The 10th-ranked Florida State Seminoles get back to work following a bye week, as they open up their home schedule against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Jimbo Fisher's squad began defense of its ACC championship in the season opener against new ACC member Pittsburgh and it was an impressive performance for Florida State, especially its freshman quarterback, as the Seminoles rolled to a 41-13 decision on the road. FSU is 33-2 in its last 35 home openers and against non-conference opponents over that span, a perfect 9-0.
The Wolf Pack are under new management this season with first-year head coach Brian Polian at the helm. Nevada had the unenviable task of taking on a powerhouse in nationally-ranked UCLA in the season opener and suffered a 58-20 blowout loss. However, the Wolf Pack turned the tables in week 2, with a 36-7 victory over UC Davis to even things up at 1-1 on the year.
This is the first meeting between these two programs.
Nevada can usually compete on the offensive side of the ball, thanks to great balance with the pistol offense. Led by one of the nation's premier dual- threats under center, the Wolf Pack are at it again in 2013, averaging over 200 yards both rushing (219.0 ypg) and passing (225.0 ypg).
Junior quarterback Cody Fajardo was one of five signal callers to pass for over 2,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in 2012 and he is off to another fast start. Fajardo has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes through two games, for 403 yards and two touchdowns, while ranking second on the team in rushing (142 yards) with three scores. Fajardo is nursing a sore knee and currently listed as day-to-day.
Polian needs to see certain things from Fajardo to allow him to play against FSU this week.
"He's got to be able to physically protect himself," Polian said. "We may not be able to do every single thing we have in the package. He's got to be able to physically take care of himself while he's out there, and if he can't, we won't put him out there. And if he can, he will."
Backup Devin Combs will get the nod if Fajardo is unable to play.
However, Fisher is certainly game-planning for Fajardo to be on the field.
"That guy (Fajardo) has torched a lot of good people. He's going to be a test no matter whose playing against him. The guys is a very good player."
Junior Kendall Brock currently leads the team in rushing (148 yards, two TDs), while junior Richy Turner (12 receptions, 183 yards, one TD) and senior Brandon Wimberly (10 receptions, 101 yards, one TD) are a solid one-two punch in the passing game.
The Nevada defense was solid against UC Davis, but manhandled by UCLA and the numbers are skewed as a result. After two games, the Wolf Pack are allowing 231.5 yards rushing on an ugly 6.4 yards per carry, while giving up 240 yards passing per outing. The unit has been able to record 12 TFL thus far, including two sacks, with three forced turnovers.
Sophomore middle linebacker Jordan Dobrich headlines the Nevada defense, with a team-high 15 tackles. Junior cornerback Evan Favors is also in double digits after two games with 10 stops.
There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston and the 6-4 youngster actually lived up to it and more in the opener against Pittsburgh, leading a Seminole offense that rolled up 533 yards on 63 plays, averaging a gaudy 8.5 yards per play.
Winston accounted for five touchdowns in the win, completing a ridiculous 25- of-27 passes, for 356 yards and four TDs, while adding a rushing score as well. Rashad Greene came into the season as the focal point of the passing attack and didn't disappoint in the opener, hauling in eight balls, for 126 yards and one TD. Tight end Nick O'Leary is a matchup nightmare and proved it against Pittsburgh, as three of his four receptions ended up with him in the end zone.
Far from a one-trick pony, Florida State has the ability to keep defenses honest with a strong rushing attack, led by tailbacks James Wilder Jr. (5.8 ypc) and Devonta Freeman (5.8 ypc).
Despite the season opening performance by his quarterback, Fisher pointed out that his team is much more than just Winston.
"We've got a good football team. There is more to this team than just Jameis Winston. Now, Jameis is doing well, I'm very proud of Jameis, I love Jameis, but we have other good football players and I think again, quarterbacks get a lot of glory and a lot of blame and a lot of that has to do with how well people play around him."
The Seminoles came into the season with several holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. The early returns are good, with FSU limiting Pitt to just 13 points and 297.0 yards of total offense. The unit was strong against the run, yielding just 96 yards.
All-American candidate Lamarcus Joyner had a big game in the secondary, posting nine tackles, with a pair of sacks. Regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the country, Joyner has been a fixture in the secondary, playing in every game since enrolling at Florida State (42). Senior LBs Telvin Smith and Christian Jones were a close second in stops with eight tackles each. Jones led the team in tackles in 2012 (95).