Next up is a double-dip of obsessive fans in nafselon and Jerry Scott who write for the blog, Tomahawk Nation.
1. How comfortable are you with Drew Weatherford being the starter?
Jerry: I'm fairly comfortable with Drew as the starting Quarterback. In terms of the QB Battle, Xavier Lee had every opportunity to beat out Drew: He had a fresh slate with the New Offensive Coordinator in Jimbo Fisher and he even chose to wear a new jersey number. He clearly doesn't have what it takes in two Offensive Coordinators eyes, so I can handle how the battle turned out.
Drew's freshman year was outstanding minus the interceptions. His sophomore season he didn't progress like we all had hoped. As of right now, I attribute the majority of that inability to progress to a coaching staff that wasn't up to the task of building premier college athletes (see Chris Rix). I have complete faith in Jimbo Fisher and his system and with that comes a complete faith in the starting quarterback that was chosen to lead my Favorite Alma Mater.
nafselon: It doesn't matter whether *I* have confidence in Drew Weatherford, does Drew Weatherford have confidence in Drew Weatherford? He'll say yes in interviews, but his on-field decisions have told me otherwise. I do, however, have confidence that Jimbo Fisher will do whatever it takes to win and if Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee can't get with that program, they will both be on the bench. But back to the question, Drew will have to earn confidence from this fan and many other fans. In ACC competition he's completed a little over 56% of his passes and has 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, that's not good (it includes two games against Duke) and it needs to improve.
2. Is Rick Trickett just what FSU needed to compete for the ACC
Jerry: A lot of our current regressions can be linked to poor Offensive Line play. It's no secret our O-line had become soft and complacent. Rick Trickett's stern background and tenacity should help the entire Offensive Line work they way it had in past seasons for Heisman Trophy winners in Chris Weinke and as far back as Charlie Ward.
A lot of people downplay the significance of the Offensive Line, I myself have fallen victim to under appreciating the men that we call "Hog Mollies." As a reader pointed out, "A GAME IS LOST OR WON SOMEWHERE IN THE TRENCHES" …… I'm not sure Rick Trickett was the final cog needed to get FSU back to the ACC Championship, but couple him with Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher, RB's Coach Dexter Carter, and LB's Coach Chuck Amato and the Noles just might surprise some folks this season, all the way to Jacksonville.
nafselon: Honestly, my dog would be a better offensive line coach than Mark McHale. So to go from the worst position coach to the best in a matter of months is going to be a major difference.
3. Are you confident with the new LBs now that Buster Davis and
Lawrence Timmons are gone?
Jerry: Its hard not to be confident with Mickey Andrews and Chuck Amato coaching these guys up. Although Lawrence and Buster are gone, Geno Hayes is back for his Junior year, he was at times, more impressive than Davis and Timmons. I would compare Geno to a Kendyll Pope type of Linebacker (Smart, Instinctive, and Above Average). LB's Marcus Ball and Derek Nicholson are both coming off season ending ACL injuries from the previous season. Marcus Ball is actually coming back a little slower/tentative, so he may very well lose his job to Sophomore LB Dekoda Watson (more on him in a sec). Derek had actually strained his ACL in high-school and it was only a matter of time before or tore it completely. He's actually been quoted as saying his knee feels stronger. Nicholson obviously has big shoes to fill in terms of playing the position his brother A.J. had recently left behind for the NFL (and jail time). Derek received a lot of time on Special Teams last season before tearing up his, so its tough to project what type of full time starter he can be, but I took a class with him at FSU and I can tell you he's determined to fulfill his promise on the gridiron.
