Coming Full Circle
Florida State started the 2011 Champs Sports bowl against Notre Dame with four freshman offensive linemen. Three of those players will start on Saturday as Florida State hosts the Irish. Josue Matias and Tre Jackson were making their first starts of their career, while Bobby Hart had started for most of the year. Florida State would have had all four starting on Saturday, but Austin Barron broke his hand against Wake Forest.
Since that game Matias, Jackson, and Hart have all started at least 28 games for the Seminoles. That first start was rough for the freshman as they gave up five sacks and seven tackles for loss. Jackson talked about what it was like for the first half of the game.
“Getting thrown into the game and how nervous we were,” Jackson said. “We were all thinking that we were ready and then the bullets started flying and everyone’s looking at each other.”
The offensive line did play much better in the second half and was a key part of the comeback victory. Matias discussed how it helped them throughout the rest of their careers.
“We learned from adversity,” Matias said. ”When a couple of the guys go down people have to step up. It paid off that we all paid attention in meetings and practice.”
Florida State will hope that Barron’s replacement, redshirt freshman center Ryan Hoefeld, will be able to replicate their results.
Eligwe Still Not Ready
Linebacker Ukeme Eligwe got his first reps of the season against Wake Forest. That return was short lived, as he hasn’t been able to practice since that game due to soreness in his leg. Eligwe had missed the first four games of the season with a Lisfranc foot injury that he sustained in the spring.
Eligwe had 18 tackles with three for loss and two sacks as a role player last year, but he was expected to compete for a starting role coming into this year. He was working with the first team defense in the spring before his injury. He is one of the most talented football players on the team and Florida State is missing his athleticism and natural instincts. When he returns Florida State will be stacked at a position where depth was a concern at the beginning of the year.
Travis Rudolph Stepping up
After not recording a catch the first three games Freshman receiver Travis Rudolph has made the case for more playing time over the last three. He has 11 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown so far. Despite the first three games he is the fourth leading receiver on the team behind Rashad Greene, Nick O’Leary, and Jesus Wilson.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has been very pleased with Rudolph’s progress.
“I hope so. Him and Ermon Lane and those guys keep evolving into good players. They are doing a really nice job. He had a real nice game the other day. He also runs great routes. He is a tremendous route-runner. He understands. He has good size too and has strength. He can do all the phases that the great ones do.”
Florida State will need him to continue to improve as the season progresses with more teams trying to take away Greene.
Mario Pender: Ankle
Sean Maguire: Hand
DeMarcus Christmas: Ankle
Mavin Saunders: Hamstring
Ukeme Eligwe: Leg soreness
Austin Barron: Hand
Out For The Season:
Delvin Purifoy: Foot
Colin Blake: Shoulder
Nile Lawrence-Stample: Torn Pectoral