tampabay.com

A closer look at FSU

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published September 1, 2006


QUARTERBACK

Drew Weatherford, the former Land O'Lakes star, solidified himself as a leader through his work ethic, physical and mental toughness and performance (3,208 yards, 18 TDs). But he threw 18 interceptions, 13 of which came in a six-game span; FSU lost four of those games. If he plays the way he did against Virginia Tech and Penn State, look out, folks. After offseason shoulder surgery, Xavier Lee is healthy and should get some opportunities.

RUNNING BACK

Lorenzo Booker seems poised for a big year. His goal is 1,242 yards, the single-season mark held by Warrick Dunn. Antone Smith will get chances. He's fast and strong (at 5-9, 188) and has big-play potential. Fullback Joe Surratt should be a good lead blocker and safety-valve receiver.

RECEIVERS/TIGHT END

Chris Davis (St. Petersburg Catholic) led the team in receptions (51) and yards (666), while 6-6 Greg Carr had a team-high nine touchdowns. Both could be even more dangerous this year. De'Cody Fagg has the strength and daring to go over the middle and Richard Goodman could blossom as a sophomore.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Starting with the Wake Forest game on Oct. 8, FSU lost three starters to season-ending injuries. An already thin position was almost transparent, which affected the running game and Weatherford. The line is still a bit thin, but tackles Mario Henderson and junior-college transfer Shannon Boatman are both big (6-7) and powerful.

DEFENSIVE LINE

How do you replace two first-round picks, defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley? Not easily. Defensive tackle Andre Fluellen will likely get double teams, at least until teams see enough of junior-college transfer Paul Griffin. He's been a handful in practice. Getting a rush from the edge might be more problematic, although a healthy Darrell Burston will help. Freshman Everette Brown is fast and will be a terror on third and long.

LINEBACKERS

Buster Davis is the most experienced. Lawrence Timmons, Geno Hayes and Derek Nicholson (A.J.'s younger brother) could be stars.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Tony Carter and J.R. Bryant are experienced now, so maybe, FSU will go back to playing more man and less zone. If so, FSU better come up with more interceptions than it combined for last year (one). Heralded freshman Myron Rolle has the size, quickness, savvy and timing to be an impact player.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Gary Cismesia looks like he'll handle the field goals and extra points. He was 46-for-47 on point-afters, but his lone miss came in the second quarter against Penn State. He then missed field goals of 44 and 38 yards in the triple-overtime loss.

- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer