Florida State Rush Offense vs NC State Rush Defense
Florida State was held to under 150 yards for the first time this season against Clemson. They still managed to rush the ball effectively enough to make Clemson respect the run and set up successful play action looks. When taking away sacks, the Noles managed 4.53 yards per carry against the Tigers. Overall, the FSU run game has been very good this season and ranks as the 11th best rushing attack in the S&P+ advanced statistics.
The Noles are led on the ground by a trio of running backs that each bring a little something different to the table. Devonta Freeman is the leader on the ground with 469 yards on an impressive 6.8 yards per carry average. Freeman has good speed and quickness that combines with excellent vision and patience. James Wilder Jr. missed the majority of the Clemson game after suffering a concussion and will most likely be out this weekend against Clemson. Wilder has 226 yards on the year. With Wilder out, expect Karlos Williams, a converted defensive back, to get an increased workload this weekend. Williams, who burst on the scene, has sprinters speed combined with great size that gives him big play potential. Williams has 263 yards on the season with a 8.5 yards per carry average. The offensive line has done a good job opening the holes for the backs and have been very disciplined in their play thus far. The job of Chad Abrams and Nick O’Leary should also be commended. Not really known as a reliable blocker before, O’Leary has shown great improvement on the edge this year and become a very well rounded tight end.
NC State has been below average on defense this year, especially in the run game. Though they are only giving up 150 yards a game, 53rd in the nation, the Wolfpack fall to 94th in the nation in run defense in the S&P+ advanced stats. Looking at yards per carry, the Wolfpack give up a 4.57 yards per carry, 88th in the nation. They are led on defense by middle linebacker Robert Caldwell who leads the team in tackles and tackles for loss showing his propensity for attacking at the line of scrimmage. As a team, the Wolfpack like to attack ranking 10th in the nation with 8.0 tackles for loss per game. They have good size overall in the front seven, but should be too formidable a test for the FSU run game.
Florida State Pass Offense vs NC State Pass Defense
NC State has been pretty decent against the pass this year. They give up just 204.8 yards per game, 28th best, 6.0 yards per attempt, 12th best, and a passer rating of 115.98, 26th best in the nation. Those solid pass defense numbers match up fairly well with S&P+ numbers showing the 47th best pass defense in the nation. Considering the opponents they have played, that seems about right.
Those good numbers cannot be attributed to a dominant pass rush. The Wolfpack have only gotten to the quarterback 11 times this season. They were able to effect the Clemson passing attack by putting some pressure on Tajh Boyd earlier this season, though they only got to him 2 times. Cornerback Juston Burris has had a nice season so far leading the team with 5 pass breakups. No players has more than 2 interceptions, although 5 players have at least 1 pick on the year.
Until is proven otherwise, Florida State will have an advantage in the air. As is the case with almost every team that Florida State goes up against, the Seminoles have an advantage when looking at the FSU receivers verses the opponent secondary. This is the true against NC State, too. The FSU trio of Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw, and Kelvin Benjamin should have another good day and tight end Nick O’Leary has really established himself as another excellent target for Jameis WInston. Winston has been remarkable this season and has solidified himself as a valid Heisman candidate halfway into his first season.
Overall, the Florida State passing attack has put up fantastic numbers. The Seminoles rank 2nd in passing efficiency at 200.3 and yards per attempt at 11.6. They are 10th in yards per game with 341.3. Football Outsiders S&P+ ranks the Seminole passing attack as the 2nd best in the nation.
NC State Rush Offense vs Florida State Rush Defense
NC State has had decent success running the ball so far this season. They average 178.83 yards per game ranking 54th in the nation. On a per play average, they rank 78th in the nation gaining 4.10 yards per carry. That lines up fairly well with the opponent adjusted S&P rating of the 75th best rushing attack in the nation. It has certainly been rushing by committee this year as 7 Wolfpack players have 100+ yards rushing. However, none of those players have more than 184 yards on the ground. They like to get their WRs involved in the run game as well with Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith combining for 23 carries for 217 yards on the year.
They will be facing by far the best defense up to this point in Florida State. The Noles rank 21st in the nation giving up just 3.28 yards per carry and 29th in total rushing with 127 yards allowed per game. Adjusted for opponent, their run defense hasn’t been quite as good as the stats would indicate, ranking 38th in the nation against the run. The Seminole have performed better in the last two games since making some changes on defense, though. Maryland and Clemson combined for just 198 yards on 61 run plays, just a 3.24 yards per carry average. Timmy Jernigan continues to be a load in the middle and Eddie Goldman is beginning to show why he was rated so highly out of high school. It was also important to get Mario Edwards Jr. back in the fold and playing at a high level.
NC State Pass Offense vs Florida State Pass Defense
Florida State has the top pass defense in the nation according to S&P+. The raw numbers do a lot to support that notion, too. Florida State is 2nd the nation in passing yards per game giving up just 158.0 yards through the air. They’re 3rd in the nation in yards per pass attempt at only 5.4 yards and 8th in the nation in pass efficiency defense at 102.14. Those excellent numbers are thanks to a deep and ultra talented secondary that is also very versatile. That was particularly evident this past weekend at Clemson as Florida State consistently showed different looks in the defensive backfield mixing up coverages and bringing pressure from the edges.
NC State has been average throwing the ball this year ranking 52nd with 250.2 yards through the air. However, looking at the opponents they’ve played those numbers aren’t very impressive. NC State ranks 95th in the nation in passing according to S&P+ and has a difficult time stretching the field. They rank 74th in the nation with a 6.7 yard per attempt average and 100th in the nation with just 6 completions over 30 yards. NC State does get back Brandon Mitchell, their quarterback, this week. He has only thrown 3 passes this season after being injured in the 1st game of the year. Mitchell is a junior that doesn’t have much experience after backing up Mike Glennon the last couple of years and only seeing a few plays to start the year. It will be a difficult task for him to come in and play well. NC State has only 4 touchdown passes for the season compared to 8 interceptions.
Score Prediction: FSU 55-13