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 (11:02 AM)
Hey folks, happy Tuesday. Big game this week against... um, Duke? So let's get to the questions. Whatcha wanna talk about?
Ed (Jacksonville, Fl)
Why is there so much hate from the refs against FSU. 4 pen. called against NC St. all in first half-0 in 2nd. Ton of holding against DE's in 2nd half and no calls? Miami 3 Off. Pass interference calls.. beyond questionable as Herbie said.
David Hale (11:04 AM)
Ed, I empathize with frustrated fans regarding the officiating, but as an objective observer I will say this: I don't think it's hate directed at FSU so much as it is simply bad officiating all around. Does FSU get flagged more often than most? Usually. But if you look at the numbers over the years, teams with the most athletic talent tend to get flagged more because a.) they play faster and b.) they play more physically. In turn, refs have a harder time keeping up with the action and tend to overreact to particularly big hits, etc. I'd agree that a handful of the calls against FSU were absurd, but Al Golden wasn't entirely happy with the officiating either, which is a good indicator that the problem is incompetence rather than bias.
Why is the ACC so pathetically weak? It kills our strength of schedule year after year. Clemson is the only half decent team we faced and the next three are all weak too. I can only imagine how empty the Orange Bowl will be this year.
David Hale (11:07 AM)
Haley, you're right, and I don't have a great answer for you. The fact that this week's game actually means something tells you all you need to know about the quality of the league. And for me, it's tough to explain. There are solid coaches in the ACC. There are excellent schools. There are great facilities. There are fertile recruiting areas in ACC country. So why is the conference so far behind the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12? Your guess is as good as mine, but it definitely hurts FSU is a number of ways -- the first being the strength of schedule, but the second being that EVERY team in the conference looks at FSU as its super bowl, and that's a tough position to be in every year.
Rumor has it that Mario Pender is either unhappy in Tally or just with Football period, Have you heard of anything to substantiate these rumors that he may quit the team? I hope not, kid is a baller. Thanks
David Hale (11:09 AM)
We don't get to talk with the first-year players, so I've never had a conversation with Pender. What I can tell you is that I've seen him around campus often, and he's been at a number of practices and every game. I've never seen him appear unhappy or bored -- usually he's got a big smile on his face -- and he appears to have a good rapport with teammates. I'm sure he's not thrilled about not playing, but with the injury, that would've been the case anywhere. That's about all I know for certain though.
Reid, Jenkins, and Thompson! Can you recall a team losing their offensive, defensive, and special teams MVPs in one season? I know we have depth, but I'm getting nervous about a game or two left on our schedule. Can we overcome this latest injury and have success in the 2nd half of the season?
David Hale (11:12 AM)
Saul, Great point. FSU has the depth this year that they haven't been sunk by these injuries, but Thompson's loss is a major blow. He's just so good at all the little things, and while I think Wilder-Freeman are both solid runners, I do wonder what it does to FSU offense without Thompson's pass protection, leadership, route running skills, etc. Not sure it'll matter this week against Duke, but that road game at V-Tech is still a concern, particularly given some of FSU's (and EJ's in particular) struggles on the road so far this year.
Tim (Cedar Falls, Iowa)
How much will we see Debrale Smiley do you think for the rest of the year? Mop up duty only?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
Tim, it wouldn't surprise me if he got a couple of touches every once in a while, but I still think he'll be mostly used in mop-up duty. But it also raises the question of how much you use Lonnie as a runner. He's a good weapon with Thompson out, but can you afford to risk too many hits on your last remaining veteran in the RB group? Depth is an issue at the position now for sure. Another RB injury and FSU is in big trouble, so it makes sense to take advantage of every body you've got -- including Smiley -- when possible.
When will BC fire Spaz? Why wait?
David Hale (11:14 AM)
Allen, I assume it has something to do with the mustache.
DH, Thoughts on the Fsu Offense. I thought they would be better or more consistent. I have heard multiple times that Jimbo's offense is to complicated you agree?
David Hale (11:16 AM)
Andrew, it's tough to say much of anything about the offense right now because of Thompson's injury. I'll be very interested to see how things look without him. As for the playbook -- I can only go by what other players suggest and what we see on the field and I don't know that I'd call it "too complicated." I do wonder sometimes how much faith Jimbo has in some of his younger skill position guys to execute some of the playbook though. If that's because of the complexity of the plays or the lack of discipline by the players, I don't know.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Florida State College Football Players who playing right now do you think will be Playing in the NFL in 2013?
