Florida State Football: Midseason Report Card for the Seminoles
After years of pent-up frustration due to their inability to meet expectations, Florida State entered this season primed to turn their hoards of doubters into believers.
Media members around the country bought into Jimbo Fisher’s squad by placing them in the preseason top 10 in the polls and proclaiming them an overwhelming favorite to win the ACC for the first time since 2005.
To say that this season has not gone the way most Seminoles fans, coaches and players expected it to would be an understatement.
The ‘Noles ended a three-game losing skid by pummeling Duke 41-16 last weekend to even their record up at 3-3.
So is the season a complete failure, even though there’s half of it left to play?
Or did a combo of costly injuries and a daunting early season schedule do in the Seminoles?
Here are the first half grades for the Seminoles.
The offense is truly a mixed bag when you take into account the numerous injuries and highs and lows that the ‘Noles have encountered.
Consider that Florida State had six offensive starters miss games so far this season, yet managed to average over 24 points a game in their three losses, and the numbers don’t look so bad.
A closer look would reveal that while those factors are indeed relevant, the ‘Noles were mostly hurt by costly turnovers, penalties and their inability to run the football.
The saving grace has been the play of their wide receiver corps, which has played brilliantly in the absence of two starters and has had young guys step up and develop into an explosive group.
On the other side of the ball, the play of the defense is even more puzzling when you observe the numbers.
The Seminoles rank 11th in the country in total defense, giving up less than 285 yards per game.
However, the problems have come from their failure to cause turnovers, get off the field on third downs and crucial penalties that have extended drives for their opponents.
The bright spots for the defense has been the play of a pair of super sophomores, defensive end Bjoern Werner and safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Coming into the season, this unit seemed to be one that would be the difference in helping Florida State become an elite team.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins has lived up to his obligation making every kick (10-of-10 on field goals, and 24-of-24 on extra points) he’s attempted this season.
Punter Shawn Powell is averaging a stellar 44.5 yards per punt.
The main disappointment has been the play of the punt and kick return units.
Greg Reid is one of the most explosive returners in the nation, but he has been unable to make the big plays that he is capable of thus far.
When you consider that Florida State’s 3-3 record does not match what their statistical output would indicate, something is clearly wrong in Tallahassee.
Mental errors and penalties have doomed the ‘Noles at the most inopportune times in their three losses.
Fisher’s offense has sputtered in crunch time, and Mark Stoops’ troops has shot themselves in the foot enough to have a lifetime NRA membership.
Great teams do not have these types of errors for three consecutive games, and the Seminoles were expected to be among the nation’s elite coming into this season.
Despite their 3-3 record, most of the Seminoles’ problems have been self-inflicted wounds and their inability to coerce their opponents into the same types of mistakes.
FSU’s three losses were by a combined 20 points to teams with a combined record of 17-2, including two unbeaten teams currently ranked in the top 10.
Regardless of how close their losses were, or how many injuries they suffered, this was the year that the excuses were supposed to disappear.
The Seminoles can still have a good season, but in the end, it will not live up to the expectations that were set for them in the beginning of the season.