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Florida State Seminoles Q&A Session Part 1

Last week, we got together with mountainlair to learn a little bit about the West Virginia Mountaineers. This week, we have the privilege to hear from two fellow FSU bloggers, Nole Spear It and Tomahawk Nation, to get their opinion about the upcoming game in Jacksonville between the Florida State Seminoles and the Colorado Buffaloes. These guys put in a ton of great work on this so it is definitely worth your time. Great information to get you ready for the game Saturday. Without further adieu, let's get it on:

FSU logo The Ralphie Report (TRR): First things first, what is the mood like right now in Tallahassee and around the Seminole Nation? It seemed like many thought after two wins against FCS schools that this team was turning the corner.  

FSU logoTomahawk Nation (TN): We are glad to answer your questions.  Do you know that feeling when you wake up from a bad dream, and you look around to make sure it was just a dream?  That is what FSU fans are feeling like.  They just aren't sure what is going on. 'Nole fans are looking around to see if the Wake game was an aberration and if this offense is really going to be as bad as they players Saturday night, most would prefer to go back to sleep, and stay asleep, until 2009.

FSU logoNole Spear It (NSI):The mood in Tallahassee amongst the fan base is split: Half think the sky is falling, as there's no way they should have lost to Wake Forest. Several Fans still have the mindset that Florida State should be dominating every school that's not Florida and Miami. They fail to take an honest look at the product on the field and the experience that product has under its belt.

Then you've got the other half of the fan base that sees a very young offense, a team that played two Div-IAA (FCS) schools, and a team that struggled against an experienced/veteran Wake Forest team that came into Doak Campbell Stadium and took care of business. Everybody wants results right now, but it doesn't work that way, this is essentially Jimbo's first season being in control of everything offensively (personnel wise) and the fan base has to accept that and remain patient.

FSU logo  TRR: Is Seminole nation running thin on Jimbo Fisher's positivity? He has been saying that the Seminoles were one or two plays from winning that game. I would say that Wake Forest was one or two plays from making that a 27 - 3 game. What about Bowden and the rest of the coaching staff...have they lost control of this team with all of the penalties and turnovers that continue to be the Seminoles' M.O?

FSU logoTN: This is really tough to gauge.  With Jimbo, there are some certainties and uncertainties.  Fisher is a great recruiter who is very well liked by his players.  Nick Saban had Jimbo at LSU and wanted him so badly upon his return to Alabama, that he offered him $700K/year.  I don't think anyone really disputes that.  People differ in their opinions of Jimbo's ability to coach offense.  Some LSU folks will tell you that Jimbo tightened up in big games more than someone who just sent porn to their boss.  Right now, Jimbo is pulling double duty; he is the OC and effectively the head coach.  That has to be tough to balance. 

As for the "few plays" deal, both you and him are correct.  The game could have been 27-3 (though I think it is maybe a bit of a stretch to assume 27; 21 is more like it).  The game could have also gone 16-15, FSU. 

FSU has a very unique leadership structure right now, where the Head Coach doesn't really do any coaching.  This shared power isn't good for the leadership dynamic.  How do you respect a guy who doesn't know your name, doesn't know the offensive or defensive plays, and doesn't even know that Wake Forest is in his own team's division? 

As for the penalties, they really fell into four categories:

Talent Induced (3):  I'll put the 2 holding penalties against the offensive line here, as well as the Pass Interference against the defensive back who we unaffectionately call "Michael Ray Garbage" (his real name is Garvin).  These guys were trying to get lucky after prom six months ago, and were being asked to block a bunch of 22 or 23 year old men (Redshirt Senior defensive linemen from Wake).  I don't think this is a coaching issue.  The defensive back who was called for PI will not be seeing the field much more now that the remaining suspended 'Noles are returning.

Mental Errors (2): The False Start on the freshman OT and the 12 men on the field calls go here.  I think 1 false start in the game from a group with an average age of 19 years old is acceptable.  The 12 men on the field call aren't, and the coaches and players must share in the blame for this.  Since Mickey (Our DC) was yelling at an upperclassman defensive back, however, I think that DB needs most of the blame.

