Like every other position on the Florida State offense, the offensive line has to replace quite a bit. The Seminoles only return one starter from last season, sophomore left tackle Rod Johnson. Johnson started just five games last season, but was named to multiple freshmen All-American teams. With Florida State having to replace the other four starters, all who are on NFL rosters, this offseason has been a major task for offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
Three of the starting offensive line positions have been locked down. Along with Rod Johnson, Kareem Are will be the starter at left guard. Johnson had nothing but praise for Are, who was a JUCO transfer last season.
"He’s being Kareem Are," Johnson said. "He’s very good. Helping me out. I’m helping him out. We’re holding down the left side. Helping out the offensive line. Helping out the offense. I’m still expecting big things from Kareem. He has very massive legs. He’s really very powerful in his legs. He can move double-teams. He can run for screens. He’s very versatile."
The third starter has been a surprise. Redshirt freshman Derrick Kelly has won the starting right tackle spot over Chad Mavety. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has been extremely pleased with the way Kelly has been performing this camp.
"Plays guard and tackle, can do both," Fisher said. "He's going to be a really good football player, he’s smart and conscientious."
The other two spots that are still up for grab are the right guard and center positions. The right guard position is almost a lock as well with redshirt sophomore Wilson Bell taking the bulk of the reps. JUCO transfer Chad Mavery had been battling Bell for the majority of camp, but he hasn't been able to participate in the last few practices due to an injury.
That just leaves the center position, which has been a true battle between Alec Eberle and Corey Martinez. Martinez had taken most of the reps with the first team during the camp, but over the last week Eberle has seen the bulk of the reps. After the scrimmage on Saturday head coach Jimbo Fisher was not pleased with Eberle's snapping. That could open up the door for Martinez to get back in the race.
"He had some snap issues," Fisher said. "Cost the 1s the first drive. We were driving right down the field and had a bad snap. Cost us a drive. He had two or three bad snaps. He hadn’t been doing it but he did today."
The Florida State coaching staff aren't just trying to find the starting five though. Coach Fisher believes that a team needs at least eight linemen to be successful.
"You have to have eight to have a rotation," Fisher said. "If you have more than that we’re good. That’s how the NFL travels. We’ll have 10 in the rotation. We do have to start isolating. We have to make choices. We’ll have to look at film."
There is a lot of talent and size on this offensive line. If the center position gets worked out they could be the biggest strength of the 2015 team. If not, well we all saw what bad center play does to an offense during the first eight games of the 2014 season.