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Wake Forest Aftermath: Explosions, Trains, and a Parallel Timeline

It's Sunday. The dust hasn't quite settled and 'Nole fans are left with ringing ears, blury vision, and that nauseous feeling one gets from getting punched in the stomach. Thousand yard stares and the front line is everywhere. No matter what we do, we cannot win this war. Dramatic? Yes. But expectations have a not so subtle way of exponentially increasing the shockwave created by the explosion of a disappointing loss.

First drive and OU is on the march. Held to a field goal. Good job Texas. Slowed OU in the redzone. Only gave up 3 points.

If you are upset about the outcome Saturday, you should be. Two and three. Not even the most pessimistic 'Nole fan would have suggested two and three. Not in August. Not while the the hype machine was running on all cylinders, stroking 'Noles preseason visions of grandeur. Back to 'the now' and there is a new reality for the remainder of the season. FSU will have to fight hard to get to a bowl game. No BCS game. No ACC Championship. Division title? Nope. Finish strong and get to a bowl. Make sure the young talent gets plenty of game reps for next season. It is officially a rebuilding year.

Texas is trying to drive. Texas QB hit so hard he forgets 7th grade and fumbles. OU recovers, just gets a field goal. Man those OU guys are in the backfield quick.

"Bottom line is we gotta coach better. We got to coach better and take responsibility for what we're doing. It starts with me." That's what Jimbo Fisher had to say in the post game interview. Agree Coach. It starts with you, then the rest of the coaching staff, and then the team. Fisher reminded his players in a stirring pregame speech last year, "You make the helmet, the helmet doesn't make you." It was a fantastic message at the time. A clear and simple message to the players that focus, dedication, preparation, and hard work were required to make FSU elite again. Reputation alone gets you nowhere. However, it appears that lesson hasn't only been forgotten by the players, but also the coaching staff. Wake Forest wasn't going to lay down because some great athletes wearing spear adorned helmets showed up at their front door.

2nd Quarter. Beautiful pump fake, Stills wide open, TD. Watch out Texas, don't let this get away from you. Need to respond here. Keep it close. Keep it respectable.

We learned a harsh truth yesterday. The rebuilding of this program may not be quite on schedule. The train is late leaving the station or perhaps, even better, stalled halfway to the destination. The hope was to take last year's impressive 10-4 season and build on it. Perhaps an improved FSU team doesn't reach that same record, but there should be improvements on the field. Improvements such as a defense that can be leaned on in close games, knowing down and distance, players fundamentally sound in their assignments, and let's not forget ball security on offense.

After an OU pic, Jones converts a 3rd and 25. Couple plays later, it's a TD in the corner to Broyles. C'mon Texas, keep it close. You are the #11 team in the country after all.

Program upgrades, whether they be strength training, nutrition, player psychology, or an army of support staff, mean exactly jack if they don't translate into wins. Jimbo Fisher has been given everything he has asked for and the promise of more to install his process. However, there are gears in the mechanism that seem to be broken. Fisher's process is broken. At some point, the process better deliver results. It would be hard to believe that a loss to Wake Forest is anywhere on Jimbo Fisher's organizational flowchart.

After a couple series with OU defenders camped out in the backfield, Texas finally presses too much. A shell-shocked QB throws a hope and a his back foot. Pick 6.

To choose one word out of many  that could sum up the Florida State program right now? Fragile. Granted rebuilding a program is not easy. There will be difficult trials and right now, this coaching staff is facing its first real crisis. After Saturday's loss there are just as many, if not more, questions about this 'Nole team than there were going into the game. A lot of difficult questions will have to be asked by Fisher and his staff this week. Perhaps, behind closed doors, they have already begun to do just that. They may struggle to find the answers, but it is a necessary first step in restoring order.

With less than two and a half minutes left in the half, OU has the ball inside their own 20. Jones and his WRs put on a clinic. Kenny Stills airwalks on OU fan's collective admiration for TD catch.

FSU's next home game should provide some insight into how 'Nole nation is handling all of this. How many will choose not make the trip to Tallahassee? For those that do come, what will the attitude be? Cheers might ring a bit hallow in Doak Campbell Stadium in two weeks. Every mistake will be magnified. Groans of disapproval could turn to showers of boos if things do not go well. Perhaps more credit should be given to 'Nole fans. But confidence has certainly been shaken. At this point, coach speak and talk of process will provide no consolation to weary fans. No, at this point, winning cures all. 

Second half, Texas QB is stripped, kart-wheeled and then body slammed. Ball is picked up for a scoop and score. 1 minute and 25 seconds into the 3rd quarter, this game is officially in garbage time.

The coming weeks set up nicely for the coaching staff to get things corrected. To continue the metaphor; the coaches have got to get the train moving again. The next four weeks should tell us a lot about the state of the Florida State program. How will the coaches deal with their first real turmoil? Will there be finger pointing, or a renewed focus? Will the players, after shouldering the great weight of expectations, collapse? Or, will the players choose once again to 'make the helmet'? Whatever happens, 'Nole fans, no matter how much they love their team or have faith in these coaches, should know that losses to teams like Wake Forest, should not be tolerated. That isn't a slight against Wake Forest. But for a team that has the resources that FSU has, the coaching staff FSU has, these types of losses are unacceptable. The bar is set well above, 'don't worry, we'll get'em next time."

For good measure, Whaley rips off a 64 yard TD run. OU is up on the #11 team in the country 48-10 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Didn't we play this team close? Didn't we make this Juggernaut earn their victory? Both teams were left battered and bruised. However only one has continued on with direction and purpose. Direction and purpose combined with a coaching staff that has put together an excellent product in all phases of the game. The team plays from the starting whistle to the last second. Perhaps there is a parallel timeline. A timeline in which FSU learned from the OU game and is 4-1. Those 'Nole fans, just out of sight and out of reach, can see the bright future being built in Tallahassee.They have absolute confidence in the team and coaches. On the other side of the divide, with blurry eyes the future isn't quite as clear and there is this ringing in my ears....