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Wednesday, September 17, 2008
FSU's 'X' Factor -- aka No. 99

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Joe Robbins/Getty Images
 FSU's Everette Brown already has 2 sacks this season.

When Wake Forest offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke draws up the Florida State defense with his X's and O's, he uses an X for everyone but defensive end Everette Brown. He always gets "No. 99."

"Don't forget who that is," Lobotzke said with a laugh. "The free safety is good, [Derek] Nicholson is good. They've got some good players, but that's one as the O-line coach that always is in the back of my head."

That's one place opponents don't want to be. (Rumor has it that the Air Force graduate's GPA hovered around a 4.0 when he was an offensive lineman there). How Lobotzke game plans for Florida State's pass rush will be a key part of Saturday's game. The Demon Deacons' offensive line did well in the season opener against Baylor, but when the talent level rose against Ole Miss, they gave up four sacks.

"Lobo" said he'll have to pick and choose his moments when to single block Brown, and when they do, Riley Skinner is going to have to release the ball quickly. If they want to do anything extended in the pocket, they'll need to help their tackle with a running back, tight end or guard who can block.

Lobotzke said he went into this game "trembling" last year because he was afraid he'd lose Skinner to injury. Brown has two sacks this season for a loss of 25 yards.

"We have to be smart about what we ask the tackle to do on his own and give him help when we need more time," Lobotzke said.

Wake Forest has had plenty of time to study the Seminoles, an intangible Lobotzke said was critical in preparing for this game. They had three practices last week to get ahead of schedule and then used this week to "polish."

"It's a monster for us," Lobotzke said. "They haven't had two off weeks, but they've had two very light duty weeks where they're probably working part time on us. We needed something after the Ole Miss game to give us a chance to compete in this game and I think that off week is what did it."

There's no question there is a different feeling going into this game than years past -- both teams are ranked -- but a win would add some separation between two teams seemingly capable of challenging once-favored Clemson for the Atlantic Division title.

"We've already had a strong start in recruiting, but hopefully that would kind of finish off our class for us, shoot us up in the rankings, give us a good start in ACC play," Lobotzke said. "... I think our kids like our chances compared to maybe seven years ago when [the staff] first got in this league, just this insurmountable mountain we'd never climb. Now they look at it and say, 'OK, they've got some guys back. OK, they're in the rankings. OK, they've got the No. 1 defense in the nation, but you know what? We feel pretty good about what we've done this season, too. We'll take our chances. Let's go down there and give them our best shot and see what happens.'"