Monday Mailbag: Clemson, Leavitt, and Ricky Aguayo

Well, Clemson week is here. The ‘most’ important game of the season is finally just days away for Florida State. A year after getting humiliated 59-10 at home, the Seminoles travel to Death Valley for a clash with the defending national champions. Both teams are coming off of a BYE week and you can expect Clemson to be motivated following a narrow victory in Chapel Hill against Sam Howell and UNC.

As for the ‘Noles, head coach Willie Taggart’s team has taken a step forward in each of the last three weeks, culminating with a 31-13 win over North Carolina State. The victory got FSU to over .500 in conference play for the first time since 2016.

Obviously, no one is really giving Florida State much of a shot in this contest against the Tigers. Vegas currently has the Seminoles as a 27-point underdog. That’s a pretty insane number and the gambler in me says you should roll with the garnet and gold if that line stays steady over the next few days.

Let’s see what’s in the mailbag as we enter the halfway point of the college football season.

Will a bye week before Clemson help us or hurt us? – @graytouchon

I think the BYE week certainly has its benefits. FSU has gotten a chance to rest up banged-up players while also having more time to analyze what they did both right and wrong over the first five games. For instance, James Blackman has now had enough time off where he’s healthy enough to start.

However, Clemson is coming off of a BYE week as well, so I feel the effects will be pretty negligible.

There’s a rumor that Leavitt is showing interest in Rutgers. Any talk in expanding his role? – @blkshakespeare

No inside information here or anything, these are just my personal thoughts on this situation though. Jim Leavitt has expressed interest in being a head coach again but I’m not sure he’s itching to leap for one of the worst jobs in college football.

I definitely think at this point, with how the defense has improved since Leavitt joined FSU as an analyst, that both he and Taggart have had some conversations on the future. Leavitt wouldn’t have accepted a position with the Seminoles if he only thought he’d be here for 10 games of 2019.

What are some scenarios of how the Clemson game goes? – @aidantognoli

Well, I don’t think FSU is going to lose 59-10. I believe the ‘Noles can keep this game closer than many people expect. We’ve already seen them play up to the challenge at Virginia a few weeks ago.

Obviously, going into Death Valley is just different than just about any other atmosphere in college football. We’re going to learn a lot about this team’s improved mental fortitude early in this game. They fought off adversity against Louisville to rally for a win. But can they do it against the Tigers?

Ultimately, I’ll take Clemson in the range of 41-20, with Swinney’s squad pulling away in the second half. I think this is a game that FSU fans will come out of encouraged for the rest of 2019.

Chances on landing Malik Hornsby? – @zack.slay

I don’t have much here. FSU is definitely interested in adding a second quarterback in the 2020 class and Hornsby seems to be the top-option for that spot. We should know more after he visits Tallahassee with his teammate for the Syracuse game on Oct. 26.

What are your thoughts on our offensive line against NC State – @mattox_johnston

While the offensive line certainly played its worst game of 2019 against the Wolfpack, not all of the struggles can be placed on them. Alex Hornibrook didn’t do the front-five any favors with his tendency to hold onto the ball forever and his inability to throw passes away.

Whatever it was against NC State, it was like the ball was glued to Hornibrook’s hand at times. It’s something both sides need to work on moving forward against an elite Tigers defense.

What’s the start time for the game? – @twentyseven27aug

3:30 p.m. on ABC (yay, no ACC Network!)

Who do you think will start against Clemson? – @thematthewwebb

Blackman has been named the starter but Hornibrook is expected to play.

Why isn’t Laborn getting more touches? – @jay_cherry

This has been a frequent question in the mailbag and one I’ve wondered myself over FSU’s first five games. You have two highly talented backs, why not at least let Khalan Laborn get 10-12 touches a game so he can actually get into a rhythm? I understand Cam Akers is playing exceptionally well for the Seminoles’ offense right now but I’m concerned about his overall workload.

Akers is on pace to carry the ball almost 300 times in 12 games. In 2017 and 2018, he had 194 attempts and 168 attempts, respectively. With that kind of mileage, you have to wonder if Akers is still going to be 100% by the time the season is over.

Do you think Hornibrook should start over Blackman? – @ryanivester

Not one ounce.

How do you think Blackman missing a start and having a minor injury could affect him? – @og_logan10

I definitely could see Blackman starting the game against Clemson out of rhythm due to the issues you just mentioned. But I don’t expect it to be a big impact on the game. Taggart and his staff wouldn’t throw Blackman out there if they had any concerns he couldn’t perform to the level they expect.

How do you feel on Ricky’s position right now? – @kuhrah

Not great, not great. Honestly, just about anytime Aguayo comes into the game I’m already banking on a miss. He’s lost confidence in himself and once you do that, it’s hard to come back from it. I’d love to Florida State trot out Parker Grothaus or Ryan Fitzgerald against Clemson.

Aguayo has missed four out of his last five field goals. Give someone else a shot.

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