- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's finally time for ACC games to get started, and Florida State's first conference adversary has been a thorn in its side in recent years.
To get the behind-the-scenes insight on Wake Forest and what it will take for the Demon Deacons to topple FSU for the fifth time in seven years, we caught up with Bob Sutton, who covers Wake for the Burlington Times-News. Here's what he had to say:
NoleNation: Wake Forest is a heavy underdog, and the Deacons have barely escaped in their first two games. But they've had a lot of success against FSU in recent years. What's the confidence level like for them heading into this game?
Bob Sutton: Wake Forest's confidence is probably higher because of defeating North Carolina in thrilling fashion after a sluggish opening game against Liberty. The fact that the Demon Deacons have had recent success against Florida State certainly can't hurt, but other than last season many of these players weren't around for some of the other success.
NN: What's Nikita Whitlock's status as of now, and if he's limited or out this week, how much does that hurt Wake's game plan against the Seminoles?
Sutton: Whitlock's status with an ankle injury is a bit unclear as of midweek. Usually players who are held out of practice don't play for Wake Forest, but Whitlock is talented enough and important enough that if he's healthy by Saturday he's bound to be in there. He's the anchor of the defensive front.
NN: Wake has had a lot of trouble running the ball so far this year, but that was one of the keys to its victory a year ago. What has gone wrong to start this season, and what are the chances they can find their footing against FSU?
Sutton: Wake Forest is still trying to adjust behind what's a mostly revamped offensive line. There's an emphasis on getting the running game going and running back Josh Harris appears healthy after missing most of the opener. Harris is capable of big plays, but he needs to get loose to make those happen.
NN: Michael Campanaro is off to a great start this season, but he'll get a big test against FSU's Xavier Rhodes this week. What makes Campanaro so dangerous, and will Wake be looking to get him the ball as much as possible despite the tough matchup?
Sutton: Campanaro has become the go-to player and, from listening to what the Demon Deacons have had to say, keeping him in that role will depend largely on other receivers stepping up. That way, not too much attention falls on Campanaro, who has a knack for finding openings in defenses. He doesn't mind operating in tight spaces.
NN: Last year, it was five turnovers and a strong running attack that helped Wake pull the upset. What do you think are the 2-3 keys to repeating the feat this season?
Sutton: Wake Forest probably will need crisp offensive execution throughout the game, thus avoiding the third-quarter woes experienced against North Carolina. And who knows, a close game might benefit the Demon Deacons because they've been in two of them already this season and figured out ways to win.
It's finally time for ACC games to get started, and Florida State's first conference adversary has been a thorn in its side in recent years.To get the behind-the-scenes insight on Wake Forest and what it will take for the Demon Deacons to topple FSU for the fifth time in seven years, we caught up with Bob Sutton, who covers Wake for the Burlington Times-News.