We know Florida State is good and heavily favored, but how good are they? Are they finally back or is this another papertiger that BC can upset? To get a better feel for the team, I asked LilburnNole from the Territory for his thoughts on the team and the game. My questions and his answers are below.
1. Florida State is in the middle of a pretty impressive run. It is not FSU during Bowden's best years, but it is certainly as good as they've been in a long time. Do you think this is the year where the Seminoles finally return to the elite?
LilburnNole: Well, first off it depends on what the definition of elite is. If elite is being a Top 10 team that is at least in the discussion for the National Championship later in the season, than I would answer yes. If elite is finishing Top 5 and being one of just 3-4 teams competing for the two spots in the final BCS National Championship team, I would answer no. I would feel much more confident about answering yes if the Clemson game was at home this season, but as much as it pains me to point it out, Florida State hasn't won at Death Valley since 2001. The Noles must avoid those head scratching let down losses that have occurred the last couple of seasons, too. A lot of FSU fans are in show me mode, but I truly believe that we won't see that from Florida State this season.
I will note that there has been a different aura about Jimbo Fisher this season. He seems more relaxed, with a quiet confidence about this team. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but I think he feels better about this team than he has about previous talented teams that have fallen a little short. There are certainly some things that need to improve from early on in the season for a special season to come to fruition, but I'm confident we'll see those improvements as the season wears on.
2. The offense doesn't seem to have slowed in going from Manuel to Winston. Yet Winston is still a freshman. If BC is going to do anything to disrupt him, what should they do?
LilburnNole: The offense definitely hasn't slowed, and I would argue that it may have gotten better. Through 3 games this season the offense is averaging 8.8 yards per play and 547.3 total yards that have broken down to excellent balance of 266.3 yards rushing and 281.0 yards passing while putting up 52.3 points per game. Those numbers are just about the same as the first 3 games last year, but against tougher (relatively speaking) opponents. Plus, there just seems something different about the offense this year.
Jameis Winston has shown a poise and maturity beyond his years thus far. While he hasn't been perfect, he's done a remarkable job getting us into the correct play by seeing what the defense is trying to do. Being physical with the FSU wide receivers is something I haven't really seen so far and is something that could disrupt the timing. I have never seen so many wide open receivers as I have in the first 3 games and, though Winston has shown he can get the ball into tight windows, he hasn't had to do on a consistent basis. It is a risky proposition, however, that could lead to big plays if the FSU receivers can shake the defenders.
3. How has the defense changed going from Mark Stoops to Pruitt?
LilburnNole: The depth chart that was released before the first game caught most fans and even the beat writers that follow the team closest by surprise. Projected DTs were at DE and a projected DE was at the SAM linebacker position. That was the first definite sign of some changes to come. Early on the defense has gone to a more 3-4 or 5-2 look with mixed results. All throughout the offseason, Nole fans heard about a much more multiple defense Jeremy Pruitt was installing that was going to be far more attacking that Mark Stoops. Stoops defense was excellent at keeping things in front and making offenses drive the field. It didn't force the action, though, and struggled forcing turnovers the last couple of years.
I'm still not convinced that we've really seen much of the Florida State defense yet. There has been glimpses of the increased blitzing from linebackers and defensive backs, but I feel that there have been a lot of experimentation with personnel and formations. I foresee a defense that will start to settle a little with the schedule beginning to get tougher as we enter conference play.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
LilburnNole: I think this game may be close early on, but Florida State has too many weapons on offense and their defense has the ability to make Boston College one dimensional. While I don't like using the transitive property in football, what USC was able to do against BC was eyeopening. Florida State is a better team than the Trojans and should have similar success agains the Eagles in this one.
Florida State 45 - Boston College 13