Last season Florida State entered the BYU game limping. They lost a heart-breaker to Miami in the season opener, and they needed a flurry in the 4th quarter to avoid the upset to Jacksonville State. On the other hand BYU was coming off a huge win against Oklahoma that propelled them into the BCS conversation.
The game didn't go as expected. There weren't a lot of people who thought FSU had a shot to win, but the Seminoles put it all together in beating the Cougars 54-28. The defense played lights out forcing Heisman contender Max Hall into 3 interceptions, with one returned for a score by Greg Reid.
This year FSU enters the game against BYU as the more experienced team. Offensively BYU will not have Max Hall as he graduated as one of the program's best quarterbacks they've had. This year BYU will either be led by Riley Nelson or freshman Jake Heaps. At this stage it is too early to say who'll be under center. Nelson is more of an athlete whereas Heaps fits the traditional BYU mold as a pocket passer.
Other than quarterback the coaches at BYU are looking to replace Harvey Unga and both tight ends in Dennis Pita and Andrew George. Unga led the team last year in rushing but was booted off the team for violation school policy. When you look at the roster right now for BYU there isn't anyone who is as good as Harvey was, so they'll need someone to step up before the season starts to alleviate some pressure off of either Nelson or Heaps.
Pita and George were prime targets in 2009 as they combined for 92 catches for 1,237 yards and 13 scores. Who's going to replace that production? Expect wide receiver O'Neil Chambers to help fill that void.
Defensively BYU has to replace the school's all-time leading sacker in Jan Jorgensen. While the unit didn't get a lot of pressure and sacks last year Jorgensen was a team leader. The Cougar's base 3-4 scheme will feature 2 new starters at the defensive end spots, so there is not a lot of experience up front.
The defense did a good job against the run last year, but like the defensive line BYU will be young at linebacker. Freshmen Zac Stout and Kyle Van Noy will take up two spots, but Jordan Pendleton will be leaned on to lead this group.
The secondary is experienced as 3 starters return. Seniors Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley return at corner and senior free safety Andrew Rich returns. The strong safety spot will be filled by Jray Galea'l. With some question marks in the front 7 the secondary will have to play great in 2010.
What FSU must do to win: Play with-in themselves and play assignment football. The offense for FSU will be a lot for BYU's young defense to handle. Christian Ponder must play smart against BYU's veteran secondary. The rushing attack for FSU will help control the pace of the game. On defense FSU must get pressure up front. The more pressure they create will throw BYU's offense off. There aren't a lot of areas where FSU doesn't have the advantage in this game.
NoleDigest way too early prediction: FSU's speed advantage was too much for BYU to handle last year, and this year will be no different. The offense should have a major advantage up front as FSU's offensive line should be able to control the game up front. Christian Ponder didn't have a huge statistical game last year, but this year should be different. While BYU's secondary has veterans FSU should be able to eat up a lot of yards through the air. If Max Hall and Harvey Unga were back FSU's defense could be in trouble, but this BYU team is a little too young on offense to put up the points necessary to win.
FSU 44 BYU 17
The Road to Charlotte: Game 3- BYU
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