Florida State Football: Big Win over Maryland Shows Signs of Hope

Daniel BrommerCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback E.J. Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles calls out a play in the huddle against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl on January 1, 2010 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida State defeated West Virginia 33-21 in Bobby Bowden's last game as a head coach for the Seminoles.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

It wasn't too long ago when Florida State barely lost to the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners in what was supposed to be one of the best games of the season. Now Florida State is a 4-3 team after dropping three straight games to Oklahoma, Clemson and Wake Forest.

Florida State has since bounced back against Duke and Maryland with big wins, but does that really showcase the talent on this team, or is just a decent team against a bad team? Obviously, Duke is Duke, that doesn't look like it's going to change for some time. Maryland, however, played Clemson close last week, but their season has been made by beating a depleted Miami team to start of the season.

Then there's the injuries. Quarterback E.J. Manuel was hurt against Oklahoma and that injury benched him against Clemson and the beginning of the Wake Forest game. Running back Chris Thompson is out for the season, and possibly ever with a broken back. Willie Haulstead has yet to see the field and Bert Reed is just now getting healthy. Combine all of that with the injuries across the offensive line and that's a giant barrel full of bad luck.

Defensively, the unit has had breakdowns. The transition from cornerback to safety was a great idea at the beginning of the season for LaMarcus Joyner, now it looks like he's playing for his job. While Nick Moody wasn't any better, some of the young guys like Karlos Williams will be vying for time. Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes aren't nearly as good as they were last year and so far Brandon Jenkins has been lost.

Bjoern Werner has been impressive as well as linebackers Nigel Bradham and Christian Jones. Besides that, the defense as a whole has not lived up to expectations. Is it too late for all of that to change?

It's safe to say that the ACC Championship game is out of the Seminoles reach as well as a BCS bowl game, but that doesn't mean they can't still go to a decent bowl game. If Manuel can stay healthy and running backs Devonta Freeman and Jermaine Thomas can continue their streaks, this team can still finish with 10 wins and will show that they are able to bounce back from their horrific start.

Was Florida State overrated? It would appear so, but that doesn't mean they aren't a good football team. Jimbo Fisher knows what he's doing. He's still going to bring in one of the top recruiting classes in the country and almost every star of the team will be back. Bradham graduates on defense and Jenkins looked like a potential first-rounder before the year started, but that doesn't seem likely anymore.

Offensively, Manuel will be back as well as Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Kenny Shaw, Rashad Green and Christian Green will form a trio of fast and athletic receivers and tight end Nick O'Leary should be used even more next season. While this season isn't lost yet, Florida State still has much to prove the rest of the year.

The big wins over Duke and Maryland should vault Florida State into the right direction and get them back on the winning track. Tests against Miami and Florida still remain on the schedule, but Boston College, North Carolina State and Virginia look to be easy wins, especially since the 'Noles routed their easier competition this year.

If Florida State wins out, they will have a 9-3 record and will have the chance at winning 10 games if they win their bowl game. The Seminoles are firing on all cylinders right now, can they keep it up the rest of the year?