OK folks, time for round 2 of the ACC roundtable. Today's questions are brought to us by College Game Balls, an excellent if overly maroon-and-orange footballin' blog. Here goes' nothing.
1. *Ding Dong* The pizza man is here, did your team deliver what you expected in their opener, why or why not?
Yes and no. We preached for the entire off-season that FSU's offense would improve a lot, after being the tops in the ACC in 2008 and despite losing most of their receivers. Florida State now has a quarterback, and considering the opponent, Christian Ponder played arguably the best game an FSU quarterback has played in the latter half of this decade. The offensive line was excellent in pass protection, allowing a sack only 5% of pass plays (41 passes, 2 sacks, so 43 pass plays). We told everyone Ponder would be better, and that his 2008 problems were almost entirely based on the lack of pass protection provided by the youngest offensive line in the nation, but I don't think any of us expected Post a 130+ QB rating against Miami, particularly not when you consider his impressive statline includes at least 5 drops. 20+ first downs and 400 yards of offense ought to get it done, but it wasn't enough.
It wasn't enough because the defense that we had warned everyone about, the unit we said had been slipping under legendary but out-of-touch defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, was even worse than we expected. And that's surprising because Tomahawk Nation was the only site telling people that the defense could be at best, slightly above average, when most people were saying it should be good to very good, and only had a few youth issues. The problems for the defense, unfortunately, run deep and can't be fixed quickly. Dumb and lazy recruiting, particularly in 2006 and 2007, by the previous coaching staff (some of which is still around), a silly reliance on seniority over skill (brought on by Bobby Bowden and acquiesced to by Mickey Andrews), and ridiculously bad coaching hires on the defensive side of the ball (Jody Allen, Chuck Amato), have left this defense with a very limited ceiling. They have the chance to be FSU's worst defense in nearly 30 years. There is no reason to expect significant improvement from this group, even if personnel changes are made. The current defensive coaches definitely don't inspire confidence in anyone, and privately, players have confided to friends and family that they often don't know what to do. When you combine older players who lack talent and still don't understand the scheme, with very talented but raw freshmen, and coaches who are way past their prime or who never had a prime (Jody Allen), positive results should not be expected.
So yes, more than anyone in the Seminole media, we nailed it, and we led the charge for 5 long months, we just didn't go far enough. Give the Sentinel's Andrew Carter and 1270theTeam.com's Jeff Cameron credit for saying the defense could fall far below expectations as well though. The National Media totally whiffed on this, however, by falling back on the "it's a Mickey Andrews' defense, they will be fine" line.
2. The ACC was downright pathetic in week one. Which display of ineptitude shocked you the most? Going forward is there hope for the conference?
Virginia. Duke was actually expected to lose to Richmond, seeing that they lost over 40% of their lettermen from last season, Richmond is the I-AA Champion, with a lot of talent, and a great coaching staff, and Duke was only favored by a single point. But Virginia had one of the worst efforts I have ever seen in a college football game. Losing to William and Mary should be a fireable offense. I realize some of their game was poor fumble luck, but that is a black eye on the conference from which they might not soon recover.
3. After the show they put on Monday night, Atlantic writers is FSU the team to beat and what about Miami Coastalites?
I said that it was FSU and Clemson, then NC State, then Wake, then a group of Maryland and Boston College. Maryland is awful and an Atlantic Division team which gets to count them as one of their ACC road games should count their blessings. Wake's defense took a big step back and their offense has been on the decline for several years. I can't comment on BC yet, but nothing so far has me convinced they are a bowl team. NC State still has a shot because they have the favorable schedule, but is Russel Wilson hurt? In my mind, this is still a Clemson-FSU battle, and right now, Clemson has the edge because FSU is now 0-1 in conference, and must travel to Clemson, whom I feel has a top 5 defense in the nation. They must get their offense together, and if they lose to Georgia Tech tomorrow night in Atlanta, I feel that Clemson would have just a slight edge. Remember too that Clemson gets to play Virginia, while FSU must play at North Carolina on a Thursday night. Scheduling matters, and it's the only reason I like VTech in the Coastal over the other 3 teams which I believe are just as good as the Hokies. In a conference without many great quarterbacks, FSU and Miami look to have big advantages. How many ACC teams can consistently score the ball against a quality opponent?
4. You've been granted one curse, other than your opponent pick one team you would like to see lose in week 2.
Clemson. See above. If the Tigers win tomorrow night in Atlanta against Georgia Tech, they will have a huge lead for the Atlantic Division. Go Georgia Tech!