After two straight losses, the Florida State Seminoles mercifully have a bye week before their next game. If the 'Noles hope to salvage their season, they have plenty of work to do in their time off.
The bye week, combined with a few easier games coming up on the schedule, should afford Jimbo Fisher and his staff to make the necessary changes for 2011 to still be a successful campaign for the program. However, if they don't start making those changes now, the season could very easily get away from them.
Here are the five things Florida State needs to be working on in their bye week to save their season.
Through four games this season, the Florida State Seminoles do not have a single player on their team who has accumulated more than 81 rushing yards. Until sitting out against Clemson, the leading rusher on the team was quarterback E.J. Manuel.
The Seminoles rank 113th in the country, averaging just 79.5 yards rushing per game. I don't care how good your quarterback is, unless you are running some sort of gimmicky offense that only June Jones could love, you have to keep defenses honest by moving the football on the ground.
True freshman James Wilder Jr. has only played in one game so far but he may be the only hope for the Seminoles ground game. It might be time to turn the kid loose.
If you have watched Florida State in their last two games, you certainly noticed some pretty serious mental lapses by the Seminoles. Penalties have become a major problem; not just the volume of them, but the timing as well.
In seemingly every big moment of the last two games, Florida State committed a penalty. It was almost as if the big moments became overwhelming for the Seminoles players and they couldn't keep their focus. Good teams don't constantly shoot themselves in the foot, but that is exactly what FSU has been doing.
Besides the penalties, the recent off-field distractions involving cornerback Greg Reid will force Florida State to develop some mental toughness in a hurry, or watch their season get derailed.
Coming into the 2011 season, the Florida State Seminoles were ranked No. 5 by the USA Today Poll and No. 6 by the AP Poll. With that in mind, it is entirely reasonable to believe that one of Florida State's goals for the season was to win the national championship.
After consecutive losses to Oklahoma and Clemson, the 'Noles can pretty much kiss that goal goodbye, but that doesn't mean the season has to be a complete waste. Florida State is attempting to climb its way back into the top tier of college football programs—and that journey is a process.
In 2011, the Seminoles can still take a positive step in that process, but they have to refocus their sights on a different goal. That goal would be winning the ACC Championship and making a BCS bowl, both of which are still very attainable. More than anything, Florida State just needs to remember there is still something worth playing for this season.
I am not trying to start a quarterback controversy, and I am a firm believer in E.J. Manuel and his abilities, but I have to admit, there is something about the way Clint Trickett plays that is kind of appealing.
Trickett seems to play with a sense of fearlessness, and that is reflected in the way he takes shots down the field on a more regular basis than Manuel does. Trickett has averaged over three more yards per passing attempt than Manuel has, although those numbers might be skewed some by Trickett's appearance in garbage time of the team's first two games.
I do not think Trickett should take over the starting job, but there is a case to be made, and that is the point. The Florida State coaching staff needs to make it clear one way or the other who the quarterback is and stick with it. Indecision in a situation like this could very well be worse than the wrong decision.
Florida State has suffered a couple of very tough losses in back-to-back weeks, and it would be understandable if that was taking a toll on them. However, there is no time to feel sorry for yourselves in major college football.
There is a principle that coaches sometimes talk about called "the rule of 24." The idea is basically that no matter what happened in the last game, whether it be a program-defining win or an excruciating loss, you can celebrate or mourn over the game for 24 hours, and then you have to move on.
Sometimes this rule isn't entirely practical, especially in situations like the Seminoles find themselves in right now, but a bye week is the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and get back to work. If Florida State has been holding on to the pain of those losses, they need to let it go and get back to playing football.