Do you see anything different with this team's makeup?
I've covered this program since 1986 and have visited with many booster clubs
over the years, and this question is often asked. Each year, there is
unbridled enthusiasm amongst coaches and players as the summer winds down.
This preseason is no different. Yes, the team unity is wonderful and the
camaraderie impressive. However, a team's character is molded over the course
of the season. FSU's team of two years ago did not handle adversity very well.
Last year's team was much better in that department. I think this year's team
will be even better due to its leaders and experience.
More Leaders or more talent? And if so,
A little of both. For starters, Chris Rix
seems very determined to make a
difference this season -- in the right way by relying on his teammates. The
offensive line also features plenty of talent and experience, anchored by
All-America Alex Barron
. Craphonso Thorpe
has also developed into a a solid
leader, which is key since Cro is not afraid to speak his mind. I think the
work habits of a number of players also have improved, beginning with Travis Johnson
on defense. The linebackers can be superstars, and they are void
of egos at the moment. The secondary is very seasoned and determined to let
their actions, not words, a.k.a. Stanford Samuels
, set the the tone.
How does Rix look so far and has he improved
The biggest difference is in Chris' teammates -- they are speaking
glowingly of him and not shaking their heads in a "No comment"
mode. Honestly, I've always enjoyed chatting with Chris and watching him play.
Peter Tom Willis once said Chris had more athletic ability of any QB recruited
by FSU. PT is absolutely correct, but we all know that athletic ability only
looks good coming off the bus if you can't make good decisions on the field. I
think Chris will make good decisions on the field, and he has demonstrated
that thus far this preseason. Fans need to pull for Chris.
How are the backups looking? Do you think
the freshmen will challenge for the starting roll in 2005?
Quality depth is always important. Defensively, Mickey Andrews is going to shuffle
players in and out like a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. That's good for now,
and good for the future. Jeff Bowden's approach on offense is a tad different,
but offensive line reserves like Brian Ross
, David Overmyer
, John Frady
, Mario Henderson
and Cory Niblock
have made noticeable strides. I think Brian Ross is
one of the preseason's best stories, a former defensive lineman who suffered a
broken leg two springs ago and was working with the first unit in Monday's
half-scrimmage. As far as the freshmen, it's very difficult for a first-year
player to step into a starting role. Much has been made of quarterbacks Drew Weatherford
and Xavier Lee
. They are wonderful talents and impressive young
men. However, it's going to take time to learn the system and feel comfortable
with the Seminoles' scheme. Defensively, freshman cornerbacks J.R. Bryant
have fit in very nicely. They are very talented and appear to have
Is there anyone on offense that looks like they
are ready to step up?
Actually, freshman running backs Jamaal Edwards
and Lamar Lewis
very good. Neither is intimidated when running the football, though they both
need to improve on pass-pro. Hopefully, Leon Washington
and Lorenzo Booker
will be injury-free this season. But it's always good to have somebody in
reserve. Receiver DeCody Fagg
also is playing well after a sluggish start. He
caught another touchdown on goal-line drills in Friday's a.m. practice.
How about the defense?
My man, Buster Davis
. Davis is proving he belongs out on the field. He
has played well behind Sam McGrew
at middle linebacker. If that's not enough,
he was the star of the show in Monday's scrimmage, stepping in at weakside
linebacker for the injured A.J. Nicholson
and Marcello Church. I also think
has been impressive this preseason, stepping in for starter Bryant McFadden
at left cornerback. McFadden has missed some time due to family
Is it possible that even with seven starters
lost from last year, that this year's version good be better?
Indeed. Your quarterback is a four-year starter; tailback Lorenzo Washington
consists of two of the most exciting tailbacks around; the O-line returns all
five starters; and your receivers feature a nice blend of speed and strength.
While questions remain along the D-line, look for Eric Moore
to have another
solid year and Travis Johnson backs up his yapping. FSU's linebackers are
athletic and quick, and the secondary is top-heavy with experience. Xavier Beitia
has converted 70 percent of his field goals, and Chris Hall
effective as the Seminoles' punter.
Does the offensive philosphy look any
Judging by the first scrimmage, the Seminoles appear determined to get their
running backs and tight ends into the passing game. The approach is far more
controlled, though FSU will surely take advantage of Craphonso Thorpe's
home-run ability as well. I also like the running combination of Lorenzo
Booker and Leon Washington. Chris Davis
has wonderful potential, but he needs
to stay healthy.
Do you see any All-Americans on this team?
Alex Barron, for sure. Craphonso Thorpe should make some noise as well if he
starts off hot. Defensively, FSU has a number of solid players but I am not
sure if any will earn All-America honors. If A.J. Nicholson is not slowed by
any knee aches, he's going to turn some heads.
Does this team have what it takes to finally
beat Miami. And if so, what has to be done on the field?
Honestly, FSU should beat Miami by at least a touchdown. The Seminoles return
their studs, the 'Canes lost too many of theirs. FSU is better on defense and
at the skill positions. It's the Orange Bowl, but so what? It will make for a
fun charter flight home for the 'Noles.