FSU football: Offensive line must protect Tate Rodemaker during matchup versus UF

Florida State Seminoles offensive lineman D'Mitri Emmanuel (71) practices with the team on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.
Florida State Seminoles offensive lineman D'Mitri Emmanuel (71) practices with the team on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. /

FSU football will be taking on the Florida Gators in the Swamp on Saturday night at 7:00 PM EST on ESPN.

For reference, the Seminoles have not defeated the Gators in Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium since their meeting in 2017 where Florida State beat them by a score of 38-22.

The Seminoles are pursuing an undefeated regular season, while the Gators are fighting for bowl eligibility under the guidance of second-year head football coach Billy Napier.

Florida State’s offensive unit has averaged 40.1 points per game (7th in the FBS) with the play of redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Travis. However, the West Palm Beach (FL) native suffered a season-ending injury versus North Alabama last week.

As a result, the Seminoles will start redshirt junior Tate Rodemaker in his place. With a quarterback who is only making his second collegiate touchdown,  the offensive line will have to be able to protect the Valdosta (GA) native.

Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Alex Atkins had success last season with his offensive line position unit. The offense averaged 214.1 rushing yards per game in 2022, and they are averaging 162.3 rushing yards per game in 2023.

To lessen the pressure of Rodemaker, the offensive line needs to create opportunities for him to have enough time to go through his progressions as well as having a solid running game with redshirt junior Trey Benson.

Atkins’ unit is filled with eight upperclassmen that they utilized in their rotation with Robert Scott Jr., Maurice Smith, Bless Harris, Jeremiah Byers, Casey Roddick, D’Mitri Emmanuel, Keiondre Jones, and Darius Washington.

They have all had an abundance of collegiate starting experience. Unfortunately, Florida State’s offensive line has struggled at times this season generating enough push on third down and short opportunities. The offense itself have somewhat successful on third down where it has converted 41.4% of the time.

With Rodemaker being the starter for the remainder of the season, it is important that the offensive line avoids him from having to be in third down and obvious passing situations where Florida’s defensive unit could generate pressure at an elevated rate.

For reference, Florida State’s offensive line allows 1.55 sacks per game (36th in the FBS).

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