If the Spring Game was any indication of what’s to come for FSU this year, Mark Stoops is going to be a busy--and important--man.
His defense, at least when it was mildly interested in the game, manhandled Jimbo Fisher’s offense, humiliated Rick Trickett’s offensive line, and slung around Eddie Gran’s tailbacks, except for Debrale Smiley.
He made the offense, particularly the offensive line, look like an overmatched unit that didn’t even belong on that football field. And from what I saw, the only reason either side put up more than seven points was because Stoops called off his NFL-ready men and let the young pups in.
To be fair to Fisher and Gran, most of the offensive breakdowns stemmed from Trickett’s offensive line. It looked atrocious. It was humiliated on nearly every play. It couldn’t pass block, run block or even look like a competent Division I unit.
Rick Trickett, who is in his sixth year as the offensive line coach, was taken to the woodshed by Mark Stoops.
Everyone in Seminole Nation understands that the “starting” offensive line was broken up onto two teams. And yes, this was just a Spring Game—many FSU fans remember the 1999 Championship team having a terrible offensive Spring Game.
In the post-game interview, Fisher, brushing aside the breakdowns at the line, said he was more concerned with certain individuals than with the team as a whole.
But this is getting harder to accept. It sounds like the same rhetoric that FSU fans heard last season. This offensive line looks like more of the same—and by that I mean more atrocious, inexcusable output from Rick Trickett.
It appears that the line may have actually gotten worse—the Garnet team, for example, managed only .8 yards-per-carry. I’m very aware that these guys may get some of their problems corrected over the next five months, but what has me worried—not believing in that line of thinking—is that they were just getting thrashed out there.
They looked like boys, and made Stoops’s unit looked like NFL-caliber players. (Now, I understand that Stoops does have many NFL players on his defense and that they will embarrass a lot of teams this season, but that doesn’t excuse Rick Trickett for putting together an inexplicably terrible line for the second straight season.)
I honestly believe EJ, who himself had a frustrating Spring Game, will be all right. I also think the backs are legit—James Wilder Jr. is a bruiser, Devonta Freeman has some fancy footwork, and Debrale Smiley looked very good. The receivers probably don’t concern Seminole Nation either.
It all goes back to that line, and this is why I think Mark Stoops will have to carry this team. Rick Trickett, more than likely, will not have the problems corrected. I don’t know if it’s just a recruiting problem—none of these linemen, except for Bobby Hart, were highly recruited kids—or if he
just cannot fix things, but if you follow recent history and don’t buy into the post-game drivel, FSU’s offense is not going to impress too much this season.
It doesn’t matter how many five-star wideouts or tailbacks Jimbo and his staff sign, you cannot run a Jimbo-style (complex pro-style) offense without a functional and competent offensive line.
If you’re a FSU fan, though, remember that your team does have a defense, so don’t let the recruiting and coaching failures of Rick Trickett get you down too much. Mark Stoops is here to bail him out again.