Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:02 AM)
Hey folks, happy Tuesday. We had to take a brief hiatus last week, but we're back to answer any FSU questions (or really, any other topic you'd like to discuss) now. So, let's get started...
Chris (Jackson, TN)
Out of all the incoming freshman, who do want to see step up fast and be a big contributer from the start?
David Hale (11:03 AM)
Well it's really tough to say with any certainty because we haven't seen most of these guys on campus yet, let alone run through a practice. So mostly it's a question of opportunity. On that front, one guy I think could make an instant impact is Demarcus Walker. The kid's very talented, has the advantage of being on campus already and going through spring drills, and he's playing at a position (DE), where there's not much experience and there's a job for the taking. I'm not saying he'll win a starting job from the outset, but he'll be in the mix as much as any true freshman.
Is FSU as big of a favorite to land Andrew Wiggins as they're being made out to be? Has Wiggins actually ever said FSU's his favorite?
David Hale (11:06 AM)
A hoops question! I think the conventional wisdom all along is that FSU is one of the top 2 with Wiggins (the other being Kentucky) but I'm not sure I've ever heard him specifically say that. Both of his parents are FSU alums, and I think he's gotten a strong sales pitch from Coach Ham. But I also am not sure you can say the Noles are the favorite any time your competition is UNC, Kansas and Kentucky. On the downside, it's hard to compete with the environments Wiggins will get a taste of during his officials at those schools (he'll be at UNC-Duke, for example) but on the upside, there's an obvious role for him immediately at FSU, where he'll be not just the focal point, but potentially a program-defining player. That's a rare opportunity for a guy who has a lot of ties to the program already, and I think that makes it a very intriguing option.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Running Backs for Florida State in 2013?
David Hale (11:08 AM)
Well, smart money certainly would be on a distribution that looks something like what we saw at the tail end of last season, with roughly a 60/40 split between Freeman and Wilder (not counting the carries Pryor got). I think Ryan Green has a chance to turn some heads early, but I'm not sure he can pass either of those other two on the depth chart. I'll be more interested in seeing how conventionally Fisher & the new offensive staff employ Freeman and Wilder. I know Fisher doesn't want to tip his hand with personnel, but there were a number of ugly short-yardage carries last year where Freeman mustered nothing, and Wilder might have done more.
Chris (Jackson, TN)
I'm really excited about the new Boise St. series. Unfortunately waiting 6 years is the downfall. Do you know of any other non-conference series that are in the works?
David Hale (11:10 AM)
Yeah, six years is a long wait -- though I actually had a small moment of confusion yesterday when I realized we're only six years away from 2019. Doesn't it seem like that should be MUCH farther away?
David Hale (11:11 AM)
Anyway, to your question on scheduling: First off, the buyout on Boise State is $400,000, which is low enough (particularly in 2020 dollars) that I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see FSU buy itself out of the return trip. Not saying that will happen, but just that it wouldn't be a shock.
David Hale (11:13 AM)
Secondly, I know FSU really wants to improve its non-conference scheduling, and I spoke with Randy Spetman about this at length last week. The problem is that scheduling has become a convoluted mess with all the conference realignment, and I'm not sure the new plus-one playoff won't hurt things even more. If you went undefeated with a weak schedule before, you may well have been on the outside looking in. Go undefeated with any schedule though, and you're almost certainly in the top 4 -- meaning you'll have a chance. There just isn't a huge incentive for top-tier programs to go on the road, give up a bunch of money from the gate from a home game, and risk losing an early game that knocks them out of the title picture. And moreover, even if FSU can convince someone to do it, they're stuck with the same questions of whether they want to return the favor in a home-and-home.
David Hale (11:14 AM)
Long story short, I think there's a legitimate push to find some games to drive attendance at Doak, so I think we'll see some solid additions. But I also think the "kickoff" games will be an attractive option, too. They've got Okie State in Dallas for 2014, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them pushing for a game in Atlanta in the near future, too.
