Florida State Football: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2011 College Football Season
There has been plenty of hype surrounding the Florida State Football team this offseason and all with good reason. Last year after finishing 10-4 and dropping games to N.C. State and North Carolina in the final seconds, the record realistically should have been 12-2, but all the same they still lost those games.
Now with the No. 1 recruiting class coming in along with plenty of returning starters and playmakers, the Seminoles are poised for a run at a BCS bowl, if not a run for the National Championship.
They are young at a lot of positions and will have to replace some key players, but they still have a roster full of talented athletes who are craving a Championship and have their sights set on nothing less than an ACC Championship and a BCS Bowl game.
5. The Defense Will Be Ranked Number One in the Country
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This unit led the country in sacks last year and tackles for loss. In the past, it was nearly impossible for Florida State to get into the backfield or apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
Already Mark Stoops' system has proved to enhance the play of this unit that is full of athletes who are big, fast and want to hit someone.
This year will be the time where the entire defense as a whole comes together to be the best defense in the country. The front seven will be amazing, but the back four will need to step up their game.
The cornerback combination of Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid will be deadly, but the safety combo of Terrance Parks and LaMarcus Joyner will need to progress faster than they might like, especially with Oklahoma coming to town in the early part of the season.
Never the less, this unit was great last year and they will be the best in the country this year.
4. Florida State Will Beat Oklahoma in Week 3
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Last season, Florida State went into Norman and were embarrassed by the Sooners. The game was lopsided in every aspect and Oklahoma was clearly the better team.
This year, Oklahoma will be coming into Doak Campbell Stadium as the only real threat to the Seminoles this season. Yes, there is still Miami and Florida, but Oklahoma is at the power house stage and will be ranked No. 1.
Unlike last year, Florida State will be ready and they will be foaming at the mouth for their chance at revenge.
With a revamped defense and an offense that found a groove last year and has the ability to put up points with ever drive, the Seminoles will defeat Oklahoma at home and prove they are officially back.
3. Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith Will Have 1,000 Yards Receiving Each
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Considering how much this offense spreads the ball around, this prediction might be just a little bit out there, but then again Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith have been poised for breakout seasons ever since they were freshman.
We got a glimpse at how good these two young receivers can be last season when Haulstead had 587 yards and Smith had 448 yards, but they were playing behind Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling.
Now these two will be the go-to-guys in this offense and new quarterback E.J. Manuel is going to need all the weapons he can get if this offense is going to run smooth like last season. Two large and fast receivers like Haulstead and Smith will provide him with just that.
Both receivers have big play ability and both receivers will see the ball thrown their way plenty of times this season so it isn't far-fetched to say they will both have 1,000 yards receiving.
2. E.J. Manuel Will Be a Heisman Candidate
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If everything goes to plan for the Florida State offense, E.J. Manuel is going to have an enormous year. He's bigger, faster and has a better arm than Christian Ponder; now he has to prove he can be better. Manuel will have plenty of weapons to use backed by a great running game.
He will have a solid offensive line and arguably the best defense in the country that will allow him with plenty of breathing room.
The most important thing Manuel has is Jimbo Fisher. Fisher is not going to let him fail and he's not going to let him be the blame for a bad season or for lost games. Fisher will have Manuel ready for the biggest year of his college football life.
Manuel should put up big numbers and Florida State will be in the national spotlight all season long so that will get him a trip to New York to take part in the Heisman festivities.
Just remember, there was a first year starter last year who made it to New York and won the award after just one year of being a starter.
1. Florida State Will Win the National Championship
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If all of my predictions come true, then this prediction will be easy. Looking at the schedule, Oklahoma is the only true test that Florida State will pass. Miami and Florida will be in transition years. Not saying they won't have good season, but Florida State is just farther along than they are right now.
Clemson, Boston College and North Carolina will all prove to be tests, but they won't be like Oklahoma and they will be tests that can be easily passed by the 'Noles.
Florida State is going to have a stifling defense, a fast paced offense and they will be led by a great group of coaches headlined by Jimbo Fisher.
Then there is the recruiting class. I haven't mentioned a single incoming freshman because they are just arriving to camp and who knows the impact they will provide right away, but they will most definitely make an immediate impact.
With Florida State beating Oklahoma, they should run through the ACC and they will be in the drivers seat for a National Championship and they will win in Jimbo Fisher's second year and will thus start the beginning of a dynasty.