ACC: Rick Trickett
It is not a very long list.
Only 37 of 1,152 full-time assistants meet that standard. Four are from the ACC. Three are from one school: Virginia Tech.
- Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator, 1987
- Bryan Stinespring, Virginia Tech tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, 1990
- Charley Wiles, Virginia Tech defensive line/run game coordinator, 1996
- Odell Haggins, Florida State defensive tackles, 1994
Stinespring and Haggins break the typical assistants mold, making their stories especially remarkable. Neither has ever worked for another FBS school. Haggins played at Florida State from 1986-89, then began his coaching career there in 1994. He was recently promoted to associate head coach and is going into his 21st season with the Seminoles.
Stinespring started at Virginia Tech as a graduate assistant, working his way up to offensive coordinator. After the 2012 season, he remained on staff as recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach despite losing his offensive coordinator duties.
Foster and Wiles both played for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer; Foster has spent his entire coaching career with Beamer, turning down opportunities to become defensive coordinator elsewhere. His name has been linked to head coach openings in the past, and there is no doubt he would love the opportunity to run his own program one day. But until that day comes, Foster remains committed to both Beamer and Virginia Tech. The reverse is true as well.
What is clear about all four: they have gotten on-the-field results and have benefited from being at programs with long-tenured head coaches. Beamer has been at Virginia Tech since 1987. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher worked with Haggins under Bobby Bowden, and Fisher decided to retain him on staff. Fisher also retained two other assistants who remain in Tallahassee: offensive line coach Rick Trickett and receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. Both are going into their eighth seasons at Florida State -- not quite a decade but quite a solid tenure at one place.
- Clemson football set an attendance record this past season.
- The Tigers put together the conference's best receiver group and best running back group in the Class of 2014, while Syracuse has the best quarterback group.
- Former Clemson defensive back Bashaud Breeland has a chance to move into second-round range.
- Jimbo Fisher and Rick Trickett break down Florida State's offensive line class.
- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson gives plenty of insight in this Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Incoming Miami player Malik Rosier will try to play football and baseball.
- Pitt football has depth issues at quarterback.
- Rob Moore's decision to leave the Syracuse football team was only a matter of when, not if.
The mantra was repeated so often, in fact, that line coach Rick Trickett adopted it as the unit's rallying cry. Before each game, Trickett would gather his troops and remind them where they stood.
"He'd come up and be like, 'What are we not going to do?'" guard Tre' Jackson said. "And we'd be like, 'We're not going to mess it up.' We used it as motivation."
After a dismal 2011 campaign in which Florida State ranked 105th in the nation in rushing and 110th in sacks allowed, the unit blossomed with new personnel, cutting its sack total nearly in half and opening up running lanes to the tune of 5.62 yards per rush -- the fourth-best mark in the country.
Now, just a year after being labeled the black sheep of the position groups, Florida State's offensive line is a strength.
"That's as good a group as we've had," Jimbo Fisher said. "I've been around a long time, and that's a very good group up front."
It's essentially the same group that worked together throughout the 2012 season, save the right tackle spot, where junior Bobby Hart steps in to replace the departed Menelik Watson.
When that group took the field against Murray State for FSU's opener last season, the starters had just 16 career starts between them -- 14 of which belonged to center Bryan Stork. With Hart, who started nine games as a freshman in 2011, this season's starting five will open the year with 80 starts under their belt. Overall, the FSU depth chart at offensive line has more career starts than all but nine other teams in the country.
Perhaps the most surprising part about the progress made by the line is that, of the five projected starters, Hart is the only member who was highly recruited out of high school. Jackson and Stork were both three-star recruits. Left tackle Cameron Erving was a two-star player who was offered late by FSU and ignored by virtually everyone else. Now, all three -- along with guard Josue Matias -- are working their way up NFL draft boards.
"I think our starting five, athletically and ability-wise, yes, we're probably the most talented we've been since we've been here," Trickett said.
A few injuries have thinned the ranks, but Trickett said he's narrowing in on a depth chart with eight reliable options on the line, and the starting group looks to be firmly established after Hart's strong spring.
Still, there are some concerns.
Florida State ran for a whopping 2,882 yards last season, but critics are quick to point out that the bulk of that total came against severely overmatched opponents. Florida State's offensive line averages 317 pounds, and manhandling undersized defenders was easy. Against more formidable defenses, however, the yards were tougher to find.
