Florida State will edge Clemson to win the ACC Atlantic

It is never easy when a coaching legend leaves or, as was the case with Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, is gently nudged out the door. Transitions are normally hard as an entire team has to adjust to a new staff and a new way of doing things. Wins and losses, in the short term, take a back seat to the sometimes painful process of just getting everybody on the same page.

This will not be the case at Florida State.

Bowden is gone after a Hall of Fame career that included 35 seasons at Florida State and an unprecedented string of success in Tallahassee. But the fact remains that the Seminoles, who dominated the ACC after their arrival in 1992 and were a fixture in the BCS championship race from 1987-2000, have not been relevant on the national stage for a decade.

That is about to change. Jimbo Fisher agreed to serve as head coach in waiting to Bowden for what seemed like three very long seasons. The purpose of that exercise was to make the inevitable coaching transition as seamless as possible.

“We all knew this day was coming,” said Fisher. “I love coach Bowden and owe him and his whole family a lot. My job is to take what he built and move forward.”

And in 2010, that is exactly what Florida State will do by winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division and playing for its first conference championship since 2005.

The likely challenger to Florida State will be Clemson, which reached the ACC championship game in Dabo Swinney’s first full season as head coach. But there are some holes to fill in Death Valley, especially the one left by the splendid C.J. Spiller. There is also the uncertainty around quarterback Kyle Parker, who may get a chance to play professional baseball after the June draft. Clemson goes to Florida State on Nov. 13 and the division championship could be on the line.

Here is our Spring practice review of the ACC’s Atlantic Division. The teams are listed in the order of their projected finish:

 

1. FLORIDA STATE

**–Last season:  7-6, 4-4 ACC; beat West Virginia 33-21 in Gator Bowl.

**–Coach: Jimbo Fisher, first season at Florida State.

**–Key losses:  CB Patrick Robinson, LB Dekoda Watson, WR Rod Owens.

**–Returning starters: Offense 10, defense 6, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch: QB Christian Ponder, OG Rodney Hudson, CB/KR Greg Reid, LB Nigel Badham.

**–What we know: Life must go on without Bobby Bowden. Bowden stepped down as college football’s No. 2 all-time winner after last season and Jimbo Fisher is now in command. He will start with an offense that is going to be very, very good.  Christian Ponder was playing as well as anybody in the country last season (2,717 yards passing, 14 TD), when he was knocked out (shoulder) in the ninth game against Clemson. Ponder is back and will be protected by an offensive line that will be the best that Florida State has put on the field since the glory days of the 1990s. All five starters return and collectively they have started 142 games for the Seminoles.

**–What we still don’t know:   Can the Florida State defense improve just enough to be okay? A big chunk of this spring was spent breathing life into a defense that finished dead last in the ACC (434.62 ypg).  Arizona defensive coordinator Mark Stoops (brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops), replaces veteran Mickey Andrews. Stoops and company had a good spring but there is still much work to do this summer. “I know we struggled last year but we’ve got some guys on defense who can run and hit people,” Fisher said. Three starters return up front. DE Markus White had 10 tackles for loss last season. Kendall Smith (85 tackles) and Nigel Bradham (93 tackles) are proven linebackers. If the defense can just finish in the middle of the league, the offense will be good enough to put Florida State in the ACC championship game.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. Samford.

 

2. CLEMSON

**–Last season:  9-5, 6-2 ACC; lost to Georgia Tech 39-34 in ACC championship game; beat Kentucky 21-13 in Music City Bowl.

**–Coach: Dabo Swinney, 13-8 in two seasons at Clemson.

**–Key losses: RB/KR C.J. Spiller; TE Michael Palmer, LB Ricky Sapp, CB Crezdon Butler.

**–Returning starters:  Offense 7, defense 6, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch:  QB Kyle Parker, TE Dwayne Allen, DE Da’Quan Bowers, RB Jamie Harper.

**–What we learned:  The defense is going to be more physical and more aggressive. This will be the second year that Clemson works under the system of DC Kevin Steele. There is depth up front and a bunch of guys who can make plays. Junior DE Da’Quan Bowers (10.5 tfl in 2009) was one of the most highly-rated players in the country coming out of high school and this year he will shine. All-America safety DeAndre McDaniel has 208 career tackles and 11 career interceptions.

