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FSU's Cam Erving, Karlos Williams struggling early this season


Florida State's offensive line, which returned four starters from last season's national championship team, was expected to be one of the best units in the nation. That hasn't been the case, at least not yet.

FSU has struggled to run the ball (just 109.7 yards per game) and is converting just 32.4 percent of its third downs (112th nationally), and coach Jimbo Fisher has been critical of the line.

"We just can't seem to get it together right now," Fisher told reporters this week.

Running back Karlos Williams has rushed for just 177 yards, and was asked by -- a FSU-centric website -- about the difference between the performance of this season's offensive line and last season's.

"Not answering that one," he responded. "Nothing about the O-line."

How do the linemen feel about their performance? They weren't made available to the media after last Saturday's overtime win over Clemson, nor were they made available this week.

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There is talent up front. All five starters are seniors. Left tackle Cam Erving (6-foot-6, 308 pounds) went into the season considered one of the top tackles in the nation. Tre Jackson (6-4, 330) and Josue Mattias (6-6, 325) were considered the best guard duo in the nation. Right tackle Bobby Hart (6-4, 320), as with Erving and the two guards, is a third-year starter. Center Austin Barron (6-3, 293) is the only new starter; he replaces Bryan Stork, who won the Rimington Award as the nation's top center last season and was a fourth-round pick by the New England Patriots in the 2014 draft.

For whatever reason, though, the line is struggling. Clemson's defensive line dominated on Saturday, piling up five sacks and holding FSU to 13 rushing yards. The Seminoles rushed for minus-12 yards during regulation. Fisher said the sacks weren't all on the line, as sophomore quarterback Sean Maguire -- who was making his first career start -- held onto the ball too long and the running backs missed some blocks. But he didn't say anything about the lack of a running game.

Erving's play has been especially disappointing. He dominated Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley last season, but he had all sorts of trouble with Beasley on Saturday night. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote that "NFL scouts will have some questions about (Erving's) ability to develop into an elite left tackle as a pro after watching him struggle" against Beasley.

As for Williams, the NFL scouting community has been disappointed with his play this fall.

FSU rushed for 210 yards in its second game, against FCS foe The Citadel. But in the Seminoles' other two games, they managed just 129 rushing yards against Clemson and Oklahoma State. Saturday should be a good gauge. FSU plays at North Carolina State, which is allowing 158.5 rushing yards per game; the Wolfpack allowed Georgia Southern and Old Dominion to rush for a combined 442 yards. Granted, neither the Eagles nor the Monarchs use a "standard" offensive attack; at the same time, those teams don't have near the overall offensive talent that FSU possesses.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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