Scouting Florida State Offense

When the year began, no one thought that the Florida/FSU game would feature two teams with a combined seven losses. Florida was the clear favorite in the SEC East and FSU was claiming to be back among the nation's elite and had some – notably Tim Brando – convinced that they were legit contenders.

Well, neither played out as expected. The Gators endured a three-game losing streak in October and then laid an egg in the SEC East showdown with South Carolina. The Seminoles on the other hand were clobbered by Oklahoma in week two, rallied for five straight wins before dropping consecutive games to N.C. State and North Carolina.

So for both teams this game will define the 2010 campaign as either a miserable disappointment or a solid season with wins over the most emotional rivals on the schedule.

FSU is 8-3 on the year and is coming off a 30-16 win over Maryland. But that score is deceiving. Maryland was driving for a tying touchdown in the final minute when they threw a 96-yard pick-six for the final margin.

Florida State is a solid, balanced offensive team averaging 183 on the ground, 213 through the air and 32 points a game. Only two teams (Oklahoma, Clemson) have held them under 24 points.

Christian Ponder is the trigger-man and he's a quality QB, even though his Heisman campaign was ill advised. He's only passed for 1,817 yards, which is less than John Brantley, but has thrown 17 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. Ponder is an above average runner, gaining 324 yards while losing 165 on sacks.

FSU uses a running back by committee plan with Chris Thompson (644, 7.7, 5), Jermaine Thomas (484, 5.7, 6) and Ty Jones (481, 6.7, 2). That's more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns from the tailback position. Thomas however is injured and not expected to play. Fullback Lonnie Pryor is primary a blocker, but he'll get the ball at the goal line on occasion.

The wide receiver corps is led by Bert Reid (50, 103, 2). He heads up a pretty talented trio that also includes Willie Haulstead (32, 14.7, 5) and Taiwan Easterling (32-13.3, 3). Haulstead, who is 6-3 and Rodney Smith (23, 14.3, 2) who is 6-6 give them size. Tight end Beau Reliford (13, 10.8, 1) is a decent threat, but doesn't scare anyone. Still you have to be aware of him.

The offensive line has been together a long time and is the best FSU has had in several years. They are better inside than they are on the edge. Left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon are the best players on the unit. The tackles Andrew Datko and Zabrie Sanders are not great, but then again neither are Florida's defensive ends.

Overall, this is a very good offensive team with plenty of skill, speed and experience to go with a solid, though overrated offensive line. The key is to limit the running game, especially on first down and to get stops on third down. Florida has been spotty in third down defense and that could kill them in this one.

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