At six o'clock on Saturday night, under the bright lights of Doak Campbell Stadium, the mighty Seminoles of Florida State will storm the field.
Their opponent will be the Racers of Murray State, a fearless team led by head coach Chris Hatcher.
Coach Hatcher and his Racers are headed to Tallahassee with intentions of upsetting the No. 7 team in the country--Hatcher won a Division II title in 2004 during his time at Valdosta State. The game against Florida State is not just a paycheck, a memory for the players or a chance to play in front of 80,000 fans—it’s a chance for Murray State to make history.
The Racers, who finished 7-4 last season, have 16 returning starters and are led by quarterback Casey Brockman, who was picked as the preseason first-team All-OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) quarterback. He led a high-octane offense with 2,371 passing yards last season and is the leading passer in school history.
In front of the All-conference quarterback is a veteran offensive line. Three of the five O-linemen are returning starters. Roderick Tomlin anchors the unit. He is a senior right tackle with 26 career starts. Tomlin will be going up against NFL prospects Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Containing the nation's best defensive line will be a great challenge for the Racers.
At tailback, Duane Brady will carry the football for the Racers. He’s a 5’8’,’ 180-pound bruiser who is in his first year as a starter. Murray State likes to spread the ball around through the air—this is the team’s strength—but will most certainly try to establish a run game against FSU's front seven. This too will be a formidable challenge, as FSU has arguably the best front seven in the nation.
Murray State's defense struggled last season and is not a strength of the team. However, FSU's offensive line (and offense, at times) was nothing short of embarrassing last year, so this could be an interesting matchup.
Rick Trickett, the “legendary” O-line coach at FSU, has struggled mightily since he began his tenure in Tallahassee. This will be a good test for his unit. Last year, the Seminoles struggled to rush the ball against Charleston Southern, another FCS school.
There's clearly a gap in talent—Florida State is replete with blue-chip 5-stars and future high-round NFL draft picks—but this game could tell Seminole Nation a lot about Rick Trickett’s offensive line. All eyes will be on that unit, and if it cannot establish a running game or control the line of scrimmage, there will be tension in Tallahassee.
Regardless, FSU will win this game.