Tonight when Florida State squares off with Georgia Tech in Charlotte it will be as much about the mental game as it is about the actual game out on the field.
It's been a rough week at FSU, they're fresh off a loss to Florida, their defensive coordinator accepted a head coaching job on Tuesday and you're in a high risk-low reward game against a team with a very unorthodox offense.
Still, Florida State should handle their business if they play within themselves and come out with energy tonight.
Of course that's a big if...
Here are three things to watch for:
1.) Does Florida State come out flat.
This is usually intended more for the offense but this week it's for both sides of the ball, the Seminoles have to come out with energy. The Yellow Jackets can't be allowed to get off to a quick start and get a lead on Florida State. This will be a game of emotion and momentum, as I mentioned earlier today, Tech has no pressure while Florida State has a ton of it.
Add the fact that the Seminoles have trailed Clemson, Miami and Florida and started slow at Virginia Tech, and even more you'll want to pay attention to how the team starts. They can ill-afford a slow one tonight, but that's been their MO so far this season.
2.) Time of Possession
Last week the Gators laid the blueprint for how to beat Florida State. You wear the down on defense with a smashmouth ground attack and win the TOP battle. Headed into the fourth quarter last week UF already had 30 minutes of possession. No defense can hold up against that number of plays.
Coming into tonight with an option attack that averages over 300 yards per contest, it's not hard to imagine what the Yellow Jackets will be doing on offense. Control the ball and keep the Florida State offense off the field and you'll have the best chance to win if you're Georgia Tech. With Florida State's unfamiliarity with this offense, a couple of long early drives could be killer, so watch time of possession.
3.) EJ Manuel
Last week was extremely emotional for EJ Manuel. He struggled on his senior day, turning the ball over four times and having his worst throwing performance since he was a redshirt freshman. This week he cannot afford to have a hangover, the Seminoles will need him to get their offense in rhythm early and keep the Georgia Tech offense from grinding down the defense.
The Yellow Jackets are not built to come back from a deficit, so if Manuel can build a lead the Seminoles can coast to a win by controlling the clock in the second-half themselves, but if Manuel struggles and the Yellow Jacket offense can stay on the field for any length of time this could be a game where Florida State struggles.
Check back during the game for updates...