NoleDigest Roundtable

Florida State faces their first opponent of the 2008 season this Saturday. NoleDigest discusses many different topics such as who should be the starting QB, starting true freshman and predicting FSU's final record & chance at an ACC Championship. Read on for more.

Who do you think should start at FSU at QB and why?

Mack-D'Vontrey Richardson. This was tough for me because from watching the scrimmages and getting feedback on the QB situation this was a close battle. #10 is a special player though. Not only does he have the strongest arm on the team but he also is one of if not the top athlete on the team. His command of the offense has improved tremendously from last season. He can do things on the field that the other quarterbacks cannot do. Christian Ponder is another player that I believe should be in consideration for the starting nod. Christian has improved as well from last season. One thing that I like about both of these QB's is that they don't hold onto the ball for a long time.

Fish-I think FSU should go with a combination of Ponder/Richardson. Both bring something different to the table and FSU needs a spark on offense. Both of them have worked hard and deserve a chance for the starting job.

Nate-D'Vontrey Richardson should start for Florida State. Drew Weatherford is a great team guy and has been an excellent student-athlete at FSU, but how much improvement can he bring this year. Christian has been hurt recently, which has hurt his chances. That injury has paid off for Richardson as he's taken the extra snaps and ran with them. Over the past week D'Vo has been hot, and Coach Fisher raved about him after the closed scrimmage this past Friday. I feel like FSU's offensive line is going to be better than people think, but this team needs a playmaker at the quarterback position. I feel Richardson brings that. He's picked the system up, has a great arm and gets rid of the ball very quickly. D'Vo reminds me of Dameyune Craig who played for Fisher at Auburn. Great athlete, underrated as a thrower and a highly respected player on the team. Richardson has learned to take command of the huddle and is now becoming a full-fledged college QB. It's time to let him play.

Richie-D'Vontrey Richardson. Coming into camp my answer would have been Christian Ponder but still expecting Drew Weatherford to start. After attending several scrimmages and hearing what the coaches and other players have to say about D'Vo, I firmly believe that he is the man for the job. FSU will open against two FCS schools so it would make the most sense to start him now so he is ready for his first real challenge when FSU plays Wake Forest. Drew Weatherford has had his chance to win the job for three years but come up short. A fifth year senior should never be in a QB competition with two red-shirt sophomores. With a young o-line, a mobile QB is almost necessary and Richardson has shown that he can throw the ball just as good, if not better than Christian Ponder who also is very mobile. Richardson also has the strongest arm of the three and has become more consistent with his accuracy. After fall camp, he has shown that he is a guy that CAN NOT stay on the bench. He is a special player and will be a playmaker given the opportunity.

Jason-If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said Ponder, making sure Richardson gets enough series to get his feet wet and potentially take over the job later in the year. Based on the last couple weeks of practice, however, I now think Richardson is probably the best option for this football team due right now to his immense upside -- there are very few quarterbacks nationwide who can run and throw as proficiently as D'Vontrey -- and these first two games offer him an opportunity to start a couple football games with minimal pressure. Regardless of who starts, I would like to see roughly comparable series numbers between D'Vo and Christian in the first game, with the second game being weighted a bit to the one seeming to play better to that point.

What are your thoughts on FSU possibly starting three true freshman (Reliford, Sanders, McCray)?

Mack-I think the BEST players should play regardless of year. Right now these three players are among the best at their specific position group which says a lot about their talent. Bo Reliford has the potential to be one of the top tight ends to ever play at FSU. His size and athletic ability is a mismatch waiting to happen. Zebrie Sanders is one of the top lineman on the team. He was highly regarded coming out of high school and he's living up to that. Moses McCray benefited from the suspensions.

Fish-If these three guys are the best at their respective positions then they should start. Reliford is probably the most talented tight end to have signed with FSU in the past ten years. Sanders has worked hard and if Trickett feels he deserves to start you have to respect his opinion. McCray starts by default. There really is no one else to play if McCray does not start.

Nate-We as FSU fans have had it beaten into our heads that freshmen can't or aren't ready to contribute early. Times are different now. As I watched the games this past weekend you see freshmen making an impact all over the nation. Is it a desired situation? No. But the recruiting at these positions has created this. Each of these players has the tools to be a contributor and each of them is better options than some of the other players on the roster at their respective positions. Those close to the team feel that Reliford's and Sanders' play has earned them the right to start as they've come in ready to go. McCray is a guy who has to start due to a severe lack of depth. Of the three he is the one I am concerned about because defensive tackle is a tough position, in my opinion, to get thrown into the fire at.

