NC State

Mystery awaits NC State in ACC opener against Florida State

NC State's Samuels: 'I just think to score'

NC State's Jaylen Samuels talks about the Wolfpack's victory over Furman at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.
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NC State's Jaylen Samuels talks about the Wolfpack's victory over Furman at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

Florida State lost the game and its starting quarterback against Alabama.

That was Sept. 2.

Since then, the Seminoles have been a mystery. Hurricane Irma altered FSU’s schedule, shortening the season by one game and postponing the Miami matchup to October.

That means Saturday’s game (noon, ESPN) in Tallahassee, Fla. with N.C. State will be Florida State’s first game in three weeks.

N.C. State (2-1), which has put together two relatively efficient wins over Marshall and Furman since a season-opening loss to South Carolina, isn’t quite sure what to expect from the Seminoles.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing,” N.C. State senior receiver/running back Jaylen Samuels said of FSU’s long layoff. “I don’t know if they’re going to come out rusty or if they’re going to come out fresh.”

Florida State (0-1), even without third-year sophomore Deondre Francois at quarterback, opened as an 11-point favorite against the Wolfpack. Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Alabama loss. James Blackman, a true freshman, will step in for Francois at quarterback.

Blackman would have had a good chance to get some experience against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 9 but that game was canceled because of Hurricane Irma. FSU’s ACC opener was supposed to be this past Saturday at home with Miami but it was moved to Oct. 7.

N.C. State coach Dave Doeren called Florida State’s situation “unique” but said he expects the Noles’ offense to look the same as it always has under coach Jimbo Fisher.

“In Jimbo’s offense, they’re going to have downfield routes … and they have big receivers who can make plays,” Doere said. “That part will never change.”

Blackman, a three-star recruit from Belle Glade, Fla., only handed the ball off in his limited snaps against Alabama. His high school tape, Doeren said, is impressive.

“You can watch his highlight film and find out really quick that he has a strong arm and he can throw it,” Doeren said.

With Francois, FSU was the preseason pick to win the ACC and opened the season ranked No. 3 in the country. Francois, who threw for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns in his first year as the starter, was a big reason for the optimism for the Noles.

But FSU’s offense, with Francois, struggled in the opener against Alabama. A rebuilt Crimson Tide defense held FSU to 40 rushing yards on 27 attempts. The Noles led 7-3 in the second quarter but turned the ball over three times and had a field goal blocked.

Dalvin Cook, FSU’s career leading rusher, was a big part of the offense last year. He led the ACC with 1,765 yards and was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings.

FSU does still have a stout defense, the best N.C. State will face until a Nov. 4 date with Clemson. The Noles held Alabama to 96 passing yards and 3 of 16 on third-down conversions.

How the Noles, with a new quarterback, will handle the long layoff, is anyone’s guess.

“It’s just like the first game all over again,” senior defensive end Bradley Chubb said.

Only it’s the fourth week of the season.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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