Thursday, April 13, 2006
AN ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENT OF: FLORIDA STATE
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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer
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Through Chris Rix and Drew Weatherford, Jeff Bowden and two new big, bad bullies on the ACC block, still the king of the hill - barely
PAST FIVE SEASONS: 43-20 (32-9 ACC) 2005: 8-5 (6-3 ACC; Champions), Lost Orange Bowl
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 10 (6 Offense, 4 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: The team's untouchable swagger, but we'll get there later. Otherwise, most of the prototype Mickey Andrews cuirassier of uncaged assassins: Ernie Sims, A.J. Nicholson, Kamerion Wimbley, Pat Watkins, Broderick Bunkley and even Antonio Cromartie, whom we yet but knew - all bolted. That group brought the pain, as always, finishing in the top seven nationally in sacks and tackles for loss and allowing barely 100 yards rushing per game.
WHAT'S THE SAME: Mickey Andrews' access to a totally new, totally terrifying cuirassier of uncaged assassins: Alex Boston, Everette Brown, Andre Fluellen, Darrell Burston, Lawrence Timmons, Buster Davis, Derek Nicholson, J.R. Bryant and Myron Rolle will almost certainly leave amid equal superlatives over the next three years.
Also: our old friend Jeff Bowden, back to ignore even the most fundamental tenets of blocking and stuff to ensure that, like Miss Florida State Univeristy 2005 Erin Lancaster, the 'Nole running attack will be adequate but extremely disappointing given the available talent.
The Miss FSU pageant, like the FSU offense: simply not utilizing the amazing natural ability on campus.
SERIOUSLY: SMQ took the 'Noles to task after their consecutive sorry performances at home against NC State and at Clemson in November, when the offense consistently ignored veterans Lorenzo Booker, Willie Reid and, down the stretch, Chris Davis is favor of allowing a struggling redshirt freshman - and when that didn't work, another completely untested redshirt - hand off and toss up cupcakes to true freshmen. Booker, who had over 1,000 total yards in part-time duty as a sophomore in 2004, saw his touches go way down even after fellow backfield vet Leon Washington started missing chunks with injury problems; instead, Bowden elected to let his wobbly newbies make up the difference by chunking 41 passes per game. The duo of Booker and Antone Smith deserves the touches to repeat the stellar all-purpose performance the Booker-Washington combo delivered in 2004.
BUT - THE PAY-OFF: The upside to the perplexing over-reliance on youth (given the team's consistently stellar recruiting rankings, one would assume there'd be a clear, pay-your-dues pecking order), there are a lot of guys who got a lot of time last year, especially among the wideouts: Chris Davis, Greg Carr, Fred Rouse, Joslin Shaw and, yes, De'Cody Fagg, along with Booker, grabbed 168 passes.
GODS AND SOPHOMORES: Since quarterback/deity Wyatt Sexton elected to pursue his MBA rather than the starting job, the 'Noles have to settle in to the prospect of three more years of Drew Weatherford, which sounds a little too much like three more years of Chris Rix. Weatherford can get by if he can cut his picks by, oh, about half - another 18 will mean Xavier Lee running around looking simultaneously extremely talented and confused. Not that a lot of fans would have a problem with that, SMQ imagines.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: The FSU running backs were uncharacteristically dead dog dismal for most of '05, but the halcyon days of Warrick Dunn and Pooh Bear Williams will be here again: the offense's Spring MVP, was shared by the running backs, Booker and Smith. Young Antone also garnered the Hinesman - that's Hinesman, not Heisman, though Smith and co-winner Lawrence Timmons are probably counting on the distinction being lost on campus hotties - as the most dominant player of the soon-to-be forgotten sessions.
Plus: OMG Myron Rolle!
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Naw, baby, it's the same thing. That's just a typo.
REASON(S) FOR HOPE: Speed. Young guys played a lot on offense. Banshee defense.
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: Is the rest of the ACC scared of these guys anymore? Last year brought another league title, but also three pretty ugly conference losses, easily a low point of the last two decades before the upset of V-Tech. The chokehold is weakened and will be all but lost if they're not back in the ACC Championship Game.
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... The Republican majority in Congress: talented, a solid base, but a decade past its heyday, the innovative momentum that fueled its ascendency molding into stale predictability, not all that well-liked or respected anymore, and hoping to overcome seemingly impossible legal troubles and general ossification to improbably hang onto power - yet again - in the fall.
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: Nine wins, a very likely return to the ACC Championship game. Why should be believe anyone in the Atlantic Division is ready to knock these guys off?
Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall
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