So we have all documented that Florida State will have a very difficult road this year. there are several reasons to why most people "in the know" (aka everyone at TN) believe that FSU has the potential to struggle this year despite a very good offseason both recruiting and healing-wise. In this post I am going to go through several reasons that FSU fans must be skeptical, but then several reasons as to why Florida State has the potential to offset these shortcomings.
A.) For starters, it looks like we will play half of our games this year against opponents that either started the season in the top 25 or will be in the top 25 the week we play them. I am counting BYU because I see them sneaking in week 3 before we play them as they will be right on the cusp from the preseason. Last year it was also half the schedule, which leads us into our next reason. . .
I'm sure we are all sadly familiar with this graphic. Teams with difficult SOS rarely can pull out what a fan would view a successful season. Last year was no different as FSU could only muster a 5-6 record against Div-I competition.
D.) Brand New Defense
While we can all agree that last year's defense was suicide-inducing, lets all be clear: This year's defense will will not be elite, it will not be great, and it might not even be good. But last year it was nearly the worst defense in the nation and easily the worst defense in FSU and, quite possibly, ACC history. believe we will never know how crippled our athletes were the last few years, but all we can do is move forward. It seems that Stoops has the scheme, the work ethic, the smarts, the assistants, and now the players to excel, but to expect a team who didn't even have playbooks last year to magically achieve mediocrity might very well be expecting too much.
After the jump, we'll take a quick glance at last years gladiator schedule and compare with this year's.
|September 7||Miami (FL)||L 38-34|
|September 12||Jacksonville State||W 19-9|
|September 19||at No. 7 Brigham Young||W 54-28|
|September 26||South Florida||L 17-7|
|October 3||at Boston College||L 28-21|
|October 10||No. 22 Georgia Tech||L 49-44|
|October 22||at North Carolina||W 30-27|
|October 31||North Carolina State||W 45-42|
|November 7||at Clemson||L 40-24|
|November 14||at Wake Forest||W 41-28|
|November 21||Maryland||W 29-26|
|November 28||at No. 1 Florida||L 37-10|
The most glaring attribute of last years schedule is that FSU never got a break. Starting the season off against Miami, then playing four straight games of BYU, South Florida, Boston College, and finally Georgia Tech, where we went on a stretch of 3 straight losses. Florida State was 1-4 against Div-I opponents, 0-3 in the ACC, and in no uncertain terms, sh*t their pants. As did every one of us. After a train wreck in the first half against UNC, Christian Ponder again broke his own records against UNC's #1 ranked defense in the nation at the time, and FSU stole a season saving win from an overly cautious Butch Davis.
The other most dominant feature of the 2009 season is the fact that FSU played 5 of their 7 toughest scheduled games on the road. This cannot be overstated, as road games are very difficult, namely for teams that lack discipline and coaching, which Florida State lacked both, especially on Defense.
So now lets look at 2010's schedule, which we all agree is also brutal and will be very tough. But are their holes in this schedule that we can capitalize on? Is there any way we can get out of this with an 8-4, 9-3, even 10-2 record or better? Let's find out.
|September 11||at Oklahoma||TBA|
|September 18||Brigham Young||TBA|
|September 25||Wake Forest||TBA|
|October 2||at Virginia||TBA|
|October 9||at Miami (FL)||TBA|
|October 16||Boston College||TBA|
|October 28||at North Carolina State||7:30 PM ET|
|November 6||North Carolina||TBA|
|November 20||at Maryland||TBA|
Lets start with Samford. This is a clear upgrade over Miami as a first game. We can work out kinks on defense and polish the offense. Easy win, as it should be.@ Oklahoma:
Playing them in the second week of the season will be difficult. Our Defense will still be relatively unknown, but we can be confident that Stoops will not throw the kitchen sink at Samford, so Oklahoma will not necessarily know what to expect either. We also know Our offense will HAVE to score to win. This will most likely be a shootout on national television. I expect a great game and feel if we are only down 10 points or less in the fourth quarter, then we have a chance to pull it out.BYU:
BYU has been severely disabled this offseason, losing not only Max Hall, but their TE's and all their decent horses. They will have a new quarterback who is very green and trying to fill some big shoes. Their defense is still average at best and Jimbo and Ponder will exploit them just like last year, only at home this time. This will be an exciting game for Nole fans as BYU will be undefeated and I see the networks playing this game up as BYU's redemption game for last year's beating.Wake Forest:
Wake will also be down from last year, losing their 4-year starter all-everything QB Riley Skinner AND his backup (also graduated). Rumor is they will have to change to a new offensive scheme (pro-style?) to compensate for their losses and weaknesses. Wake seems to be slowly declining back to where FSU fans think they should be.@ Virginia
While Florida State does not need to look ahead, it will be difficult not to against a team that lost to William & Mary at home last year. Virginia is just a terrible team and FSU should handle them easily. I normally don't like the idea of playing a team as a "warmup", but Virginia is just that kind of team. And yes, I read the previous post comments who thinks if their is a trap game this year it is against Virginia. I don't give Virginia that much credit, they are lightyears away from being South Florida and we will not be coming off an amazing win with Wake Forest.@ Miami
