FSU’s offensive line sees improvement despite injuries


Florida State’s offense struggled last season in third-down-and-short-yardage situations.

The Seminoles were 78th in the FBS in third-down conversion percentage (38.1) and scored a touchdown on just 26 of 46 red-zone trips. While FSU had one of the nation’s top tailbacks in Dalvin Cook, an inexperienced offensive line frequently fell short and led to possessions that resulted in punts or field-goal attempts.

“We weren’t the best at short-yardage and goal-line so the emphasis is on that,” left tackle Roderick Johnson said. “Getting stuffed at the line, that’s frustrating. But we’re working it out to not make that happen.”

Linemen have said there is better communication this spring. The results haven’t been ideal, especially against a first-team FSU defensive front that is one of the ACC’s best, but coach Jimbo Fisher said the line cleared holes for some physical runs by Jacques Patrick in Saturday’s scrimmage and that the group allowed for some sustained drives.

Going into 2015, Johnson had five starts under his belt and anchored a group that featured four first-year starters. FSU’s pass plays often fell apart, and quarterback Everett Golson had to run early in the season to escape pressure and find open receivers.

The Seminoles struggled on the road, losing to Georgia Tech and Clemson, then struggling for a half at Florida before pulling away from the Gators. Now linemen say they will be in a better position this fall.

“Coming off that season I was young and I am trying to get my overall knowledge of the game up,” center Alec Eberle said. “Not just be a guy out there trying to just do my job. Look past the linebackers and read the whole field. Playing center is more than reading guys in front of you. It is the overall aspect.”

Johnson is FSU’s best lineman but Fisher has implored him to be more vocal this spring, especially with the underclassmen in a group that has been limited by injuries.

“He gets on me about being more verbal and getting out of my comfort zone,” Johnson said. “Pick guys up when they are down.”

It’s been a challenge with three linemen out this spring due to injury: guard-tackle Chad Mavety (heart), center Ryan Hoefeld (shoulder) and right tackle Derrick Kelly (knee). But FSU is moving linemen around and cross-training at various positions.

One long-term option could be Rick Leonard, who moved over from defensive end this spring and has spent practice time at right tackle and right guard. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Leonard had just five tackles in 2015 but could be in the mix as a starter on the right side of the line this fall.

“Ricky’s going to be a really good player,” Fisher said. “He’s an athletic, big body. He can help us.”

Fisher in crash: Fisher was involved in a car accident about one mile from Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday and was uninjured.

Fisher’s vehicle collided with another in a busy intersection, according to a Tallahassee police report. Fisher was on his way to Florida State’s scrimmage. He was present at the scrimmage and seemed fine when speaking to the media after the workout.

Two people from the other vehicle were taken to a hospital to be checked; the driver after complaining of shoulder, hip and back pain and one of two passengers because of neck, head and back pain.

Police were not able to determine who was at fault as roads were wet and contributed to the accident.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

FAU starting quarterback Jason Driskel announces retirement
FAU starting quarterback Jason Driskel announces retirement

Florida Atlantic quarterback Jason Driskel, who posted career highs in nearly every major passing category and helped lead the team to an 11-3 record and a Boca Raton Bowl victory in 2017, has announced his retirement from football. A rising fifth-year senior, Driskel took to Twitter on Thursday morning to thank FAU and his previous coaches. Instead...
Starting Five: Keita Bates-Diop is Ohio State’s rising star and a name worth learning
Starting Five: Keita Bates-Diop is Ohio State’s rising star and a name worth learning

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, college basketball columnist Kyle Tucker will name a Starting Five — his favorite five players from across the country at that particular moment in time. As guys heat up and cool off, this list will change through the course of the season. The post Starting Five: Keita...
Starting Five: Keita Bates-Diop is Ohio State’s rising star and a name worth learning
Starting Five: Keita Bates-Diop is Ohio State’s rising star and a name worth learning

Penn State recruiting mailbag: Hopes for a top class in 2019; thoughts on early enrollees
Penn State recruiting mailbag: Hopes for a top class in 2019; thoughts on early enrollees

Tim Tebow to be ‘barketologist’ in dog show bracket challenge
Tim Tebow to be ‘barketologist’ in dog show bracket challenge

Tim Tebow is a former Florida quarterback, a former NFL player, a Heisman Trophy winner and a professional baseball player. Now he can add “barketologist” to the list. No joke. On Thursday, Pet Age relayed word that the former Gators star will be the official “barketologist” for The Purina Pro Plan $1 Million Westminster...
More Stories