The Daily Nole

What is the Ideal Offensive Line for FSU in 2019?

FSU athletics

No position group had the effect on the 2018 season that Florida State’s offensive line did.

At its best, the offensive line was bad, and at its worst, it was probably dead last in the Power Five. Watching it every week was…not pretty. Understandably, the biggest question going into 2019 is whether or not the situation has been corrected.

The next five months will be dedicated to finding the best offensive line combination for 2019. That requires a mix of new contributors, veterans, and maybe a surprise or two. Given what we witnessed in 2018, we attempted to create the ideal offensive line with the players currently on the roster.

An obvious answer to the conundrum is: The most ideal combination is the one that plays the best. Unfortunately, we will not know that until September…or beyond. For now, we can use past observations and current trends to try and guesstimate the most ideal starting five.

The starters are listed first and their backups are listed after the backslash. We only did the first two strings in order to keep it clean. Also, if the third stringers are getting any playing time, most articles would be invalid by then.

Note: It is possible that FSU adds another grad transfer over the spring. Virginia guard R.J. Proctor is one example. He would almost certainly start immediately if he came to Florida State.

Ideal

LT – Ryan Roberts / Jalen Goss
LG – Landon Dickerson / Christian Meadows
C – Baveon Johnson / Brady Scott
RG – Cole Minshew / Dontae Lucas
RT – Jay Williams / Christian Armstrong

Given what we saw in the 2019 season, this is as close as we could come to formulating an ideal offensive line.

The biggest change is that the tackle positions are secure enough that Landon Dickerson can shift back inside towards his natural position of guard. Both the junior college commit and the grad transfer would have performed well enough that they can be rolled out at tackle and maximize the inside of the line.

With Dickerson and Cole Minshew at guard, the interior run game immediately improves and FSU is able to give its offense enough breathing room to avoid unfavorable downs.

For this piece, Baveon Johnson and Brady Scott are interchangeable. Those two are the likely options at center and neither are clear frontrunners. It is possible that Christian Meadows could play center — or 2019 signee Maurice Smith — but that would not be the most efficient use of talent. Smith is especially a risk, since he is a player who needs serious work in the weight room before he can contribute.

The second string is a group of impact underclassmen. This would signal that those players are being developed and can step in at a moment’s notice. Considering that two of the starters in this scenario have yet to put together a full season, it is a good bet that the second string guys would be seeing the field.

If the tackles are Jalen Goss and Christian Armstrong, that can also give head coach Willie Taggart and crew some insurance for the next couple of seasons while they raise the talent level. It helps that both are actually tackles and not just guards-playing-tackle.

For its mix of immediate help and future returns, this is the best case scenario for the FSU offensive line in 2019.

Secondary

LT – Landon Dickerson / Jalen Goss
LG – Cole Minshew / Christian Armstrong
C – Baveon Johnson / Brady Scott
RG – Dontae Lucas / Christian Meadows
RT – Ryan Roberts / Jay Williams

The unfortunate reality is that the second-best possibility for the offensive line is only “serviceable”. That’s a marked improvement from last season, but it’s a sobering realization for those wishing that first-year jitters were responsible for 2018.

Dickerson stays at left tackle and continues to hold his own there. It’s not the best use of his talents, but it does give the offensive line a surefire outside option. Opposite him is grad transfer Ryan Roberts, who could potentially switch to the other side if Dickerson gets injured again.

Jay Williams or Jalen Goss could be the primary backup for either spot. Williams’ JUCO experience would seemingly give him the edge, but he is still a raw player in need of more refinement.

Dontae Lucas becoming a starter does have its positives. Mainly, because he is a talented player, which means that he was able to capitalize on his talent early on. It would be discouraging that Christian Meadows couldn’t beat him out at the same spot, especially given what we know about Meadows coming on strong before injury last year. But as fans are aware, players deal with injuries differently, and the hope is that Meadows can buck the recent trend.

Christian Armstrong is an interesting story. He projects best at tackle, but at some point during last season, the staff began practicing him at guard. That’s a bit concerning, since tackle wasn’t exactly a deep position for the Seminoles, so Armstrong’s inability to contribute there in any capacity raises a lot of red flags.

The good news is that Armstrong has great size and looks physically ready to contribute. Will he actually take the next step?

Most Likely

LT – Landon Dickerson / Jay Williams
LG – Cole Minshew / Christian Meadows
C – Baveon Johnson / Brady Scott
RG – Dontae Lucas / Mike Arnold
RT – Ryan Roberts / Jalen Goss

This 2-deep attempted to limit any sort of optimism or pessimism. It is based strictly on last season’s trends and the inkling of rumors out of the Moore Center. The only changes from the secondary scenario are with the backups.

Expect Dickerson to remain at tackle. To this point, no other player has proven competent enough at the position to secure a spot. Roberts has the best chance out of anyone due to his experience.

To answer a related question: Goss and Jay Williams are listed as the primary backups because it is very unlikely that Jauan Williams or Brady Scott are seeing significant time at either spot. Scott is better on the interior and Jauan Williams is quickly becoming a lost cause.

The right guard position brings up a familiar name which fans aren’t too keen on. Mike Arnold started a handful of games last year and really, really struggled. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a proven option for the fourth guard.

That isn’t surprising, but it is worrisome considering the Seminoles could be just a couple of injuries away from Arnold once again getting major playing time. Expecting Armstrong to step up into that role is unrealistic at this point.

It’s also possible that whoever loses the starting center job becomes the fourth guard option. Baveon Johnson did play some guard last season and looked like he had potential. That is more than one can say for a few players that FSU trotted out.

If this lineup can stay healthy, it’s actually decent. It would not solve all the problems, but it would give offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and Taggart enough to work with. The pass blocking would be suspect while the run blocking would be above average.

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