Florida State's Offensive Tackle Tandem: It's Still Working

One had never played offense. The other began American football in 2011. But so far, Florida State's offensive tackle tandem has exceeded every expectation.

Florida State's football season is four games young. But to its starting offensive tackles, that must feel like a lifetime of experience.

Red-shirt sophomore left tackle Cameron Erving was a defensive tackle in 2011. He had never played offensive tackle.

Junior right tackle Menelik Watson had also never played right tackle. In fact, before 2011, he had never played American football. From England, Watson was a college basketball player who also tried boxing before turning to football.

And yet, despite the inexperience, Florida State's offense is leading the country in yards/play. Saturday, in prime time, the Seminoles put up almost 700 yards of offense against Clemson.

This really shouldn't be happening. Things like this just do not happen.

But it is.

In the fall, we wrote that this shouldn't work, but if it is to work, it would be with two athletic freaks like Erving and Watson.

The odds were that one tackle would probably be OK, and that the other would likely struggle. And given Florida State's other talents, the Seminoles would likely have taken that outcome and run with it.

Instead, exceeding all expectations, both are excelling, and Florida State's run game is not only back to where it was in 2009 and 2010, but it's far better.

It's improbably, and awesome to watch. The bookend monsters are mauling opponents on the edge, leaving them with no shot to stop Florida State's running backs. In just four games, the Seminoles already have as many rushing touchdowns as they did in all of the 13-game 2011 season.

The pass protection has been good, too.

Credit must be given to Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who despite very good work in 2008, 2009 and 2010, received a ton of heat in 2011 for poor line play, a good bit of which was a result of having the most injured offense in the country (10 different players started on the line).

Erving and Watson haven't been perfect, but they are making mistakes and mental errors at a much, much lower rate than could have been reasonably expected given their lack of experience. That's a sign of good coaching and hard work.

They'll face many tougher defenses than what they've faced so far. And in tougher environments, of course. But so far, this thing that probably shouldn't be happening... just is.

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