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A warning, and some observations, about the 2016 FSU Spring Game

Previewing the game (that isn't really a game).

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The location has changed. And so have many of the names. Still, we thought this consideration of last year's Garnet and Gold Game held up quite well. And the overriding theme about the Spring Game remains: R-E-L-A-X.

Later today, the concluding event of Florida State's 2016 spring practice, the annual Garnet and Gold Spring Game, will take place in Orlando's Citrus Bowl. The player draft has taken place, the rosters have been released-- all that remains is to play ball.

Well, sort of.

And that leads me to my first point, an overriding thought that 'Nole fans will do well to keep in mind: in considering what goes down this afternoon, remember that the Spring Game is much more "Spring" than "Game." That is, this is merely the last of three spring scrimmages, one that happens to be open to the public and televised. This is not the spring equivalent of an actual game in the fall. Jimbo Fisher will stand behind whichever offense has the ball. Players may well swap out jerseys and change teams in the middle of the contest. And fans will take what they see as far too strong of an indication of what will happen in the 2016 season, for better or for worse.

My advice is this: don't. Remember, you're watching the last of 15 spring practices. After just about all of them, changes have been made to the depth chart. Why? Because players have good days and bad days, just like the rest of us. Also keep in mind that, due to the draft format employed this year, numerous players will be lining up next to teammates they're not used to, or in positions with which they may be less than entirely familiar and comfortable.

So. Deep breaths. And keep in mind: it's not as good (or as bad) as it looks. In fact, many of what may seem like initially negative story lines feature some positive undertones.

To wit: a number of players who would probably suit up if this were an actual game will remain sidelined as a precautionary measure. In all, 20 scholarship players will miss the Spring Game. Does that seem, like, really high? Like something's wrong?

Stop. You're doing it already. Last year, 22 scholarship players sat out the Spring Game.

The Seminoles are the most dinged up on the offensive line, with four scholarship big men listed as out (Abdul Bello, Ryan Hoefeld, Derrick Kelly, and Chad Mavety). However, those injuries actually serve to illustrate an FSU strength up front: depth.

In fact, due to the numbers the 'Noles have accumulated of late, they've still enough scholarship players to field two complete OLs, along with a backup, comprised of scholarship athletes. Compare that to last year, when, despite only missing three offensive linemen, FSU had just seven scholarship bodies to fill out ten spots. The Garnet squad landed every current first-team offensive lineman (Kareem Are, Alec Eberle, Wilson Bell, and Brock Ruble) except for its leader, Rod Johnson. That's also the side with the extra scholarship player, early enrollee Andrew Boselli, who has worked as the second-string center of late.

The defensive backs are missing a trio of players (Calvin Brewton, Malique Jackson, and Marquez White), which will mean that, in what tends to be FSU's base five-DB sets, each defense will need to rely on a couple of walk-ons, as both secondaries have just three scholarship defensive backs with which to work. This unit, of course, has been lauded for its versatility, so perhaps these injuries could facilitate a look of just how many roles the DBs can play.

Tarvarus McFadden seems like he's pretty solid to stick at corner, but every other scholarship defensive back (Marcus Lewis, A.J. Westbrook, Trey Marshall, Derwin James, and Nate Anderws) could run at multiple spots in the secondary. And whether he plays a single regular-season down there or not, I, for one, wouldn't mind seeing Derwin James in some press coverage at corner.

Of course, running back Dalvin Cook's surgery has been the story of the week. But Head Coach Jimbo Fisher confessed that Cook wasn't really going to get hit had he played in the Spring Game anyway, so his absence really just affords us all a better look at the real running back story: the battle for second string.

Is Jacques Patrick really running with the power that Fisher wants? And how does Ryan Green look after sustaining an injury and missing last year following a move to corner, succeeded by a move back to RB this spring? It is worth noting that Patrick will be running behind the line with four current starters-- he also has the benefit of running behind the only scholarship fullback, starter Freddie Stevenson.

Of course, we'll get a great look at the RBs going blow for blow, since Patrick and Green are on opposite sides. The same can be said for the battle of freakish wideouts George Campbell and Auden Tate, as FSU fans are hoping anxiously that at least one of them emerges as a legitimate downfield and red-zone threat, and sooner, rather than later. Last year Campbell made a big play in the Spring Game. Of course, as if evidence proving my initial observation about reading too much into the events of the Spring Game, that wound up meaning approximately nothing. This spring, Tate's been the recipient of more praise.

But nothing can foment more ridiculously misplaced fan base reaction than quarterback play. Deondre Francois, who took over first-team reps before the first spring scrimmage, gets Rod Johnson at left tackle, but among the other four scholarship linemen, only center Corey Martinez has started a game. Excepting the left tackle spot, a tricky exclusion, I know, but bear with me, the rest of the Garnet line protecting J.J. Cosentino and Malik Henry has 33 combined starts.

Those four spots on the Gold line blocking for Francois? Three starts (all from Martinez). In fact, neither of Francois's guards (David Robbins and Cole Minshew) even played last year, and his right tackle, Rick Leonard, was on defense in 2015. The Garnet QBs also have the benefit of receiver Travis Rudolph, who has been roundly praised this spring. Let's just say that it's beyond obvious that this is the squad drafted by QB Sean Maguire.

Oh, and Francois has to throw against the secondary led by James, who's made it a habit of picking off passes with regularity this spring. On the brighter side for Francois, he did draw the services of tight end Ryan Izzo, which will certainly help out with blocking, as well as serving as a prospective safety blanket for the young signal caller. All of that said, if Francois is going to wrap up the starting job, he's going to have to weather greater storms than this. So hell, cue the wind machine.

But enough dark clouds and silver linings: how about some downright sunshine? Not only is that today's forecast for the City Beautiful, it's also -- and you may want to sit down for this -- the present climate regarding Florida State linebacker health. After having five linebackers miss last year's Spring Game, only Jacob Pugh and Tyrell Lyons are out today. Fans will certainly be clamoring, and rightfully so, to check out Matthew Thomas and newcomer Josh Brown.

Anyway, that wraps up this missive in which I preach about the dangers of extracting too much from the FSU Spring Game and then proceed to write over 1,200 words about it. See you at the Citrus Bowl.