When Chris Thompson broke his back during the Wake Forest game in 2011, he was unsure of whether he would ever get back on a football field.
One year later, he is healthy, has no lingering effects from the injury and is not only back to his old self, but seems to be running harder.
"It's here again, just facing them after my injury, it's a pretty emotional time for me," Thompson said.
Thompson has worked hard on putting the injury behind him and focusing on his performance on the field, but he knows that it is something he will continue to deal with.
"Really, I don't think it's ever going to be behind me because that was pretty much the first major injury that I've ever had," Thompson said.
With Wake Forest coming to town, the injury is at the forefront of Thompson's mind. The senior has been thinking about the game since the end of the Savannah State game. He has no plans of watching the film of his injury-he's done enough of that.
"It's something I just can't fully let go, especially having to go up against those guys again, but I just have to stay focused on getting better everyday at practice," Thompson said.
While focusing on the present, he still can't help but wonder what would have happened had he run a different route that day in Winston-Salem.
"I should have taken it outside with Spurlock and Lonnie instead of cutting upfield," Thompson said of the play where he was injured. "It was a third and one and in my mind, I was just like, ok, I just want to get the first down, but what I should have done was just go outside with those guys and gained about 20 or 25 yards or so, and I didn't. It wasn't like I was like, oh, these guys did it wrong, now, thinking back on it, I should have just trusted them and went outside because they saw the same thing I saw, but I decided to do something different."
Thompson trusts his teammates' vision on the field completely now and is looking to start conference play. After scoring his first touchdown of the season-and first in a year-against Savannah State, he is ready to score a bunch more and doesn't plan on letting anything get in the way of that.
"Even after this game I'm going to still think about (the injury) at times, but it's nothing that's going to slow me down," Thompson said.
Joyner tunes-up for Wake Forest
The Seminoles outscored their first two opponents by a score of 124-3. And it really wasn't even that close. Despite severely outmatching both Murray State and Savannah State in talent, Lamarcus Joyner used the games to prepare for conference play. Joyner used those games as a tune-up for Wake Forest.
"(Keeping focused for the first two games) just shows as a program where we stand with the maturity level, everybody able to keep their focus and play these guys and not just disrespect those two opponents that we had-respecting them by giving them our best game," Joyner said.
The safety played jut twelve snaps, but it turns out he didn't need much of a tune-up.
"I got (graded) a perfect score," Joyner said. "I've never gotten a score like that in my life."
The 'Noles are looking ahead to Saturday's game with the excitement of a conference opener, but also for a chance to right last year's disappointing loss.
"You could have felt the energy we had yesterday," Joyner said.
Linebacker Nick Moody echoed those sentiments.
"We're excited, to actually get out there and play (a full game) this time," Moody said.
The Seminoles have watched plenty of film of the Demon Deacons and took note of the Deacons' close win against the University of North Carolina last week. The 'Noles don't plan on underestimating a Wake Forest team that has proved dangerous in the past.
"That got us on our toes, so we're ready to give them a challenge," Joyner said.
Wake Forest's quarterback Tanner Price threw for 327 yards in the Deacons' win last week and will test Joyner and the secondary.
"This year we're ready," Joyner said. "We're focused on them and they're our number one priority and we're ready to give them our all."
O-Line set for new challenge
Florida State's offensive line held steady for the last two weeks and did not allow a sack, but this Wake Forest's 3-4 defensive scheme will present the group with new challenges.
"It's definitely a different scheme," Coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Not as many people play it, so there's little nuances that you really have to understand and they do a really nice job with it."
Fisher is pleased with how the O-Line has looked in practice, but knows that there will be high and low points in the game while the unit adjusts to Wake Forest's play.
"Now we have to step up and what we've seen in practice we've been pleased," Fisher said. "But it will be a different challenge, there will be some ups and downs, things that happen in a game like always and we hope we adjust and keep continuing to play well."
Fisher believes the O-Line will play well from the start thanks to linemen who have an innate understanding of the game.
"The intelligence of the guys up front - you can't put a price tag on it. You've got to have instinct and intelligence, that's the combination of things that go on up there," Fisher said. "They have a good feel for ball, they're intelligent human beings. When you talk to them - you talk ball with those guys and you see what they get and their instincts."
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