NCAA Football

Wake Forest braces for Florida State running game

With five Atlantic Coast Conference teams already opting out of playing in bowl games and the NCAA waiving its six-win eligibility requirement, Florida State and Wake Forest still could earn postseason invitations.

But the Seminoles (3-6, 2-6) are keeping their focus on their next opponent as they prepare to face the Demon Deacons (4-4, 3-4) on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"Our focus right now is on this week," Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. "We're trying to take everything one day at a time, this football team and our continued growth. We are excited about the steps that we've seen."

Florida State and Wake Forest each ended 28-day, COVID-19-related layoffs last week -- with opposite results.

Despite having only 50 scholarship players available, FSU snapped a three-game losing streak with a 56-35 victory at home over Duke. Jordan Travis threw two touchdown passes and Jashaun Corbin ran for three to lead a season-high scoring output.

Travis, the Seminoles' rushing leader, gained 90 yards on 12 carries and his 559 rushing yards this season broke the school record for a quarterback previously set by Charlie Ward in 1992.

FSU ran for 324 yards and six touchdowns in the game, led by Corbin, Lawrance Toafili and Ja'Khi Douglas, who lined up at receiver as well and caught two touchdown passes.

"The versatility of our running back position is something that we take pride in," Norvell said. "Being able to put those guys in a lot of different places to be able to impact the game."

Wake Forest lost 45-21 at Louisville last week and had several key starters out with injuries.

"We are trying to get back into shape, but there's a reason preseason camp is a month long," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "You can't just not practice for two weeks. Then when you come back, you can't do too much, because you can't have the soft tissue injuries. Having played the game, I don't feel like we were in game shape."

A silver lining for the Demon Deacons this season has been their offense, which ranks fourth in the ACC with 37.0 points per game.

But sophomore Sam Hartman completed only 17 of 41 passes for 224 yards against Louisville and threw his first interception of the season. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and Wake Forest ranks second in the conference in yards per completion (14.08 yards).

Christian Beal-Smith (650 yards) and Kenneth Walker III (13 rushing TDs) lead the Wake running game. Walker was out for the Louisville game, as was receiver Donavon Greene.

"We just never had a rhythm on offense," Clawson said. "On offense, we looked like a team that hadn't played football in a month."

The Demon Deacons also have protected the ball better than any other ACC team with only three turnovers all season -- two of which came against Louisville. Their plus-13 turnover margin leads the nation.

Wake Forest ranks 10th in the ACC in scoring defense (31.6 points per game) and 13th in total defense (456.9 yards per game). Defensive linemen Carlos Basham (five sacks), who missed the Louisville game, and Miles Fox (3.5 sacks) anchor the Demon Deacons' defensive front.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 16, 2020