Depth and Stars Matter at Florida State

Screenshot 2014-12-16 15.25.43

Florida State, Oregon’s opponent in the upcoming Rose Bowl on January 1st, knows how to win. An established football tradition and excellent coaching are complemented by top recruiting classes attracted to the school of 32,000 in Tallahassee, year after year. As the ‘Noles prepare for their showdown with the Ducks, they have not-so-quietly put together the nation’s second-ranked 2015 recruiting class, and are closing in on national leader, Alabama.

Ducks fans will be at least vaguely aware of this, the result of the recent announcement that five-star defensive end Josh Sweat had picked the Seminoles over, among a handful of other programs, Oregon.

Josh Sweat -- no sweat for FSU.

www.espn.go.com

Josh Sweat — no sweat for FSU.

At this point, FSU has the highest average star rating in the country, at 3.95, with a number of five-star talents still contemplating a college career under the tutelage of Jimbo Fisher and his staff. To put that in some perspective, only one school in the last ten years has managed to exceed a 4.0 star average in a recruiting class – USC, in 2010.

Many quickly point out the fact that stars aren’t everything. There are plenty of examples of four- and five-star players who don’t pan out at the college level, while many unheralded kids go on to become sensations – I give you that now-famous three-star prospect out of Honolulu, Marcus Mariota. But make no mistake – over the course of a long and rugged season, as players wear down and injuries occur, the more talent across the board a team has, the better its depth, the more likely it is going to be successful late in the year. The fact Florida State has won 29 games in a row speaks rather eloquently to this fact.

The Seminoles’ defensive line situation is a case in point. Plenty banged up this year, the team still managed to hold the fort with replacement linemen, winning every game with starters riding the bench while nursing significant injuries. Players like Nile Lawrence-Stample (see top photo), a 6’1″, 314 pound redshirt junior defensive tackle, a high four-star player out of high school who tore his pectoral muscle in FSU’s 23-17 overtime victory over Clemson on September 20.

While Derrick Mitchell (four-star) filled in nicely since his teammate’s injury, backed by Justin Shanks (another four-star), having Lawrence-Stample back in time to face the Ducks would clearly boost FSU’s defensive fortunes.

Plug and play: FSU's Derrick Mitchell is no slouch on the defensive line.

FSU Athletic Department

Plug and play: FSU’s Derrick Mitchell is no slouch on the defensive line.

“It really could [help depth],” Fisher said. “Give you a lot of reps, give you quality, give you size, girth. Niles is a heck of a player now. He was fixing to have a great year. He has power, speed, and all that. He’s in good shape. We just have to get him back to playing football.”

FSU linebacker Terrance Smith echoed his coach, stating the return of Lawrence-Stample in time for the Rose Bowl would be a tremendous boost, adding that his team’s national championship run last year was in part due to the outstanding play of the defensive line.

“It freed me and Telvin [fellow linebacker, Smith] a lot, we could go sideline to sideline and just make plays. To be able to have two threats up there, plus Mario [Edwards Jr.] and Demarcus [Walker] on the edge, to be able to have people that require double-team blocks and can’t get single blocked… that’s a big factor.

The fact that all these players were potential All-Americans when they entered the program doesn’t hurt. Stars are certainly not everything. But can a team really ever have too many? Jimbo Fisher would likely answer with an emphatic, “no.”

 Top photo www.baynews9.com

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Randy Morse

Randy Morse

Randy Morse (Editor and Writer) is a native Oregonian, a South Eugene High and U of O grad (where he played soccer for the Ducks, waaay back in ’70-‘71). After his doctoral work at the University of Alberta he launched a writing & publishing career – that plus his love of mountaineering has taken him all over the world. An award-winning artist, musician, broadcaster, and author, he’s written 8 books – his writing on media & democracy earned him the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting’s 2014 Dalton Camp Award. He swears he taught LaMarcus Aldridge his patented fade-way jump shot, and is adamant that if he hadn’t left the country (and was a foot taller) he would be the owner of a prosperous chain of fast food outlets and a member of the NBA Hall of Fame by now. If there is a more rabid Ducks fan in the known universe, this would come as a major surprise to Morse’s long-suffering family. He resides in the tiny alpine village of Kaslo, British Columbia.

