Let’s get this out of the way now before I get started: I am in no way trying to defend or make excuses for the poor results that we’ve seen this year from Florida State. FSU is sitting at 2-3 right now, and a 2-3 team is not a very good one.
With that being said, we can’t give up on this team or this season just yet.
Yes, FSU has been the single most disappointing team in college football this season. With a top-10 preseason ranking and an incredible excitement surrounding the program, the Seminoles have been a huge let down. No one envisioned this team losing three of its first five games. However, in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss to Wake Forest, we might be damning this season to hell a bit early.
FSU’s loss to Wake was embarrassing. It is unacceptable for Jimbo Fisher at this juncture and fans should be highly upset about it. Even still, this is the only bad loss that the ’Noles have endured this season. FSU was an underdog against Oklahoma and competed with the Sooners until the fourth quarter, even without much production from the offense.
Florida State was also an underdog on the road against Clemson, with a redshirt freshman under center making his first career start. FSU had every opportunity to win that game in Death Valley, but I don’t think that anyone is looking at that loss to the now No. 8 Tigers and holding their head in shame. The more alarming part of that loss was the amount of penalties that cost FSU so dearly (a problem that carried over to the loss in Winston Salem).
Although it would have been great to see FSU pull out at least one of those two big games, they were underdogs in both contests and the losses were not upsets by any means. The fact that they competed the way that they did gave reason to believe that they were indeed moving in the right direction.
On the other hand, the loss to Wake was an upset—and a terrible one at that. A big reason for this loss was the fact that (as Bud somewhat prophetically wondered before the game) the Seminoles did not take the Deacons as seriously as they should have. After facing their two biggest games of the season in consecutive weeks, FSU clearly saw Wake Forest as an easy victory and did not devote the focus that they needed to in their preparation— there’s no other reason for coming out as flat as they did following a bye. After facing their two biggest games of the season in consecutive weeks, FSU clearly saw Wake Forest as an easy victory and did not devote the focus that they needed to in their preparation. That is once again unacceptable on Fisher’s part, as it is his responsibility to get his players ready to go no matter who the opponent is each week. His reluctance to play EJ Manuel from the opening whistle was another hindrance.
The loss was bad, but it is not exactly Ron Zook’s Gators losing to Mississippi State in 2004 (the loss that led to Zook’s firing). Fisher has a chance to get the ship righted in the coming weeks against a less than daunting ACC slate, and if the loss to Wake wasn’t the slap in the face that this team needed to wake the hell up, then I don’t know what else could get that point across.
If the Seminoles continue down the path that they’ve been on in recent weeks, then we can hit the panic button and let the Zook-Fisher comparisons roll. But this team—despite its flaws—is talented enough to finish the season respectably while developing some of its young talent in the process.
There are obviously a lot of problems that must be addressed. The offensive line must find a way to play better even without Andrew Datko; the penalties and turnovers must stop; and perhaps most importantly, Fisher must keep his team motivated even though their goal of winning the ACC is now very far-fetched. But there are enough bright spots on the team and enough promise has been shown to believe that this squad—once again led by Manuel—can finish with a 9-3 or 8-4 mark that looks and feels a whole lot better than a six-loss season (see: ’06, ’07, ’09) and just playing to salvage the nation's longest bowl streak.