Top 25 Team Previews
Top 25 Athlon Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles
|Sept. 11||at Oklahoma|
|Sept. 25||Wake Forest|
|Oct. 2||at Virginia|
|Oct. 9||at Miami|
|Oct. 16||Boston College|
|Oct. 28||at NC State|
|Nov. 6||North Carolina|
|Nov. 20||at Maryland|
|Sept. 12||Jacksonville State||W||19- 9|
|Sept. 19||at BYU||W||54-28|
|Sept. 26||South Florida||L||7-17|
|Oct. 3||at Boston College||L||21-28|
|Oct. 10||Georgia Tech||L||44-49|
|Oct. 22||at North Carolina||W||30-27|
|Oct. 31||NC State||W||45-42|
|Nov. 7||at Clemson||L||24-40|
|Nov. 14||at Wake Forest||W||41-28|
|Nov. 28||at Florida||L||10-37|
|Jan. 1||West Virginia (Gator Bowl)||W||33-21|
|TO MARGIN||PER GAME||ACC||NAT'L|
|WR||Bert Reed (Jr.)||Willie Haulstead (So.)|
|WR||Rodney Smith (So.)||Josh Gehres (Fr.)|
|LT||Andrew Datko (Jr.)||Rhonne Sanderson (So.)|
|LG||Rodney Hudson (Sr.)||Blake Snider (So.)|
|C||Ryan McMahon (Sr.)||A.J. Ganguzza (Jr.)|
|RG||David Spurlock (Jr.)||Bryan Stork (Fr.)|
|RT||Zebrie Sanders (Jr.)||Henry Orelus (Fr.)|
|TE||Beau Reliford (Jr.)||Ja'Baris Little (Jr.)|
|QB||Christian Ponder (Sr.)||EJ Manuel (So.)|
|FB||Lonnie Pryor (So.)||Debrale Smiley (So.)|
|RB||Chris Thompson (So.)||Jermaine Thomas (Jr.)|
|DE||Markus White (Sr.)||Toshmon Stevens (So.)|
|DT||Moses McCray (Jr.)||Everett Dawkins (So.)|
|DT||Jacobbi McDaniel (So.)||Anthony McCloud (So.)|
|DE||Brandon Jenkins (So.)||Dan Hicks (Fr.)|
|SLB||Nigel Carr (Jr.)||Mister Alexander (Sr.)|
|MLB||Kendall Smith (Sr.)||Jeff Luc (Fr.)|
|WLB||Nigel Bradham (Jr.)||Vince Williams (So.)|
|CB||Greg Reid (So.)||Dionte Allen (Jr.)|
|CB||Ochuko Jenije (Sr.)||Xavier Rhodes (Fr.)|
|SS||Nick Moody (So.)||Gerald Demps (Fr.)|
|FS||Terrance Parks (So.)||Jajuan Harley (So.)|
|1||Dustin Hopkins (So.)||KR||Greg Reid (So.)|
|1||Shawn Powell (Jr.)||PR||Greg Reid (So.)|
|Passing: Christian Ponder (2,717 yards, 14 TDs, 7 INTs)|
|Rushing: Jermaine Thomas (163 car, 832 yds, 9 TDs)|
|Receiving: Bert Reed (60 rec, 710 yds, 0 TD)|
|Tackles: Nigel Bradham (93, 61 solo)|
|Sacks: Mister Alexander (5)|
|Interceptions: Ochuko Jenije (4 for 54 yds)|
|MORE FROM ATHLON|
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Christian Ponder, QB: He's easily the Seminoles' best quarterback since 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
Rodney Hudson, G: He dominated opponents despite playing with an injured foot last season.
Greg Reid, CB: The explosive athlete could be team's most talented player.
Patrick Robinson, CB: He might have been the lone bright spot on a weak defense.
Rod Owens, WR: The leading receiver was not explosive, but was very consistent.
Caz Piurowski, TE: He was an exceptional blocker and a threat in the passing game.
4: As a group, Florida State's defensive ends recorded four sacks last season. For perspective, there were 19 players in the ACC who finished with at least four sacks by themselves.
It was an unfortunate decision after an ill-advised pass, but it might have been the best thing that could have happened to the 2010 Seminoles. When Christian Ponder lowered his shoulder to deliver a hit on Clemson defensive back DeAndre McDaniel following a fourth quarter interception last November, the then-junior quarterback still was weighing his NFL options.
At the time of his injury, Ponder had established himself as one of the nation's top quarterbacks -- he was averaging more than 300 passing yards per game and completing 68.8 percent of his passes. But the painful injury and subsequent surgery convinced him to return for his senior season, and there are indications it could be a year to remember.
First-year head coach Jimbo Fisher, who has sent a number of quarterbacks to the NFL, said Ponder has a chance to be the best he has ever coached. And the senior will be surrounded by a wealth of talent and experience. The Seminoles bring back their entire offensive line, every running back and nearly every wide receiver from a unit that was the most balanced in the ACC last season.
Fisher hopes a revamped defensive coaching staff, led by new coordinator Mark Stoops, can salvage a Seminoles defense that was among the worst in the country last season. The Seminoles couldn't stop the run or the pass in 2009; they allowed each of their final nine opponents to score at least 21 points. And they were downright blistered by Miami (38 points), Georgia Tech (49), NC State (42), Clemson (40) and Florida (37).
Former coordinator Mickey Andrews has since retired, and Fisher didn't waste any time dismissing assistants Chuck Amato and Jody Allen. They were replaced with former East Carolina coordinator Greg Hudson and former Rice assistant D.J. Eliot.
Fisher believes he has the talent to win on defense, but the question will be how quickly FSU's players can gain a firm grasp of Stoops' diverse schemes. The Seminoles also have the issue of few proven defensive linemen.
With quality starters across the board, it's tough to imagine many teams having as much confidence in their special teams as Florida State. The Seminoles love strong-legged placekicker Dustin Hopkins (long of 52 as a freshman) and punter Shawn Powell (41.6-yard average). "They can be special weapons," Fisher said. But the jewel of this unit is sophomore return specialist Greg Reid, who recorded a 68-yard punt return for a score and a 68-yard kickoff return.
It's never easy to replace a legend such as Bobby Bowden, but Fisher believes his two-year apprenticeship as FSU's head coach-in-waiting gave him a running start. "I feel like I know the players and they know what I'm going to demand," Fisher said. "I already know what the problems are. That's the advantage to that whole coach-in-waiting deal."
Facing a schedule that includes early road trips to Oklahoma and Miami and a challenging home slate (BYU, Clemson, North Carolina and Florida, among others), Fisher might need that head start.
The Seminoles are coming off their third 7-6 campaign in the past four years, and the talent level isn't anywhere near what it was in Bowden's heyday. But if Stoops can turn the defense around in short order, Fisher's first squad might again be back in the championship hunt -- at least in the ACC.