WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Coach Dave Clawson wants to see how Wake Forest bounces back from a loss. Florida State has had to do that all too often lately.
The Demon Deacons (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) look to respond to their first defeat Saturday night when they play host to the Seminoles (3-3, 2-2).
“It’s all about how fast you get up and how fast we can recover and face adversity and just keep pushing,” Wake Forest defensive lineman Suilaman Kamara said.
Wake Forest had its school-record-tying seven game winning streak snapped a week ago in a 62-59 loss to Louisville that marked the second-highest scoring game in ACC history and cost them their first national ranking in 11 years.
Clawson says the players’ response in practice offered reason for optimism moving forward.
“They were still upset (the next day) and that’s not a bad thing,” Clawson said. “You want a team that cares, and you want a team that’s emotionally invested, and if I showed up on Sunday and there were smiles, that would be disappointing. Then you cover the lessons, you cover the teachable moments and you got to move forward and I think we’ve done that. … We’re not talking about the last one, we’re looking forward to the next one and I thought overall our effort was good.”
The Demon Deacons know they have no margin for error the rest of the season if they are to make a serious push toward knocking reigning national champion Clemson out of the Atlantic Division lead.
That’s probably out of the question for Florida State, which lost by 31 points to the third-ranked Tigers a week ago. That dropped the Seminoles’ record under coach Willie Taggart to 8-10 in two seasons with a 5-7 record in league play.
But the Seminoles are determined to avoid a repeat of 2018, when they finished 5-7 and missed the postseason for the first time since 1981. Defensive tackle Cory Durden earlier this week posted a tweet that read simply “9-3” — what their final record will be if they win their final six games.
“I think our guys have moved on” from the Clemson loss, Taggart said. “And I think we have leaders on this team that won’t allow what happened last year to happen again.”
Some things to know about the Florida State-Wake Forest game:
Both teams have questions at quarterback. Taggart isn’t disclosing who will start, saying only that “we’ll see Saturday” whether James Blackman or Alex Hornibrook takes the snaps against the Demon Deacons. For Wake Forest, Jamie Newman — who averages an ACC-best 341.2 total yards — is day to day after injuring his left shoulder in the second half against Louisville. Sam Hartman, who started nine games in 2018 before he was hurt, finished the loss to the Cardinals.
Florida State’s defense is facing quite a challenge. The Seminoles rank 13th in the league, allowing an average of 464.5 total yards, and are last against the pass (290.5 ypg). Wake Forest’s fast-paced offense will test them. The Demon Deacons’ average of 85.3 plays per game is the most in the nation, and they ran 102 of them against Louisville. They’re the only ACC team averaging more than 500 total yards (540.5, fourth nationally) and WR Sage Surratt (118.5 ypg) is the league’s only player averaging triple digits in yards receiving.
The Demon Deacons will need to beat Florida State to avoid going 0-for-October. A quirk in the schedule placed both of their off weeks in the span of four weeks in October. They were off on Oct. 5 and are idle again on Oct. 26 before playing host to North Carolina State on Nov. 2. They’ve never won their first game after an off week in six seasons under Clawson.
Florida State has dominated this series lately, winning the last seven meetings since Wake Forest’s upset win in 2011 and nine of 10 since the Demon Deacons reeled off three straight victories from 2006-08. They have not scored more than 20 points in any meeting with the Seminoles since 2011.
AP freelancer Bob Ferrante in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.
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