Like many of you, today I made a mental note that the 2009 season is officially over. Actually, what i thought was -- my next weekly Seminole weather report will be sometime in late August or early September.
So then I started thinking about things to look forward to -- NSD, spring practice and then summer camp.
Then I started thinking about how positive the future is for FSU. The atmosphere at the Gator Bowl was so positive and there is such brimming confidence that Florida State is "back."
We know all the reasons why there is such a good vibe for the program -- a bright new staff, some big recruiting wins, etc.
So I thought all of these things and was feeling pretty good. Then I spent a few mintues at lunch looking at the depth chart -- mainly on defense. And finally, I looked at one more thing -- our schedule.
And I came to this conclusion: There are going to be some very disappointed FSU fans next season and possibly the season after.
First, the depth chart.
I didn't really spend much time on offense -- we're fine at QB -- I feel good about RB. Our O-line is sick (although I do worry a bit about 2012). We definitely lose some top WR's but Reed/Fortson/Easterling make a good nucleus there.
It's the defense that is so worrisome.
I get real concerned about expectations when I read fans already penciling true freshman into starting roles. For every Marvin Jones there are 100 other 4 and 5 stars who do not make a significant contribution as freshman.
So, if we look at, say, the secondary, we see HUGE question marks -- Jenije is the only senior; Dionte Allen the only junior. Neither have proven themselves to be anything other than huge question marks. While Greg Reid has shown himself to be a lethal kick returner, his ability to play everydown cornerback is still in question. The truth is, we need him to be Joe Hayden more than Brandon James, to use a UF analogy.
Now, M. Harris brings more experience than the typical recruit, but our cornerbacks are a group where the experienced players are unproven and the rest are inexperienced.
At safety, we will have no seniors OR juniors. I'm sure Matt Elam will make a fine college safety, but the chances he is the starter on opening day are slim.
Now, I know what you are already typing -- with top-notch coaching from a secondary expert like Mike Stoops, this unit will be much improved and will learn faster. That's probably true, but the main point I'm making is that Stoops -- with the departure of the Robinsons from the secondary-- will have much LESS to work with than our current staff had this year.
On the DL, the story is similar. Markus white is our only returning senior -- I don't know about you, but for me he was the most frustrating player on our team this year. I think his ability to start is in serious doubt. The rest of the DT/DE depth chart is a hodgepodge of players with potential but huge question marks. And while our recruiting has been excellent in many areas, DL's are still a big need.. I think we will have big issues in the trenches on defense next year.
LB is less concerning with the Nigels back along with Smith and Williams and a strong recruiting class for backups.
My point is -- yes, we had coaching problems on defense. But we ALSO had talent problems. One good defense-heavy recruiting class isn't going to solve those problems overnight.
Especially when you look at our schedule.
Non-conference: at Oklahoma, BYU, Florida, Samford.
Conference: We do trade Virginia for GT which is a gain and also don't play Duke and VT, so it could be worse.
As a point of comparison, Alabama's non conference schedule in 2010 is: Georgia State, Duke, San Jose State and one legit opponent -- Penn State. Florida's 2010 -- App. St, Miami (Ohio), USF, FSU. Texas in 2010 -- Rice, Wyoming, UCLA, Florida Atlantic.
I know FSUncensored has written about this a number of times, but we are simply not scheduled to have the type of won-loss success that our fans are used to and certainly not scheduled to win a national championship.
It doesn't get much better in 2011 -- we lose BYU, but pick up Air Force. The fourth spot is open and should be a cupcake.
So, we could be a MUCH improved team next year and still lose four or five games (a darned good team could lose to OU, UF, UM and Clemson and win the rest). Based on the talk I've seen, though, 8-4 would be viewed as a disappointment. Then in 2011, we could be even better and still lose 2-4 games.
Could our we beat these expectations and do something magical? Of course, but if that's the expectation rather than the hope ....
Certainly not trying to be a Debbie Downer but I decided today on the first work day of the new year that I would not allow the glow of the great week last week turned out to be blind me to the huge issues still facing our program. Remember, the first year of the Bowden years WAS a losing season. We certainly didn't fall as far in the 2000s as we did in the early 70s, but my point is -- give it some time.