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FSU might get reinforcement for Rose Bowl

FSU defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample, bottom, helping drag down Florida running back Kelvin Taylor, hasn’t played since Sept. 20 because of an injured pectoral muscle but has been practicing and could return for the Rose Bowl.
FSU defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample, bottom, helping drag down Florida running back Kelvin Taylor, hasn’t played since Sept. 20 because of an injured pectoral muscle but has been practicing and could return for the Rose Bowl.
Published Dec. 31, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Florida State's defensive line could get a big boost at the perfect time.

DT Nile Lawrence-Stample has been out since the Sept. 20 Clemson game after injuring his pectoral muscle. But he has practiced this week and could be available for the Rose Bowl. If he's healthy enough to play, the junior will boost depth on a team that will need it against Oregon's high-powered, uptempo offense that can gas defenses.

"After practice you're not as tired because we've got that extra body to get in the rotation," DT Eddie Goldman said.

Lawrence-Stample, a 6-foot-1, 314-pound Fort Lauderdale native, had nine tackles in the first three games. The stats don't show his importance, especially against a dual-threat QB like Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

"Him and Eddie on the inside, it's going to be a great asset and plus for this game," DE Mario Edwards Jr. said. "Him coming back is definitely going to help the defensive line, pushing the pocket and containing Mariota."

DRAFT TALK: Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost said most of the coaches and players at Oregon think they know what Mariota is thinking about the NFL draft, but "with him, nobody knows for sure."

Mariota is eligible to leave school early after the season. The Bucs will likely consider drafting the Heisman Trophy winner with the No. 1 overall pick.

Frost said some analysts have questioned Mariota's ability to throw from the pocket or progress to his third or fourth read. Frost strongly defended his quarterback, comparing his pocket accuracy to NBA star Stephen Curry shooting free throws.

"Those guys must not have video …" Frost said of Mariota's critics. "Whatever weaknesses they find in Marcus, I'll stand on the table and challenge them."

NO PANIC: While FSU QB Jameis Winston has drawn praise for his ability to lead comebacks after early deficits, his defense has been equally impressive.

The defense has allowed fewer yards in the second half than the first in seven of its past eight games. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly said it's his job to stay calm and avoid focusing on the scoreboard.

"We've been in some situations at times to where I know that if our players see me panic, then they are going to panic," Kelly said. "And I've tried to make sure, guys, this is our plan. Let's follow the plan. Once we've done that, we've been able to make some adjustments doing that."

COUNTING CALORIES: Edwards has seen his weight fluctuate throughout his career, and this season is no different.

He said he entered the season at about 315 pounds. But he has dropped all the way to 277 pounds to improve his quickness and help prepare for Oregon's blazing speed.

"He's like the Weight Watchers of the team," Goldman said. "You eat something, he's like, you know how many calories are in that?"

THIS AND THAT: Mariota said he traded texts with former Heisman finalist (and fellow Hawaii native) Manti Te'o during the awards circuit. "He just said, enjoy it and stay true to yourself and always remember where you come from," Mariota said. … Edwards on riding Disneyland's Tower of Terror: "I screamed like a little girl." … Frost said Oregon makes its atmosphere fun by having coaches listen to music while watching film. One of his favorites? Bob Marley. … Notre Dame legend Knute Rockne, former UCLA coach Dick Vermeil and former Penn State RB Ki-Jana Carter were inducted to the Rose Bowl's Hall of Fame.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.