No. 14 North Carolina State will attempt to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it battles Florida State in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.
The Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1 ACC) fell from the ranks of the undefeated with a 30-20 loss at No. 5 Clemson last weekend.
NC State quarterback Devin Leary said he felt “heartbroken” after his club failed to put up a high-level effort.
“We walked off that field knowing we didn’t play to the best of our ability,” Leary said afterward. “We had very high aspirations. We had very high expectations coming into (the Clemson) game and we thought we prepared well, but we didn’t execute well.”
Leary now looks to direct the Wolfpack to their fifth win in the past six meetings with the Seminoles (4-1, 2-1).
Florida State also dropped its first game of the season last weekend as it fell 31-21 to visiting Wake Forest.
Seminoles coach Mike Norvell is expecting a strong bounce-back performance.
“You come out of that (loss), and what I want to see is I want to see the ownership,” Norvell said. “I want to see ownership from myself, from coaches, from players. What are the things that contributed to that? Because everything, it all falls on me, everything that we do within the program. So you have to be able to self-reflect on all things that occurred up to this point.”
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis has passed for 1,226 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception, while running back Treshaun Ward is averaging an impressive 6.5 yards per carry while rushing for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
The Seminoles have a pair of standouts on the defensive side in safety Jammie Robinson (team-best 34 tackles) and defensive end Jared Verse (team-high four sacks).
Robinson had a season-best 13 tackles against Wake Forest. Verse had 2.5 tackles for loss — including a sack — while playing just 23 snaps versus Wake Forest after missing the previous game against Boston College due to a left knee injury.
“It was definitely the coach’s call,” Verse said of his usage. “If it was up to me, I would’ve been playing the whole game.”
Verse will aim to rattle Leary, who passed for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Clemson. He has thrown for 1,135 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions this season.
The Wolfpack led 10-6 late in the first half before Clemson scored 24 of the next 27 points to take control.
NC State coach Dave Doeren indicated there’s no time to dwell on the disappointment.
“Go to the next game. We can’t sit here and say, âWhat if?'” Doeren said. “It’s a long season, man. There’s a lot of games left. All we can control is (this) week. We have to focus on getting ready for Florida State, take them one at a time, and see where we end up.”
Outside linebacker Drake Thomas leads the Wolfpack with 32 tackles, while cornerbacks Aydan White and Tyler Baker-Williams each have two interceptions.
Receiver Thayer Thomas is Leary’s favorite target. He has 24 receptions for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
NC State recorded a 28-14 win at Tallahassee in last season’s meeting.