 We also learned that while the Tigers cannot replace C.J. Spiller, they are not without some playmakers. RB Jamie Harper (418 yards rushing) and redshirt sophomore Andre Ellington (491 yards rushing) now get the chance to step out of the shadow of Spiller, who had 21 career touchdowns of 50 yards or more. Tight end Dwayne Allen is just a sophomore but he is going to be a star. The offensive line returns four starters. This year that group will be a little meaner and more physical.

**–What we still don’t know: Will Kyle Parker return as Clemson’s quarterback? Parker, who threw for 2,526 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, will have a decision to make come June, when he is expected to be taken in the Major League baseball draft. If the up-front money is big enough, Parker could give up his final three years of football eligibility. “I think he’s going to be back,” said Swinney. “I just believe he would rather spend this fall running down the hill in Death Valley than riding a bus in Wichita.” But it depends on where Parker, who leads the ACC with 16 home runs, is chosen. Last year every player but two chosen in the first round of the draft earned a signing bonus of $1 million or more.  Without Parker, redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd takes over. Boyd is talented, but he’s not quite ready to be a starting quarterback in the ACC.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. North Texas.

 

 

3. BOSTON COLLEGE

**–Last season:  8-5, 5-3 ACC; lost to Southern California 24-13 in Emerald City Bowl.

**–Coach: Frank Spaziani, 9-5 in his second season at Boston College.

**–Key losses: C Matt Tennant, WR Rich Gunnell, LB Mike McLaughlin, SS Marcellus Bowman.

**–Returning starters:  Offense 8, defense 7, specialist 1.

**–Players to watch: LB Mark Herzlich, RB Montel Harris, LB Luke Kuechly, TE Chris Pantale.

**–What we learned:  We are not going to bet against Mark Herzlich. Herzlich was the ACC defensive player of the year in 2008 but missed the entire 2009 season while he underwent treatments for bone cancer. This time last year the discussion was about Herzlich’s survival, not if he had a football future.  He returned to practice on a limited basis (no contact) this spring. “We let Mark do what he could,” said coach Frank Spaziani. “He’s certainly nowhere near ready to play, but it’s remarkable to see him where he’s at right now.” Herzlich had a titanium rod inserted in one leg. If Herzlich comes back anywhere near his previous level, BC will have two of the best linebackers in the country. Freshman Luke Kuechly took Herzlich’s position last season and was the league’s defensive rookie of the year.

**–What we still don’t know:  Will QB Dave Shinskie take another step forward? Shinskie, a former minor league baseball player, was pressed into service as a freshman last season and responded by throwing 2,049 yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 starts. Shinskie turned 26 years old on May 4 and so mentally, he’s not a sophomore. We still don’t know if BC will be able to find some help for running back Montel Harris, who ran for 1,457 yards as a sophomore. His 308 carries in 13 games was more than any back in the ACC. Only two players in Division I-A football—Toby Gerhart of Stanford (343) and Dion Lewis of Pittsburgh (325)—had more carries last season than Harris.

**–Opening game:  Sept.  4 vs. Weber State.

 

4. N.C. STATE

**–Last season: 5-7, 2-6 ACC.

**–Coach: Tom O’Brien,  91-66 in 13 years, 16-21 in three years at N.C. State.

**–Key losses: C Ted Larsen, RB Toney Baker, DE Willie Young.

**–Returning starters: Offense 7, defense 5, specialist 1.

**–Players to watch: QB Russell Wilson, LB Nate Irving, TE George Bryan, WR Owen Spencer.

**–What we know: This spring was all about survival for the Wolfpack. From an injury standpoint, the 2009 season was one of the worst O’Brien has experienced in his 13 years as a head coach. N.C. State used 10 different defensive lineups because of injuries. One of O’Brien’s primary goals was to get to the end of spring practice with as many healthy bodies as possible. Still, O’Brien said he had only 44 scholarship players during spring drills.

LB Nate Irving returned to football after almost losing his life in an automobile accident last summer. Irving was an honorable mention All-ACC pick in 2008. The spring ended on a decidedly down note as four players, including All-ACC tight end George Bryan, were arrested on misdemeanor drug charges. Bryan, a candidate for the Mackey Award (nation’s best tight end), was charged with maintaining a dwelling for the use of controlled substances. Starting left tackle Jake Vermiglio was also among those players charged.

