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)
Hey folks, happy Tuesday. Believe it or not, we're now just three weeks away from the start of fall camp and just a few days away from ACC kickoff in Greensboro. So, let's talk some football. Fire away...
Paul Groeschen (Northern Seminole) (Cincinnati )
Is this the year of James Wilder? Do you seem him dominating the run game?
David Hale (11:05 AM)
I think it may be. I think the offensive approach this year without CT4 is going to favor Wilder's running style, and without Pryor or CT4, there should be more carries coming his way (and Freeman's too for that matter). Add in a rookie QB and you'd figure, at least early in the season, Jimbo will look to run the ball a bit more. I really liked the development I saw from Wilder last season and he was by far the most intense guy out there on the offensive side this spring.
David Hale (11:06 AM)
The other thing I think gets overlooked about Wilder is his versatility. He's obviously very big and strong and runs hard between the tackles, but he actually had some nice outside runs last year, he's probably FSU's best blocking back now that Lonnie is gone, and he's an exceptional receiver out of the backfield, too.
David Hale (11:07 AM)
The one question I have on Wilder right now is, given his punishing style, can he stay healthy over a full year? Even with his limited touches, he was really banged up the latter half of last season, and similarly this spring. So if you up his playing time by, say, 20-30 percent, is that a beating that even his freakish body can't take? We shall see...
Is the indoor facility still on track to be ready for the start of fall ball? Only a couple of weeks left until Aug 1st.
David Hale (11:07 AM)
Yup. It'll be ready Aug. 1, and given the amount of rain we've been getting in Tallahassee of late, I'm guessing it'll get used often. The official ribbon-cutting, grand-opening won't come until the Friday before the Nevada game though.
Jonathan (Beaumont, TX)
How does Jacob Coker feel about the quarterback race? Has he relagated himself to second string QB or is he going to come out swinging during the fall? He better, and if you get the chance, tell him for me. In your opinion, what are his chances of winning it?
David Hale (11:09 AM)
The unfortunate thing is the media has not had any official opportunity to meet with players since the end of spring practice -- a policy I'm obviously not in favor of, but I understand it. That means I'd really be doing little more than speculating as to Coker's mind-set right now.
David Hale (11:10 AM)
I will say though that Jimbo has made it clear that he's not putting an official stamp on the starter job just yet, so Coker should definitely be approaching this as if he can still win it. And when you consider that a.) Winston has never played in college before and b.) he runs enough that he'll take some hits, there's a good chance that Coker's going to see some action early in the year even if he's not the starter.
David Hale (11:10 AM)
I also think what we saw from Coker this spring wasn't a realistic look at what he's capable of. His foot was limiting him early on, and when it became clear that Winston was moving to the top of the race, I think he pressed a bit in hopes of making up ground. I expect a much better performance this fall.
kyle (WPB, FL)
What is the biggest change you think we'll see out of the team this year with our new set of coaches?
David Hale (11:12 AM)
I have a good bit of optimism about Pruitt's scheme, but I have routinely cautioned that this is going to be a learning process. One spring is not enough time to fully get down all the intricacies and nuance of his offense. It's going to take some time, which likely means that early on in the season, there's going to be some blown coverages, missed assignments and ugly mistakes. It's really a question, in my mind, of how long those growing pains last -- particularly with Clemson looming in October.
Is there any insider info on a potential OC for the program?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
I really don't see it happening in the short term. Jimbo was pretty clear last year that he's not comfortable handing over play calling duties to a coach who doesn't know his system inside and out, and given that he's just hired virtually a brand new offensive staff, I think there's going to be at least another year of status quo on that front. I could definitely see Sanders ending up that guy in the long term though if all goes well.
hey why l.james a ball holger
David Hale (11:17 AM)
Mari IL [via mobile]
What ever happened to Winston playing football and baseball
David Hale (11:17 AM)
Well, baseball season ended. But other than that, he'll still be doing both.
I know Telvin and Christian will be starting, but what do you think Jimbo and Pruitt will do with the Vacant LB position? Use Karlos as a hybrid LB/S or let one of the young guys win the spot?
