Leading up to the first ever College Football Playoff, The Players’ Tribune reached out to current NFL players who recently played at Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon to preview their alma mater’s roster and provide a prediction for the game on New Year’s Day.
Florida State Offensive Preview
By Devonta Freeman, 2011-2013
Oregon’s D is fast, so the way to win is to run right through them. Pound, pound, pound. You have to play physical and dominate from the line of scrimmage. This is [running back] Dalvin Cook’s year. I played with Dalvin in high school — he’s a complete back, a triple threat. He can run, catch and block. He keeps the D on their feet and opens up the field for us to throw the ball. I think he’ll probably have at least 15 carries, over 100 yards rushing and 2 TDs.
The key to our offense is the O-line. Lots of people don’t know this but they’re all seniors — they’ve been together all four years. They’re the strength of our offense. If you saw the fourth quarter of the Georgia Tech game, the O-line was key to that winning drive. We’ve been doing that all year in the second half.
Jameis Winston is a dominant player. But he doesn’t have as many options to throw to as last year — it’s a younger team. Last year, he was the freshman and we were the leaders. Now he’s had to take on more of a leadership role. His stats may not be as good this year — but he’s just as good. When Jameis is locked in, he’s the best player in the country.
Last year, when I was on the team, we blew almost every team out. I only played two full games because we didn’t have a lot of close ones. This year’s team is different. All our games have been close — but we find a way to win. Teams get comfortable when they get up on us. But a football game isn’t just two or three quarters. We play four quarters. We complete the game. It’s all about finishing. That’s why we’ve come back in the second half so much this year. We’re a second half team. With Oregon, I think it’ll be the same thing.
My final score: Florida State 26, Oregon 24. A lot of people think it’ll be a high-scoring game, but I think it’ll be more defensive-minded. No one expected us to win it all last year, and that’s the way we play. We like being underdogs. I guarantee you Jimbo has them practicing hard this week.
Florida State Defensive Preview
By Xavier Rhodes, 2009-2012
A lot of people are talking about Oregon’s offense, so this is our chance to prove ourselves. Our defense is going to make plays. We have to stop the run, both their running backs and Mariota.
The key to stopping Marcus Mariota is to contain him — the D-line can’t let him get outside. You have to keep him in the box — because he’s going to usually run the ball if he gets outside the pocket. One pass rusher to know about is Mario Edwards. He’s a guy who’s hungry.
Our DBs are going to have to keep an eye on Mariota running the ball. The DB to watch is Jalen Ramsey but the guys you might not know about are Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams. They’re gonna make plays. Darby is a finesse guy but he’s not going to let you get past him. P.J. is more aggressive — he’s going to jam you, he’s in your face, he’s going to disrupt your route. In crucial situations, he makes plays.
You’ve got to make Oregon’s offense one dimensional. If our DBs can stay on top of the receivers, I expect Mariota to throw a pick or two.
I think it’s going to be a high scoring game. Oregon has a great offense, I’m not going to lie. But I think the game will come down to one big defensive play. An interception in the 4th quarter could be the game changer. Final score: Florida State 30, Oregon 27.
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