Richie Barnes: 2009 Florida State Campus Correspondent Back from Greensboro July 28, 2009 Just got back from Greensboro, NC and the Grandover Resort. Had a great time with all of the ACC media, coaches, players and staff. Itâ€™s going to be a great season and a long journey to Tampa Bay!
My Preseason ACC Ballot July 28, 2009 Atlantic: 1. Florida State 2. Clemson 3. Wake Forest 4. N.C. State 5. Maryland 6. Boston College Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech 2. Georgia Tech 3. North Carolina 4. Miami 5. Virginia 6. Duke ACC Champion: Florida State defeats Virginia Tech in ACC Championship Game! Preseason ACC Player of the Year: Jonathan Dwyer
Listen to me live on 104.9 The Score Friday afternoon at 1:15! July 29, 2009 104.9 The Score is one of the better sports talk radio stations in South Carolina and they are the flagship station for Clemson sports. I met one of the hosts at the ACC Kickoff and he has invited me to join them Friday afternoon at 1:15. I will be on with Roy Phillpott (CUTigers.com), Adrian Branch and Kevin Lewis (former Duke LB from Orlando that played six seasons with the NY Giants). Mark Stirgus is the producer who I met at the Kickoff and will be on with us as well.
campus coRrespondent 1
We will be talking about FSU, the ACC and college football in general. You can stream live from this link to listen at 1:15 pm.
Southern Hospitality August 2, 2009 The annual ACC Football Kickoff is a great opportunity for members of the media to mingle and get to know the players and coaches of the conference in a more relaxed and laid back setting. During my time in Greensboro, the best chance I had for this came the Sunday night following player interviews. After dinner, my fellow ACC blog interns and I were invited down to the players hospitality room where they were holding a NCAA Football 10 tournament. It gave us a chance to see how the student-athletes act without a bunch of microphones in their faces as they are being asked the same question 100 times a day. Christian Ponder and Dekoda Watson of Florida State were up first to challenge Jason Fox and Randy Phillips of Miami. The ‘Canes got out to a quick start and never looked back as they defeated the Tribe 34-7. The score isn’t what’s important here, but rather how members of two rival schools can have such a great time with each other while having a little friendly competition. Get it all out now guys, because I have a feeling that it won’t be so friendly on Labor Day. Also taking part in the tournament was Thaddeus Lewis of Duke, Greg Boone of Virginia Tech, C.J. Spiller of Clemson and Morgan Burnett of Georgia Tech. All of these guys had a great time playing each other and just getting a chance to hang out with the guys that they dream about putting on their backs on Saturdays. During the tournament, the interns took a seat at one of the tables and had a special guest as C.J. Spiller came over and hung out with us for a little. He is a great guy and a lot different than I would have ever though from just watching him run all over my Florida State defenses. Towards the end of the night, Blair (Virginia’s blogger), Chip (Virginia Tech’s blogger) and I were lucky enough to take our skills to the foosball table and play with Christian Ponder and Dekoda Watson. We switched up the teams a bit and had a great time with these guys. Both have great personalitiles and are just like any other college student (besides the whole playing football in front of 83,000 people every week thing). All in all, it was a great time meeting and just getting to hang out with the players, not as members of the media, but as ourselves. All 24 of the players at the ACC Football Kickoff were great guys and a blast to hang out with. Good luck to them all this season (with a little more luck wished to Christian and Dekoda).
12 Days of ACC Football!!! August 2, 2009 Starting tomorrow, August 3, the ACC’s website will start their series, ‘12 Days of ACC Football’. The series will preview a different ACC football team each day for 12 straight days starting with the Eagles of Boston College. The previews will be written by each of the ACC blog interns and my blog featuring THE Florida State Seminoles will run on August 5th.
campus coRrespondent 2
Also, each blogger will provide a schedule prediction for each teams so make sure to check out theACC.com over the next two weeks!
12 Days of ACC Football: Boston College August 3, 2009 Boston College Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Northeastern - W Sep. 12 vs Kent State - W Sep. 19 at Clemson -L Sep. 26 vs Wake Forest - L Oct. 03 vs Florida State - L Oct. 10 at Virginia Tech - L Oct. 17 vs NC State - L Oct. 24 vs at Notre Dame - L Oct. 31 vs Central Michigan - W Nov. 14 at Virginia - W Nov. 21 vs North Carolina - W Nov. 28 at Maryland â€“ L Final record of 5-7 (2-6 ACC) Bottom line: Boston College just has too many question marks on both sides of the ball. BC breaks in a new head coach in Frank Spaziani after firing one of the best head coaches in the conference following last season. In addition to the loss of head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, the Eagles lose several keys players, most notable their defensive tackle tandem of Ron Brace and B.J. Raji. The Eagles also lose their starting quarterback from last season, Chris Crane. They do return four of five starters on their offensive line, but which skill players will consistently produce for them? I look for this to be a long season for the Eagles in which they take last place in the Atlantic division of the conference. They will be competitive in every game, but just wonâ€™t have what it takes to win most of them.
12 Days of ACC Football: Clemson August 4, 2009 Clemson Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Middle Tennessee - W Sep. 10 at Georgia Tech - L Sep. 19 vs Boston College - W
campus coRrespondent 3
Sep. 26 vs TCU - W Oct. 03 at Maryland - W Oct. 17 vs Wake Forest - W Oct. 24 at Miami - L Oct. 31 vs Coastal Carolina - W Nov. 07 vs Florida State - W Nov. 14 at NC State - L Nov. 21 vs Virginia - W Nov. 28 at South Carolina – W Final record of 9-3 (5-3 ACC) Bottom line: Clemson has no shortage of athletes on either side of the ball. I personally voted for four Tigers (running back C.J. Spiller, wide receiver Jacoby Ford, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and cornerback Chris Chancellor) to the ACC Preseason Football Team. The only problem is, they have had plenty of athletes over recent years, but collectively as a team have failed to live up to the billing. Just last season, the Tigers were a preseason top 10 team and finished with a disappointing record of 7-6 which included a loss in their bowl game. This year, I think Clemson will be improved and have a better season than some expect. I see the Tigers beating rivals Florida State and South Carolina, but dropping other close conference games along the way causing them to finish second in the Atlantic division behind FSU.
12 Days of ACC Football: THE Florida State University August 5, 2009 2009 Florida State Football Preview: Excitement is back in Tallahassee as the Seminoles are coming off of their first nine win season since the Chris Rix era in 2004. Last season, Florida State was just one conference win away from playing in the ACC Championship game for the first time since 2005. A program with a storied history is hoping that 2009 is the year that they can jump back onto the national radar. Was last year’s 42-13 thrashing of Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl a sign of things to come for FSU, or are they still fighting to find a new identity? The 2009 season will tell all as the Tribe turns their “Road to Tampa Bay” into a Warpath. On offense, everything starts up front for FSU. The Seminoles are returning all five starters on the offensive line which many believe will be the best in the ACC. The front five are led by preseason All-American Rodney Hudson who will be a third year starter playing left guard. To his right is Ryan McMahon playing center, who is a former freshman All-American. To Hudson’s left is another former freshman All-American in left tackle, Andrew Datko. Expected to fill out the right side will be junior Brandon Davis and sophomore Zebire Sanders. As Florida State’s strength is expected to be a monster rushing attack, the biggest beneficiaries of Rick Trickett’s offensive line will be the running backs. Sophomore Jermaine Thomas is primed to have one of the best seasons at running back in recent FSU history. As a true freshman, Thomas averaged a stunning seven yards every time he carried the ball. He had his coming out
campus coRrespondent 4
party against Georgia Tech as he toted the ball nine times for 130 yards. The only thing stopping Thomas from being the Tribe’s first 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996 is the depth he has behind him. Sophomore Ty Jones is a speedy bruiser and will see his fair share of carries. The forgotten man at running back is junior Tavares Pressley, a former top JUCO running back form California who tore his ACL is fall camp last year. If he comes back 100 percent healthy, he will add a third dimension to the backfield that will keep opposing defenses from sleeping at night before they play the ’Noles. Quarterback Christian Ponder will be a second year starter and naturally for any experienced quarterback at Florida State, expectations for him are set very high this season. Last season, Ponder started all 13 games for FSU and showed ability to both throw and run the football. Ponder will need to improve his downfield passing and learn to slide when running the ball in order to advance his personal skill-set. Heading into fall camp, if Ponder can take the proverbial ‘next step’, this offense has a chance to be scary good. Ponder did lose his top two receivers in Preston Parker and Greg Carr, but has enough talent around him for the Seminoles to move the ball through the air. Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling both had stellar freshman campaigns combining for over 600 yards and four touchdowns. Reed is extremely dangerous in the open field and Easterling has proven clutch as he made several big third down catches last season. Rounding out the group of receivers who will see the most plays this season are seniors Richard Goodman and Rod Owens. Also look for walk-on Louis Givens, who should be on scholarship by the time the season starts, to have a big year as he is most dangerous running screens and reverses for the Tribe. A secret weapon on offense this season could be the tight end, which traditionally has not been used much in recent Florida State offenses. A more experienced offensive line will allow for more tight end releases and gives Ponder another target. Caz Piurowski will be a senior and many feel he will have a big year at the position. FSU also has two sophomores in Beau Reliford and Ja’Barris Little who could surprise and produce this season. On defense, look for senior linebacker and preseason All-ACC member Dekoda Watson to be the emotional leader of the group. The South Carolina native sat out this spring due to injury, but insists he will be 100 percent for fall camp. Helping him out as the Seminole’s second line of defense will be junior Kendall Smith and sophomore Nigel Bradham. The group looks to be the strength of Mickey Andrew’s always stout defense and should create havoc on opposing offenses. Up front, Florida State will look for junior Markus White to have a huge season at defensive end. Just two years ago in Junior College, White tallied 23.5 sacks. Last season, White was broken into big time college football and will need to produce like most think he will in order to fill the void left by NFL draftee Everette Brown. Opposite of White at defensive end will be senior Kevin McNeil who will need to have a big year in order to make it to the next level. In the middle of the line, Florida State will likely start seniors Justin Mincey and Kendrick Stewart unless Budd Thacker recovers fully from his spring injuries that kept him sidelined. If they cannot get the job done, several underclassmen are right behind them and could start producing as early as this season. Sophomores Everett Dawkins and Moses McCray are physically ready to compete and could take the starting job at any point this season. Also, freshman Jacobbi McDaniel will add depth and contribute early.
campus coRrespondent 5
At cornerback, Patrick Robinson was snubbed preseason All-ACC honors, but is expected to be healthy and should have a monster senior season. As a sophomore, Robinson snagged six interceptions but had a quiet junior year due to missing a few games from injuries and other conditions. Opposite of him, Ochuko Jenije is expected to start, but must elevate his game or else freshman Greg Reid could come in and take his job sometime this season. With the loss of Myron Rolle, Korey Mangum moves from cornerback to rover and will try and fill in at the position. Mangum had a disappointing spring and must also take his game up a notch as underclassmen Terrance Parks is right behind him pushing for the job. Jamie Robinson returns at free safety and is primed for a big year. He had two picks in Florida State’s annual Garnet and Gold Game and will finally be completely familiar with the position heading into the 2009 campaign as he too was converted from cornerback last season. On special teams, the Seminoles lose last year’s Lou Groza winner and most valuable player at kicker in Graham Gano. He will be replaced by true freshman Dustin Hopkins at kickoffs and field goals. Hopkins was regarded by most as the nations best kicker at the high school level last year. In the return game, look for sophomore Bert Reed, who handled most of he duties last season to use his speed providing the Seminoles with valuable field possession. On kickoffs, he could possibly be joined by feshman Greg Reid, who was extremely dangerous in the return game in high school. 2009 Prediction: Florida State was picked to win the Atlantic division at the annual ACC Football Kickoff and anything less would be a disappointing season. Seminole Nation is tired of waiting and expects the future to be now! This season, the Tribe plays host to Miami (September 7) and Georgia Tech (October 10), two tough games that Florida State will win. But they have to hit the road for two difficult games versus North Carolina (October 22) and Clemson (November 7), both games that they will likely lose. Other conference games for the Tribe include at Boston College (October 3), N.C. State (October 31), at Wake Forest (November 14) and against Maryland (November 21), all games that the ’Noles should be favored in and win. Out of conference, Florida State hosts Jacksonville State (September 12), heads out west to Utah to play BYU (September 19) and hosts USF (September 26). I see Florida State winning each of those games with BYU being the toughest. The Tribe finishes the season against archrival Florida, who many are picking to win the national championship. Florida State will be improved but not enough to knock off the Gators on Tim Tebow’s senior day. That will give FSU a final record of 9-3 (6-2 ACC) and they will win the Atlantic division title giving them the right to head to Tampa to play the winner of the Coastal division which I believe will be Virginia Tech. FSU will knock them off in an upset before heading to the Orange Bowl and winning their first BCS Bowl game since 1999 when the Tribe defeated Virginia Tech for the national championship.
campus coRrespondent 6
12 Days of ACC Football: Maryland August 6, 2009 Maryland Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 at California - L Sep. 12 vs James Madison - W Sep. 19 vs Middle Tennessee - W Sep. 26 vs Rutgers - W Oct. 03 vs Clemson - L Oct. 10 at Wake Forest - L Oct. 17 vs Virginia - W Oct. 24 at Duke - L Nov. 07 at NC State - L Nov. 14 vs Virginia Tech - L Nov. 21 at Florida State - L Nov. 28 vs Boston College – W Final record of 5-7 (2-6 ACC) Bottom line: Maryland is a very young team who lost seven starts on a defense that wasn’t exactly great to begin with. They have a great linebacker in Alex Wujciak who recorded 133 tackles last season, but he can’t make the stop every play. New defensive coordinator Don Brown is big on blitzing and with a young and undisciplined defense, could be giving up a lot of big plays this season. Offensively, senior quarterback Chris Turner needs to be more consistent. It won’t help him that he lost his best receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Terps’ Nation has high hopes for Torrey Smith to step up in his place and make big plays. Running back Da’Rel Scott had a stellar season last year and will have to carry the offense on his back. The problem is that Maryland is weak up front on both sides of the ball and still very young with raw talent. This is a team that could have a bright future, but 2009 is not their year. I have them finishing 5th in the ACC Atlantic.
12 Days of ACC Football: N.C. State August 7, 2009 North Carolina State Schedule Prediction: Sep. 03 vs South Carolina - W Sep. 12 vs Murray State - W Sep. 19 vs Gardner-Webb - W Sep. 26 vs Pittsburgh - W Oct. 03 at Wake Forest - L Oct. 10 vs Duke - W
campus coRrespondent 7
Oct. 17 at Boston College - W Oct. 31 at Florida State - L Nov. 07 vs Maryland - W Nov. 14 vs Clemson - W Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech - L Nov. 28 vs North Carolina – L Final record of 8-4 (4-4 ACC) Bottom Line: N.C. State in my opinion is still a work in progress. Head Coach Tom O’Brian is slowing doing a great job turning the Wolf Pack into contenders and they have who could be the best quarterback in the conference in Russell Wilson. The problem is, other than Wilson, the Pack does not have a lot of weapons. Running back Jamelle Eugene can be dangerous in the open field, but does not have a great offensive line to run behind. That same reason makes life tougher on Wilson. On defense, State has a decent front sever but a very suspect secondary which will hurt them giving up big plays throughout the season. Overall, this is a team that can be dangerous, but is still at least a year away from competing for a conference title. They are a team that may shock one of the top conference teams, but will fail in most tests this season. I have them placing 4th in the ACC Atlantic.
‘Noles check in at #19 in USA Today/ Coaches Poll August 7, 2009 A total of 4 ACC teams in the top 20 isn’t bad. Other ACC teams ranked include Virginia Tech (7), Georgia Tech (15), North Carolina (20).
12 Days of ACC Football: Wake Forest August 8, 2009 Wake Forest Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Baylor - L Sep. 12 vs Stanford - W Sep. 19 vs Elon - W Sep. 26 at Boston College - W Oct. 03 vs NC State - W Oct. 10 vs Maryland - W Oct. 17 at Clemson - L Oct. 24 at Navy - L Oct. 31 vs Miami – L
campus coRrespondent 8
Nov. 07 at Georgia Tech - L Nov. 14 vs Florida State - L Nov. 28 vs at Duke – W Final record of 6-6 (4-4 ACC) Bottom Line: Riley Skinner is a great quarterback but for some reason, the Wake Forest offense struggle immensely last season. He has since lost two of his best in D.J. Boldin and Chip Brinkman and must now look to Marshall Williams to fill in the void. The Deac’s do have two good options at running back in Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass. The offensive line will cause trouble for the entire offense though if they can’t improve from last season. The defense took a major hit losing seven starters including two of the best players every to wear old gold and black in Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith. The defense does have potential, but never put stock into just that. This is going to be a tough season for Wake Forest, especially if the offense does no improve to the point where they can keep the team in games when the defense struggles. I have them finishing 3rd in the ACC Atlantic, but with just a .500 conference record.
