Some football games were played last night. Sadly, none of those games featured the Florida State Seminoles. It is okay, however, as only a few more days stand between you and your beloved Noles going to battle against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
In today’s Position Battles we are going to encompass the linebackers and running backs. So — instead of my regular gibber-jabber — lets just get this thing started.
FSU Running Backs vs Pitt Linebackers
Yeah, yeah, I know. Linebackers don’t lineup for the sole purpose to stop running backs, but it is the closest thing we have to a direct battle here for these group of skill players. Granted, the offensive and defensive lines will also have a huge say in how each team runs the ball, but hey man, semantics.
Word came out — straight from the gullet of Jimbo Fisher — that Florida State will be without the services of Mario Pender. Then, naturally, Nole Nation went bonkers. If we were to be honest with each other, though, folks are making far too much about FSU’s third-string running back being out for the year. Sure, losing his speed can hurt a little bit, but nowhere near the degree so many are acting. Losing Pender and then moving Ryan Green to the third back spot is not worth having a panic attack over, I promise — I think.
For FSU, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are going to be the workhorses. This is a good thing. History tells us that the two of them are more than capable backs. While they don’t have the natural, blazing speed as Pender — they are more proven, better between the tackles and, you know, were going to be the primary running backs anyway.
Pittsburgh’s linebackers are going to need their defensive linemen to eat up blocks so they can run free. That is linebacking strategy 101 or something. For Pitt’s LB group to be successful, it is paramount that they don’t get caught in play action or focus so much on Jameis Winston that they lose track of where the ball is actually headed.
Pitt’s starting linebackers are all very experienced — so they also have that going for them. To be even more honest, the Panthers’ defense returns a ton of experience from a good defense last season. It is easy for folks to make fun of Pitt from time to time — because, mustache forever — but their defense is talented.
FSU Linebackers vs Pitt Running Backs
Florida State is clearly trying to highlight their linebackers this season. It seems like the strategy on the defensive side of the ball is going to focus very much on the talent FSU seems to have at the position. The Seminoles will also — per usual — attempt to capitalize on their linebackers athleticism to make plays sideline to sideline, defend the pass and even get pressure on the quarterback. They are going to be talented — albeit relatively inexperienced.
General thinking has Christian Jones as one of the top linebackers in the entire nation. Florida State will clearly need him and Telvin Smith to be the anchors of an otherwise fairly inexperienced group of linebackers.
Um, now for Pitt’s running back situation. I am not entirely sure how to explain what is going on in their backfield at the moment. I mean, through no direct fault of their own the Panthers may need you (yes, literally, you) to lace up your old pair of high school Nikes.
According to their depth chart, then injury reports, Pitt is going to have a few guys attempting to carry their workload on Monday night, but they are all very dinged up — so much so that no one actually knows (as of print) if certain guys are definitely going to play.
For a better, more in-depth look at how crazy the Panthers’ RB situation is, just read.
I am sincerely not trying to make light of Pitt throughout these Position Battles articles. They do have a lot more talent than it seems like I am giving them credit for — primarily on the defensive side of the ball. But with their running back situation being what it is I have to give The Edge to Florida State.
Me, Twitter @JosephNardone