FSU spring practice breakdown: Offense
The Florida State Seminoles boasted one of the top offenses in the country last season ranking in the top-twenty in total offense and setting an NCAA record for points in a season. Key players such as quarterback Jameis Winston, receiver Rashad Greene, and tight-end Nick O’Leary are back for another year, but holes remain that young players will have to step into. Most of spring practice has been spent filling these holes and working to building depth along the offensive line. Questions still remain though as the Seminoles wrap-up spring practice on Thursday and hold the annual Garnet vs. Gold game on Saturday. Here is a full breakdown of the offense’s progress during spring practice:
Quarterback: The battle for the number two spot behind Winston has proven to be no battle at all. Redshirt-sophomore Sean Maguire has taken the vast majority of the reps with the second-team while redshirt-freshman Jonathan Franklin III has mostly been relegated to watching from the sidelines. Maguire saw limited playing time in nine games last season completing 13-of-21 passes for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the impending arrival of four-star quarterback J.J. Cosentino this summer it has been speculated that the Franklin may be asked to switch positions. Franklin, who is listed at 6-foot and 178 pounds, is a superb athlete with a lot of arm talent, but he lacks the prototypical size to withstand the punishment of the quarterback position.
Wide receiver: The wide receivers have been one of the most talked about and criticized position groups throughout the spring as FSU has to replace two of their top three wide-outs from last season with the departure of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. The lone hold over with substantial experience is senior Rashad Greene who had caught 76 passes for 1128 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The rest of the receiving corps has a combined 72 career receptions for 989 yards and zero touchdowns. This group is made up of redshirt-seniors Christian Green (42 receptions for 640 yards) and Jarred Haggins (20 receptions for 206 yards) and sophomores Kermit Whitfiled (5 receptions for 89 yards), Jesus Wilson (3 receptions for 23 yards), and Isaiah Jones (2 receptions for 31 yards). Wilson has received the most consistent praise from head coach Jimbo Fisher throughout the spring while working out of the slot role vacated by Shaw. The group’s failure to establish themselves throughout the spring has left the door open for the trio of highly touted recruits (5-star Travis Rudolph, 5-star Ermon Lane, and 4-star Javon Harrison) arriving in the summer to quickly work themselves into the rotation.
Running back: For the second straight year injuries have been the dominant story line for the running backs during spring practice. Early-enrollee Dalvin Cook and sophomore Ryan Green will be out for the next few months after undergoing surgery for torn labrums. Karlos Williams, the expected starter at the position, spent most of spring in a no-contact jersey before being held out entirely the last week for precautionary reason. Redshirt-sophomore Mario Pender was the only back to consistently participate throughout the spring, but his status for Saturday’s spring game is uncertain after getting “dinged in the head” in Monday’s scrimmage according to Fisher. If Pender is unable to go fullback Freddie Stevenson will be the only scholarship running back healthy for the spring game.
Offensive line: The Seminoles have spent most of spring practice focusing on cross-training their offensive linemen. Cam Erving , the returning starter at left tackle, has spent a lot of time working at center throughout the spring. Fisher has raved about Erving’s potential inside due to Erving’s athleticism. Guard Josue Matias has worked at the left tackle position in place of Erving on multiple occasions. Matias said the moves are all about building depth in case of injury. Early- enrollee Karreem Are has taken a lot of reps with the first team at guard and has received a lot of praise from coaches and teammates due to his physicality and strength. Tre’ Jackson, the starter at right guard last season, missed substantial time during the spring with a possible concussion, but he has practiced fully for the past few days. Austin Barron has seen the vast majority of the first-team reps at center although he has occasionally been bumped down to second and even third team and Bobby Hart continues to work at right tackle.
Tight-end: FSU returns one of the top tight-ends in the country in senior Nick O’Leary, but he has missed most of spring practice after injuring himself in a dirt bike accident. Redshirt-senior Kevin Haplea, who missed last season with a knee injury, has taken the first-team reps while O’Leary has been out.