David Hale (11:19 AM)
This isn't quite as big a question as it might seem. I think we're going to see A LOT of 3-4 sets and A LOT of 5+ DB sets this year, making that traditional SLB spot less and less significant. In some cases, I do think Karlos will fill the spot -- he worked there some in the spring. If you're looking at a traditional 4-3-4 set though, I think we'll probably be looking at Terrance Smith, Matthew Thomas and Freddie Stevenson in the mix. I do think it's imperative that FSU groom some of those young backers for 2014 throughout this season because there's a lot of talent down the depth chart but virtually no experience.
What about the offensive line. We have a very talented, though inexperinced QB. The ofeensinve line needs not only pass block, but make the running game a real threat, especially with a new QB, no matter how talented.
josh (Ft. Lauderdale)
Just out of curiosity where do you see the noles being ranked with the first preseason polls coming out?
David Hale (11:22 AM)
Sorry... some minor technical glitches here.
David Hale (11:24 AM)
I'm not a big fan of the preseason polls, but they're a fact of life. I'd probably expect to see FSU in the 12-15 range in most polls. Usually those things lean VERY heavily on a.) where you finished last year, b.) what you've got at QB, and c.) how many starters you lost from last year. FSU finished 10th, has a rookie QB (albeit a highly touted one) and lost 11 guys to the NFL draft. They'll be doubted by a lot of folks, but I think that's short-sighted.
Does the media think Fisher appears overbearing on the sideline? EJ would throw a touchdown and run towards Fisher. He?ll have his arms out yelling at him like he just threw a stupid interception.
kyle (WPB, FL)
What are the chances we see Bobby Hart establish himself as the reliable starter at RT?
David Hale (11:27 AM)
I think there's a decent chance. No one has ever argued with Hart's ability. You don't start 9 games as a 17-year-old at this level without having talent. It's just a matter of whether he can get his act together from a maturity standpoint, and the spring offered some encouragement on that end.
My best friend (Gator Fan) and I were having an argument about the CB position for both teams. I of course see us as having the deeper and more talented unit. My argument being that we have a future first round draft pick who s our 4th corner (P.J. Williams) with a 6'3" Keelin Smith and top recruit Jalen Ramsey rounding out the 4,5,6 on out depth chart. What is your opinion on the matter?
David Hale (11:29 AM)
Yeah, I'm on your side here... and that's no knock on what the Gators have going there. But this FSU secondary has a chance to be really special. Joyner, Waisome, Darby, Hunter, PJ, Ramsey, Smith, Blake... that whole group would be starting for virtually any other team in the ACC. It's a wealth of riches... and it's worth keeping in mind that FSU had the best pass defense, statistically, in the nation a year ago.
Greg (Iroquois, PA)
How many recruits will be in this upcoming class? Isn't FSU around 18 and a lot of the highest rated recruits haven't committed?
David Hale (11:30 AM)
I don't put a ton of stock in numbers at this point because so many guys can still change their minds. A "commitment" is really little more than a "I'm leaning this direction" so that 18 number can grow or shrink as more guys take visits, etc.
Ruth (Greenville, SC)
Do you think FSU could lose some games due to so many great players lost on defense and a new defensive sceme.
David Hale (11:31 AM)
"lost" is probably a strong term, but I think you're right on that there are going to be times when guys aren't where they're supposed to be or aren't doing what they're supposed to do... and in games where one blown play can be the difference, it's certainly possible. Like I said, I think the upside for this defensive scheme is high, but it's not going to be a completely flawless transition.
Matt Hoch (Chesterfield, Michigan)
With alot of new names this year what suprising players do you see emerging from this team?
David Hale (11:33 AM)
In truth, I'm not sure there's a ton of "surprise" candidates because some of those guys stepping into starters roles (Jernigan, Winston, Hart, Karlos) are guys we already know a lot about and have high expectations for. I will say that I think someone like Chad Abram could surprise. I don't think he'll be Lonnie Pryor, but he's better than a lot of people have given him credit for. Dan Hicks is another name that I think will probably post better numbers than people might have projected before the spring. I like PJ Williams a ton, too, but not sure how many reps he's going to be able to get with such a crowded secondary.