Inexperience (1): Corey Surrency threw a really egregious chop block, way down field.  This is his first year playing college football, and I have to believe that the former flag football star didn't know any better.  This is a coaching issue, but it's not one that I would expect to occur again.  They will definitely instruct Surrency as to what is and is not a legal block. 

Rage/ Undisciplined (4): The unsportsmanlike and unnecessary roughness calls go here.  This includes the offsetting shoving match that the kickoff team engaged in, the personal foul on Everette Brown, the personal foul on Preston Parker, and the Personal Foul late hit on Myron Rolle.  These ARE a point of concern.  My guess is that these were a result of 3 things: 1) a desire to get back at Wake.  FSU heard about how important revenging the loss against Wake was all week and they were too hyped up for this game.  2) The hyped up angle again.  If the two D1-AA games hurt FSU, it definitely showed here.  They watched as teams across the nation played 2 or 3 games, yet the 'Noles had yet to play a meaningful game.  These guys came out hyper aggressive, to their detriment.  3) Wake is a very smart team, and they effectively baited Brown and Parker into these penalties.  As upperclassmen leaders, these guys need to set the example and not fall for the bait.

Will this situation improve?  Yes, because of situation and coaching, but only to an extent.  The 'Noles have always played with an attitude.  FSU didn't have an outrageous amount of personal fouls last year though, and I think they can keep the number to two or less per game from here on out.  This team is much more talented than the squads from the past few seasons, and selfish mental errors will land a player on the bench, with a similarly talented player filling his spot on the field.

Bad Call(s) (2): The refs had two really costly and blatantly wrong personal foul calls in this game against FSU (and at least one against Wake, as the Zebra's were a bit flag happy, calling 20 penalties).  First, Surrency was flagged for an illegal block after being pushed into a Wake player and falling down. Second, Markus White (awesome newcomer and National JUCO Defensive POY) sacked Skinner by the front of the jersey.  The referee was behind skinner and didn't see the play very well, yet called an extremely costly face mask penalty against White.  Sometimes these things do happen, and the refs are adjusting to the new rules as well, but it is very questionable if White even touched Skinner's mask, much less pulled on it. 

Obviously, coaching can't do much about that.

Aggressiveness (1): E Brown offside

Mickey Andrews is okay with a limited amount of "aggression penalties", which he defines as guys attempting to make a play.  The FSU defensive line has always been ridiculously quick off the ball, and in addition to having great athletes on the edge, anticipating the snap count is another reason why.

I'm sure that is more than you wanted on penalties.  Sorry about that.

As for the 7 turnovers, well, that figure will almost certainly go down.  FSU had relatively few turnovers last year.  Three of the interceptions came at the end of the game, when the offense was in full-out desperation mode.  Another occurred on a deep ball before half that Jimbo has already said he will not call again.  FSU also suffered from poor fumble luck, losing both of their fumbles.

FSU logoNSI: I don't think anybody's gotten tired of Jimbo's positivity just yet. Although the entire fan base wants success right now, the overwhelming majority realize these things don't happen overnight. As for the game being within reach, Jimbo's justified in his thinking as there were ample opportunities for both squads to flip the score on each other. The way FSU's offense performed it would lead you to believe that Wake Forest would be the team to eventually pull away, but Jimbo couldn't have seen it that way.

I wouldn't say the coaching staff has lost control. I think this was one game against a very meticulous opponent. Wake Forest is a smart, methodical, and mistake-free football team. They were probably the worst opponent Florida State could have faced having come off two FCS victories. The offense really showed its lack of experience and you could see that entire unit was rattled out there. I don't mean to depict Wake as world beaters either, but they are several notches above the competition we had faced this far into the season.

FSU logo  TRR: Who would you put the blame on for the offensive struggles last week: the skill players, the offensive line or the coaching staff?

