Florida State Football Season Preview 2013: Bryan Stork

Chris Trotman

Center Bryan Stork anchors a veteran offensive line in Tallahassee.

Florida State football kicks off on Labor day at Pitt. Tomahawk Nation previews the season up until that date by analyzing every player and other key issues facing the 2013 Seminoles.

#52 Bryan Stork | RS-SR. | Center | 6'4 312

School bio:

The veteran of the offensive line who has the most game experience (27 starts, 35 games) and is a candidate for the Rimington Trophy given to the nation's top center. Tough lineman who displays quickness and great feet. One of four starters returning from an offensive line that helped an FSU offense in 2012 go down in school history as the most productive ever racking up a school record 6,591 yards which surpassed the 2000 team for the most yards. Instrumental in FSU's resurgent running game, which has produced 2,882 yards and a single-season school record 40 rushing touchdowns. Versatile lineman, who can play center, guard and tackle.

With the emergence of one-and-done manchild Menelik Watson at right tackle, Stork won the starting at job at center. And his level of play was very good, as noted by his preseason standing on the Rimington Trophy watchlist.

Per Seminoles.com:

...started 13 games at center after working extensively at tackle in the spring...posted a team-leading season average grade of 85.6 percent...ranked second on the team with 26 knockdown blocks...made his 27th career start against Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl...has also started at guard during his FSU career.

The grades linemen receive are proprietary and conducted by Trickett and assistants, but they are effectively an indicator of consistency in picking up the right defender on pass and run plays. It doesn't necessarily mean you mowed guys over. However, his 26 knockdown blocks is impressive. Stork's ability to keep his feet 1) underneath him and 2) moving is exactly what you want in a lineman. You don't have to pancake a guy to spring a big run - but putting your opponent into the ground can do the trick, too. Stork has continued to add functional strength, but I believe his knockdowns are a product of getting good angles against his second-level blocking responsibilities (i.e., LBs).

Actually, that leads to a tactically-contentious issue. Here was Bud's take heading into Spring practice:

...I think FSU needs to ask less of the [center] position. Too often Stork was asked to make a block that only a special center can make, and it made him look bad because he's not special, but merely solid. I'm not sure why FSU does this. Is the coaching staff instructing the center to make the block on his own? Or does the center make the call to take the block solo as opposed to making the call to combination block the defensive lineman with the help of the guard. In either case, this needs to happen less often, though not to the extent where the Seminoles become predictable. It's great for the center to have self confidence, or for the staff to have confidence in the center, but there are some blocking angles against elite defensive linemen that FSU needs to combo.

Let's look at some game film. I think the @VT game is a pretty good example of Stork's strengths and weaknesses. I'll highlight a good and bad play from Stork's gamefilm below.

The Bad

Stork downblocks on the playside DT. He takes a good angle, but doesn't keep his feet after engaging. The DT gets penetration, and makes a TFL on the outside run. The DT was lined up between Stork & Matias. This is an example of a homerun play. The blocking scheme is such that Matias is free to go to the next level to make a block. Perhaps the better call here would have been a double-team with Matias, who then would be allowed to work his way to the backer. It is unclear if this a schematic weakness (coaching) or protection scheme call (Stork).

The Good

One play later, FSU pulls both Jackson and Watson. Unfortunately, the non-playside DE chases this down. The play gets pinched down because Erving's blocking responsibilities sent him to the next level. This could be an example of paper beating rock (VT blitz coupled with a funky run protection from FSU).

Regardless, Stork makes a nice angle block on the DT. Note how he is helped: He is angle-blocking to his right and the run is designed to happen to his left (i.e., behind him). This means the DT will be turning directly into him just to keep his eyes on the ball carrier. The previous play had Stork angle-blocking a DT whose eyes were carrying the DT into the play. Stork would have had to pancake his person to win. That is not a reasonable expectation. I can't remember the last college center who could smash a playside DT on an angle block on demand.

2013 Projection

FSU and Stork specifically can get into trouble when being asked to downblock 1-gapping DTs when FSU runs its stretch plays. But I like his play overall, and can only improve with another offseason of coaching from Trickett. I think he's a slightly more agile version of Ryan McMahon, who was nothing short of spectacularly consistent as FSU's center a few years back.

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