The Florida State Seminoles had major questions about their offensive line heading into the 2012 season. The group had just 16 combined starts between them and 14 of those belonged to center Bryan Stork. The group quickly gelled, however, and turned into one of the better lines in the ACC. They will have some shuffling to do this spring, however, to replace NFL-bound Menelik Watson at right tackle and maintain that same level of play.
Watson’s contributions to the offensive line production last season. In the 11-plus games that Watson played, the Seminoles gave up just 16 sacks. During a two-and-a-half game absence due to injury, however, Florida State gave up 10 sacks in 10 quarters, highlighting the need to find a better option than Daniel Glauser, who acted as the backup right tackle in 2012, for the 2013 campaign.
Jimbo Fisher could find an easy answer if junior Bobby Hart proves he’s ready to step into a full-time starter’s role again. In 2011, Hart started nine games as a true freshman, but lost his starting job last spring. He fell all the way to third on the tackle depth chart during the 2012 season and spent most of his time in practice working at guard.
He has the most talent and potential of any of the possible options at tackle for 2013, and would allow the rest of the FSU line to stay where they are at. That continuity would make the transition even smoother up and down the line. Hart has to prove to Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett that he’s mentally and physically prepared to handle the responsibility, though, before he can even attempt it.
If he can’t do it, Florida State will be forced to do some shuffling. Stork could move out to tackle from his center position which would open up the middle of the line for junior Austin Barron to step in and start. Sophomore Ruben Carter has also had a strong offseason and could find his way into a few starts if the shuffling opens up a spot for him.
Whether Hart steps up or Barron or Carter is forced into action, the Seminoles line will enter 2013 with at least 75 starts between them and has the potential to be one of the best lines in all of college football. How well they cover up the loss of Watson, however, will determine whether or not they capitalize on that potential in 2013.