Pure craziness the last 48 hours from the Florida State Seminoles. Will they stay will they go? I don’t know, but what I do know is that they are playing in the ACC in 2012. So we have a spring review interview from site contributor @HokieGuru. Let’s check it out.
Good evening from @HokieGuru. I’m here today to discuss the ACC spring football practice with each bloggers from each of the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams. What follows is our interview with@saintwarrick. Jeff is a Florida State graduate (c/o 2000) who spreads his absurdity via Twitter, urban graffiti and airplane banners. He is here today to discuss Florida State spring football. Here we go with our interview below!!!
@HokieGuru: Tell us about your spring game – how was the turnout? Was the team well received?
@saintwarrick: The spring game was awesome of course; no one owns the spring like FSU football! — (We’re BACK!) — With post-spring top 25 lists being released by pundits nationwide, it’s virtually the only time one can find FSU in the top 10 these days. Where once Seminoles could boast of 14 straight top-4 finishes, now we can celebrate 12-ish straight springs of “being BACK.” (FYI: Those ‘BACK’ banners hang next to our Signing Day national title trophies, presented by Golden Flake). But even with FSU “BACKness” assured, spring game turnout was down from last year by about 14,000 (allegedly). Last year’s attendance was about 54,000, and this year’s number might reflect a little bit less enthusiasm for this year’s team, despite the Noles poised to be BACK.
@HokieGuru: What are some of the major strengths coming out of spring practice?
@saintwarrick: Well, outside of FSU’s strong showing in the pre-preseason polls (BACK!) , the defense is still good, but we know that. Ends Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins are two of the top players in the nation at their position, and Werner didn’t even play in the spring game. He’ll be fine for the fall. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan also was hurt (MCL tear), but he’ll be fine for August. The FSU defense showed well and no one was injured, and that was all that was required. The ’Noles should have one of the top defensive units in the nation this season with talent such as Greg Reid, LaMarcus Joyner and Xavier Rhodes in the backfield and Nick Moody, Christian Jones and Vince Williams patrolling the middle. The only real losses are cornerback Mike Harris and linebacker Nigel Bradham. Everyone else from the two-deep returns. Also, FSU opens against two FCS opponents this season, and Jernigan may eat an opposing player in one of those games, so tune in for that. As for the offense, it did not answer any of its questions (quarterback, offensive line), but that’s something that only the fall can accomplish.
@HokieGuru: What are some of the major weaknesses coming out of spring practice? In other words, what do you think Florida State will be working on in August before the first game? What are the questions that you think have to be resolved?
@saintwarrick: The top three question spots for FSU are offensive line, offensive line and offensive line. Outside of that, the offensive line also could use some work. In all seriousness, how this unit plays this fall will go a long way toward deciding if FSU is Orange Bowl-good for Belk Bowl-good. Modern Southern style at affordable prices aside, if FSU can even manage to push into C-plus territory along the offensive front, FSU should be in Charlotte for an entirely different reason: the ACC championship game. A couple linemen that should contribute missed the spring with injuries, so this area is a work in progress. FSU went very young along the O-line late last season (starting four freshmen at times), and FSU fans are hoping that will pay off this year. There is talent there, but this unit will be question mark up until the opening gun. Guard Josue Matias is one to watch this fall.
@HokieGuru: Fall will be here before we know it – what position concerns you the most?
@saintwarrick: It’s the EJ Manuel show for the second year in a row. This is high-flying, pass-first-and-last Florida State, and quarterback will always be the centerpiece here. Manuel took a step back after some great relief performances in 2010, but injuries (shoulder injury, broken leg) were largely to blame. But Manuel’s confidence still suffered, and fans must ask if the Manuel they saw at the end of last season — 65 yards passing against Florida; scoreless first half against Notre Dame — is the Manuel they will get this season, even when healthy.
Manuel looked OK during the spring, but no one could touch him in scrimmages and several players had to run extra stadium steps for sneezing on him accidentally. Or so I heard. A great debate among the fanbase is how much must Manuel be asked to rush the ball, weighing benefit against injury. Manuel may be a suspect passer, but he is a superb runner and coaches should exploit this weapon, injury risk be damned. If you’re not going to run the QB, backup Clint Trickett might be the better passing option and has shown he can run the offense. This isn’t a direct (or fair) comparison for EJ, but if you have Tommie Frazier in the backfield, you don’t run the Air Raid.
@HokieGuru: Who are the new recruits that you are impressed with the most? Are there any that you think will get some major playing time right away?
@saintwarrick: FSU is starting to look like the old days in terms of depth, so it will be tough going for the newbies. New running back Mario Pender showed some spark in the spring. He’s pretty speedy, but he’s looking up at a couple people on the depth chart, including last year’s freshman breakout: Devonta Freeman. Receiver Marvin Bracy, a world-class sprinter, should open some eyes with his speed come fall, but he hasn’t set foot on campus. Maybe he will get some time at returner. Daniel Glauser could be in the rotation on the offensive line come fall, as almost every piece up front is a fluid situation. But the freshman drawing most of the buzz is a redshirt freshman receiver: Kelvin Benjamin. He’s an athletic freak at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, but how much time will he really see at FSU’s deepest position, behind more experienced talent? Right now, he’s more myth than man.
@HokieGuru: Based on what you saw/read from spring practice, do you think Florida State will be better than last year? Why or why not?
@saintwarrick: It’s a wonder the ACC even released their schedule at all with the talent FSU will field this season. The league should’ve just advanced FSU to UNDEFEATED in the standings and acquired a BCS waiver for FSU into the, uh … Super Bowl, or whatever they call those top-level bowls these days; for an FSU fan, it’s really hard to remember back that far. The only thing that could’ve really dampened expectations were injuries, and FSU was lucky this spring. If that luck holds this fall, there’s no reason FSU shouldn’t have two losses or fewer in the regular season as the schedule sets up well with Clemson and Florida both visiting Tallahassee. The QB is back, the running game looks strong, the receivers are stacked and the defense looks elite. What could go wrong?
@HokieGuru: Give us the pulse of the Florida State football program – what are the Seminoles bloggers/fans thinking right now on the status of the program?
@saintwarrick: Fans are a little more cautious this year (especially with regards to the offense), and no spring scrimmage will change their mind. This is a “Prove It” year for Jimbo and the ’Noles. The offense is on Jimbo, and this is the make-it or break-it year. Anything less than an ACC title (or an at-large BCS bowl berth) will be damning for the program’s direction. But don’t worry, that famous FSU fan patience (win the national title or the kitten gets it) will certainly show through. Jimbo’s on the hot seat to produce an ACC title, not necessarily to keep his job. Pencil the Noles in for 10-2* or better. We’re Back!
(*–Same thing I said last year. Panic!)