Even with all the new coaches, are their any coaches on the "hot seat"? Everyone always says Trickett--but he has been putting out some NFL talent of late.
David Hale (11:37 AM)
Yeah, I wouldn't put Trickett on that list. The only really fair critique of Trickett, I think, is the recruits he gets, but if he's still turning 3-star guys into NFL talent, then what's the critique? I will say that I think Pruitt is, to some degree, on the hot seat. It's not that he'd be in any danger of losing his job, but Jimbo rolled the dice on that hire a bit. He wasn't a guy with a big reputation or a long resume at the college level, so if the D takes a big step back this year, there's going to be some legitimate criticism.
With two physical running backs like Wilder and Freeman do you think we will use more I formation smashmouth runs as opposed to the shotgun zone running scheme that does not work as well against fast aggressive defenses ala. UF.
David Hale (11:38 AM)
Maybe a bit too early to say because we didn't see a ton of differentiation during the spring, but it's certainly possible. And don't forget FSU has a new RBs coach in there, too, and a new FB. I will say that I agree with you that Freeman and Wilder's style both seem to fit better in that more smashmouth approach rather than trying to stretch plays.
Jack Nicklaus (Jupiter)
Do you see my grandson getting more touches this season?
David Hale (11:39 AM)
The default answer here is yes. You've got a guy with a ton of talent in O'Leary, and you'd like to think he'll take a nice step forward in Year 3. With Haplea's injury, there's not a ton of depth at the position, and with Winston stepping in at QB, you'd like to think he'll have a nice dump-off option at TE. Of course, all of that is predicated on O'Leary becoming more consistent and making fewer bonehead mistakes. That's something we just don't know yet.
Do your feel the Offensive line is capable to make dominate type of running game so that passing is a luxury?
David Hale (11:40 AM)
I don't think it ever really works like that. You need both to succeed. But I do think that the running game can be good enough to take some of the pressure off Winston. At some point though, I think he'll need to make some throws to win a game -- and I also think he's more than capable.
Andre (Monticello, FL)
What do you expect from the receiving core this season. Is this group better than last year and do you think Kevin Benjamin will live up to the hype.
David Hale (11:42 AM)
Benjamin is probably the swing vote on that really. I know it's supposedly a deep group, but the losses of Dent, Haplea and Bracy all hurt to an extent. Dent was by far their most versatile guy after Greene, and it's going to be tough to replace him. Rodney Smith wasn't a game-changer, but he had size and veteran experience, and there's not another guy who really has that. If Benjamin blossoms, that really covers up a lot of other shortcomings but after two years of seeing so much inconsistency, I remain a bit dubious.
David Hale (11:43 AM)
Oh, and to go back to the question on potential surprises, let me throw out two receivers in that group, too: Willie Haulstead and Kermit Whitfield.
How long does Pruitt stay with the Noles?
David Hale (11:45 AM)
Minimum 3 years... I think he'll do well though, and I could see his name becoming one of those "hot" names soon. There's a trend of HS guys getting big jobs quickly, and he fits the mold.
John (Wexford, PA)
Could we see more LB blitzes off the corner with our inexperienced DEs? It seemed that Stoops didn't blitz often. DE was a strength last year.
David Hale (11:45 AM)
Yeah, I think so, but I think we're going to see blitzes from all over the place this year. Pruitt's going to be aggressive, and he's really got the personnel to do it. Moreover, Stoops had the luxury of not blitzing last year because the front 4 was so good. That's a bigger question this time around.
Matt Hoch (Chesterfield, Michigan)
With FSU's schedule being as weak as it is, and only 2 real tests (Clemson and UF) I feel that it really hurts the team at the end of the season. FSU seems to always lose an upset game and with a possible loss to Clemson and/or UF that could really hurt a shot at a decent bowl this year. Your thoughts?
