Around the Corner

There's a lot question marks going into the 2005 Seminole football season. Will this team make it to ACC Championship game in Jacksonville? Who will win the quarterback back battle? Renegade Staff writer's Chris Milton and Brandon Mellor covered this past spring practices and summer workouts and they are best qualified to answer those difficult questions heading into fall practices.

Who is going to win the quarterback job and why?

CM-Who knows? According to Bobby Bowden, the two have been even since arriving on campus and continue to be on level ground in his book. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see them both play early in the season until a clear cut No. 1 emerges. As far as taking the first snap, I would bet on Xavier Lee solely from a health standpoint. Lee has been 100 percent the entire summer while Weatherford has been slowed by his surgically-repaired right ankle and a strained knee that he is dealing with from all the overcompensation. Honestly, I believe the quarterback position will get much better production from these guys that they did with Rix and Sexton a season ago.

BM-Not only is this a hard prediction for me to make, but barring a miraculous showing by one of the signal callers in August, I think that coach Bobby Bowden truly will have to make one of the hardest decisions of his illustrious career before the Miami game in regards to what guy will start. These guys are ridiculously talented and the few shortcomings of skills that each one possesses, the other makes up for as they are the perfect compliment to one another. Xavier Lee has got the arm to perfectly place a long pass and the mobility and hint of elusiveness to evade defenders. Drew Weatherford has the touch on his throws and quick release which will allow him to complete a high percentage of passes. Having said all of that, I think that Lee wins the staring job. I think that his upside and knack for the big play – in addition to the relationship he has with so many of his teammates – will give him the slight edge over Weatherford.

Can the young quarterbacks do any worse than last year's bunch?

CM-They sure can. Comparatively speaking, Rix and Sexton's numbers stand up against many quarterbacks at other programs around the country. By Florida State standards, they were subpar. Folks have to remember that these are two freshmen that have a combined one snap of experience. They may be the cure-all at some point down the road, but you have to expect some growing pains.

BM-Looking back on last season, quarterbacks Chris Rix and Wyatt Sexton looked decent sometimes but were inconsistent more often than not. It's hard to believe that coach Bobby Bowden, coach Jeff Bowden or coach Mark McHale would make the mistake of putting too much pressure on whoever is the starter. I think that the playbook is going to be all about short, high percentage passes and handing the ball of to the talented running backs. Long story short, I do think that they can be worse, however, because any more than the three losses from last season is obviously not good but I don't think our coaches will allow the quarterbacks to be the problem.

What kind of impact will McHale have on the offense?

CM-As a teacher and recruiter, he is already making a difference. Both coaches and players have praised his more hands-on approach to things and amazing motivation. No one knows for sure how much of hand McHale will have in all things offensive beyond the line and its blocking schemes, but I looks to me like things are heading in the right direction.

BM-The offensive linemen seem to have really taken to the new zone-blocking scheme. When I think of zone-blocking, I think of the Denver Broncos and the amount of players that the scheme makes look like an all-star. If our guys just focus on everything that coach McHale teaches them, I truly think it will allow both Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark.

Who will be the focus point of the offense?

CM-Florida State will undoubtedly play to the strongest point of this team – the backfield. The more that Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker are able to touch the ball, the better off the offense will be. The Seminoles will have to find more creative ways to get these guys the ball than running between the tackles and calling toss sweeps since opposing defenses will be on the lookout given the quarterback inexperience. I think that will happen and fans will get to see both on the field a whole lot this season.

BM-This has to be the easiest answer right here. Leon Washington in a landslide, followed by Lorenzo Booker. As I said before, I think the offensive game plan is going to be all about handing the ball off over and over again and let a proven player like Washington do his thing. Adding Booker into the mix just makes Washington better as we all know.

Can this team finally get over the hump and beat Miami. If so, why?

CM-You have to believe that this is as good of a chance as ever. The Hurricanes come to Tallahasee attempting to break in a new quarterback and solve offensive enigmas, as well. The difference is that they have to do it on the road. I think it comes down to playing smart. Limit turnovers and big plays by your opponent and you win this game. FSU or Miami? I wouldn't be shocked either way after this one.

BM-When you look at Miami, you see that they have just as many question marks on their team as the Seminoles do. They have an inexperienced quarterback and are looking for a leader to step up at wide receiver. On defense, they have the playmakers just as the Noles do. Having said that, I think this is the worst Miami team in many years, meaning the Tribe has an excellent shot to get the job done – just as long as Mr. Washington touches the football a whole lot.

How big of a hit were the losses on defense (Clifton Dickson and Antonio Cromartie)?

CM-Cromartie is a bigger loss than Dickson. His loss could overhaul the strategy on defense. Until Mickey Andrews is able to trust Gerard Ross, J.R. Bryant and company in single coverage, the Seminoles may be forced to sit back and play straight up. With Cromartie on the island, you could send a blitz and not even have to worry about his side. Dickson will be missed up front, but something tells me that we'll find out how special Andre Fluellen, Aaron Jones and Emmanuel Dunbar are.

BM-I think that many people have forgotten about what type of player Clifton Dickson was turning into. Granted, there are several young guys that will step in – like Aaron Jones – but I truly thought that Dickson would be the next dominant FSU defensive tackle, just like Darnell Dockett and Travis Johnson did in the past two years. The difference with Dickson, however, is that he is only a junior meaning it would possibly be two years of his reign as king of the D-line. As for Cromartie, I was so sad to see him go down because I saw just how hard he had been working this summer. I do, however, think that the young cornerbacks are going to step up and show everyone why they were all so highly coveted coming out of high school.

Will this team make it to Jacksonville?

CM-If and only if they beat Boston College on the road. Other than the Eagles, the Atlantic division doesn't have much in the way of firepower. The Seminoles need to avoid the headaches of tiebreaker scenarios by taking care of business in Chestnut Hill.

I think that this team will make it to Jacksonville and will be taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies. I do not, however, see them beating the Hokies December 3. I think that it would be too much of a dream season if that were to happen. I truly hope I am wrong about my predicted outcome though, because the Seminole faithful need a dream season now more than ever.

What will be the strengths on this team?

CM-Running the ball and controlling the game. Don't look for the Seminoles to go crazy and pull a 180 on offense. Sure changes were made, but the strategy will be similar – runs and high percentage passes to break in the new quarterbacks. On defense, look no further than the linebacking corps. We could have a trio of first-rounders on our hands when all is said and done.

BM-The strengths of this team include the running backs, the fullbacks, Kamerion Wimbley, the linebackers and the safeties. I also want to throw Fred Rouse's name into the strengths because I think he will make a significant impact his freshman year as a kick returner and as a wide receiver.

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