David Hale (11:18 AM)
Chris, I'd say probably 8-10. On offense: EJ, Rodney Smith, Lonnie, Thompson (if healthy) will likely find their way onto NFL rosters. On defense: Jenkins, Carradine, McCloud, Dawkins should all be drafted, and it's possible Rhodes, Joyner, Jones and Werner could go, too. Add in D-Hopkins and it's a pretty significant list.
Eric Hughes (Afghanistan)
Duke has a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. They have 3 receivers in the national top 40 rankings on ESPN and a QB in the national rankings. Is this the best passing attack we will face all year and how is the teams attitude towards this game?
David Hale (11:20 AM)
Eric, I'd still say Clemson is the best passing attack FSU has faced this year because Hopkins/Watkins/Boyd are so talented physically. Duke's skill guys don't match that talent, but they are very good, very experienced and very intelligent players. I spoke with Xavier Rhodes yesterday about going up against Vernon and he said it's actually tougher to guard a guy who is as disciplined in his technique and routes as Vernon is as it is to go against a guy as physical and fast as Watkins.
David Hale (11:20 AM)
Of course, the problem Duke's going to run into is that, at least prior to last week, they got nothing from their running game, and FSU's defense thrives against teams that are one-dimensional.
How will our running game be impacted without Chris Thompson?
David Hale (11:23 AM)
Ashton, it's a good question and I'm not sure anyone knows for sure yet. The good news: The ACC has six RBs averaging better than 6 yards per carry -- and three of them play at FSU. So Freeman and Wilder certainly have the talent to keep up the pace with the ball in their hands. There are definitely concerns though: Most of Freeman/Wilder's runs have come in the second half, so how will they fare against fresh defenses early? Neither knows the playbook as well as Thompson, so how much will this limit FSU's offense? Neither is as good at pass pro as Thompson, so how will it impact the passing game or how often other teams decide to blitz? Neither are as explosive as Thompson, so will they get the same opportunities in the short passing game? There's just a ton of smaller issues outside just carrying the football that I think are legit concerns right now.
Who you got this weekend in Jacksonville?
David Hale (11:25 AM)
Julio, I've covered enough cocktail parties to know that it's never easy for UGA, and certainly they're not playing to their potential right now. But I do think Aaron Murray and the Dawgs are the best and most balanced offense Florida has seen thus far, and UGA's defense has the talent to force Driskell into making a few mistakes. So, in other words, I like the matchup for UGA... but I wouldn't be putting money on them.
Kyle (WPB, FL)
Will Christian Green ever see the field again and who do you think is most probable to take over for starting QB next year?
David Hale (11:26 AM)
Kyle, Great question on Christian, and that's a story I've been meaning to dig into lately. It's hard to fault Jimbo for not playing him as the depth at receiver had to leave someone out, and I think Green will move into a bigger role next year when Rodney is gone. But for a guy with his size and athleticism to basically disappear from the offense, you have to wonder if there's more to the story.
I have heard that Edwards and Goldman are looking to leave and goes elsewhere. Tell us what you have heard.
David Hale (11:28 AM)
Bo, I don't think that's remotely true. Goldman is getting some PT, and he knows he'll have a huge role next year with the departures of Amp and Dawkins. I was told that Edwards was unhappy early when he was expected to redshirt, but he's worked his way into better shape and is essentially the No. 3 DE this year (and will be a No. 1 next season) so there's no reason for him to leave. Plus, Mario's dad is on staff, and I think he'd squash that idea pretty quickly.
Do you think it would be better for NC State to go to ACCCG and have FSU run the table. Then FSU might get an at-large against someone other than the Big East. ACC might get some respect if FSU can win!
David Hale (11:30 AM)
Mike, I see your point, and in theory I'd agree with you that it'd be more fun to see FSU play in, say, the Sugar Bowl against an SEC team. BUT... the ACC strength of schedule is so bad that if FSU doesn't win the conference, there's absolutely no guarantee of a BCS bowl game -- particularly if Notre Dame ends with just one loss. You can probably count on two teams from SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 for sure this year. Add ACC champ, Big East champ, Big Ten champ and Notre Dame and there are your 10 BCS bids.
