5 things to watch for: Spring Game

The Garnet and Gold Game is set for a 2 p.m. kickoff on Saturday afternoon. Noles247.com takes a look at five things to watch for from FSU on the field.

Hicks has had a strong spring.

1. The Quarterback battle

The biggest question at the beginning of the spring will likely remain the same question at the end of the spring, but that doesn’t make Saturday any different when it comes to the quarterback competition.

Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles are searching for the next player to lead from under center. Redshirt junior Clint Trickett, redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker, and redshirt freshman Jameis Winston are locked in a battle. The winner likely won’t be known until days before the season-opener against Pitt.

That doesn’t mean that Saturday isn’t important.

Jimbo Fisher has spoken time and time again about the need to see how his players handle real-game situations. Saturday is the closest barometer provided before the regular season.

2. Bobby Hart at right tackle

Florida State’s offensive line returned four starters this spring. The group has remained consistent through spring practices. The one spot looking for a new number one was at right tackle and junior Bobby Hart has become the odds-on favorite to assume the job with a strong spring. After bouncing around at times in the first few practices, Hart has settled in as the regular number one at the spot.

Hart spoke of a new focus and maturity earlier this spring. It will be interesting to see if those developments translate to him making a statement and locking down the starting role on the edge.

Who is going to win the quarterback battle? Stay tuned.

3. New faces at defensive end

Later this month Florida State will likely have three defensive ends selected in the NFL Draft. They lost a total of four regulars at the position after last season. So this spring has been a chance for some new, and old, faces to emerge at the position.

Sophomore Mario Edwards Jr. has a wealth of potential and talent. He saw starts at the end of the 2012 season and is definitely in the discussion. Redshirt senior Dan Hicks is back from injury and switched back to defense from the offense, and has regularly earned praise from the staff for his spring. He will be certain to make a dent at the position. Others such as redshirt freshman Chris Casher and redshirt sophomore Giorgio Newberry are also hoping to make some noise at defensive end.

One player who was silenced this spring was freshman, and early enrollee, DeMarcus Walker, who has been kept off the field by an issue with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

4. Change in defense

Throughout the spring coaches and players have talked about changes on the defensive side of the ball and Saturday will provide a healthy example of some of the new looks being utilized by the Seminoles.

Defensive ends such as Giorgio Newberry and Chris Casher are being asked to stand up at times and drop back in coverage. Linebackers such as senior Christian Jones are putting their hand in the dirt and coming off the edge as well.

The defensive backs are essential to making everything work up-front. Senior Lamarcus Joyner has made the move to cornerback and shown his ability on the outside. He is flying around the field and making plays. Safeties like junior Karlos Williams have begun to come into their own. Williams is asked to do a variety of things from the back-end to the front-end on defense. Others like sophomore defensive back P.J. Williams are beginning to make a dent on the defense.

While defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and his fellow defensive coaches are unlikely to put it all out there on the field on Saturday, the defense will show some different schemes and situations than Florida State fans have become accustomed to in recent seasons.

5. Special teams play

A new kicker has been broken in this spring in redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo. Jimbo Fisher and others have praised him for his strong leg and consistency at placing it between the posts. Aguayo will now have to do it with a stadium full of fans watching.

At punter, Cason Beatty has had to deal with his second special teams coach in as many seasons on campus and some tweaks to how the Seminoles will handle punting. He believes he has improved his time in getting the punt off and that coverage will benefit him as well. It will be worth watching.

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