WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Florida State's defense caught more passes in the first half than all of Wake Forest's receivers on Saturday.
That's as good an indication as any of the hurt FSU's defense laid on Wake Forest. In terms of dominance, Florida State's defensive effort Saturday goes into the record books. FSU finished with seven turnovers and a whopping six interceptions on the day, tying a school record for picks in a game.
In the first half, Wake Forest quarterbacks combined for 2-8 passing with four interceptions. FSU's defense had two defensive touchdowns at halftime while shutting the Demon Deacons out. For the entire first half, FSU had more interception return yards (92) than Wake had total offense (82). Wake Forest didn't top 100 yards of total offense until late in the fourth quarter and finished with only 63 passing yards on the day.
"They were outstanding," head coach Jimbo Fisher said of the FSU defense. "Playing the run and playing the pass, they were absolutely amazing."
The defense was so dominant that it even limited FSU's offense as well. Florida State's offense didn't even get on the field very much in the first half as FSU's defense rattled off 14 straight points and while the points racked up, FSU's explosive offense never really got into a rhythm. In the first half, Florida State only had the ball for 13:49 compared to 16:11 for Wake. It didn't matter.
FSU started seven drives in Wake Forest territory and four of them inside the Wake Forest 30-yard line. Florida State picked off Wake Forest's first throw of the game and turned that into an early touchdown.
During one dominant stretch in the second quarter, freshman safety Nate Andrews returned an interception 56 yards for a score and then fellow freshman safety Jalen Ramsey returned a fumble (caused by Andrews) 23 yards for a touchdown on the next drive. Five different FSU players recorded an interception and six players accounted for at least one turnover. Andrews, making his first career start, picked off two passes and forced a fumble.
Even defensive end Mario Edwards[db]s got into the action when a loose ball popped out of Tanner Price's hand and into Edwards' arms for a pick.
"When you start stopping the offense and turning over the ball, it gives you momentum," defensive end Edwards said. "It kills their momentum and makes them not want to play anymore. So the more turnovers we got and the more three-and-outs we got, it definitely just killed their momentum."
The run continues a dominant stretch for Florida State's defense after the Seminoles' win at Boston College. Since giving up 34 points in that game, FSU is giving up 10.2 points per game on average in the five games since. Three of those opponents were ranked in the top 25 and two in the top 10.
Wake Forest, by comparison, was neither and it showed. Wake played three different quarterbacks and none found success as Florida State's defense continued to show why it was highly anticipated in the preseason.
With the seven turnovers Saturday, Florida State now has 23 on the season - including 18 interceptions - compared to 21 all last year. For a defense that was billed as a more aggressive, turnover-producing scheme, it's certainly living up to the billing and then some.
"That's something we always talk about doing is getting a lot of turnovers," linebacker [db]Christian Jones said. "And it worked out in our favor today."
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