FSU logoTN: Everyone deserves blame.  The QB's deserve blame for deserting the pocket too early, locking onto one receiver, and failing to use their check downs.  The running backs deserve blame for missing two huge blitzes and fumbling twice.  The offensive line doesn't deserve a lot of "blame."  This unit is well coached and VERY young (avg age: 19).  They aren't good right not, and they are a "reason" for the struggle, but I prefer not to use the term blame.  This group has the potential to improve as the season moves on, perhaps more than any other position.  Remember that last year, Rodney Hudson (Frosh AA) was pulled from the Clemson opener and cussed by Rick Trickett on National Television.  The receivers deserve blame for failing to run out their routes (Greg Carr, who stopped on a definite TD throw), and not fighting back to the ball when they didn't get open initially.  Finally, Jimbo deserves the most blame of all.  To his credit, he put the blame on himself, something the "Nepotism Era" administration failed to do. 

FSU logoNSI: It's got to be a combination of all of the above. The offensive line really struggled as it was the norm to see Christian and D'Vontrey scrambling the entire game. The line didn't do much for run blocking either. They were overwhelmed with the task at hand Saturday Night and it was probably too much to expect this young line to rise to the occasion. Although it's tough to blame the skill players (Preston Parker, Corey Surrency, D'Vo), the receivers could have broke from their routes and helped the Quarterbacks. At some point you've got to say to yourself, 'Self, my guy is short arming the ball, let me help him out', that didn't happen. Preston Parker looked rusty out there and even committed a cardinal sin by fumbling the ball. As Ponder was under throwing receivers, D'Vo came in over throwing receivers. The offense was completely out of sync.

The fan base does have a legitimate gripe with the Offensive Coaching staff. All night moderate to deep passing patterns were run, why not mix in a good portion of short stuff? Get the tight end involved over the middle, throw some screens, and try a couple end arounds. Ponder was short arming the ball all game, it would make sense to shorten the routes he has to hit. I thought Jimbo would make adjustments coming out of the half and he did by starting D'Vo, but it was like he didn't realize that maybe it wasn't the passer, maybe it was the aggressive play calling.

I wouldn't say the coaching staff has lost control. I think this was one game against a very meticulous opponent. Wake Forest is a smart, methodical, and mistake-free football team. They were probably the worst opponent Florida State could have faced having come off two FCS victories. The offense really showed its lack of experience and you could see that entire unit was rattled out there. I don't mean to depict Wake as world beaters either, but they are several notches above the competition we had faced this far into the season.

FSU logo  TRR: What is the status of all of the suspended players? Will they all be back for this week's game against the Buffs? If so, which one or two of the suspended players will be instant impact for the Seminole.

FSU logoTN: All suspended players, except DT Paul Griffin (a part time starter, who will probably start when he returns.  He benches over 500LBs), are back.  The biggest additions are: Starting CB (and best DB) Patrick Robinson, Starting LB Dekota Watson (freak), and 6'7" 280LB TE Caz Piurowski, who should help with the run game, as well as give Ponder a big target over the middle.  Keep in mind that FSU's defense gave wake fits without arguably their best CB and LB, and while playing without 3 of their top 8 defensive linemen. 

FSU logoNSI: As you know DT Budd Thacker and WR Preston Parker returned last week. The Noles get back CB Patrick Robinson (starter), DE Neefy Moffett (starter), DT Justin Mincey (back-up), LB DeKoda Watson (starter), TE Caz Piurkowski (starter), and G/C Brandon Davis (back-up) this week. Senior DT Paul Griffin (starter) will not return due to an unrelated matter.

Of the laundry list above, CB Patrick Robinson and LB DeKoda Watson make instant impacts for Florida State's defense. Prior to the layoff, Pat was a natural lock down corner. He has a knack for breaking up passes and jumping routes, we can only hope he shakes the inevitable rust off early. DeKoda Watson really came on last year and became the team's 'Highlight' hitter. He really burst on to the scene and should help sure up that linebacking corps. Tight End Caz Piurkowski will also help the Quarterbacks with his six-foot-seven frame. These guys will be a welcomed addition this weekend.

FSU logo  TRR: We all know that FSU's defense gives teams nightmares. Who is the best DL, LB and DB on the defensive side of the ball? What aspect of the defense do you think has the biggest advantage against the Buffs (speed, talent, size, strength, scheme)?