Tara (Richmond (VA))
It seems to me that the best-case scenario for FSU is for both the Noles and NC State to win out. That way, NC State will be stuck playing an unsexy team in the ACCCG (and possibly the Big East champ in the OB), and we can get to face a real opponent in a real BCS bowl. Thoughts? Winning the ACC means nothing.
David Hale (11:30 AM)
See previous answer... ACC means everything.
Who do you think may leave early this year for the NFL?
David Hale (11:32 AM)
If I were to rank the underclassmen from most likely to least likely to leave: Werner --> Rhodes --> Jones ---> Joyner. I'd probably guess the first two leave, the second two stay.
Eric (New York City)
Bjoern Werner has received a lot of praise this season, and rightly so. But, why has Tank Carradine flown so far under the radar, especially when he's tied with Werner in sacks (8)? I'd say it's because the germinator is such a cool nickname, but Tank ain't half-bad either...
David Hale (11:35 AM)
Eric, yeah those are two pretty solid nicknames. And I'd agree, Tank deserves a bit more credit than he's gotten and I do think by year's end he'll be recognized more widely. I also suspect he'll be drafted relatively early next year, too. But I think it's a bit unfair just to look at the numbers. Watching the games, teams run plays toward Tank and away from Bjoern regularly -- hence the absurdly high tackle numbers. It says a lot that Tank has held his own, so he deserves credit, but the numbers also don't begin to show how much of an impact Bjoern has. He's one of those players that offensive coordinators scheme around. Plus, aside from the sack numbers, check out Bjoern's PBUs and deflected passes -- which are both very impressive. He's just an exceptional football player.
Kyle (WPB, FL)
Do you think Rashad Greene keeps his job as punt returner?
David Hale (11:36 AM)
Kyle, Jimbo said yesterday they're going to look at other options. I'd actually like to see Darby get a crack at the job, but my guess is Hunter would be the next man up. I don't think Greene loses the job for good, but I think Jimbo has seen enough to consider other options.
Do you think Christian Green can get some reps at RB
David Hale (11:37 AM)
Good question, and it might make some sense in theory, but I don't see it happening for two reasons. 1.) Jimbo said yesterday there's just too much to teach a guy about protections, etc. to move someone at this point in the season (he was asked specifically about Karlos) and 2.) there are only four games left in the regular season, with a bye week upcoming, so the strains on the RB depth aren't as great as if this had happened in Week 2, for example.
Wow. I guess it says alot about the ACC that people think it is best not to even win it.
David Hale (11:38 AM)
Hahaha... yup. I mean, playing Duke a second time in the ACCCG may actually lower your strength of schedule, right?
Any chance the shirt comes off Pender now? I'm not sure how is hamstring is doing either...
David Hale (11:39 AM)
It was actually a groin, and he hasn't practiced with the team at all yet, so no chance the redshirt goes. Not sure exactly where he's at physically, but he's definitely not close to game shape.
J. Winston is going to focus more on baseball and go in the draft? It would seem to be better path $$$ wise.
David Hale (11:40 AM)
Slim, We can't talk directly with Jameis, but I've chatted with him casually at practice and watched him go through workouts and talked with other players about him, and the guy seems 100 percent focused on football. I get the idea of the $$ being better in baseball, but for most guys, it's about going with the sport they love. Plenty of examples of guys sticking with football despite being drafted in baseball. I think Jameis' head is in the right place right now.
Will FSU ever leave the acc?
David Hale (11:41 AM)
Matt, "ever" is a long time. I could see it happening eventually, but the cost of bolting keeps going up and up, which makes the chances of it happening slimmer and slimmer.
I have never been a fan of FSU moving conferences, but the officiating of these ACC games is starting to change my mind. It is hard to be the other team AND the refs.
David Hale (11:42 AM)
Sean, you're right, and I think the ACC is taking notice, hence the suspensions and public reprimands given to the officials this week from the FSU-Miami game and the Duke-UNC game. It's a step in the right direction... but still a long way to go.
Will FSU ever leave the acc? What conference would fit them the best
David Hale (11:43 AM)
Just giving my personal opinion: If I were the one making the decision, I wouldn't consider leaving for anywhere except the SEC, and even then, I'd have a lot of reservations I'd want cleared up before I made the call.
Chase (Las Vegas)
What is your take on the fan running on to the field?
