Wow! What a conclusion to to 2011 football season for FSU! It has been a very exciting year filled with all sorts of emotions, thoughts, and concerns. Things didn't go quite the way everyone predicted and wanted but all in all it was a pretty good year. We didn't win national championship, conference, or division for that matter but we did beat our in-state rivals and we won our bowl game.
With plenty of young starters and contributors coming back for 2012 I'm pretty sure we are going to be hearing a lot of the same rumblings that we heard in the preseason for 2011.
If I remember correctly in 2011 we were being pegged as the darkhorse for the title game. We came into the season hot off a #1 recruiting class and we had a lot of starters coming back. The media had as ranked in the top 10 but unforunately the injury bug hit us hard and early. However, the media and even fans (including myself) were unaware of just how bad the injury bug had taken it's toll.
Our offensive line, which is arguably the most important positions in football were being decimated by injuries. I think the reason why we never heard about the injuries was because at first it was our bench players who were going down. We lost practically every guy that had been logging in hours as backups in previous seasons to protect our starters if the were to go down. Well our starters went down harder and faster than Lindsay Lohan. Datko and Spurlock were lost almost immediately and in came some fresh meat. The injuries surpassed what we were able to handle, poor development and recruiting had a lot to do with four freshmen starting against Notre Dame. The first half of that game made me cringe and fear 2012 worse than the Mayans, but their performance in the second half left room for optimism as I soon noticed that this group might just be able to hack it through 2012.
One guy who I was impressed with was center Austin Barron, for a guy who was a 2 star out of high school he really came on this season. He needs to hit the weights hard but he plays with a lot of tenacity and with some extra strength he could be a great contributor for this offensive line. Bobby Hart struggled a lot yesterday with stunts and twists at the line and he just needs to get a better understanding for picking up the blitz and improve his upper body strength. They all have a LOT of work to do and don't expect them to dominate in 2012 but if this current group is around in 2013 watch out! Our backfield is going to absoluetly fall in love with these guys. With EJ coming back and practically all skill position players back as well this offense will go as far as the offensive line will take them.
The defense is a different story, domination will be the name of the game in 2012. If you thought our defense was sick nasty this year then next year is going to be amazing for you my friend. If Brandon Jenkins stays this defense will not drop a single beat from the first snap in 2012. Even if he declares for the NFL we are bringing in 3 of the top defensive ends in high school so there will be plenty of young blood to step up and show off their talent. Lamarcus Joyner might be the best player under 5'10" in the college game regardless of position, he really played lights out this season and that hit on Michael Flloyd probably won us that game. This defense will be loaded at all three levels the biggest question for the defense will probably be how good can Karlos Williams be?
Espn reported during last night's game that we will be returning 17 of 22 starters for next year. Considering the fact that we are about to bring in 3 top 10 recruiting classesin a row, and with having17 of 22 starters return, FSU should be ranked pretty high. At the end of the day though this team will go as far the offensive line will take them.