After the end of the 2007 season, there was much talk about the transition of the Florida State University football squad. The first year is always the hardest after an overhaul of the coaching staff, such as the one the Seminoles pulled before last season.
Most "experts" would say that they were more or less right about the Seminoles' season results. From my standpoint I can see where they were right, and I can't help but agree with them.
But now the time has come to dust off all that gear that has been waiting for the new season to come rolling back around.
As the 2008 season creeps around the corner, we should keep this in mind: The future is here in E.J. Manual! Jimbo Fisher, the man that groomed Jamarcus Russell into a number one draft pick, has the knowledge and coaching ability to groom Manual into a weapon that one day will be far superior to Russell.
Drew Weatherford is a lost cause. He will be finished after this year. The timing just was not ever there for this kid, but with all due respect, he is a warrior. Christian Ponder shows great promise but will need to be more consistent if he is going to step up and ride the lightning for the Seminoles.
But most important is the need to get back to what made Florida State football so great—the running game.
Antone Smith, you have got to step it up this year. Rick Trickett has done a fantastic job training the line in the last year. Granted, we will most definitely have freshmen and sophomores on the line, but they should be far better as a unit than the line we had last year.
Smith, you have to be the man. You have to be the guy that breaks the 1,000-yard mark, which has not been done by anyone since Warrick Dunn in 1996.
For the offensive woes to stop for the Seminoles, they must begin with the running game. Florida State no doubt has a great wide receiver corps, probably the best in the ACC this year, but Florida State football starts on the ground.
Greg Carr, Preston Parker, and newcomer Corey Surrency are all great players. But great players that are wideouts need a good quarterback to get them the ball. There is no doubting Parker's stats last year, but when he is carrying the ball 52 times in a season, you have to ask yourself, "Why?"
The development of a great quarterback is essential to having a great reciever corps. Run the ball to open the passing game. Pass the ball until you have to run. Smashmouth football is what the Seminoles need to get back on track.
My overall grade of the Florida State offense would be a "B" or "B+". I totally understand that I cannot give them much credit based on the last two years, but I definitely have more confidence going into this year.
Based on the players Jimbo Fisher has had picked in the first round (Russell, Dwayne Bowe, Joseph Addai, Michael Clayton, Craig Davis), I am just wondering when Florida State will start sending offensive players to the first round—and who those players will be.
(I will do the defense in a matter of time.)