12 Days of ACC Football: Duke August 9, 2009 Duke Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Richmond - W Sep. 12 at Army - W Sep. 19 at Kansas - L Sep. 26 vs N.C. Central - W Oct. 03 vs Virginia Tech - L Oct. 10 at N.C. State - L Oct. 24 vs Maryland -W Oct. 31 at Virginia - L Nov. 07 at North Carolina - L Nov. 14 vs Georgia Tech - L Nov. 21 at Miami - L Nov. 28 vs Wake Forest – L Final record of 4-8 (1-7 ACC) Bottom line: With a very good quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis leading the offense, they are a team that can be dangerous on any given Saturday. The only problem is that his line wasn’t very good last season, and three of those starters are now gone. If Duke can’t find suitable players to block, it will be a tough season.
campus coRrespondent 9
Defensively, tackle Vince Oghobaase is going to be a first day pick in the NFL draft and will do his best to help control the line of scrimmage for the Devils. Behind him he has linebacker Vincent Rey, who have over 100 tackles but the secondary lacks play makers and the unit as a whole is short on athletes. Head Coach David Cutcliffe did a great job in his first season at Duke and has them to the point where no one in the league counts them as an automatic win anymore. They have the potential to be even better this season, but their record probably won’t show. They will be competitive in most games but I can’t see them making a bowl and have picked them dead last in the ACC Coastal.
12 Days of ACC Football: Georgia Tech August 10, 2009 Georgia Tech Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Jacksonville State - W Sep. 10 vs Clemson - W Sep. 17 at Miami - L Sep. 26 vs North Carolina - W Oct. 03 at Mississippi State - W Oct. 10 at Florida State - L Oct. 17 Virginia Tech - W Oct. 24 at Virginia - W Oct. 31 at Vanderbilt - W Nov. 07 Wake Forest - W Nov. 14 at Duke - W Nov. 28 Georgia – L Final record of 9-3 (6-2 ACC) Bottom line: Offensively, all the key elements from the 4th best rushing attack in the nation return. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer are both primed for big seasons but health could be cause for concern. Nesbitt missed a few games and most of the spring due to injuries last year and several offensive linemen caught the injury bug during the spring. Defensively, the Jackets their three best defensive linemen but have the best safety in the conference in Morgan Burnett. Teams should be able to rush against them but throwing could be difficult if Burnett has another season like he did last year, Overall, GT is a good team and will finish second in the ACC Coastal and third overall. Between health concerns on offense and too many question marks on defense, they will have to wait another year before taking the Coastal.
campus coRrespondent 10
12 Days of ACC Football: Miami August 11, 2009 Miami Schedule Prediction: Sep. 07 at Florida State - L Sep. 17 vs Georgia Tech - W Sep. 26 at Virginia Tech - L Oct. 03 vs Oklahoma - L Oct. 10 vs Florida A&M - W Oct. 17 at Central Florida - W Oct. 24 vs Clemson - W Oct. 31 at Wake Forest -W Nov. 07 vs Virginia - W Nov. 14 at North Carolina - L Nov. 21 vs Duke - W Nov. 28 at USF – W Final record of 8-4 (5-3 ACC) Bottom line: Miami will be breaking in a new offensive and defensive coordinator this season. The fact that their first four games are just plain brutal doesn’t make it any easier. I mean, I think they win one of those, but it’s very possible this team starts the season 0-4! I give them the benefit of the doubt mainly because there is no shortage of talent on either side of the ball for Miami. Travis Benjamin is one of the most dangerous players in the conference once he gets into open space and Javarris James and Graig Cooper are more than capable of making big plays out of the backfield. A suspect quarterback could be the downfall on offense for Miami. On defense, Sean Spence is one of the best linebackers in the conference and should have a stellar sophomore season. He has a talented line in front of him and a decent secondary which should give the ‘Canes a solid defense overall. In the end, this is a team that is close to competing for a conference crown every year like many expected they would when they first joined the ACC. That time is not now though. Miami will have a solid year and build a nice foundation for the future. But this season, they will be looking at a fourth place finish in the ACC Coastal and another lower-level bowl game. It could be worse though ’Cane fans… Remember two years ago when your season ended in November?
12 Day of ACC Football: North Carolina August 12, 2009 North Carolina Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs The Citadel - W
campus coRrespondent 11
Sep. 12 at Connecticut - W Sep. 19 vs East Carolina - W Sep. 26 at Georgia Tech - L Oct. 03 vs Virginia - W Oct. 10 vs Georgia Southern - W Oct. 22 vs Florida State - W Oct. 29 at Virginia Tech - L Nov. 07 vs Duke - W Nov. 14 vs Miami - W Nov. 21 at Boston College - L Nov. 28 at NC State – W Final record of 9-3 (5-3 ACC) Bottom line: Offensively, this team doesn’t have a whole lot left. T.J. Yates lost his top three receivers and will be searching desperately for new ones to step up. They also lose the right side of their offensive line which will hurt Shaun Draughn’s running game. Defensively, they have one of the best units in the conference. They have what I think could be the best defensive line with several studs such as Marvin Austin locking down the middle. Linebacker Quan Sturdivant is the real deal and will stop anything coming his way. Butch Davis is quickly turning this program around and making them conference contenders as he continues to bring in top notch athletes, but it they aren’t quite to the level where they will win the ACC just yet. I have them finishing third in the Coastal, but wouldn’t be surprised to see them do better.
SINGLE GAME TICKETS FOR MIAMI AT FLORIDA STATE FOOTBALL GAME NOW ON SALE August 12, 2009 Tallahassee, Fla. – Single game tickets for the Miami at Florida State Labor Day football game have become available for sale to the general public and can be purchased on line at www. seminoles.com or via phone at 1-888-FSU-NOLE. Miami is not expected to sell its full allotment of the $65.00 single game tickets and FSU has not sold out of season tickets although they remain on sale. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 8:00 p.m. EDT.
12 Days of ACC Football: Virginia August 13, 2009 Virginia Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs William & Mary - W Sep. 12 vs TCU - L Sep. 19 at Southern Miss - L
campus coRrespondent 12
Oct. 03 at North Carolina – L Oct. 10 vs Indiana - W Oct. 17 at Maryland - L Oct. 24 vs Georgia Tech - L Oct. 31 vs Duke - W Nov. 07 at Miami - L Nov. 14 vs Boston College - L Nov. 21 at Clemson - L Nov. 28 vs Virginia Tech – L Final record of 3-9 (1-7 ACC) Bottom line: On offense, the Cavs just don’t have a lot of talent. Quarterback Jameel Sewell has a lot of pressure to perform this season if he takes the job after missing last year due to academic issues. Although he would be an upgrade, it isn’t enough. Vic Hall has moved over from cornerback to the offensive side of the ball but it just won’t be enough. On defense, the Cavs must replace all three men up front which could possibly move them from 10th to dead last in rush defense this season if someone doesn’t come in and step up. Overall, the Cavs have a ton of question marks all over and will finish just in front of Duke in the Coastal standings. They are a team that has the ability to beat almost anyone in the conference any Saturday, but just can’t find a way to make it happen. Maybe next year, Hoo’s.
12 Days of ACC Football: Virginia Tech August 14, 2009 Virginia Tech Schedule Prediction: Sep. 05 vs Alabama - L Sep. 12 vs Marshall - W Sep. 19 vs Nebraska - W Sep. 26 vs Miami - W Oct. 03 at Duke - W Oct. 10 vs Boston College - W Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech - L Oct. 29 vs North Carolina - W Nov. 05 at East Carolina - W Nov. 14 at Maryland - W Nov. 21 vs NC State - W Nov. 28 at Virginia – W Final record of 10-2 (7-1 ACC)
campus coRrespondent 13
Bottom line: Tyrod Taylor has a lot riding on his shoulders this season. Hokie fans want him to be the second coming of Michael Vick and as far as athletic ability goes, he has the tools. He MUST improve his passing numbers though or else he will be considered just another athlete trying to play quarterback. Running back’s Darren Evans went down with an ACL and will miss the 2009 season but Ryan Williams is more than capable of picking up the slack. Also, look for receiver Danny Coale to have a big year catching the ball. On defense, the Hokies have been one of the most consistent groups in the nation and that trend should continue this season. Sure they lost a few guys, but nothing that can’t be replaced to some satisfactory. Up front, Cordarrow Thompson and John Graves should have big years and set the tone for the entire D. The ACC has been in need of a national title contender and this VT team has the squad that could do it, especially if they can find a way to knock off Alabama in week 1. The loss of Evans is tough, but not as big as some are making it out to be. I have them winning the Atlantic, but being upset by FSU in the ACC title game.
Thoughts after first week of practice August 16, 2009 Florida State has completed their first week of practice capped by yesterday’s scrimmage. Not all questions have been answered, but we have a better idea of what to expect this coming season from the Seminoles. Christian Ponder is ready to lead this team. In yesterday’s scrimmage, Ponder went 15-20 throwing for 287 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. He was up against the second team defense but those numbers are impressive no matter who you’re playing against. He is turning into a leader both vocally and with his play. With quality depth at receiver, he is primed for a breakout season. The offensive line is the real deal. All week, they have dominated the defensive front. The only question about them coming into the season is would be able to pass protect? The answer is yes. Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel have had plenty of time to make the reads and they have the offense clicking. The running game will still be the strength. Although the passing game is firing on all cylinders, the Seminoles just have too many playmakers in the backfield not to use them. The Tribe had three scholarship backs sit out at times this week due to minor injuries, but still have two guys show ability to move the ball. Jermaine Thomas will lead the way, but freshman Lonnie Pryor showed ability to make plays this week in the scrimmage as well. Once Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and Chris Thompson are all healthy, running backs coach Dexter Carter will have five more than capable backs to throw at any defense, any time. Tight end Caz Piurowski is ready to play a role in the passing game. Piurowski has shown the ability early in fall camp this year to make plays catching the ball and the improved offensive line should free him up to be used more often as a receiver this season. He is just another weapon opposing defenses will have to worry about when game-planning for FSU. Jamie Robinson is primed for a monster senior season. He has 6 interceptions in the first 8 days of practice. Look for him to have his name known on a national level early in the season if
campus coRrespondent 14
he keeps playing like this. At least two freshmen will play a role on defense this season. Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel has proven that he has the ability to come in right away and make an impact. He has proven to be just as effective as the upperclassmen at his position and has the drive to push himself into a starting role early into the season. This kid is an absolute monster and watch for him to make his name known early during his FSU career. Cornerback Greg Reid is the other freshman ready to go now on defense. Patrick Robinson is arguably the best corner in the ACC but opposite of him, no one has really stepped up. If Reid continues to catch on, he could push for serious playing time and even a starting job later in the season. I know it’s only one week into fall camp, but by all indications, this team is ready to play now and should improve on last season. The rest of the conference better watch out, because FSU is sleeping giant that is about to wake up and wreck havoc on anyone standing in their way of the ACC Championship.
I’m back on the radio… August 23, 2009 Hello Seminole Nation and ACC World. Tomorrow morning starting at 8:00, I’m going to be doing a radio show called the Seminole Shout talking Florida State Football. It will air on 1270 The Team in Tallahassee and several other stations all over the Southeast. Make sure you listen live! Even if you’re not in Tallahassee, you can listen live at 1270 The Team’s website.
In case you missed me on the radio… August 24, 2009 As most of you already know, I was on a new radio show today called the ‘Seminole Shout’. Today, we talked about fall camp, the QB situation, Coach Bowden, the NCAA and more. If you missed it, you can listen to it here. That’s all for now guys. Keep checking back for all things FSU!
Preseason ACC Power Rankings August 30, 2009 With football season set to kick off Thursday night with an ACC-SEC battle of N.C. State hosting South Carolina, I wanted to take the time to come out with my first official power rankings for the ACC this season. As of right now, everyone is undefeated and has reason for optimism this season, but some teams are more optimistic than most. Let’s take a look at how the ACC stacks up heading into the 2009 football season. 1. Virginia Tech - VPI is the only ACC team to rank in to top 10 in the two major preseason polls. They did lose a stud running back in Darren Evans due to an ACL tear but still are the early favorites to win that December 5th game in Tampa. 2. Florida State - The Seminoles are coming off of a nine win season and an absolute thrashing of Big 10 foe Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. Christian Ponder has vastly improved and
campus coRrespondent 15
is ready to lead this team. Look for them to meet the Hokies at the Raymond James Stadium for the ACC Title! 3. Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets has a nightmare end to a near dream season last year as LSU beat them handily in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to finish last season. Will their triple-option attack take strides or will ACC teams catch up to it this year? Time will tell for the Jackets. 4. North Carolina - Butch Davis is starting to turn the program around at Chapel Hill and has one of the best defenses in the conference heading into the season. Question marks on offense could be the down fall for the Heels but they could be a dark horse to win the conference. 5. N.C. State - State finished last season strong and boast one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Russel Wilson. Tom O’Brien is doing a great job with the Pack and could move up this list with some early season wins. 6. Clemson - The Tigers are one of the most talented teams in the conference, but just haven’t been able to put it together in recent years. Dabo Swinney needs to have a good season in order to keep the Clemson faithful on his side, and I think he will. 7. Miami - The “U” is just one hard Jacory Harris hit from being in serious trouble. The Hurricanes are still very young, will be breaking in two new coordinators and have a brutal start to the season playing Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. 2-2 would be great in that stretch but 1-3 or 0-4 are more likely. How they respond after those first four games will make or break their season. 8. Maryland - Chris Turner doesn’t have Darrius Heyward-Bey to throw the ball to any more and Da’Rel Scott doesn’t have the best offensive line to run behind. This was one of the most inconsistent teams in the entire conference last season and that shouldn’t change this year. 9. Wake Forest - The Deacs’ return one of the better quarterbacks in the conference in Riley Skinner but lost too mush talent on defense to have a legitimate shot at competing for an ACC title this year. 10. Boston College - The Eagles have won the Atlantic Division the past two seasons, but just have too much going against them to make it three. A very young team with a lot of question marks means a long season for BC. 11. Virginia - The Cav’s have made a name for themselves as seasonal underachievers. They seem to have talent on the field but never translate it to W’s. This is a team that could surprise a lot of people this year, but it probably won’t happen. 12. Duke - Is it basketball season yet?
