Coach Dave Clawson of Wake Forest made it through his opening statement on Saturday night’s 22-20 win against Florida State and then made an editorial suggestion.
“What a great win, and now we’ll head into a bye week and instead of reading about how we can’t beat Florida State, now you guys can write again about how we don’t win after a bye week,” Clawson said.
Indeed, now Clawson and his staff have beaten Florida State for the first time in six tries. When the Deacons take the field again, it’ll be in two weeks against N.C. State and they’ll be trying to notch a win against that ugly 0-7 mark after off weeks under Clawson.
But that comes later.
Here are five final takeaways from Saturday night’s win against the Seminoles:
1. Strnad’s status
The outlook appears grim for Wake Forest’s senior linebacker and leading tackler.
Strnad suffered an arm injury in the third quarter and didn’t return.
“Justin, we’ll have to wait and see. He’ll get an MRI, and we’re very concerned,” Clawson said. “I don’t want to go there with it until we get an MRI.”
Strnad had seven tackles in about 2½ quarters against Florida State, giving him 69 this season. He was replaced mostly by Ja’Cquez Williams, while Chase Monroe also filled in.
Williams was credited with the forced fumble on the same drive Strnad left the game and with nine tackles, while Monroe had a first-half interception.
“We’ve gotta pick up where he left off,” senior cornerback Essang Bassey said. “Somebody’s gotta step up. Ja’Cquez did a great job when he came in, and I think that’s the mentality that we’ve gotta have, when anybody goes down, as a whole on the defense. It was really good to see.”
2. Surratt’s surge
Wake Forest is about halfway through its season, and Surratt has the eighth-most receiving yards (881) for a season in program history.
Surratt had seven catches for 170 yards against Florida State, his fifth 100-yard game of the season. He had catches of 31, 36, 27 and 51 yards on Wake Forest’s four first-half drives that ended with a field goal, and the only thing missing from Surratt’s performance was a touchdown — bringing his program-record streak of eight straight games with a touchdown catch to a halt.
3. Ready to go
Sam Hartman stepped back into the starting role and threw for 308 yards, ran for another 43 yards, didn’t take a sack and didn’t commit a turnover. He proved again, after appearing in relief of Jamie Newman against Louisville, that he remained ready after Newman won the quarterback battle in fall camp.
“You know, I think a lot of people in Sam’s situation would’ve bailed right away and he said, ‘No way. I’m here, I’m here to help the team,’ and we’ve never made it through a season healthy at quarterback,” Clawson said of his sophomore quarterback. “This year was no different, and thank God Sam stayed.”
4. Turnover win
Wake Forest won the turnover battle by two.
Monroe’s first-half interception brought an abrupt end to a FSU drive that had reached Wake Forest’s 23-yard line, while Williams’ forced fumble and Sulaiman Kamara’s recovery of it ended a drive that reached Wake Forest’s 16.
“I’m really proud of our defense, I thought they bounced back really well from a week ago,” Clawson said.
5. Awareness at end
Florida State took over on the game’s final possession at its own 24 with 35 seconds left and no timeouts left — not the best of circumstances, but certainly not out of the question that the Seminoles could pick up a few long passes to set up a field goal, or get in range to take a shot or two at the end zone.
Neither of those scenarios came close to playing out, with James Blackman fumbling on the first play and bobbling the snap on the second.
Each time, Boogie Basham was there to dive at the ball — which drained precious time off the clock.
“They were trying to hurry up and I saw the ball on the ground, so just see ball, go get it,” Basham said. “I was pretty close both times (to getting the ball).”