The 2009 football season is right around the corner. This time of year is full of anticipation and high expectations as Florida State is coming of a 9-4 season and a tromping of Wisconsin in the bowl game last year. There is talent there for FSU to continue the climb back towards the nation's elite, but there is a small group of players that need to play well in order for the season to go the way many hope it will.
NoleDigest takes a look the final 4 players that need to show in camp they are ready to make the strides that'll help the ‘Noles take the next step in 2009.
There are three players on offense that need to take the next step are Christian Ponder, Richard Goodman and Ty Jones.
Christian has entered camp as the number one starter and the guy with the most experience at the quarterback spot in the roster. As a first year starter last year Ponder led the Seminoles to their best record 2004, but he left some things to be desired when it came to being a passer.
Looking on Ponder last year we saw in the Miami game how deadly he can be on the ground as he single-handedly buried the Hurricanes on the read option. Athletically gifted, being mobile isn't Ponder's issue.
When FSU had to go to the air Ponder was inconsistent as it gets. The Wake Forest game was an anomaly, but Christian struggled. A lot has been made about Christian's 8 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions last year against the meat of the schedule. That is the thing that needs to improve.
We've seen so far in camp that it looks like Ponder is much more comfortable getting the ball downfield. Making teams honest this fall is all on Christian as he has a lethal running attack to help the passing game. FSU needs 20 touchdowns through the air this year from Christian and less than 10 picks. If they can get that FSU's offense will be on of the best in the ACC and FSU's best since Chris Weinke was at FSU in the early part of this decade.
Richard Goodman has been non-existent since the 2007 Duke game where he had 11 catches for 73 yards. Injuries have derailed Richard's career but we've heard all summer that he is finally healthy and ready to breakout this year. With the inexperience at wide receiver for the Seminoles Richard needs to take that success he's had in practice and make happen on game days.
Ty Jones struggled in the spring with fumbling issues but many attributed that to a thumb injury. We saw in the Wisconsin game how good Jones can be. FSU is deep at the running back spot but why does Ty make this list?
Well, he makes that list because of the depth at the position, if that makes sense. There are a lot of talented guys at running back, but Jones in his own right has the potential to a primary guy for the ‘Noles. If he can stay healthy Jones has every shot to be a 500+ yards ball carrier that can get the tough yards and help put points on the board. He needs to show what he has this year or he could get passed. If he stays healthy, watch out!
The final guy on this list is senior defensive end Kevin McNeil. Kevin showed tons of potential as a freshman when he has 16 tackles 7 for a loss. After that stellar season McNeil battled some unfortunate off-the-field issues with the accident, then he got caught up in the NCAA cheating scandal.
McNeil took the loss of a whole season as punishment for the scandal, thus he is entering his last year at FSU. Before this article came out news broke last week that McNeil may be academically ineligible. He has since cleared that issue up and is working to get ready for 2009.
With the loss of Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett FSU needs Kevin to return to the form we saw in 2009. When focused Kevin is a force. Period. Last year he had 4 sacks, but FSU needs him to at least double that in 2009. Markus White has shown so far in camp that he is ready, but is Kevin. If Kevin is just average this year the Seminoles could have some issues at defensive end because McNeil is the most game-ready player at his position.
10 With Something to Prove: Final 4
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