A look at the Noles Offense

For the Florida State, they finally get to try and prove themselves. They are national leaders in several statistical cat3egories on both sides of the ball and almost every statistic within their own conference, but the nation sees them as paper tigers. The BCS computers really see it that way and the BCS ranked number 10 team is even unranked in one of the polls. Here is a look at the Noles.

We will find out soon enough of their schedule has prepared them to play a top notch SEC defense as Florida State finishes their regular season at home against the Florida Gators. With an ACC Championship game still ahead and several teams ahead of them in the BCS playing against each other, the Noles have a chance to move up quite a bit in the next two weeks. If they do so, they will have to bring their A-game on offense against a very sturdy Florida defense and here is what they have to work with.

Here is a look at the offense…


Quarterback E.J. Manuel (6-5, 238, Sr.) is 23-5 as a starter and his 67.0 career completion percentage is the best in ACC history. Manuel ranks second in the ACC and is seventh in nation in passing efficiency (167.54). This year he is 203 of 295 for 2,785 passing yards and 21 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. Manuel is athletic enough to escape the rush with his size and his, strength, and quickness. The Noles have given up just 21 sacks in 2012 compared to 2011 and he is averaging 16 yards a game rushing the ball on scrambles.

The Noles have undergone a transformation of sorts at tailback. Their number one guy was senior Chris Thompson and the senior was having a great year before going down with an ACL injury. In his steed, Devonta Freeman (5-8, 209, So.) has 534 yards on 76 carries (7.5 ypc) and seven TDs in 2012. He's averaging 77.4 yards per game in the last five games and 7.3 yards per carry. James Wilder Jr. (6-2, 226, So.) is another back that gets the ball a lot and has 501 yards (5.8 average) and has scored nine times. Freeman is a burner and Wilder is the bruiser of the bunch. Wilder has 15 catches for 105 yards on the season as well.

Fullback Lonnie Pryor 6-0 229 Sr.) is in his second season as full-time starter at fullback. He is utilized a great deal in short yardage and has 21 career touchdowns (16 rushing and five receiving). He has an impressive 230 rushing yards with a 5.9 yard average this year.

The Seminoles are very deep at receiver and have quickness and size at their disposal. Rodney Smith (6-6, 219, Sr.) is a senior veteran of FSU's receiving corps. He's caught a pass in 36 consecutive games and has 32 receptions for 464 yards and three scores in 2012 and 100 career receptions. Rashad Greene (6-0, 170, So.) is the first Nole since Peter Warrick in 1999 to score three different ways in a season (run, catch, punt return). Greene is the home run threat and has 38 catches for 549 yards and five touchdowns.

The above are complimented by Greg Dent (5-11, 195, Jr.) who has 23 catches for 308 yards and two touchdowns. Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 241, Fr.) provides a ton of size in the red zone and is not afraid to go over the middle. Benjamin has 28 catches for 479 yards and four touchdowns. Kenny Shaw (6-0, 170, Jr.) also is used a lot and has 22 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns on the season.

Tight end Nick O'Leary (6-3, 238, So.) caught his second touchdown of the season and third of his career at Maryland. He has 16 catches for 206 yards in 2012. He played all 13 games and made two starts as a true freshman in 2011. O'Leary is a stand out player at the position.

If there is a unit on the team that has improved and needed to improve for the Seminoles it is the offensive line. They have curt their sacks nearly in half (41 to 21) from a year ago and are averaging over 200 yards rushing per game a very high number and they have rushed well against most of the better teams on their schedule.

The Noles have really changed their look along the offensive line adding a lot of size. Left tackle Cameron Erving (6-6, 310, So.) is an athletic lineman who at 310 pounds is the runt of the group. He's made the switch to left tackle after spending first two seasons on the defensive line and earned the start at left tackle in first collegiate game as an offensive lineman in season-opener versus Murray State. Left guard Josue Matias (6-6, 326, So.) earned his 12th career start against Maryland. Center Bryan Stork (6-4, 312, Jr.) is the veteran of a young offensive line who brings the most game experience. Right guard Tre' Jackson (6-4, 327, So.) carried momentum from his first career start in Champs Sports Bowl to spring practice and into the fall and earned 13th career start against Maryland. Right tackle Menelik Watson (6-6, 320, Jr.) has started nine of the 11 games played this season and entrenched himself at right tackle.

Bottom Line Vs. FSU Offense: FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher seemingly went very conservative a year ago believing that the Florida offense couldn't beat them and just not wanting to make mistakes. The oputcome was a 14 point night from the FSU offense (and 7 points from the defense), and just 95 total yards on the night.

Freeman actually scored both touchdowns against Florida a year ago but their inability to pass the ball on a secondary that was riddled most of the year was certainly eye opening. Florida's secondary is playing light years ahead of where it played a year ago and now is probably one of the best in the entire country.

Florida also had next to zero pass rush a year ago and sacked Manuel four times. I wouldn't expect that with a much improved offensive line in Tallahassee, but Florida's pass rush is also much better than a year ago.

Florida will seek to stop the run first, as usual. But they will absolutely be the best pass defense the Noles will see all year and it will be interesting to see how Fisher uses his bevy of receivers and whether Manuel is capable of holding the ball long enough for them to get open.

The key to this side of the ball to me is the secondary for Florida and just how much better they are than a year ago and just how good they have played this year. I expect the Florida defense to force more than the one turnover (a fumble) than they did a year ago, but that will have more to do with the Noles not being able to play so conservative on offense as they did a year ago.

Fightin Gators Top Stories