In the eight games FSU played against teams with run defenses ranked 60th or worse nationally, the Seminoles averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored 31 rushing touchdowns. In their other six games against better run defenses -- NC State, USF, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida and Northern Illinois -- that average dropped to just 4.3 yards per rush and the Seminoles scored just nine times on the ground.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, in the six games against better defensive fronts, FSU had 64 rushes that resulted in no gain or lost yardage. In the other eight games, it had just 50.
Set aside mid-major Northern Illinois and exclude a 22-yard scamper by EJ Manuel on FSU's final play against Florida, and the Seminoles averaged just 1.6 yards before contact against the five best run defenses they faced last season. Against everyone else, that number jumps to 3.6 yards before contact.
None of those numbers are particularly damning, but they serve as a reminder that there's still something for the unit to prove.
"We have the potential to be one of the best O-lines in the country," Stork said, "but that's only going to happen if we put the team on our backs and get yards for our running backs."
Running the ball will be a top priority with a new quarterback taking the snaps, and Jackson said coaches have made it a point of emphasis to run early and often. But protecting a first-year starting quarterback will be key, too, and that's where losing Watson might hurt. In the 10 quarters Florida State played without him last season it allowed 10 sacks. The Seminoles gave up just 16 sacks the rest of the season.
But Hart's emergence this spring after a year in Trickett's doghouse has been one of the bright spots for FSU, and even the irascible line coach is pleased with the results.
"[Hart] still has a tendency to do some things his way technique-wise ... but he's progressed a great deal from last year," Trickett said.
Watson went from a juco transfer with virtually no experience to a top NFL draft pick in just nine months at Florida State, but he wasn't alone in his rapid ascent throughout the 2012 season.
A year ago, even the optimists among Florida State's fanbase recognized the weakness. Now, the offensive line is leading the charge. But if expectations have changed markedly, the mindset of the group hasn't.
"We still get motivated the same way," Matias said. "Last year, we were the group that was supposed to mess it up. That was our motivation. This year's the same. We're going to have the spotlight on us the first time we make a mistake, so we're trying to do the same thing."
I got a little bit of insight into both Wednesday, when coach Jimbo Fisher opened the entire 2 1/2-hour practice to the media for the first time this spring. It was my lucky day!
Now, it should be noted that both Coker and Winston have been limited this spring. Coker is still not 100 percent as he recovers from a foot injury, and Fisher acknowledged after practice that his quarterback was unable to display the athleticism that makes him so good.
"But I’m not concerned about that right now," Fisher said. "I know he can do those things. I want him to win from the pocket right now. Make decisions, lead and do those things."
As for Winston, the team is monitoring his throws this spring because of his dual commitment to baseball, especially following games in which he pitches. Winston pitched Sunday out of the bullpen against Georgia Tech, and was a little sore following the game. Again, this is not a concern to Fisher but clearly something the team has to be sensitive to as Winston does both this spring. Winston, by the way, seems to be the most vocal of the three, bringing an extra bounce to practice.
Now on to the new assistants. I was impressed with the energy, passion and tempo they brought to the field Wednesday. This is a boisterous group unafraid to get in the faces of their players. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett used to be the loudest of the bunch, but that title belongs to new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, whose booming voice could be heard for most of the practice.
In particular, he was on Giorgio Newberry for a good part of the practice, clearly realizing how much potential his player has as the Seminoles work to replace both starting ends. Newberry has the physical tools, and he looks very impressive in person. Now he has to take the next step and dominate consistently in games.
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was on his players, too, hollering one minute, then pulling a player aside for a teachable moment the next. Coaches want to teach first and foremost this spring, and you definitely saw a lot of that going on during the open practice.
One more note: Kelvin Benjamin was all the rage headed into last season as a player who could be a star on the rise given his size (6-foot-5, 242 pounds), speed and athleticism. He had a productive first year with 30 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns, but was maddeningly inconsistent. In the final three games of the season, he had a combined two catches for 16 yards (including a goose egg against Florida).
Benjamin is incredibly impressive in person because he is just so big. He towers over just about everybody on the field. What you now want to see out of him is complete domination. He should be winning his one-on-one matchups more; he should be able to come down with every fade pass in the end zone; he should become an All-ACC receiver. Can he?
