Florida State out to avenge loss to Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Andre Fluellen never thought any team could beat mighty Florida State by 30 points -- let alone perennial pushover Wake Forest.
A year after the Demon Deacons' shocking 30-0 rout in Tallahassee, the No. 21 Seminoles are out for revenge.
"I would never imagine Florida State getting beat by anybody shut out at home by 30," the Florida State defensive lineman said. "I would never think that would happen."
It did, and now the Seminoles (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are looking to prove Thursday night that their swagger is back after last year's humbling loss to eventual league champion Wake Forest (3-2, 2-1).
It was the program's first shutout loss at home under Bobby Bowden and one the winningest coach in major college football described as "the only real bad licking we took last year."
"They just blew us out quickly," Bowden added. "A lot of it was self-destruction, but that's the way they play football (at Wake Forest). They're a very opportunistic team that just dares you to make an error. That was a big awakening for us."
Since that rout, the Seminoles haven't allowed a team to score 30 points. They're ranked ninth nationally this season in scoring defense, 11th against the rush and 17th in total defense, and after four straight wins have rejoined the national rankings for the first time since the preseason.
And if the offense gets rolling, look out. Last week against North Carolina State, Xavier Lee was turnover-free and threw for 257 yards in his first start of the season. His favorite target, 6-foot-6 receiver Greg Carr, has nine catches for 247 yards and a touchdown in the last two games.
"Unless you've got a 6-6 cornerback out there, you've got issues," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said.
Lee -- whom Bowden said will start despite missing a midweek practice because of an academic conflict -- must avoid mistakes against a Wake Forest defense that has returned interceptions for touchdowns in its last three games, and in last year's matchup picked off four passes and returned one for a score.
"Teams that typically have 21 players as good as anybody else in the country, and they've got inconsistent performance at quarterback, they're generally not a great football team -- that's everybody, not just Florida State," Grobe said. "If you get really good quarterback play at the so-called traditional powers, you're going to be in the national title hunt ... if your quarterback play's not real, real good, you're going to have trouble winning big games."
The Demon Deacons must shake receiver Kenneth Moore free against the Seminoles' tough defense. Moore -- one of three Bowl Subdivision players to lead his team in both receiving and rushing -- caught one scoring pass and rushed for the game-clincher in last week's 41-36 victory against Duke.
Bowden says Moore reminds him of a star multipurpose threat from his second national title-winning team, wideout Peter Warrick.
"You don't see many like that," Bowden said.