Post FSU Camp Roundup
Who and what were the surprises of camp?
-CM-I was struck by Drew Weatherford's scrimmage last Tuesday. Up until that point, we had experienced our share of yawns as the defense gobbled up the offense. It was nice to get a change of pace and see the ball moving up and down the field. I think fans may remember that day a long time from now if indeed Weatherford nails down the job for good.
On defense, you have to feel good about having Kyler Hall and Pat Watkins in the backfield. Those guys were lights out the entire camp. Behind them Anthony Houlis and Roger Williams were solid, as well. I thought that Williams made the most of his promotion to the first team while Watkins worked his way back into the favor of Mickey Andrews.
-BM-I want to say that the biggest surprise of preseason camp was freshman wide receiver Richard Goodman's inspired play but I am taking full credit for being the first person outside of the FSU coaching staff to recognize his amazing gifts. His play over the summer removed any doubt in my mind that he would be a special player. Having said all of that, the biggest surprise for me has been senior cornerback Gerard Ross. Here is a guy that has been given no slack. I am the first to admit that I had no faith in him coming into this season but he has shown me that he can be a consistent defender so far this fall. He is certainly not a shut down playmaker like Antonio Cromartie but his consistency and leadership has been and will continue to be vital to the FSU secondary.
What are your biggest concerns?
-CM-Inexperience on the defensive front and at cornerback is a tough combination to work with. If FSU has to stack the box to stop the run, Tony Carter, Gerard Ross and company will have to prove that they can handle things one-on-one. On the other hand, Andre Fluellen, Brodrick Bunkley and their freshman backups will have to step up if the Seminoles are forced to protect the secondary with more zone. Hopefully one or both of those units will respond to the challenge.
Quarterback is a concern that both teams have to deal with. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think that FSU will get better production out of the combination of Lee and Weatherford than what Chris Rix and Wyatt Sexton were able to turn in last fall.
-BM-My biggest concern is going to continue to be the quarterback position- until the Miami game, that is. It's not that I don't have faith in the two young signal callers because I really do. They both have shown glimpses of how great they are going to be but we are not going to get see for sure until they are thrown to the wolves against a very fast Miami defense. I should note that I fully predict my concerns to be alleviated come Sept. 5.
Which young players will be able to contribute early?
-CM-Aaron Jones, Kendrick Stewart, Emmanuel Dunbar and Letroy Guion will have to play, no doubt about it. Derek Nicholson and Eugene Hayes will have a big role on kick coverage units though they probably won't get into the mix at linebacker. Same deal with Antone Smith, who will return kickoffs and likely be relegated to mop up carries at tailback. I think it's only a matter of time before he's running No.3 behind Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker. It'll be interesting to see what coaches decide to do with Fred Rouse, Richard Goodman and Rod Owens after the outstanding camp they had.
-BM-As I mentioned before, Richard Goodman is going to be a very good player, if not a great player. I expect him to receive a substantial amount of passes thrown his way this season. He has great hands and he runs great routes, meaning whomever the quarterback, that guy will have a reliable target. Defensively, I think it's going to be Tony Carter. He has the speed, the coverage skills and the knack for finding the football that you ask for in any CB. His only problem is the small stature but I truly feel he can combat that with his blanket-like coverage skills.
Who does Drew Weatherford remind you of and can he handle the Miami game?
-CM-Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee have been pressure situations before and have been playing football their entire lives. I think some people put too much emphasis on the pressure of a big game and the effect that it's going to have. These guys will thrive on it. Jitters might cause a skipped pass or missed read early, but I think that will evaporate once they get into the rhythm of the game.
-BM-Here's the thing: he doesn't remind me of anyone but a combination of so many great players before him. He is incredibly accurate and he is deceptively fast as well. He is a very smart player and the sky is the limit. I could compare his accuracy to Chris Weinke but that would be a compliment that is way too early to make.
What will FSU have to do to beat the Canes?
-CM-Play smart. The Seminoles cannot afford any turnovers or glaring breakdowns on defense. If FSU can get the running game into gear early, things will open up for the quarterbacks to do more to help the offense score more.
-BM-This is a very easy answer: run, run, run and the run some more. Hand the ball off to Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker and let them wear down that Miami defense. Remove all possibility of one of the young quarterbacks making a mistake and rely on two proven offensive firecrackers.
What are your fall impressions of new offensive line coach and running game coordinator Mark McHale?
-CM-The practice pace and focus were amped up during the first week when we were allowed to watch. David Castillo told me that he thought they were getting twice as many reps as they got in past seasons. He also said that McHale is always ready to talk football away from the field wherever, whenever and that has to excite people about the guy's motivation.
-BM-All I had to do was watch the offensive linemen's collective reaction to anything McHale said in the few practices that were open to the public this preseason. Each and every one of those very large athletes was totally zeroed in on the former Marshall coach's words. From the play I have seen from them so far, it's evident that the guys have been listening intently since McHale arrived in Tallahassee.
What are your predictions for the Miami game?
-CM-One team will get a 'W' and the other will still have a great chance to be in contention for a conference championship and BCS bid late in the season thanks to the ACC's never divisional format. It's hard to speculate towards the outcome in a game filled with this many question marks. Should be fun.
-BM-I predict the Miami-FSU match-up to be a very close game but I have the Seminoles pulling it out behind the running of Leon Washington and the strong play from the linebackers providing constant pressure on Miami's offense in both the running and passing game. I could reasonably see the score winding up 17-14 in favor of the hometown Noles.
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