With Florida State's 2012 campaign about to get started, NoleNation takes a look at some relevant questions heading into Saturday.
Q: Which freshman (or redshirt freshman) will make the biggest impact in Week 1?
Dowlar: There will probably be a few here, I would imagine. Can't help but assume the Noles will get a substantial lead and be able to rotate in the new guys. I'll go with Ronald Darby for this week. It is tempting to go with Kelvin Benjamin, sure, but I think Coach Fisher could keep him under wraps for a little while. Meanwhile, Darby's impact could be two-fold. Would expect him to get some kind of time as a return man and definitely substantial burn at cornerback.
Hale: I won't go with Benjamin either, though he's definitely the easy answer. Darby is tempting, too, given all the buzz he's generated during fall practice. But I wonder if Jimbo Fisher will be inclined to give Nick Waisome a longer look than some of his other starters. The freshman I'm perhaps most intrigued to see might be punter Cason Beatty, since we've heard and seen very little of him thus far, and he is, after all, replacing an All-American. But if I've got to pick one, I'll go out on a limb a bit and say Eddie Goldman. Like you, I think FSU will build an early lead, and with Anthony McCloud already out and Jacobbi McDaniel redshirting this year, there's no sense is putting too many miles on the team's veteran DTs. So I'm guessing Goldman gets in early in the second half and has a chance to show what made him such a highly touted recruit.
NoleNation member titletownnole writes: So I guess I would have to go with Darby, being that he should see the most snaps of any freshman. If he handles his responsibilities, he will have plenty of opportunity to show his skills being that Hatcher likes to throw it around the yard traditionally. (Previous coaching stops at Valdosta St. and Georgia Southern)
Q: Do you think the right players won the jobs at right tackle and corner?
Dowlar: I'd say going with Waisome to start out with is right. That isn't to say I believe he will be there by week three when Wake Forest comes to town, but he's paid more dues than Darby has. Let each guy give themselves a chance to prove their case. Waisome is a talented guy in his own right, and while he might not have the long-term potential that Darby does, or the size for that matter, he is still highly thought of.
Hey, if the guy slated for the future, Menelik Watson, is ready to go, play 'em. What a massive human being he is. As everyone has talked about, his size is going to give him some kind of margin for error. He will definitely need it, too, as he adjusts to a new game on a new level. Let him take his lumps at first, establish some confidence and get him ready for the showdown with ACC Atlantic rival Clemson.
Hale: Talking about the corner job with Rodney Smith, he said both players have excelled beyond expectations this fall, but there's more of an infatuation with Darby because he's the new guy. I think there's something to that. A look at Darby's pedigree coming out of high school isn't that much more impressive than Waisome's, and the latter has a year in the system to refine his skills. The smart move, at least for Week 1, was to give Waisome his chance. He'll get more chances, of course, but I do think if he shows a few kinks in the armor early, there will be plenty of fans pushing to see more of Darby.
At right tackle, Watson was the right call. He's certainly got all the physical tools, and it's not as if there was anyone else dramatically more experienced at this level. If you're going with a work in progress, why not go with the one that has the highest upside? Moreover, Watson will be around next year, too, while Daniel Glauser will not. So this is a good move for today, but also the smart move for the future.
NoleNation member Seminole_Sam writes: I think they got it right with Menelik Watson at RT. Even if it was an even battle with Glauser, they have to go with Watson because of his upside. Plus he has another year left unlike Glauser. I love his attitude too. After watching Fisher's interview you could tell Jimbo loves his work ethic and toughness. Definitely a "Trickett guy". At CB I like Waisome there. I remember when he was recruited away from UF, everyone was raving about his pure cover corner skills and we need a guy that is disciplined opposite Rhodes. Teams are going to go at him every game knowing he's still green, but at least he's been in Stoops' system for over a year. I like Darby, his time will come, but he just doesn't have the time to be ready for a complicated passing attack like Clemson has yet.
Q: Given that a win is virtually assured, what's the most important thing you want to see from FSU in Week 1?
Dowlar: It is pretty simple to me. We all know that the defense is going to be elite (assuming the players are healthy). We have a pretty good idea that EJ Manuel is going to be accurate and that he's got plenty of weapons to throw to. But to me, it all hinges on the run game. Seriously, everything does. But what could you possibly take from a good showing against Murray State? Last year against lowly Charleston Southern, emphasis on the lowly, FSU racked up 170 yards. But only at 4.6 yards a clip. The surge up front wasn't too noticeable. It should be on Saturday against a better Murray State team. That's it. That's all I will be looking for. Can these new, hugely talented offensive linemen get a significant and noticeable push? We'll see.
Hale: I'm inclined to agree with you, although I think the success of the run game might be more dependent on the performance of the offensive line. And the bottom line is, this matchup isn't going to tell us a lot in the trenches, where FSU will have a huge size advantage. I think the two things I'd like to see from FSU this week both surround the passing game. On the offensive side, let's see EJ Manuel really dominate. He may only play a half, but let's see him own a lesser opponent the way any great QB should. On the defensive side, FSU's revamped secondary should get something of a test against a Murray State passing game that shows a lot of different looks and has an FCS All-American at QB. It's not exactly Clemson and Tajh Boyd, but it might be the one area where Murray State can test an area of FSU's roster that still has something to prove.
NoleNation member edu300 writes: I want to see our offense impose its will on the Racers defense. Last year we put up decent rushing numbers against our first two opponents, but we did not dominate on the ground. I want to see us be able to run the ball with success when everyone in the stadium knows we are going to run the ball. I want to see EJ be able to sit back in the pocket and pick apart their pass defense. I do not want to see us taking what the defense gives us, I want to see us do whatever we feel like doing when we feel like doing it. Do you think I'm asking for too much?