Not Just A Game September 2, 2009 When Florida State and Miami take the field against each other, there is more at stake than just a win or loss. It’s hard hit after hard hit. It’s big play after big play. It’s school pride. It’s bragging rights for the next 12 months until the game is played again. And when it’s your first game, it sets the mood for the entire season. The winner is set up to make an immediate run at an ACC Championship while to loser can only hope to rebound. Labor Day night at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Marching Chiefs playing the Warchant. 83,000 fans doing the chop. Chief Osceola riding Renegade to center field and planting a flaming spear
campus coRrespondent 16
right in front of Miami’s bench. Bobby Bowden on the sidelines leading the Seminoles to battle. The fiercest rivalry the college football and the national spotlight shining on this one game. What more can you ask for? The Seminoles come in led by Christian Ponder on offense. Ponder has had an exceptional camp and is more confident in himself and his team than ever before. Why shouldn’t he be? He has the best offensive line in the conference protecting him and opening holes for the stable of running backs that the Tribe has to offer. He also has a seemingly unlimited amount of receivers who can make plays once they get the ball in their hands. Last season, Jermaine Thomas ran the ball just twice against Miami, but had an average of 25.5 yards per touch. This season, Thomas is the starter and will be running behind the best line Florida State has had to offer in years. He and the other backs for FSU should have a big day on the ground. Don’t be surprised to see the ’Noles amass 281 yards they ran for last year in Miami. Defensively, Florida State has some questions that need answering. In the secondary, Patrick Robinson at cornerback and Jamie Robison at free safety are two of the best at their crafts. The other half of the field is the concern for the Seminoles. Someone needs to step up at the other corner and other safety position in order for this secondary to be a lock down unit. Up front defensively, Markus White could be the next great pass rusher for FSU and freshman Jacobbi McDaniel is one of the best players on the team regardless of class. Depth is the major issue here as injuries have plagued the Seminoles front four during the preseason. The ’Canes must rely on the shaky Jacory Harris to lead them into Doak Campbell Stadium on Monday and try to pull the upset. He has two great running backs in the backfield with him in Javarris James and Graig Cooper, but neither has had any success in their career against the Seminoles. This is set to be another great chapter for this rivalry and the game could very well come down to the fourth quarter as almost all FSU-UM games do. My take on the game? Florida State comes out strong behind the home crowd and jumps out to an early lead, never looking back. The game becomes tight in the third, but Florida State pulls away behind the strong arm of Christian Ponder and powerful legs of Jermaine Thomas. FSU 27 UM 17
Week 1 ACC Predictions September 3, 2009 N.C. State 24, USCe 17: The ACC Starts strong with a win over the mighty SEC. Georgia Tech 38, Jacksonville State 3: Although a good FCS team, the Gamecocks still just a FCS team. Starting quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is suspended for the game (I’m shocked too) and this one shouldn’t be close. Boston College 27, Northeastern 3: A good game for the Eagles to see who can play where this season. Wake Forest 20, Baylor 13: Riley Skinner should lead the ‘Deacs to a win in this one. Clemson 34, Middle Tennessee 13: Kyle Parker gets his first career start which should be
campus coRrespondent 17
interesting to watch. North Carolina 42, The Citadel 6: Nothing exciting going on here. Just a good, old-fashioned route of the Bulldogs. Virginia 24, William & Mary 14: This game will be a little closer than the Cav’s would like, but they still should win. Duke 31, Richmond 13: Richmond won the FCS national championship last year. But once again, that is the FCS. Duke can’t take them lightly, but should still win with a fair amount of ease. Virginia Tech 17, Alabama 14: This game is HUGE for the ACC. National perception is everything and a win here could earn the conference some much needed respect. This will be a defensive battle and because of that I’m taking Bud Foster’s Hokie D! Cal 41, Maryland 21: Cal is a dark horse to make a run at the national title and Maryland is trying to figure out who they are. This one won’t be close. Florida State 27, Miami 17: Read my blog on this game to see why FSU defends Doak and the ‘Canes head back to Miami as a tropical depression!
FSU loses a heartbreaker. September 8, 2009 Wow… Not much you can say about that. Coach Bowden, who has coached over 400 games in his career, called it the third best college football game that he has ever been a part of. He said number one was the 1987 game against Miami. Number two was the 1993 game against Notre Dame. And number three was what we saw tonight. Pretty good company as far as great college football games go. It came down to the last second of the game as a Christian Ponder pass fell just short to Jarmon Fortson giving Miami the win. So what did we learn from tonight? 1. FSU has NO pass rush at all. Jacorry Harris is not a bad quarterback by any means, but he also isn’t a guy who should be able to throw for almost 400 yards in one night. Harris had all night in the pocket to throw the ball made Florida State pay. 2. Greg Reid is going to be a star. The last time he played in a football game before tonight, he was a senior in high school. Tonight, he had an interception , 100 kickoff return yards, forced another interception with a hit on Harris and had several open field tackles. If he isn’t starting by week three, there is a problem. This kid can flat out play. 3. Christian Ponder is turning into a very good quarterback. Ponder threw for a career high 296 yards and made very few bad decisions. His one interception came due to a receiver giving up on his route at the end of the half. He did make a poor throw on the final play of the game, but overall played very well. There are still eleven more games but this one really stings. Florida State was two yards away and had three chances to punch it in and failed. Hopefully they can bounce back and beat Jacksonville State with ease before making a trip out to Provo, Utah to play the Cougars who just beat the number three team in the nation. That’s it for tonight folks. I’m going to go and cry myself to sleep now.
campus coRrespondent 18
ACC power rankings September 9, 2009 Heading into week two of the season, there have been several shake-ups from my initial power rankings. Here’s a look at how the ACC teams stack up after a week of play. 1. Georgia Tech - They did what they had to in order to jump to the first spot. Just win their game. Something my top two teams from last week failed to do. 2. Virginia Tech - They led one of the best teams in the nation in the 4th quarter before the offense faltered and the Tide pulled away. 3. Miami - They went into Doak Campbell Stadium and beat Florida State by scoring 38 points. What has me concerned about the ‘Canes is that the defense looked as bad as VT’s offense did. 4. Florida State - The ‘Noles were a dropped pass away on the last second of the game from being first on this list. FSU also has some serious issues on defense that need to be fixed before they head to Utah or BYU could hang 50 on them. 5. North Carolina - The Tar Heels killed the mighty Citadel as expected but drop one spot becasue they played, well, the Citadel. 6. Clemson - We will learn a lot about the Tigers this week when they play Georgia Tech. A win could shoot them up this list. Opportunity awaits Tigers! 7. Boston College - Albeit they played Northeaster, they did win convincingly. Something a few other ACC schools couldn’t do against FCS competition. 8. N.C. State - The Pack had a tough time getting anything going and quarterback Russel Wilson showed signs of a potential sophomore slump. The State faithful better hope I’m wrong. 9. Maryland - The Terps had a rough trip out west but they lost to a potential national title contender. They will have a chance this week to build some confidence playing James Madison. 10. Wake Forest - The ‘Deacs lost at home to a pretty bad Baylor team. What does that say about Wake? 11. Duke - At least the Devils lost to last year’s FCS champs… Only a month and a half until basketball season though! 12. Virginia - Wow. These guys might actually be WORSE than I thought… And I already thought they were pretty bad. The worst part is that their basketball team isn’t anything to get excited about either. When does lacrosse season start?
Looking forward: Florida State hosts Jacksonville State September 10, 2009 A few days have passed since Florid State’s heartbreaking loss to Miami and the Seminoles must move on. The Tribe has had three days to prepare for the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State, who lost to Georgia Tech last Saturday by the score of 37-17. The Florida State coaching staff has been very vocal about how difficult it is to prepare for any team on such a short week. Jacksonville State presents a different challenge as their star quarterback will make his first appearance of the season meaning the Seminoles must look to last year’s film if they want to see
campus coRrespondent 19
Ryan Perrilloux in action for the ’Cocks. Perrilloux was a prized recruit coming out of high school before signing with the LSU Tigers. He was unable to stay out of trouble and was dismissed from one of the SEC power schools and will finish his career in Alabama playing for Jax State. This weekend will be his first chance to show what he has against a top level talent team such as Florida State. That is, as long as he isn’t suspended in-between now and kickoff. Florida State will look to fix their defense which looked beyond broken this past Monday night when the Hurricanes came threw Tallahassee and destroyed Mickey Andrew’s unit. The front four of FSU couldn’t get any sort of pass rush which led to their secondary being beat like a drum all night long. The Tribe HAS to get pressure on Perrilloux Saturday, or he too could look like an AllAmerican QB. FSU will obviously be able to pressure the Gamecocks as they should just physically overwhelm them. If they can’t get pressure Saturday, it’s going to be a very, very, very long season. Offensively, Jimbo Fisher would like the Seminoles to establish a little more of a ground game and for the receivers to actually try catching the ball and not stopping on their routes. Other than that, they will be fine. Christian Ponder is the best quarterback in Garnet and Gold since Chris Weinke (granted, we haven’t had much at that position) and the offensive line played outstanding Monday night. This game might be somewhat interesting if the Tribe can’t get to Perrilloux early, but Florida State runs away with the game and takes out their anger from Monday night from the ’Canes to the ’Cocks. Prediction: FSU 49 JSU 10 Bonus: Player prediction: Greg Reid scores his first career touchdown on a kick return.
Week 2 ACC Predictions September 10, 2009 Last week, I didn’t do so hot with my ACC predictions, so I’ll have to make up for it this week by playing Nostradamus and going a perfect 10-10… hopefully. Georgia Tech 28, Clemson 17: Georgia Tech keeps rolling behind the cool head of Josh Nesbit and powerful legs of Jonathan Dwyer. Clemson keeps it close but the Jackets pull away in the end. North Carolina 23, Connecticut 13: Expect a low scoring game here where Butch Davis’ defense wins it for the Heels. Army 24, Duke 17: Duke was supposed to be better this year. Then they lost to Richmond. Army’s new triple-option attack is too much for the Devils to stop and the Black Knights improve to 2-0. Virginia Tech 34, Marshall 10: The Hokies rebound from a tough week 1 loss in which they led the number 5 team in the nation in the fourth quarter. Boston College 38, Kent State 13: The Eagles pounded mighty Northeastern last week and should have similar ease against Kent State this week. TCU 34, Virginia 3: The Horn Frogs are a very good team and the Cav’s are not… This one has the potential to get very ugly.
campus coRrespondent 20
Florida State 49, Jacksonville State 10: Florida State shouldn’t show any signs of a hangover here from Miami as they pound the Gamecocks before heading out west to play BYU. Maryland 20, James Madison 14: It shouldn’t be this close but it might be. This game has upset potential written all over it but the Terps hang on in the end. North Carolina State 24, Murray State 3: Russell Wilson needs to play better than he did against South Carolina and I think he will as the Pack rolls. Wake Forest 24, Stanford 20: Wake Forest shouldn’t lose two in a row at home to start the season. Riley Skinner takes the lead and the ’Deacs win. There you have it guys. Now you don’t even have to watch ACC football this weekend because you already know how it will play out. Just in case there is another FSU-UM game this weekend though, you might want to check out this conference play.
Gamedays @ Doak September 12, 2009 Tailgating. 83,000 fans all wearing Garnet. The Marching Chiefs. Those same 83,000 fans all doing the chop. Chief Osceola riding Renegade out to mid-field and planting a flaming spear right in front of the visiting team’s bench as they stand there in awe of what is FLORIDA STATE FOOTBALL! This is why I love Florida State football. GAMEDAY! GO NOLES!
A win is a win! September 13, 2009 It wasn’t pretty, but Florida State was able to come from behind and beat Jacksonville State in the final minute of the game. The Seminoles trailed the Gamecocks by the score of 9-7 with 35 seconds remaining on the game clock when sophomore tailback Ty Jones ran in the gamewinning touchdown from one yard out. Jacksonville State was left with half a minute to put together a final drive and pull of what would have been an epic upset. Ryan Perrilloux fumbled on that final drive and Kevin McNeil picked up the ball and took it in for six to seal the game for the Tribe as FSU won 19-9. The good: Christian Ponder once against set a career high in passing yards eclipsing the 300 yard mar for the first time in his career. For the second straight game, the redshirt junior engineered a final drive that put Florida State in a position to win the game from inside the five yard line. He is proving that he can be Florida State’s next great quarterback. The bad: Florida State could not catch a break today. They didn’t show up to play and everything that possibly could have gone wrong, did. Two dropped interceptions leading to a JSU touchdown. A 30 yard run and then fumble on the two yard line. Another fumble on a third down. Countless penalties. Freshmen kick Dustin Hopkins missed a field goal and two extra points. FSU expected to show up, win the game in the first quarter and got a much needed wake up call. The team came out flat and is lucky to have won tonight.
campus coRrespondent 21
Looking forward: Florida State avoided what would have been the most embarrassing loss in the Bobby Bowden era, but should still be ashamed by the way they played. They will have a golden opportunity to prove that they belong among the nations elite next week as they travel to Provo, UT to play #7 BYU on the road. If Florida State can find a pass defense and pull the upset, everyone will forget the first two weeks of the season and Seminole Nation will find reason for excitement once again!
Week 3 ACC Power Rankings September 13, 2009 Let’s get right to it. Here are my ACC power rankings heading into week 3. 1. Georgia Tech – They maintain the top spot after barley holding on to a big lead and defeating Clemson Thursday night. 2. Virginia Tech – The Hokies racked up over 600 yards against Marshall picking up their first win of the season. 3. Miami – The Hurricanes were off this and can look forward to a big challenge as they host Georgia Tech Thursday night. 4. North Carolina – It wasn’t pretty but the Heels won a close game against Big East foe UCONN. The offense needs to find answers and fast though. 5. Clemson – The Tigers found a way to stop GT’s option attach but it was a little too late. They did show that they are the new favorites to win the Atlantic at this point in the season. 6. Florida State – The ’Noles survived a scare as they waited until the last minute to beat Jacksonville State. A short week of practice coming off of an emotional game gets them a mini pass here. They now travel to #7 BYU for a chance at redemption and could jump up this list with a win. 7. Boston College - The Eagles haven’t lost yet, but they haven’t also haven’t played anybody. If the Eagles can beat Clemson this week, they can finally earn my respect. 8. N.C. State – The Pack beat Murray State handily but the memory of them only scoring 3 points in their opener sticks with me. They have the week off before they get another chance to move up this list when they play Pitt. 9. Wake Forest – The ’Deacs struggled at home once again but came away with a last second win against Stanford. Don’t look for them to move up this list next week either as a convincing win over mighty Elon won’t change my mind about this team. 10. Duke – The Blue Devils bounced back from a loss to Richmond and beat Army by two scores. Let’s see if they can upset Kansas this week. 11. Maryland – The Terps had to go to overtime just to bear James Madison. There are some serious issues in College Park. 12. Virginia – Their mascot can’t even do anything right as he fell off his horse in pregame…
Caz Piurowski named ACC’s offensive linemen of the week! September 14, 2009 Florida State senior tight end Caz Piurowski hauled in two passes for a career-high 78 yards,
campus coRrespondent 22
including a 53-yard catch that led to Florida State’s first touchdown of the game in a 19-9 win against Jacksonville State. The 53-yarder was the longest reception for a Seminole tight end since Lonnie Johnson’s 78-yard touchdown reception against Clemson in 1993. Piurowski also helped anchor a line that led the Seminole offense to more than 400 yards for the second straight game.
Florida State looks to spoil ‘Cougs home opener September 15, 2009 This Saturday night, Florida State will head out to Provo to play the BYU Cougars. BYU has won 18 consecutive games at home and will be looking to make it 19, the longest streak in their storied history. BYU has all the momentum in the world coming off of wins over #3 Oklahoma and unranked Tulane. Signal caller showdown: The Cougars are led by senior quarterback Max Hall, who has placed himself as a dark horse candidate in the race for the Heisman Trophy. Hall is currently seventh in the nation in passing yards as he has thrown for 638 yards in his first two games. Hall’s counterpart, Christian Ponder, is right behind him at eighth in the nation with 618 passing yards in his first two outings. Ponder has started out great this season, showing vast improvements from last year. Head coach Bobby Bowden said he feels more comfortable with Ponder under center than he has felt in a very long time. It will be fun watching these two quarterbacks go head to head. Tale of two tight ends: BYU has arguably the best tight end in the nation in Dennis Pitta. Two games into the season, Pitta leads the Cougars in receiving with 11 receptions for 137 yards. He is one of Max Hall’s favorite targets and plays a position that has given Florida State fits for years. If the Seminoles can’t slow Pitta down, it could be a long night for the Tribe. Caz Piurowski of Florida State was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Jacksonville State. The last time the Seminoles had a reliable tight end in the passing game, gas was under $1.50 a gallon and Deion Sanders was lead singer for the Seminole Rap. Looking for some sod: If you don’t already know, whenever Florida State hits the road as the underdog, the game is billed a “Sod Game”. Whenever the Seminoles win a Sod Game, they cut a piece of the turf from the field, bring it back to Tallahassee and place it in the Sod Cemetery.
Florida State’s Sod Cemetery
campus coRrespondent 23
The tradition started in 1962 when Florida State traveled to Athens and shut out the mighty Georgia Bulldogs 18-0. After the game, FSU players cut some grass and brought it back to Tallahassee where they buried it at the corner of their practice field in what is now the Sod Cemetery. Florida State currently has 77 tombstones with turf buried in their Sod Cemetery and will look to make it 78 after Saturday night. The Seminoles travel to Provo as seven point underdogs to the seventh ranked Cougars. If Florida State wins the game, look for senior linebacker Dekoda Watson to cut a piece of turf from LaVell Edwards Stadium to be brought back 2,000 miles and buried in Tallahassee.
