Saturday, September 15, 2012
Instant Analysis: FSU 52, Wake Forest 0
By David M. Hale
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A year ago, Florida State limped off the field against Wake Forest, having lost its third straight game. Chris Thompson was lost, as well, out for the season with a broken back.
A lot has changed in a year.
Thompson racked up 220 yards of offense and broke off two long touchdown runs as Florida State crushed Wake Forest 52-0 to open the season 3-0 for the first time since 2005.
The Seminoles have won 10 of 11 games since last year's loss to Wake Forest, and they look like a much improved team from the one that coughed up five turnovers in that game.
Thompson led an offensive onslaught; Bjoern Werner and the defense held Wake Forest to just 126 yards of offense; and, for the third straight game, the starters were resting comfortably on the sideline by the fourth quarter.
Through three games, Florida State has outscored its opponents 176-3, but the task gets much tougher next week with Clemson coming to Doak Campbell Stadium.
It was over when: Thompson broke his second long touchdown run, an 80-yarder down the sideline, to give Florida State a 28-0 lead. Wake Forest's rush had stunted FSU's passing game, but the Deacons had no answer for Thompson. His first touchdown took the wind out of Wake's sails. The second one effectively ended any hopes it had of recovering.
Game ball goes to: Thompson. The senior tailback didn't need this game to prove he was fully recovered from the injury he suffered a year ago, but he needed to prove something to himself. His 220 yards of offense represented a career high, and he turned in the 10th-best rushing performance in school history despite not taking a single handoff in the second half.
Stat of the game: 197. That's Thompson's rushing total for the game, all coming in the first half. In school history, only Greg Allen's 238-yard second half against Western Carolina in 1981 was a more productive 30 minutes. Thompson's runs of 74 and 80 yards were his fourth and fifth career touchdown runs of at least 70 yards, and the game marked his first 100-yard performance since the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Unsung hero: The Florida State secondary. Xavier Rhodes and Lamarcus Joyner were exceptional against Wake Forest's passing attack. Just a week after Tanner Price won the ACC's quarterback of the week award and Michael Campanaro hauled in 13 catches for 163 yards, the Deacons were utterly helpless trying to find yardage downfield. Price finished the game with 8-of-22 passing for 82 yards, and Campanaro had just two catches for 8 yards.
What we learned: For the third straight week, we might not have learned very much about Florida State. The running game picked up big yardage and the defense was dominant, but the opponent also was completely overmatched and FSU's starters were on the bench by the start of the fourth quarter. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the performance was the offensive line's struggles in pass protection. EJ Manuel was sacked three times and was under pressure for much of the game despite Wake's best defensive lineman, Nikita Whitlock, sitting out with an injury.