Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has improved Florida State's team every year during his three year tenure, the big question is will that continue in 2013? The "national pundits" seem to think that the answer is 'no'. Here are five things that they are missing:
1. The overall talent level of the roster has improved.
When Fisher arrived the roster was a giant mess as FSU was a lot closer to USF in talent than UF. Class by class Fisher has improved--dramatically---the overall talent on the roster.
While it is easy to see that Bjoern Werner, Brandon Jenkins, Tank Carradine, E.J. Manuel, Xavier Rhodes, and Menelik Watson were tough losses, the national pundits have missed the talent that has moved up the depth chart. Players like Karlos Williams, Chris Casher, Mario Edwards, Jameis Winston, Ronald Darby, and Eddie Goldman are perhaps MORE talented than the first group and they will have an opportunity to shine now that the depth chart has thinned.
2. Jameis Winston is the real deal.
We have not seen him on the D-1 football field (yet), but the freshmen has put together a sensational season on the baseball diamond. It proves that he is a play-maker and mentally capable of producing at a high level.
FSU has been rock solid at QB with Manuel and Christian Ponder, but Winston will bring a little more of 'it' to the table. Those close to the FSU program feel that Winston has the potential to go down as the best Florida State QB in history and everyone is very impressed with his work ethic, knowledge of the game, and competitive drive.
College football saw "Johnny Football" take over a year ago, we feel like there is no reason that Winston can't have a similar impact.
3. The offensive line will be terrific.
While there are some long-term issues that need to be addressed along the offensive line, those problems do not exist for the 2013 season. Cam Erving (Jr), Tre Jackson (Jr), Josue Matias (Jr), Bobby Hart (Jr), and Bryan Stork (Sr) are physically big and experienced. There is every reason to believe that this group is ready to take the next step and dominate from start to finish.
Sure it would have been nice for Watson to return, but by all accounts Hart is ready to step up. There is some quality depth with Jacob Fahrenkrug, Ruben Carter, and Austin Barron
We feel like this will be the best offensive line in the Jimbo Fisher era.
4. Telvin Smith is a play-maker.
Vince Williams and Kendall Smith have played solid in the middle of the FSU defense, but both lacked the ability to make game-changing plays. They were much more 'solid' than 'spectacular'.
FSU fans can expect that to change with Telvin finally a starter. Smith finds the football and flies around the field (runs like a Safety). We expect a big season from Smith and he will very likely usher in an era that has FSU fans remembering the 90's when the linebacker's truly play sideline to sideline.
5. No more bad losses.
10-28-10: FSU 24, NCSU 28
11-6-10: FSU 35, UNC 37
10-8-11: FSU 30, Wake Forest 35
11-19-11: FSU 13, Virginia 14
10-6-12: FSU 16, NCSU 17
Jimbo Fisher is 31-10 as head coach at FSU and that is with the above 5 'bad losses'. Each of these losses--to a certain degree-- were 'given away'. Have the lessons been learned? We feel like they have and last year's NCSU loss is seen by those close to the program as a watershed moment.
We will look for FSU to play more aggressive and to have a little more of a killer instinct moving forward. Despite an uneven decade, FSU is still the HUNTED in the ACC, FSU gets every teams best shot. That takes a little getting used to and we feel that while the lessons have been painful, it will pay off the in the long run.
Would the pundits think differently if FSU was coming off 12-2, 11-2, and 13-1 seasons? Absolutely they would. Those of us who follow the program know just how close that scenario has been.