A 2-2 start wasn't exactly in the cards when the Florida State Seminoles planned out their 2011 season. A 3-1 start was more realistic, but even then they expected to be 4-0 at this time. E.J. Manuel was supposed to be a Heisman dark horse and the defense was supposed to be tops in the country. Now, Manuel is a disappointment and the defense can be considered a failure.
Florida State as a whole is a disappointment, but the season isn't lost. Florida State can still run the table and make it to a good bowl game, possibly a BCS bowl game with an at-large bid. There are some obstacles, obviously.
At the end of the season, they face Florida at "The Swamp," which will be a very difficult game, especially if Florida State isn't healthy. Clemson has the potential to run the table and even if they lose to Virginia Tech, they will still own the tiebreaker over the Seminoles.
Then there's the quarterback issue. Manuel is expected back for the Wake Forest game in two weeks and Jimbo Fisher has indicated that Manuel will resume the starting quarterback position, but if you compare his production to that of Clint Trickett, it almost seems unfair that Trickett wouldn't be the starter. He played good against Clemson and he played better than Manuel did against Oklahoma. Manuel adds a running element, but Trickett has shown to be a better passer.
So how can the Seminoles turn the season around? Finding a running game would go a long ways. At this point, Chris Thompson is the leading rusher with just 81 yards rushing. The team as a whole has just 318 yards rushing. That's a staggering number when you consider that Florida State had success with the running game last season.
Then there's the defense.
Whenever Brandon Jenkins decides to show up he will be great, but until then, Bjoern Werner has played amazing for a first-year starter. He's been the heart of the defense. Greg Reid is injured and apparently starting to have problems off the field and the linebackers appear to have forgotten how to cover tight ends or basically any receiver that decides to cross the middle.
The secondary seems to have regressed dramatically from last season and if that doesn't get fixed fast, the season is going to be full of headaches.
If Florida State can answer the quarterback question and find a running game, this offense is going to put up a lot of points. If the defense can learn how to stop teams on third down, they will become a potent unit again and will continue to be a dominant force in college football; but those are a lot of buts.
Lucky for Florida State, they have Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland, N.C. State and Boston College; five very winnable games. Let's hope they don't slip up and lose any of those or the season will be another forgotten one for Florida State, and just another dent in their road back to glory.