FSUncensored blogs over at Tomahawk Nation. They were kind enough to give us some insight into this year's edition of the Florida State Seminoles in preparation for Saturday's game.
Click here for my answers to their questions. The commenters over at Tomahawk Nation came up with some tough ones.
Q: How has Christian Ponder grown as a quarterback since the last time he faced Virginia Tech?
Quite a bit, actually. Ponder put on about 15 lbs in this 12 months. He posted phenomenal numbers in the offseason program, including the best pro shuttle time on the entire team. Ponder has grown primarily because he's had actual game experience. He's learning to trust his pre-snap reads, and that's a big part of Jimbo's offense. His protection has been below average at best, so it takes quite the leap of faith to step up and launch when he doesn't know if blitzers will be picked up. I think he's turning the corner and really beginning to master this offense.
Q: In their last two games, the Seminoles have had good halves (first half vs. Miami and second half vs. NC State). How close is Florida State to putting together a full game against an ACC foe?
I'm not so sure they're able to at this point. The young offensive line (Starters, From Left Tackle to Right Tackle: TRUE FR, TRUE SO, RS SO, TRUE FR, TRUE FR) is obviously something that is still a work in progress, and something that must continue to be ahead of schedule, development wise, if the Noles expect to be an elite team this year. Still, the Noles do have a very good defense, a good quarterback, and excellent skill guys. They're not going to win 50-0, but at this point, a 27-6 type game would probably qualify as a "complete game", and I don't think that's out of the question.
Q: A lot was made in the preseason, particularly by one Internet scribe, about how bad the Florida State offensive line was. Are you satisfied with the way they've played so far? In what ways can they still improve?
Haha, Ms. Dinich certainly made a lot of noise with her prediction (dead last). She was right to assume that it would be the worst. As I noted above, we do start the youngest offensive line in the nation. I am very happy with their play so far, given their youth and inexperience. Shocked? Yes. Elated? You bet. You have to put the things they can improve on into 2 categories: now, and later. The later is experience, and improved strength through the offseason program. They are just not physically mature enough at this point to be considered anything above average. The now, however, can be perfecting their technique, maintaining mental focus, and playing within themselves. Hopefully by doing that, their pass protection can catch up to the level of their run game, and screen game (excellent downfield blockers).
Q: How will the losses of Dekota Watson, Will Furlong and Bert Reed affect the Noles this weekend?
I'm sure everyone expects me to say this, but, not a whole lot. Watson is a ridiculous freak of an athlete who can't stay healthy. When he's on the field, he's like Auburn's Trey Blackmon. A 4.5 40 with the best vertical on the team, at 230lbs. Still though, we won't miss him much, as he's only played 2 games this year. Our deepest positions, by far, are LB and...
Receiver, which brings us to Bert Reed. He shares time with Preston Parker and Taiwan Easterling, so he won't be missed much, as their abilities are very similar to his.
Lastly, Furlong. His loss hurts in terms of depth, for sure. We're replacing the RS FR with a True FR, David Spurlock. The thing here is that many of us were very unsatisfied with his play so far, and Spurlock did an acceptable job when he went in for him. Spurlock will miss more assignments as he is more green, but he's the better talent and will consistently move the pile more often than Spurlock did.
Q: Last year Tyrod Taylor had a career game against the Noles. What kind of defense can we expect from the Noles in order to contain Tyrod?
It's tough to judge how much we really prepped for Tyrod last year. I expect to see a lot of blitzing. We don't respect VT's pass catchers, and I don't mean that in a disrespectful way. Our corners can cover, as can out safeties, and we will force Taylor to make fast reads and accurate throws, often using directional blitzing to make him commit to a side, while rolling coverage. Expect a lot of man coverage, an FSU trademark.
Q: Finally, why can't Florida State sell out its home games this year?
We've been burned too many times. Everyone heard all about the Wake game, and we laid an egg. I think people want to see us win a game against a ranked team at home, seeing as it hasn't happened since 2006, before coming back. Still though, it's pretty pathetic on their part.