- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every Sunday, NoleNation will take a look back at the week that was around Florida State, recapping the top stories and shedding a little light on a few that might have fallen between the cracks.
Florida State held its second and final scrimmage of the fall Thursday, and after Jimbo Fisher addressed the team at its conclusion, the mood among the players was clearly different.
"It's game week," quarterback EJ Manuel said.
In six days, Florida State's season will be under way, and Manuel and Co. are eager to start playing some real football.
But with the anticipation high and expectations even higher, there are still some questions surrounding this FSU team that Fisher couldn't find answers to during practice, questions that can only be answered through the grind of a full season.
Here are five key issues that still loom over the Seminoles as they get set for Murray State.
1. The battle at right tackle
To hear Fisher tell it, it really doesn't matter which of his two junior college transfers -- Daniel Glauser or Menelik Watson -- wins the starting job here, as both have looked solid during fall practice. But it was also just a year ago that another juco transfer had a supposedly strong fall and opened the season in the starting lineup, and Jacob Fahrenkrug's 2011 didn't exactly go as planned. There's a big difference between fall practice and Saturdays in the ACC. The bottom line is that FSU has added talent to the offensive line, but last year's struggles were vast, and there's still very little experience on this year's unit. Glauser and Watson have potential, but the success of the line will largely be defined by how much they turn that potential into production.
2. The experience at punter
As is usually the case during fall practice, the specialists get relatively little fanfare and relatively limited time to perfect their craft in a game-like atmosphere. That's of particular concern when you're tasked with replacing an All-American, as freshman Cason Beatty will be this season. Given the level of talent FSU has on defense, it's imperative that Beatty help the Seminoles win key field-position battles and give the defense a chance to shine. If he can't, it will be interesting to see if Fisher gets a bit less conservative on fourth downs.
3. The health at running back
Chris Thompson and Devonta Freeman have both had impressive returns from significant injuries, so there's reason for optimism that last year's running game, which finished 10th in the ACC, can improve. It still sounds as if FSU will go with a running back-by-committee approach in the early going, with James Wilder getting reps in short-yardage and goal-line situations, too. The rotation should also help to keep the backs healthy and fresh and seems necessary since there aren't many options further down the depth chart.
4. The depth at linebacker
Christian Jones says he loves his new role at weakside linebacker. Nick Moody says he's made a smooth transition from safety to the strong side. Vince Williams says he and Telvin Smith will continue to split time in the middle but insists both players have gotten better. If they're right, this could be a solid unit. If they're wrong, however, it could get ugly. Of every name on FSU's depth chart at linebacker, only Williams and Smith have taken significant reps at their current position, and true freshmen Reggie Northrup and Markuss Eligwe could be counted on to play a bigger role than coaches would like if there are any injury issues among the starters. It's a house of cards at linebacker right now, and defensive coordinator Mark Stoops needs to keep his fingers crossed that it doesn't all come tumbling down.
5. The questions at corner
Greg Reid's departure was probably the biggest story entering fall camp, but Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby appear to have soothed the bulk of the concerns. Both players have performed well throughout practice, and while neither has officially earned starting role yet, Fisher seems to be pleased with his options. Still, Waisome has little more than a handful of game reps under his belt, and Darby has been on campus for just two months. Will they really be ready to take over for one of FSU's most experienced veterans at a key position on the field?
"They don't have a choice," Manuel said. "Those guys have to step up and we expect them to do that. They understand the situation and I think they're excited about it."