I've been looking at the posts by members saying that the season is over, that we're going 7-5 and some people are talking 6-6 or worst. This is all based on not an season ending injury to someone like Ponder or some other irreplaceable player, its based on one bad game by the defense against a very prepared and talented team in Miami in a rival game. True this was a very tough loss to swallow but for people not to see the silver lining in this is very short-sighted. People that are hoping off the bandwagon and predicting disaster is mind boggling to me. That was a game played by two talented teams with a lot of emotion and it must be taken as such. It should be looked at in isolation, not an example of how the defense will do in every game going forward. If you are predicting FSU's future based on this game then you are buying Fool's gold and most co-coordinators would not put this game in the context of that is the team they will see. Although I called for the resignation of MA myself right after the game, I have been advocating that for two years. I think his decreased effectiveness regarding recruiting and strategy along with the lack of halftime adjustments in big games has adversely affected FSU and put an inordinate amount of pressure on the offense to outscore everyone since 2001. He called another bad game, simple as that. That said, we are stuck with him. So we'll move on.
I remember when FSU lost two games at the start of the season and then reeled off 10 straight wins while beating the Nittany Lions in the Blockbuster Bowl. So don't tell me it can;'t be done especially considering the offense we have, the speed on defense and the teams on the schedule without the necessary components to take advantage of our weaknesses. This team reminds me of that team a lot. By the time FSU plays the teams that everyone is saying will wipe the floor with us, they will have righted the ship. We are slowly getting back to the way it used to be in that aspect. If you're going to beat FSU, do it early, because its really hard to do it late in the season. This year will be no different as the offense will be scary by that time and the defense will be somewhat solid.
First and foremost, let's address the defense seeing how this is the performance that most impacted posters opinion of FSU football going forward this year.
1) The pass defense: Andrews aside, instead of looking how bad the defense played, give Whipple huge credit for passing through out the game on first down with play action and roll-outs. That was a master stroke that really confused MA. He had a lot of time because the Noles couldn't really blitz on first down as they had to respect the running game and Whipple knew it. Give Harris credit from learning from his mistakes and not repeating them. He handled the pressure very well and it looks like Whipple is their version of JF in making their QB and whole offense better. Also give credit to the effectiveness of Miami's line. They are good and they weren't expected to be.
That said, the Noles pass defense will not be torched like this again this year in this way. There is a really small chance they will give up yards like this again looking at the QB competition they will face in the next nine games and virtually no chance to give up the same amount of points related to the passing game. If you look at the schedule objectively and without bias (good or bad) there isn't a good QB on the schedule (besides Tebow) that can put up those numbers and there isn't a team that has the collection of speed and height in their WR corps that can remotely match Miami. Additionally, what OC on the schedule can really call a game like that? Maybe Meyer? Johnson will do his damage on the ground but that definitely won't be enough to offset their lack of their passing game, experience on the defensive line and increased motivation to shut down the run by the Noles as pay back for last season.
The fans are forgetting that the Noles probably played the worst game they will play this season. I don't think they will ever play that bad again this season or even come close. Everyone are calling them losers and I feel that they will come out swinging to prove to people that they are a good unit or at least better than what they have shown. I feel they will play better as the season progresses as will the offense. Even if they have a have another clunker I guarantee we will win that game because the offense will be better and the damage won't be as severe as Saturday's game. MA will make some needed personnel changes and the players will be more motivated. To be fair to Andrews he did have a new wrinkle that was effective. He will probably put more in as the season progresses and you will see much better performance as well.
2) Run defense: We held the Canes to a little over 90 yards rushing. That's not bad as I think if they saw a real weakness in our run game they would have exploited more. They passed more than they wanted to because they saw it was going to be a tough time running for them and they adjusted. Whipple chose the path of least resistance which what good OC's do. Our run defense will be tested against such teams as GT, UNC and Clemson. But none of those teams have a credible passing attack. This is why I say this loss is fool's gold because the coordinators aren't stupid enough to just go into the game passing the ball when they know FSU would've made changes in personnel and strategy regarding the pass defense. They are also not going to go into the game passing risking turning over the ball and have short possessions given their QB's are either inexperienced, not great passers or lack the receivers to take advantage of the weaker than normal pass rush of the Noles. They have to protect their defense from the beast that is the Nole offense and give themselves a chance to win the game. I personally think the run defense will be ok but you can't tell from the Miami game. If we stuff BYU's power running game then I think we'll be ok.
3) Special Teams: The special teams are below average and its no way to say it otherwise. BUT, they are not bad enough to cost us games. In the most important area, the kicking game I think we have found the next Bentley. Hopkins has a big leg and most important: CONFIDENCE. This is an area on the whole because of Hopkins will win us games or not hurt us instead of lose us games as previously thought. I'm disappointed in the punting but overall I'm not worried. Remember, Miami has some serious speed and only Clemson can match them with Ford. But he is not as special as Benjamin is by any stretch. This is an area that can be improved somewhat via some coaching this year and mostly recruiting next year.
4) The offense: I said at the early part of this year that Ponder is the key to the whole team and whether the TE will be used. This offense will be so good its scary. Its going to make the defense job so much easier as there isn't one defense that can hold us under thirty on the schedule IF we execute like I know we can (and that's including UF). Once Forston becomes more confident (and he will) they will be unstoppable as Jones really stepped it up and showed we still are a serious running team when we have to be. Ponder is the best player in the ACC. SCARY.
Now here is the question: What remaining teams on this schedule have 1) the speed on defense to stop the offense 2) the speed, skill level, good QB and OC in Whipple's class to beat us (excluding UF)? Because that's exactly what its going to take to beat us this year. The Canes played I think the best they could play under the circumstances but the Noles DIDN'T and they still barely won. The Canes didn't win the game, we lost it as we controlled our own destiny. For us to go 8-4 or 7-5 you're saying that the three best remaining teams (Clemson, UNC and GT respectively) one with no experienced at all QB, one with no WR's and one with a limited passing game will all put up 500 yards on the Noles? I'm sorry, I'm not buying it at all.
Bottom line is we have an unstoppable offense like UF had last year, an ok defense and an overrated schedule. That doesn't equate to 8-4 or 7-5 to me and it shouldn't to you either. But, we'll see who is right and who is wrong.