Saturday, September 22, 2018
Colleges

State notebook: Florida State's offensive line remains porous

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher didn't make any excuses Monday about a much-maligned offensive line that is still struggling.

Of the Seminoles' 64 plays Saturday, 17 ended in a tackle for loss — the most Wake Forest has ever amassed in a game.

"That can't happen, and they know it," Fisher said Monday.

FSU had better fix it fast. This week's opponent, No. 13 Miami, trails only Wake Forest nationally in tackles for loss (nine per game) after recording 11 last week at Duke.

The Seminoles' leaky line isn't a surprise. FSU ranked No. 108 nationally in sacks allowed last year (36) and 97th in tackles for loss allowed (86). Fisher spread the blame around Monday, noting how receivers failed to secure some blocks on the outside.

But the bulk of the scrutiny falls on an offensive line that allowed too much penetration and failed to protect freshman QB James Blackman, just as it failed to protect Deondre Francois. It didn't help that LT Derrick Kelly and LG Landon Dickerson were both injured, although both are expected to practice this week.

"They're banged and bruised," Fisher said. "But what I love about them is their attitude. Those guys are ready to get back at it."

UF injury updates: Florida WR Tyrie Cleveland (high ankle sprain) is in a walking boot and will likely miss this week's game against LSU, coach Jim McElwain said.

His absence would be a huge blow for QB Feleipe Franks. Cleveland has more yards (270) than UF's next four receivers combined (263). He also has all four of UF's catches of at least 40 yards.

QB Luke Del Rio (collarbone) was set to undergo surgery Monday afternoon, and QB Kyle Trask (foot) is still not practicing. That gives the Gators only three healthy full-time quarterbacks — Franks, Notre Dame grad transfer Malik Zaire and true freshman Jake Allen. McElwain reiterated that the wildcat quarterback package with Kadarius Toney will continue to grow.

USF attendance: The American Athletic Conference and television have teamed to minimize the excuses for the Bulls not to draw a season-high crowd for homecoming.

The league announced late Monday morning that USF's Oct. 14 contest against Cincinnati will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and will be televised live on ESPNU.

The Bearcats replace Massachusetts as the Bulls' homecoming foe after Hurricane Irma forced the AAC to revise the league schedule. The game will mark USF's fourth night kickoff in six games.

Two of those evening starts (Illinois, Temple) were weeknight home games. As a result, USF's average announced home attendance to this point (28,730) ranks seventh in the AAC. Actual average attendance for those three home contests (per the Tampa Sports Authority) is 20,906.

"I actually had a conversation with our mayor here (Bob Buckhorn) and I had a conversation with our chamber of commerce board (last week)," coach Charlie Strong said. "I just said to them, 'You have a really good football team and we just need your support and we need everybody on board, and we just need people to just come out to the games.'

"We play in a really nice arena and there's so many positives, and we've just got to continue to talk about it, get our student body behind us, get our administration here at the university behind us, and we'll get those seats filled."

Mac Granddaddy: Congratulations to McElwain, who became a grandfather Wednesday to a girl, Grace, in Arizona. Said McElwain: "I'll be able to go see her, you know, after recruiting …"

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report. Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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