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. You've got me for the next hour or so to talk Florida State football, so fire away with questions.
David Hale (11:02 AM)
I should also note, you can check out the results of our Nole Nation all-time draft here: http://espn.go.com/colleges/fsu/notebook/_/page/fsualltimedraft130709
David Hale (11:02 AM)
Would love to hear your comments and critiques.
David Hale (11:03 AM)
OK, fire away with questions...
Al (Jacksonville) via (Japan) [via mobile]
Any Updates on our I famous LB? I really hope Thomas is behaving.
David Hale (11:04 AM)
Jacksonville via Japan via mobile is an impressive tag there, Al. Anyway, haven't heard much on Thomas other than that he's here, he's been participating in summer workouts and that he seems to be enjoying himself. Tough to know what's really going through his head -- and given Jimbo's rules about talking to freshmen, I'm guessing we won't get any firsthand accounts for a while -- but I think getting him away from a few of the worse influences and around his teammates will be a good step in the right direction.
cznoles (tallahassee, Fla)
How do you think Jameis Winston's season will go?
David Hale (11:07 AM)
That's the million dollar questions, isn't it? I have a hard time buying into the notion that Winston is going to be better than EJ from Day 1. I think, for all QBs there's a learning curve, and Winston's going to have to get a taste for the speed and difficulty of the college game. Even Johnny Manziel had some really ugly moments in 2012 (see: Florida game). Winston's potential is impressive though, and I love his confidence and demeanor. I think that will play well. What I'm perhaps most interested to see is how he responds to failure -- bad games, bad throws, etc. If he handles that as well as he's handled all the excitement and hype so far, I think he'll be an exceptional QB by season's end.
Have you heard of any off season injuries to any of the main guys? Already lost a TE, and hoping the team can come into the fall at pretty much full strengthen
David Hale (11:08 AM)
Aside from Haplea, I haven't heard of any new, significant injuries -- but we also haven't had any access to Jimbo in quite some time. I expect that to change in the next week or so, so hopefully there will be a more specific update soon. From what I've been told most recently though, the team is mostly healthy and the guys who were out during spring practice (mostly the DBs) are recovering nicely and will be ready to go when fall camp opens.
Al (Japan) [via mobile]
How much of an influence did Jeremy Pruitt have on the great defenses in Alabama and how would you asses the level of talent at FSU compared to the talent at Bama?
David Hale (11:11 AM)
I wasn't close enough to the Alabama program to really put an official value on what Pruitt brought there, but I'll give my best guess based on what I've heard from others: Obviously Alabama's D was very good long before Pruitt arrived, and Saban is the architect of that. BUT... Pruitt learned from the best, and there's a lot to be said for that. Moreover, he's universally regarded as an excellent recruiter, and he was responsible for a lot of the talent that came to Bama. I think there will be some adjustment period for him at FSU -- both him to the job, and the players to his scheme -- but in the longrun, I think it'll be a good fit.
Joe (Pittsburgh, PA)
Why can't FSU recruit 4 or 5 stars for the OL?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
I think part of the issue is that Trickett (and Jimbo for that matter) aren't particularly concerned with stars. They scout guys and decide who they like, who Trickett can work with, etc. and they don't care at all what the recruiting services think of those guys. I have zero problem with that because, historically, there's less correlation between recruiting rankings and collegiate success on the O line than any other position. Moreover, if you look at guys like Matias, Stork and especially Erving -- all examples of lesser recruited guys who now have a legit NFL future.
David Hale (11:14 AM)
Trickett wants to get his type of guys and coach them his way, and he's got a good enough track record historically that it's tough to argue with that approach. O line is often less about "natural ability" and more about guys who are a) willing to work hard, b.) able to pack on strength/weight AFTER getting on campus and c.) guys who have excellent technique.
David Hale (11:15 AM)
I think FSU will be in on some bigger-name guys this year, and Denson was a solid addition last year. So it's not as if they whiff completely on top-ranked players. But i just don't think the rankings are a priority for Trickett whatsoever.