Week 3 ACC Predictions September 16, 2009 Last week, I was 9-1 in my ACC predictions but that isn’t good enough! This week, I’m expecting nothing less than a 10-0 weekend! Georgia Tech 34, Miami 24 – The Jackets ran all over the Hurricanes last season and I expect much of the same this year. Miami played great against FSU but I don’t see them putting two great games together to start the season. North Carolina 21, ECU 14 – The Tar Heels need to find some offense fast. They can’t rely on their defense to win every game, but they can for this one. Clemson 31, Boston College 17 – The Eagles finally play some real competition and they will get a wake up call on Saturday. C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford will be running by the BC defense all day long. Kansas 38, Duke 14 – The Blue Devils got their first win of the season last Saturday by defeating Army. They won’t make it two this week. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Maryland 24, Middle Tennessee State 20 – Maryland struggles with yet another second-tier opponent but finds a way to come away the winner. Virginia Tech 27, Nebraska 21 – The Hokie defense stands tall against the Huskers and Tech comes away with an important win over a top 20 team. Southern Miss 35, Virginia 10 – Not too much to get excited about in Charlottesville. Another Saturday and yet another loss. NC State 41, Gardner Webb 14 – The Pack gets the luxury of playing another creampuff before playing Pitt next week. Wake Forest 38, Elon 3 – Elon has a football team? Florida State 33, BYU 31 – Florida State needs to win this game to gain momentum heading into the rest of the season. BYU is tough at home, but if Sam Bradford never gets hurt, they aren’t considered a BCS buster. The ’Noles rally late behind Christian Ponder for the upset. There you have it folks. Make sure you check back to see if I can run the table this week!
Oh My SOD! September 20, 2009 Florida State headed into Provo as heavy underdogs against BYU Saturday. Lee Corso, a former
campus coRrespondent 24
FSU graduate said BYU would win by at least three touchdowns. No way in Hell could FSU walk on BYU’s home field, where the Cougars had won the previous 18 games played there, and pull off the upset. Well they did. And now, a piece of that field will be buried in Florida State’s Sod Cemetery!
AP photo. Dekoda Watson with a piece of BYU’s turf that will be burried in Tallahassee
Florida State dominated the game from start to finish and silenced all critics who thought the Jacksonville State game was a sign of things to come from this season. Excitement is back in the air in Tallahassee and the Seminoles are full speed ahead as they host the USF Bulls this coming week. But for now, let’s look back at the massacre that was Florida State vs. BYU. Ponder potent in passing game. Christian Ponder had one of the best games of his career Saturday night as he complete 21 of his 26 pass attempts for 195 yards, throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. The redshirt junior also ran for another 77 yards and a touchdown. Reid-iclous! True freshman Greg Reid continues to make big plays and make a name for himself in Tallahassee. Reid picked off Heisman candidate Max Hall and returned it 64 yards for his first career touchdown. I have a feeling that won’t be his last touchdown either. The win by Florida State puts them at #18 in the latest AP poll and they will have one more chance to move up before they jump back into conference play as the Tribe will play host to USF this weekend. The Bulls will be without senior quarterback Matt Grothe who tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Stay tuned this week for power rankings, predictions and a look ahead to USF!
ACC Week 4 Power Rankings September 20, 2009 1. Miami – The Hurricanes dominated Georgia Tech and get a chance to further solidify their ranking here when they travel to Blacksburg this weekend. 2. Virginia Tech – The Hokies got a big win against Nebraska and look forward to the ’Canes coming to town. 3. Florida State – The ’Noles demolished the #7 ranked BYU Cougars handing them their first loss at home in 19 games!
campus coRrespondent 25
4. North Carolina – The Heels found a little offense in a big win over ECU. A big game at Georgia Tech awaits them on Saturday. 5. Clemson – The Tigers defense was relentless shutting down Boston College. They have a big test this week as TCU comes to town. 6. Georgia Tech – The Jackets have not looked good in their past 6 quarters of play. Has the ACC figured out the triple option? We will find out as the season goes on. 7. NC State – The Pack had a solid showing… even if it was against Gardner Webb. A tough game against Pitt awaits State. 8. Wake Forest – Riley Skinner and Co. beat Elon soundly. They now open ACC play against Boston College. 9. Boston College – Speaking of the Eagles… They finally played a good opponent and got handled. It looks to be a long season for BC. 10. Duke – The Devils weren’t expected to beat Kansas so I won’t give them too much heat. I just wish I could have watched these two play in basketball and not football… 11. Maryland – Really Terps? Lose to Middle Tennessee State? And just a week after you barley beat James Madison in overtime… Man these guys are bad but not as bad as…. 12. Virginia – Way to give up a 17 point second half lead. Now you get to head to Chapel Hill where the Hoos probably won’t score a touchdown. I believe the chant is ‘Groh must go!’ but how about the players take some responsibility and play like they actually care?
What’s in a name? Who’s the best QB in Florida? September 21, 2009
campus coRrespondent 26
After the first few weeks of the season, it is clear that the Big Three in Florida (UF, FSU and UM) are all to be taken very seriously this year. And it looks like all three quarterbacks of those teams are the real deal. Just to make sure you look at what each quarterback has done with an open mind, I have kept the identity of each quarterback’s production hidden for now. Because we all know what’s in a name and what ESPN would love to have you all believe… Quarterback A: •
Has played two teams that have ranked in the top 10 this season (one home and one away) and one FCS team (home).
813 pass yards completing 66% of his passes.
4 passing touchdowns and 1 interception.
Averaging 4.3 yards per carry when running the ball and has 2 rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback B: •
Has played one FCS team, one team from the Sun Belt conference with a losing record and one unranked conference opponent. All games have been at home.
540 pass yards completing 67% of his passes.
5 passing touchdowns and 1 interception.
Averaging 3.8 yards per carry when running the ball and has 3 rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback C: •
Has played two teams who have ranked in the top 20 this season (one home and one away).
656 pass yards completing 70% of his passes.
5 passing touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Averaging -0.75 yards per carry when running the ball and has 1 rushing touchdown.
The question then comes, who is the best quarterback in the state? The obvious answer would be Tim Tebow. I mean the guy has a Heisman Trophy and a national title to his name (sorry guys, but the 2006 championship is all Chris Leak’s and it’s an insult to him to say otherwise). But what about Christian Ponder and Jacory Harris? Before you all jump on me, let’s consider the facts. This past Saturday is a testament that UF’s offense is nowhere near as good as it was last season. The loss of Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy was a huge hit to the Gators, but who would have thought that it would limit them as much as it did against the Vols, who the Gators torched for 50+ points last season. Meanwhile, Florida State went to BYU, a place where the Cougars had no loses in the previous three seasons and hung 54 points on the same defense that held Oklahoma to just seven first half points (I say first half because that is when last year’s Heisman winner Sam Bradford was playing). This is largely due to Christian Ponder controlling the game with his arm (21-26, 195 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) and his legs (11 rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown). And nobody can forget what Jacory Harris has done under first year offensive coordination Mark Whipple. Hurricane nation had a slight panic when Robert Marve made the decision to transfer this offseason, but now the Miami faithful couldn’t be happier as Harris has shown great command of the team as they have defeated two top 20 teams and are now ranked in the top 10.
campus coRrespondent 27
If you haven’t figured it out already, quarterback A was Christian Ponder, quarterback B was Tim Tebow and quarterback C was Jacory Harris. I’m not trying to discredit what Tebow has done in his career, as I believe he is one of the best players ever to play college football. But based on what each quarterback has done this season, can you really say that Tebow is head and shoulders above Ponder and Harris? Given the production and against the level of competition, Harris has been the most impressive thus far followed by Ponder and then Tebow. That isn’t to say Tebow won’t go on a tear as the season progresses, but based on what each player has done this season, forgetting about previous years, is Tebow really the best quarterback in the state? I’m not going to side either way but I will say it’s time to forget about the names and start look at the numbers. The season is still young, but if things continue to play out as they have, look for this debate to gain momentum as the season progresses. I can’t take all credit for this idea as one blogger originally brought up this idea. I just wanted to add my own point of view to it all.
Little Brother Coming to Town September 24, 2009 In recent years, USF and their fans have been trying to make a case that the state of Florida is not run by just the “Big 3” anymore. Florida, Florida State and Miami have long dominated the state and the Bulls of South Florida will look to add their name to that list on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they will be without senior quarterback Matt Grothe, who once led them to a #2 national ranking. Starting in his place will be B.J. Daniels. Daniels went to Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, but was never recruited as a quarterback by the Seminoles. He now makes his first career start in front of his home town crowd. In his first few games, Daniels has put up impressive numbers in limited action. The only problem with that is this weekend he will be playing against Florida State and not Wofford, Charleston Southern or Western Kentucky, his first three opponents. Don’t be surprised if Daniels is a little nervous when he first steps on to Bobby Bowden field and the USF offense sputters a bit. For this reason, it will be critical for the ’Noles offense to come out like they did against BYU, firing on all cylinders. If Florida State can build an early lead, it will only put more pressure on Daniels and the Bulls to keep up, which they likely won’t be able to do. USF does have a pretty good defense and one superstar at defensive end in George Selvie. Selvie and the Bulls defensive front must find a way to slow down rushing game which tallied over 300 yards last week. So far, the Bulls have given up 177 and 200 yards to Wofford and Western Kentucky. Florida State has a much more potent rushing attack and by looking at those numbers, should find a way to move the ball on the ground. If Florida State can establish the rushing game early, it will open up the air attack for the ’Noles and Christian Ponder should have a field day tossing the ball around. He has proven to be more than dangerous with his arm as he completed 21 of his 26 passing attempts for two touchdowns against BYU last week. There is no reason that Florida State should not control this game and win with relative ease, but this will be the Bulls Super Bowl. Many believe this is the biggest game in USF’s history. Most of USF’s players, much like Daniels are from the state of Florida and were never looked at seriously
campus coRrespondent 28
by any of the Big 3. For them, this is their chance to show that they belong on the same field as the big dogs. It should be a good game and close for the first half or so, but look for Florida State’s talent to take over as the ’Noles pull away for the win. If Florida State comes out fully focused and plays the way they are capable, this game might not be close at all. It all depends on which FSU team shows up, and I think it will be the same one that just dismantled a top 10 team on the road. Prediction: FSU 41 USF 20
Week 4 Predictions September 24, 2009 Florida State 41, USF 20 – The Bulls come into Tallahassee led by redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels. It’s going to be a long day for the hometown kid. North Carolina 28, Georgia Tech 17 – UNC was able to stop GT’s option-attack last season and as the Jackets have regressed, more of the same should happen this year. Wake Forest 21, Boston College 17 – This game doesn’t really excite me. BC just doesn’t have what it takes right now to win a close game against an Atlantic division foe. Rutgers 31, Maryland 14 – I’m picking the Terps to lose every week until they show something. Anything. Just a little bit guys. NC State 24, Pitt 21 – Russell Wilson gets the offense going as the Pack knocks off a member of the Big East. Clemson 23, TCU 20 – The Horn Frogs are a very good and disciplined team but this is a game that the Tigers must win for the image of their program and the ACC. Miami 27, Virginia Tech 23 – This game should be close and by far, the most exciting game in the conference this week. I picked against UM the first two weeks and won’t make that mistake again. Duke 35, North Carolina Central 3 – The Devils win this one with relative ease as the Eagles are an FCS school, and a bad one at that. Virginia – They are off this week, but can I still pick them to lose anyways?
FSU to Recognize 1999 National Championship Team September 25, 2009 WELCOME BACK CHAMPS! One of the highlights of the season-long, 10th anniversary celebration of Florida State’s 1999 national championship team is today’s pre-game introduction of members from the team. Approximately 40 players from the first, wire-to-wire No. 1 team – and the only unbeaten team in Bobby Bowden’s career – will be introduced at the 22-minute mark before kickoff. Among those on hand are today’s honorary captains, Peter Warrick, Corey Simon and Todd Frier, who were selected as the permanent captains before the Seminoles capped the 12-0 season with a 46-29 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Former assistant coaches Jim Gladden and Billy Sexton will also be joined by FSU support staff, trainers and managers in the pregame ceremony.
campus coRrespondent 29
Former players expected to attend OG
Gennaro Jackson II
Coaching staff Jim Gladden, Defensive Ends Billy Sexton, Running Backs
MIA: Florida State Football Team September 27, 2009 What happened at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday afternoon was a slap in the face to all of Seminole Nation. A program that entered the FBS less than 10 years ago came into Doak and completely out-hit, out-hustled, out-worked and completely out-played Florida State. It was clear from the opening minutes which team wanted to win that game more, and it wasn’t guy guys in white. Watching that game makes me wonder if FSU had a “white-out” just so USF knew that they were going to surrender from the start, because that’s what it looked like. Let’s look at how FSU gave this game away…. Fumblitis – Florida State put the ball on the ground five times and lost it four of those times including one inside the 12 yard line. One of the most basic things any Division 1 football player
campus coRrespondent 30
should do when they have the ball is protect it. Let’s hope we don’t see a display like that again. 100 yard swing – Florida State got the ball down to the one yard line early in the game and failed the punch it in for the touchdown. It came down to the USF defensive line wanting to stop the FSU offense from gaining one yard more than the FSU offense wanted to score. Plain and simple. USF then went 99 yards for a touchdown to add insult to injury. Missing man formation – On two separate occasions, USF quarterback BJ Daniels had the luxury of sitting back in the pocket and gunning the ball downfield to wide open receivers. What’s even worse about having a wide open USF receiver 50 yards down field is that most people at home watching on TV couldn’t tell who’s man it was as there were no Seminoles anywhere to be found in the picture. Maybe we only had 10 guys on defense? Effort – Where was it? USF definitely had it but it seemed that no one on FSU’s team had it besides maybe a select few. Greg Reid is one exception. That kid puts it all on the line every single time he steps on the football field and it shows. Nobody on FSU’s roster plays with more heart than Reid. If everyone had just half as much heart as Reid, FSU would be damn near unstoppable. This list could go on and on but that sums it up for the most part. I had the pleasure of speaking with FSU great Peter Warrick at half time and he had some strong, but true words. He said the players just don’t want it enough. There aren’t any leaders and he believes Florida State has lost their swag. Sad, but true. It’s a shame that in such a big game, in front of the 11th largest crowd EVER at Doak, that the team would go out and lay an egg after playing such a great game at BYU. FSU needs to find some consistency and fast as they jump back into conference play next week as they play at Boston College. That pretty much ends my rant for now. Check back all week for power rankings, predictions and my FSU vs. BC peview!
Week 5 ACC Power Rankings September 29, 2009 1. Virginia Tech – The Hokies handles Miami in Blacksburg showing that they are still the class of the conference. 2. Miami – The ’Canes had a rough weekend but a win over Oklahoma this weekend at Landshark Stadium will show that their 2-0 start was no fluke. 3. Georgia Tech – The Jackets had their way with UNC this past weekend keeping them alive in the race for the Coastal. 4. NC State – The Wolf Pack rallied together to give the ACC their only win in three games against the Big East this past weekend. 5. Clemson – The Tigers had a rough time with TCU, but so will most teams this season. 6. Florida State – Meet the most inconsistent team in the nation so far this season. Beat a top 10 team on the road; lose to an unranked team at home. FSU probably routs BC this weekend just to keep everyone scratching their heads. 7. North Carolina – The Heels looked downright awful against Georgia Tech and have me second guessing if they can make a legitimate run in the Coastal considering the tough competition.
campus coRrespondent 31
8. Boston College – The Eagles were able to beat a stingy Wake Forest team in overtime this past weekend, and for that they jump the Deacs. 9. Wake Forest – They didn’t look horrible, but they didn’t win so they drop one spot this week. 10. Duke – The Devils beat a bad FCS school, but hey, they won! That alone keeps them ahead of Maryland and UVA. 11. Maryland – Their only win of the season came against an FCS school…. in overtime. These guys have some issues and they need to be fixed asap! 12. Virginia- Well the Cav’s didn’t play this week so they didn’t get a chance to embarrass themselves again. Don’t worry though. Traveling to a pissed off North Carolina team should provide ample opportunity for more embarrassment!
