Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:03 AM)
What's up, folks! Thanks for joining in on the chat. I'll be here for about an hour, so let's see how many questions we can get to...
Can we trust the interior offensive line against stiffer competition after our sub-nole effort @USF
David Hale (11:04 AM)
I wouldn't exactly call it a bad effort against USF. It was a less-than-stellar first quarter in which FSU allowed 144 yards of offense BUT still only gave up 3 points. That's not too shabby.
David Hale (11:04 AM)
On the other hand, NC State's O line will be the biggest test of the season for the FSU defensive front, I think, and that makes things a bit more interesting. But I spoke to Amp McCloud about that yesterday, and his answer was pretty simple: "Bring it on."
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Players who are Currently Playing at Florida State will play in the NFL in 2013?
David Hale (11:08 AM)
If we're talking about NFL potential, there's probably two dozen on the roster. But strictly on who will play in the NFL next season? I'd say EJ and Thompson will both be drafted, though I'm not sure I'd expect either to be starters at the next level immediately. On defense, Dawkins and McCloud will likely be later draft picks with a decent chance to make a roster. Jenkins certainly should be in the mix if he can rehab in time for the combine. Tank is a likely 3-4 round pick and could easily move up to the 2nd. Bjoern is a first-rounder, and Xavier Rhodes could be, too. There's a possibility C Jones or Lamarcus could come out, too, but I'd probably lean toward them staying at the moment. So, what's that add up to? Eight? Add in Dustin Hopkins and I'd say you're looking at 9-12 guys on NFL rosters from this year's team in 2013.
Which team has the best d-line that FSU will face this season?
David Hale (11:09 AM)
I haven't gotten to see a ton of either of them (it's amazing how little college football you get to watch when you cover college football for a living) but I'd say Florida followed by Virginia Tech. I know Tech has underperformed, but there's still a good bit of talent on that defense, particularly up front. It's essentially the same unit that was very good last year, so you have to think Bud Foster gets them going eventually.
Do you think Florida State could beat Alabama on a neutral field?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
Well, that's the big question, isn't it, Zach? I think most FSU fans would be thrilled to get the chance to find out the answer. I'm of two thoughts on the subject: 1.) I think FSU has the athletes and speed on both sides of the field to match up against Alabama, which is something I wouldn't say about virtually any other non-SEC team in the country, save perhaps USC and Oregon. But 2.) I think Alabama is the best-coached and most talented team in the country. The big difference, I think, is that if that game actually happens, it'll be business as usual for Alabama, and it'll be an absolute circus for FSU.
Mike (Saratoga NY)
How is Brandon Jenkins doing? Any word?
David Hale (11:15 AM)
I've actually got a brief note on him in my practice notes from last night -- http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/fsu/post/_/id/3735/fsu-notes-edwards-showing-improvement -- but the bottom line is that little has changed at this point. Brandon is still largely immobile in terms of being able to put weight on the foot. He's rehabbing, but this is still the early stages. Jimbo says they have not talked about the future at all yet, which makes sense. Everything is just guesswork until he sees how he feels once he can start moving around more -- and more importantly, how the NFL feels about him post-injury.
What top recruits are leaning toward FSU?
David Hale (11:17 AM)
I'm not the recruiting insider for our site, so I'm not quite as well versed in all the scoop. However, our recruiting writer Corey Dowlar hosts a chat session in our Tomahawk Talk form every Wednesday afternoon. You can pose that question to him here... http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/fsu/forums/_/tomahawk-talk
tmhayduk (Hattiesbur, MS)
Watching on TV it was tough to get clear viewing of the corners and DBs, were they as physical with USF's receivers as they were with Clemson?
David Hale (11:20 AM)
I think there was a little less bump-and-run type of stuff going on with USF than there was against Clemson largely because of the talent on the field. With Clemson's WRs, you had to play physical because a.) THEY play physical and b.) they're so fast that you can't give them a clean break from the line of scrimmage or you'll eventually get burned. Talking to some of the players (and hearing comments from Dabo about Watkins' injury) it sounds like that clemson game was among the most physical games played in the secondary in a long while.
LifeLongNole (Tallahassee, Fl)
Erving looked to get outplayed several times against USF. Technique issues/mistakes that he can fix, or is he not as good as everyone thought?
