26 January 2007


Throughout the next 219 days, we will not only be counting down till the first kick off of the 2007 Clemson football season, but we here at DFIG will be periodically posting a segment called... well... it's in the title you ass. Along with our blogger cousins from Tallahassee known as Chant Rant, we will preview the game as the off season progresses. The basic outline will be that we ask them questions, they answer, we post it here. It'll be vice versa on their site, so if you want to see our responses to their questions, go check out their site.

Let's hit the ground running:

DFIG: So, who's gonna be chucking the ball for the Noles next year?

Chant Rant: TBD. Bobby is on record as saying it's Jimbo's offense, implying he's not going to meddle. Jimbo has said everybody will get a fair shot in the spring. If it's truly a clean slate, many Noles think Xavier Lee will replace Drew Weatherford as the starter. Weatherford is less mobile and can't throw 70 yards downfield like the 6'4" Lee, but Bobby stubbornly stayed with Drew through most of the season. Why? Probably because of Weatherford's experience (he's started since the first game of '05). Lee has amazing talent, but he's inconsistent. X was probably caught in that vicious circle of not starting (unless Drew was injured) because of lack of experience — which only solidified Drew's tenure under center.

A dark horse candidate at QB is redshirt freshman D'Vontrey Richardson. This kid looked like another Charlie Ward at Lee Co. high school in Georgia. And if he impresses in spring practice, who knows? He could figure into the 2007 season. Maybe even in the opening game at Clemson — though not at QB. Fisher will make better use of playmakers than his predecessor. Richardson might show up as a wild card on certain plays — either as a QB, receiver or running back.

DFIG: What on earth is going on with your coaching situation??? How big of an effect do you think Amato and Jimbo will have on your team?

CR: The new coaches have made an immediate impact, both with current players and in recruiting. The well-documented problem from 2001 - 2006 was not only that Bobby couldn't fire his son Jeff who was under-achieving as O.C., but that the older Bowden had unfortunately replaced key assistants like Amato and Mark Richt with guys who, as it turns out, just weren't as good.

Mediocrity ensued. Finally, Jeff Bowden and our A.D. teamed-up behind Bobby's back to make a deal that would guarantee Jeff a secure job outside the athletic department. Bobby seemed devastated. But once he got over it, he re-dedicated himself to putting the best team possible on the field, as well as retaining his lead over Paterno as the winningest college coach of all time. With advice (and probably behind the scenes help) from people like his son Terry, Bobby put together what may be the best coaching staff in FSU's history, including:

Jimbo Fisher - Recognized as one of the very best O.C.'s in the country and possible successor to Bowden. Word is that LSU's offense would have been even more effective if Les Miles hadn't meddled in Jimbo's game planning and play-calling (apparently one of the reasons he left).

Rick Trickett - Molder of great OL at West Virginia. This guy is an old-school former Marine. Just what we need to whip our under-performing OL into shape, D.I. style. At Morgantown, Trickett consistently took two and three-star recruits and turned them into All-Americans.

Lawrence Dawsey - One of the all-time great Seminole receivers. Played several years in the NFL. Coached at LSU and USF. Great character guy who should get all the potential out of a talented WR corps that apparently wasn't well-coached in recent years.

Chuck Amato - Maybe a bust as a head coach, but a helluva defensive specialist that players loved. Also one of the best recruiters of that motherload of talent, South Florida. Chuck replaces Kevin Steele who went to Bama as Saban's D.C. Many Noles thought Steele would be the hardest guy to replace — as a coach, a recruiter, and as a guy the kids looked up to. Amato is one guy who can fill those shoes and we don't miss a beat. Besides, he coached at FSU for almost 20 years, so it's almost like he never left.

Bottom line on the coaches: Big upgrade in three out of four, and a wash with Amato replacing Steele.

DFIG: Offensively, are things looking up or are things looking dismal?? Who's the offense centered around this year?

CR: The offense should be more productive than last year... and more dangerous. The knock on FSU during Jeff Bowden's tenure was that the offense was too predictable. Fisher will fix that. He'll also do a far better job of developing our QBs than the former QB Coach. Meanwhile, Trickett will coach the OL to give QBs more time to throw, AND consistently open holes to improve the running attack. Dawsey will drill more disciplined routes and technique into receivers.

Who will the offense be centered around? Hard to say, since Fisher likes to have a balanced attack. But the RB who could get 1000 yards in '07 is Antone Smith, a great combination of speed and power. He reminds me of your guy, James Davis. I personally look for Xavier Lee to be Fisher's new Jarmacus Russell: a big guy who can throw it a mile, mobile enough to avoid sacks, and — while not Michael Vick — can pick up a quick ten yards or more if he has to run.

DFIG: If Bobby has another 7 - 6 year, what happens? Do you think FSU's crazy schedule (Bama in Jacksonville, @ Clemson on a Monday, @ Wake on a Thursday) will have a big effect??

CR: Another 7 - 6 year? I'm looking for at least 8 - 4, although we do have a tough schedule with 12 games and nasty non-conference showdowns with Florida, Miami and Bama. But if it's 7-6, I believe that will just fuel an even more intense desire for Bobby to win. Even at 7 - 6 it should be a much better team in '07, with a higher-scoring offense and a stingy defense (barring all the injuries to starters like we had in '06).

DFIG: Do you really think 2007 is a good turn around year?? Which players play the biggest factor in this turn around if it happens?

CR: 2007 should see a pretty dramatic turnaround. The new offensive staff will get much more out of the excellent talent that Bowden has recruited (Bobby may have become more of a CEO than a hands-on coach, but he's still as sharp as ever as a recruiter — and nobody closes better in a kid's living room). We'll be more balanced, able to run more effectively and throw to more disciplined receivers running a greater variety of routes.

Leading the way on offense should be: Xavier Lee at QB, Antone Smith running the ball, and 6'6" Greg Carr out jumping DBs for touchdowns. Another great talent that showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman is Brandon Warren. He is one of the top TEs in the nation coming out of high school, Warren has WR speed and moves.

On defense, just too many guys to name. But to spotlight a few: Andre Fluellen, who returns to DT from NG since Paul Griffin will be back from a season-ending injury. LB Marcus Ball (brother of former Ga. Tech QB Reggie Ball) would probably have been the ACC Freshman of the Year if he hadn't been lost to injury at mid-season. Look for Freshman All-American safety Myron Rolle to become a feared downfield headhunter after starting the last half of the year.

Just updated:
Ooops. Been a Nole so long I still associate the words "Miami" and "non-conference showdown". So sub the word "Colorado" as at least a tough non-conf. game. Why? The Buffs came within a whisker of upsetting UGA last year in Athens. And since our game is in Boulder, the thin air will give them as much of an edge as the heat 'n humidity gave us when they played in Tallahassee a few years ago.

BTW, to the poster who caught the error: your name calling was a classy touch. Especially when you signed off as anonymous.

Just for fun, here's a random picture of William "The Fridge" Perry decked out in camo.