Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: Florida State

Virginia Tech is coming off their best all-around game of the season after
demolishing a good Georgia Tech squad 27-3. The offense led by Sean Glennon
gained a season-high 481 yards against one of the top-ranked defenses in the
country, and the Hokie defense created six turnovers in the resounding Thursday
night win. Florida State one-upped the Hokies by knocking off #2 ranked Boston
College at Chestnut Hill. So, how will this renewal of an old rivalry play out
between these peaking teams?

The
Virginia Tech-Florida State series dates back to the 1950s, with some of the
biggest Hokie wins coming against the Seminoles. However, FSU has owned the
series since 1975, and Bobby Bowden has never lost to a Virginia Tech team. The
Noles have recorded huge wins over the Hokies in the national championship Sugar
Bowl game in 2000 and the first ACC Championship game in 2005. Frank Beamer has
never defeated a Bobby Bowden coached team. So, do the Hokies stand a chance?

Florida State has struggled, at least for the Seminoles’ standards, in the
last couple of years, particularly on offense. Bobby Bowden revamped his
offensive coaching staff in the off-season, letting go of his son, Jeff, as the
offensive coordinator. Bowden brought in heralded offensive coordinator Jimbo
Fisher from LSU and one of the top offensive line coaches in Rick Trickett from
West Virginia. However, the Noles have still struggled on offense. Part of the
reason may be the adjustment to the new offensive system, but I believe the real
problem is that FSU does not possess the talent of previous Seminole squads.

When looking at the Florida State team, ask yourself one simple question,
“Who is the star of this FSU squad?” The Seminoles have traditionally
had numerous All-American candidates on their team, but who on this year’s
roster is truly an all-star candidate? Defensively, FSU has several young
players with All-American potential, such as strong safety Myron Rolle and weak
side linebacker Geno Hayes, but the offense lacks stars, a rarity for the
Seminoles.

Drew Weatherford’s season has closely mirrored Sean Glennon’s in that both
quarterbacks had disappointing starts to the year after inconsistent previous
seasons as the starter. Both QBs were benched for more athletic quarterbacks,
but regained their starting job. Weatherford and Glennon have performed
considerably better after being reinstated as starters, and both quarterbacks
may be the key to their team’s success in this game, though Glennon’s status as
a starter is still up in the air.

So, how will Tech contain Drew Weatherford, and what will Bud Foster have in
store for an improving Florida State offense?

Keys to the Game

When Florida State has the Ball:

1. Dominate the Line of Scrimmage

Many FSU fans have been critical of the offensive play calling and
quarterback play in the last couple of years, but I firmly believe that the
problem with the Seminole offense has been a sub-par offensive line. While Hokie
fans have been critical of the Tech offensive line this year, this Florida State
group has even more problems. Rick Trickett has had his hands full with an
offensive line that lacks size, quickness, strength, and overall athletic
ability. He does have the FSU offensive line playing tougher, but the talent
and/or experience are simply not there.

As he did with West Virginia, Trickett had his offensive line do extensive
conditioning in the off-season, resulting in a massive loss of weight. The
current starting line averages 287 pounds, as opposed to last year’s average of
305 pounds. Some offensive linemen are almost 40 pounds lighter than last year.
However, the line still lacks the quickness needed to be effective in Trickett’s
zone blocking scheme.

In addition, the offensive line lacks overall strength. A preseason article
from the Tallahassee Democrat listed the top weight room accomplishments for the
FSU squad, and the top bench press for the offensive line was senior guard Jacky
Claude at 405 pounds. The next best lifts were senior tackle David Overmyer at
370 pounds, and redshirt-freshman center Ryan McMahon also at 370 pounds. To put
these numbers in perspective, Tech has four true freshmen on the offensive line,
who are all redshirting, that lift more

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