Mari IL [via mobile]
What are some potential trap games
David Hale (11:17 AM)
Start with the opener. On paper, FSU should have no real problem with Pitt, but it'll be the first start ever for Winston, a road game in a hostile environment, a ton of hype for Pitt playing on national TV in its first ACC game, and the players will have to sit and wait through a full weekend of games before they kickoff on Monday night. That's a tough recipe for an opener. I'd also look at Maryland and Wake as potential hiccups -- but frankly, I'd be very surprised if FSU didn't win both by double digits.
Tight End (Boca)
Nick O'leary potential this season? With Brester being new Tight Ends coach, how will they gel? How much do you think he will line up as h-back. Talk about his role in the teams success this season, please.
David Hale (11:19 AM)
To address the H-back part -- I have some concerns that the injury to Haplea will stifle some of what FSU had hoped to do with O'Leary this year because there simply isn't a game-ready plan B. Christo has a lot of potential, but he's still developing as a blocker and he's coming off a serious shoulder injury.
David Hale (11:20 AM)
As for O'Leary's overall game -- I think the change in coaches may be a good thing. Nothing against Coley, but I think when a guy with that much talent doesn't really develop over two years, perhaps the voice of that coach just isn't getting through. Brewster brings a different energy, and maybe that'll do the trick.
David Hale (11:21 AM)
With O'Leary, even a limited improvement would make him one of the better TEs in the conference, and he remains a serious mismatch on nearly every play. But he has the potential to be so much more, and I think that's what frustrates fans. I look at a handful of the third-year guys -- O'Leary, Benjamin, the two OGs, the two RBs, Karlos -- all as players who really need to be able to take the next step in 2013.
Fred (Kent, OH)
I like the DTs. Will there be a substantial drop off for the DEs or will Casher, Edwards, Newberry, Walker, etc prevent that?
David Hale (11:24 AM)
If I was ranking my biggest concerns for 2013, I'd probably start with the DEs. I agree with you that the tackle spot is loaded, and I think Pruitt's scheme is going to help take some of the pressure off the edge rushers (who really did a lot of the heavy lifting under Stoops) but there's still a very significant drop-off there. Edwards is a work in progress, but has plenty of potential. The other guys -- it's asking a lot. Newberry hasn't developed as hoped and Casher hasn't played in two years. Hicks hasn't played in a year. Walker missed the entirety of spring. It's just not an ideal scenario, and even if you get a couple of those guys to step up, it's not nearly the depth of talent FSU has had in the recent past.
Full Disclosure. Your team in the fantasy draft is probably times better than Jeff and Heather. How do they let you get Charlie,Deion,PDub,TBuck, and Peter Boulware. 5 of my top 10 noles. Jeff is stuck on the old school D and missed out on Charlie and Weinke with the first pick... SMH
David Hale (11:24 AM)
Those radio guys... always trying to be controversial.
Marvin Jones ahead of Derrick Brooks? Jones was very good, but Derrick Brooks is a game changer
David Hale (11:25 AM)
I think for Cameron, it's a personal thing. He loved Jones -- favorite player all time -- so had to be done. I had the advantage of not letting personal history get in the way of picking the best guy.
Garret Sloan (Panama City)
50 More Days til start of season!! Cant wait to see Jameis out there. Any new info out there on him?
David Hale (11:27 AM)
New info? Well I've heard some rumblings he's flying to Egypt to solve the civil war over there, he's been appointed to Obama's economic development staff and has already come up with a plan to jump start the job market, and, of course, he'll be single-handedly taking on the Lannisters in Season 4 of Game of Thrones.
David Hale (11:27 AM)
I assume he'll be done with all that in time to throw a few TDs against Pitt in the opener, too. Seriously... 50 days? That's too long. Let's get going!
Autumn (Central Florida)
Who wins the FSU/UF game this year?
David Hale (11:29 AM)
Funny you should ask... we've got a week-long advanced preview of that game coming up next week in our "Rivalry Week in July" series. So we'll be breaking down the game a bit more then, but I will say that I actually like FSU more than most here. Winston will have 11 games under his belt already, and I have serious concerns about Florida's talent at receiver and up the middle on D. Given FSU's strengths may be its secondary and its power running game -- that bodes well. Of course, it's a long way off and a lot can (and will) happen between now and then.
Michael (Dunedin, FL)
Who do you expect to be the number 1 RB and number 2 QB?
