After Jimbo Fisher's second year under the offensive reigns, many FSU fans are questioning if the Noles are progressing after consecutive 7-6 seasons in 2006-2007.
The Seminoles finished with their first eight win regular season since 2003. I know two of those wins were over FCS schools but that situation arose over a scheduling conflict and other FBS teams wanting the Seminoles to pay a hefty price to schedule them for an early season game at Doak.
FSU showed flashes this season of competing in games it seemed to lose the past few seasons. Throughout October and November, the Noles found themselves down 10-0 in the first quarter and came back to win against N.C. State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech.
The running game this year was something FSU has not seen in years. True freshman Jermaine Thomas is giving the FSU fans something to look forward to as he finished the season with 478 yards and three touchdowns. His 131 yard game against Georgia Tech hopefully offered what will come in the next few years.
Christian Ponder. There have been games where it was easily obvious for anyone to see why Jimbo Fisher chose him to lead the offense. But then in games against Wake Forest, Boston College, and some degree Florida (even though he had a back injury leading up to the UF game that coaches kept under wraps).
When completely healthy, Ponder has shown he is capable of making plays with his feet when the receivers had a hard time getting open. His 144 yard rushing yards against Miami showed what he is capable of when he can get into the open. Though he suffered a rib injury for most of October, his rushing stats dropped through October and up until the Maryland game when he rushed for 81 yards. Ponder also finished the last four ACC games with one rushing touchdown per game.
Ponder's passing ability has been questioned all season as when defenses took out the run option, it was painfully obvious when FSU was forced to throw. He only had one 200+ passing game this season (at N.C. State) and finished the season with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
When pressure is put squarely on Ponder with a defense that has a good rush attack, Ponder has caved under the pressure. In games against Wake Forest and Boston College, Ponder combined for six interceptions and one touchdown (rushing).
With Ponder having low passing numbers then so do the wide receivers. FSU game into the season with high expectations for their deep receiving unit. Redshirt freshman Taiwan Easterling developed into a clutch third down receiver during the season and had one of the more memorable touchdown catches against Virginia Tech when he got a toe in bounds in the back of the end zone.
It is tough to say Greg Carr underperformed this season but his senior season took a hit as the offense was a run first-pass second type.
I believe the Florida State offense is getting better. When FSU needed a drive to seal a win, they did that this season. They were a fumble away from going to the ACC Championship game in a stronger ACC this season.
I think the Noles will be stronger next season with a matured Ponder at quarterback and a very fast running back unit.