I have followed Seminole football for two decades. Since I was a small child, I have loved and stayed true to the garnet and gold. As a kid, I would call the plays and act them out as they happened on the TV. Even though I went through two national championships and countless top-five finishes in the '90s and early 2000s, I have never been more excited for or anticipated a season quite like this one.
1) New coach
2) Most experienced offensive line in many years (Rodney Hudson is a beast)
3) Exceptional quarterback (best since Weinke)
This season, there are no concerns whatsoever with the offense. In fact, there are so many weapons, it is very possible that the Seminoles will not have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver. That's fine because it means a balanced attack of using veteran and younger players to get points on the board.
In fact, the only person everyone's eyes truly can't wait to see is No. 7 Christian Ponder. He is the dark horse for the Heisman. He has all the numbers, the academics, and needs the team to get wins so that he will the possibility of being in New York City as a finalist.
The defense is what everyone focuses on negatively. It was no secret that FSU played its worst defensive unit last year it had ever had. One article pointed out that in a span of eight games, FSU allowed more total points than any of the '90s teams did in a whole season individually.
Needless to say, it was ugly. Breaking down the overall look of the defense last season, it wasn't the linemen to blame. FSU didn't allow many rushing yards compared to the average for NCAA teams with dealy . The linebackers played great against short passes but did falter many times against running quarterbacks, allowing big gains.
The biggest area of concern where points were given up in large amounts was in the secondary, primarily the safeties. Over and over again the deep ball was used against FSU with deadly accuracy. Many times the coverage was so poor, receivers were clear of any defender by five to 10 yards.
FSU would have allowed many more points on times that the quarterback overthrew the receiver. The lowest point of last season had to come against an FBS Jacksonville State which took two touchdowns in the last minute of the game to come from behind (losing for close to 55 minutes of the game).
This season, instead of running the man defense of Mickey Andrews, Mark Stoops brings a zone style that he ran in Arizona, a defense he made 25th in the nation in 2009. On the depth chart for the game against Samford, Ojenije, who played cornerback in 2009, has been moved to safety to fill in for Mangum who weakly held that position last season.
Ojenije's transition to his new role will be one of the main factors to look at this season. Another main factor will be the injuries and suspensions and who will take their place. Can Mister Alexander replace Nigel Carr and how will the No. 1 recruit from a few years ago, Jacobbi McDaniel do in their starting roles? These questions are what make this season the most exciting in many years.
Looking at this schedule, it can be broken down into many sections . First, the out of conference schedule is brutal but necessary. Facing three top 25 teams shows that Jimbo Fisher is not going to back away from a challenge.
In the first three games (Samford, Oklahoma, BYU), the expectation is to win the two home games but there is still some hesitancy with predicting the Oklahoma away game. Oklahoma is 66-2 at home under Stoops but has a new quarterback and many new starters.
After this, FSU starts its ACC schedule against tough foes BC, Miami, NC State (who no matter how bad they are will give the Seminoles trouble, especially since they struggle on Thursday night games), and UNC. Two of these teams are top 20 preseason.
If FSU struggles in the out of conference games, at least they can still fight for an ACC title. However, if somehow they are able to go 3-0 heading into the conference schedule, FSU might be challenging in the national title scene with the game against Florida at the end of the year determining more than just in-state bragging rights.
Actual prediction: Most websites are predicting that FSU will defeat BYU and Samford, lose to Oklahoma, and that this is the best chance for FSU to break out of the six-year slump to Florida. Final tally: 3-1 out of conference.
In ACC play, the hardest road test will be Miami which is very probable for FSU to defeat after the heartbreaker to open last season. Honestly, either 8-0 or 7-1, but they are definitely the best team in the ACC Atlantic division. Therefore, at least a 9-3 season is very possible. Most likely, FSU would face Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.
Aside from having a losing season, seeing a great change in the defense would be a win for the season since everyone is looking to 2011 as the true resurgence of FSU. With such veteran leadership, there is no reason to not happen this season. Fear the Spear! Go Noles!