What you need to know ... There should be an excellent mix
of a deep passing attack with a steady running game despite the
loss of top running backs Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin along
with quarterback Paul Pinegar. Dwayne Wright returns from
missing most of the last two years with a knee injury to lead
the ground game, and he should run wild behind Kyle Young and a
tremendous offensive line. Paul Williams and Joe Fernandez form
an excellent 1-2 receiving punch, but they need a steady passer
to get them the ball. Quarterback options Tom Brandstater, Sean
Norton, and Ryan Colburn can all bomb, but they have to prove
they can be consistent.
Passing: Tom Brandstater
6-13, 49 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Paul Williams (WR)
9 carries, 83 yds
Receiving: Joe Fernandez
46 catches, 561 yds, 8 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Paul Williams
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QBs Tom Brandstater and/or Sean Norton and/or freshman Ryan
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Clifton Smith
Best pro prospect: Senior C Kyle Young
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Young, 2) Williams, 3)
RB Dwayne Wright
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Paul Pinegar wasn't always the best passer, but he upped
his game in a big way over the second half of last season with
five straight 300 yards games before struggling against Tulsa in
the Liberty Bowl. Now it's a three man race to take over the
job, and all three have enough talent to keep the nation's 25th
ranked passing attack rolling. Big Tom Brandstater will get the
first look at the starter spot, but smallish Sean Norton and
promising freshman Ryan Colburn will get equal chances this
The key to the unit: The coaching staff has to find a
starter and stick with him. Keeping mistakes to a minimum will
be vital early on.
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Tom Brandstater, Soph. 6-13, 46%, 49 tds, 1 TD, 1 INT
A big 6-5, 220-pound bomber, Brandstater saw a little bit of
time last season and has the inside line at taking over Paul
Pinegar's starting job coming into this year. A high school
defensive back as well as a quarterback, he has far more
mobility than Pinegar and has far more upside. He has to show he
can keep the mistakes to the minimum, and he has to be accurate
on his deep balls to properly use the speedy receivers.
- Sean Norton, Soph.
Norton isn't a big presence like Tom Brandstater or Ryan
Colburn, but he has the high school résumé to be considered in
the starting mix. He threw for 4,067 yards and 44 touchdowns as
a high school senior and is neck-and-neck-and-neck in the battle
for the starting job. Even though he's only 5-11 and 175 pounds,
he has a live arm and can run a little bit.
- Ryan Colburn, Fr.
A big-time passer, Colburn is 6-3 and 220 pounds with all the
skills that should make him a top quarterback after he gets a
little experience. He has the talent to start right away, but
the coaching staff has to decided if it wants to live through
all the freshman mistakes.
The loss of 1,313 yards and 15 touchdowns of Wendell
Mathis and 536 yards and five scores of Bryson Sumlin hurts, but
the return of Dwayne Wright from a knee injury that cost him
most of the last two seasons. He was a star back in 2003 and
looks as good as new after the time off. There's speed to help
him out with Clifton Smith and Shannon Dorsey each able to pop a
home run and each waiting for their turn to shine. Roshon
Vercher is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the nation.
The key to the unit: Dwayne Wright needs to be the
Dwayne Wright before the knee injury, while Smith and Dorsey
have to combine for at least 750 yards.
Running Back Rating: 7
- Dwayne Wright, Jr.
A 1,038-yard back in 2003, Wright ripped through Washington for 109 yards
and a touchdown and ran for 76 yards and two scores against
Kansas State in 2004 before tearing up his knee and being out of
the mix for the last two seasons. While he tried to come back
last year, he wasn't needs with Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin
already in the backfield. Now he's back to 100% and was terrific
in spring ball showing off the same old speed along with power
thanks to his 220-pound frame.
- Fullback Roshon Vercher, Sr. - 4 carries, 7 yards
Vercher isn't going to see many carries and he won't catch any
passes, but that's not his game. He's a next-level caliber run
blocker who has been the unsung star in the backfield over the
last few seasons blowing open mile-wide holes for the impressive
ground attack. He's 5-11 and 245 pounds with the toughness of a
- Clifton Smith, Jr. - 1 carry, 1 yard
Smith has tremendous quickness and will serve as the
team's scatback. He hasn't been able to see much work on
offense, but he showed off a little of his talent in 2004
returning a punt for a 67-yard score. His brother is UCLA
receiver Brandon Breazell, who's also a speedster.
- Shannon Dorsey, Jr. - 9 carries, 33 yds, 3.7 ypc, 1
catch, 16 yds
A strong runner who can do a little bit of everything, he's 205
pounds with good enough hands to be used more as a receiver.
While he hasn't been able to see too much action yet, he has the
speed to become a major part of the rotation.
- Fullback Nate Adams, Jr.
The 240-pound Adams will only be used as a blocker playing
behind Roshon Vercher. He's a decent blocker, but he's nowhere
near the same league as Vochon.
