Lets Rock!

With the first day of fall Florida State football practice set for today, there's a buzz of excitement in the air because some experts believe that the 2004 Seminole football team is the most talented group since 2000. Will the Noles run the table and play for all the marbles in January? What are the strengths on the team and what are the question marks? The Territory will try and answer the tough questions that need to be answered.

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Consistency at Quarterback


One of the biggest question marks has to do with senior quarterback Chris Rix's consistency.  Some games he looks like an All-American and in others he looks like a first-year starter.  Last year the offense was running like well oiled machine, with an   established running attack.  If the Noles plan on having any success on offense against the Canes on September 6th, the burden must be lifted off the quarterback's shoulders.    Rix's work ethic and leadership over the summer workouts were outstanding and hopefully the time he put in will pay dividends.


Who will backup Rix?


There's the old saying in football that the backup quarterback is only one injury away from the starting job.  Redshirt Sophomore Wyatt Sexton looks to be that man but he will be pushed by a couple of freshman All- Americans.   Last year as a freshman Sexton got very few snaps and he didn't exactly light it up over spring practices.  In his defense, there were a lot of key offensive lineman and wide receivers that sat out of spring practices.  As a redshirt freshman, he completed three passes on only five attempts for 56 yards.  Over the summer the former Leon High school standout was nursing a sore shoulder.  If his nagging injuries flare up again, it could open the door for either freshman Xavier Lee or Drew Weatherford.  As a senior in high school, Lee was voted Mr. Football in the state of Florida while Weatherford earned the honor of 4A Player of the Year.


How good will the defense be?


The Noles lost seven starters on defense to graduation.  One would think that because of that fact, the Seminoles would struggle to stop offenses in the upcoming year but that doesn't appear to be the case.  There's some incredible young talent on this defense.  Senior defensive end Chauncey Davis replaces three-year starter Kevin Emmanuel.  Davis , a five-star prospect out of high school, has much more speed and athletic-ability than his predecessor.  Junior weak-side linebacker A.J. Nicholson replaces Kendyl Pope.  Last year Nicholson filled in for Pope in several games because of injury.  This past April Nicholson was awarded with award for most dominating player in spring practices.  Sophomore strong-side linebacker Ernie Sims replaces three-year starter Michael Bowalware.  Last season Sims showed signs of why he was rated the top high school player in the nation by The Insiders.com.  Sophomore cornerback Antonio Cromartie will battle senior Leroy Smith for the starting right cornerback spot.  The 6-foot-3 and 207 pound Cromartie dominated in spring drills and there are whispers that he'll be lump in with the great Seminole All-American's before it's all said and done.  Junior Pat Watkins will start fall practices out as the starting free safety.  Last year as a sophomore the former high school All-American was tied for a team high of three interceptions.


Who will be the surprise offensive and defensive players for 2004?


On offense tight end Donnie Carter could be that man.  Last season was his first year playing tight end after playing his freshman year on the defensive line.  Late in the season Carter caught several key passes, including one in the Florida game.  With the emphasis on getting the tight ends more involved during spring practices and his hard work ethic makes Carter a candidate for surprise offensive player of the year.  On defense redshirt freshman rover Roger Williams could turn some heads.  Last spring he knows for his hard-hitting ability and excellent instincts.  If there's an injury or two at his position, Williams could get on the field to show his stuff.  Out of high school, he wasn't highly recruited because of grades and a broken leg that he suffered his junior season.


Will the Noles be playing for the National Championship in the Orange Bowl in January?


Having a healthy team is always a key for a championship run and the Noles do have good depth at most positions.  Keeping Chris Rix healthy is a must.  The Seminoles must also establish a strong running game in order to take the pressure off of the quarterback.  Also, a big key is an improved pass-rush.  Last year was an improvement but it must get even better this season.  If the Noles get by Miami, they could run the tables because of a favorable schedule for the rest of the year.  The fun begins soon.









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