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Florida State Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

Brandon MellorFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

Florida State Football: Report Card Grades for Every New Starter

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    FSU's new starter at safety, Nate Andrews, made an early splash with an interception return for a score against Oklahoma State.
    FSU's new starter at safety, Nate Andrews, made an early splash with an interception return for a score against Oklahoma State.USA TODAY Sports

    Florida State officially kicked off its title defense this past Saturday by holding off Oklahoma State in a 37-31 victory, and several new starting Seminoles played integral roles in the opening-weekend win.

    With several former players off to the NFL, FSU had multiple starting positions to fill this offseason, and their replacements had mixed results against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    Click the slideshow to see what each of FSU's new starters did in game No. 1 and a grade of their performances.

Nate Andrews, Safety

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Week 1 Statistics

    Two tackles, one interception returned for a touchdown

     

    Breakdown

    Andrews may have had just a few tackles as FSU’s starting safety replacement for Terrence Brooks, but the sophomore made one of the biggest plays of the night when he didn’t bite on J.W. Walsh’s play fake and instead jumped in the air, tipped the football to himself and raced nine yards for a defensive score.

    Andrews led FSU in interceptions as a true freshman a season ago, so his knack for making plays didn’t disappear in the offseason.

    The only negative for Andrews Saturday night? His first-quarter taunting penalty, but it was followed by a missed Oklahoma State field goal.

     

    Grade

    A

Austin Barron, Center

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Week 1 Statistics

    Starting center; FSU’s offensive line allowed two sacks and generated just 106 yards rushing.

     

    Breakdown

    Heading into the 2014 season, Jameis Winston expressed a tremendous amount of confidence in his new starting center, Austin Barron. A four-game injury replacement at starter over the course of his first three seasons at Florida State, Barron was tasked with replacing Rimington Trophy winner Bryan Stork in the heart of the Seminoles’ all-senior line.

    Stork was the glue of Florida State’s offensive line a year ago, frequently helping a then-inexperienced Winston locate the defense’s “Mike” and making the right line-of-scrimmage calls. While Barron may not have that same responsibility this year because of Winston’s progression, his first game as a full-time starter left a lot to be desired—but that was true of the entire offensive line.

    FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said at his Monday teleconference that several missed assignments by the offensive line—not always Barron—were the culprit behind so many of FSU’s negative rushing plays.

    “I thought we pass-pro’d really well,” Fisher said at his Monday press conference. “On run blocking, I don’t think we were as physical as we needed to be, and they will say that same thing. Which was very rare.”

     

    Grade

    C

Christian Green, Wide Receiver

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    Ross Obley/FSU Sports Information

    Week 1 Statistics

    Two catches for 73 yards (long of 62)

     

    Breakdown

    Green, a redshirt senior, has been a non-factor through his first four years at Florida State, but the veteran did enough during fall camp to earn a starting job at wide receiver alongside star Rashad Greene.

    Green then went out and hauled in an 11-yard reception on FSU’s possession and registered a 62-yard catch-and-run from Winston on the final play of the first quarter. That early production was a good sign for a Seminoles passing attack in need of viable No. 2 options behind Greene without Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw on the roster.

    But after that first-quarter showing, Green never caught another pass, as the game got more and more difficult for the ’Noles and Winston preferred to target Greene—even if it meant he had to force some throws.

     

    Grade

    B

Reggie Northrup, Middle Linebacker

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    Brandon Mellor

    Week 1 Statistics

    Seven tackles

     

    Breakdown

    Northrup was in a heated battle with E.J. Levenberry for the starting middle linebacker job during fall camp and got the nod for the opener. 

    Of the Jacksonville, Florida, native’s seven tackles, three came against Oklahoma State speedster Tyreek Hill, who appeared to be on the verge of breaking a long gain every time he touched the football. Four of Northrup’s seven tackles were also for either one-yard or no gains on Cowboys ball-carriers.

     

    Grade

    B+

Freddie Stevenson, Fullback

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    Brandon Mellor

    Week 1 Statistics

    Zero carries, two special teams tackles, zero receptions on two targets, one kick return for five yards

     

    Breakdown

    Chad Abram’s replacement at fullback, Stevenson did not carry the football but instead was the lead blocker for an FSU running game that never got going. The former linebacker was targeted twice by Winston but did not haul in either pass.

    Still, Fisher was pleased with what he saw from his new starter.

    “Freddie [Stevenson] did a pretty nice job at fullback,” Fisher said. “But we didn’t play up to our potential at the other spots, but we played well enough to create space and make plays. But not up to our potential.”

     

    Grade

    B

Karlos Williams, Running Back

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Week 1 Statistics

    23 rushes for 66 yards, five catches for 36 yards

     

    Breakdown

    Few players on FSU’s roster had more hype coming into the 2014 season than Williams, as everyone expects the senior tailback to be one of the top rushers in all of college football after averaging 8.0 yards per carry last year.

    Instead, his first game as Devonta Freeman’s replacement lacked any of the big plays Williams consistently showcased a season ago, and he struggled to find holes—when there were some—the offensive line created. 

    Fisher said he saw some good things out of his new starting tailback.

    I think his pass-pros were good," Fisher said. "His runs, for the most part, a couple of runs cut back too quick at times. Caught the ball well out of the backfield. We got to work on a couple of routes, getting a little more depth on a route or two, here and there. But I thought he had a very solid performance. 

    “I thought he ran hard and physical. I thought he ran the ball hard.”

     

    Grade

    B-

DeMarcus Walker, Defensive End

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Week 1 Statistics

    Four tackles

     

    Breakdown

    Less than two hours before kickoff, it was revealed that starter Chris Casher would be sidelined due to an academic issue. Walker then slid into the starting lineup and finished the game with a handful of tackles.

    After a strong fall camp, Walker showed some of his ability in the win. He got a quarterback hurry on Walsh and posted three of his four tackles at the line of scrimmage. 

    Casher’s status for FSU’s second game of the year is still in doubt, so Walker could remain in the starting lineup moving forward.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Brandon Mellor is a Florida State writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of Seminoles.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

    Follow @BrandonMellor on Twitter.

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