2013 Spring Preview: Offensive line

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
8:33
AM ET
From the impending quarterback competition to finding replacements for departing juniors, Jimbo Fisher will have his work cut out for him during the next few months as he lays the groundwork for 2013.

With that in mind, we're going position by position looking at Florida State's strengths and weaknesses as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice.

Previous entries can be found here.

Next up: Offensive Line

2012 recap: If success is determined as a matter of perspective, then 2012 was a tremendous accomplishment for the Florida State offensive line. It's not that the unit was dominant -- though at times, it was exceptional -- but rather that it came so far from the unmitigated disaster of 2011. Only center Bryan Stork was a holdover from the previous season's regular starters, while guards Tre Jackson and Josue Matias built on the foundation they laid in the 2011 bowl game. But it was the arrival of right tackle Menelik Watson and left tackle Cameron Erving that made the biggest impact. Overall, the line helped FSU to nearly double its rushing total from the previous season while trimming the number of sacks allowed from an ACC-worst 40 to a much more respectable 26.

Cameron Erving
AP Photo/Phil SearsCameron Erving's switch from the defense to offense helped pave the way to significant improvement for the Florida State offensive line.
Departures: Florida State hoped it would bring back the entirety of last season's offensive line, but Watson's surprising decision to enter the NFL draft after just eight months at FSU -- and just a year-and-a-half playing football -- leaves a huge void. The primary backup at right tackle last season, Daniel Glauser, has also moved on, leaving Bobby Hart the most likely candidate to win the job. Watson's departure is particularly significant because of the 26 sacks Florida State allowed in 2012, 10 of them game during the 10 quarters Watson didn't play.

Arrivals: Florida State nabbed three offensive linemen in this year's signing class, though none are likely to make an instant impact. Center Ryan Hoefeld needs a season to add bulk, and guard Ira Denson is behind two established starters on the depth chart. It's possible that Denson could get a look at tackle, along with fellow newcomer Wilson Bell, but the odds are all three will be in line for a redshirt. Given that FSU didn't land any offensive linemen (aside from juco transfers Watson and Glauser) in the 2012 class, establishing some depth is a necessity.

Biggest question mark: There may be no bigger question mark on the roster than Hart. He arrived at FSU as a 17-year-old freshman and quickly worked his way into the starting lineup in 2011. He started nine games that season with mixed results, but by the time spring practice rolled around last year, he was in line coach Rick Trickett's doghouse. Hart spent most of 2012 working with the second team, both at guard and tackle, and he hasn't exactly worked his way back into the starting lineup during fourth-quarter drills the past few months. Still, Hart has a big upside if he can simply harness that talent and get on the same page with Trickett. If that doesn't happen, Stork would likely slide to tackle with Austin Barron getting the start at center, but the best long-term solution for FSU would be for Hart to blossom in his third season with the Seminoles.

Breakout star: Erving. Last spring, he was one of the most discussed players on the roster after switching from the defensive line and earning rave reviews by thwarting the likes of Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner during practice. The real games were a bigger adjustment and Erving struggled at times, particularly early in the season. Still, Erving improved as the season progressed, and even when he was learning on the fly, he held his own. With a year of offensive experience under his belt, 2013 could be a monster season for the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Erving.

Projected 2013 starters: Erving, Jackson, Stork, Matias, Hart

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