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Roundtable: FSU bye week check-in

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Answering questions about Florida State football at the midpoint of the season

Florida State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Who is your offensive MVP? Defensive?

NoleThruandThru: On offense, I’ll go with running back Treshaun Ward, because I love his story and he’s an underdog. He’s also been a key component of taking pressure off the quarterbacks and along with Jashaun Corbin, he spearheads the most dangerous unit on FSU’s team. On defense, it has to be defensive end Jermaine Johnson. He came to FSU to prove that he is more than a situational player and my goodness, has he succeeded. If FSU indeed gets back to its winning ways of yesteryear, we’ll look back at Johnson as one of the catalysts who started it all.

CoachAB: These two players may not actually be the MVP on offense but I want to give them a ton of credit. Offensive tackle Darius Washington and offensive guard Dillan Gibbons have been consistent and tough players on the left side of the OL. The two of them have been available all season while fighting through injuries. Gibbons was just named the ACC OL of the week and I think Darius Washington played just as well. This offense goes as far as the OL will take it and these two are rounding into form.

Jon Marchant: For me, on offense I have to go Jordan Travis. I think Jashaun Corbin has been better and more consistent overall, but quarterback is the most important position. I have been pretty critical of Travis in the passing game, but he fits the skill of the guys on offense and when he's on the field this team can be competitive. For defense, how could it not be Jermaine Johnson? Kid is a stud and future NFL player.

Perry Kostidakis: I’ll bookend this by naming the other half of FSU’s dynamic running duo, Jashuan Corbin, as my offensive MVP so far. Corbin’s provided a steady hand toting the rock and was pretty much holding the offense together on his own through the early games. On defense, it’s obviously Jermaine Johnson, but the progress being shown and contributions from defensive tackle Fabian Lovett and linebacker Kalen DeLoach have been fantastic to see.

What’s been the most important play of the season?

NoleThruandThru: As weird as it sounds, I’m going with the disastrous last play of the Jacksonville State game. If that play doesn’t happen and FSU pulls off the ugly and uninspired win, perhaps we don’t see the urgency or the changes we’ve seen that ultimately led to the two-game win streak.

CoachAB: Should I go all coach speak and answer every play is as important as the last? I won’t do that. I tend to agree with David that the end of the Jax St game is defining the direction of this program for the positive.

Jon Marchant: I will third that and say the last play vs Jacksonville State. It changed everything, for both better and worse. Perhaps things were always going to get worse - or had to - before they got better. Progress isn't linear and there are plenty of more bad plays to come, but hopefully none as disastrous as that one.

Perry Kostidakis: Give me Ryan Fitzgerald’s game-winner over Syracuse. That play lifted a huge weight off of the team’s shoulders and paved the way to the performance that Florida State had against North Carolina.

What position group has exceeded expectations?

NoleThruandThru: The offensive line, particularly in the last two games. Remember, this unit has dealt with injuries, attrition, and frequent lineup changes, but Coach Alex Atkins has yet again worked his magic to create a- dare I say- functional position unit.

CoachAB: The TE room. Now I have been critical of them at times also but they are blocking their butts off. Camm McDonald is being used in a variety of ways and alignments and is really becoming an x-factor. Jordan Wilson has had his ups and downs as well.

Jon Marchant: I'll do offense and defense. I think the running backs have been better than I expected, but so has the offensive line. On defense, the rebuilt line had been fantastic compared to my expectations.

Perry Kostidakis: I’m going with the trenches as well, but on defense. There was an expected step forward from last year’s disappointing defensive line, but the Seminoles have been stalwart so far this season, led of course by Johnson.

Where have you been the most disappointed?

NoleThruandThru: I expected to be disappointed with the wide receivers and linebackers so I’ll go with the tight ends. Camm McDonald has been underwhelming at best. Jordan Wilson has not had near the impact we expected he would as a blocker and he has stone hands. Why we haven’t seen more of Jackson West completely befuddles me, and it’s something I’m hoping will change in the latter half of the season. West simply needs more reps and experience, as he will likely be counted on as a starter next year after McDonald and Wilson exhaust their eligibility.

CoachAB: Linebacker is the easy answer. While there has been growth (especially by Kalen DeLoach) the play all around is just not consistent enough. They need to be less of a liability in the passing game.

Jon Marchant: Receivers. Outside of some flashes from Malik McClain, this unit had been very poor, and expectations weren't great to begin with. I've also been disappointed with the secondary.

Perry Kostidakis: Special teams. While punter Alex Mastromanno has been in top form, the rest of the units have been disappointing, something the coaching staff has acknowledged. While there have been sporadic highlights (Travis Jay’s return against UNC, particularly), there’s been poor return on a phase of the game that’s especially emphasized with this staff.

What do you need to see the rest of the season?

NoleThruandThru: Now that FSU has stacked back-to-back victories, I want to see how they handle winning. This is a team that got caught feeling good about itself after reading all the post-Notre Dame praise, and it showed the following week in a horrific way. I think they’ve learned their lesson but only time will tell. I want to see them continue to gel as a team, continue to buy into the culture that Mike Norvell and his staff are building, and play for each other, rather than as individuals. The latter half of the schedule doesn’t look nearly as daunting as it once did, and there is a chance FSU can snatch a victory or two we didn’t think possible earlier. Four more wins will be tough to come by, but if this team can make a bowl game after what it went through earlier this season, it would be a fantastic storyline to follow. Regardless of final records, I hope this team finishes the season as a true TEAM with much to build on over the offseason.

CoachAB: Norvell talks about work and response all of the time — riding with that theme I want to see these guys use practice to get better, treat it as a game itself, and then translate it over to Saturday afternoons. As a program, Florida State is in a place to worry about outcomes so continue to have great progress, however it may come, and build off of that.

Jon Marchant: Progress! Improvement. Talent issues are holding back this team and they are what they are, but there are execution things that can be cleaned up. Continue to improve and be competitive.

Perry Kostidakis: To be honest, a win over Miami. Mike Norvell actually hasn’t coached a single game against FSU’s rivals, and while a win over Clemson is a pipe dream, there’s a legitimate shot to break the Hurricanes’ win streak in the series.