In the middle of a football season, it's very, very easy to get caught up in the trees.
How come Ponder's stats are down?
Why can we run some games and not others?
How will we stop Russell Wilson?
Nothing wrong with any of those questions.
But, at roughly the midpoint of the season, it might be a good time to consider where the overall Florida State University football program stands. Here are some key points for your consideration:
Recruiting: FSU is currently ranked in the Top 10 of the Rivals, Scouts and ESPN recruiting evaluations. This noteworthy in two respects: 1) The Noles have MAJOR recruits still on the board and in play 2) This was a year when FSU was going to have to recruit "big uglys," who usually have lower "star" ratings. Anything in the Top 10 would be a huge victory and Top 5 would be a grand slam.
The defense: One play in the BC game stood out to me --- the Eagles were running a smash route (or at least a version of it). A replay showed L. Joyner following the outside receiver, but then handing him off and peeling off to cover the slot running a flag route. It was a great indication that they are really starting to understand the zone defensive scheme of M. Stoops.
We have all seen the total defense stats that show marked improvement. I'm still not sure if we're as good as the stats show, but I know this: There is no way ALL or even HALF of the possible improvement can be realized in one half of a season. This defense will keep getting better and better.
Organization: I could be way off on this and someone less lazy can probably produce stats, but it sure seems like we have fewer delay of game penalties than we used to and blow fewer timeouts because we aren't organized. We seem to have the right people on the field more often. Our special teams are organized and effective (how about the kickoff coverage team!) Plus, we all know, though Bud's great reporting, that the strength, conditioning and nutrition programs have been upgraded as well as the personal interactions with players vis a vis academics, etc.
The ACC: I don't know about you, but If all of the Top 10 teams played each other 10 times in an (obviously virtual) round-robin, neutral field tournament, I feel pretty strongly about who would emerge as the best team: Alabama.
The Tide's (and every other SEC team's) path to a national title is so very difficult. Yes, SEC teams have won a number of titles in past years, but I think that is an aberration. And it's also because the ACC did not have a dominant team. All things being equal, a dominant ACC team has a much better chance of making it to a title game than a top SEC team, for the simple reason that there is a much higher chance the ACC team can emerge from its conference slate unscathed.
My point is, if FSU can put together an "SEC program in the ACC" as JF is attempting to do, it should position us perfectly to make national title runs in the years to come.
Bottom line: I still think we lose 1 more game, maybe 2. But even if it's 3 ... this is a program CLEARLY moving in the right direction. I know the BC game was cause for pause, but even if FSU gets to where it wants to be, the days of blowing out every mediocre opponent are probably gone -- too much parity.
This program is obtaining the players, is implementing the schemes, is establishing an organization and has a place in the college football landscape that should translate to success for years to come.