After being one of the most dominant teams in the entire country for a 13 year span, the Bobby Bowden led Seminoles did a little more than just drop off the map, when it came to playing for, and winning championships that is. Just this past year, they finished the regular season with a .500 record (6-6) and were able to sneak out wins against teams like NC State, Maryland and Jacksonville State.
There is, however a bright future ahead for the young men in garnet and gold. Not only did the Seminoles add a plethora of defensive blue chippers with their recruiting class, they added one heck of a coaching staff. In charge now, of course is Jimbo Fisher, and heading up the monster that is their recruiting is Eddie Gran. For those of you unaware of Gran, here are a few of his credentials. He spent seasons as an assistant under Tommy Tuberville, first at Mississippi and then Auburn. Gran coached running backs at both stops and added special teams duties to his Auburn assignment. He then went on to coach the same 2 positions at Tennessee. While at Auburn, he coached greats like Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Rudi Johnson and Deuce McAllister. Any doubt to the man’s ability to coach running backs? He will take over a young core at that position and look for there to be a vast improvement.
Another addition to the Nole coaching staff is the former DC from Arizona, Mark Stoops. Stoops, 42, was a defensive backs coach for the Miami Hurricanes from 2001-2003 before joining his brother Mike's staff at Arizona for the 2004 season. He also has experience as a co-defensive coordinator at Houston in 2000, three years coaching defensive backs at Wyoming from 1997-99, one year in the same capacity at South Florida in 1996, and four years in the Ohio prep ranks.
Enough about the coaching staff, let’s take a look for a moment, if you will, at the players that make it all possible. We must first start off with what many to believe as a pre-season Heisman candidate Christian Ponder. To say Ponder has a cannon would be a gross understatement. During his time in the 2009 season, Ponder completed 68.8% of his passes for over 2700 yards. Not too shabby for a man who didn’t finish the season. Look for Ponder to have a huge season this year.
What is it that makes Ponder a pre-season Heisman candidate? I’ll tell you. Offensive line. I cannot seriously think of a better OL coming into the 2010-2011 season. With a guy like Rick Trickett heading up a line FULL of veterans, this line could be reminiscent of the OL of Alabama over the last two seasons, only more athletic and much quicker. That could be pretty bad for DL’s who have to face off against the Noles this year.
Coming back on defense, Nigel Bradham looks to take control of a very talented bunch of recruits coming in, including 5 star LB Jeff Luc. Many believe that Luc will get ample playing time right out of the gate. After watching video of him, and obviously visiting games of his, Coach Fisher referred to Luc as “a linebacker with running back speed”.
All in all, look for this season to be the first of many that lead Florida State on a climb back to the top. I expect them to play for the ACC title this year with possibly a 9-3 record in the regular season. I could be wrong, but if Jimbo is worth his salary and is able to get the most out of his talent, this could be the year of the spear in the ACC.