2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Florida State

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Florida State Seminoles

Returning Starters: 14 (6 offense, 8 defense)

Key Losses: WR De’Cody Fagg, TE Charlie Graham, OG Jacky Claude, OT David
Overmyer, OT Daron Rose, OT Shannon Boatman, DT Andre Fluellen, DE Alex Boston,
DT Letroy Guion, LB Geno Hayes, LB Marcus Ball, FS Roger Williams

Key Returnees: QB Drew Weatherford, RB Antone Smith, WR Preston Parker,
WR Greg Carr, OL Rodney Hudson, OL Ryan McMahon, DE Neefy Moffett, DE Everette
Brown, DT Budd Thacker, DT Paul Griffin, LB Dekoda Watson, LB Derek Nicholson,
CB Tony Carter, CB Patrick Robinson, CB Michael Ray Garvin, ROV Myrone Rolle

Overall View

Florida
State suffered from their biggest talent deficit in years last season, and also
caught the injury bug. They have gone a combined 14-12 over the last two
seasons, hardly FSU-like numbers. Over 20 players missed the Music City Bowl
last season because of the academic scandal that hit the program, and some of
those players will be suspended for the first three games of the 2008 season as
well.

FSU has not been judged by the NCAA as of yet, but they have imposed
penalties on themselves. They will lose eight scholarships over a two year
period.

The last two NFL Drafts have shown that the ‘Noles have suffered from a loss
in talent. They have had just eight players drafted over the last two years,
including just one player taken in the first two rounds. By comparison, the
Hokies had eight players taken in last year’s draft alone.

Offensive Strength

Florida State will have a senior quarterback in Drew Weatherford, who has
been a starter since he was a r-freshman. They don’t come any more experienced
than Weatherford, who also has the talent to back it up. He struggled with
turnovers his first two years, but had just three in 2007, a 0.9% ratio, which
was the best in college football.

Just take a look at this list of accomplishments for Weatherford:

  • 3rd in career passing yards at FSU
  • 8th in career passing TDs at FSU
  • 2nd in career completions at FSU
  • 3rd in career 300 yard games at FSU
  • ACC and FSU record 270 passes without an interception
  • One of only 2 FSU quarterbacks to complete over 600 career passes

In a situation that was similar to Virginia Tech’s last year, Weatherford was
benched in favor of Xavier Lee, a mobile quarterback. However, Weatherford came
back to win the job and had a very good season. He was the least of the ‘Noles
problems on offense in 2007. He should have a strong senior season, but he won’t
be able to play to maximum effectiveness because of a bad offensive line.

Offensive Weakness

Florida
State’s offensive line has been going downhill for sometime, so they hired Rick
Trickett away from WVU last season. The line improved somewhat, but was limited
at times because of injuries. It looks like things will get worse for FSU before
they get better. The ‘Noles lost Jacky Claude (11 starts), David Overmyer (9
starts), Daron Rose (11 starts) and Shannon Boatman (10 starts). Some of those
players started at multiple positions.

They received more bad news recently when it was announced that projected
starting guard Evan Bellamy was declared out for the season. The ‘Noles return
just two offensive linemen with starting experience. Both of them, Rodney Hudson
and Ryan McMahon, were Freshman All-Americans last season.

However, every single player in Florida State’s OL 2-deep right now is a
freshman or a sophomore, and there isn’t a single junior or senior OL on the
roster. Under Rick Trickett, they will almost certainly be good down the road.
However, they’ll be too young in 2008, and will likely get pushed around by
nearly everyone they play.

Defensive Strength

Florida State should have plenty of talent at defensive end. They bring back
two starters in Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett. Brown, who had 6.5 sacks as a
sophomore in 2007, appears poised to have a breakout season. Moffett will be
steady and reliable, as usual.

The star of the group could be incoming JUCO defensive end Markus White. He
is 6-4, 245, and he had 24.5 sacks at Butler Community College, where he was
named National Player of the Year in the JUCO ranks. The ‘Noles always have
playmakers on the edge, and White looks like he could be the next one.

Defensive Weakness

Florida State has good players in the secondary, but they aren’t good enough
to play their normal man-to-man style of defense when they go up against top
notch receivers, and a quarterback who can make them pay. Tyrod Taylor and
Justin Harper proved that last season.

Cornerbacks Tony Carter and Patrick Robinson are good players, but Florida
State has gotten just average production from the free safety position recently.
At Rover, All-Everything recruit Myron Rolle has been more hype than anything so
far. He has just seven pass breakups and one interception in two years as a
starter.

Will Stewart’s Take

Last season, the feeling that VT’s program had overtaken FSU finally became a
reality, as the Hokies shook off 30+ years of frustration and 12 straight losses
to handily defeat the Noles, 40-21. With that win, the Hokies broke through the
last psychological barrier present in the ACC … maybe (more on that in a
moment).

There was a day (you young’uns won’t remember it) when Clemson seemed
unbeatable; Tech now owns five straight wins against the Tigers. There was a
time when Miami was the unscalable mountain; the Hokies have beaten The U 9 of
the last 13. Is last year’s win over FSU the beginning of a similar run against
the Noles? Hokie fans hope so.

Breaking through against a team like FSU is important, but like the 1995
win over Miami, the breakthrough came at home in Lane Stadium. VT still has to
conquer Doak-Campbell, the site of this year’s game on Oct. 25th. Tech has lost
five straight in Tallahassee, with the last meeting there in 1990
(39-28, Seminoles, in a game in which the Hokies led the #2 Noles 21-3). I like
Tech’s chances in this one, but even in myself, I can still sense that mental
block. A win in Tally would be a big stepping stone for the VT program, and this
is as good a year as any to get it, and to start building a record of success
against a program that once owned the Hokies lock, stock and barrel.

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