Weekly Mailbag: Notre Dame, Jordan Travis, and linebackers

Thursday felt like the perfect slow day this week to roll out the mailbag, but of course, life never goes as planned. In regards to news for Florida State, things have picked up quite a bit over the last 24 hours. The Seminoles are waiting for a top target, four-star DL Shambre Jackson, to announce his commitment later today for #Tribe21 and over on the basketball side of things, five-star guard Bryce McGowens decommitted this afternoon.

FSU also has a big game this Saturday as the program travels to Indiana to take on No. 5 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have been hit hard by COVID-19 early in the season and will be taking the field for the first time in three weeks when the ‘Noles come to town. Regardless, Brian Kelly’s team is heavily favored with veteran quarterback Ian Book back in the fold.

The hope is that the offense will finish more drives and show consistency with Jordan Travis taking over as the starting quarterback. It will be no easy task against a Notre Dame defense that has dominated the only two teams it’s gone up against in 2020. Defensively for the ‘Noles, maybe they’ll finally take a step forward? Who knows.

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Let’s hop into the mailbag for this week’s set of questions.

Who should the starting quarterback be against Notre Dame? – @christian.hamilton

At this point in the week, Jordan Travis has been named as the starter for the first time in his career. After his performance against Jacksonville State, I think he deserves a shot. It was clear that Travis was able to elevate the other players around him during his time on the field and that’s something we haven’t seen yet from James Blackman or Tate Rodemaker.

He’s certainly going to take his lumps this weekend against a decent Fighting Irish defense. If he struggles, don’t throw in the towel on Travis right away.

When is Nasirildeen returning to the defense? – @urban_kingsman

Hamsah Nasirildeen has been cleared to return to his injury and it seems like the coaching staff is waiting for him to feel comfortable before putting him back into the lineup. The star safety has warmed up prior to each of the last two games which is a good sign that he’s working his way back.

A player with an NFL future like Nasirildeen has nothing to gain from rushing back from a serious injury and potentially getting hurt again, especially with how the Seminoles have started the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him this weekend, I also wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see him.

Does Florida State recruit guys from Louisville, Kentucky? – @liled4

Not only does Florida State recruit players from Louisville, but they also love to steal them. Chubba Purdy, Jordan Travis, Josh Griffis, and Jarrett Jackson are a couple examples of how the Seminoles have taken talent from right under the Cardinals’ noses in recent years.

Isn’t the more athletic linebacker group Kalen DeLoach, Amari Gainer, and Stephen Dix? – @jarvis_jordan

Absolutely. While veteran linebacker Emmett Rice does possess some athleticism, it’s certainly not up to the level as some of the younger linebackers. Leonard Warner is stiff in the hips and struggles with his angles in the passing game. Guys like Gainer, DeLoach, Dix, DJ Lundy, and Jayion McCluster are all athletic but the problem is, outside of Amari, they don’t have a ton of game experience.

When you put Rice and Warner out on the field, you know you’re going to get average play from your linebackers. I think the staff is trying to ease in the younger guys rather than going full youth movement to help mitigate the probability of giving up bigger plays. Freshman are prone to mistakes as they continue to develop.

That said, I don’t necessarily agree with the strategy. This year is essentially a wash so at least to me, it makes sense to develop the guys that are going to be pillars of your program moving forward. Dix has already flashed a couple of times, he’s the one I’m keeping an eye on to nab a starting spot as this season continues.

Will FSU cover the spread this weekend with Travis at the helm? – @tallybreadtom

The spread is roughly 21 points or so at the moment. I think FSU will be within range, I’ll say no because I’m just not sold at all on the defense. This is the best offense they’ve seen so far in 2020 regardless if Notre Dame is rusty or not.

Do you think Warren Thompson could be the next one to transfer? – @flatbushfonz

It’s certainly a possibility. The former four-star wide receiver has now feuded with two different coaching staffs at Florida State and didn’t see a snap against Jacksonville State after being replaced in the starting lineup by Keyshawn Helton. Even later in the game, the Seminoles chose to go with true freshmen wideouts rather than Thompson seeing any time.

Typically, that’s not the greatest sign. However, it could also be this staff sending him a message that he needs to get his act together or he’s going to be passed up. This is the type of move that will either motivate Thompson to get on track or push him out the door.

Why is Florida State so bad? – @davidfrechette45

Well, the offensive line is a known problem so let’s look at some of the other issues. Offensively, Florida State didn’t have very good quarterback play from James Blackman in the first two games, which led to his benching. The wide receivers didn’t make anything easier on him. Defensively, it’s basically just been a total bust, it seems like the personnel doesn’t fit the scheme and vice versa.

The defensive line has basically gotten zero pressure the entire season. The defensive ends haven’t been very good and that allows opposing offensive lines to key in on interior threats like Marvin Wilson, Cory Durden, and Robert Cooper. Outside of Amari Gainer, the starting linebackers are average veterans who are what they are at this point. Like I mentioned above, it’s tough to go full youth movement because although you put more potential on the field, younger players are more prone to fatal errors.

Do you think Chubba Purdy will get playing time against Notre Dame? – @connormartin2021

No. If Florida State is playing well, it’ll likely be because of Jordan Travis’ versatility on offense. If they’re getting blown out, it’s not worth the risk of reinjury to his collarbone against a team like Notre Dame. Save him for a game where you aren’t as outmatched.

What’s the final record? No bias, just straight up. – @riss_nicho1son

3-8. See you next week…..

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