FanHouse's 2010 Preseason College Football Poll -- No. 16 Florida State
Florida State has a good chance to be among the nation's most improved teams. Yet, it also goes without saying the Seminoles want much more than courtesy praise.
Once a perennial power that is now considered pedestrian, FSU is looking to regain its glory days under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
Fisher has seized control of every aspect of the football program in the transition from legendary coach Bobby Bowden, who was forced into retirement a year early by university administration. Also gone is veteran defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, who followed dear friend Bowden off into the sunset and retired.
The change in culture has been immediately noticeable, from the way the Seminoles practice (higher tempo) to the way they train (football-specific exercises) to the way they eat meals (counting calories). While Fisher made additional coaching changes as well, the agenda remains the same:
FSU wants to contend and win titles.
For that to happen, however, the Seminoles need mega improvements on defense under new coordinator Mark Stoops. FSU ranked 108th in the nation in total defense and rushing defense, 110th in pass efficiency defense and, yes, couldn't slow Moses last season.
The good news for FSU is its quarterback and the ACC's Atlantic Division.
The Seminoles feature Heisman Trophy candidate Christian Ponder behind center. Ponder, as long as he stays healthy, automatically makes FSU good enough to win the Atlantic. And it's no secret the Atlantic is far weaker than its Coastal brother.
If FSU's defense is a smidgen better than average, the Seminoles should have plenty to Tomahawk Chop about.
THE BASICS: In 2010, FSU went 7-6, 4-4 in the ACC, which was good for a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division. The Seminoles avoided their first losing season since disco -- and sent Bowden out on a high note -- with their 33-31 Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia. FSU featured 15 returning starters, but that was before linebacker Nigel Carr (suspended) and receiver Jarmon Fortson (dismissed) each ran into trouble.
KEY PLAYER YOU PROBABLY DON'T THINK OF AS A KEY PLAYER: Since FSU returns all five starters on the offensive line, one player might not be a difference maker, right? Wrong. Guard Rodney Hudson is a fourth-year starter who enters his senior season as one of the nation's best offensive linemen, regardless of position.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT: FSU's secondary. The Seminoles ranked 110th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season, surrendering 26 touchdown passes and 8.7 yards an attempt. While the unit relied primarily on man coverage, it was also exposed due to the lack of a pass rush up front. Look for more zone coverage under Stoops. Cornerback Greg Reid has star quality, but he will need help when it's time to cover and slow opposing receivers and passing games.
DON'T MISS: FSU at Oklahoma on Sept. 11. Quite frankly, the Sooners just might be the best team the Seminoles face this season. An upset victory will do wonders for FSU's psyche and fan base; a blowout loss on a national stage will only further agitate a proud program.
FanHouse's Florida State team page with schedule
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