A little something about the offensive line to open up. This assessment of the zone-blocking scheme by its innovator Alex Gibbs is telling:
... RARE for [Cs and Gs] to play early... My center must be football brilliant....INSIDE 3 must be brilliant. Huge amount of time is spent on these guys making decisions. Guards must be able to decipher intricate details from the opponent's stance.
If a zone scheme requires the inside 3 to be brilliant, we've got one guy in Spurlock whose playing with a bad noggin, a serviceable 2-week-old C in Stork, and a freshly-demoted JUCO LG. And don't forget Datko was making the line-calls pre-snap. Yeah, that same guy who won't be playing for us anymore. ::facepalm::
Another quote from Gibbs:
...Injury history is very important; don't want guys who miss games, because of the importance of continuity. 4 of the 5 usually get offseason surgery.
Sanders, Datko both with offseason surgeries and missed Spring ball plus some Fall practice time. Spurlock missed almost the same amount of time due to concussions, and McMahon and Hudson graduated.
Let's all agree that injuries are to be expected. Especially along the OL. Notice that there has been maybe 1 minor knee injury (Hudson 2 years ago - slight MCL sprain & out vs. Maryland) amongst our OL, and Trickett apparently does not encourage his guys to wear knee braces like some programs do - often forcing their OL to wear them, needed or not. However, there have been more than enough ankle, hip, and shoulder injuries/surgeries to go around.
NFL teams carry between 8-10 active offensive linemen. FSU currently is carrying about 15 or 16 scholarship OL, which is about the average for D1 programs. So, twice as many as some NFL teams carry.
But that's comparing apples and oranges. Most of the college OL out of that 16 are not ready to meaningfully contribute. The 90s Nebraska method for OL was redshirt their 1st year, practice and lift the next two years, and hit the field no sooner than their 4th year in the program.
We currently have a 17-year-old at left tackle.
Also consider that the NFL has in-season free agent acquisition opportunities, whereas the college ranks only have off-season recruiting to address positional needs.
What am I getting at? That the 4 out of your starting 5 OL offseason surgeries means you have to change the numbers game on the amount of OL you acquire annually and keep in stable. And due to NCAA practice time limits, offseason surgeries can be absolutely crippling to a player's development.
To me, that adds up to needing the following bodies: 5 starters, 2 equally capable upperclassmen back-ups, 3 3rd years, 3 2nd years, 3 RS, and 4 Fr. I'd like to see FSU move to 20 scholarship OL on roster given the amount of season- and career-ending injuries - along with Trickett-induced attrition - that can undermine offensive performances like we've seen this year.
Everybody's favorite and competent ESPN ACC reporter likes Duke by 1. I'd like to throw something at her, but I'm too busy worrying about our interior defensive back 7. Teams are picking on Bradham, Smith/Williams, and Parks. And rightly so. FSU has great corner depth and dominant defensive line play. But aside from LJ at SS and CJ7 at SLB, our interior is prone to overrunning when pursuing the ball carrier, or being absent in pass coverage.
Statistically, Duke's offense does not have much big-play ability. They're tied for 74th nationally in 10+ yd gains. On the ground, that ranking is 105th. Through the air, though, they're 34th. We gotta go nickel, pull one of the LBs off the field, and make tackles. And we just need some better play from Parks.
Duke has only gotten torched by 1 team this year, giving up 44 points and 8.4 ypp at home to #7 Stanford. But they've also lost to a decent - but D1AA - Richmond Spiders squad.
Duke hasn't done a great job of limiting the big plays from scrimmage defensively. They're ranked 67th in total 10+ yd. plays allowed, 85th for 20+ yd., and T-111th for 30+ yd. Broken down by rushes against, their rankings - respectively - are 48th, 27th, and T-64th. By passes against: T-88th, T-105th, and T-115th. Duke just still doesn't have the horses to hang with good offenses, especially in the passing game. Duke only has 3 defensive INTs on the year, so that bodes well for FSU's passing game.