Coley Harvey, Florida State beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel, took time on Twitter to chat with @ChampsSportsBwl about the game, the FSU defense and punter Shawn Powell’s MVP hopes.
@ChampsSportsBwl: If you had to boil the #NDvFSU game down to one key position battle, what would it be?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: This game is going to come down to a battle in the trenches. Both defensive lines are stout and particularly #FSU’s offensive line is going to be looking for redemption after struggling the last few weeks.
@ChampsSportsBwl: So will FSU’s offensive line benefit the most from the extra practice time? Is there another unit that could use the extra reps, too?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: Yes, OL has been perhaps most deficient unit lately for #Noles, but really the whole offense needed all of this bowl prep. The #Noles had just 95 total yards against Florida in the season finale. 95! That’s not just an OL problem, that’s an O problem.
@ChampsSportsBwl: On the flip side of that, will the defense lose any momentum by having a long gap between Florida and Notre Dame?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: Normally I’d say no, but given the way #FSU’s D played vs. Florida, momentum is something to consider. #Noles had four interceptions in that game and played perhaps their best game in the last decade. If defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was an unknown, November 26 was his coming out party.
@ChampsSportsBwl: Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees is more prolific than UF’s John Brantley, but has a similar TD/INT ratio. Does he pose a bigger threat to FSUs defense?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: It’s tough to compare the QBs. Brantley’s line didn’t protect at all in that game. #ND’s unit ranks 17th in sacks allowed. For that reason, it will be more challenging to pressure Rees. At start of season, would have said Brantley was a better QB, but not now. And now that the #ND QB drama (Crist staying or going) is done, I’d imagine Rees will be more focused.
@ChampsSportsBwl: Should FSU be more concerned about Rees or Andrew Hendrix, who ran ND’s spread well vs. Stanford?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: Before this season, would have said Hendrix’s mobility would have been problematic. Russell Wilson posed the #Noles problems when he was at NC State, for example. But this year, Maryland’s mobile QB [Danny O’Brien] was silenced, as was UF’s Jacoby Brissett. The Seminoles handled mobile QBs well this yr. Guys who have time to throw caused problems (UVA’s Michael Rocco, Wake Forest’s Tanner Price)
@ChampsSportsBwl: Jimbo Fisher called punter Shawn Powell the team MVP; could he follow Graham Gano as Champs Sports Bowl MVP?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: Wouldn’t that be bizarre for you? Two punters in four years named game MVP? It’s possible, though. Powell was named a consensus All-American Tuesday. He leads nation in punt average, can kick ball super-high or rugby it. His ability to create field position has been the difference for the Seminoles all season. Arguably, field position won the Miami and Florida games.
@ChampsSportsBwl: It would be super-weird (for a punter to win the MVP trophy twice), but we like to break boundaries. Who else on the team is poised for a breakout performance?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: I think freshman RB James Wilder could have breakout game. Sadly, senior RB Jermaine Thomas didn’t qualify academically so he’ll miss the bowl. That should give Wilder a few extra touches. Also, have a hunch about DE Bjoern Werner.
@ChampsSportsBwl: Ok, one last one: Did FSU show signs of development as a team this year? How critical is the bowl to that answer?
@OS_ColeyHarvey: Actually writing about this as we speak … Personally, I believe #FSU developed. The team mostly fixed its early-season issues over the course of the season. But this bowl game will be critical to the direction of program. Win, and another high preseason ranking will come next yearr.That, along with experience young players received could make next year THE year at Florida State.
Thank you to Coley for taking time to join us for this preview. Be sure to check out his blog, The Chopping Block, on OrlandoSentinel.com and look for his FSU coverage in Tribune newspapers.