VETTEL: Noles Get Reality Check

All summer long Florida State partisans just knew things were going to be better this year. The Seminoles had purged the coaching staff of the dreaded Jeff Bowden/Darrell Dickey combo that led FSU on a downward spiral in terms of offensive productivity. That alone was enough to create renwed optimism.

In their place (as well as others) the Noles brought in five new coaches headlined by offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher from LSU and West Virginia offensive line guru Rick Trickett. FSU entered the season nationally ranked despite coming off a 7-6 record, an indication the media of America also thought the problems had been solved.

As Lee Corso would say, "not so fast my friends".

Monday night's game at Clemson showed the Florida State's problems on offense were not all about coaching. It's more of a case of trying to make chicken salad out of chicken…. feathers. Florida State gained a first down on its first offensive play, a 22-yard run by quarterback Drew Weatherford. They would not move the chains again until the second half.

If not for shoddy play by Clemson's punt unit, this might never have been competitive. A blocked punt set up the Noles' first three points and a horrible snap gave them two more plus excellent field position.

To its credit, FSU didn't quit and got to within six points(24-18) and had the ball at the Clemson 31 before their only chance to win frittered away on three incomplete passes and a quarterback sack. The revamped FSU offense with its new coaches managed a paltry 256 yards of total offense and just eight first downs. Top runner Antone Smith had a nice 49 yards touchdown run, but averaged less than four yards on his other carries.

Tough Road Ahead

It's a long season and an opening loss doesn't mean all that much, but FSU is certainly in a difficult spot. First of all, they are in essence two games back in the ACC Atlantic Division race since they lost a division game first thing out of the gate. Additionally, the Seminoles still have to face a rather daunting schedule.

After a game with UAB, the Noles will travel to face Colorado and will have later road trips to Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida. Add to that a guaranteed war with Miami at home and a neutral site game in Jacksonville against Alabama, and it's easier to see another six loss season than it is to picture this team winning nine games. The schedule is ridiculous and the talent level simply isn't high enough to navigate that gauntlet successfully. Florida State may one day return to the glory years of the nineties, and rejoin the upper tier of college football programs. However, one thing the Clemson game proved to me is that it won't happen this year.

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