  • Dan

    Too much is being made of FSU’s talent, IMO. USC and UCLA have as much talent as any team in the country and are certainly not unbeatable. MSU, Stanford, and UW have better defenses this year with solid front 7s. FSU’s coaches (and some luck) deserve a lot of the credit for their record over the past 2 years. Talent alone doesn’t win football games.

    That said, FSU is definitely not as good as they were last season and played in arguably the worst of the “Big 5” conferences. Would Oregon be undefeated if they played FSU’s schedule this year? I think so, even with the injuries we’ve had with the offensive line.

    FSU may come away with a victory in the Rose Bowl but not because they overwhelmed Oregon with their 4/5 star athletes.

    • really

      Talent ALONE won those games. I bet you didn’t watch a single one and just like to spout off about your team, which has lost, being so much better. The PAC 12 is garbage and has been for years.

      • Mrs. Winston

        Your thoughts on the PAC 12 are pretty much what the country thinks of the ACC. I guess it’s garbage vs. garbage. Why are you so bitter and angry? Are you trying to convince yourself of something?

  • MAITAIDUCK

    That D line has been ran on consistently so please do the math they were ranked 60th in the nation against the Run as in I seriously don’t have any doubts in my mind we run the ball on them with consistent running and will have a healed up Tyner with Royce running between the tackles and Byron Marshall getting the ball out of the backfield on short dump passes to which no one when our O Line was healthy could stop our offense and we played higher ranked Defenses this year and won handedly. Its our D Line that they should be worrying about because Arizona had a same size O Line and that front 3 DOMINATED them and FSU will lose the battles against Buckner and Armstead I mean we’ve been waiting for these guy’s to start playing up to their potential and now they are and you want to talk about 2 and 3 deep well Oregon is just as talented with players replacing banged up guy’s or why else would we now be ranked NO.2 in the country because we’ve had way more serious injury’s than them and our depth stepped up and the only position where it hasn’t is TE and maybe that will be different come Jan 1st. Sorry but I could care less about FSU because they are such a bunch of THUG’S and who can forget their ALLEGED RAPICT of a QB! These guy’s don’t deserve the publicity especially on our end!

    • really

      you play against Pac 12 defense’s. When have they EVER been good? Pac 12 is an offensive conference, definitely NOT known for defense.

      I cannot WAIT for this game. I cannot WAIT for FSU to win and to see the reaction from the Oregon fans and the rest of the nation. Talking like FSU has no chance. You guys lost to Arizona, to FREAKING ARIZONA!

  • Polaris Silvertree

    Maitaiduck…wow. And I thought it only ran rampant among the under-educated. Listen, I didn’t go to FSU — but you will have to excuse me if I find the misguided opinions of some (i.e. Jameis Winston no matter what the evidence shows was guilty) to be not only wrong — but really sorta getting old. So you are gonna bash a whole team, coaches, and school because someone alleged that Jameis was guilty of sexual assault? Even though he has yet to be accused of any crime? I mean there is this narrative that the media has painted about FSU and the TPD as being this good ole boy club that cares more about football than they do justice. C’mon man — if the media had a smoking gun — in this day and age, I think people would’ve come out and basically blown this story wide open. The fact that its a story where the details are fading fast should give us all pause about our bias, ESPECIALLY if the people we hate are really innocent. At some point — I have to say I am thankful I don’t live in a place (like your town) where I’m gonna be accused guilty no matter what. I might even get lynched from the way you talk.

