17 March 2012
The time has finally come! While the Florida State Basketball team continues their efforts to push deeper into the tournament and have garnered more attention than normal after winning its first ACC Championship, the FSU football team is prepared to hit the fields for Spring camp on Monday afternoon. As with any team, in any year, FSU has its share of questions that are lingering as preparation for a new season wages on. Naturally, after these questions are presented, you may have a few of your own that I look forward to discussing with you in the comment section.
#5, How will the FSU backfield establish itself as reliable?: This is a tough question, because on paper it is very obvious that Florida State has some talented players with unique skillsets at running back. The problem here is that the team's career rushing leader is returning to the field from a broken back suffered just six months ago, the team's leading rusher from 2011 has been limited to date because of a nagging back issue of his own, the 5-star bruiser back who desperately needs a full Spring of reps under his belt in order to grow at the position is facing an unfortunate off the field issue and the remaining talent, although outstanding, is a true freshman.
Chris Thompson is a great kid and has worked extremely hard since arriving at Florida State in 2009. He represents the school well both on and off the field and Seminoles everywhere are rooting for his successful return to the field after breaking his back against Wake Forest in 2011. As of now, he has been cleared to play, which is obviously good news. The scary part is that how he will react to being pushed and how much he should be pushed at all is still very much in question. It is difficult to assume that he is 100% full go after such an injury. Devonta Freeman, entering his sophomore season and second spring camp, has the ability to be a very good back. He rushed for 579 yards as a true freshman behind a less than stellar offensive line and led the team in rushing touchdowns with eight. James Wilder Jr. has power and strength that is unmatched by anyone else the Noles could hand the ball off too. He proved as a freshman that he is still raw at the position and though many people feel he is better suited at LB, I actually believe he has the ability to establish himself as a good running back. If he is allowed to practice, it will be huge for his development and good for the team overall.
Mario Pender is the incredibly talented true freshman that many people have high hopes for. Pender may be the most talented back on the roster and perhaps the most talented FSU has signed in nearly a decade. He played questionable competition in high school, so how he adjusts to the pace and talent level around him and picks up the playbook will determine a lot this spring.
#4, Who emerges to provide depth in FSU secondary?: The Seminoles return several very talented, experienced and proven pieces to their secondary in Lamarcus Joyner, Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. The fourth piece to the puzzle appears to be rising junior Terrence Brooks at this time, but he will have to fight off the uber talented sophomore Karlos Williams. Behind the first four mentioned, the Seminoles have talent, but very little experience. Expect competition in this group to be a pretty big story over the next month leading up to the Spring Game. Rising sophomore Keelin Smith, Tyler Hunter and Nick Waisome are all solid candidates for taking over the third cornerback role. Waisome may have the inside edge on the other two, but two advantages Hunter and Smith have over other DB's is their size and versatility. Both spent their first years practicing as corners, but at 6'1 and 6'3 respectively, have the tools to play safety as well if needed. If all three of these young players are able to get the most out of this spring from a development standpoint, the Noles will be in very good shape depth wise. The other interesting piece here will be Lamarcus Brutus, high school teammate of Keelin Smith. Brutus was the less touted of the two, but is effective both in run support and coverage and will have his chance to compete as well.
#3, Can Willie Haulstead return to form?: It's been over a year since Seminole fans have seen Haulstead play. He's a big body receiver who many felt was going to be the Seminoles' best going into the 2011 season. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion during a scrimmage game during the fall, which would be his second in one year. The previous one came in his career best game against UNC where he snagged 10 catches for 154 yards and one touchdown. The question here is how quickly he can get back into the swing of things, especially at a position group where FSU has plenty of players that have proven they can get the job done. It will be an uphill battle for Haulstead, but his talent is as good as any man's on the roster. The legitimate concern is that if he suffers another concussion, it could delay or maybe even end his career. Concussions are strange in that they impact every player differently and some prove to be more susceptible to them than others. Hopefully Mr. Haulstead has seen the last of his.
#2, Can EJ Manuel rebuild his confidence and command of the FSU offense?: As the Seminoles leader, Manuel endured injury and an inexperienced offensive line for much of the year, but ultimately it began to take its toll on him towards the end of the 2011 season. Manuel is a good quarterback, but he has the tools and ability to be great, especially at the college level. A lot of this will depend on his comfort level with the guys in front of him. The offensive skill guys around him are capable, but he will have to work on the recognizing the easier opportunities to get the ball to them in space. Having coach Fisher around for the entire spring will be a huge help.
#1, Can Florida State build a solid 8-10 deep offensive line?: No surprise here. Florida State's biggest issue last season was an injury decimated offensive line. During the year, literally 10 of Florida State's top 13 offensive linemen would miss significant time throughout the 2011 football season. David Spurlock, a three year starter, was never able to return to form after suffering multiple concussions. Starting LT and all-conference player Andrew Datko missed his entire final season with shoulder problems. Key reserve Henry Orelus missed the entire season as well and eventual starters Bryan Stork and Garrett Faircloth would miss time at one point or another as well.
There is the perception among many FSU fans that the situation is far more dier than it actually is, talent wise. The Seminoles brought in an impressive bunch in 2011, who is still working to gain experience. This Spring will be about building strength, confidence and continuity for the group that much of the team success will hing upon in 2012. Rising sophomores like Bobby Hart, Josue Matias, Tre Jackson and Austin Barron all have the makings of future starters, with a couple having the potential to be stars. These are the four who started against Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl and ultimately had the light come on for them in the second half. Still, they are very inexperienced. The advantage the youngsters have on the older players exist both in the areas of natural size and talent.
It is not a foregone conclusion that the four 2nd year players will be starters. They will be competition and resistance, so that will be a story to watch as Bryan Stork and Garrett Faircloth, who started the bulk of the games in 2011, make their cases and the Seminoles find out what they have in jumbo JUCO transfer Daniel Glauser (6'6, 320 lbs.). Glauser may be able to come in and become a starter at tackle from day one. We will know more about him very soon.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Florida State Seminoles: 5 Questions for Spring Football 2012 - Tallahassee Florida State Seminoles | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/florida-state-seminoles-in-tallahassee/florida-state-seminoles-5-questions-for-spring-football-2012#ixzz1pOoaPKqj
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