**–What we still don’t know:  Quarterback Russell Wilson, who had 31 touchdown passes last season, missed the spring as he spent his third season with the N.C. State baseball team. That has led to speculation that Wilson, like Clemson’s Kyle Parker, could give up football if he is taken high enough in the June baseball draft. O’Brien insists that Russell will be back. “Russell’s coming back, so I don’t know why there’s ever been any question,” O’Brien told reporters in mid-April. If Russell does leave N.C. State has a capable quarterback in sophomore Mike Glennon, a highly-recruited player who completed 24 of 39 passes in limited action last season. Glennon threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

**–Opening game: Sept. 4 vs. Western Carolina.

 

 

5. WAKE FOREST

**–Last season: 5-7, 3-5 ACC. 

**–Coach: Jim Grobe, 92-84-1 overall, 59-51 in nine seasons at Wake Forest.

**–Key losses: QB Riley Skinner, DT John Russell, CB Brandon Ghee, NT Boo Robinson.

**–Returning starters: Offense 6, defense 7, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch:  RB Josh Adams, QB Skylar Jones, WR Marshall Williams, DE Kyle Wilbert.

**–What we learned:  The Deacons will go back to basics. Coach Jim Grobe came to Wake Forest nine seasons ago as a coach who believed strongly in running the football. But when the Deacons signed quarterback Riley Skinner in 2006, Grobe changed his offense. Skinner started 49 games for the Deacons, won an ACC championship (2006) and took his team to three straight bowl games. “You really get spoiled when you have a reliable guy like that for four years,” said Grobe. Expect Grobe to return to running the ball with former wide receiver Skylar Jones, who emerged from spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback. But don’t count out the other quarterbacks, sophomore Ted Stachitas and redshirt freshman Brendan Cross (son of former NFL great Randy Cross) of Alpharetta. “We’ll find a guy who can get the ball out there,” said Grobe. “It just won’t be as many times as we did with Riley.”

**–What we still don’t know:  With a new quarterback, will Wake Forest be able to get the ball to its playmakers? It’s telling that wide receiver Devon Brown, who caught 61 balls for 671 yards a year ago, ran the ball four times from the slot position in the spring game. The Deacons have another good, athletic receiver in Marshall Williams (60 catches, 867 yards). Don’t be surprised if Grobe puts in more running plays for these two in order to give them a chance to operate in space. And because Wake Forest will go back to the run, can we expect a big senior season for Josh Adams? Adams was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2007. Last season he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and caught 28 balls for 307 yards. Will Wake Forest finally catch a break in a close game? The Deacons lost seven games in 2009. Five of those were by three points or fewer for a total combined 13 points. There were two overtime losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech.

**–Opening game: Sept. 2 vs. Presbyterian.

 

 

6. MARYLAND

**–Last season: 2-10, 1-7 ACC.

**–Coach: Ralph Friedgen, 66-44 in nine seasons at Maryland.

**–Key losses: QB Chris Turner, OT Bruce Campbell, CB Anthony Wiseman, FS Terrell Skinner.

**–Returning starters: Offense 7, defense 5, specialist 2.

**–Players to watch: RB Da’Rel Scott, P Travis Baltz, WR Torrey Smith, LB Alex Wujciak.

**–What we learned: The offense is going to be just fine. Quarterback Chris Turner (30 career starts) is gone but Friedgen was encouraged this spring about the progress of Jamarr Robinson, who got significant experience in the final four games of the 2009 season. Friedgen also feels better about his offensive line, which was all but depleted due to injuries last season. A reliable quarterback and a veteran offensive line should only help RB Da’Rel Scott, who was a first-team All-ACC pick in 2008 when he rushed for 1,133 yards. Injuries limited Scott in 2009. Now the Terps have some depth at running back with Davin Meggett (338 yards last season). “I felt better at the end of the spring,” Friedgen. “If we can stay healthy, this bunch has a chance.”

**–What we still don’t know: Can Maryland find a way to win the close ones? The Terps lost 10 games last season but rarely did they get blown out. They lost to Middle Tennessee by one (32-31), to Boston College by two (19-17), to Florida State by three (29-26), to Duke by four (17-13), and to N.C. State by seven (38-31). It would help matters if Maryland could take it up a notch or two on defense. The Terps were last in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 31.25 points per game. Veteran defensive coordinator Don Brown was brought in last season in an effort to improve that unit. Brown is building around LB Alex Wujchiak, who will be the ACC’s leading returning tackler (264). Brown also has a big time cornerback in Cameron Chism. Based on spring practice this should be a more athletic defense.

