by Jeremy Z. of College Football 2Day
It wasn’t the season FSU fans were wishing for at the start of the season. National Championship dreams were shattered midway through the season. Was the season a loss? Are the Seminoles turning into the underachieving team they have been labeled as during the last decade? In this addition, I will give the Seminoles their season grade. Let’s see if it was a lost season or a building block to something better.
Offensive Unit: B+
If I was grading this unit based on the first half of the season it would be an easy ‘A’. Unfortunately, it’s the whole season that you have to look at in this case. Jimbo Fisher had this group firing on all cylinders in the first half of the season. They looked like that explosive, unstoppable force that we all have been waiting for the last few years. So what happened? It wasn’t injuries (like last season). Everyone was pretty healthy, and Chris Thompson was on pace to break 1,000 yards. Focus was lost, and Jimbo Fisher couldn’t bring it back. Fisher has taken much of the criticism this season and maybe rightfully so; the team’s focus comes down to coaching.
Think back to the Thursday night game against Virginia Tech where the Noles looked awful. The Noles were coming off a BYE week; there is no excuse for the lack of focus and lack of preparation for that game. On the flip side of that, Florida State has a track record for being horrible in Thursday night games, and the Noles still got the win. While it may have seemed to be an underachieving season for this offense, it DID improve greatly from the previous couple of seasons. Keep in mind that this offensive line should continue to improve. The future is still bright for the offense, as there are plenty of play-makers coming back next season.
Defensive Unit: A
The defense played about as well as you could ask them. Sure, there were some flaws in this unit, but with the loss of key players (Greg Reid, Brandon Jenkins, and later in the season ‘Tank’ Carradine) this group really came together. Another concern coming into the season was the linebackers. The linebackers struggled in some games but by season’s end they were playing very solid (as proved by the ACC Title game and the Orange Bowl). Mark Stoops did a great job recruiting and putting together one of the best defensive units in the country. The main reason this team got to 12 wins was because of the defense. The defense salvaged what many would call a disappointing season for Florida State.
As a Seminole fan, what do the Noles have to look forward to on defense with so many players leaving for the NFL Draft? Well, if you paid attention in the last couple of games of the season you would notice that a lot of big plays made by the defense were made by young players. And not all the big names are leaving. Lamarcus Joyner says there is still unfinished business and he will return for his senior season. With the caliber of players returning and coming in, there is no reason not to expect this group to be dominant again next season.
This was Manuel’s fourth season, and the expectation from fans and coaches was that he was ready to be the dominant QB we all thought he was going to be. Well it didn’t go as planned. While EJ struggled with some personal issues, he also struggled on the field as well. It’s tough to be hard on him for it, though, because of the issue he was dealing with. EJ Manuel’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer near the start of the season.
It may not have been the season the coaches, fans, and more importantly himself, were hoping for. However it says a lot about EJ as a person and a player. He battled through and still led his team to a 12 win season. EJ also did his best to keep the news about his mother behind closed doors. He gave his all for his team and had a great career at Florida State. Good luck at the next level, EJ.
Overall Team Performance: A-
As so many have debated the last few weeks and months, ‘was this an underachieving season for this team?’ When we look at the 12-2 record and we see that they won the ACC and won the Orange Bowl, does it look like an underachieving season on the surface? No, not by a longshot. It has been 12 years since this team has won a BCS Bowl. It has been 7 years since they won the ACC.
Think back to the start of the season and look at what they were expected to do. Florida State was the favorite to win the ACC and expected to play in a BCS Bowl. What was the result? They won the ACC and played in a BCS Bowl. Truth is they did exactly what so many expected. Come on, they weren’t expected to play for it all. If they were, they would have been ranked in the top 3 coming into the season.
Now don’t get me wrong, there was a chance for the Noles to get to the next level…but they had their chance and missed it. Proof that they aren’t quite ready yet. It’s coming though, just try to be patient. So enjoy the BCS victory for what it is; it’s not FSU’s fault they had to play NIU. To the rest of Seminole Nation, be patient and let’s see where next season takes us. Thanks for reading every week. GO NOLES!