Richie-Just because these guys are freshman does not necessarily mean its bad news for Florida State. Zebrie Sanders has earned the trust of Coach Trickett so much that he will most likely start at left tackle for the ‘Noles'. Bo Reliford has had a great camp and has a lot of raw talent. Tight end is a position that Jimbo Fisher does not rely on heavily so everything FSU gets from Bo is just a bonus. McCray is another great athlete who had offers from just about every school in the nation. Alabama started two true freshmen against Clemson in Julio Jones and Dont'a Hightower and played a few more. The Tide ended up just fine. The first two games are practice games anyways so it will be extremely valuable for these guys especially since they will need to contribute in week three.

Jason-The usual rule of thumb is that for every freshman a team starts, that's a loss. Fortunately for FSU, the tight end position isn't the most important in our scheme and McCray is really only slated to be the starter until all the suspensions end after game three (it may be too late at that point to have avoided a loss to Wake, unfortunately). Sanders has earned his spot up front, and having watched the freshmen on our OL last year be the best guys up front, I'm confident with any freshman Trickett wants to throw out there (especially now that the rest of the line seems to be in better order). So as long as FSU is able to get by Wake in the third game, I'm not sure starting three freshmen will be the reason we lose any ballgames this year.

Do you think FSU can win the ACC and what do you predict FSU's record to be?

Mack-Yes. FSU can win the ACC. Wake Forest and Clemson stand in FSU's way of an ACC Championship. Florida State is not getting respect on the national level. That is to be expected with back to back 7-6 seasons. Those teams were much better than the record showed and really underperformed. FSU is a sleeping giant and once they get this train going on offense they will be a tough out for any team.I predict FSU to win at least 9 games this year (9-3).

Fish-No, I feel like FSU is at least a year away from playing for and winning the ACC. They have question marks at quarterback and the offensive line. Add in issues at defensive tackle and its just too much to ask for a young team like Florida State to win the ACC Crown. Playing two D1AA teams should help FSU to at least a 8-4 record. If they don't accomplish at least an 8-4 record it would be a bit of a disappointment for Florida State.

Nate-Yes, I think the ACC is wide open this year. Every team has question marks, and the Seminoles still have as much talent as any team in the conference. The players need to learn how to win again and learn what it takes to make that happen. The schedule is easier than it looks, and it's set up perfect for them with 8 home games. Wake, Virginia Tech and Clemson are all at Doak and are all winnable. I think 9-3 wins the conference, and that's where I see FSU right now. Frankly anything worse than that would make this season a major disappointment for the Seminoles because they have two gimmies early on.

Richie-Yes. Before last weekend, I thought Clemson would be extremely tough to get by and Virginia Tech would be a huge challenge. I still expect both games to be tough but Florida State can and should win both being at Doak. The key game on the schedule is Wake Forest. Until we see how FSU performs in the first two weeks, even though it will be against inferior opponents, we can't be sure to see what to expect against Wake. If FSU beats Wake Forest, they will have plenty of confidence in the rest of the schedule and will possibly be the new favorites to win the division and even the conference. I expect Florida State to go 9-3 in the regular season with losing to Florida, and two of the following four games: Clemson, Wake Forest, Miami, Maryland (trap game). If Florida State beats either Wake or Clemson, 2 losses in the conference could still put them in the ACCCG which i believe they would be favored over any Coastal division champion.

Jason-Yes, I think it is eminently possible for the 'Noles to win the ACC this year. A few things to consider: Norm Chow's first year at USC finished with a 6-6 record. His second year? 11-2. Urban Meyer's first year at UF resulted in a 9-3 record (complete with a few really good breaks). We won't talk about his second year. Everyone saw Alabama begin its second year under Saban against Clemson this weekend. This is the second season under coaches Fisher, Trickett, Dawsey, Amato, and Carter. I expect similar improvement this year to what USC made in Chow's second year, so if we get a couple bounces and stay injury free, I think an ACC championship is well within question (especially as poor as the conference has looked so far). That said, our schedule is not particularly easy and it will be no picnic playing Wake with less than a full deck. Three days ago I would have predicted we finish 9-3, but I have now seen that Clemson is more beatable than anticipated (though they will be much better when we play them). I now expect the 'Noles to finish the regular season at 11-2 and with a surprising ACC championship, with much thanks to the weakness of the conference.

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