**–Opening game: Sept. 6 vs. Navy (Baltimore)

 

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124 comments Add your comment

David

May 5th, 2010
8:44 am

More hype on F$U again this year. New head coach, new DC; they are still a year away or two. O’Brien knows how to win in the ACC. NC State will be the surprise winner of the division.

bigtime

May 5th, 2010
8:58 am

its the ACC, so who cares?

Gen Neyland

May 5th, 2010
9:01 am

Rumor out of the SEC Commissioner’s office is that who ever wins the ACC gets first offer to enter the SEC’s expansion, as long as it’s geographically correct, mind you. Makes it worth fighting for, huh..?

ACC Fan

May 5th, 2010
9:05 am

Tony, did you go back in a time machine to 1984? Groh isn’t coaching the Deacs anymore. Let’s get on it!

Ormewood

May 5th, 2010
9:07 am

Tony, you pick FSU every year. Maybe this year, you’ll be right. O’Brien needs to have a winning season, something he’s not done in three attempts in Raleigh, before we start talking division titles. I say Clemson wins the Atlantic.

Ormewood

May 5th, 2010
9:07 am

Gen Neyland, what if it’s BC?

Dan

May 5th, 2010
9:28 am

Apparently bigtime cares enough to read the blog, think of something witty to say, come up blank, then post a stupid comment anyway.

lawzoo

May 5th, 2010
9:35 am

They should rename this bunch of losers the “Titanic”. Maryland won two games last year….beat lil’Jimmy Madison in O.T. and the Division Champs….Clempson . ‘Nuff said.

s5

May 5th, 2010
9:37 am

Go Noles!!!!!

Steve

May 5th, 2010
9:37 am

I can’t remember the last time that a college football team’s season depended so much on the MLB draft. If Parker comes back, Clemson has a very good chance of being back in the ACC Championship game. If he leaves, Clemson will have a tough time having a winning season.

Presuming that Ponder’s shoulder is OK, FSU’s offense should be very good again. But, I’ll reserve judgment on the defense until they actually play a couple games. There’s no question that they recruit top talent every year (at least according to the recruiting pundits), but they are going to be using a new system, which typically takes a season (or two) to have the players buy into it.

The most interesting storyline in the ACC this season, however, is whether Swofford continues to ruin the conference in hopes that UNC/Duke Basketball will remain the king of all sports. At this rate, I’d like to see the SEC take Clemson, FSU, Miami and GT and allow the ACC to truly become the basketball conference that it is so desperate to become.

kaput

May 5th, 2010
9:42 am

FSU’s defense ranked 108th last season – and they lost some of their better players. Further, people remember FSU’s offense as some sort of juggernaut last season – but they finished ranked 38th, hardly anything to be proud considered the lack of defense played in the ACC.

Their receivers are suspect, and that’s being generous.

It will be another 7-5 type year for the ‘Noles who will continue the mediocrity for at least another two seasons.

Tony, I think you’re like a lot of other prognosticators – when it doubt, pick FSU.

Ormewood

May 5th, 2010
9:51 am

Steve, wasn’t football the reason the ACC expanded to 12 a few years back? It certainly wasn’t for basketball. Getting to 12 teams and two divisions, playng a championship game, increasing the geographic footprint. Miami and VA Tech were thought to be strong football programs and BC is always competitive.

It hasn’t turned out so good though, has it? Miami has been average at best. As Tony indicates, FSU has not been a player nationally for more than a decade. Clemson, with those nice facilities, has only made it to the ACC championship only once. BC, with no fan base to speak of, has embarassed the ACC with their presence at championships and bowle games.

This year’s game is in Charlotte, where it probably should have been in the first place. If say, Clemson (or even NCSU) makes it there versus Va Tech or UNC, the place should be packed. The ACC needs to be play better football within and outside the conference in order to be taken seriously. Don’t see what that has to do with Swofford or UNC/Duke basketball.

Eric

May 5th, 2010
10:12 am

ga gator

May 5th, 2010
10:12 am

As a gator, I hated FSU for 50 years until I moved here a few years back. Not so anymore, It benefits most in the South East and also in the ACC if they return to their former glory. I root for them all except one game.

collegeballfan

May 5th, 2010
10:13 am

I cannot believe Clemson’s Parker is dumb enough to turn down a million dollar bonus just so he can run down a hill in Death Valley!

But if Dabo thinks he is, then, maybe he is.

Tony Barnhart

May 5th, 2010
10:14 am

Fixed Grobe in the Wake Forest box. Thanks for the catch.

