#1 Who takes over at right tackle?
Three quarters through the 2012 season there probably were very few people that were thinking this would be a question heading into 2013. The surprising decision by Menelik Watson to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft after just one full season of highly competitive football has forced that to the #1 spot on the minds of many Seminole fans. It will be very interesting to watch this spring and see what direction the coaches go to find a right tackle replacement.
The easiest option is for someone just to step up at RT. Bobby Hart would be the obvious answer considering he started the last nine games of the 2012 season, but for whatever reason (a discussion for another time) he fell out of favor in 2012, playing in only 8 games with 0 starts. What's more, when he did find the field it was often at the guard position and not tackle. The only other player on the roster with some game experience at tackle would be Garrett Faircloth. The oft-injured Faircloth has good length and technique, but lacks some in the size and strength category. Update: It was announced yesterday that Faircloth was medically disqualified due to a shoulder injury, so scratch him off.
The next option would involve shuffling the line.
Another player who could possibly get a look in the spring is Josue Matias. Matias came out of high school as a highly rated offensive tackle and has the height and arms for the position. He seems to have the athleticism for the position, too, but it's a little hard to determine from his left guard position. Somebody would have to step up at the guard position in this scenario with Ruben Carter and Bobby Hart immediately coming to mind.
A third, though less likely, option, would be to see another defensive lineman make the switch to the offensive side. While lots of people were calling for this last year, most assumed it would be Georgio Newberry, not Cameron Erving who made the change. Newberry was a top OT coming out of high school and performed well in the Under Armor practices and game at the tackle position. Newberry seems much less likely at this point, though, due to the decreased depth at defensive end.
The other name being thrown around is Derrick Mitchell. Mitchell resides a little farther down the depth chart at the loaded defensive tackle position. Though he hasn't played the position, his 6'5" 305 lbs frame and athleticism seem to allow him to make the transition much like Erving did.
If the Noles can solidify what was a good OL in 2012, it will help establish a running game that will help take the pressure off a first year starting quarterback.