Monday, July 9, 2012

#9 FSU

Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles have very lofty expectations heading into the 2012 season. Most publications have the Noles finishing in the top five and a few even have the Noles winning it all. Under Fisher, FSU has gone 19-8 with one Atlantic Division title to his credit. The Noles have 17 returning starters on offense and defense and should be primed to make a run in the ACC. If the Seminoles can live up to the hype, Jimbo Fisher may begin to carve his own legend in Tallahassee.

The Florida State offense returns 8 starters on an offense that ranked 77th in Total Offense, 104th in Rushing Offense, and 33rd in Passing Offense. Senior quarterback E.J. Manuel leads an offense that is in need of establishing a running game. Manuel threw for 2,666 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions last year and looks to improve upon those numbers. Devonta Freeman returns as the leading rusher for Florida but will need some help improving on his 579 yards rushing from last year. Freeman ran for 8 touchdowns last year and has the most experience of any running back coming back for FSU. FSU has 3 great receivers returning in Christian Green, Rodney Smith and Rashad Greene. Greene only played in 9 games for FSU last year but led the team with 38 receptions for 596 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith was second on the team in receptions with 36 receptions for 561 yards and 4 touchdowns. Christian Green was a deep threat averaging 17.3 yards per reception but no touchdowns. The offensive line returns 4 out of 5 starters and will break in a new left tackle in Daniel Glauser. Bobby Hart will be the right tackle with Garrett Faircloth at right guard. The center will be Bryan Stork and the left guard will be Jacob Fahrenkrug. These five linemen will need to establish the line of scrimmage and help make the FSU rushing game better than the 104th in the nation. If the Noles can establish a running game to go with their passing game, they will be too much to handle for anyone in the ACC.

The Florida State defense has 9 returning starters on a unit that ranked 4th in Total Defense, 2nd in Rushing Defense,  and 20th in Passing Defense. The defensive line returns all four starters from last year. Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins are at the defensive end positions while Timmy Jernigan and Everett Dawkins will be at the tackles. Jenkins was a great defensive end registering 12 tackles for loss and leading the team with 8 sacks while his counterpart Werner had 11 tackles for loss and 7 sacks as well as one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. Jernigan and Dawkins have combined for 9 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The linebacking position returns 2 of the three starters with Vince Williams at the Mike and Christian Jones at the Will. Nick Moody will start at the Sam after seeing some playing time last year. Williams had 54 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks while Jones had 56 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Moody played in 9 games last year and had 23 tackles. The secondary returns both corners and one safety. Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes will start at the corners while Lamarcus Joyner will start at the strong safety. Karlos Williams will be the newcomer to the group and start at free safety. Joyner led the team with 4 interceptions last year and had 54 tackles. Reid had 32 tackles and 2 interceptions while Rhodes had 1 interception and 43 tackles. Williams played in 12 games last year and registered 8 tackles. This defensive unit will be one of the best in the nation and can still get better from their impressive stats from last year.

FSU's schedule is set up for them to have success. The Noles have their first four games at home starting with two cream puffs in Murray State and Savannah State. The ACC schedule starts with Wake Forest followed by Clemson. If FSU can beat Clemson, they will be in the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division. After the Clemson game a huge trap game at South Florida could derail any national title hopes. A trip to N.C. State follows that and then the Noles are home for Boston College. FSU then heads to Miami to renew that annual rivalry. The homecoming game against Duke leads into a bye for FSU. After the bye, FSU heads to Blacksburg to play a Thursday nighter against Va. Tech. In all likelihood these two teams will meet again in 3 weeks in the ACC Championship Game. The final road game of the season sees FSU heading to Maryland before playing the Gators at home. This schedule is fairly manageable and the only real problems I see on it are the Clemson game, the South Florida game and the Virginia Tech Tech. Clemson will be dangerous because that squad should have everyone back from suspension. South Florida is a dangerous game because FSU will invest so much into beating Clemson that they may overlook the Bulls. Virginia Tech is a hard team to face on a Thursday night nationally televised game. I think FSU will drop one of these games and their non-conference schedule will keep them from having a shot at the BCS Title. If they do manage to go 13-0, they will be in Miami. But I think that they will go 11-1 in the regular season and play Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game for an Orange Bowl berth.

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