Steve

May 5th, 2010
10:18 am

Ormewood:

The ACC added VT, Miami and BC to make a “super conference” and add football revenue. It has failed miserably, because the ACC presumed that Miami and FSU would make the title game every year by rule and pack out a Florida stadium (whether Jacksonville or Tampa). The end result is that the conference has nonsensical divisions, which frankly were created for two reasons: 1) to have the FSU/Miami football championship, and 2) to allow the NC schools to play eachother twice in basketball annually.

Don’t be fooled to think that the ACC actually cares about football. While the conference surely enjoys the football revenue from Clemson, FSU, Miami and VT, it will not sacrifice basketball at any cost. This is illustrated by the conference’s desire to package basketball with football for a new television contract (likely with Fox, which will be a debacle), as well as the conference’s apathetic stance on bowl contracts.

If the Big 10/SEC expansion happens, don’t be shocked if the ACC decides to turn into a super-basketball conference by adding some Big East teams (e.g., Syracuse, Georgetown) when the football schools walk.

G8R GRAD

May 5th, 2010
10:21 am

ga gator:

Ditto.

Go ‘Noles!

MMA is stupid

May 5th, 2010
10:23 am

ACC…ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Reptiles Rule

May 5th, 2010
10:25 am

FSU is gonna be tough this year. 10-2 would not surprise me although probably 9-3, still good. I am concerned about that last game in Tally this year and am inclined to think that could well be one of two UF losses this year. One way or the other, it’s gonna be a heck of a game. I’d feel alot better if it was in Gainesville.

Ormewood

May 5th, 2010
10:29 am

Steve,

You and I are pretty close on this issue. I completely agree with you about the idiocy of the divisions. Makes no sense to me. Make it North (BC, MD, VAT, VA, two from NC) and South (FSU, Miami, Clemson, Tech, two from NC) or East (BC, Miami, MD, NCSU, VA, Duke) and West (Tech, VAT, FSU, Clemson, Wake, UNC).

They have to attempt to package the hoops with the football. Why would they not? ACC football, on its own, is not a compelling product. Sure, there are a couple of brand schools with fairly recent success in Miami and FSU, and maybe VAT, but not much else. The hoops is more nationally recognized. I think five of the last 10 national championships are ACC. The SEC did the same thing by throwing in their less attractive basketball with the more attractive football for one large package.

And know, the ACC would never add Georgetown, which does not even play football. Currently, the ACC has the third-highest revenue per university. Not as good as the Big Ten or SEC, but better than the Big 12, Pac-10, or Big East. By adding basketball-only schools, you would become the Atlantic 10. Not gonna happen.

Reptiles Rule

May 5th, 2010
10:41 am

Off subject and maybe Gen Neyland can better answer this but….couldn’t help notice that Derek Dooley did not offer ANY suspension for Darren Myles who was arrested recently for not only drinking underage but also disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Dooley on Monday said it will be handled “internally” and Myles will not miss any playing time. Couldn’t help but wonder, where’s the public outcry??? It’s not like they haven’t had problems up there in Knoxville. The guy playing the other safety position right next to Myles was involved in a robbery last year and had issues even before that! And he didn’t miss a beat (that was under Kiffin, I must add). Still…..If you had changed that coach’s name to Urban Meyer and that players name to..say..Will Hill, there would have been a FIRESTORM on these blogs and in these comment sections about how undisciplined Meyer is and how another Gator player got off the hook. But…not a peep. Not an article or even a comment. Can someone tell me why???

Golden Domer

May 5th, 2010
10:46 am

Clemson’s defensive coach is better than FSU’s. Clemson won 9 games last year, FSU 7. Dabo can coach. Clemson wins ACC Atlantic.

Yep

May 5th, 2010
10:48 am

I know it is articles like this that keep college football writers in a job this time a year, but there is no way that ANYONE can even begin to guess who will win what. Just sayin

Golden Domer

May 5th, 2010
10:50 am

BC will finish #2 in ACC. Lots of guys back, great coach. BC is a better team and coaches than FSU. FSU hasn’t made any noise in a long time, and they won’t make any this year. They’ll try to get to 8 wins, to keep the bar low for the next year, yet improve on the previous 7 win season. FUS’s a constant 7 or 8 win team. Nothing has happened on the field yet to change that.