Chop Talk: Florida State vs. Boston College October 1, 2009 For this week’s blog, David Auffenberg, Boston College’s campus blogger (Watch out Bob Ryan!) was nice enough to exchange words with me as we discuss this weekend’s showdown in Chestnut Hill. I gave him some questions and he gave me his honest answers. I then gave my take on each of the topics. 1. Right now, BC is 3-1 but two of those games are hard to judge. Based on the Clemson and Wake Forest games, which BC team was more like the real BC team? BC Dave: The real BC lies somewhere in the middle. At Clemson, our O-Line had trouble communicating all day and it turned our entire offense into a disaster. But the Wake game revealed that we have made progress, and we seem to have finally found a starting quarterback in Dave Shinskie. In the end, our defense will still be the strength, and if we are to make any noise this year, it will depend on them. My Take: I’m still not sold on BC. They are a very tough team to figure out right now mainly because they are so young and you never know who will show up. They have beaten the teams that they are supposed to, laid an egg against Clemson and then had a thrilling OT win over Wake Forest. I’m very interested to see how the Eagles come out and play Saturday. 2. What would you consider Boston College’s biggest strength on offense? On defense? BC Dave: If they are given adequate blocking, our running backs represent our biggest strength. Montel Harris and Josh Haden aren’t big and powerful, but they’re fast and shifty and can pile up the yards. Defensively, our biggest strength is our ability to create turnovers. We led the ACC in interceptions last year, and for whatever reason, we have continued the trend this season. Case in point: We snuck away with that Wake game because of a forced fumble on the 4 yard line in OT. My Take: Montel Harris is definitely a guy that scares me. He is from Florida and the ’Noles didn’t recruit him at all. Most guys in that situation always have huge games against us. Last season, he ran the ball right down our throats all game long and led BC to victory. The whole deal on turnovers scares me. If FSU doesn’t turn the ball over last week against USF, we win 38-17. But the fact is we did and if we want to make an honest run at an ACC title, it starts with protecting the ball Saturday.
campus coRrespondent 32
3. Give me one player on each side of the ball that Florida State should keep an eye on this week. BC Dave: FSU should keep an eye on our quarterback, Dave Shinskie. He has all the confidence in the world after the Wake Forest game, and if FSU wants to end this game early, they can’t let Shinskie get in a groove again. Defensively, I’d say linebacker Mike McLaughlin. This will be his 2nd game back from injury, and he is more than ready to lead this defense again. My Take: Shinskie is definitely a guy I will keep an eye on. Florida State loves making inexperienced QB’s looks like All-Americans. Just look at Tyrod Taylor two years ago, Daniel Evans of NC State a few years ago, BJ Daniels this year, etc. As far as McLaughlin goes, he will need to step up in my opinion and will be a guy I look forward to watching. FSU’s best running back, Jermaine Thomas is finally healthy and is expected to get the bulk of the carries against BC this weekend. He naturally finds the holes and linebackers becoming very important when he finds his zone. 4. Florida State’s secondary has been beyond awful this season. Does BC have a legitimate deep threat and can their QB’s get them the ball? BC Dave: Rich Gunnell is always a threat to go deep, but up-and-comer Colin Larmond Jr. has shown flashes of deep play ability this season as well. The thing is, I doubt Coach Spaziani will force Shinskie to throw deep too often on Saturday, as he is still trying to build up his confidence and limit the mistakes. My Take: This is one thing that scares me big time. With the way FSU’s secondary has looked at times this year, Shinskie won’t have to make precision passes to torch our secondary. If Gunnell, Larmond or any BC receiver finds his way into open space, Shinskie just needs to put the ball out there and it’s an easy 6. We’re almost guaranteed to give him two shots at an open deep ball this week. If FSU’s defensive front doesn’t get pressure on Shinskie, he will look like Matt Ryan this week. 5. With it being a gold out and ESPN’s Game day being there, do you think BC comes with something extra this week, or is that all just hype for the fans? BC Dave: I think it’s mainly just hype for the fans. It’s great for our school, our alumni, and especially for Mark Herzlich who will be featured. The attendance will probably be bigger than usual, and it will be cool to have ESPN here, but come 3:30 it’s time to just play the game. My Take: I agree. It’s definitely for the fans. Last week, both FSU and Penn State went with a “white-out”, and both lost to inferior competition. When the teams get inside those white lines, everything is thrown out the door and it’s just time to play football. 6. Who wins, and what’s the score this weekend? BC Dave: I think you guys will be playing with a chip on your shoulder after that home loss to South Florida last week, and that doesn’t bode well for us. Should be a great game, but I like FSU 24-14. My Take: I definitely think FSU comes out with a chip on their shoulder and wins this one with relative ease. I think BC is very physical and has the ability to control the clock if they get their running game going like they did last season, but FSU’s offense will click this week forcing Shinskie to throw the ball around which isn’t good for the Eagles. FSU bounces back and takes this one 38-20.
campus coRrespondent 33
Week 5 Predictions October 3, 2009 Clemson 28, Maryland 14 - Maryland’s offense won’t look pretty playing that stout Tiger D. C.J. Spiller is the difference maker in this one as Clemson rolls. Game-changer: RB C.J. Spiller Virginia Tech 31, Duke 3 - The best team in the conference playing one of the worst. No upset here as the Turkey’s take care of business. Game-changer: RB Ryan Williams North Carolina 24 Virginia 21 - The Cav’s have had an extra week to prepare for the Heels and come close to the upset, but they won’t pull it off as UNC gets back on the winning track. Game-changer: LB Quan Sturdivant Florida State 38, Boston College 20 - FSU took their week off against USF so it’s time for a good game. A pissed off Florida State team goes into Alumni Stadium and works the Eagles. Game-changer: CB/KR Greg Reid
Greg Reid is always a difference-maker in the return game.
NC State 23, Wake Forest 20 - Russell Wilson leads the Pack to a win as the Deacs are still shook up from their overtime loss last week. Game-changer: QB Russell Wilson Georgia Tech 27, Mississippi State 17 - The ACC chalks one up against the might SEC as Jonathan Dwyer and Co. run wild all over the Bulldogs. Game-changer: RB Jonathan Dwyer Oklahoma 34, Miami 20 - The ’Canes have a chance to show that their first two wins were no fluke. I don’t think they were a fluke, but Miami isn’t nearly as good as some were thinking early on. Game-changer: QB Landry Jones
State of Emergency: Time for change! October 4, 2009 I know you’re expecting to hear a recap or reaction to the Boston College game, and you will. Kind of. This will be more the big picture from Saturday night. You saw exactly what FSU has
campus coRrespondent 34
become. A below average football program, and the man who is responsible for it. For the first time since 1983, Florida State is below .500 after five weeks of football. For the first time EVER, Florida State 0-2 in the ACC. Bobby Bowden is setting records this season, but not the kind that he had hoped for… Let me first say this: I have the utmost respect for Bobby Bowden and what he has done for The Florida State University. He headed the greatest dynasty of all time as he lead FSU to 14 consecutive top 5 finishes, a streak that will never be matched in our lifetime. He has brought two national titles and countless great memories to Tallahassee in his career but those days are behind him. Way behind him. The Bobby Bowden Era is officially over in Tallahassee and he needs to realize that. I’m not saying he should be fired, because he shouldn’t. Let him finish the season, and then tell him that his contract for next season will not be renewed and Jimbo Fisher will take over. The longer Bowden stays in charge, the program suffers. I see Bobby Bowden as the old man driving down the coaching road going 55 in a 70 MPH area. At the same time, these younger guys (your Urban Meyer’s, Nick Saban’s, Chris Peterson’s, etc) are flying past him leaving him as nothing more than a memory. It is just sad to see the man who built the program into a college football powerhouse, tear it all down and not even realize what he is doing. The only time Bobby Bowden ever finished a season at FSU with a losing record was in 1976, his first season. It looks like Bobby could leave this program right where it was when he took over… Jimbo Fisher is the “head coach in waiting”, but it almost seems that the entire football program of FSU is “in waiting”. Just 10 years ago, a loss to Boston College, Wake Forest, NC State or anyone other than a top 10 team would just be unacceptable. Now, losses like this have become to norm in Tallahassee and it needs to change! In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Bobby Bowden has this to say: “What would I gain by stepping down right now?” Bobby said. “What would you do — fire everybody and bring in a whole new coaching staff? You can’t do that. I’ll wait until the end of the year to evaluate myself.” I’m sorry Bobby, but it’s not about what YOU have to gain. How about the program. What about the 83,000 fans that come to watch a mediocre product every single weekend? What about the boosters who fund the FSU Circus that people call a football program. After the dynasty, Bowden said several times that if he started losing games, he would step down. Well FSU has lost a TON of games during the past few seasons but he is still on the sidelines. IT’S TIME BOBBY! Like I said, I love Coach Bowden and everything he has done for this program, but I can’t stand watching him tear it down like this. The worst part is, he doesn’t even realize what he is doing. He thinks he still has the ability to coach at a competitive level. He doesn’t. And as long as he is in charge, FSU won’t be able to compete at a competitive level either…
campus coRrespondent 35
ACC Week 6 Power Rankings October 6, 2009 1. Virginia Tech – Duke played them tough but Tech did what good teams do; came away with the victory. As long as the Hokies keep winning, they will maintain the top spot. 2. Miami – The Hurricanes showed heart and determination in upset of #8 Oklahoma. Nobody outside of Coral Gables thought the ’Canes would make it out of their first four games with a 3-1 record but it looks like the swag might be on its way back to the U. 3. Georgia Tech – The Jackets put up 42 points on Mississippi with their triple option attack. Not only that, Demaryius Thomas proved that they have a passing threat as well racking up nearly 180 yards. 4. Boston College – The Eagles had their way with the Seminoles early on but nearly gave the game away. They showed heart by holding on as the ’Noles surged late which moves them right up the power rankings. 5. Wake Forest – Wake is an overtime fumble away from holding the top spot in the ACC Atlantic. They faced a tough challenge with NC State coming into their house but came out with the win in the end. 6. NC State – The Pack lost a tough game in Winston Salem but considering it was just their first conference loss, they are still in good shape to make a run in a very bad Atlantic division. 7. Clemson – A few missed field goals cost Clemson their game against Maryland. The Tigers still have a great defense and that will help them win some games this season. 8. North Carolina – A loss to the worst team in the conference hurts. Especially when comes from a team within your own division and for the most parts, ends any hopes of a conference title this season. 9. Florida State – Florida State has hit a new low. They are 0-2 in the ACC for the first time ever. Not to mention, the Board of Trustees are calling for coaching legend Bobby Bowden’s head. 10. Maryland – The got a few good bounces and beat a Clemson team who most thought would have their way with them. Can they keep it up or was it just a one-hit wonder? 11. Virginia – Congrats to the Cav’s for finally getting a win. Just like Maryland, it will be interesting to see if they can pull it together for the remainder of the season, or if they fall right back on their faces. 12. Duke – They fought hard but came up short against the top team in the ACC. They are still probably better than Virginia but who cares? They are still one of the worst two teams in the ACC so the Devils should take this ranking as motivation.
In case you’ve forgotten…. October 7, 2009 Florida State has a game this weekend! The Seminoles (2-3, 0-2 ACC) will host the twenty-fifth ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jacks (4-1, 2-1). For the past week, all the buzz in Tallahassee has been around the future of head coach Bobby Bowden. The second-winningest coach of all time has been getting pressure from all over to announce his retirement at the end of this season. On Wednesday morning, FSU President
campus coRrespondent 36
T.K. Wetherell said in a release that the university will wait until after the season to evaluate the coaching staff. As for now, the whole Bobby Bowden issue has been put on hold and the Seminoles must find a way to slow down one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation in order to get their first conference win of the season. Last season, the Seminoles had trouble stopping Georgia Tech as the Jackets racked up nearly 300 rushing yards including touchdown runs of 36 and 66 yards from last season’s ACC player of the year, Jonathan Dwyer. To make things worse for the Tribe this season, it seems that Tech has actually found a passing attack to go along with their ground game. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas could start at wide out for any team in the nation and is having a break out season. Just last week, Thomas tallied nearly 180 receiving yards in route to a 42-31 win over Mississippi State. Add big play potential with a running game plus big play potential from the passing game and that equals a nightmare for the Florida State defense. The Seminoles have given up several big plays in every game this season, including the 54-28 romping of number #7 BYU. Luckily, Florida State’s offense has moved the ball very well this season. Even though the ’Noles only scored 7 points against USF, the Tribe did make three trips inside the 10 without any points to show for it. Jimbo Fisher said following the game that if they played mistake free, they would have easily had 38 points in that game. In the second half against Boston College, Florida State erased an 18 point deficit with relative ease as Christian Ponder led the offensive attack for the Seminoles. Ponder currently leads the ACC in passing yards per game, as well as total offense per game. Considering the above, all signs this weekend point to a shootout. To say this is a must-win for Florida State is beyond an understatement. The Seminoles have lost four of their last five home games and have been all over the national media for all the wrong reasons this week. A win this weekend can only help things go up from there. A loss, and FSU somehow sinks deeper than they are now. Ideally, Florida State’s players would rally around Coach Bowden and all of Seminole Nation unites as they hold their ground and come out firing in all cylinders against the Jackets earning their first conference win of the season silencing the critics, for at least another week. Realistically, the Seminole defense has shown no reason why anyone should believe they can stop Georgia Tech’s offense at all. The Jackets will have their way with Mickey Andrew’s unit who Coach Bowden called the “most mistake-prone” unit he can remember seeing in years. The Seminole offense keeps it close, but in the end it’s just another game, and another loss for the Seminoles. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Florida State 27
ACC Week 6 Predictions October 8, 2009 Virginia Tech 31, Boston College 17 – The Eagles get a true wake up call this weekend. The Hokies are looking to make a run at a national championship this season and nobody is going to end that run in Lane Stadium.
campus coRrespondent 37
Game-changer – Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. North Carolina 35, Georgia Southern 13 – The Heels need win badly and luckily, they will get one here. An average team in the FCS will be no match for UNC this weekend. Game-changer – North Carolina running back Shaun Draughn. Virginia 24, Indiana 21 – The Cav’s picked up their first win of the season in Chapel Hill last week and will look to build on that momentum. Luckily, they get to play a bad Hoosier team that shouldn’t prove to be too much of a challenge. Game-changer – Virginia running back Mikell Simpson. Upset Special: Duke 27, North Carolina State 24 – This game showcases two good quarterbacks in Russell Wilson of NC State and Thaddeus Lewis of Duke. The Devils came up just short of knocking off Virginia Tech last weekend and they will finish the job this week against the Pack. Game-changer – Duke wide receiver Austin Kelly. Wake Forest 21, Maryland 14 – The ’Deacs are coming off of a big win against NC State and the same can be said about Maryland with their win over Clemson. I think Wake Forest’s win was more legit and the Terps just lucked into theirs. Game-changer – Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner. Miami 45, FAMU 17 – No reason the Hurricanes should fall here. Coming off of a big win over Oklahoma, this team is back near the top 10 and they aren’t about to give it up so quickly this time. Game-changer – Miami wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Georgia Tech 38, Florida State 27 – Before Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt went out last year, the Jackets were in total control of this game. See my blog about this game for more thoughts on this. Game-changer – Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt.
Josh Nesbitt will lead GT to victory Saturday.
campus coRrespondent 38
Stung October 11, 2009 Florida State totaled 539 yards of offense, scored 44 points and Christian Ponder set career highs in passing yards (359) and touchdowns (5). The Seminoles simply put, exploded on the offensive side of the ball when they desperately needed a win. The offense definitely did their part. Too bad the defense decided to take the night off… The Seminole defense gave up 401 yards of rushing offense and a total of 532 total yards. In addition to allowing the Yellow Jackets to run the ball at will up and down the field, Florida State also failed to force even one punt in Saturday night’s battle. In addition to allowing an endless amount of yardage and 49 points, the defense failed to get a crucial stop in the final minutes of the game which could have allowed the offense one last chance at a victory. Florida State is now 2-4 on the season and has yet to win a conference game in three tries. It is officially the worst start to a season since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first season as a Seminole. If the Seminoles can’t find a way to win four of the final six games, it will end the nation’s streak of bowl game appearances. As bad as things seem right now though, the Seminoles still have a chance to salvage the season and compete for the Atlantic division title. The Seminoles must find their defense and win their next five games. Also, Clemson must lose once in the conference as well as the headto-head match up with FSU. Boston College must also lose two more games. All of which is very possible. It’s not time to give up hope just yet Seminole nation, but it is hard to watch this team play. To see so much talent and potential on the field lose week in and week out is a shame. It’s time to show some pride, man up and start winning games like you are capable of. Florida State will take a week off, then head to Chapel Hill to play a tough North Carolina team next Thursday night. Stay tuned to my blog this week as I will have power rankings and predictions (I was 7-0 this week) up as the week progresses.
