......is set up for success. It is far from easy, but it certainly is manageable based on early results. A home date this weekend with a struggling Boston College team opens the second half of the schedule. FSU has their off week, but it is not a true "off week" as we will play a big Thursday nighter in Raleigh vs. the Wolfpack after the bye. That works as there is additional time to prepare for an improving UNC team at home the following weekend.
This back end of the schedule should not be taken lightly as it features BC(2-3), NCSU(5-1), UNC(3-2), Clemson(2-3), Maryland(4-1), and UF(4-2). Clemson is always a battle and of course the final game is huge with the struggling Gator's. All six of these teams could be bowl eligible, however BC and Clemson are in a little trouble at this time.
As Coach Fisher would say "we take one game at a time" and that is exactly what has to happen, we simply are not talented enough to go on "cruise control".
The Road to the ACC Title.......
.......runs through Tallahassee. The 'Noles are in firm control of their own destiny in the ACC. FSU can probably overcome a single loss in their last five conference games as it is unlikely that either Maryland or N.C. State will finish with just one loss. Clemson was seen as the stiffest challenge in the Atlantic, but they are 0-2 and are having issues on both sides of the ball.
Can we run the table in the ACC? We certainly "could" as we figure to be favored in every game, perhaps as close as a "pick" with the Wolfpack considering they are at home. You can't ask for anything more than that and this thing boils down to concentration and finishing games. At this time it would be disappointing to NOT make the ACC Title game, a welcome change from "hoping to get there".
The elephant in the room.......
.....is Florida. Six straight losses to the school in the middle of the state is simply unacceptable. Wishful pre-season thinking has turned into reality as the Noles are rolling and the Gators are struggling. Simply put, FSU is the better team right now and as long as we continue to improve, that losing streak will be a thing of the past in late November.
How quickly things can change in college football, but they have. That "breeze" you feel flowing Northwest in Florida is the winds of change in the Sunshine State. Time to close the deal, Miami is already dead in the water, time to do the same to UF.
Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting.....
......is going to get really interesting. We see it already in the 2012 class where Nole leans are emerging throughout the state, but what about 2011? A perfect storm is being created where neighbors Georgia, UF, and Miami are all struggling on the field and each has some sort of head coaching issue(nice to not have that anymore).
It is not a matter of "if", but "who". I think it is safe to say that Tim Jernigan has something to think about at this point. The five-star has been quiet recently......for an alleged "UF lean" that can not be a good thing. Nick O'Leary should have seen all that he needed to see on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.
Ray Drew.....are you watching the DEs? Because if you are, you have to like what you see at this point. Tony Steward should be on board. These guys have all been on the radar, it is going to be the players who have NOT been on the radar that will be most interesting. It is likely that we get 3-4 official visits from players that we simply did not have the mojo for previously. It is impossible to speculate, but expect it to come to fruition.......this staff can recruit.
Looking long-term the future........
.......is ridiculously bright. Consider FSU will return:
*top 5 RBs
*all the WRs
*top 4 TEs
*3 OL starters and several youngsters have gotten extensive PT
*top 6 DTs
*3 of the top 4 DEs
*Top 5 CBs
*Both starting Safeties
*Christian Ponder's departure is in as good of hands as possible with E.J. Manual- he will be a redshirt junior with experience under his belt.
Point here is that it is not just about getting better every day for THIS season, the guys on the field are the core of a team that will return virtually intact in 2011.
What can go wrong........
.........Overconfidence. .........Taking any opponent lightly. It does not appear that we will be turnover prone, Ponder does a good job of protecting the football and.........knock on wood.....the RBs have not coughed it up. Our special teams have been winning the field position battle.
The coaches are a veteran staff so there is no possibility that they will not be prepared. The experienced leaders like Ponder, Kendall Smith, and Rodney Hudson need to stay on the youngsters and let them know that there is no "coming out flat" on this team anymore.
Second half prediction.......
...........is that the Noles close 5-1 for a 10-2 overall record and birth in the ACC title game. Who is the loss to? No clue, but it could be any of the six games, we just think that someone steps up with a great game against us. We would like to think that the loss is not at home which leaves NCSU and Maryland as possible party poopers.