Howard

May 5th, 2010
10:54 am

Tony…with regards to Clemson, whatever happened to Willy Korn, the highly touted QB the Tigers signed out of state and national powerhouse Byrnes, SC high school?? He even graduated early from Byrnes after his senior FB season and enrolled at Clemson to get a jump start on his career as a Tiger. Where did he go?? Injured? In the doghouse? Released from team?? Transferred?/ Just wondering…’cause he was the next big thing in the state of SC high school football.

Golden Domer

May 5th, 2010
10:57 am

Clemson and BC are BY FAR the best 2 teams in this conference. FSU? Have you seen their defensive stats form last year–near the bottom in so many areas? Clemson and BC BOTH finished in the top 25, and both held the other teams UNDER 21 points a game. I look for both, not just to be good in this conference, but to finish in the top 25 again. FSU–not a good team there, a really, realy, really, really, bad defense.

pjgreiss

May 5th, 2010
10:58 am

I agree with Reptile Rules. change the name of the player to Georgia’s back up punter and it is sensationalistic compared to the hushed response to Dooley’s “internal” handling of the Darren Myles arrest.

GeneralNeyland96

May 5th, 2010
11:00 am

Rule…..There haven’t been any details published about HOW Myles is being punished, but I can’t argue with the fact that he’s facing his punishment now (right after the problem) rather than 6 months down the road. It could be as simple as running stairs (plenty of those in Neyland), community service, or some other type of discipline….Time will tell as to whether his approach was effective (both in this case and as a deterrent for others’ behavior)

Ormewood

May 5th, 2010
11:01 am

Golden Domer, I am assuming you meant the best teams in this division, because they most assuredly are not the best teams “BY FAR” in the conference. On the other side (Coastal), you could have three or even four teams better than the best team in the Atlantic.

Clemson Nut

May 5th, 2010
11:02 am

Dude, seen our defense lately? The Clemson D gets it done. Stifling. Clemson could easily finish a top 10 team this year. #2 in the Atlantic division? Seriously? Dude. Clemson’s D is really overlooked and they’re one of the BEST IN THE COUNTRY!!!!

[...] Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated has Florida State ranked No. 22 in his post-spring top 25. And Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, writes that Florida State will win the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division and play for the ACC cham… [...]

KGator79

May 5th, 2010
11:16 am

Sorry but Clemson is just one of those teams thats very hard to take seriously. Then again, any school whose game of the year is vs. South Carolina doesnt really say much.

Golden Domer

May 5th, 2010
11:32 am

Some of SI Andy Staple’s picks from last year baffle?

USC? OKlahoma? Notre Dame? FSU?

Andy missed on FSU last year, and he’ll miss this year again. Their defense is deplorable.

Here’s his predictions for last year, for those interested in his accuracy:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/andy_staples/04/28/spring-top25/index.html

Golden Domer

May 5th, 2010
11:43 am

You have FSU one of the worst defenses in college football LAST SEASON. And they LOST their BEST 4 defensive players. They’ll be LUCKY to win 8 games. Clemson will only lose 2 games, Auburn and either Ga Tech or South Carolina. 11-2 for Dabo in 2010 and a top 10 finish.

Mike

May 5th, 2010
11:51 am

Anyone with some in-depth look at FSU knows that something is brewing with Fisher and the team of coaches. The defensive staff last season was totally dysfunctional and some question whether Amato sabatoged the defense. Mickey was not in it after losing his son and being talked into coming back on emore year.

The talent is almost there on defense and the incoming freshmen are actually better. We’re a year away from removing all doubt and I understand the doubt this year on defense. Know this, this staff will play the best players on defense and that was not the case last year.

As for offense, Ponder is actually stronger and better than before the injury and proved it during the spring game. The change in RB coach is also a huge upgrade. We may have the best offense in the country and a Heisman QB.

Our punter and kicker are All American candidates and then there is Greg Reid that will return and play offense, something the former coaches would not allow.

The players, talent, coaches, new schemes, etc…all together this team will suprise most.

Tony, you’re dead on as always.

Go Noles!

[...] The AJC’s Mr. CFB, Tony Barnhart made his spring picks in the ACC’s Atlantic. He has FSU number one: Barnhart said: [...]

