In 1995 the Gators played FSU when it was ranked No. 6 in the nation. Florida grabbed a lead but FSU started a comeback reminiscent of the notorious "Choke at Doak" the previous year. A late interception sealed the deal and Florida had a 35-24 win.
The next year was the infamous "echo of the whistle" game when FSU pounded Danny Wuerffel incessantly. This time it was the No. 2 ranked Noles holding on for a 24-21 win over the top ranked Gators.
This year Florida is atop the college football world but things have really changed in Tallahassee. FSU staggers into Gainesville 6-5 on the year and would be below .500 if not for a last minute score last week to beat a 2-9 Maryland team.
Despite their 6-5 record, FSU comes into Gainesville with an explosive offense that is averaging 32 points a game with 149 yards on the ground and 286 through the air.
QB Christian Ponder was having a terrific season before he got hurt but E.J. Manuel has done a nice job. He's a superb athlete and FSU coaches have done a great job putting him in good situations. He will spend more time rolling out than he will sitting in the pocket and so far the overwhelming majority of his throws have been safe, underneath tosses. Still he did throw three INT in the Maryland game and he'll see a lot of things from the Gators he hasn't seen before. On the year he's run for 99 yards and a TD while passing for 430 with a single TD and four interceptions.
Jermaine Thomas is the top runner (690, 5.3, 7) even though they forgot about him in the loss to South Florida and gave him the ball just once. He's a solid inside/out runner but not really a game breaker. He has just two runs of 25 or more yards. Ty Jones (251, 4.9, 5) is a solid compliment and they'll give FB Lonnie Pryor (4 TD) chances in goal line situations.
The best unit on the team is clearly the receiving corps, which is much improved from a year ago. They have their own version of the "Far Four" with Bert Reed (53, 12.7), Rod Owens (53, 12.3, 3), Jarmon Fortson (37, 12.9) and Taiwan Easterling (31, 12.8, 2). And there's plenty of talent behind those four. FSU lost TE Caz Piurowski to a knee injury, but Beau Reliford (9, 8.1, 2) has done a decent job filling in.
FSU has really struggled on the offensive line in recent years, but they are better up front than they have been and with no seniors should be even better in 2010. LG Rodney Hudson is a real standout. RT Zebrie Sanders has something to prove since he tried to commit to Florida two years ago. The line is a bit undersized which is part of why they have not run the ball all that well against better defenses. They have protected their QB well, allowing just 17 sacks
Overall this is a very good offensive team, probably top 20 in the country with Ponder and just below that now. They rank No. 21 in the NCAA in total offense and No. 26 in scoring. It'll be a very good matchup for the Gator defense which is clearly better than any FSU has faced this year.
Scouting Florida State Offense
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