David Hale (11:31 AM)
I honestly think the RBs will split carries again this year, but I do envision a slightly bigger role for Wilder. Of course, I was thinking about this the other day: Devonta Freeman has opened each of his two seasons at FSU as the No. 3 RB on the depth chart, and in both years, he finished as the team's leading rusher. So at this point, probably not worth distinguishing 1/2 because both Freeman and Wilder will get plenty of work. As for the QB... I'd be surprised if Coker transferred at this point, so he's your guy.
Controversial is taking Weinke over Ward. It is against the grain from most Nole fans but can be defended on several levels. I love Marvin Jones but come on now.
David Hale (11:32 AM)
Fair point... but it worked out well for me.
David, who do you think will be the 2nd guys at safety this year? Colin Blake, PJ Williams, or Keelin Smith & possibly Tyler Hunter?
David Hale (11:34 AM)
This is a really good question and one I'm not too certain of an answer for right now. We didn't get any feel for it in spring because so many guys (Smith, Hunter, Darby, Waisome) were out with injuries. Beyond the two starters (Brooks, Karlos) there isn't a guy with any real experience at the position, but I think Hunter may fit the mold well. He got a lot of work at nickel last year, but some of those reps may dry up a bit with Joyner's move. I like PJ there, too, because FSU needs to find a way to get him on the field more. And, of course, Joyner will continue to see some reps there even if CB is his official title. But yeah, this is a depth chart question I'll be watching closely as fall camp gets started.
Al (Jacksonville) via Japan [via mobile]
Who is our best Defensive Player this year and how does he compare amongst college football's Elite?
David Hale (11:36 AM)
Man, tough question. I think the "best" is a bit subjective. Most important player might be Telvin Smith, who is the vocal leader of the D and a guy who is completely irreplaceable at MLB. Most talented guy might be Darby, but his role is a little vague. Christian Jones and Timmy Jernigan are potential 1st-round NFL picks next year for good reason. And, of course, the guy with the combination of best skills, experience, leadership, etc. is Lamarcus, and there are some questions about his move, too. In other words... I don't have a great answer for you other than to say that there's A LOT of talent on this D.
Al (Jacksonville) via Japan [via mobile]
Yea I know the tag is a little funny. Can I ask you for a reality check? Who would you say is out best CB and would he be considered elite?
David Hale (11:38 AM)
Again... there's some gray area here in "best" but I'd rank them: 1.) Joyner, 2.) Darby, 3.) Brooks, 4.) Karlos, 5.) Waisome, 6.) PJ, 7.) Hunter... and that's not even getting into Ramsey and Blake, who we haven't seen on the field yet. I'd say that's nine guys with legit NFL futures. Not sure how many other secondaries could say that.
Dave (Redding, CT)
What position do you feel Treon Harris ultimately ends up at? I have a hard time believing he would be recruited as a QB as I have heard.
David Hale (11:41 AM)
Yeah, I think he could find some success at QB in a different offensive scheme, but he's not a pro-style QB and FSU runs a pro-style offense. BUT... Jimbo has a history of giving great athletes a chance at the position they want to play (see Wilder, James) so my guess is, if Harris wants to be a QB, he'll get a chance to prove he can do it before Fisher pushes for a move. Ultimately though, I think he might fit best at corner.
Jim (Jackson Center, PA)
Other than Rashad Green, which WRs can make bigger contributions? Benjamin only received jump ball throws. With Dent probably gone, are there younger guys who can surprise?
David Hale (11:43 AM)
Benjamin is such a wild card this year. The past two seasons, he got plenty of hype but didn't deliver, and it wasn't the end of the world because FSU had alternatives. This year, I think they really NEED Benjamin to step up. I'm just not sure it happens. With Dent gone, I wouldn't be surprised to see Willie Haulstead get back into the mix after losing the bulk of two years because of a concussion. And among the young guys, I think Whitfield can play a role in the slot right away.
Hypothetically, with the QB being the most important position on the team. If Ward an Weinke were gone with the first two picks, I would have taken Jameis Winston without seeing one live game snap from him.
David Hale (11:44 AM)
Interesting... I wouldn't necessarily argue with you. I thought the No. 3 QB was one of the most interesting debates of the draft. There's a steep drop off after Ward/Weinke, but so many guys who had at least 1-2 very good seasons, from Weldon to Kanell to PTW to Thad Busby and even Ponder and EJ. But yeah, Jameis certainly could find his way to the top of that heap pretty quickly.
david, How do you project the LB core 2 deep rotation to be this fall?
