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Wilson Bell: Communication key for FSU offensive line

Offensive linemen are often men of few words. But Bell says that talking it out has made all the difference for the 'Noles up front.

Wilson Bell
Wilson Bell

Florida State redhirt-sophmore right guard Wilson Bell spoke with the media Monday night. Or, as Bell might put it, he communicated with the media. Bell was quite fond of the term in describing the progress of the young FSU offensive line, going so far as to describe communication as the cornerstone of what looks like an impressive foundation for the Seminole OL.

Bell conceded that the success of the offense is the ultimate gauge to how well the line is playing, but stressed the importance of communication in achieving that success. "What we've learned is communication, and that was the biggest thing early on through the season: we really didn't know how to communicate with each other, but you know, since we've been practicing, each week, we've been getting better with communication, and it's showing up on the field, so it doesn't get any better than that."

Bell was asked if the line's game against the 'Canes was its most consistent of the year; he affirmed this-- and it didn't take him long to get to the reason: "Definitely, we finally got it down, once again, with communication, understanding each other, making the right calls, being able to read defenses and being able to talk it out. And we're getting better calls from Everett [Golson], he's been there to like communicate with us and tell us what to do, which way to go, and it's showing up on the field. It showed up big against Miami."

Continuity is a big reason the communication has improved so drastically for Bell: "Once you get comfortable with the guys, you can kind of tell how they're going to play certain ways, and how they're going to take on certain blocks, and it's like you understand what you can do to help the offensive line, and help the guy next to you. So like, once again, you get that continuity, and it's no so much scrambling anymore, not so much mixing it up, and it's showing up big on the field."

The role familiarity plays in communication is no surprise; in fact, we've seen it in FSU's recent history: simply compare last season to some of the early struggles this year. Last year's senior-laden line had ample experience playing together going in. After all, they'd won a national title together. The only real challenge to continuity came at the center spot, and that only lasted until Cameron Erving took over in the middle. Sure, then-freshman Rod Johnson was green when he stepped in at left tackle for Erving, but transcendent talent overcomes a lot, and Johnson looks primed to someday match Erving as another first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

That's a stark contrast to the experience with which FSU commenced 2015. Johnson was the only starting offensive lineman at the beginning of the season to have ever started a game in his Florida State career. This experience was bolstered by the return of center Ryan Hoefeld from injury-- Hoefeld brings four starts from last season, and he got the starting nod against Wake Forest and Miami. Perhaps his experience working with the aforementioned yet now-departed vets, combined with that of Johnson, can serve as a catalyst to further expedite this young line's ever-growing communication.

For if effective communication can bolster an offensive line, a lack of communication can cause myriad problems. Bell discussed this regarding the bigs' relationship with Golson: "He always trusted us, he always had faith in us, but, you know, once again, that communication, when you lack communication, we're kind of in disarray, you don't know where you're going, you don't know what to do, so once you get that communication solid, you can see that trust really showing up on the field."

FSU certainly seems on the right track, at present, but you never reach a finish line with functional communication. It must be continually refreshed and reinvented due to the emergence of new contributors-- like Chad Mavety getting his first start, against Miami, and a trio of tight ends seeing their first substantial playing time.

If the 'Noles can keep the conversation going, there are some truly scary prospects for future Seminole opponents regarding the FSU offensive line gelling. Dalvin Cook getting even better opportunities than the ones he's already seizing upon so effectively? Golson gaining confidence as he settles into the Florida State offense-- with even better protection? Look out: the Seminole linemen may not be the only ones chatting-- they could give the whole country something to talk about.