David Hale (11:24 AM)
Jimbo seemed to think it was mostly technique stuff. He said Erving got crossed up a handful of times and lost leverage on the guy he was blocking. I'm no expert, but that's what I saw on some of the more egregious moments, too. I'd say as a whole, that game offers some cause for concern. USF's front four had just 3.5 TFLs all season coming into that game, but the Bulls managed 10 of them against FSU. Perhaps a one-week blip, but given the concerns on the goal line, too, I'd say it's WAY too early to pronounce that O line a success.
when it comes to tv viewership, how does the acc stack up against the other big conferences today?.
David Hale (11:28 AM)
Good question, and I'm afraid I don't have up-to-date numbers to tell you at the moment. In 2011, the ACC was third behind the SEC (the heavy favorite) and the Big Ten and just ahead of the Big 12. Pulling in Pitt and Syracuse may help that somewhat, but it's still not likely to close the gap significantly on the two more traditional college football footprints. Having said that, I know the FSU-Clemson game did very well ratings-wise. I believe (but don't quote me) it was the second-most watched game of the year thus far.
Bryan (Miami, FL)
Do you see this weeks game being close in the 4th quarter
David Hale (11:30 AM)
I think a lot will be determined by FSU's secondary. Clemson was a test, for sure, because of all the athletes the Tigers had at WR. But NC State has an exceptional downfield QB in Glennon and probably the best O line FSU has faced this year, meaning it's going to be a little harder for the Noles to get pressure on the QB. That's going to shift the responsibility to the secondary to cover a second or two longer, and that can be huge. If they do, FSU should win easily. If they can't, it could be a close game, particularly given the history the Noles have in Raleigh.
DieHardNole (Thomasville, GA)
Debrale Smiley seems to run very hard when gets his hands on the ball, will he get to see more playing time?
David Hale (11:32 AM)
It's hard not to love Debrale, but he's definitely mop-up duty at this point. The bulk of the carries (at least for now) are going to Thompson, Wilder and Pryor, and barring an injury, the only person getting more touches in the future may be Devonta. But having too much talent and too few footballs to go around isn't necessarily a bad thing...
Tony (The SAV)
Do you miss living in Athens GA?
David Hale (11:33 AM)
All the time! In fact, I'd kill to be able to get lunch at Last Resort this afternoon. I've got tickets to see Louis CK there at the end of November though, so hopefully the football practice schedule will accomodate and allow me to make the trip!
Mike (Saratoga NY)
Where is Freeman? He has not played hardly at all. He was so good last year.
David Hale (11:35 AM)
I spoke with him yesterday. He's got a lot going on. From a football standpoint, he's simply been outplayed (both on Saturdays and during the week) by thompson and Wilder. He knew coming into the season that the hot hand would get the carries, and right now, he hasn't been it. Off the field, his brother was murdered near Miami two weeks ago, and Devonta has still been dealing with the fall out. He said he spent the bulk of Clemson week sobbing between practice reps. He says he's doing much better now, but your heart goes out to the kid. He's got a lot on his shoulders right now, and it's tough to make football a priority in a time like that.
If Oregon squeaks out a win and FSU blows out NC State next week.. Do you see FSU jumping Oregon in the standings at #2?
David Hale (11:40 AM)
I don't see it happening. Right now the gap between FSU and Oregon is bigger than the gap between Oregon and Alabama, so there's a lot of ground to make up. Moreover, Oregon is playing a top-25 team, and FSU gets a team that just lost to Miami. Granted, FSU goes on the road, but even if that perfect scenario unfolds, I don't see the Noles making up all that ground in one week. But every little bit counts at season's end, and that's what Noles fans should be worried about.
who do you think wins the starting job at qb next year based off what youve seen clint or coker?
David Hale (11:43 AM)
I honestly think it's very much up in the air, but if a decision had to be made tomorrow, I think it'd be Clint. He has a much better understanding of the offense at this point, and he's made some nice strides since last year. BUT... in terms of FSU's offensive potential being maximized next year, I think either Coker or Jameis Winston is the better candidate. But both of those guys have a ways to go to pass Trickett on the depth chart. Of course, they still have another 10 months to get there.
After the first 5 games.. What is FSU's biggest area of concern?
David Hale (11:47 AM)
Good question... I'm not sure it's changed much though since August. I'd still put the O line at the top of the list. I've mostly liked what I've seen so far, but they also haven't faced any real tests. Wake probably had the best defensive front, but they were without Nikita Whitlock. USF was probably the next best unit (and they're not very good) and they ended up with 10 TFLs. So that'd be my top concern. Beyond that, I still have some worries about the linebacking corps, some mild concerns about depth at DE with Jenkins out, and then I'll be very interested to see EJ against an elite defense. That, however, may not happen until the last game of the season.
Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
NC State's offensive line will not be the biggest test they have faced all season. There are already rumors/concerns that they will be missing 3 of their o-line starters Saturday.
David Hale (11:49 AM)
Well, on paper as of now, it's the toughest O line they'll face. We'll see what actually happens on Saturday. And even if NC State is at full strength, I still think that's a battle FSU can win... it just hasn't had that type of a challenge so far this season. Of course, the flip side of that is that USF and Clemson did so much misdirection and quick routes that the D line didn't really get a chance to pin their ears back. NC State is much more straightforward, so that could open up things for a big game for Bjoern, et al.
Hopkins has missed 3 FG's and even a PAT through 5 games, at what point will people stop referring to him as an elite kicker?
David Hale (11:51 AM)
I can chalk the PAT up to a fluke. It happens every once in a while, and he's made a whole lot of them around that one miss. The FGs are a bigger worry, but he also connected on three against USF. Is he an elite FG kicker? By college standards, he's pretty good. In the NFL, we'll see. I will say, however, that Hopkins has been exceptional in executing kickoffs this year, and the field position differential that has created has been a big advantage for FSU.
Josh (Birmingham AL )
As a big fantasy player, I have state as my defense( which up to now has been a very solid choice). I have been impressed so far with the defensive touch downs. I recently picked up notre dame. this week I have the decision of who to play. Any advice?
David Hale (11:53 AM)
Well the big question is what do you make of Miami's offense? 40+ points a game against lackluster competition says they're pretty good. 13 points against K-State says a good defense shuts them down. I think ND's defense is legit -- maybe not quite to K-State's level, but pretty good. I'd lean in that direction.
Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
Everyone thought C. Jones would be seamless or even better when he moved positions into Bradham's old position. Seems to me so far that while everyone thought Jones would be awesome at the bat, Bradham is being missed. CJ to me has been decent and has been caught out of position one too many times.
David Hale (11:55 AM)
Agreed. But I always thought there was going to be more to the transition than simply plugging him in at Will and letting him run. I did think CJ made some good strides from clemson to USF in terms of staying on his assignments though, so he's trending in the right direction. He's got the talent to get the job done -- more so probably than Bradham.
I am a Gator fan, BUT more than that, a college football fan. Is there any possibility we could see FSU and Oregon in NC game? I think that would be the best matchup to watch---great defense vs great offense. Thanks
David Hale (11:59 AM)
I'm not disagreeing with your premise at all, but Alabama's defense is pretty great, too. Truth is, I think this is the deepest college football has been at the upper echelon in a few years. I think there are probably 8-10 teams capable of running the table (that won't happen for myriad reasons, but the talent is there) which means there could be a whole lot of interesting matchup possibilities. I'd honestly love to see Alabama-FSU because of Jimbo's Saban connections and because FSU is so often compared to the SEC that it'd be great to see the matchup happen. But would I argue with Oregon-FSU or Oregon-Bama or Georgia-Oregon or any of a number of other possibilities? Heck no. Which is a really good thing for college football.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Noles were suffering from a Clemson hangover last week against South Florida? And willl Florida State fans witness a more dominant, crisp performance in Raleigh this week versus the Wolfpack?
David Hale (12:01 PM)
I wouldn't call it a hangover, but there was definitely less emotion. You could see it on the sidelines. But the thing is, if FSU punches it in on a few red-zone trips instead of FGs, and if they don't get that punt blocked, or if Thompson doesn't slide at the end of the game, you're looking at a final score closer to 45-10, which looks pretty darned dominant. So I think it's a matter of fixing a couple minor mistakes than anything else.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do the ACC offensive and defensive MVPs currently reside in Tallahassee after the first month of the season?
David Hale (12:04 PM)
If you actually watch the games, I'm not sure how Bjoern is not the defensive MVP. He's been dominant -- even when he doesn't have the stats to show it. And no ACC offensive player has turned in a bigger performance than EJ or turned in 5 more consistent performances than EJ. So yeah, I think there's a logical argument that can be the case. The problem is that most voters aren't watching all the games, so they'll look at stats instead, and there are guys out there with better obvious numbers (Morris, Clancy, etc.). EJ is the best QB in the ACC, but he's seventh in passing yards per game... so it really depends on how smart people vote. (sort of like Cabrera vs. Trout for AL MVP...)
Bryan (Miami, FL)
David Hale (12:04 PM)
Another excellent point. OK, with that, I've gotta run. Thanks for the questions folks. We'll do it again next week.