DEFINING THE SEASON
This past season we have seen a team predicted to win the National Championship fall to 10-2, lose to the Gators, and lose a handful of special players (Greg Reid, Brandon Jenkins, "Tank" Carradine, and Chris Thompson) along the way. There have been highs and certainly lows. We've seen this team on the ropes in a hostile environment and manage to come away victorious (See Va. Tech), we have also seen this team lose as double-digit favorites (NC State) and TWICE blow significant leads in the later half of games (NC State and Florida). Most importantly, I believe that we have seen growth.
Growth. That is the one word that I would use to describe this season. Indeed, we had a 5th year quarterback in EJ Manuel at the helm, a top notch defense, and a vastly improved running game yet there was a number of concerns going into the season. It is also important to keep in mind that the seniors on this team were Bowden's last class. There was a significant lack of player-makers and talent for most of the Seniors (oddly enough, except for the ones that managed to get injured or kicked off the team). This was discussed in another fan post and I agree with it. Our player-makers and talent exist in the underclassmen. These underclassmen lack much experience. Throughout the season, these underclassmen stepped up in crucial ways and we saw glimpses of what I believe will be a strong future for Florida State football.
Inconsistency. EJ Manuel performed well. However, there were a number of blips in his decision-making. These errors did not always result in incomplete passes or turnovers. Much of his errors did not appear in the stat-sheet... for example, taking sacks that moved us out of field goal position. EJ showed great leadership and resolve in the final drive of the Va Tech game. Yet, each time he seemed to take a giant leap forward, he would take two steps back (accounting for 4 turnovers against Florida). I do not mean to be critical of EJ in a negative way. I've always liked EJ and believe he has it in him to be a great quarterback but as it stands he has been inconsistent (in his role as a quarterback... spare me the accuracy percentages).
Overall, I believe these two words can sum up this past season. Growth and Inconsistency. The good news? That growth earned this season will remove the inconsistency in the future. Despite the loss of star players Florida State managed to put together a 10-2 season (albeit, against lackluster opponents) and be in a position to finally win the ACC and the Orange Bowl. I believe that this season hinges upon winning the next two games. Otherwise, I believe this team underachieved. It is worth noting, Florida is NOT a better team than Florida State. Turning the ball over an unprecedented 5 times was the reason Florida State lost. Remove the uncharacteristic amount of turnovers and last Saturday's game would have ended differently. Additionally, many of those turnovers were unforced errors (at least the 3 INTs). Another good sign? The fact that Florida State had a much higher ceiling for potential that it didn't quite reach this season and can yet end the season 12-2, ACC Champions, and Orange Bowl Victors. The growth I mentioned will come to serve Florida State well in rebounding after the loss to a hated rival to finish this season strong.