DH, if Jimbo Fisher's contract isn't extended in the offseason, do you see that as a distraction for 2013?
David Hale (11:16 AM)
I don't see it as a distraction, per se. It's not like he's in the final year of his deal. He's got 4 years left, and plenty of coaches will be working with less. He's not in any danger of losing his job, but I think FSU is somewhat reluctant to make this an annual thing with adding another year. Will other coaches try to use it as leverage on the recruiting trail? Sure... but they'll take any ammunition they can get. I don't think most players care that much between 4 years or 5. Mark Richt had one foot out the door at UGA a few years ago and brought in the best class of his tenure.
Hey David, I am really excited to see how this secondary will take shape, especially under Pruitt's guidance. If the move by Joyner works out for him, how do you think that impacts his draft status because a 5-9, 5-10 safety usually doesn't make it too far but at corner he might make it
David Hale (11:18 AM)
Yeah, I think Joyner's size is still going to put a cap on where teams view him in the draft, and that's going to be the case at either position, but I think he certainly could project much better at corner. The other thing is, people sometimes forget just how quick he is because the big hits get so much more attention at safety. I think he'll get a chance to showcase that a little more this season. Joyner can't do anything about how tall he is, but he has a chance this year to showcase how versatile he is, and that could help him a lot. All it takes is convincing one team that you're their guy -- and I'm fairly certain he can do that.
Any words on Mario Pender? I keep hearing things about Ryan Green being the next thing but doesn't Pender have just as much potential?
David Hale (11:20 AM)
I think they're a little different style of runner, but certainly Pender came with his own level of hype and deserves more attention than he's gotten. It's typical though -- you focus on what's new rather than the guy who's been here for a year. Plus, Pender has slid beneath the radar some because of the injury. We won't really know how far he's come until he suits up this spring. As far as I've heard, he's on target and the injury isn't a concern -- but you have to wonder how much a full season off the practice field may have set him back. He'll be one of the more intriguing players to watch this spring for sure, and if he performs well, the buzz will grow between spring and fall.
I think Jimbo and Pruitt must watch the chant because we def talked about Joyner moving to corner to give Karlos a shot at safety. Im excited for defense.
David Hale (11:21 AM)
Now all Karlos needs to do is live up to the hype. That, and quit getting so many flags on special teams.
Dylan (Palatka, FL.)
Do you think that Winston or Coker has to start for us to win, or do you think Clint has the ability to out play his size and help us win?
Who starts at QB next year? And who is the back up?
David Hale (11:24 AM)
The weekly QB debate... As I've said before, there's really little substance to the discussion right now because I don't think even Jimbo has a real idea of who will start Game 1, but I also don't think FSU is in a bad position regardless of who wins the job. All three are capable of winning games. If we're talking sheer upside -- i.e. each guy maximizes his potential -- then it's probably Winston, Coker then Trickett. If we're talking about ability to step in right now and get the job done, it might be Trickett, Coker, Winston. The real answer will likely be somewhere in between, and to find out how that shakes out, we need to see these guys sling it a bit in spring (and potentially wait until fall before we get a sure answer).
What are you hearing about Bjoern? I mean he didnt pull a Demonte Moore at the combine, but seemed more like just a guy at the combine. I would compare him to a Tyler Hansbourgh of football
David Hale (11:27 AM)
I don't think that's necessarily a fair comparison, though I see where you're going with it. Look, Bjoern isn't a guy whose measurables jump off the page at you. He was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school, too. But turn on the game tape and watch him play. There wasn't a smarter, more prepared guy on the field. And he doesn't do just one thing well. He's got a diverse range of skills and really good athleticism. He played light this year and it helped, but he's got the frame to bulk up for a team that wants him to be more of a power guy. He's got good speed, but he's probably more quick than fast. And he's a guy who is still developing and refining his skills. Hansborough was probably as good as he'd ever be in college. Werner is still somewhat raw. Is he a No. 2-3 overall pick? I dunno. Perhaps for the right team. But is he a top half of the first round guy? I think he definitely should be.