ACC Week 7 Power Rankings October 12, 2009 This week, I did my best not to go by reputation, history or potential, but to rank the teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference based solely on performance. With that said, keep an open mind and take a look at this weeks power rankings. 1. Virginia Tech – The Hokies held Boston College to just 28 yards of total offense through three quarters while the offense moved the ball seemingly at will. The Hokies have the easiest road left of any national title contenders at this point. Can they capitalize on it? 2. Miami – Some thought the ’Canes game with FAMU could possibly be a trap game but Miami went out and took care of business like good teams do. They have a very manageable schedule to finish out, but unless Virginia Tech loses two conference games, they will miss out on the ACC title game this year. 3. Georgia Tech – The Jackets defense was abused by Florida State this past weekend
campus coRrespondent 39
allowing over 500 yards of total offense and 44 points. Luckily, Josh Nesbitt was able to take advantage of a horrible FSU defense as Tech amassed 400 yards on the ground alone and scoring 49 points. 4. Wake Forest – The ’Deacs once again found a way to win this weekend as they outscored Maryland 42-32 and improved to 2-1 in conference play and on top of the Atlantic division. 5. Duke – No I’m not crazy. Duke has turned in two very respectable performances in a row and are led by one hell of a quarterback in Thaddeus Lewis. Duke hung 49 points on N.C. State and the Pack will not be the last victim of the Devils this season. 6. Virginia – Another team that spent the first part of the season in the cellar that has improved dramatically. The Cav’s scored 47 points in a win over Indiana and have begin their annual run to keep Groh’s job for at least one more season. 7. Clemson – The Tigers had a much needed week off before they host division foe Wake Forest this weekend. There is still time for Clemson to get back on track but the offense must show signs of improvement in the second half of the season. 8. Boston College – As predicated, the Eagles got a wake-up call after heading into Lane Stadium and getting dismantled by the Hokies. Boston College is still on track to have a better season than many though, and with a little luck could still earn a rematch with Virginia Tech, if they even want one… 9. North Carolina – North Carolina’s defense caused six turnovers this weekend against Georgia Southern as they coasted to a 42-12 victory. It’s too bad for them that they play in the Coastal division. If they were in the Atlantic, they would still have a shot at making it to Tampa. 10. Maryland – The Terps are only in this spot because they have one thing that the two teams below them don’t have; a conference win. It’s sad that the number 10 team in the power ranking is still legitimately alive in the race for the ACC, but they are. 11. North Carolina State – The Pack’s defense was embarrassed as Thaddeus Lewis was able to pick them apart like a scout team this past Saturday. Russell Wilson is one of very few bright spots on this team but he can’t win game by himself. 12. Florida State – Not a typo. Just because the Seminoles have a spear on their helmet and Bobby Bowden as head coach doesn’t mean they are good any more. The offense is explosive but the defense is dismal. Any time a team racks up 500 yards of offense, 44 points and loses, they are in trouble. 0-3 in conference and right now, the worst team in the conference.
Week 8 ACC Power Rankings October 20, 2009 It’s that time guys. Another week of power rankings from the whacky ACC: 1. Miami – The Hurricanes did what good teams are supposed to do by winning convincingly in a game that they were heavy favorites. They still need a little help to win the Coastal, but even if they just win out, a BCS at-large should be on the table for Miami. 2. Georgia Tech – Up to number two after a big win over Virginia Tech. The gimmicky offense of the Jackets is still working in the ACC. It seems simple enough to stop, but so far nobody has been able to do it for a full 60 minutes. 3. Virginia Tech - Frank Beamer announced that the Hokies will not play another game in
campus coRrespondent 40
Atlanta as long as he is head coach. Two trips there this season and two losses will do that. 4. Virginia – The Cavilers came to play once again and believe it or not, are currently in control of their own destiny. That’s right. UVA is atop the Coastal division and will be heading to Tampa if they keep winning their conference games. 5. Clemson – Give the Tigers some credit. They took their bye week, got themselves together and completely thrashed Wake Forest. Dabo Swinney’s seat is a little cooler this week. 6. Duke – The Devils were off last week and get a game they should win as they host a horrible Maryland team this weekend. 7. Boston College – The Eagles are still on top of the Atlantic division, but I just can’t see them winning enough games to take the division for a third year in a row. But hey, that’s what I said the past two years and they proved me wrong. 8. Wake Forest – The Deac’s were destroyed by Clemson last weekend, but are still in good position as of right now to take the Atlantic if they can go on a run. They have the week off from conference play this weekend however as they travel to Navy. 9. North Carolina – The Heel’s had last weekend off to prepare for Florida State who they host this Thursday night. It will be the first ever Thursday night game in Chapel Hill so the Heels should have a favorable atmosphere to pick up their first conference win. 10. Florida State – The Seminoles also had the week off to get ready for Thursday night. Christian Ponder and the number one total offense in the ACC will have their hands full with UNC’s number one total defense in the ACC. 11. Maryland – Not much has gone right for the Terps this season and what looks like a loss to Duke this weekend won’t help turn things around. 12. North Carolina State – How do you let Boston College hang half a hundred on you? I know the Eagles are better than everyone thought, but they are by no means an offensive juggernaut. No stay here in the last spot of my power rankings and think about that for a week.
Game preview: Tribe traves to North Carolina October 21, 2009 Thursday night, two teams who were thought to contend in the respective divisions will meet for what was considered one of the premier games when the ACC schedule was released. What a difference half of a season makes. Florida State and North Carolina are currently a combined 0-5 in the ACC sitting dead last in their divisions. Worst of the worst: For Florida State, the defense has been the major issue. Mickey Andrew’s unit is giving up a league last 426 yards of offense per game. For North Carolina, the Achilles (Tar) Heel has been the offense which is also a league last averaging just 282 yards of offense per game. So if both units look a little improved this week, don’t think they have turned things around. It will just be a close up look at what happens when a really bad offense plays a really bad defense. Both teams will have big plays while these units are on the field, but it will most likely be a product of their opposition playing bad as usual. Whichever of these units can take the most advantage here will most likely put their team in better position to win Thursday night.
campus coRrespondent 41
Best of the best: On the flip side, Florida State will field the number one total offense in the ACC averaging 426 yards per game and a stunning 6.2 yards per play. On the other hand, North Carolina fields the leagues best defense who gives up just 237 yards per outing. So if each of these units seems to struggle at times on Thursday night, it won’t be because they are playing below their ability. It will be because that is simply what happens when two great units face off against each other. Impulsive off-topic thought… Imagine if FSU’s offense and UNC’s defense could combine to form an ACC super team. You gotta think they would be a top 5 team in the nation easily. OK, back to the blog… UNC wins Thursday night if… The Heels need to do what they do best; get pressure on the quarterback and force bad throws. North Carolina has a dominant front seven led by Robert Quinn and Quan Sturdivant. The Heels have racked up 15 sacks in six games which is a large reason they are first in the league in pass efficiency defense. Florida State’s offensive line is improved but has proven to be venerable as they were against USF’s front four. If North Carolina can completely shut down the Seminole passing attack, they will seriously hinder FSU’s chances of moving the ball. FSU wins Thursday night if… The Seminoles defense avoids giving up the big play which is much easier said than done. So far this season, just 20 passes completed by opposing teams have accounted for 59% of the passing yards given up by the Seminole defense. It is almost guaranteed that once or twice a game, an opposing receiver will find himself wide open 40 yards down the field which simply can not happen Thursday night if FSU hopes to avoid an 0-4 start in the conference. Prediction: Florida State does not have a great history on Thursday night games recently and the atmosphere in Chapel Hill is sure to be electric as they are hosting their first every Thursday night game in school history. Add that to the fact that UNC has the best defense in the ACC and the fifth best in the nation and I don’t like FSU’s chances. The Seminole defense has given me no reason whatsoever to believe they can step up and win a game which they may very well have to do as the Seminole offense should struggle some. UNC 24 FSU 23
‘Noles steal one in Chapel Hill October 23, 2009 Let me start by saying, thank you, Christian Ponder. Florida State was less than 30 minutes of football away from starting ACC play at an unprecedented 0-4 mark. The Seminoles trailed the Tar Heels by the score of 24-6 in the third quarter in Chapel Hill. The offense had struggled as they were supposed to against the third ranked defense in the nation. It was apparent that Florida State would have to start slinging the ball around if they wanted to make a comeback, but how could they do that against the best pass defense in the nation?
campus coRrespondent 42
Two words. Christian Ponder! The most underrated player in the nation finished the game completing his final 16 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns including a 98 yard bomb to Rod “Old School” Owens as he led the Seminoles from behind. His complete night’s work looked like this: 33-40 (82%) for 395 yards and three touchdowns. Keep in mind that all of this was against the best pass defense in the nation! It’s a shame that Florida State’s defense has been so dismal this season. If they just an average defense, top 60 or better, there is little doubt in my mind that Florida State is currently sitting with a record of at least 6-1 and Christian Ponder is at the top of everyone’s Heisman list. Just look at his numbers on the season: Total passing yards: 2,176 yards (Third best in the nation) Total offense: 330.42 yards per game (Fourth best in the nation) Passing yards per game: 310.85 yards per game (Fifth best in the nation) What makes his play so impressive is that he does all this WITHOUT a rushing attack. Everyone knows that he is going to throw the ball but nobody can stop him! You couldn’t convince me that there is a better QB in the nation right now. As for the defense, I have to give them credit for holding North Carolina to just three points down the stretch which allowed Ponder to display his late game heroics. The Florida State D buckled down when it mattered most and shut down the Heels finally showing some heart. Play of the game: With Florida State trailing 24-13 with four minutes left in the third quarter and, the Seminoles were back up to their own two yard line and Christian Ponder fearlessly dropped back into his own endzone finding Rod Owens for a 98 yard touchdown pass.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Beil/Tallahassee Democrat
That play not only turned the game around, it may have helped turn Florida State’s season around. The Seminoles need just three wins to keep the nations longest bowl streak of 27 alive. That would make what started out as a nightmare season salvageable. Only time will tell, but there is finally reason for hope in Tallahassee!
campus coRrespondent 43
Week 9 ACC Power Rankings October 25, 2009 1. Georgia Tech – The Jackets came to play and despite the rainy weather dominated the game from start to finish. Tech has a very manageable schedule from here on out and a legitimate shot at an 11-1 regular season finish baring a late season choke. 2. Virginia Tech – The Hokie has a bye week to regroup after a tough loss to Georgia Tech. They should get back on track this week as they play a struggling North Carolina team. 3. Clemson – For the first time a while, an Atlantic division team jumps into the top three. The Tigers turned in a gritty performance knocking off #10 Miami on the road and now control their own destiny on their road to Tampa Bay. 4. Miami – The Hurricanes couldn’t get the job done against Clemson at Landshark Stadium, but there is no reason to think they are not a top team in the ACC. It’s just too bad for them that they play in the Coastal because winning their division just became near impossible. 5. Duke – The Blue Devils came out and beat up on Maryland just as many thought they would. As far as I’m concerned, they are the best ACC team in the state of North Carolina. 6. Boston College – The Eagles put up a fight against Notre Dame but came up just short in the end. They will take another week off from conference play before traveling to Charlottesville on November 14. 7. Florida State – The Seminoles overcame an 18 point second half deficit behind the strong arm of quarterback Christian Ponder to avoid their first ever 0-4 start in the ACC. With an improved defense next season (they can’t get any worse), Ponder should be on the short list for the 2010 Heisman. 8. Virginia – The Cav’s watched their chances at an ACC title come to a screeching halt as they were dismantled by Georgia Tech Saturday. They now host Duke for what should be a great game this weekend (who saw that coming?). 9. Wake Forest – The Deacs’ managed only 10 points in a loss against Navy on Saturday. Their consolation prize? A pissed off Miami team visits them this weekend. 10. Maryland – At least the Terps have a conference win right now. Something the two teams below them can’t say at this point in the season. They now must prepare to play a team that is actually worse than they are. 11. North Carolina State – The Pack had the week off to prepare for a dominant Florida State offense this weekend. Russell Wilson will have to turn in a career game against the Tribe because he won’t get any help from his defense. 12. North Carolina – The Heels had an 18 point lead and less than a half to play and they would have their first conference win. Then nation’s number 1 pass defense was exposed. Don’t look for them to win a conference game any time soon as they travel to Virginia Tech this week.
Shooutout at high noon: N.C. State visits Florida State October 29, 2009 Two of the best quarterbacks in the conference are preparing themselves for a showdown at 12:00 pm Saturday. Both are two of the most dynamic play-makers in the conference and both
campus coRrespondent 44
will get the luxury of playing against very weak defenses. Florida State remains dead last in the ACC in total defense giving up just over 413 yards each week. Opposing teams are averaging an astonishing 6.6 yards per play against the Seminoles. After three straight losses where the offense couldn’t get going like some thought they could this season, Russell Wilson has to be watering at the mouth with a chance to face this Florida State defense. At his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, FSU Defensive Coordinator mentioned that NC State throws the ball 68% of the time. That number may actually increase this weekend as only Maryland gives up more yards through the air in the conference than the Seminoles do. And when Wilson throws the ball, he usually does a great job of it. Wilson completes nearly 60% of his passes and has thrown 16 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions. Wilson will be looking to his leading wide receiver Jarvis Williams all day as he is sure to find his way wide open in the secondary at least once for a big play. Prediction: Wilson throws for 300+ yards and 3+ touchdowns. Williams has 100+ receiving yards. As bad as Florida State’s defense has been, NC State’s has been just as bad, if not worse. Any time you give up over 100 combined points to the likes of Duke and Boston College, there are issues. Yes, both BC and Duke are better than most expected them to be, but they shouldn’t be hanging 50 points on anyone! This is where Christian Ponder comes into play. While the Seminole’s rushing offense has been absent most of this season, Ponder has still managed to put up Heismen-like numbers. Ponder is averaging an ACC best (and 4th in the nation) 330 total yards per game, has a 12-1 touchdown to interception ratio and has gone over 230 pass attempts with an interception. Hey Pack fans… Remember when Thaddeus Lewis completed 40 of his 50 pass attempts and threw for five touchdowns against you guys? Well, you may be watching a repeat of that this weekend. Finally, Ponder’s receivers have been stepping up as Rod Owens, Bert Reed and the rest of the receiving crops have improved every single week. Look for Ponder to pick the Pack apart! Prediction: Ponder throws for 400+ yards and 3+ touchdowns. FSU has 2 diference 100 xxxxxyard receivers. Well, we have now established that everyone in Tallahassee should play witness to one of the greatest air shows of all time. But who will come out on top at the end? The easy answer is first team to 50, which it could very well be. I think the Seminoles come out with something to prove. The Tribe is 1-5 in their past six home games and is ready to take back the home field advantage at Doak; a place where the Seminoles one won 54 games in a row! The Seminole defense showed signs of life in the second half of the UNC game last weekend, and if they can build on that just a little, it will be enough to give the Seminoles the edge. Prediction: FSU 54, NC State 41
campus coRrespondent 45
ACC Saturday Pick 6 October 31, 2009 So I missed the Thursday night game, but we all know I would have taken UNC to beat Virginia Tech Thursday night, right? O.K. Maybe not, but since I didn’t officially pick that game, I have a clean slate heading into the weekend so here we go… Florida State 54, North Carolina State 41 - I had this in my blog I wrote about this game earlier in the week and I’m sticking to it. It may not get this high, but there are no signs saying there won’t be a shootout in Tallahassee. Clemson 41, Coastal Carolina 6 - Look for C.J. Spiller to rack up some stats as he continues to push as a dark horse in the race for the Heisman. A good tune up game for the Tigers before they host the mighty Seminoles next weekend in Death Valley. *Upset Special: Central Michigan 28, Boston College 24 - The only thing on Boston College’s mind right now is that they need to win out to have a chance at winning the Atlantic division. With a key game at Virginia next week, the Eagles slip up in a classic trap game. Miami 31, Wake Forest 20 - Miami let their chances at the ACC take a huge hit losing at home to Clemson last week and should be pissed off heading into this game. The ‘Canes get back on track with a big win in Winston Salem. Duke 35, Virginia 20 - This game will probably be closer than this, but I love how Thad Lewis has been playing lights out giving Duke one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. I look for him to keep up his high level of play this weekend. Georgia Tech 38, Vanderbilt 10 - This one won’t be close. The Jackets will run wild all over Vandy and the ACC racks up another win over the mighty SEC.
