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Monday, June 22, 2009
Hope and concern: Florida State

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Biggest reason for hope: The offensive line

Despite starting three true freshmen last year, FSU had its best year running the football since 2000, and the Noles have the potential to be even better this year because of the players up front. The trio of Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will make this line one of the best in the ACC, if not the best. If they continue to build off the momentum and what they learned last season, they can open things up for budding sophomore stars Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas. Don't be surprised to see them running to the left side all day. The running game will be key, but if the linemen improve upon their 26 sacks allowed last year, they can give Christian Ponder and the new receivers the time they'll need to find a rhythm. With Will Furlong gone, the battle at right guard is between Brandon Davis and Blake Snider this summer. It's the group's lone question mark.

Biggest reason for concern: Off-field distractions

Those within the program insist the ongoing battle between Florida State and the NCAA isn't a distraction, but it's a drama that could play out into the start of the season. The future of the program is facing some uncertainty, as Bobby Bowden has yet to announce his retirement date, and a new university president has yet to be named. The off-field incidents will be felt when the offense takes the field for the first time and there are new faces at wide receiver. Several suspensions, and the departure of key players like Corey Surrency, who was denied an extra year of eligibility, and Preston Parker, who was kicked off the team, could have an effect early. The players -- the receivers in particular -- have been on their best behavior lately and know there's no more margin for error.