David Hale (11:48 AM)
Your concerns are warranted, but I think there are a few things at play: 1.) looking at a preseason schedule isn't always helpful because teams surprise. At this point last year, no one was all that worried about Florida, right? 2.) Even with a loss to Clemson, who else in the ACC really scares you? FSU will draw immense attention from any bowl even with 2-3 losses, so I wouldn't worry about missing out on a decent game unless you're in the 4-5 loss category. And 3.) Maybe this is the year there isn't one of those ugly losses... right? Maybe?
Personally i see a drop off from Clemson. They lost a 1000 yard receiver and runner off of a team that was really neutralized by our secondary for as much as they throw the ball. Lets point out the fact that Clemson is far from a defensive juggernaut even tho they are talented but they are still young.
David Hale (11:49 AM)
Completely agree with you... though I will say I think their D got better as the year went along and has a chance to be pretty solid this season. But as I said earlier, in the preseason, most people are concerned with the big stars and where you finished last year. Clemson has that going for them. And Boyd really is a very good QB. But I'm certainly not crowning them champs just yet.
Tougher Opponent in 2013--- The U, or UF??
David Hale (11:50 AM)
UF because it's on the road, but I do think that the Miami game isn't going to be one you can put a check mark in the win column on yet either. Canes will be much improved.
Jonathan (Beaumont, TX)
What, in your opinion, is Clint Trickets chances of winning the WV QB battle?
David Hale (11:52 AM)
I think he's got a pretty good shot. From the sounds of it (and obviously, I wasn't there watching) it was wide open at the end of spring practice, and I think Trickett's style should fit well there. He's a smart kid and a very hard worker, so I have no doubt he'll pick up on the playbook quickly. Will it be quickly enough to overtake the more established guys? Not sure. But from everything I've heard and read, he'll be squarely in the mix when camp opens.
whats ur opinion on ol corey martinez.do u think he will reshirt his fresman year providing his commitment sticks?
David Hale (11:54 AM)
Haven't actually seen him play, so that's a question probably better posed to our recruiting guys. I will say though that from the sounds of things, Trickett isn't pegging anyone as an obvious redshirt right now. With the lack of established depth at the position, I don't see anyone coming in without a chance to earn playing time. What they do with it once they get here is up to them.
Peter Parker (NYC)
Earlier in the questions, you mentioned that Pruit might be on the hotseat because of Jimbo rolling the dice so to speak. I honestly think Dawsey should already be gone. I feel like we continue to underperform at WR... when was the last time we had a WR drafted (not a free agent).
David Hale (11:56 AM)
Good question... I had to go back and look at it's Chris Davis in 2007 (4th round). I suppose you may have a point there, and I think if the WRs underperform this year -- Benjamin in particular -- that opinion will grow a good bit louder.
@Matt Hoch.. I believe Miami, NC State, and Maryland will be much better. with a potential Acc Championship game against UNC or VT who will also be improved sleeper teams. We just need to take care of buisness. If FSU is undefeated the country, media and fans, know that we are one of the most talented teams and we will be playing for the ship.
David Hale (11:56 AM)
Agreed... and if nothing else, Louisville is going to be the team hearing all the "cake" schedule talk this year, not FSU.
What are your expectations for Mario Edwards Jr.
David Hale (11:58 AM)
I thought he performed fairly well in his late-season stint as starter, but neither of those games were great indicators of what's in store because a.) he got to play opposite Bjoern, which won't be the case this year, and b.) he played against an option team and an non-AQ team that was massively overmatched in the trenches. Obviously the upside is really high with Edwards, but there are concerns, I think, about his weight, his conditioning and his maturity. All of those concerns can be eased quickly, but it's still a bit of a wait and see for the short term.
David Hale (11:59 AM)
OK, folks, that'll do it for us for today. Not sure how the chat schedule will work next week because I'll be traveling back from ACC media days, but we'll definitely have a lot more football to talk in the coming weeks. I'm excited!