Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Florida State Seminoles

2009 Record: 7-6 (4-4 in ACC)
2009 Bowl: Gator Bowl (beat West Virginia 33-21)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (First Year as Head Coach)
Non-Conference Schedule: Samford (9/4), at Oklahoma (9/11), BYU (9/18), Florida (11/27)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 30.1 points per game (6th in ACC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 149 (4th in ACC)
Passing Yards/Game: 271 (4th in ACC)
Total Yards/Game: 420 (2nd in ACC) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 30.0 points per game (10th in ACC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 205 (last in ACC, 108th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 229 (11th in ACC)
Total Yards/Game: 434 (last in ACC, 108th in Nation)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.08 per game (6th in ACC)
Penalties: 62 yards per game (12th in ACC)

Returning Starters
Offense: 9
Defense: 6
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Christian Ponder, Sr (227 of 330 for 2718 yds, 14 TD, 7 INT, 302 ypg)
Rushing: RB Jermaine Thomas, Jr (163 carries for 832 yds, 9 TD, 5.1 ypc, 64 ypg)
Receiving: RB Bert Reed, Jr (60 rec, 711 yds, 4.6 rec/game)
Tackles: LBNigel Bradham, Jr (93)
Sacks: LB Mister Alexander, Sr (5)
Interceptions: CB Ochucko Jenije, Sr (4)

ACC Unit Rankings
QB- Phil Steele #1; Athlon Sports #1
RB- Phil Steele #7; Athlon Sports #4
WR/TE- Phil Steele #7; Athlon Sports #3
OL- Phil Steele #1; Athlon Sports #1
DL- Phil Steele #4; Athlon Sports #5
LB- Phil Steele #4; Athlon Sports #6
DB- Phil Steele #6; Athlon Sports #9
ST- Phil Steele #1

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #13
Mark Schlabach: #21
Phil Steele: #20
Scout: #22
Sporting News: #14

2010 Pre-Season ACC Atlantic Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #1
Phil Steele: #1

2010 Bowl Prediction  
Athlon Sports: Chik-Fil-A Bowl (vs. Auburn)
Phil Steele: Sun Bowl (vs. California)

In Bobby Bowden's final season FSU struggled to stop their opponents. In losses they gave up 38 points to Miami (Fla), 49 to Georgia Tech, 40 to Clemson and 37 to Florida. Jimbo Fisher takes over the reigns this year and expectations are high as FSU is a popular pick to take the ACC Atlantic Division. QB Christian Ponder is one of the top QBs in the nation and could quickly turn into a Heisman candidate if FSU can navigate it's difficult out of conference schedule (Oklahoma, BYU, Florida). FSU skips Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the ACC and gets BC, UNC and Clemson at home so they have a good chance to win the ACC Atlantic if their defense can improve from being one of the worst in the nation last year. We turned to's Florida State website and their Senior Writer Richie Barnes answered some questions for us about FSU football.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The biggest strength is the offense as a whole. Florida State is returning all five starters on the offensive line including All-American guard Rodney Hudson. Christian Ponder is arguably the best quarterback in the ACC and after being in Jimbo Fisher's offense for four years, has total command and understanding of Fisher's
philosophy. Florida State's backs and receivers are good, not great but fit extremely well in Fisher's offense which should be top 10 nationally.

The biggest weakness is obviously on the defensive side of the ball. Florida State lacks depth up front and although there is potential on the line, no one returning has really produced during their time at FSU. It will be interesting to see how the defense performs as a whole under new coordinator Mark Stoops.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

September 11 when Florida State travels to Norman to take on Oklahoma. Not only is this FSU's first test, it will be Jimbo Fisher's first test as the new head coach. The Sooners will likely be a top 10-15 team when the 'Noles make the trip out there providing an opportunity to make an early statement to the remaining teams on the schedule.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

North Carolina. Although Oklahoma and Florida could be higher ranked than the Tar Heels, UNC is a critical ACC match up late in the season. UNC boasts a top 10 defense in the nation which could slow down the
Seminoles offense. A loss here would start off a very tough November on a bad note and could be costly in FSU's mission to make their first ACC championship game since 2005.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Wide receiver Jarmon Fortson. Fortson has been the guy who makes a few spectacular catches here and there but drops a lot of easy balls. Fortson is now a junior and from all accounts, has been putting in the
work this offseason. He has all the tools and is poised for a breakout season.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Right guard Rodney Hudson. Ponder is an outstanding player and is probably the most important player on the offense, but Hudson is the best at his position. This will be his fourth consecutive season as a starter and will likely garner several All-American honors.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Based on potential, it can be defensive end Markus White. If Florida State can start getting to the quarterback again, it will start with White. He has been in the system for three years now and has the ability to have an Everette Brown like season.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

Defensive tackles Jacobbi McDaniel and Everett Dawkins. Both are only sophomores but will be forced to play a big role in a revamped defense this season. Everything starts up front on defense and these two will
be key in the success of the unit this season. It's time to grow up quick for these two.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Running back JUCO transfer Debrale Smiley. At 6 foot 240 pounds, Smiley is the bruising, physical back that Jimbo Fisher loves. FSU finally has a reliable back on third and short and goal line situations which is something they desperately lacked last season.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Cornerback Mike Harris (JUCO). FSU needs help now at the position and Harris will be expected to come in and compete for a starting job from day one.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful debut season for Jimbo Fisher?

10-4. I think FSU goes 8-4 in the regular season, wins the ACCCG and the Orange Bowl. They will have one of the best offenses in the nation and even if the defense is only top 50, they will be extremely tough
to beat.

For Fisher, a successful season would simply be getting back to the ACCCG. FSU has taken a four year hiatus from the event which is unheard of for Florida State. If Fisher can get them back there this year, he will lay a solid foundation for his career at Florida State.

Check out's FSU website for all the Seminole information you could possibly digest.

Previous ACC Previews
Boston College Eagles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Maryland Terrapins

Next Up: Arizona State Sun Devils

2010 Previews

Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
Mountain West- Utah Utes
Pac-10- Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies


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