The most lackluster position group for Florida State in its recent history has been wide receiver. FSU consistently has signed blue-chip prospects, only to see them be forgotten or not achieve the kind of success that fans envisioned.
Even with three quarterbacks (Christian Ponder, E.J. Manuel and Jameis Winston) going in the first round since 2011, FSU has had just one wide receiver drafted in the first round this decade (Kelvin Benjamin, in 2014). He is one of just three FSU receivers selected in the first round this century (the others were Javon Walker in 2002 and Peter Warrick in 2000). And Warrick was the first FSU first-round receiver since Jessie Hester in 1985.
The jury is still out on this crop of Florida State wide receivers. All arrived with big-play potential, including holdovers and those signed in the 2018 recruiting class. Perhaps Willie Taggart’s offense should put this group back on the map. Could we see a receiving corps that rivals the late ’90s FSU teams?
I like to think of Taggart’s offense as the “rock-paper-scissors offense,” and the scissors are the receivers. This offense has the potential to be a lethal and potent unit, considering it has every type of wide receiver you could want: short, quick and agile; tall possession receiver; deep-play threats; and big, physical and fast guys.
Some say the group lacks depth, but that is a short-sighted view. The group definitely lacks experience in making plays, but the youth and energy may be what propels FSU back into its winning ways.
Senior Nyqwan Murray is the veteran and must be a leader. Flashes no longer are acceptable; he must be a consistent threat. He stands to benefit the most from this offense because of his abilities in space.
Sophomore D.J. Matthews has been mentioned often because of his big-play capability. He showed enough during the final few games last season to make fans excited about seeing him in a bigger role. He also should be expected to play a bigger special teams role this season.
Junior Keith Gavin is the most intriguing receiver in this offense. He has all the physical traits of a first-round pick, but drops and average route-running have left fans wondering when he is going to do something. At 6 feet 3 and 225 pounds, with good hands and speed, he should be a consistent threat. His problem has been that football is played on the field, not on paper. If he matures under position coach David Kelly’s tutelage, look out: You could be seeing FSU’s next first-round pick at receiver. Think Kelvin Benjamin but with speed. If the offense is creating one-on-one matchups like it’s supposed to, Gavin’s size/speed combination is difficult to defend.
Redshirt freshman Tamorrion Terry and true freshmen Tre’Shaun Harrison and Jordan Young are guys who should be able to contribute this fall. Add in tight ends Tre’ McKitty and Cameron McDonald, and one can get excited about a passing attack that’s not just dictated by a quarterback having to make great throws.
One of the drawbacks of the old system was that it tried to create the right play by making receivers consistently make the right read on option routes. It’s a good concept in theory – and you should always be in the right play – but if receivers don’t truly understand the system, it forces them to play slow and quarterbacks to have to make longer reads, which can lead to your quarterback getting crushed in the pocket. FSU fans have seen this for a while.
Taggart’s power spread offers distinct patterns and should make defenses honest because of the threat of the run. A wide receiver doesn’t have to figure out the pattern he needs to run; instead, he just goes and that creates faster play. Faster plays create faster reads. Mix in the up-tempo offense and you have the recipe for a dynamic offense.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/florida-state-wide-receivers-become-consistently-productive/