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Preview: Florida State vs. BYU

Florida State Seminoles (1-1) @. BYU Cougars (2-0)
LaVell Edwards Stadium - Provo, Utah
5:00 PM MST, September 19, 2009
TV - Versus
Radio - 
102.7 FM; 1160 AM (KSL)

Injury Report

Florida State: Out - LB Vince Williams (back), LB Aaron Gresham (knee), DT Demonte McAllister (ankle), OL John Prior (knee), DT John Mincey (knee); OL Antwane Greenlee (knee); Questionable - DB Korey Mangum (shoulder)

Notes - Williams is listed second on FSU's depth chart at MLB.  His absence will give more playing time to Recardo Wright, a senior who recorded 18 tackles last season.  Gresham was behind Williams at MLB - so the Seminoles are thin at that position right now.  McAllister and Prior are freshmen that FSU will likely redshirt.  Mincey is a senior and started four games last season. He was projected to be a starter prior to his injury in fall camp.  Mangum is a senior also and plays ROV.  Mangum led FSU in pass breakups in 2008 but if he's unable to go against the Cougars he'll be replaced by highly regarded freshman Nick Moody.

BYU: Out - OL Braden Hansen (knee), OL Jesse Taufi (academics); Questionable - DB Scott Johnson (concussion); Probable - RB Harvey Unga (hamstring)


The Florida State blog at SB Nation, Tomahawk Nation, has provided a very thorough breakdown for this evening's game.  A lot of information provided in our question exchange this week with Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation was excellent as well.

Tonight's game will come down to, in my opinion, the matchup of BYU's O-line and FSU's D-line.  With another lineman out (Hansen) the Cougars are thin up front.  The Seminoles have some solid athletes and will bring it. Obviously they don't have a Gerald McCoy - but neither does anyone else.  If the FSU D-line puts pressure on Hall then it will alleviate a lot of the pressure on the Seminole defensive secondary.  That secondary has largely disappointed against Miami and Jacksonville State in their previous two contests.

If the Seminoles can't create a decent pass rush or stop the run effectively they are going to be in trouble.  One of their best players is freshman DB Greg Reid - and he is a phenom.  Reid will probably lock up O'Neill Chambers tight in this one.  If the Seminoles have a good pash rush, both Chambers and Jacobson could vanish in this game. Reid also returns kicks and that could be potentially devastating for BYU's kickoff-coverage.  If Stephenson/Payne don't improve their performance look for Reid to have a major impact in that area.  

Here's more on Reid:

"Rated as the No. 15 on the ESPNU150 and the No. 2 cornerback in the nation ... listed as the No. 27 player nationally on the Rivals100 and ranked as the website's No. 4 cornerback... a five-star recruit by ... listed as the top-ranked player at any position in Florida by and the nation's top cover corner ... rates Reid as the No. 7 cornerback and the nation's No. 56 overall recruit ... a SuperPrep Elite 50 player (No. 49), the No. 3 athlete in the nation and the publication's No. 3 player in Georgia."

More after the jump...

The other Seminole defenders you should be familiar with are linebacker Dekoda Watson and corner Patrick Robinson.  

Here's the 2009 outlook on both players:

Watson -

" of the most athletic players in the ACC, Watson was named seventh on ESPN's top 10 list of workout warriors...the senior has 48" shoulders and a 26" waist and is as athletic as any member of the explosive linebacker who understands the game and spent most of the 2009 spring coaching the young linebackers while recovering from Tommy John surgery...should be fully cleared to participate come preseason...will be counted on to lead the front seven and add to his career sack total...16.0 tackles for loss in the last two seasons and five career sacks...the team's leading returning tackler with 119 in his career...the most versatile defender in Garnet & Gold Watson has two career interceptions, one returned for a TD, eight pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries, one of those was taken back for a touchdown as well, 19.5 tackles for loss and two blocked kicks...his is just 2.5 TFL from moving into the top 20 all-time at Florida State...a positive and enthusiastic leader for Mickey Andrews' young defense, Watson will be the player teammates turn to all season long."

Robinson -

"Coaches expect Robinson to have a dominant senior season...played in 33 games during the first three years of his career while earning 13 starting assignments...former Seminole Terrell Buckley believes Robinson will emerge as the next great Seminole defensive back in 2009...should be a candidate for All-ACC honors...has the ability to be a candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award...excellent cover skills and a physical presence on the field...leads all returning players with seven career interceptions...all seven of his career interceptions have come in conference play...just two picks away from entering the top 20 all-time for career INTs...his seven career interceptions are the most by any returning Seminole...rarely tested this spring by Seminole quarterbacks...Hinesman Award winner as the most dominant player this past spring...broke up more passes (4) then completions allowed (3) in eight spring scrimmages...joined Terrell Buckley and Deion Sanders as defensive backs to win the Hinesman Award...also named the defense's MVP...received the top grade in every category among FSU defensive backs this past spring."

In other words, Florida State's defense is very athletic and talented.  Not on the same scale overall as Oklahoma but there are some real playmakers.  Fortunately for the Cougars probably their weakest area is their defensive line. Despite BYU's lack of depth up front, they have a 54 lb. weight average advantage over FSU's D-line.  The Cougar line should be able to buy Max Hall plenty of time to operate and find his targets.  Look for both Dennis Pitta and Andrew George to play key roles, as well as the backs - Unga, Tonga, Kariya and DiLuigi - to all be involved.

On the other side of the ball the Seminoles have an athletic and experienced QB in Christian Ponder.  Ponder has the ability to get out of the pocket not unlike Washington's Jake Locker.  In a game against Miami last season, Ponder rushed for 144 yards.  

Still, FSU's O-line is probably not as good as OU's even with the Sooners' lack of experience.  The Seminoles' front has had a difficult time creating room for tailbacks Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones in their games thus far.  BYU has proven to be adequate against the run in their prior contests.  I'm looking for Jan Jorgensen to get his first sack of 2009 this week on the home field.  The Seminole's largest O-lineman is a mere 288 lbs.  If Hooks, Pendleton, Clawson, Nelson and co. continue to fill the gaps and the Te'o/Bills step up with Johnson out, it could spell trouble for Bobby Bowden's team.

Finally, I feel that this FSU team has too many playmakers, too much athleticism, and too good of coaches for BYU to annihilate them the way they did Tulane.  The Seminole's preseason ranking in the Top 25 wasn't a fluke.  The are a good team.  They almost beat Miami and the Hurricanes are an excellent team this season.  However, BYU has the advantage of being at home, an experienced QB that plays even better at home, they should have a healthier Harvey Unga, and both their O-lineman and D-lineman have some size advantages.  I'm calling it BYU 38, FSU 24.