ACC Spring Football: Florida State Update With Chop Chat

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

STG: Another key player Florida State won’t have is Bjoern Werner. Can we expect to see any competition in the spring game for who will replace him, and broadly speaking, who might step up on that defense?

CC: Losing three players at defensive end with first round NFL talent is going to show this year. Werner, Tank Carradine, and Brandon Jenkins were monsters. We have the talent to replace them but they are still fairly green. Watch for Mario Edwards this year. He was the top prospect two years ago and he’s now being coached by one of the best defensive end coaches in the business (Sal Sunseri). Importantly, though, what opponents saw in years past (rushing only off the edge) will not hold true this year. Mark Stoops did not need to be creative with the pass rush with three 1st round talents at defensive end. This year, we have new players, new coaches, and a new system altogether.

STG: Are there any other position battles or areas of interest to you in this year’s spring football season aside from the aforementioned?

CC: It’s not so much a battle, but FSU lost NFL talent at right tackle. Menelik Watson left earlier than expected (considering he has only played a few handfuls of football games in his life). We are now in the process of grooming the next right tackle and our success this season may very well rest on that position.

FSU is absolutely loaded this year at running back and receiver. The new QB will not be asked to do too much. The offensive line, which is solid except for right tackle at the moment, may hold the key to the success of the 2013 squad. Bobby Hart, who is turning 19 just before the season starts, was considered somewhat of a prodigy but he hasn’t been able to redshirt yet (this is his 3rd year in the program). Many are hoping he turns out but if he doesn’t, we may see the entire offensive shuffle around.

STG: Now for the program at-large: following the Orange Bowl win, heading into spring football, where are short-term expectations for the Seminoles right now? Has some of the heat been taken off of Jimbo Fisher?

CC: I don’t think the heat has worn off. He got some credit for hauling in a great recruiting class but the majority of fans seem to question Fisher’s long-term potential at this point. I’m not one of those fans. Because Fisher is a Saban disciple, fans are quick to compare Fisher to Saban. The problem is you can’t compare anyone to Saban right now. The best comparison for Fisher is the Saban who coached at Michigan State.

Regarding expectations, even though this team lost 6 coaches and a slew of NFL talent, the fans are still expecting a 2 loss season. FSU plays both Clemson and UF on the road but we only expect to lose one of those. Meanwhile, we are going to concede one more unexpected game that has become the norm under Jimbo Fisher. Losses like NC State last year and Virginia the year before, games where FSU is a double digit favorite, have stung the fans. I attribute those to growing pains and not an indictment on the long-term outlook for Fisher. FSU would be lucky to hold on to Fisher for 20 years.

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