Five Questions before the Spring Game

The annual Garnet and Gold Spring Game is this Saturday, meaning it will be the first time we will see this Florida State squad in action since the Peach Bowl. However, some key pieces have departed and a host of young players are eager to step up and fill the void. As always, this team has some major questions to answer before we can seriously talk about them earning their second trip to the College Football Playoffs.

  1. Is Ricky Aguayo ready to step in at kicker?
    • Whether he’s ready or not, Ricky Aguayo will likely be the Florida State starting kicker come game day. The younger brother of All-American and future NFL kicker Roberto Aguayo, Ricky certainly has big shoes to fill. Last year, Roberto was a safety net for a Florida State offense that struggled in the red zone. If the offense fails to improve this year, can Ricky give them three points on a consistent basis? Can he step in and hit the 40 and 50-yard field goals that Roberto was making on a consistent basis? He doesn’t need to be Roberto. He just needs to be ready.
  2. Where does Rick Leonard play?
    • After two seasons at defensive end, Rick Leonard moved to the offensive line during spring practice. From early reports, he’s taken to the position with ease. However, it seems as if the coaching staff haven has not quite figured out where to play him. Leonard has spent time at center, right guard and right tackle so far in practice. Does the coaching staff stick him at center, where FSU had problems last season? Or is he a right tackle, where his length will be an important factor in stopping edge rushers? Wherever he plays, the important factor to remember is that he is still very raw. He’s not going to be perfect right away, but his ceiling is extremely high on the offensive line.
  3. Do either Tarvarus McFadden or Marcus Lewis lock down the boundary cornerback job?
    • Jalen Ramsey has departed for the NFL, meaning there’s an opening at the boundary cornerback job. So far, sophomore and former five-star prospect Tarvarus McFadden has been playing there in practice. McFadden has put on some serious muscle mass and looks like a senior physically. But how does he play? He will likely be one-on-one against Travis Rudolph, FSU’s most talented receiver, in the spring game. Another competitor for the job is Marcus Lewis, a fellow sophomore. He has been practicing at the boundary cornerback position, but has shifted to the field cornerback position since Marquez White has been held out with injury. If White is held out of the spring game, it will likely be McFadden and Lewis as first-team cornerbacks. Do they do enough to lock down major playing time in the fall? Can they perform well not only against the receivers, but against Dalvin Cook and the running game?
  4. Does anyone step up at receiver?
    • Florida State has an established trio of receivers in Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield and Bobo Wilson, but they lack a big red-zone threat. The lack of a big target made their offense stagnant in the red zone last year and caused them to settle for three points instead of six many times. Florida State has some big options on the roster, but none have been able to work themselves into the rotation thus far. George Campbell is perhaps the most athletically gifted, standing at 6-4 with 4.40 speed, but he struggled with drops last season. Can he catch the ball? Auden Tate is 6-5, but is he a player that can highpoint the football on contested catches? Finally, Mavin Saunders is a player that came in with a lot of hype, but he is very raw at catching the football. A former basketball player, he is physically imposing at 6-5, 253 lbs., but can he fight for the football in the air? Ultimately, FSU will need at least one of these players to play major snaps in 2016, or else their offense might struggle in the red-zone yet again.
  5. Can Jacques Patrick or Ryan Green provide consistent relief at running back?
    • Last season, Dalvin Cook had the best season out of any running back in school history. However, he could have been more productive if he wasn’t plagued by injuries. A main reason why FSU was forced to pound the ball with Cook over and over again? Their backup running back situation was very unclear. Jacques Patrick was thought to be their short-yardage specialist at 6-2, 233 lbs., but doesn’t run with power and needs to build momentum before he can get going. He showed impressive flashes during his 162-yard performance against Syracuse, but is he a player that can get 10-plus carries from here on out to give Cook a rest? Ryan Green moved back to running back this spring, but has been injured throughout his college career. He has a similar skill set to Cook, meaning he is more of a shifty runner at 5-11, 205 lbs. Is he healthy enough to get immediate carries? While FSU was fortunate that Dalvin Cook was able to handle 229 carries last year, they need someone to step up to be that second option.

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