Sophomore LB Dekoda Watson has been an absolute joy this offseason. He's been flying around the field, while impressing coaches and teammates alike. His progression really is a shock, I remember sitting in class with LB Derek Nicholson and DE Everette Brown while both of them kind of snickered at the thought of Dekoda on the playing field under the bright lights in any kind of key situation. They thought he looked lost on the practice fields last season. Credit Dekoda for putting in hard work and being able to impress enough to potentially become the starter along side Brown and Nicholson come gameday.
nafselon: I believe Geno Hayes is a stud, but otherwise there will be two new starters and a good chance that both of them will be coming off of major knee injuries and that's a concern. I'm not worried about the talent or the coaching, but health and inexperience are a bit of a concern. That being said both Hayes and Buster Davis proved their value early in their careers and I expect Marcus Ball, Derek Nicholson and Ricardo Wright will do the same.
4. What about the kicking game? Do you feel it's good enough for FSU
to pull out some tight ball games?
Jerry: The kicking game kind of baffles me. A Program that is so rich in kicking travesties and you would think getting a premier kicker and giving him everything but FREE SHOES would be at an utmost importance. Our Senior Kicker in Gary Cismesia (a 2-Star athlete out of High-School) hasn't been bad with FSU, he just had the unimaginable task of following horrific place-kicker Xavier Beitia who missed his fair share of kicks against hated rival Miami. Cismesia is making field goals at a success rate of 72%, that doesn't exactly breed confidence (but neither did my GPA in college). ….. I think Gary can pull out some tight games though, he's a senior and has been through thick and thin with the Garnet and Gold on his back. Last season he had a long of 53 yards so leg strength isnt an issue. When it comes to FSU and Game Winning kicks, ANYTHING can HAPPEN …..
nafselon: Gary Cismesia is good enough, he hit the game-winner against Miami last year and would have hit the game-tying field goal against Maryland if it wasn't blocked. I have plenty of faith that he can get the job done. Overall I've come to terms that FSU will rarely have the sort of kicker than I have no worries about like Sebastian Janikowski or Scott Bentley. Cismesia will never be at that level, but he's good enough.
5. What do you make out of the schedule? It's brutal.
Jerry: It's funny, because last seasons schedule looked like a cake walk with 8 HOME GAMES and look where that got us (7-6). I don't know about other Seminole Fans, but I've had enough of the Monday Night Season Openers. I mean, what does it say when you're coming off a (7-6) Season and you're given a Monday Night Spotlight game? Thanks for the respect, but give it a rest. I thought when we gave up the Miami Leadoff series we would be back to the "Build-your-Confidence" variety of competition to start the season, but the Clemson Tigers are anything but that, especially in DEATH VALLEY. Thankfully we face UAB and Colorado before heading out to Jacksonville. I'm sorry Buffalo fans, Dan Hawkins will see what a juggernaut does to an Intramural Squad!
I think of all the games on the Schedule, the Alabama in Jacksonville Game is the one I am looking most forward to. Forget the match-up between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban and forget LB Coach Kevin Steele playing his old team …. look at the BEAUTIFUL Stadium Noles-Crimson Tide fans will be able to file into (and boy are they coming, tickets are sold-OUT already). A lot of the early lines out there have FSU beating Wake Forest by 8 points in Demon Deacon Land …. HELLO, Wake beat us at Doak Campbell Stadium 30-0 last season. I don't like the look of that match-up. Add a fiesty BC Eagles to the Schedule, an up-and-coming Miami Hurricanes, and a tough-as-all-get-out match-up in Blacksburg and you've got a recipe for disaster.
That my friends doesn't even include the Matchup in Gainesville on my Wedding Day against the defending Nat'l Champion Gators (please allow me to vomit). Now that I kind of seriously looked at our schedule in the face, I'm still looking forward to the season, but it's more with me biting my lip and praying for daylight.
nafselon: Yes the schedule is extremely difficult, probably among the most difficult in the land. That being said, I feel like FSU has the coaches that are able to get through a difficult schedule and have some success. If the old group was still here, I would guess that FSU would have a 4-8 season. As it is, the Seminoles could be 7-6 again and be a MUCH better football team. I think nine wins is a good number and if they can split the November games, I'll be happy, if they can win 3 of 4, I'll be doing back flips!