Guest Blogger: ChantRant
This year's Florida State squad is the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team. Will the team that dominated BYU show up on Saturday or will we face the unit that struggled against South Florida. To get a better feel for what is ahead, I've asked Rich from ChantRant some questions. His answers are below.
1. Ponder was under pressure from South Florida throughout. Is the FSU offensive line still an issue or is Ponder still holding onto the ball too long?
ChantRant: A couple of things put Ponder under the most intense pressure he's had all year. First, our O-Line had by far its worst day of the year. During the off-season they'd worked hard on pass blocking, with noticeable improvement. Ponder had only been sacked four times until the USF game. But the Bulls defense was on a mission and FSU's OL couldn't match their take-no-prisoners performance at BYU.
Second, Ponder's mobility was hampered by a nagging injury from the BYU win, so he just didn't have the mobility to evade the rush and scramble. Result: a QB who's known for his ability to escape the sack became a sitting duck. And late in the game, I believe it hampered his accuracy when throwing.
2. Last year, BC gashed the Florida State defense with a series of running plays. How is the run defense changed?
ChantRant: On the surface, it appears the run defense is more stout. FSU is ranked 37th in that department, allowing only 112 yards per game on the ground. In reality, teams aren't running as much because they're taking advantage of the Noles porous secondary. Florida State's giving up over 295 yards per game through the air, and D-Coordinator Mickey Andrews is ready to go with a youth movement, playing talented but inexperienced freshmen over some upperclassmen.
3. From afar, it seems like the coach in waiting thing is holding the program back. What's your take on these final Bowden years?
ChantRant: Ouch, you would bring that up. Bowden's determination to keep coaching has the Seminole nation sharply divided. There's the loyal core that believes Bobby should coach as long as he likes, even if he drops dead on the sidelines. But a growing majority insist it's past time for him step down, even though they love and respect the colorful old coach for building the program and winning two national championships. There are also rumors of possible problems due to players being confused about who's in charge of what. For a better look at that situation, read the column by Ryan at ChantRant.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
ChantRant: Hate to wimp out, but that depends on which FSU team shows up. Will it be the one that underachieved against USF and Jacksonville State? Or the fired-up bunch of Seminoles who smoked Top 10 BYU in Provo? If they continue the pattern of being up one week and down the next, they'll be ready and cranked for the game at Chestnut Hill (Lord knows they should have a chip on their shoulder after whiffing against South Florida).
Much will depend on the status of QB Christian Ponder. If he's still gimpy and immobile, FSU loses a weapon. Ponder at his best is one of the Noles best rushers. If he's not ready, or unable to be mobile and be an effective passer, we might see his back-up, E.J. Manuel. The redshirt freshman was one of the top QBs recruits in '08, but has played only in mop up action against BYU, plus one running play in the USF game. Manuel has great potential -- and O-Coordinaor Jimbo Fisher is slowly preparing him to be "The Man" -- but who knows if he's ready to go from being the QB-in-waiting to taking the entire offense on his shoulders.