Lethal simplicity, the term Florida State head coach Willie Taggart coined to describe what he wants from his ’Nole offense, is really catchy. But for catchy to work, pass-catchers themselves will have to step up for FSU. So let’s take a look at what that will involve as the Seminoles begin spring practice this week.
While questions remain as to those who’ve yet to hit campus, certain things are known entering spring ball— at least as known as anything can be in March. WR Auden Tate left early for the NFL, and while I’ll never blame a player for getting paid, his departure leaves a definite gap in FSU’s pass-catching corps. So, who remains to fill his shoes?
The list begins with senior receiver Nyqwan Murray. “Noonie,” as he’s known, is an electric athlete, but he’s been an equally volatile quantity for the ’Noles. He’s made a number of big plays during his career at Florida State, but he’s just as often disappeared for certain stretches of games, often when he knew the ball wasn’t coming his way. Simply put, Murray needs to step up in more ways than one. Not only the elder statesman of the Seminole WRs, he’s also a vocal presence. When he speaks, his teammates listen. More important than his words, though, is the reality that his teammates observe his actions and see them as a guide of how to behave.
The early returns on Noonie have been positive. The coaching changes — and the fact that this is his “money year” before he exhausts his amateur eligibility — seem to have energized the outspoken WR. A certain loquaciousness is common among receivers, and that’s not a bad thing. You want your WRs bold, brash, and confident. Even cocky. But they simply must back up their words with their actions. Murray appears to be poised to do so in 2018. Frankly, it’s up to him. Taggart wants receivers who can perform in space, and Murray fits that mold.
Along those lines, Sophomore receiver D.J. Matthews returns as a very intriguing option on the offensive perimeter. Largely under-used by the previous regime, Matthews made some brow-raising plays late in the 2017 season, showing off his jaw-dropping play-making ability. At 154 pounds, Matthews in the lightest of the Seminole WRs, but he’s equally elusive.
But measuring in at 5’11 and 5’10, respectively, neither Murray nor Matthews are imposing targets, and Tate’s departure, along with that of of Da’Vante Phillips, leave more questions than answers out wide. Namely, who are the big bodies that need to make an impact this spring?
Junior Keith Gavin and redshirt-junior George Campbell headline that list. This pair as been quite enigmatic thus far in their Seminole carers. Both are 6’3 or above and weigh in at more than 200 pounds, but their weight has resonated more in hope than production so far. The possible now must translate into reality, as Taggart wants to stretch the field vertically, and these are the best options at doing so in the spring.
Campbell adds great speed to his impressive size, but injuries have plagued him in his FSU career until now. Gavin has amazing upside and body control, but remains largely unproven. Taggart’s somewhat simplified offense could very well provide a boost to each, minimizing complexity while allowing them a chance to utilize their athleticism.
And then there’s the real WR wild-card for the spring: redshirt-freshman Tamorrion Terry. At 6’4, 197, Terry checks back in as a great mixture of size and bend, an as-yet untested prospect who turned heads during last year’s spring game. He could very well emerge as a key contributor for the ’Noles come fall.
Overall, I think that there’s a lot to like about where FSU stands at the receiver position entering practice in March. Finally, the talent recruited to Tallahassee looks to have a legitimate shot at seeing meaningful snaps— not just in the spring, but, more importantly, in the fall as well.