Seminoles win track meet in Tallahassee November 1, 2009 For the second time this season, there has been a game with over 1,000 total yards played in Doak Campbell Stadium. The first time, Georgia Tech held on to defeat the Seminoles by the score of 49-44. Saturday’s outcome was much more favorable to the Seminole faithful as the Tribe, led by quarterback Christian Ponder, put together another fourth quarter comeback winning by the final tally of 45-42. Game ball goes to… Christian Ponder: 26-40, 277 yards, 1 TD. 4 carries for 29 yards. Early in the first quarter, Christian Ponder scrambled and picked up a first down as he dove for the sticks. During that play, he took a helmet to his rib severely bruising it. At halftime, backup quarterback E.J. Manuel was spotted on the sidelines warming up and it looked like Ponder was too hurt to play on. He probably was, but the redshirt native remained in the game and somehow willed the team to victory. He once again led a game-winning drive in the closing minutes to give the Seminoles the win. I struggled about picking Jermaine Thomas for his 186 yards and 2 touchdown performance, but Ponders grit gives him the ball here.
campus coRrespondent 46
Still NO defense… Florida State gave up over 500 yards of total offense. Think about that, 500 yards. I know FSU did the same to N.C. State, but this is a Mickey Andrews coached defense. This is a Florida State defense. Once feared by all, now the laughing stock of college football. Florida State is the worst defense in the ACC by nearly 50 yards per game compared to the eleventh ranked team, Maryland! Even when there a signs of a pass rush, the secondary continues to give up big plays such as Russell Wilson’s 80 yard touchdown pass to Owen Spencer (a career long for both). Just imagine what Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller will do to this team in Death Valley. ACC title still in sight… Florida State will need some help still, but the Seminoles still have a very legitimate shot at playing in the ACC Championship game. Here is the dream scenario that needs to play out for FSU to win the Atlantic: 1. Florida State wins out. 2. Clemson wins all remaining ACC games except this weekend’s game against FSU. 3. Boston College loses to Virginia. That would put FSU, CU and BC in a 3 way tie. Head to head is thrown out the door as all three teams have beaten each other. The next tie-breaker is each team’s record within the Atlantic division. FSU would have a just one division loss (BC) and Clemson (Maryland, FSU) and BC (Maryland, Clemson) would both have two division losses. The only other realistic scenario for FSU to head to Tampa would be for BC to lose two more ACC games (they play Maryland, Virginia and UNC) and the ’Noles would still need to win out. With the way the ACC is, you have to believe that a trip to Tampa is still very possible for Florida State. The Seminoles come-from-behind win was huge setting up the road for FSU. The next major hurdle will come this weekend when the Tribe travels to Death Valley for a night game in what should be an amazing atmosphere.
Mickey Andrews to make announcement concerning future on Tuesday. November 2, 2009 Coach Andrews said Monday during his press conference, he plans to make an announcement concerning his future as soon as Tuesday. Most feel he will announce his retirement which will be effective following the season.
Week 10 ACC Power Rankings November 2, 2009 1. Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets went on the road and won handily at an SEC school. Who cares if it was Vandy? 2. Miami – The Hurricanes showed no quit in them as they came from behind on the road to beat Wake Forest and keep a slight hope of playing for an ACC Championship alive. 3. Clemson – The Tigers did what they were supposed to do beating up on lowly Coastal Carolina this past weekend. They now must prepare for what could be the game of the year in
campus coRrespondent 47
the Atlantic division as they host Florida State in a night game at Death Valley. 4. Virginia Tech – The Hokes suffered a rare loss at Lane Stadium. To make it worse, it was at the hands of a winless team in the conference. 5. Duke – Duke did the unthinkable winning its third straight ACC game this past weekend. This weekend they travel to cross-town rival North Carolina and actually have a great shot at winning. 6. Boston College – The Eagle beat a good Central Michigan team handily this weekend to become bowl-eligible and now get a well deserved week off. 7. Florida State – Still no defense, but possibly the best offense the ACC has seen in a while. FSU’s defense gave up 538 yards and 42 points but still won. Look for another shootout in Death Valley this weekend. 8. Wake Forest – The Deacs gave Miami everything they had but came up just short in the end. They now travel to Georgia Tech for what looks to be yet another loss. 9. North Carolina – It’s about time. UNC showed that they are at least a decent team. They can definitely beat anyone in the ACC, but they need to play an entire game every week to keep it going. 10. Virginia – The Cav’s were humbled by Duke this past weekend and now head to Miami to play the new look ’Canes. 11. Maryland – Maryland had the week off and still dropped a spot in my rankings. They will probably drop another spot next week when they lose to the #12 team in this weeks rankings, N.C. State. 12. North Carolina State – The Wolf Pack scored 42 points and lost. This defense is bad and the offense probably won’t put together another performance like that. They will win a conference game eventually, but until they do they can sit at the bottom of this list.
Andrews announces retirement November 3, 2009 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, the architect of the Seminoles defense since 1984, will retire at the end of the 2009 season. One of the nation’s most respected defensive coaches, the 68-year-old Andrews, made his decision public today. “For 47 years it’s been about me,” Andrews said. “Now it’s time to be about us – my family.” Andrews and his wife Diane will continue to call Tallahassee home in retirement. Over the course of his 26 seasons as the architect of the Seminoles’ defense, Andrews has helped develop some of the finest players and units in college football history. More importantly, he has been a mentor to all walks of players with his fiery brand of motivation on the field and his compassion off it. Florida State coach Bobby Bowden directly credits Andrews’ work for producing a pair of national championships. “He’s been here 26 years and we’ve had such success and you just have to credit him with the success we’ve had since he came,” Bowden said. “He’s done such a great job. We’ll miss
campus coRrespondent 48
him and his wife and family. He’s a good church man and a good civic man and always has his priorities in order and puts his family ahead of football. He’s a guy that has never slowed down. He’s just as enthusiastic now as he was when he came here.” Andrews will direct the defense through the balance of the season and, after meeting with Florida State director of athletics Randy Spetman, will stay on board through February 10, 2010. That is the date he was hired by Bowden to help transform the Seminoles into what became a college football dynasty. Andrews provides some insight into his decision with as hand-crafted statement: “After last football season I told Diane I wanted to coach one more year. For several reasons we agreed that was the thing to do.” “We debated on when it should be announced – before the season or after it. Because of a lot of speculation and questioning from friends, family and media, we decided to go ahead and do it now.” “This is my last year as a football coach at Florida State. I has been a wonderful experience. We have been blessed.” “I just want to thank Coach Bowden for giving me the opportunity to come to Florida State in 1984. It has been 26 great years working for him. I also want to thank all the outstanding coaches and staff people I have worked with through the years.” “I especially want to thank all the players who gave so much of themselves to make this program so successful through the years.” “And finally, to the fans who make FSU so special – Go Noles!” Coach Andrews will address the media at the conclusion of today’s practice.
Tribe heads to Death Valley November 5, 2009 If Florida State wants to keep their hopes at making the trip to Tampa to play for the ACC Championship alive, they must first find their way out of Death Valley with a win. Playing in Death Valley is never an easy task and when the game is a night, it becomes even more difficult. Don’t believe me? Take into account these quotes from people who have experienced Death Valley first hand that I have found. “Florida was loud in the Swamp. But, the loudest, not only the stadium, but the loudest place I have ever been around in my life was definitely Death Valley.” -Chris Rix, former Florida State Quarterback. “I remember being sick before the game because there were 80,000 people dressed in orange. I even threw up before the game. It’s the only time I’ve ever done that.” -Dave Brown, Former Duke Quarterback “I came here knowing it would be loud and that Clemson would hit me hard, but to me, the noise was the biggest factor. I know I didn’t concentrate as well because of it.” -Herschel Walker, Former Georgia Running Back (after Clemson’s 13-3 victory in 1981, Walker’s
campus coRrespondent 49
only regular season loss at Georgia). I think you get the point. I get chills just reading those quotes. I personally can’t wait to make the trip to Clemson this weekend as it will be my first experience in Death Valley. A few thousand ’Noles and I will be the only splash of garnet to be found in what will be a “solid orange” crush. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it or not. The good thing is, I don’t have to be, but the guys with the spear on their helmets better be! So that brings up to the question, ‘what does Florida State have to do to win’? Protect Ponder: Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder is the heart and soul of this team. Last week against N.C. State, Ponder suffered a rib contusion and has been limited in practice this week. He will have on extra padding, but one hard hit could possibly knock him out of the game. This is where the offensive line comes into play. If the Seminoles want any chance at pulling the upset in Death Valley this weekend, they must keep Ponder’s jersey clean and allow him to find his receivers and move the offense downfield. Get Thomas Going: Jermaine Thomas finally had the breakout game everyone was waiting for as he torched N.C. State for 186 yards on the ground. That will be near impossible to repeat against Clemson’s front line. FSU’s offensive line comes into play again here. If they can open holes and allow Thomas past the first line of defense, he can have another big day. Force Tiger Turnovers! There is a very real chance that Clemson could go the entire game without punting the ball. Georgia Tech did it with relative ease against FSU. With C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford on Clemson’s offense, it is very possible Clemson stays out of 4th down situations. If FSU wants to stay in the game, they must take the ball away from Clemson and put the offense in position to score with a short field. Early turnovers would be best for FSU as it allows them to play from ahead the entire game, because if they play from behind they won’t catch Clemson. DON’T KICK TO C.J. Special team’s coverage has not been great at FSU in recent years and if the offense scores as much as I think they will, they will be kicking off a lot. It is almost better to kick the ball out of bounds or squib it and give up decent field position rather than to kick it to Spiller and give him a chance at a quick six. Prediction: Unfortunately for Florida State, I think they will have to do all of this in order to come out alive against Clemson, and I just can’t see them doing it. Spiller and Ford both turn in several big plays and Florida State’s offense can’t keep up with what their defense allows on the other end. Clemson 45, Florida State 38
Noles fail to leave Death Valley alive November 9, 2009 First of all, I would like to start this blog out by extending a huge thank you to all Clemson fans. I have been to several college football games and encountered fans from several different
campus coRrespondent 50
universities including Florida, Miami, Alabama, Arkansas and Colorado just to name a few. Of all of those, Alabama fans were all very friendly to me but my best encounter, by far would have to be with the fans of Clemson. First of all, the people who hosted us had only met one person in my group but welcomed us to stay with them with open arms. They showed us around the city and we had a great time. I did not meet any (ok, maybe one or two) Clemson fans who I did not like. Everyone was great before the game, and after the Tigers ran us off the field in the fourth quarter. That brings me to the next part of this blog, the game. Florida State came out firing on all cylinders jumping to an early 17-6 lead. Shortly after the Seminoles second touchdown, the small Florida State section in the corner of the upper bowl was taking over the entire stadium. It was great to be a Seminole at that point in the game. Then the fourth quarter came with the Seminoles leading 24-21 following a Jermaine Thomas touchdown late in the third. At that point of the game, I just knew Florida State was going to get their first win in Death Valley for the first time since 2001. I was the good luck charm and the streak was finally about to come to an end. Then reality hit. Clemson scored three fourth quarter touchdowns while shutting out the Seminoles. Christian Ponder was picked off for the third and fourth times of the game and the defense was helpless after playing halfway decent throughout the first three quarters. Florida State surrendered a fourth quarter lead instead of taking one as they had in their two previous games. AsFlorida State watched their lead slip away and lose the game, they also lost all hopes of winning the Atlantic division which means a fourth straight year without an ACC Championship. That means this year, in my senior year at FloridaState, I will be a part of the first ever graduating class that does not watch Florida State win the ACC. But wait, it gets worse… The one consistent bright spot on the team this year, Christian Ponder not only had the worst game of his career throwing four interceptions, he may also be lost for the remainder of the season. After DeAndre McDaniel, a Tallahassee native, intercepted Ponder late in the game, he returned the ball and Ponder, being the competitor that he is, went for a big hit on McDaniel. Unfortunately, that hit separated Ponder’s throwing shoulder and there are rumors flying around Tallahassee that he may need season ending surgery which could be devastating Florida State’s chances at making a bowl game this season. Redshirt freshman EJ Manuel will now be forced to step in and make his first career start against a team that has beaten Florida State three times in a row. Manuel will become the fourth different quarterback to start in this stretch as the previous three victims are Drew Weatherford (2006), Xavier Lee (2007) and Christian Ponder last season in 2008. I’ll touch more on that in my blog this week when I preview Florida State’s match up against the Deacs.
My beautiful girlfriend and I watch from the nose bleed section in Death Valley.
campus coRrespondent 51
ACC Week 11 Power Rankings November 11, 2009 1. Georgia Tech – The Jackets showed some heart winning in overtime against Wake Forest. They are now just two more regular season games from the best season anyone can remember at Georgia Tech. 2. Miami – The Hurricanes did what they were supposed to do. Stomp Virginia into the ground to the tune of 52-17 including holding the Cav’s scoreless in the second half. 3. Clemson – The Tigers defense came up big picking off the best quarterback in the ACC, Christian Ponder four times in a 4th quarter comeback win against Florida State. 4. Virginia Tech – The Hokies defense looked great in their win over East Carolina. Their offense on the other hand, did not. This team was once considered a national title candidate now has little to play for this season. 5. Boston College – The Eagles had a bye week, but Duke’s loss bumps them up one spot. 6. Wake Forest – The Deacs had Georgia Tech beat but for the second week in a row, lost a heartbreaker. This team is getting better each week and has a good chance at redemption this weekend playing a Christian Ponder-less Florida State team. 7. North Carolina – The Tar Heels are back on track and beat archrival Duke 19-6 last weekend for their second straight conference win. 8. Duke – The Blue Devils still need two wins to become bowl-eligible and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. 9. Florida State – The Seminoles lost their most valuable player Christian Ponder and will rely on freshman EJ Manuel to win two of their next three just to get to a bowl game this season. 10. North Carolina State – The Pack beat a bad Maryland team, just barley. The bottom of the ACC is starting to look very, very bad. 11. Virginia - The Cav’s were humbled after a blowout loss to Miami last weekend and are starting to look like the team that we saw at the beginning of the season. 12. Maryland – Things can’t get much worse for the Turtles this. They can’t seem to do anything right and have to face a tough Virginia Tech team this weekend.
No Pressure, EJ November 12, 2009
campus coRrespondent 52
Florida State redshirt freshman EJ Manuel could not be put in a tougher situation as he is slated to make his first career start this weekend due to usual starter Christian Ponder being sidelined for the remainder of the season with a separated shoulder. A lot of streaks are on the line this Saturday in Winston-Salem when the Demon Deacons play host to the Florida State Seminoles and the Tribe will look to Manuel to lead them to victory. Going bowling? Florida State still needs to win two of their next three games in order to become bowl eligible. Currently, Florida State has the longest streak of bowl game appearances in the nation at 27 consecutive years. The Seminoles must find a way to beat Wake Forest and Maryland, because a win at Florida on Tim Tebow’s senior day seems unlikely right now. QB’s to go 4-0 versus the ’Noles? Riley Skinner is in a position to do what no quarterback has ever done against Florida State; play them four times and win every meeting. Never in history has a quarterback started against FSU four times and won every game. Manuel will need to play well to stop his counterpart, Skinner from being the first to accomplish this feat. ACC team snags four consecutive wins versus the ’Noles? Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Florida State has never lost four consecutive games to a fellow ACC school. Wake Forest has defeated the Seminoles each of the last three seasons and will look to defeat Florida State for the fourth consecutive time after losing their first 14 meetings against the Seminoles while in the ACC. As you can see, there is a lot on the line this weekend and although Manuel says he is not feeling any pressure, he most likely is. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of leading the Tribe to victory on Tobacco Road. Manuel is a 6-5, 215 pound quarterback that was ranked as the second best signal-caller in high school by Scout.com during his senior season at Bayside High in Virginia. He was recruited by every major university one can think of including Alabama, LSU, Penn State and Miami, but in the end chose to sign with Jimbo Fisher and Florida State. The former five-star standout has been on Florida State’s campus for over a year now and has been working under the best quarterback coach in the nation, Jimbo Fisher. Fisher and Manuel’s receivers both claim that he has come leaps and bounds since his arrival as a true freshman, when most thought he would compete for the starting job immediately. Here is an excerpt from Manuel’s Scout.com profile as a high school senior. “Despite his athletic ability, Manuel is a pocket passer who just happens to have the ability to evade the rush and make a play. When that happens he can tuck it and run and throw on the run. He can also stand tall in the pocket and pick you apart. Manuel will hang on to the ball, deliver an accurate pass and take the big hit. When he has time to set his feet he can throw with great velocity. He can make all the passes and throw with touch.” The only attribute Manuel is currently lacking that could hinder him this weekend in his lack of experience at the college level. The Virginia Beach native has only attempted four passes this season in limited action. Nearly every game Florida State has played in this season has come down to the wire limiting Manuel’s chances of seeing any playing time. Over recent years, several raw quarterbacks have come in and had success against Florida State,
campus coRrespondent 53
so I see no reason why Manuel can’t go into Winston-Salem and have a breakout performance in his first career start against Wake Forest. Will Manuel keep Florida State’s bowl hopes alive? I think so. Florida State’s rushing game has come on the past two weeks as Jermaine Thomas has eclipsed the 100 yard mark in both games. A solid rushing attack against Wake, a team that has had trouble stopping the run all season is very possible and should take some pressure off of Manuel early. Another good sign for Florida State is that their defense showed signs of life against Clemson last weekend. They forced several punts and turnovers which is something they have not done all year long. If they can slow down Skinner and Co. just a little, then EJ will be put in a position to lead the Tribe to victory. Lastly, Jimbo Fisher is considered one of the greatest offensive minds in football and will do everything in his power to put Manuel in positions he is comfortable with. Manuel was Fisher’s first recruit while he was at Florida State and knows his strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. He will make sure to call plays that suit Manuel’s abilities and put him in position to be successful. Prediction: Manuel plays well enough and manages the game as he leads the Seminoles to the upset on the road. Florida State 28, Wake Forest 27 Bonus prediction: EJ Manuel: 16-22, 225 yards, 1 TD
Stayin’ Alive November 15, 2009 With just two weeks left in the regular season, what did we learn after Florida State’s 41-28 win over Wake Forest? EJ Manuel is going to be a very good player. He will not take the starting job from Christian Ponder next season, but against Wake Forest, Manuel proved that he will be a very solid back up and should be more than ready to take over the starting role in two years following Ponder’s graduation. In his first career start, Manuel completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts and for 220 yards and one touchdown. He threw just one bad pass as he was picked off late in the first half, but overall, played near flawless football. He also added in 45 rushing yards with a rushing touchdown. If Manuel can duplicate his performance this weekend when the Seminoles play host to Maryland, Florida State will do what very few thought was possible heading into Winston-Salem; make it to the post-season. Jermaine Thomas is for real. Last season against Georgia Tech, Jermaine Thomas had a breakout performance as he ran the ball just nine times for 130 yards. Ever since, Seminole Nation has been waiting for Thomas to show that ability again, but it hadn’t happened until three weeks ago against N.C. State. Against
campus coRrespondent 54
Wake Forest, Thomas eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the third straight week and showed why he is ready to be Florida State’s feature running back for the rest of his career. He ran the ball 25 times for 149 yards and a touchdown making sure to establish a solid rushing attack taking pressure off of first-time starter at quarterback, EJ Manuel. Greg Reid is still Florida State’s biggest playmaker. All season long, Seminole fans have been teased by freshman Greg Reid on his kick returns as he has broken several long returns, but none for a touchdown. Well Saturday afternoon, that all ended as Reid fielded a punt off a bounce, hit a hole, made Wake Forest’s punter miss a tackle on a nice stutter move and brought it all the way back for six. Reid is the type of player who excites everyone every time he touches the ball and Seminole fans have three more years to enjoy him in Garnet and Gold. Florida State can still make a bowl. The Seminoles are now just one win away from keeping the nations longest bowl streak alive. The Seminoles best chance at keeping that streak alive will come this weekend when they play host to Maryland. The Terps are by far, the worse team in the ACC this season. The following week, Florida State must travel to the number 1 team in the nation, Florida in one of the toughest stadiums to play in America making a win this weekend seem almost necessary. Stay tuned all week for more power rankings, a preview of the Maryland game and a few extras!