David Hale (11:44 AM)
Chase, I generally amused by these things, but I hate to see it happen DURING a play like that because it really does risk a.) an injury, and b.) altering the outcome of the game. I covered baseball for a while, and that stuff happens all the time. Usually it's funny. Covering the Phillies during a rain delay once, a fan ran onto the field and dove into the tube they use to roll up the tarp. Also, if you've never seen it, here's the greatest fan escape of all time... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7B4gic1-qU
Haulsted? Not able to play last year hurt him or not grasping the playbook ?
David Hale (11:45 AM)
Biggest thing with Haulstead this year was his weight. He came into camp heavy and slow, and he's been playing catch-up ever since. Again, this is the wrong roster to be on if you're not in top-notch condition because there's just so much depth at WR.
Nick Betz (Saint Petersburg, FL)
At this point in the season, in your opinion who goes to the ACCCG from the coastal?
David Hale (11:46 AM)
Nick, I'd still lean toward V-Tech, which really just needs to beat Miami to make it happen. But man, what a mess that half of the conference is. At least you can make the case that FSU, Clemson and NC State are all worthy of bowl bids. On the other side? Battle of attrition.
I think the BCS is aweful! I know FSU is a top #5 team. If the Noles win out and Florida, do they have an outside shot at the Nat'l title game? Also do you think FSU fell should have fallen that far in the BCS after NCST loss?
David Hale (11:49 AM)
Jason, I don't think FSU has much of a shot at the NCG, and even if they hadn't lost to NC State, it might've been a tough road. The strength of schedule in ACC play is just SOOOOO bad. Even for the biggest FSU homer, it's tough to compare what they'll have done by year's end to what K-State, Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame, etc. might be able to do. Judging just by talent on the roster, FSU belongs in the conversation. But that subjective, and what happens on the field is not, and what we know for sure is that FSU lost to a team that got smoked by Tennessee, which is probably the 10th best team in the SEC.
Wayne Bannatyne (Orlando)
Can C4 apply for a Medical Redshirt?
David Hale (11:51 AM)
Wayne, I'm waiting to get some confirmation on this from the ACC, but here's what I can tell you: The rule states that a player can apply for a medical redshirt if a.) he has not redshirted before, and b.) he played in fewer than 30 percent of his team's games and all were before the halfway mark. Based on that criteria, CT would not qualify because he played in 5 games in 2011. BUT... he only played a few snaps in that 5th game, and there is a newer clause in the rule that says if your conference plays a CG, that gets automatically added to your team's total games whether you played in it or not. In that case, FSU would have had 14 games (not 13) for the 2011 season, which may turn that 30% number into a workable loophole for Thompson. Again, I still haven't gotten anything confirmed by the ACC or NCAA yet though.
Tara (Richmond (VA))
Can you ever remember a year when top-10 teams were absolutely blowing out other top-10 teams like they are this year? What does that say about the rankings to you as well as the state of college football this year?
David Hale (11:54 AM)
Tara, that's a interesting point. I think there's potentially a few reasons for it: 1.) the disparity in defenses this year is huge, but so many of the rankings are based on offense because it's easier to judge based on numbers. 2.) Some of the rankings are just bad. WVU wasn't a top-10 team, but they got ranked that way anyway. 3.) These things happen in college football somewhat regularly. It's just so hard to keep 18-22 year old kids sharp, focused and resilient for the long haul. So every now and then, you have a slip-up that, against another good team, can turn into a blowout really fast.
Why is the offense struggling so much on the road?
David Hale (11:55 AM)
Tim, good question... and I'm not sure it's that they're struggling a ton -- they are sustaining some decent drives -- but they're not finishing. Too many FGs and turnovers and not enough TDs. I think communication on the O line is a big thing.
Michael (Knightdale, NC)
Do you think Jimbo will get an OC to call plays and let the offensive talent ply to their full potential, or do you think Jimbo doesn't want to take that hat off yet? Also, does it look like we will land any five star recruits for 2013?
David Hale (11:57 AM)
I think Jimbo will eventually hand off the play calling duties, but it's not going to happen too soon. He needs to find an assistant he trusts entirely -- and I'm not sure Jimbo will do that easily. He's a micro-manager, similar to Saban, and so he's apt to have his fingerprints on everything. As for the recruiting stuff, check in on our chat tomorrow with our recruiting writer Corey Dowlar... he can get you up to date on where all that stuff stands right now.
