As the regular season comes closer to its conclusion, so too does the Out-of-Town Q&A series.
This week’s special guest is Andrew Carter, who covers Bobby Bowden’s boys for the Orlando Sentinel. You can check out his Chopping Block blog on the Sentinel’s website (where the other half of the blog-and-blog exchange will pop up at some point this week), as well as all of his dead-tree edition work as well.
Much thanks to Andrew for helping out and lending his insight into the Seminoles. Onto the questions:
1. Is it possible for Florida State to go a week without a suspension? More to the point, does the posse of suspended receivers return this week against Maryland?
AC: Yeah, I’m trying to remember the last time Florida State escaped a week without a suspension and … I can’t. Seems like every week something pops up but, to the team’s credit, there hadn’t been any on-campus brawls until last week. The majority of the suspended receivers should be able to come back for the Maryland game. There were five guys suspended but really the three who count are Taiwan Easterling, Bert Reed and Corey Surrency. I would expect at least two out of three of them to be back. Bobby Bowden has said that if it were up to him, none of those guys would be suspended again. But the FSU police are still investigating the fight and Bowden’s decision about these guys will depend heavily on what the police determines actually happened during the melee. There’s also a possibility that at least one of those players could face charges … but again, I’d count on at least two of those three key receivers to be back this week.
2. Nearly everyone knows the Myron Rolle/Rhodes Scholar interview story by now. How much of Saturday’s game will he be in College Park for, if he even makes it at all?
AC: Right now, there’s a chance that Rolle might not find out whether he has won the Rhodes scholarship until 5 p.m. Birmingham time (central time zone, of course). There’s a brief reception after the announcement, and then Rolle would be on his way to the airport. In that scenario, he might not arrive to the stadium until halftime or after. There is a chance, though, that the scholarship announcement comes sooner than 5. Regardless, there’s no chance he makes it up in time for kickoff but I think he’ll be there anywhere between the end of the first quarter and halftime.
3. I can’t tell you how many references I saw coming out of Tallahassee in August and September to my friend the Official Dot-Com Diva’s ACCoffensive line rankings. How has that Rodney Hudson-led bunch held up this season?
AC: Yeah, what a diva she is. And even she’d have to admit that she was just a bit off on those preseason offensive line rankings. The FSU line has exceeded expectations in every conceivable way. Even Rick Trickett, the offensive line coach, has been pleased by the overall performance of these guys. And he’s a difficult man to please. It’s not to say, though, that the offensive line hasn’t struggled at times. The Seminoles had their issues up front against Wake Forest, in the first half against N.C. State and throughout the game on Saturday against Boston College, which dominated the line of the scrimmage. Overall, though, Rodney Hudson and the boys have been one of FSU’s team strengths. And Hudson, by the way, is without question FSU’s best player. I think the most impressive thing about them is that they have seemed to get stronger during the second half of games. You wouldn’t think it would go like that with such a young group. During FSU’s four-game winning streak earlier this season - against Colorado, Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech - the ‘Noles offensive line improved tremendously in the second half and proved to be the catalyst for late, game-clinching scoring drives. Even against Boston College, the line got better as the game wore on.
4. Florida State rolls into College Park at 7-3. Has this been a successful season to date in the eyes of a fan base not far removed from a regular spot in the top five nationally, or is that still to be determined?
AC: It’s still to be determined at this point. There were a lot of good vibes after the Seminoles started 6-1. Those good vibes would have continued had they beaten Georgia Tech to go 7-1. FSU had a great chance to win that game but fullback Marcus Sims fumbled on the goal line going in for the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play. Had FSU won that, it would have been in control of the Atlantic Division and it likely would have been ranked in the top 15. Instead, FSU has now lost two out of three and there’s a lot of nervous tension in Tallahassee. I think it’s a must for the Seminoles to finish the regular season with at least 8 wins. This is a program that has been 7-6 the past two seasons and a 7-win regular season - against a schedule that included two I-AA teams - doesn’t show any improvement. If FSU can beat Maryland and win its bowl game, I think most people would be happy with a 9-4 record. That’s a two-game improvement and it’d be clear that FSU is headed in a positive direction. A loss at Maryland and to Florida to close the year, though, and there’s going to be a lot of unhappy campers, regardless of what happens in the bowl game.
5. Here’s a new one: What are the odds this is Bobby Bowden’s final season?
AC: I think it depends a lot on what happens during the next month and a half. After FSU beat Virginia Tech to go to 6-1, I would have said there was no chance that this is Bowden’s final season. At that point, it looked like the ‘Noles would easily eclipse their record of the past two seasons. They looked like strong contenders for the conference championship and, at the least, appeared to be headed to either the Peach (I refuse to call it whatever it’s called now) or Gator Bowls. Now, though, there’s a lot of uncertainty. If FSU rebounds from the Boston College loss with a win at Maryland, a competitive game against Florida and a win in the bowl game then I think Bowden definitely sticks around. Anything less, though, and I think a lot of questions arise. If FSU completely goes into the tank and finishes 7-6 for the third consecutive season, it could be a really interesting January in Tallahassee.
Again, much thanks to Andrew Carter for helping out this week.