ACC Week 12 Power Rankings November 17, 2009 1. Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets clinched a spot in Tampa with a thrashing of Duke this past weekend. A lot would have to happen for Tech to make it to the national title game, even if they won out so it looks like the ACC will wait at least one more year to have a true national title contender. 2. Clemson – The Tigers took care of N.C. State just as many thought they would. As long as the Tigers can beat lowly Virginia at home, they will meet Tech in Tampa, and I think they win the ACC. 3. Virginia Tech – The Hokies had the luxury of playing Maryland last weekend which plays the same role as a bye week. 4. Boston College – The Eagles won a tough game against Virginia improving to 7-3 on the season; a record nobody would have picked them to have at this point to start the season 5. North Carolina – The Tar Heels pulled off a major upset knocking off Miami. Ever since that fourth quarter debacle against Florida State, the Heels have really turned it up a notch. 6. Miami – The Hurricanes got embarrassed in Chapel Hill last weekend and have little left to play for as they are already guaranteed a bowl but have no chance at winning the Coastal division. 7. Florida State – The Seminoles were impressive taking it to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last weekend despite the absence of the league’s yardage leader, Christian Ponder. A win over Maryland and the nation’s longest bowl streak stays alive for at least one more season. 8. Duke – The Devils have come back to reality as they were thrashed by Georgia Tech last weekend. The good news? It’s finally basketball season in Durham!
campus coRrespondent 55
9. Wake Forest – The Deacon’s season quarterback Riley Skinner was outplayed by a freshman making his first career start. Now, Wake’s bowl chances are gone and so is their season pretty much. 10. Virginia – The Cav’s gave Boston College all they had but it wasn’t enough as UVA too lost their bowl hopes over the weekend. 11. North Carolina State – The Pack lost for the fifth time in six games over the weekend and will likely lose again Saturday when they play Virginia Tech. 12. Maryland – These guys are bad. Really bad. They had an early season win over Clemson but that is about all they can claim this year as 2-10 looks very likely right now.
28 Straight? November 19, 2009 Florida State’s current record of 5-5 is beyond disappointing based on expectations heading into this season. But, as bad as this year has been by Seminole standards, there is still a chance for the Tribe to make it to a bowl game with a win this Saturday. It will probably be a third-tier bowl but that isn’t the point. Florida State has played in a bowl game each of the last 27 seasons, a streak that is currently the longest in the nation. That speaks volumes to the product Florida State has fielded over the past three decades. Not since 1981 has a Florida State team been golfing during the bowl season. Even in the Seminoles worst season’s over the past 27 years, they have never finished with a losing record which would keep them out of a bowl game. The second longest bowl streak in the nation doesn’t even stand at 20. The Florida Gators, who have played in 18 consecutive bowl games, last missed the post-season in 1990. At least the Seminoles still have that claim over the Gates. For that streak to stretch to 28 straight postseason’s, the Seminoles will likely need to win this weekend, as a win in Gainesville on Tim Tebow’s senior day in two weeks seems unlikely. Maryland comes into Tallahassee this weekend as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s worst team with a record of 2-8. Maryland did beat Clemson, but has losses to East Tennessee State, Duke and Virginia which shows how bad this team really is. Sophomore Jamarr Robinson will start for the Terps as they come in without their usual starter Chris Turner this weekend. Robinson startled last weekend against Virginia Tech and had a horrid day passing the football completing just 12 of his 32 pass attempts. He did do damage on the ground however racking up 129 rush yards on 24 carries. Mobile quarterbacks have been a thorn in Florida State’s side for years now as they all seem to have big days against the Seminoles. Robinson should be no different as he will be expected to scramble around for a good amount of yardage, but his lack of passing ability will hinder Maryland’s success on offense. Da’Rel Scott is expected to play this weekend and will add to Maryland’s rushing attack, but it won’t be enough. Florida State’s defense will struggle at times, but being Mickey Andrew’s last game ever game at Doak Campbell Stadium, the Seminole defense will rise to the occasion and hold Maryland’s offense in check for the majority of the game which is all they will need to. Maryland ranks 10th or worse in the ACC in four defensive categories. Florida State’s has the best overall offense in the conference besides Georgia Tech’s gimmicky option attack. Even with
campus coRrespondent 56
quarterback Christian Ponder out, EJ Manuel was able to fill in as the Tribe’s offense didn’t miss a beat as they moved the ball up and down the field in route of Wake Forest. In my opinion, this game gets ugly. Jermaine Thomas will rush for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game, EJ Manuel has another big day further building confidence heading into the Swamp next weekend and the Seminoles dismantle the Terps on senior day. Florida State is favored by 16.5 heading into the weekend and as hard as this team is to read, I expect them to cover that spread and win to the tune of a 45-24 score when it’s all said and done. Mickey Andrews leaves Doak a winner and the nations longest bowl streak is in tact for at least one more season. Even when times are down, it’s still great to be a Seminole!
Remembering my first game at Doak November 20, 2009 This Saturday will be my final game at Doak Campbell Stadium as a student of THE Florida State University. Wow, how time flies. It seems like just yesterday that I was scrambling around trying to figure out how the whole student ticket system works just so I can go to my first game as a student. It was one week into my freshman year at FSU and my friends and I had no idea how were supposed to get tickets to our upcoming home game against Troy. After asking around, we finally figured it out and eventually ended up getting tickets to the game. I remember the Friday night before was like Christmas Eve. I had been to several Florida State football games before as a life-long Seminole fan, but this would be my first as a student sitting in the rowdy student section. I woke up Saturday bright and early that gameday morning. Some friends and I decided to paint out faces garnet and gold for the game and then we hit the tailgating scene. Everywhere we looked on campus was nothing but a sea of garnet and gold. Florida State fans everywhere doing the Warchant ready to head inside the best stadium in college football and watch our ’Noles take it to an under-matched opponent. A little later, it was finally time to head to Doak and watch the pregame festivities. We filed into the student section and watched the Marching Chiefs perform the fight song and spell out NOLES on the field. Then, Chief Osceola rode out onto the field on Renegade and planted the flaming spear right in front of Troy’s bench as all 83,000 fans went crazy watching the best pregame tradition in all of college football. Then, the game. Florida State was just five days removed from beating Miami in the Orange Bowl on Labor Day night and it showed as they struggled with the Trojans. The Seminoles were in the top 10 of both polls at the time of the game and the season was about to come to an abrupt halt as we trailed unranked Troy in the fourth quarter. The Seminoles then scored two late touchdowns to cap the come-from-behind victory and save the season for the time beings. This is where the story really gets good… The game was over and we were walking to the exit when I noticed a group of students standing by the tunnel cheering. I went over to see what was going on and noticed legendary coach Bobby Bowden walking over following the victory. I stood back and cheered loudly for him and
campus coRrespondent 57
out of nowhere, he tipped his hat to us and then tossed it up in the stands. The group immediately in front of me mistimed their jump and Bowden’s hat bounced back and landed in the isle. I then dove after it like it was a loose ball in the final four and ended up coming out of the pile with it. My friends and I rushed out in excitement and as we were walking back to our dorms about half a mile from Doak, and then examined the hat. It was then when we noticed that Coach Bowden had signed the hat under the bill. I couldn’t think of any better way to end my final home game as a student at FSU. A great day with tailgating, watching the Seminoles win with 83,000 of my closest friends and coming out with the best souvenir that no amount of money could have bought that day.
Some of my closest friends and oh yeah, Bobby Bowden’s hat.
This Saturday will be bitter-sweet. It will be my final home game as a student and I will witness history as it will also be Mickey Andrews’ last home game at FSU. Coach Andrews is a huge reason as to why I followed Florida State throughout all of my youth and I will find it special that we will both share this game as our last as a coach and student. I’m sure I will get emotional this weekend as football has been a HUGE part of my time at Florida State. I have been to all 25 homes games at FSU during my time in Tallahassee as a student and Saturday will be my 26th and final one. Even though the Seminoles have been down by FSU standards the past four years, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of some so special as watching Florida State football put it all on the line every weekend as a student of the university.
Freshmen come up big for ‘Noles November 22, 2009 For the 28th consecutive season, the Florida State Seminoles will be heading to a bowl game. It may not be a BCS bowl, or even a New Year’s Day bowl, but the fact is Florida State will be bowling this postseason. That is the longest streak in the nation and considering all the youth the Seminoles have been playing with, it looks like that streak will only grow in length in the coming years. It was senior day in Tallahassee, but three freshmen stole the show for the ’Noles. E.J. Manuel: Manuel, making just his second career start had a rough game most of the way. The redshirt freshman threw three interceptions throughout the game and completed 17 of his 27 passes.
campus coRrespondent 58
But when it mattered most, Manuel did what he had to as he led the Seminoles downfield on the game winning drive. Manuel used both his legs and his arm on the final drive as he showed poise leading the Tribe to bowl-eligibility. Lonnie Pryor: Pryor only ran the ball two times on Saturday, but made the most of both carries. On his first, an option-pitch from Manuel, Pryor found the edge and took off 50 yards for the score. His next carry would come with just 32 seconds left and the Seminoles down by four. Pryor lowered his shoulder and willed his way into the endzone for the game-winning touchdown. Greg Reid: Greg Reid came into Saturday’s game ranked second nationally in punt returns and put his skill set on full display against Maryland. The freshman from Valdosta, Georgia returned three punts for a stunning 88 yards Saturday including the biggest return of his career. The Seminoles were down by four and awaiting a punt from the Terps. Maryland’s freshman punter Nick Ferrara was supposed to kick it out of bounds, but just missed allowing Reid to get his hands on the ball. He then returned it 48 yards before being tripped up by a teammate but set the Seminoles up with great field position for their game-winning drive. The future is clearly bright at Florida State. On another note, longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews coached his final home game at FSU and went out with a win. Following the game, senior linebacker Dekoda Watson led a group of Seminoles who carried Andrews off the field. When asked about it after the game, Andrews delivered a classic Mickey line when he replied, “If they had played as hard as they need to during the game, they wouldn’t have had the energy to carry an old man like that”.
Mission Impossible November 26, 2009 Heading into this weekend, I keep asking myself, ‘is there any way FSU can win?”. Talk about the odds being stacked against you. Florida State has the worst defense they have had in about 30 years and Florida has a team full of playmakers. The Seminole’s strength is their offense, but they are without their starting quarterback, without their best lineman and without their tight end that was having an All-American season before his season-ending injury. Florida State must go into the Swamp on Tim Tebow’s senior day and find a way to keep up on the scoreboard. How can they do it? Establish a running game: Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones, Lonnie Pryor and the entire offensive line must show up in order for Florida State to win this weekend. Florida State must find a way to move the ball on the ground which will let them kill the clock while scoring points. If the Seminoles can control the clock, they will keep Tim Tebow on the sidelines which will be Florida State’s best defense. Get to Tebow: Florida State must get to Tebow early and often. The defensive line must find a way to get
campus coRrespondent 59
penetration and not allow Tebow to sit in the pocket and pick the Seminole secondary apart. Tebow has shown that when he is pressured, he has the tendency to make bad throws as he did against Mississippi State throwing two touchdowns to the wrong team. Force Florida punts: If the Florida State defense can find a way to force the Gators into 4th down situations making them punt to the Seminoles, the Tribe will have a chance. FSU has one of the best weapons in college football in Greg Reid and if he is given the opportunity to return a few punts, there is a good chance he finds the endzone or at the very least sets up EJ Manuel and the Seminole offense with good field position. Three easy keys to victory. So FSU just needs to do that and they will win. We all know it isn’t that easy, especially when you are a 25 point underdog but anything is possible. This is a rivalry game and we all know all bets are off for those. Now, do I think Florida State can win? Absolutely. Do I think they WILL win? Probably not.
Looking forward November 29, 2009 While sitting in the Swamp on Saturday afternoon watching the Gators destroy the Seminoles for the sixth year in a row wasn’t easy, but the future does look bright. I know it’s hard to find any good out of losing to your rival by 27 points, but Florida State’s youth showed plenty of promise at several points during the game. EJ Manuel: I know he was shook up early on and for good reason. The first snap Manuel took in the most hostile environment in the nation was from his own two yard line. He made a few bad passes and let it float too much at times, but he also showed a lot of heart as he continued to bounce back after taking several hits and led the Seminoles on a few good drives. He threw two perfect passes back to back to sophomore Jarmon Fortson setting up and scoring Florida State’s only touchdown of the game. He also showed the ability to scramble a little against one of the fastest defenses in the nation. With another year to sit behind Christian Ponder and learn, he should come out in 2011 more than ready to take over the Florida State offense. Jarmon Fortson: Fortson has struggled at times this season but as stated above, he did make two remarkable catches and found the endzone allowing Florida State to score their first touchdown in three games against the Gators. The sophomore showed outstanding athletic ability on both catches and will be a force for Florida State for two more seasons. Nigel Bradham: Probably the most improved player on Florida State’s defense from the start to finish of the season. Bradham had 12 tackles against the Gators and showed remarkable speed for a linebacker as he ran down UF speedster Jeff Demps from behind. Bradham is only a sophomore and will only get better with time. He very well could be Florida State’s next great linebacker. Greg Reid:
campus coRrespondent 60
Reid was used sparingly for some reason which I do not understand at all. He did once again show how dynamic he is though as he returned a kickoff for 37 yards following Floridaâ€™s first touchdown. Of all the freshmen, he has definitely been the best one of the group. The list goes on and on as Florida State could very well have the most talent that has contributed as either freshmen or sophomores this season. Once all of the coaching staff changes take place and there is ONE man in charge, this team could be very, very good.
campus coRrespondent 61