I dont see the Gators as power. They just seem to win. Would a blowout of an undefeated Gators team leap us ove the rest of 1 loss teams?
David Hale (11:59 AM)
Tim, yeah, I agree on Florida. That's a flawed team that has found ways to win. If they stay undefeated and FSU beats them to end the regular season, I think that definitely does a lot for FSU's credibility, but not sure it helps overtake other 1-loss teams. K-State has an impressive win over Oklahoma. Alabama's schedule gets tougher going forward. Notre Dame has a chance to finish with one or zero losses. If Oregon's only loss is to USC, what does that mean for them? Is there a potential that FSU could sneak in? Sure, but the chances are very, very slim.
David, do you think Jimbo is too conservative with the playcalling when the game is tight? 3 straight run plays on the last drive against NCST says yes. Why don't they take more chances down field? With Smith and Benjamin?
David Hale (12:01 PM)
Jason, I think he can be too conservative at times, and I think a lot of that comes down to trust. When the game is on the line, who does he trust? His O line to protect? His freshman receiver to make the play? His defense to hold if they have to punt? His 5th-year senior QB? It's a lot like handing off play calling duties -- Jimbo needs to know he's putting the game in the hands of someone he trusts, and perhaps the problem is that he's not trusting enough of some of those guys.
I think you are wrong about FSU winning out and not getting an at large BCS bid. An 11-1 FSU team will be top 10 and maybe even top 5 with all the teams left in the top 10 that still have to play each other. The TV draw and the fact we would travel well to the Sugar Bowl make FSU a take. Do you want to rethink your take? It's something to think about considering NC State can definitely win out.
David Hale (12:04 PM)
Eric, I'm not saying it CAN'T happen, but let's just look at the math for a moment: There will be six guaranteed bids, at least two of which will go to bad teams if FSU doesn't win the ACC (i.e. winners of Big East and ACC). Then you have four open spots with likely six or seven teams ranked in the BCS top 10 that haven't automatically qualified (good chance Big 10 winner won't be a top-10 team either). So, if that's the case, who gets taken? I'd argue that a second SEC team is guaranteed. Because of TV and the powers that be, Notre Dame would be guaranteed, too. Now you're left with a mix of Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Oregon State, etc. for the final two spots. Could you make a case for FSU there? Sure, but I think USC and Oklahoma probably have the edge.
David Hale (12:05 PM)
Again, a lot can change before it's all said and done, but if you had to fill out the BCS bids today, and FSU didn't have an automatic berth, I'd say it's more likely they're out than in.
Michael (Knightdale, NC)
Thanks for answering my last question. Who do you feel gets the start at QB next year, and the rest of the ruuning back duties for this year, or will it be a two back rotation.
David Hale (12:06 PM)
Right now my money would be on Trickett, but I think it'll be a three-way race going into spring camp. Trickett is the default, and one of the other two will need to go out and win the job. Coker had a chance to supplant Trickett last spring and couldn't do it, and Winston has yet to take a snap in a game, so there's certainly no guarantees.
Tara (Richmond (VA))
Please don't tell me that you are using transitivity to make some point (Tennessee > NC State > FSU). That was the first game of the season and at a neutral site, whereas we played NC State on the road and lost BY ONE POINT.
David Hale (12:08 PM)
No, no, not doing that. Just saying that NC State got smoked by a bad Tennessee team and lost to Miami, too, and they probably should have lost to Maryland. At the end of the day, I don't think NC State is anything better than a mediocre team, and they beat FSU. So when you start comparing losses among one-loss teams, it looks bad for FSU. I'm not arguing about who IS better, but rather who LOOKS better, and that loss doesn't look good for FSU.
Kansas State beat OK. What else have they done? Beat a very overrated WV team.
David Hale (12:08 PM)
Yes, but have you watched K-State play? That's a good team.
David Hale (12:09 PM)
And Oklahoma is really good, too, so you can't exactly shrug off that win.
Kyle (WPB, FL)
What do you think the chances are of NC State winning out and going to the ACCCG?
David Hale (12:10 PM)
They've still got UNC and Clemson to go and both are on the road. NC State has played MUCH worse away from Raleigh. I'd be shocked if they won both of those games.
David Hale (12:11 PM)
OK, folks, I'm WAY over my time, and I've got to get over to campus for some player interviews. Thanks for all the great questions. This was fun. We'll do it again next week...