FSU logoTN: DL-  DE Everette Brown.  EB was a part time started last year as the weak side defensive end.  He is now a junior, and didn't play much as a freshman.  Yet, he is already 15th on the all time tackles for loss list at Florida State.  At 6-4 260, this guy is an absolute freak of an athlete.

LB- Derek Nicholson- FSU legitimately has 3 guys I could choose for this list, and expect 6 linebackers to see at least 20 snaps a piece.  I chose Nicholson because he led the team in tackles last year, despite coming off ACL surgery.  His dad and brother were NFL as well.

CB- Patrick Robinson- PRob led the team in interceptions last year and is one of the better CB's FSU has produced this decade (though we've lacked for first round talent in the defensive backfield this decade).

FSU's biggest advantage defensively is speed at linebacker.  You can simulate a fast defensive end in practice by lining up the scout team guy offsides to give him the quickness advantage.  You can't simulate the FSU linebacker speed.  FSU's linebackers are very, very quick.  Two are former free safeties.  I think teams are pretty shocked with their ability to cover the underneath stuff man to man.  Also, FSU's LB speed absolutely forces teams to change their blocking angles, which can expose large holes for the defended to cut through.  Teams that can't run inside have virtually no shot at getting the corner.

FSU logoNSI: Best DL: Everette Brown (#99) Best LB: Derek Nicholson (#30) Best DB: Tony Carter (#4)

Our Linebackers have the biggest advantage against your Buffs. It's a deep group, we have the three starters and then Nigel Bradham (Fr) and Kenny Ingram (Sr) come in and wreak havoc. Our LB's have the ability to rush the passer, spy the QB, and hold their own when asked to cover a TE or WR. They tend to make their fair share of splash plays. If your Wide Receivers have no fear of coming across the middle to start the game, they will by game's end. This unit is fast, smart, and they love to lay the hammer down. I know you got to be shaking in your computer chairs. This unit does lack a bit of instincts, they're more adept to hit you and ask questions later. Because of that, they rarely pick balls off, strip the ball carrier, and late hit penalties are prevalent. They do have a knack for separating the ball from the receiver at the point of contact though.

FSU logo  TRR: Who is the best WR, RB and OL on this FSU team?

FSU logoTN: WR- Parker, because he is an electric playmaker, with good hands, good route running skills, excellent after the catch moves, and is the go-to guy for the quarterbacks.

RB- Antone Smith.  I'm very down on him right now, but he's shown he can be a playmaker when healthy.  As a receiver, few if any college backers can cover him, and no defense wants to commit a safety to cover a back out of the backfield.

OL- Rodney Hudson, LG.  Hudson was a frosh AA last year (as was C Ryan McMahon).  He flat dominates folks with his great footwork, near perfect technique (almost never has the higher position), and relentless drive.

FSU logoNSI: Best WR: Preston Parker (#5) Best RB: Jermaine Thomas (#38) OL: Rodney Hudson (#62)

Preston Parker is a natural out on the football field. The ball belongs in his hands as his athletic ability is pretty phenomenal. His attitude alone on the field is infectious. A lot of the fans call him a throwback from the days of the old as he never quits on plays as he pushes for those extra yards. He's a joy to watch because you know he's having fun out there and takes pride in what he does. He's received comparisons to former Noles WR Peter Warrick, but I'm not able to make that stretch quite yet. He can do it all though: WR, PR, RB...

I would never say it to Deuce's (Antone Smith) face, but Jermaine Thomas (while Tavares Pressley is injured) is the best Runningback at Florida State. He showed what he's capable of against the FCS schools (stop chuckling Buff fans). He's only a freshman so there's a good chance you won't see him Saturday afternoon, but he is FSU's best Runningback.

The Pre-Season All-American is easily our best Offensive Lineman. He had committed to join Offensive Line Coach Rick Trickett at West Virginia and followed Rick to Tallahassee. He's the most experienced lineman we have and probably the most athletic. For a line that doesn't possess a single Junior or Senior, Rodney is cream of the crop.