Now we come to FSU's first ACC test of the year. They are not playing on Labor Day, and FSU will have been able to dominate some teams in BYU, Wake, and Virginia leading up to this game, meaning we will be fresh. This will be very important as Miami plays @ Ohio State, @Pittsburgh, and @ Clemson before we come to town. This gives Florida State a HUGE advantage as we have played cupcakes and have had time to focus and prepare while they will be in all out wars against very good competition. Likely, they will come in battered, bruised, and tired while we are fresh and focused. I don't care if it is a rivalry game, a player's body can only get up so much, and Miami will not be 100% and will not have the luxury of looking forward to us. Last year they had the entire off-season to focus on us.Boston College
This will also be a tough game, but it will be at home. Hopefully, Florida State will be coming off of a win against Miami and will be 5-1 and in the top 15. The stadium will be rocking louder than anything we saw last year, and we can be sure that Jimbo will tell these players that if they want to win the ACC, they have to win here, because Boston College has the easiest schedule in the conference and if they beat FSU they are a virtual lock. The coaches will know what is on the line and the players will know its importance. Also, there is a 12 day layoff after this game, so no opponent to look ahead to. The players and coaches can be focused on the task and hopefully they can keep their heads in the game.@ NC State
This game is on a Thursday night after a 12 day layoff. FSU is the better team and will be better coached. They will be able to rest leading up to this game, but after this game is another 9-day layoff. Once again, Florida State is in a position to stay focused on the task at hand and any bruises and breaks will have more time to heal and the Defense will have more time to learn.North Carolina
This will be very competitive, but once again it will be at home. FSU will have only played ONE game in the last 21 days, but North Carolina will be coming off a beating of William & Mary the prior week. Both teams will be rested and it will be strength against strength and potentially the nations #1 Offense against the nations #1 Defense. What a game it will be, but once again, the dark horse is that Florida State will be playing at home.Clemson
A week after playing North Carolina in what could be an epic match-up, FSU has another ACC contender. But once again, all together now, at home. I have talked with many Clemson fans and all have said they are no longer rooting for QB Kyle Parker in baseball. The kid has been freaking unbelievable this year on the diamond, and rumors are swirling of him as a first round pick. And you don't give up first round money to potentially get hurt in football. Most fans believe if he goes in the first three rounds then he is out the door, along with their ACC Title hopes. They do have a promising RS Freshman in Tahj Boyd, but he is still very raw and will not be ready this year. This could play in FSU's favor, but I see the test as being can our defense hold against a RB who many last year believed was better than CJ Spiller? I'm talking about Andre Ellington. Clemson's defense will also be stout, this game will be huge for the ACC Atlantic battle@ Maryland
This is the perfect place for this game. Maryland will be near the bottom of the ACC and have been trending downward for years. This game should not be difficult, and should lead us into what will be the game everyone wants to see. . .Florida
I know you know what I am going to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. This game is at home. Here is where FSU will see how far behind we are. Florida will be very good. They have had lights out recruiting, and have received very good coaching, no matter what happens during the year. They may not be as good as they were last year, but Brantley is a passer who has serious talent. If Florida State wants to win they will have to score points in bunches. This game is important, but remember we can lose this game and still be in the ACC Title game and attend a BCS game, which is why Jimbo feels having the game earlier in the year would be better. This game is not all or nothing, but it is a game that many would like to have. Christian Ponder could seal his name on the Heisman in this game, but don't count on it. Florida is very good and we should not expect a win here.
So, we have gone through each game and detailed that this year's schedule, while difficult, is riddled with positive forces that were not allotted to us last year. While in 2009 we played 5 of our 7 toughest games on the road, this year we play 5 of the 7, yes, AT HOME. There are also key times in the year where we get a few extra days off leading up to a big game, and multiple times where some big games come the week after we play some truly terrible teams.
So what do you think? Is this something that FSU can take advantage of? Is there a game that you see as hurting FSU's chances because of where it is scheduled? Or do you see this as a reason to go 10-2 and beat Florida, as Bruce Feldman and Mark Schlabach believe?
And while this post is not meant to get you to believe we should expect a 10-2 season, on the contrary, it just shows that FSU can potentially exploit these opportunities. And if anyone can do it, it's Jimbo Fisher.