John James "Jimbo" Fisher has assembled arguably the most talented team in the country, and the expectations have begun to soar. He can win a BCS National Championship this year. He has that kind of firepower at his fingertips.
However, I think it’s fitting to look at this team with some objectivity, to pause for a moment and see what wrinkles Fisher needs to iron out over the next four weeks.
No one cares if it’s a spread formation, Power I, Ace formation or multiple tight end set—EJ Manuel must be under center behind some kind of front (or formation) that can provide him protection. Manuel must be given time in the pocket to work his magic, and magic he has, as we saw against Notre Dame.
He has operated admirably behind a leaky offensive line his entire career, but he was scrambling for his life on nearly every play in last year’s bowl game against Notre Dame.
The failures on the offensive line must stop—and it’s the only way FSU can contend for a BCS title.
No one questions Manuel’s toughness, but he was not recruited to play punching bag at FSU. He is a quality quarterback who needs a chance to shine.
Last year, the problems on the offensive line began in fall practice. Multiple offensive linemen, both starters and backups, went down before the season even began. It marked the beginning of a rash of injuries that haunted FSU all season.
Remarkably, FSU has failed to recruit high-quality offensive linemen, and that is why it’s paramount that the projected starters stay healthy. At the very least, they need to make it through fall ball unscathed.
Despite Rick Trickett’s job performance the last five years—his track record is on full display in FSU’s archives—he may be capable of putting together a serviceable offensive line if they stay healthy. He has had healthy lines before that have been manhandled and abused by ACC defenses, but, thanks to a sudden change in philosophy, he now has some big guys to work with.
Assuming that the O-line is corrected and serviceable—and yes, this is a big assumption—it’s crucial that Fisher must let his offense embarrass teams on a weekly basis. Not only do FSU fans want to see some lopsided scores that remind them of the glory days, but also it may be in FSU’s best interest.
If a few BCS teams go undefeated along with Florida State, the media and coaches are going to have to make some tough choices. The Seminoles are in a bad position right now because the ACC has underachieved for so long.
Beating Wake Forest and Duke by 10 points may not convince people that FSU is back, and you can’t really blame them. But if Fisher abandons his conservative play-calling and lets things get out of control, he may help prove to the right people that FSU is back atop college football.
Fisher shouldn’t hang 50 on the Gators because it’s fun—he should do it because it may be necessary.