The Florida State offense struggled mightily against South Florida and Boston College, and a lot of that was due to the offensive line's poor performance. They were run blocking very well, but were having trouble keeping quarterback Everett Golson upright in pass protection.
Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett made two changes during the bye week. Derrick Kelly, who took over for Brock Ruble in the second half of the Boston College game, and Ryan Hoefeld moved into the starting lineup at right tackle and center. The move paid off and the Florida State line looked far better than they had in either of the two previous games.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher was pleased with what he saw from the offensive line against Wake, and thought it was a big step forward for that unit.
"I definitely did," Fisher said. "The assignments, how they picked things up, had nice big runs, I mean, ran the ball in the red zone. We're running it again. We're going to be third and two or third and one on the 1, and we're ready to score again. We were running in the mix. I thought they played a solid football game."
Fisher said Wake blitzed almost 60-percent of the time against the Seminoles and was proud of the offensive line, as well as the tight ends and running backs, for picking those up properly.
"Our backs and tight ends and line were doing a real nice job, and they bring a lot of different blitz packages," Fisher said. "They do a lot of different things on defense as far as the different looks. We're doing a real nice job. They probably blitzed 60 percent of the time in that game. That's why we were trying to throw the football and get the one-on-ones we wanted."
Hoefeld struggled last season when he was thrown into the starting lineup at center, but believes that time really helped him get a feel for the calls.
"Now going into games I am not like I need to make this call, need to do this, need to put this to that," Hoefeld said. "Now I am just like I know the offense, I know the calls I need to make, and I am a lot more mature. It is a confidence-booster definitely.”
When it came to the offensive line as a whole, Heofeld believes that a lack of communication was causing some of the issues, but that they've gotten past that now.
“I think the number one thing we are improving on is communication. Talking to each other and not being scared to say something when we see something. Just communicating better... Basically communication was huge. Just us communicating, knowing which side the blitz is coming from. … That helps out a lot, especially in our pass protection. That was one of the better points on the day, our pass protection, we had solid walls set up a lot and that came with knowing which way the blitz is coming from and that comes from talking from the tackles all the way to me."
Florida State will need the offensive line to continue to progress as they move into the toughest part of the schedule, but they took a step forward at the right time.