Jimbo Fisher appeared on Sirius XM’s College Sports Nation on Thursday, and the interview began with Rick Neuheisel asking how Jamies Winston, the same player who completed 25-of-27 passes in his first college game – could complete only 23-of-39 passes against Wake freakin’ Forest (adjective added) in his 18th game.
Jimbo’s answer is sure to make Brent Venables and Glenn Spencer spit out their coffee.
“You want the truth?” he asked. “Wake is the best defense we’ve played. Wake is very good on defense. And they have probably the best set of corners we’ve faced. Other teams have been more talented. Wake was very talented in the secondary, brought multiple blitzes, multiple looks. They’ve got a corner, probably one of the top seniors in the Southeast, their boundary corner, probably the top senior corner in the Southeast. One had 35 starts, one had 33. The other field corner is a very good player. They pressured, got some good pressure at times, and we have taken shots, and also you have to remember you’re not playing with the same experienced receiver group as you did a year ago.
“I’m serious,” he continued, “Wake is a very good defensive team. I’ve said that and people didn’t believe me, and in the secondary especially as talented as anybody we’ve played.”
Wake Forest is not the only club to make Florida State sweat this season. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- Oklahoma State (FSU won, 37-31): Jameis Winston had his way with the Oklahoma State secondary for the most part, hitting 25-of-40 passes for 370 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Cowboys front did control the line of scrimmage for most of the game, limiting the Seminoles to 3.4 yards per carry with six rushes for zero or negative yardage, plus two sacks.
- Clemson (FSU won 23-17 in overtime): Clemson completely manhandled Florida State’s offensive line, limiting the ‘Noles to 13 yards on 27 carries with six runs of zero or negative yardage, plus five sacks. Florida State passed for 304 yards with two interceptions, and only forced overtime thanks to a 74-yard touchdown pass where the defender fell down. This, of course, was the Sean Maguire game, and can be written off as an incomplete evaluation if one chooses to do so (and Jimbo apparently does).
- Wake Forest (FSU won, 43-3): Winston completed 23-of-39 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while rushing for a comparatively gargantuan 5.2 yards per carry on 33 rushes. Wake Forest shut out Florida State in the first quarter, held the Seminoles to within one score for the first 29:57. Wake Forest forced Florida State’s first four drives to end in interception, fumble, field goal and punt, but Florida State scored on five of its six non-end of game drives in the second half (albeit only two touchdowns and three field goals).
Clemson and its 11th-ranked yards per play defense certainly has a case – especially up front – but Mike Elko and the Wake defensive staff will certainly take the compliment. Worth noting: the two lowest efficiency marks of Winston’s career have both come against Wake Forest. No other team has held the reigning Heisman winner under 130, and the Demon Deacons have done it twice.
Here’s hoping Jimbo goes singing the praises of Wake corners Kevin Johnson and Merrill Noel, Jr., to scouts this spring.