That's it for now. Check back later for much more.
- Here are some notes on Georgia Tech's first practice.
- Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is rooting for Isaiah Battle to win the left tackle spot.
- Dennis Erickson is still keeping an eye on the U.
- Virginia Tech's offense is ready for a fresh start.
- Maryland receiver Deon Long has been suspended for two weeks.
- Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett has gotten an extension.
- Pitt's Eric Williams is adjusting to his move from linebacker to safety.
- Pitt's Chris Wuestner is a tough receiver fighting for a starting spot.
Corey Dowlar writes : It's a critical time for the future of FSU's offensive line. After missing on several high-profile recruits, the Noles are dramatically overhauling their recruiting philosophy.
From David M. Hale : FSU's offensive line grew by leaps and bounds in 2012, but with its best player gone, the Noles are counting on a few new faces to step up.
By the time Bell, a three-star offensive guard, signed his letter of intent to play at Florida State last month, he'd made the NFL his top priority, and he'd heard from dozens of coaches assuring him they possessed the perfect plan to get him there. He'd endured enough speeches to parse the good ones from the bad, he said, and Florida State's offensive line coach, Rick Trickett, sold it perfectly.
"Of course other guys sold better things to me about their school, but nobody could really compare to Trickett and the names he's put in the NFL," Bell said. "And that's what I really want to do."
Trickett wasn't simply talking a big game. He had references.
Trickett told Bell about a number of his success stories, including Rodney Hudson, a fellow Mobile-area native now playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. Many of Trickett's pupils had started their college careers as works in progress, and Trickett had transformed them into NFL linemen. Bell was convinced.
To read more of this story, click here.
Our opinions differ, though, on exactly how they need to do that.
Will the offensive line and running game be the key? Or will it be quarterback EJ Manuel and the development of his receivers?
Heather Dinich: It’s a good thing Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett is a Harley Davidson-driving, cigar-gnawing, old-school, kick-in-the-pants kind of coach -- because Florida State’s offensive line couldn’t afford anything less this summer.
If the No. 7-ranked Seminoles are going to stay in the top 10 -- if they’re going to win the ACC and aim for something even higher -- the offensive line must go from the weak link in 2011 to one of the team’s greatest strengths in 2012. The running game must improve, and it all starts up front with a group that introduced four freshmen in the starting lineup against Notre Dame last year in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Last year, Florida State’s running game finished No. 104 in the country. The Noles tied for No. 110 in sacks allowed. And the linemen didn’t create enough holes for the running backs, who also had too many mental errors.
Does that sound like a top-10 team? Well, that’s why it wasn’t. The Noles sank to No. 23 last year in the final Associated Press Top 25 after starting out No. 6 in the preseason poll.
Florida State can’t possibly expect to change that with only 95 total yards of offense against Florida again. It can’t possibly win its first ACC title since 2005 with only 63 rushing yards against Miami. And it certainly can’t be taken seriously as a national title contender with only 41 rushing yards against Notre Dame.
Florida State’s defense and its super special teams were the difference for the Noles last year. If the offensive line and ground game could match that, Florida State would be seemingly unstoppable.
It’s getting closer.
The experience sophomore guards Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson got in the bowl game last year was priceless, and they continued that progress this summer. Cameron Erving’s seamless transition from defensive tackle to left tackle was one of the top story lines in Tallahassee, and all three have likely earned starting jobs for the season opener against Murray State. The questions continue at center and right tackle, though, and the competition could, too. During fall camp, Austin Barron and Bryan Stork were the frontrunners at center, and junior-college transfers Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser were the leaders at right tackle.
Overall, the Noles’ offensive line has gotten bigger and stronger, but it still needs to prove that it has also gotten better.
Andrea Adelson: We have heard plenty already this preseason about the depth Florida State has at wide receiver.
Depth is an excellent commodity to have. But here is my question -- how about playmakers? Do the Seminoles have a game-breaker at receiver who will be able to help Manuel carry this offense from good to championship caliber?
