This is the one word you will find yourself repeating over the course of the 2010 Florida State football season. Believe.
“Why believe? Because of one game?”
“Because of some new coach?”
“Then why? Why now?”
Because this class is anything but last year’s model with a fresh coat of paint.
Yes, the 2010 Seminoles still have a long, long road ahead of them, this much is true.
What makes this group of players unique, compared to the prior squads over the last decade, is the mentality. Mental toughness. Players who believe in their coaches will play to the level their coaches instill in them. Players who want to win, more than just wanting to prove their individual talents.
Players who believe in the whole picture, rather than just the frame, or the canvas. Players who hold themselves accountable for the team, rather than the team holding players accountable for themselves.
FSU football has for so long been a reflection of the dynasty that preceded them, and the insurmountable pressure to replicate that glory became a sagging burden that for years weighed on players hearing the names of “Sanders, Buckley, Ward, and Dunn.” Those days, finally, are over.
With a new chapter in the works, the frustrations, pressures, and painful memories are no longer lingering over players’ heads. The mentality is now of the future, a clean slate, a new direction, and a focus to be the first...not just the next chapter of what came before them.
“Football smart,” Coach Fisher calls it. This is the foundation for building success in Tallahassee.
So now you’re thinking “So, football smarts should transform FSU from a 7-6, middle-of-the pack ACC squad to a perennial contender?”
Well, that and 18 returning starters who are sick of losing.
Christian Ponder , the guy you’ve probably heard about most often when discussing FSU this offseason, returned to the gridiron weeks ahead of schedule to lead the Gold team to a win in the Seminole’s first true Spring game. (Yep, more firsts.) Ponder has already managed to dazzle, with only a few days preparation under center.
If that wasn't enough, true freshmen QB Clint Trickett managed to turn a few heads on a 70-yard heave to Bert Reed, who finished the Garnet and Gold game with a total of 163 yards receiving.
The Seminoles also had several RBs showcase their talent in the Spring Game with Chris Thompson , Lonnie Pryor , Jermaine Thomas and Tavares Pressley , along with freshmen recruit Debrale Smiley all taking turns carrying the ball for teams Garnet and Gold.
Eddie Gran, RBs coach, has not yet made a nod on who has the upper hand on the starting duties in the fall, but all indications would suggest that incumbent Thomas will have his work cut out for him, with Thompson, Pryor and Smiley all playing extremely well. This is a good problem to have, and is a reason for excitement for certain.
But, the real question on everyone’s mind was, and still is—how’s the defense?
The answer? Better. Just how much better will have to wait until the fall.
FSU’s defense this Spring, divided between the ones and twos, offered a lot of different looks, and coverage schemes, that will only become more elaborate as the upcoming season approaches. The talent, something feared long departed from Tallahassee, is definitely still there. The coaching however, is gone.
Normally this would be a point of concern for most programs, but with a team that finished nearly dead-last in the nation in most defensive categories, the new staff, and the “multiple” defensive schemes being implemented, have legitimately become a strength where the Seminoles see tremendous upside potential and this in just three short weeks.
Switching the defense to new 4-3 zone schemes, Mark Stoops has quickly made the big play for opposing offenses less of an issue. With the exception of one broken 70-yard pass by Garnet team QB Clint Trickett to WR Bert Reed , who finished the day leading all receivers with 163 yards, FSU’s defense held both the Garnet and the Gold teams to only a few small plays in the second half of the scrimmage on Saturday.
The pass-rush has also shown some promise. FSU, known for Rick Trickett ’s impressive offensive line-shifting, saw the defense make 15 “sacks” on both team’s Quarterbacks. (*A sack was recorded whenever a defensive lineman was able to touch the QB in the pocket.) While this may seem like an unimpressive statistic, compared to the entire 2009 season, FSU recorded only 25 total sacks , (good for about 1.9 a game.)
The secondary is already looking like a squad to be reckoned with, and players like Dionte Allen , Ochuko Jenije , and phenom Greg Reid are all having incredible springs competing between spots at both corner, and safety. Of course Greg Reid is also the Nation’s returning kickoff leader from a season ago, so something tells me, this young phenom should have an even bigger Sophomore campaign.
Mister Alexander , Vince Williams and Nigel Bradham have all turned heads at linebacker as well, and ECU Defensive Coordinator-turned-Linebackers Coach, Greg Hudson is the reason for their tremendous attention to detail, where technique has become a favorite over athletic ability.
With the inheritance of these incredibly gifted players, it is already apparent that Coach Hudson is giddy with anticipation to unleash his new weapons on the ACC this fall. We’ll all just have to wait a few months to see his finished product.
Yes, FSU’s defense has improved. Believe.
This is the one word you will find yourself repeating over the course of the 2010 football season.
For the FSU faithful, boosters, and alumni, the Seminoles of 2010 are a completely new, replenished, rejuvenated and refocused core of talented players. Now all they need is for their fans to follow their growth, support them, and most importantly, you got it—believe.