How do you think it will help recruiting with Jimbo bringing pretty much all SEC style coaches? They have good experience in the SEC and so FSU can almost brand themselves as an SEC style football team without the tough schedule
David Hale (11:29 AM)
That's a good point. Jimbo has really tried to do that in a lot of ways since he got here, and it's a smart play. Sell the SEC style without the SEC slog. Moreover, it's not just that these are SEC guys, but veteran SEC guys. The previous regime had some talent, obviously, but Coley, Craig, Eliot... those were guys who were getting their first real taste of a top-notch job at FSU. The guys Jimbo has brought in are here for a reason, but they're also not new to the limelight. Any time there's a large scale change on the staff like this, there will be a learning curve and a few hiccups along the way, but the new staff certainly has the skill set and experience to make it as smooth a transition as possible.
Any chance we flip Yearby, the RB from Miami back? I know it's very early in the recruiting process.
David Hale (11:31 AM)
I'm not much into predicting that stuff right now. I haven't spoken with the kid personally, and as you said, it's very early. Frankly, I hate all this "commitment" stuff when the actual meaning of the word and the way it's used in recruiting couldn't be more different. Having said all that, Tim Brewster already tweeted today that he's honing in on the Miami area, and I think FSU will be giving James Coley a run for his money down there soon.
DH, was the football program at UGA as "tight-lipped" as this FSU outfit? Doesn't Jimbo need to use the media, more, to keep fans excited?
David Hale (11:37 AM)
Nope, Jimbo is a much different breed than Richt & UGA. It's a style thing, and certainly from my perspective, I'd love more openness -- namely access to assistant coaches. But in fairness, Jimbo's far from the only coach to take this approach. Saban is as unfriendly to the media as anyone, and it certainly hasn't affected his brand any. Urban Meyer, too. Johnny Manziel wasn't allowed to speak to the media until A
Does Stork move to Rt. tackle or does Bobby Hart finally put it all together?
David Hale (11:39 AM)
From what I'm hearing, Stork at RT seems to be the default lineup for right now, but I think that's far from set in stone. Longterm, FSU would be much better off if Hart could win the job. For one, Stork was solid at center last season and I think that's a better spot for him. Secondly, Hart's upside is higher than Stork's, but he just hasn't come all that close to meeting it. Third, Stork's gone after this year regardless, so it's simply patching a hole for now if he wins the job.
DH, any plans to make the Labor Day trip to cover the Pitt game for NoleNation?
David Hale (11:43 AM)
I'm planning on it... just don't know if my editors are planning on sending me! I will say though, Pittsburgh is one of the more underrated cities in the country, and Labor Day weekend will be a great time to go for any FSU fans making the trip. If you can check out a Pirates game while you're there, PNC Park is absolutely beautiful, too.
KC (Valdosta, Ga)
do you see any defections (transferring players) and if so who??
David Hale (11:44 AM)
It tends to happen -- particularly after spring when jobs are little more defined. I hate to make any guesses as to who might leave because I don't know what's in these kids heads until I talk to them personally, but there are a few guys who you can look at the depth chart and pretty easily speculate that they may see greener grass elsewhere.
Brandon (Sarasota, FL)
What do you think is the biggest thing that Kelvin Benjamin needs to do in order to realize his full potential?
David Hale (11:46 AM)
Realizing he hasn't reached it is probably a big one. The kid is very confident, which is good. You want that. But I can't help but wonder if the heaps of praise for what happens on the practice field doesn't sometimes overwhelm the fact that it's tougher to do those things on game day. KB wasn't bad in 2012 -- he just wasn't consistent enough. He made most of the plays you'd expect him to make, but for a guy with his size and talent, he needs to take it to the next level and start making those highlight-reel catches we all hear about when the cameras are rolling.
Brandon (Sarasota, FL)
I love the Brewster hire and think Jimbo has done a nice job replacing all the offensive coaches that left. Which of the current offensive coaches do you see Jimbo grooming to take over play calling duties?
David Hale (11:48 AM)
Now THAT'S a good question, and my honest answer is --- I don't know. It's possible the answer is "none of the above." Jimbo has been reluctant to cede those duties at all, and I don't know that we can assume that's going to change -- at least not in the short term. What I can say is that Jimbo believes the OC should have coached the QBs at some point -- he likes his play caller to be able to "see the game through the eyes of the QB" -- and right now that's Randy Sanders.
Brandon (Sarasota, FL)
Does Bracy have good enough hands to be a legit WR, or is he going to have to get the majority of his touches in trick plays?
David Hale (11:50 AM)
From what I've been told, he's got good football instincts, but as you suggest, there's a big difference between track speed and the skills it takes to succeed at receiver. I think early on, giving him some "trick" plays is a good way to get him acclimated in the offense, but at some point FSU is going to want him to be more than that. I think he can be -- but as I said with KB, game day is a much different animal than the practice field.
KC (Valdosta, Ga)
Has Jimbo specified how the offensive coaching positions will end up. I heard talk about moving Sanders to the qb's and letting coach graham stick with running backs as he has been very productive in the recent past.
David Hale (11:51 AM)
Not sure that's completely official -- FSU hasn't made much official this offseason -- but that's what I've heard. I expect we'll get a chance to meet with Jimbo some time in the next week or so, and we should get clarification on a number of issues then.
What happened to us last year? We had a 5 star QB, one of the best defenses, and very favorable scheduling but we fell short? Obviously its not talent but I believe it has to do with us not having a killer instinct which I partially blame Coach Jimbo. Correct me if I'm wrong.
David Hale (11:54 AM)
Well, look at it this way: FSU lost two games. One was to a very good Florida team when that 5-star QB played the worst game of his life. They were down big and came all the way back in that game, too, so hard to say they lacked "killer instinct." Now, the other loss -- NC State -- is a reason to complain, and I see how fans come away with that opinion after a game like that. Moreover, its the 5th time Jimbo has lost to an unranked foe in his tenure. I don't know that it's a factor of "killer instinct" as much as it is Jimbo not completely trusting his players in key moments. The O line was playing horribly in that NC State game, and he was reluctant to let EJ drop back too many times in the face of a tough pass rush. Should he have gambled more? The final score suggests yes, but I understand why he thought he might be able to conservatively ride out a 16-point lead, too.
KC (Valdosta, Ga)
Bracy could be our Tavon Austin.. IMO
Brandon (Sarasota, FL)
Is it as frustrating for you as it is for me that Jimbo doesn't allow his assistants to speak with the media? Too many times over the last couple years, it is the players who are forced to answer tough questions after the game and I don't feel it's fair to them when you have assistants making upwards of a million dollars a year.
David Hale (11:56 AM)
Completely agree with you on that point. Jimbo talks about having "one voice" but that's just not realistic, and I'm not sure why he assumes a 19-year-old player will say the right things all the time but he can't trust his assistants to do so. It's pretty silly that Clint Trickett can talk about the offensive line, but Rick Trickett cannot. And for the offense, Jimbo is so hands on that it's somewhat easy to go to him for answers. But on defense, having no access to the play caller is a real problem from a reporting standpoint. Again, I'm not complaining because I want more inside scoop. I just think it's hard to tell a complete story without access to the primary voices involved.
KC (Valdosta, Ga)
what redshirt freshman do you see making the biggest impact this year??
David Hale (11:58 AM)
Might go to a similar position as I did with the true freshmen and say Chris Casher has a chance to win a starting job and make an instant impact at DE. Bracy could be a factor both on offense and special teams. And, of course, Jameis Winston is a huge wild card.
Thanks for answering my questions.
David Hale (11:58 AM)
Thanks for asking them! Glad we can do this every week. It's good to get a feel for what you guys are interested in and I appreciate all the feedback. We'll chat again next week -- same time, place. Have a great week, folks!