I grew up in South Florida, and have watched every Miami-Florida State game going back to the early 1980s. During the heyday of both programs, you could always count on at least one receiver that made you, well, nervous. Florida State had them in spades, between guys like Lawrence Dawsey, Tamarick Vanover, Peter Warrick, Laveranues Coles, Snoop Minnis, E.G. Green, Anquan Boldin and the like.
To that point -- FSU had one receiver on the ACC first team between 1993 and 2000. Since then, the Noles have had just one -- Craphonso Thorpe in 2003. There are a variety of reasons this program has hit a major dip in recent years. One of them has been a lack of some major talent at the skill positions.
The lack of a 1,000-yard rusher (none since 1996) or 1,000-yard receiver (none since 2002) are proof. So is the fact that Florida State has not had a receiver drafted since Willie Davis in 2007. For a program in talent-rich Florida, it is almost inexcusable for there to be a dearth of game-changers at either running back or receiver. A player like Sammy Watkins? He used to be found at Florida State.
The Noles have an opportunity to change that this season given some of the talent that is returning. What FSU fans will tell you is Manuel has been good at spreading the ball around to his various receivers, and that has been nearly as good as having one go-to guy emerge. Three players had 30 or more catches last season -- Rashad Greene, Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw.
They all return.
Willie Haulstead also is back after sitting out last season. Christian Green and Greg Dent each averaged over 17 yards a catch last season. They are back, too.
Expectations are high for redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin to emerge as a game-changer. Florida State also has true freshman Marvin Bracy, a player with world class speed who may not even see the field this year. That is a testament to the depth at the position, something that is not in dispute.
But what the Noles truly need is a dynamic presence at receiver to put fear into the opposition, the way they used to do. To me, that is going to be a deciding factor in whether the Seminoles live up to all the preseason hype.
Record: 8-4, 5-3 ACC
Overview: An ACC title was a reasonable expectation in Jimbo Fisher’s second season, considering the Noles won their division in his first year and played for the championship. A national title was clearly asking too much. Florida State was ranked No. 6 in the preseason Associated Press top 25, and predicted by the media to win the Atlantic Division and an ACC title, but injuries quickly added up, and so did the losses.
Florida State’s season took a turn for the worse when quarterback EJ Manuel injured his shoulder against Oklahoma. Backup Clint Trickett, son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, did a more than admirable job against then-ranked No. 1 Oklahoma, but it wasn’t enough to top the Sooners. Or Clemson. A 35-30 loss to Wake Forest is a little more difficult to explain. Three straight losses heading into mid-October had many calling the Seminoles the biggest disappointment of the first half of the season. A national title was out of the question, and FSU was on the outside looking in at the ACC race.
Still, Florida State didn’t quit and reeled off five straight wins before a stunning home loss to Virginia on Nov. 19. It was the first time FSU had ever lost in Tallahassee to the Cavaliers, and the second straight game that FSU’s offense struggled. The win over Florida was the third. Florida State won this year’s unofficial state championship with wins over rivals Miami and Florida, but offensive touchdowns were hard to come by in both games. Florida State’s defense and special teams were the difference down the stretch, but it was the three-game losing streak early that defined FSU’s season.
Offensive MVP: Manuel. He finished the season with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 11 games, and completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,417 yards. He was second in the ACC in passing efficiency with a rating of 151.
Defensive MVP: DE Bjoern Werner. He had 35 tackles, including 10 for losses and six sacks. He also had one interception and nine passes defended, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Turning point: When Manuel injured his shoulder against Oklahoma. The Seminoles just weren’t the same without him in the lineup, and once he returned, coach Jimbo Fisher said Manuel was the biggest difference in the five-game winning streak.
What’s next: Florida State will face Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl, the first meeting of the two storied programs since 2003. A strong finish could mean another top-25 preseason ranking and high expectations for the Noles heading into 2012.
It was better than Florida State could have hoped for, as he came in against the No. 1 team in the nation, held his composure, and led the Noles on an eight-play, 50-yard drive that took 3:28 off the clock. It ended in a 46-yard field goal and closed the deficit to 13-6.
Trickett looked prepared and ready for this chance. For Trickett to come into the game under those circumstances and not only keep the Noles afloat but in the game is admirable. It should give the Noles confidence moving forward.
