What is going on here? The defense was supposed to take a year, perhaps a year and a half to reach "Florida State level". That timetable needs to be moved up and there is a chance that it has already passed. It is REMARKABLE how well this team is playing, let's take a closer look at the assistant's.
Mark Stoops(DC): He took a beating after the OU game, but has responded with four knockout performances in a row. He has gotten the players "up to speed" in a remarkably short period of time. They are playing fundamentally sound, they are aligning properly, and tackling better. And that is just the work with the overall defense....look at HOW MUCH better the DBs are. It is quite refreshing to not see opposing WRs run wide open through our secondary.
Greg Hudson(LB): Kendall Smith is much improved from a year ago. Mister Alexander was a non-factor for almost all of career and now is playing at a high level. Yes the freshmen are talented, but he has them up to speed and flying to the football. They seem to be reacting better and playing downhill much more than a year ago. This unit is much better than a year ago.
D.J. Eliot(DE): Probably the most unknown of the new hires, he was dealt a tough hand, but has knocked it out. Let's not forget what he is working with: a senior, sophomore, and two freshmen. Jenkins should have had a huge game, he was seemingly held a large percentage of the time and has played great thus far. White is improving weekly. Werner has been a force. This hire looks better every day.
Eddie Gran(RB): Think about this number....FSU is on pace for almost 3,000 yards rushing. 3,000. We are averaging almost six yards a carry. Same cast of characters as a year ago. His coaching resume speaks for itself and there is a reason he sends RBs to the league. Oh and he also coaches special teams.......another area that is vastly improved in every aspect from a year ago. We are seeing why he is widely considered the best in the country.
Vic Viloria(Strength): Every kid on the team has added size and strength since he took over. FSU just manhandled a Miami team in their place. There is a noticeable difference across the board and at every position. He is going to help players reach their ceiling physically. Big-time.
Rick Trickett(OL): Anyone want to question Trickett now? He inherited a disaster and has improved the unit every year until it sits in the top group of all of college football. He does not seem to care about size, does not seem to care about being a "prototype", all he cares about is producing and his players clearly maximize their ability.
Coach Lawrence Dawsey(WR) and Odell Haggins(DT) are proven commodities. Haggins has four sophomore DTs that he will be able to mold over the next 2.5 years, there should be a dominant season in the future. Jarmon Fortson's departure hurt Dawsey's unit, it made us young with more reps for Smith/Haulstead. He has a loaded depth chart of youth that will be fun to watch develop. We will know a lot more about Dameyune Craig(QB) next year with E.J. Manuel, but he appears to be right on track. Players were wide open Saturday night and we fooled Miami on multiple occasions with crafty play-calling. That is a credit to James Coley(TE/OC) and the job he has done with Beau Reliford stands out. Very talented, but he came in about as raw as they come and he is clearly developing.
Jimbo Fisher(HC): The first test of a new head coach is to assemble a terrific staff. As you can see above, Fisher hit a home run with this one. He has had the team ready to play. There seems to be GENUINE "love" amongst everyone associated with the team---the players get along, there is respect, and we are having fun out there. It is early, but he is exceeding expectations at this point.
Why spend so much time on the coaches? Simple, this staff just went into Miami and beat a coach who is in YEAR 4 of "re-building". Shannon has HIS players, HIS coaches, and almost everyone would still say that Miami has more "raw talent".
If Coach Fisher can do that to Shannon in Year ONE, what is he going to do to him in Year 3....or 5? Amazing what a day can do, but it is hard to watch that and think anything other than one program is on the fast track while the other is stuck in neutral.
Players make plays and we don't want to take anything away from them, but at the same time it is obvious that the vast majority of the roster has improved considerably since last year. And that is coaching. When you factor in that we are going to get more talented every year for at least the next 2-3, college football better start paying attention to what is going on in Tallahassee again.
Coach Fisher made a point in the press conference to say that he takes every game one by one. That is the right approach and we have no doubt that will be the case. Fortunately we are not the coaches and we CAN speculate.
FSU has six games remaining:
4 Home Games: Boston College(2-3, 0-2), North Carolina(3-2, 1-1), Clemson(2-3, 0-2), and Florida(4-2).
2 Road Games: NC State(5-1, 2-1) and Maryland(4-1, 1-0).
FSU might be favored in each of those games. We certainly can't take any weeks off, but 10-2 seems like a realistic possibility. Think about going 10-2 this year......who would have REALLY thought that was possible? Of course, we could win them all and be 11-1 heading into the ACC Championship game.
Point here is that FSU is not only in great shape TODAY, but is set up for long term success. It is going to be an exciting second half of the season and few years.