Florida State entered Saturday's contest against BYU with a lot to prove. For starters they needed to prove that the new defensive scheme is going to work in their favor and that a re-haul of new coaches wasn't a waste. After being embarrassed by Oklahoma a week earlier, Christian Ponder also had to prove that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and that Florida State launching a Heisman campaign for him wasn't a total waste. Did FSU silence its critics by beating BYU? Probably not, but it did help their case in proving they are one step closer to returning to the spotlight they once controlled.
Against Oklahoma, Ponder went 11 for 28 for 113 yards and two interceptions. Not exactly a Heisman calibur performance. All week Ponder answered questions concerning his play and he took the loss and carried it on his shoulders saying that he took full responsibility and even promising the fans that it would never happen again.
All eyes were on Ponder against BYU and he showed that he was capable of bouncing back from a humiliating loss. Ponder went 14 of 21 for 149 yards and a touchdown while also adding 50 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. While those numbers don't stick out, it's the way he ran the offense against BYU's defense that impressed the most. He didn't rely on his arm to get him out of trouble, instead he trusted his teammates and showed leadership ability that this team desperately needed.
Florida State hasn't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn. That's nearly two decades ago. Will they have one this year? With a stable of running backs that all share carries, all signs point to no, but that doesn't mean they won't have a powerful running game.
Ty Jones and Chris Thompson appear to have officially taken over the running responsibilities that Jermaine Thomas once held. Jones had 95 yards and a touchdown while Thompson had 123 yards and a touchdown to contribute to FSU's 278 yards rushing for the day. Each back averaged well over five yards per carry with Thompson averaging 13.7 yards per carry, a staggering number.
With Florida State finding a running game, it takes pressure off of Ponder to win games with his arm. By having a running game, the 'Noles can burn the clock and take pressure off of its defense. If Florida State can continue to rack up yards on the ground, their offense can easily finish within the top rankings at the end of the season.
Florida State's defense held BYU to 10 points and 191 total yards while forcing two turnovers and registering eight sacks. Impressive numbers for only their third game under a new scheme. They also held the cougars to 4-15 on third down conversions.
The defensive line looks ferocious in the first quarter alone holding BYU to just five yards in the first quarter. Markus White and Everett Dawkins caused the most damage inside while linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kendall Smith were all over the place.
The secondary still needs work especially at safety where Nick Moody seemed to give up big plays and didn't know his assignments, but he made up for it on run support. The corners led by Greg Reid showed almost a night and day difference from their game against Oklahoma.
Although this was a well fought victory, there is still a long season ahead of them, but if the defense can play consistent, there is no reason they can't perform every Saturday the way they did against BYU.
With Jarmon Forsten being kicked off the team, Christian Ponder needed an new go-to guy. He may have found him in Bert Reed. Up to this point, Reed has a total 170 yards receiving in three games, but 89 of them came against BYU. He's a legitimate deep threat as well as a polished route runner.
Reed is a nice safety valve for Ponder and showed his ability to run around a defense and to get open in tight spaces. With Taiwan Easterling, Rodney Smith, and Willie Haulstead all contributing to Ponders success through the air, it's Reed that has stood out the most.
The question is, will he be able to maintain his state of play for the remainder of the season?
In only his third game as a head coach, Jimbo Fisher is already turning heads. With a huge loss coming at the hands of Oklahoma, it was important for him to get his team back in the mind set of winning. It's always hard to come off of a loss with such magnitude riding on it and Fisher proved he can wield his team back into a winning demeanor.
Fisher has a long ways to go to accomplish what Bobby Bowden did, and he might not amass the total wins or even the National Championships, but he's showing that he can take this team in the right direction and that he can accomplish some great things with this team.
No one can imagine what it's like to take over the mantle that a legend left behind, but so far Fisher has displayed great coaching. In his first year as head coach, this team looks sharper and even more mentally stable then the previous years under Bowden showed. If Fisher can continue his growth as a head coach and can continue to have success on the football field, his transition into replacing Bowden will become a lot easier.