Coach: Rick Trickett
Position: Offensive line
Experience: He is entering his fifth season at Florida State and 39th overall. Trickett has coached at 11 different programs, including West Virginia, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State. He’s gone to a bowl game in each of the past nine seasons, including five of the six seasons he was with West Virginia. After just two seasons under Trickett, the Seminoles improved their rushing yards average by more than 70 yards per game. After one season at West Virginia, the Mountaineers' running game improved from 35th in the nation to second in 2002. From 2002-2006, West Virginia finished among the top 15 rushing offenses and three times were among the top five nationally.
Of note: Trickett is one of the most interesting characters in the ACC. He’s a U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran. He drives a Harley. And he’s regarded by many as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. More than 30 of Trickett’s former players have gone on to play in the NFL. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1972 from Glenville (W.Va.), where he was an all-conference strong safety. He received his master's degree from Indiana (Pa.) in 1975.
His challenge: Reload. Florida State must replace its top two offensive linemen in Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon. Trickett has plenty of experience to work with, but depth is an issue. Significant strides will have to be made this summer, as spring was a time to heal. Left tackle Andrew Datko was out with a shoulder injury, right tackle Zebrie Sanders was out after abdominal surgery, and left guard David Spurlock, who started the first seven games of 2010 before suffering a concussion, was only about 50 percent because of a hand/wrist injury. Key reserves like Rhonne Sanderson (foot injury) and Blake Snider (ankle injury) were missing. Jacob Fahrenkrug was supposed to take over at left guard, but finished the spring starting at center. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of LT Datko, LG Bryan Stork or Spurlock, C Fahrenkrug, RG Spurlock or Stork, RT Sanders. It’s up to Trickett to coach ‘em up.
The Seminoles got a commitment from track star Marvin Bracy on Thursday. He is ranked the No. 14 athlete in his class.
"Everything about FSU was the right fit for me," Bracy told Corey Long of ESPN Recruiting. "I had a great relationship with Coach [Rick] Trickett [the offensive line coach who recruits Orlando for the Seminoles], and we developed a strong bond. I always enjoyed my time there and I couldn't ask for a better fit."
Bracy, who clocked a 10.05 first-place finish in the 100-meter dash at the USA Track and Field Championships in Oregon, will also run track at FSU.
1. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: He can’t afford a second straight losing season, and he’s trying to avoid a third straight loss to rival South Carolina. He made a dramatic shift in offensive philosophy and that hire will have to pay dividends sooner than later.
2. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon: Former quarterback Russell Wilson set a high standard, and coach Tom O’Brien hasn’t helped matters much by comparing Glennon to former Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. The expectation is for Glennon to continue the success of last year’s nine-win season in his first season as full-time starter. No pressure.
3. Maryland coach Randy Edsall: He was hired to replace the ACC’s 2010 Coach of the Year. He was hired to make Maryland a consistent Top 25 program. And he was hired to rejuvenate a dispassionate fan base and fill the seats. So yeah, he’s got something to prove.
4. Boston College’s offensive line: The Eagles have to replace three starters on the line, including Anthony Castonzo, who finished his career with a league-high 54 starts. The staff liked the progress the group made this past spring, but it’s not sold on the starting lineup. John Wetzel was listed as Castonzo’s replacement on the post-spring depth chart, but the position is still up for grabs.
5. Wake Forest center Garrick Williams: He is the undisputed heir to former center Russell Nenon, a four-year starter who started every game in his final three seasons. Williams isn’t an established player and struggled to snap the ball at the end of spring practices. He still needs to show significant improvement this summer to earn the staff’s confidence. He started three of the final four games of the 2010 season, and played a different position each time.
6. Florida State’s offensive line: It’s the one true question the Seminoles have heading into the season, as they’ve got to replace mainstays Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon up front. There were too many injuries this spring to get a good read on how the group will look without them, and it was also difficult to test the defensive line with rookie backups. Why are they last on the list? Offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
- Clemson has some kicking issues it has been trying to correct this spring.
- Virginia Tech's Chris Drager has been one of the most unselfish players on the roster, regardless of what position he's playing.
- The Hokies' first mini-scrimmage was a bit ragged.
- Miami coach Al Golden got his first dig in at the Gators.
- The Canes' defense needs to break some bad habits.
- North Carolina fans will finally get a chance to see quarterback Bryn Renner throw more than two passes on Saturday.
- It's always fun to listen to FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett.