Nov 8, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; A Florida State Seminoles helmet on the field before the game at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State vs Pittsburgh Position Battles: The Trenches

One of the lesser cool things for a grown man to do in life is to talk about younger, 300-pound men in tight pants and a near belly shirt. Still, because I care about you (wink wink), I have to do such things in an effort to keep you fully informed for the Florida State game against the Pittsburgh Panthers. I mean, at the end of the day most games are won in the trenches — or some cliched thing like that.

So, obviously, today we are going to be talking about Florida State’s offensive line against the Panthers’ defensive front and the other way around. While all the skill position players will get all the pub leading up to the game, the battle between these group of chubs might determine the outcome of the game.

FSU Offensive Line vs Pitt Defensive Line

The Seminoles will start the season with a perceived lack of depth on the o-line. That is in stark contrast to what some experts think about when talking about Pitt’s defensive line. In fact, Panthers head coach, Paul Chryst, has been quoted on more than one occasion claiming his defensive linemen are the strength of his football program.

Even though some feel Florida State is a little thin with the big boys up front, it doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Four out of the five starters for the Seminoles started last season — the lone exception being Bobby Hart. Even Hart, though, can easily be projected as a future NFL Draft pick down the line.

This will be the first time that this specific batch of offensive linemen will be playing together. It might take a little time for them to develop a chemistry which would make them a strength in every game they enter, but every line has to start somewhere. For Florida State’s o-line, well, they are going to start this Monday, on the road in Pittsburgh.

As for the Panthers, however, their defensive line will need to win the battle against Florida State’s offensive line if they want a chance to win this game. Pitt has the talent to get pressure on most team’s quarterbacks and keep their running game honest. They also have the services of Aaron Donald — who may very well end up as one of the conferences better linemen by the end of the season. The problem for them, though — and even Florida State to a degree — is how exactly Jameis Winston handles pressure. If he were to live up to the hype something like Pittsburgh pressuring him won’t exactly be that big of a deal. If the Panthers were to get to him early and get in his head, then we might be looking at a much closer game than Las Vegas thinks.

The Edge: Florida State (barely)

I would love to tell Florida State fans I am super confident in saying that, but I am not. College coaches are usually quick to point out their own team’s flaws. The fact that Chryst is so high on his own defensive line does worry me, but it is hard to ignore the ‘talent’ of Florida State’s o-line — not to mention the fact that Pitt will have to contend with the Noles’ ability to dominate the ‘edge’ in the running game with speed.

FSU Defensive Line vs Pitt Offensive Line

Florida State’s defensive line is going to look a lot different this season, although, if you ask one of the most talented defensive linemen on the team, Timmy Jernigan, he would tell you this year’s big-guys will be even better. Actually, he has been quoted as saying that. The Seminoles are going to need players like Jernigan to step up and, honestly, most people expect the Noles’ defensive front to be a lock and reload situation more than a rebuild type.

Still, losing four starters from last season’s top-tier defensive line is going to have a negative impact on Florida State — well, at least to some degree to start the season. Tackle Demonte McAllister joins Jernigan as does defensive ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Dan Hicks as the new (projected) Florida State defensive line. This group, however, isn’t going to start the season completely inexperienced.

The Panthers are going to go into Monday night’s game with two o-linemen making their first starts of their respective careers. In the realm of big time college football, that is a lot when facing an opposing defensive line which is supposedly full of talent. It won’t help Pitt that their best running backs are dinged up and that their starting quarterback, Tom Savage, hasn’t played in a college football game in the post-twerking era (he did, however, play some in the pre-twerking era). I guess what I am trying to say is, blame Savage for Miley Cyrus.

I don’t want to sit here and pretend I know a ton more about Pitt’s offensive line. That would be disingenuous. So….

The Edge: A Wash

Florida State’s defensive line might end up being other-worldly, but we just don’t know yet. Pitt’s offensive line is equally a mystery. If forced to lean a side, of course I would tend to lean towards the Noles because Florida State has had a slew of strong d-lines recently and because Pitt is, well, Pitt.


Me, Twitter @JosephNardone

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