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3 UP, 3 DOWN: Wake Forest

This one is going to be a little different.
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Florida State left Winston-Salem, NC in a position they haven’t been in since Bobby Bowden’s first season in 1976 - 0 and 3. In this week’s 3 Up, 3 Down we look at a team that is in unchartered territory.

Saturday’s 35-14 loss to Wake Forest was ugly from start to finish. Six turnovers from the offense, Wake possessing the ball for 40 minutes, to just disjointed play from the offense, Florida State left Winston-Salem with even more questions.

This week’s 3 Up, 3 Down is tough to write to be honest. There are simply way more questions than answers for this team as they head into the game vs Louisville next week. Let's dive in.

3 Up

1. Treshaun Ward 

The former walk-on has been excellent to start the season, and he was a huge spark of the offense in the early part of the game. Once again he was the better running back of the group, and he continued to push Jashaun Corbin for starter minutes. Ward was dynamic with the little opportunities he had, averaging 8 yards per carry while pulling in 3 catches - one being a touchdown.

2. Jermaine Johnson 

The talented defensive end continues his stellar play with another double-digit tackle game while bringing pressure throughout. Wake used quick passes to alleviate the pressure but Johnson was able to register a .5 sack.

3. None

4 Down

1. Lack of running game 

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The strategy to go away from the running game after it was working so well early was one of the most questionable decisions the coaching staff made. Florida State was able to respond after Wake went up 14-0 on a drive that leaned heavily on Ward and the running game. After that, Ward was mostly non-existent until the 3rd quarter and the running backs had only 15 carries total. 

That’s not going to get it done, especially for a team that has shown itself to be much better at running than passing. On top of that, FSU came into the game with its starting left tackle Robert Scott out. the 'Noles did not take advantage of an area Wake had been vulnerable to early in the season.

2. Rotating QBs 

There’s a theme early in the 3 Down that revolves around coaching. It’s truly unfathomable to have McKenzie Milton start the game, trot Jordan Travis out for the second, go back to Milton for third, and then back to Travis for the fourth. You cannot build any rhythm to the offense, and this just doesn’t allow the QB to get going. FSU found some success with Travis for a few drives before he ultimately went out with injury. I could be in the minority here but this is why we saw such poor QB play on Saturday.

3. Turnovers and Penalties 

These two things result in a lack of discipline and focus, and that falls onto the players. Six turnovers and another drive that ended on downs will not win you any football games. This is a Seminole team that can’t afford to not play seamlessly each week. Fumble, interception, interception, interception, fumble, fumble. 5 of those came in the final 8 drives. 

We can question the play calling and personnel decisions, but the players need to figure it out. 8 penalties for 74 yards, some of them in high-stakes situations, continue to hinder this team. When are the coaches going to punish the same culprits and hold them accountable for their mistakes?

4. Coordinators 

I’m cheating here and going with 4 down. It’s time for FSU and Mike Norvell to look closely at his results and make some hard decisions. Coach Kenny Dillingham is an up-and-comer, and he’s an extension of Norvell, but this offense needs the head coach to take over 100% of the play calling. 

Defensively, it's just not working. There are ZERO adjustments from that side of the ball (hello zone coverage?), and there are no results. Out-of-position players, egregious play calls - maybe it’s sounding the alarms with regards to calling for Adam Fuller’s job, but it's time to look in another direction.