One of the best rivalries in the 1990’s in any sport was FSU-Florida. Two teams with superior talent and innovative head coaches played yearly, and even met for the National Championship in a bowl game once. Bobby Bowden is now out of coaching and Steve Spurrier has been gone from Florida for some time, but this years Chick-fil-A game in Atlanta is the next best thing to a reunion. Steve Spurrier, after 5 long years, finally has the Gamecocks on the cusp of respectability once again. Jimbo Fisher, in his first year at FSU, has the Seminoles poised to return to national prominence as well. Usually SEC-ACC games see the SEC teams heavily favored but in this game Spurrier and company will have their work cut out for them. This year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl should be among the most competitive games on the field and the most fun to watch at home.
3 Keys From the Scouts
1. Can FSU stop Marcus Lattimore? South Carolina will be playing without starting offensive lineman Garrett Chisolm. Even so the Gamecocks will need to establish Marcus Lattimore early and use him to wear down a pretty good FSU defense. Lattimore is a game changing runner, even as a freshman. Consistent yardage from Lattimore will not only open up opportunities for Alshon Jeffrey and company but it will set a physical tone. As a general rule SEC teams usually beat out of conference teams in physical games.
2. FSU needs to hit the big play in the passing game. 33 times this season FSU has gained more than 20 yards on a play. South Carolina’s run defense is stingy and yardage is likely to be scarce on the ground. The Seminoles will need to make big plays in the passing game and put the pressure on South Carolina’s offense to keep pace with them. If this game becomes a grind it out/field position battle where the team with the fewest mistakes wins, South Carolina will probably emerge victorious as they don’t make mistakes often when they are in control. If they start to push offensively then they get sloppy and FSU can capitalize.
3. Which offensive line will set the tone? Both defenses are among the national leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. Both offenses depend on deep passing plays as a staple of their offense. South Carolina will be playing a new starting 5. Florida State is battle tested. The difference is that the Gamecocks will be the best defensive line FSU has played all year. USC has played several teams with defensive lines as good, or better, than the Seminoles.
Bold Prediction: Steve Spurrier began motivating his team the day the Bowl invitation was accepted by claiming the Gamecocks need to learn to win in Atlanta if they ever want to accomplish their goals. Florida State is looking to serve notice that they are back. Closing this season out with 2 victories over SEC teams, and finishing with 10 wins, would send a clear message that Jimbo Fisher has the team headed in the right direction. Unfortunately USC is not Florida. In fact hey might be better than Virginia Tech. South Carolina 34 FSU 24.
|3rd||Devin Taylor||DE||98||3So||Developing defensive lineman that has shown the ability to dominate games. Offers terrific size, growth potential and just scratching the surface of his abilities.|
|4th||Cliff Matthews||DE||83||5Sr||Fluid defensive end who moves well on his feet and makes plays in every direction of the field. Athletic and explosive. Poor man’s version of John Abraham.|
|5th||Jarriel King||T||76||5Sr||Solid prospect at left tackle. Possesses good lateral range and pass blocking feet.|
|5th||Chris Culliver||S||17||5Sr||Versatile defensive back that can play safety or corner. Physical and very tough.|
|6th||Ladi Ajiboye||DT||91||5Sr||Explosive interior lineman who plays with great quickness. Possible three technique lineman.|
|6-7||Weslye Saunders||TE||88||4Sr||Tight end/offensive tackle. May be seeking another year of eligibility after sitting on the sidelines this season.|
|2nd||Rodney Hudson||G||62||5Sr||Terrific zone blocking prospect that been very productive at FSU.|
|4th||Christian Ponder||QB||7||5Sr||Smart, tough passer struggling with a number of injuries and watching his draft stock decline.|
|4-5||Taiwan Easterling||WR||8||4Jr||Game breaking receiver that plays with great suddenness.|
|4-5||Nigel Bradham||OLB||13||3Jr||Steady linebacker that’s flashed in the past. Considering entering the draft.|
|5th||Markus White||DE||98||4Sr||Explosive defensive tackle who knifes between blockers on the inside or immediately alters his angle of attack to make plays down the line. Never developed the way we thought possible.|
|6th||Jermaine Thomas||RB||38||3Jr||Small, elusive ball carrier that creates his own yardage. Situational runner at the next level.|
Game Preview: Brent Foshee
Prospect Preview: Tony Pauline