David Hale (11:46 AM)
Another good depth chart question. First off, it's important to remember that FSU's scheme is going to lean a lot less on the SLB position than it would have even a few years ago. I see Newberry/Casher dropping back into coverage more and FSU playing some more 3-4, and I see a lot of 5/6 DB sets, too.
David Hale (11:47 AM)
Having said that, right now I'd project something like: WLB Jones and Northrup, MLB Smith and Eligwe, SLB Terrance Smith and Thomas. But that's a lot of guesswork, and I think Freddie Stevenson could be a real asset somewhere in there, too.
If FSU has an 11 win season and Winston makes quality strides this year (also beat UF to make it 3 out of 4), do you finally see FSU as back..considering 2014 is supposed to be the year they are prepared to win in?
David Hale (11:48 AM)
Honestly, I see FSU as "back" right now, but it really depends on how you want to define "back." For me, it's about being in place to win an ACC every year and being in the discussion for a national title most years. I really think FSU is already at that point with all the talent they've brought in. But some fans are going to see anything short of an appearance in the national title game as a disappointment, and on that front, I think they're at least a year away.
And another thing.... I know that Clay Shiver is a fan favorite but as a 2nd rounder... Heather had a chance to do damage after Jeff passed on our all time qb's. But a Center in the 2nd round above Deion, Pdub, or Warrick Dunn. Wowsers!!!
David Hale (11:50 AM)
Agreed but I think it was a lot like taking the best catcher or SS in a fantasy baseball draft... it was about position scarcity as much as anything else. Shiver is the runaway No. 1 at center, so she grabbed him early.
Telvin with his freakish athletic ability, agressiveness, and new scheme will be a first round backer. A better C.J. Mosely who has been overshadowed and underutilized.. heard it here first.
David Hale (11:50 AM)
Interesting take. I'm hoping to do some preseason draft talk in the next few weeks, and I think Telvin is one of the more interesting guys.
Kim (Clymer, NY)
Are the young LBs capable of having an impact if there are injuries to the starters? It seems like depth has been questionable. I'm thinking about Northrup, Eligwe, etc.
David Hale (11:52 AM)
Capable? Absolutely. I actually really like the upside on both the guys you mentioned (as well as Stevenson, who went through all of spring practice). But I do think there's nowhere on the roster where the drop-off because of an injured starter would be more pronounced than at LB. It's not that the young guys CAN'T do the job, but thus far, they have very limited experience and those two seniors are such crucial, experienced, talented guys.
George (Charleston, WV)
How much of an impact can the RB recovering from a groin injury last year have in 2013? Is he capable of big plays like Thompson had in 2012 before the injury?
David Hale (11:55 AM)
You're talking about Mario Pender -- and yeah, I think the CT4 comparisons are what makes him so intriguing. He does have that top-end, breakaway speed like Thompson, which probably makes him FSU's best homerun threat right now. But the difference is, Chris could run between the tackles, block, pick up blitzes, recognize coverages, catch the ball out of the backfield -- he was really a special player. Pender is still learning the ropes on all that, and I honestly have some concerns about his ability between the tackles right now, so his role will be more limited. As a rough projection, I'd estimate the carries get split something like: Wilder (40 percent), Freeman (35 percent), Abram and Pender (15 percent), Winston (10 percent). That adds up to 100, right?
Do you feel that FSU 1993 is tainted because they lost to ND? I never heard of a team finishing 2nd when they beat the number one team.
David Hale (11:56 AM)
Depends on who you ask. I'm sure there are plenty of fans who feel ND was the better team, and they've got a good argument. But the trophy resides in Tallahassee, so at the end of the day, that's really all that counts. I think if 1993 ND and FSU played each other 10 times, it'd come out 6-4 and I'm not sure who the six would belong to.
Two part question. Is E.J. the 3rd best Qb in FSU history? He has a strong case. Second: E.J as a senior or Jameis as a Freshman??
