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Wake Forest won the game on paper; FSU on the scoreboard

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Mark Twain is often credited with saying there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics. Under those criteria, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat Florida State on Saturday.

The scoreboard, however, provided the truth.

Florida State 24, Wake  Forest 16.

Wake Forest had the Florida State defense on the field for 60 percent of the game. The Deacons held the ball for 36 minutes to 24 for the Seminoles.

They ran 79 plays to 52 for FSU. Wake Forest had two scoring drives of 14 plays, one lasting 13 plays and another 12 plays. Fortunately, the Seminoles defense managed to force Wake to settle for field goals on three of those drives.

They outrushed the Seminoles 142 yards to 127. Of the Seminoles’ total, 75 percent came on one play, a 94-yard burst by Dalvin Cook. To be fair, Cook’s first quarter injury had an effect on the offensive performance, but questions remain for the offensive line.

The Deacons also passed for 215 yards to 202 for the Seminoles. Wake Forest had 27 first downs to 14 for FSU. They outgained the Seminoles 357-329.

Florida State was flagged 10 times for 100 yards in penalties, while Wake was penalized five times for only 32 yards in penalties. So, how does FSU return to Tallahassee with a victory?

How does a team losing many of the battles at the line of scrimmage and dealing with some key in-game injuries (linebacker Terrance Smith and strong safety Nate Andrews joined Cook on the walking wounded list) overcome such adversity?

First, they won the vital statistic of turnovers. For the fourth straight game, the number “zero” appeared on that line. In the history of Florida State football, none have every gone four games turnover-free.

Second, when players are injured, others step up. Kermit Whitfield opened the second half by retuning the kickoff 57 yards to the Wake Forest 43. He completed the drive by hauling in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Everett Golson, Whitfield’s first career receiving TD.

Bobo Wilson hauled in a 51-yard bomb from Golson in the third quarter, setting up a field goal. It was Wilson’s longest reception of his career.

Senior linebacker Reggie Northrup came in for Smith and recorded 10 tackles and four quarterback hurries. With the Deacons driving for the tying score, Tyler Hunter recorded a game-saving interception in the end zone.

It is those kinds of players making those kinds of plays that make lies out of statistics. That is what quality teams do.

With Miami coming to town next week, Coach Jimbo Fisher will not dwell on who will play or who will not. He will say that those on the field will be expected to carry out their assignments and the skill players will need to make the plays needed to win.

Just like they did on Saturday.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

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