KGator79

May 5th, 2010
11:54 am

I continue to find it amazing how much hype Christian Ponder gets as a QB. While he is a decent QB you listen to a lot of people and they act like he was a heisman canidate last year. In the 9 games he played in last year he threw 14 TDs and 7 INTs with 5 of those 14 coming in one game against GT. (Jacksonville State, 0 TD passes), (South Florida, 0 TD passes), (Boston College, 0 TD passes), (NC State 1 TD pass 2 INTs), (Clemson 1 TD pass, 4 INTs), in those 5 games a little more than half of the 9 he played he combined for 3 TDs and 6 INTs. Just dont know where this hype comes from.

Mike

May 5th, 2010
11:56 am

People, do some research and then know that last year’s defense was 90% coaching, or lack thereof, lack of schemes, stale approaches, coach in-fighting, not playing the best players and more.

The talent is there and now you have some of the nest defensive coaches in America bringing the defense into the 21st century. It may not be a top 20 this year, but top 50 is expected. That will be good enough like Tony says.

Oh, and JEFF LUC.

KGator79

May 5th, 2010
11:58 am

Mike….you really think a spring game really shows anything? Your saying Ponder is better than last year because of how he looked in that game? Come on now! Its a spring game with Ponder wearing the protective jersey so he doesnt get hit.

KGator79

May 5th, 2010
12:03 pm

Mike….please show where this “research” says that last years FSU defense was 90% coaching. You can only blame the coaches for so long at some point players have to be held accountable for their lack of abilities in the games. Games I saw with FSU showed horrible tackling and players who werent going full speed. I know FSU fan wants to blame all the past on the coaches who are leaving, but lets not pretend as if Jimbo Fisher who is now the head coach hasnt been running this program the last few years to begin with.

Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

May 5th, 2010
12:04 pm

Reptiles Rule. Where was the outcry when Marcus Thomas, Jarvis Moss, Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez failed drug tests but played in games against big time opponents but sat against lesser opponents on the way to National Championships?

Mike

May 5th, 2010
12:06 pm

KGator79 , I was referring to (arm) strength and conditioning, and as to several throws that were better than what he made last season. And the overall Spring that culminated with the game. Taking into consideration the green jersey of course. These were the comments of Fisher and the staff (Craig).

Mike

May 5th, 2010
12:11 pm

KGator79 , good questions. The current players and some that have gone on to the NFL, while being careful to not dog Mickey out of respect have all said they were playing together, weren’t on the same page, were confused at times, the ends and tackles were practicing as a squad and they only ran several base packages with nothing hidden. Yes, you can lay some of it on some players that are gone but it’s widely known players were put in the wrong positions, upper classmen were put ahead of better players, etc……there’s more to it than most know. And that’s only what has been leaked out.

Mickey was awesome in his day but that shipped sailed 3 years ago.

KGator79

May 5th, 2010
12:17 pm

Pot….were any of those guys arrested? Secondly, someone like Marcus Thomas was kicked off the team in 2006 allowing him to not play in the SEC title game and national title game, dont think the opponents get much bigger than those. In the end, each one of those were suspended for at least a game for what we believe to be marijuana use. These werent exactly kids who were out there getting arrested and received a punishment that is pretty consistant with most schools in the country.

UGAY in the Papa Johns Bowl

May 5th, 2010
12:17 pm

bigtime- 5 teams in the top 25 to your 3

FrankStallone

May 5th, 2010
12:22 pm

Clemson is a joke.

Parker’s numbers were grossly inflated by the speed of Spiller and Jacoby Ford.

Clemson and Dabo will be exposed as the frauds they are this season.

Chris Gunnels

May 5th, 2010
12:24 pm

Korn transferred to Marshall.

GStateBen

May 5th, 2010
12:31 pm

Mike knows what I know. The entire defensive side of the ball played without a playbook in 2009! This isn’t pee wee ball! If this teams crack Top 50 in total defense, it will absolutely be in the ACC Championship game. The defense went from Mickey’s Cover One (leaving a below average safety, often Korey Mangum on an island). The Stoops D is a Zone based scheme allowing superior athletes to make plays underneath. Teams will have to march down the field and they will give up less plays of 20+ yards or more.

For all those who knock Christian Ponder, take a look at his completion % (68.8%) and passing yards. If healthy, he was on pace to throw for 4,000 yards and more than 20 TDs. He will continue to get better and someone mentioned WRs. Jarmon Fortson, Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling caught a combined 210 balls last season. I think the ‘Noles will be just fine in 2010.

Dawgbreath

May 5th, 2010
12:33 pm

Klempsin will not win more than 5 games. Too many losses to graduation to overcome. Dabo is in over his head. USC will overtake that program in Spurrier’s waning years.