As Florida State prepares to take on Savannah State, NoleNation takes a look at some relevant questions heading into Saturday.
Q: How much should the starters play this week, particularly in the wake of Brandon Jenkins injury?
Hale: This is a little bit of a balancing act for Jimbo Fisher. On the one hand, he doesn't want to get his players hurt, and he doesn't want to embarrass an opponent. On the other hand, he needs to see enough game action from his starters that they can be prepared for Wake Forest the following week (and Clemson after that).
I'm guessing we'll see something close to the same as last week -- about 1-2 series into the third quarter -- for the starters, regardless of score. As Fisher said, it was only 21-3 when Jenkins went down, and he's played just 23 snaps in the game. Some things, you can't predict. What is under Fisher's control is how much prep time his starters get before ACC play, and I don't think he'll shortchange them on that, no matter how ugly the score becomes.
Dowlar: I think this question just goes to show how awful this game could potentially be. Ideally, there would be at least some kind of challenge before heading into conference play, but that isn't going to happen with Savannah State - no disrespect intended.
I think the starters should be limited, considering Brandon Jenkins or not, anyway. But at the same time, they've got to be able to get on the same page with their teammates in a live-game atmosphere. It just depends how ugly it gets and how fast. If there are more actual scoring drives and less one-play scores, I'm thinking they will be able to keep in some of the starters for longer. I'll go with an even halftime split.
From NoleNation member Seminole_Sam: We should do exactly what OK State did and pull most of our starters during the 1st quarter. No reason to play EJ, Werner, Joyner, Brooks, Rhodes, Dawkins, Thompson, and truthfully I wouldn't mind if we pulled our entire starting OL after a series or two. Our backups are more than servicable against Savannah State.
Q: How much do you think the loss of Jenkins will hurt the defense?
Dowlar: It hurts the depth, that's for sure. If Florida State can stay healthy at defensive end for the rest of the season, I really think that defense will be just fine. If they sustain another injury, we are talking about something else altogether.
Giorgio Newberry is really the guy that is going to have to step up. He's added a lot of good size and strength since arriving on campus, now he just needs to put it to work. If one of Chris Casher and Mario Edwards is able to step up, too, then it will be a bonus. The good news here is that the defensive tackle position is loaded. Those guys will have to continue to draw double teams when they can to prevent Werner from drawing all the attention.
Hale: Hale: The funny thing is, I'm not sure the downgrade from Jenkins to Cornellius Carradine is as significant as the downgrade from Carradine to Giorgio Newberry may be. Carradine is a very good pass rusher, and there's a good chance that he may end up going ahead of Jenkins in the NFL draft at this point. Jenkins was a great player and an even better leader, and that will be missed. But the talent difference from Jenkins to Carradine is not immense.
But if you consider that Mark Stoops loves to rotate his linemen, and now the No. 3 guy on the depth chart has a grand total of one game of experience under his belt, that's a bigger concern to me. I thought having Carradine as a No. 3 was one of the biggest advantages FSU had over opponents this year -- a fresh pass rush later in games that simply couldn't be matched by anyone else. Newberry may step up and fill that role, but he's got a long way to go to prove he's at that same level.
From NoleNation member Michael9360: I think it is a very big blow. He commanded double and sometimes triple teams, which left Werner an easier time. I like that Carradine is there which should negate the effect a little. What I think we will miss the most is his leadership. I hope he accepts what has happened and gets on the sideline and coaches up and pumps up the defense, (Like Thompson of last year).
Q: Can two cupcake games to start the season prepare FSU for ACC play, which begins next week with Wake Forest?
Hale: I don't think the schedule thus far has done Fisher any favors. The toughest work his guys have gotten has come in practice, not on game day, and that's frustrating for coaches and for fans who are eager to get a real look at their team.
Wake Forest certainly isn't going to be the toughest matchup in the world for FSU, but the Deacons have surprised the Seminoles before -- 3 of the last 5, to be exact -- and it wouldn't be unreasonable to predict EJ Manuel and Co. come out a bit rusty in Week 3.
Simulating the game experience in practice is next to impossible for a coaching staff, and these first two games have been little more than a glorified practice.
Dowlar: I'm pretty much with Mr. Hale on this one. One FCS is fine with me, that makes sense. But ideally, you'd like to have at least one "test" before beginning conference play. The good news for Coach Fisher is that Wake Forest doesn't seem to have an extremely talented squad this year. And it is at home.
But if the 'Noles are going to go into Clemson with a legitimate sense of confidence and some experience for the newcomers, it is going to have to come in week three when the Demon Deacons come to town.
From NoleNation member Michael9360: I actually like it better than having to play a really good team week two such as Oklahoma or West Virginia. I think it allows our team to build up. I don't think the coaches are really going guns a blazin just yet, and the Wake Forest game could be the up slope to Clemson. Easing our way into the season could be beneficial, but having 4 straight home games is the way to go!