Saturday, August 9, 2008

Weatherford, O Line Hold Key To Seminoles Rising

Chief Osceola Hopes FSU Returns to Dominance

ACC Atlantic #3 Florida State Seminoles

2007 Results and Offseason:
The 'Noles had another up and down year in 2007, their third straight with five or more losses. The highlight of the year was upsetting BC in Boston when the Eagles were undefeated and ranked #2. Leading up to their bowl game with Kentucky, FSU suffered multiple academic suspensions that uncovered bigger problems with the academic advisement area of the university. QB Drew Weatherford is hoping for a big season after a full offseason under OC Jimbo Fisher.
2007 Record: 7-6, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 15
Ret. Lettermen: 36
Off PPG: 24.0 (7th), 123.6 (7th), 244.4 (3rd)
Def PPG: 21.6 (6th), 114.1 (7th), 224.6 (6th)

Offense (7 Ret. Starters 16 Ret. Lettermen)
Weatherford improved in his junior season throwing just 3 INT after throwing 29 in his first two years. However, the Senior may have a battle with sophomore Christian Ponder this season. Part-time starter Xavier Lee transferred in the offseason. Despite having many highly talented recruits, the 'Noles have not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn. Antone Smith is back for his last season after 901 yards a year ago. WR Preston Parker may also see time in the backfield as well, though his future is uncertain. The o-line may struggle this year replacing 4 starters from last year. But OL coach Rick Trickett has a good track record coming from W. Virginia a season ago. Parker and Greg Carr are very good WR for Weatherford or Ponder to throw to. Carr is a redzone specialist at 6'6".

Defense (8 Ret. Starters 19 Ret. Lettermen)
FSU used to be D-line U, but this year the unit has to replace three starters. Everette Brown is leading returning sacker and JC transfer Markus White will provide immediate impact. The LB corps should be strong again this year with two starters returning including leader tackler Derek Nicholson. Dekoda Watson also returns after getting 5 TFL a year ago. The secondary is led by junior Myron Rolle. Rolle is the second leading tackler back and will be joined by three other returning starters. Corners Tony Carter and Patrick Robinson combined for 10 picks last season.

Special Teams
Punter Graham Gano returns and could also handle kicking duties for the departed Gary Cismesia. Preston Parker will handle punts and backup CB Michael Ray Garvin kicks.

Newcomers of Note
FSU always pulls in good recruiting classes - recruiting tools like these help. Bobby Bowden tapped more into the JUCO route than in years past to bring in top talent like White, Corey Surrency, and Tavares Pressley.

The 'Noles start off with two patsies before facing their new nemesis Wake Forest. FSU has essentially 8 home games with a game against Colorado being played in Jacksonville. Three of the final four are at home though this is their toughest stretch with Clemson, BC, @Maryland, and Florida.

Final Thoughts
Bobby's time at Tallahassee is limited judging by the contract of Fisher which has to pay him a hefty amount if he is not HC in three years. The key to FSU's success will be linked to the play of the QBs and inexperienced OL. The 'Noles should be a little better than in the last three years, but they are still short of being a top 20 team.

Likely Wins: vW.Carolina, vChattanooga, vColorado
Likely Loss: vFlorida
Swing: vWF, @Miami, @NC St, vVT, @GT, vClemson, vBC, @Mryld
8-4, 5-3

Next Up: ACC Coastal #2

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