There are some key losses, but the top two receivers, Joe
Fernandez and Paul Williams, return along with top backup Jaron
Fairman to make this one of the WAC's better corps. Williams is
a home-run hitter from anywhere on the field, while Fernandez is
a steady number one target who got red-hot at the end of last
year. There could stand to be more developed depth, and more is
needed from Bear Pascoe and the tight ends, but this will end up
being a strength.
The key to the unit: More wide receiver weapons need
to emerge and more young players have to shine considering
Fernandez, Williams and Fairman will be gone next year.
Receiver Rating: 7.5
- Joe Fernandez, Sr. - 46 catches, 561 yds, 12.2 ypc, 8
The team's leading receiver last season, Fernandez isn't always
flashy, but he has a great blend of speed, experience and hands.
He's a precise route runner who grew into a scorer with a hot
final four games when he scored six of his eight touchdowns and
had a career game against Nevada catching nine passes for 150
yards and a score. He'll be the number one go-to target.
- Paul Williams, Sr. - 43 catches, 729 yds, 17 ypc, 7 TD,
9 carries, 83 yds, 1 TD
A first-team All-WAC performer last year, the 6-2, 210-pound
playmaker led the league in yards per catch and also showed off
his explosiveness as a runner. It took a little while to get
rolling despite a 5-catch, 122-yard, one touchdown performance
against Oregon, but when the second half of the season kicked
in, so did Williams. He came up with one of the highlights of
the WAC season with a 99-yard touchdown catch against Boise
- Tight end Bear Pascoe, Soph. - 5 catches, 34 yds, 6.8
The former star quarterback recruit quickly made the move to
tight end where he started nine games last year being used
mostly as a blocker. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, he's a big, physical
presence who should fit in perfectly once he gets all the ins
and outs of the job.
- Jaron Fairman, Sr. - 26 catches, 348 yds, 13.4 ypc,
As good a backup receiver as any in the WAC, Fairman is a quick,
precise route runner who has been great as a third wideout as
well as a top special teamer. He was steady throughout last year
and then had his best game of the season in the Liberty Bowl
loss to Tulsa catching six passes for 73 yards.
- Seyi Ajirotutu, RFr.
One of the team's bright young offensive stars, the 6-3,
200-pound speedster caught 77 passes and scored 17 times as a
high school senior and was also a top defensive back. He should
be great this year behind Paul Williams.
- Tight end Jesus Tapia, Jr. - 1 catch, 6 yds
A tall, athletic target who should grow into more of a prime
target in the offense, Tapia hasn't been able to be more than a
backup so far. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, he has the size to go
along with the hands and quickness, and he can block. Now he has
to put it all together behind starter Bear Pascoe.
The line will be one of the best in the WAC anchored
by All-America candidate Kyle Young at center and with steady young
guards Ryan Wendell and Cole Popovich on the inside. The tackles are
average, but they'll be fine with Chris Denman back for his fourth year
as the starter and Bobby Lepori and Adam McDowell combining to take over
for Dartangon Shack on the left side.
The key to the unit: Pass protection will continue to
be the number one job. After allowing a mere 14 sacks last year, the
line will have to be just as good with a new quarterback under center
who'll need time to get his feet wet.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5
- OT Bobby Lepori, Soph.
Lepori is a tall, athletic prospect on the right side who needs to prove
he can be a consistent pass protector right away. Starting on the left
side, the faster he develops into the starting role in place of All-WAC
star Dartangon Shack, the better the offense will be.
- OG Ryan Wendell, Jr.
While a bit undersized at 6-2 and 275 pounds, Wendell has the potential
to be one of the line's top players after two solid seasons. He was a
Freshman All-American in 2004 and was solid last season doing his best
work as a pass protector.
- C Kyle Young, Sr.
One of the best centers in America, the 6-6, 330-pound senior has
next-level potential at guard if he doesn't end up earning a ton of
money at center. He's a smart quarterback for the line who's dominant in
all phases. With his size, strength and talent, he's in a salary drive
this year and should end up with several All-America honors.
- OG Cole Popovich, Soph.
One of the WAC's best young linemen, the 6-2, 285-pound Popovich was a
Freshman All-American last season starting every game at left guard.
Despite his youth and even though he was a top recruit, he was
surprisingly consistent and should be an All-WAC performer for the next
- OT Chris Denman, Sr.
The former walk-on has grown into a rock on the line with 32 straight
starts. While he's not going to blast anyone, he's a fantastic pass
protector with a motor that's always running for the ground game. After
starting his FSU career as a defensive lineman, he has brought that
mentality to the offensive side and it has served him well.
- OT Adam McDowell. Soph.
A step behind Bobby Lepori in the battle to replace Dartangon Shack at
left tackle, McDowell will see plenty of time in the rotation if he
doesn't end up winning the starting job. He moves extremely well for a
- G Richard Pacheco, Soph.
He has a ton of talent, but it'll be hard for the 6-2, 285-pound
sophomore to see too much time with the backup right guard job behind
Cole Popovich. He's a strong run blocker who should be an excellent
reserve at either guard spot.