash the Wolfpack early and then take their shots. Keep in mind, NC State can chuck the ball too, so keeping their offense off the field is another way to keep the pass-rushers fresh and limit what the Wolfpack can do. As much as fans want to see the big passing numbers, the run game will likely be more important.