David Hale (12:00 PM)
I think it's actually a pretty easy case to make. He won four bowl games. His record as a starter was 25-6. He finished with the highest completion % of any FSU QB in history and he's top 5 in almost every other category. I'm not sure if I'd rank him No. 3, but I wouldn't really argue with anyone who did. As for Part 2 of the question, EJ as a senior > Jameis as a freshman... but Jameis as a sophomore might be a much different story.
Larry (Lincoln NE)
I think WIlder Jr. blows up this year....soemthing like 1400 total yards and then goes 1st round in the draft. agree/disagree?
David Hale (12:01 PM)
Well, it's been 16 years since an FSU RB had 1,000 yards rushing... so it's a bit of a bold prediction. But I would say I think Wilder has a very good 2013 season and I wouldn't be surprised if he leans toward leaving at year's end... with NFL scouts drooling over his potential.
Todd (Fort Smith,AR)
How does the offensive line look and is Jimbo going to be more aggressive on offense?
David Hale (12:02 PM)
Jimbo is who is he is on offense, and I would be really surprised if he's dramatically more aggressive offensively than last year. I think he understands he might need to take a few more chances this season than he did a year ago, but I think the O line's strength is its run blocking, and FSU has some very good players in the backfield... so I'd actually look for a bit more from the running game.
Im super excited to see what Mario Pender is going to do this year...Obviously splitting time with JW & Freeman, 2 expeirenced backs the possibility is there he wouldn't see as many touches but he has quick feet and great speed that reminds me of CT...you think he makes an impact?
David Hale (12:03 PM)
Yeah, as I said earlier... I think Pender will at least chip in with a few big plays. Not sure how consistent his production will be because of limited touches, but he's got that home-run ability.
John (Atlanta, GA)
You mentioned 3 potential NFL players on the OL. I never see Trickett's line do well against top competition. The UF game this past year was a mauling by the Gator front 7. Does Trickett get too much credit for only recruiting "his guys" and being an ex Marine?
David Hale (12:06 PM)
I'm not really sure how to answer that. The UF game was a good example of the line's shortcomings -- but UF had an awfully good front 7, too, and a number of those guys are in the NFL now, too. I do think Trickett does a really good job of "coaching up" lesser recruited talent and making them into good players, and Erving in particular is going to be in demand by NFL scouts. But I think fans who suggest it would be even better if he "coached up" better talent into great players instead of lesser talent into good players have a valid point.
I understand that but with Rodney Hudson and even Stork. you could have passed and taken one of them if Shiver was gone. Overall your team is well put together tho. So is the FSU historian Jeff's roster (lol). but the seperation between Casey Weldon to Ward and Weinke would loose it for him.
ND phyiscially dominated that game. They had well over 250 yards rushing. That game was only close because a tip 4th down pass that was a TD. They led by two scores most of the game. Look at the stats. I don't see how anyone thought Florida St. was better
David Hale (12:07 PM)
Better on that one day... sure. But there was an absurd amount of talent on both sides of that game and if they played again the results may have been different. And I'm not an FSU alum or anything... just a football fan who remembers watching the game.
RJ (Lake Co)
What impact do you think finally having Bobby back involved in FSU will have on recruiting etc.?
David Hale (12:08 PM)
I think it's a trickle down effect. I'm working a story now on this, but I think Bobby allows FSU to find some much needed juice from boosters and donors and, perhaps, ticket sales. If he brings in more $$, that affects all areas of the program.
Gene (Commerce, GA)
Why wasn't Eddie Goldman red-shirted last year? They had plenty of depth and he played sparingly. From what you've seen, is he ready to be a force this year?
David Hale (12:10 PM)
They had depth last year, but you have to remember that a.) top recruited guys don't like redshirting and there was little chance he was staying 5 years regardless, and b.) McDaniel and Mitchell were out and McCloud was hurt to start the year, so the depth wasn't quite what it looked like by year's end. I thought it was a good learning experience for Goldman, and I think he's going to push McAllister for the starting job in fall camp.
Kenneth (Marietta, GA)
Larry said 1400 total yards, not rushing. Wilder could get 850 and 550.
David Hale (12:10 PM)
True, true. I'm not arguing that he'll have a big year. I think he's the No. 1 breakout candidate on offense.
David Hale (12:11 PM)
OK, that's all the time I've got guys. I appreciate all the questions. We'll be back to do it again next week... and then the following week we'll be able to follow up on the ACC Kickoff event. We're getting close....