Allow me to preface this by saying that Heather has a difficult job in covering all 12 ACC teams. I believe that ESPN's blogger format sets her up for failure, such that much of the content on her blog is already known to the diehard fans who would read a college football blog. She's simply stretched too thin. While we've criticized her work in the past, she recently wrote a (mostly) accurate article on the Noles. Plenty of reasons for FSU to contend in '09 - ACC - ESPN Let's take a look (Inside).....
In the article, she goes on to list some reasons why FSU will be a good football team this year.
Recruiting: Forget what the Noles don't have at wide receiver for a minute, and look at who's coming to help. The staff is hoping receivers Rodney Smith (6-6) and Willie Haulstead (6-4) can contribute immediately. Haulstead, a speedy athlete who is ranked the No. 32 wide receiver at his position by ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., caught 45 passes for 648 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior at Titusville. He's the kind of player who can rack up the "yards after catch" stat. And Smith, straight out of Miami, was rated the No. 20 receiver by ESPN.com. As a bonus, his GPA was well over a 3.0 at Archbishop Carroll high school. There should be a Jarmon Fortson-type player in this class who can help (Fortson, as some of you might remember, caught a 42-yard pass against the Gators. Not bad for a freshman.)
This is, well, this is sort of accurate. Willie Haulstead has decent speed, but a simple read of his ESPN recruiting profile reveals that "speedy athlete" might not be the best way to describe Willie: "Haulstead's greatest attributes are his size, run after catch ability and his natural feel for adjusting to the ball while it is in the air. Haulstead in our opinion has just adequate speed and may find it much more difficult to separate and run by people as a route runner in college than he does in high school. Lacks explosiveness and sudden burst to pull away from elite speed guys if in a footrace." Now, the point of this isn't to bag on Willie Haulstead, but rather that if your track record is to mess up player's names and positions, you should at least read the recruiting profile before discussing a recruit you've never seen play.
As for her evaluation of Smith, he is from Miami (check), was rated the #20 wide receiver by ESPN.com (this proved she knows these evaluations exist!), and did have a 3.0. Let's move on.
Coaching: Mickey Andrews and Jimbo Fisher are two well-respected, demanding coordinators who know how to get the most out of what they have. Andrews' defense lost six starters, but over the past five seasons, FSU's defense has been amongst the best in the nation in total defense. Last year, FSU ranked No. 1 in the nation in tackles for loss and sixth in pass defense. Now that Fisher is entering his third season, the players should be accustomed to his expectations and philosophy. During his tenure, FSU's running game improved from 103rd in 2006 to 33rd in 2008. Odds are it will be the backbone of the offense again. If this staff can come together for what might be Bobby Bowden's final season, and keep the players focused and disciplined, it will go a long way in determining how they finish November.
Andrews is well respected for his career achievements, but he's not hosting any coaching clinics nowadays. Nobody is flocking to learn from Mickey Andrews, unless they're doing so in a time machine. At least Dinich notes that the 'Noles were good by the measure of total defense. You'll remember when I wrote this as part of an analysis of the 'Noles defense:
"Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, many fans still believe last year's defense was an elite unit. It's not that these fans are dumb or lazy. They just don't know what to look for. The defense had good total numbers last year, finishing 2nd in the ACC in yards allowed, but that's not the important stat. Why? Total defense doesn't account for how many times the opponent had the ball, which is as much a function of a team's offense as it is a team's defense. Simply put, FSU's offense held the ball for long stretches last year, averaging the 2nd most time per game in ACC play. In fact, FSU's defense faced the second fewest offensive plays per ACC game. It is much easier to have a "good defense" if your defense faces fewer plays per game than everyone else, if you define "good defense" in terms of total defense. The mainstream media is just catching on to this, but I expect Tomahawk Nation readers to understand that yards per play is a much better measure than total defense."
So, where were we? Oh, yes, using coach's reputations rather than looking at meaningful results, like Jimbo Fisher winning ACC offensive coordinator of the year in spite of the youngest offensive line in the country, and averaging the most points in ACC play.
Competition: Dinich does nail this in conference, but she doesn't point out that the 'Noles have the toughest schedule in the country. 11 of the 12 made bowls last year. She also doesn't mention that FSU avoids Duke and Virginia from the other division, while an Atlantic foe like NC State gets a freebie win against Duke.
Quarterback: Dinich does a great job discussing what she knows and doesn't just guess. Excellent.
Running Game: Dinich does a great job discussing what she knows and doesn't just guess. Excellent.
Offensive Line: Dinich does a great job discussing what she knows and doesn't just guess. Excellent.
Overall, it's about as good as we can expect from someone who never played the game and is tasked with collecting links on a whole twelve teams.