    That said, I think FSU definitely has their hands full. I mean no one believes FSU is gonna stop Mariota. The real question is can FSU slow Oregon down just enough to score faster than the Ducks can… I think because of their size AND speed — its definitely possible. On the flip side, the loss of ifo is a big time loss. Oregon’s D I think will have a tough time stopping FSU. But here’s the X-factor — FSU’s zombienoles (at least to me) seem to be playing with a lack of focus, or motivation. I wonder now that the playoffs are here — if they don’t wake-up and play some really inspired football. Now, that’s a scary thought. I am excited about this game for many reasons — but I think it will put to rest alot of speculations on who the Ducks are — and yes who the Noles are.

    • MAITAIDUCK

      Scary thought by the sounds of it I’d positively say you are a NOLE’S Fan and lets just be honest if the Noles can’t get motivated to play 12 games then there is something very wrong with that Team. The Duck’s have way more to prove than FSU and if you really think Oregon’s D is going to have problems stopping FSU then maybe before you get on here and start SPOUTING OFF because thet really makes you the UNDER EDUCATED ONE! I’m sure if you haven’t watched the Duck’s DOMINANT performance against the CAT’S then watch it because the Wildcats would of run all over DUKE a BB School as in don’t make me laugh FSU is going to lose this game and it wont make 1 bit of difference that Ifo’s out it just means SEISAY will be good enough to come in and get the job done. You people have no idea that Football is played out here? As far as winston’s concerned I would probably believe he did what I said earlier because look at the thing’s this guy continued to do after all this was done I mean NO INTEGRITY WHATSOEVER here’s why his actions speak louder than words and he clearly should not of won the Heisman because of having that allegation period if it’s all about what you do off the field. The right guy got it this year for on the field and off the field as in NO COMPARISON!

      • Polaris Silvertree

        My comment about being under-educated was really around your implication that Winston’s a criminal — nothing else. I figure if you don’t know the facts and all you are doing is listening to the media on their speculation and presuming/assuming that is the truth — to hold judgement and not hate everyone associated with Winston’s football team/school/family/city, etc. I don’t think anyone needs to explain how much Winton’s foolish actions/behavior/whatever has been over-sensationalized and put in the backdrop of the sexual assault allegation. No matter who it is — I think that’s just fundamentally wrong. All court documents are public and online. Just about every accusation that has hit the news about Winston has been explained fully. If you want an unbiased opinion — just go find out for yourself. That’s what I did — and I was one of his harshest critics. For the record — I love Mariota and not only does he deserves the Heisman — but there really wasn’t anyone even close to being considered. He could’ve quite possibly have won it even last year (had he not gotten injured). But what I like about Mariota the most? Aside from being ridiculous under center, he’s straight up classy, humble — and everything I would want in a Heisman winner. So, you need to take off the hate-everyone-who-doesn’t-agree-that-the-ducks-will-crush-FSU-because-all-those-guys-are-felons-including-the-police-coaches-their-wives-and-kids sunglasses and read my comments objectively.

        I think the Noles do have several major problems — not just one. But if there was one critical one — it would be that the Noles D-line must contain Mariota (is that even possible?). If they don’t — I think the Ducks will beat FSU. Its gonna get ugly for FSU trying to stop that fast tempo spread option attack. Unlike Georgia Tech, Oregon is a very multidimensional offense and they execute VERY well. And, finally — I want to say that I have watched Oregon play over the last 5 years — so please stop jumping to conclusions. My comment about FSU getting up for the CFP is legit. FSU tends to play up/down to their opponents. Oregon generally (not all the time) cranks it into high gear no matter who it is. Its just what happens after a month off when you have a bowl or in a play-off. You either come out flat or you totally rock — what else is there? I was just saying — objectively — if FSU heals up and plays to their potential — that’s a scary proposition, especially now with the loss of Ifo.

      • ToddM

        What is your over use of Capitalization compensating for? Typical Duck fan blowhard. 1) Steer conversation away from football. ( I don’t Like Jameis because he is a big meanie. 2) Discuss how the Ducks are going to humiliate FSU. 3) Bloviate some more about their dislike for Jameis. Pretty pathetic. You have no idea the game you are going to get. I hope for your sake your team is ready because FSU will on and you will need your best game to beat us.