2007 Florida State Seminoles

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Florida State Seminoles Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Florida State Seminoles

Recap: All of those offseason coaching changes made by Bobby Bowden did little to ignite Florida State, which lost six games for a second straight year, and struggled to excel in Jimbo Fisher's offense.  The Seminoles opened with a loss to Clemson, closed with an academic scandal that robbed the team of two dozen players for the Music City Bowl, and was out of contention in the ACC by mid-October.  The highlights of the season were wins over Alabama in September and an upset of Boston College in November that ended the Eagles national title dreams.            

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Preston Parker

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Geno Hayes

Biggest Surprise: Parker.  One of the few bright spots on offense, Parker came out of relative obscurity to lead the team in receptions, shift seamlessly to running back when Antone Smith went down, and provide a threat on returns.  Just a sophomore in 2007, he'll play a huge role in the offense in 2008. 

Biggest Disappointment: The offense.  Fisher wasn't going to be a miracle worker in his first year, but much more was expected from a unit that's underachieved the past few seasons.  The ‘Noles were never able to get the running game cranking, scoring fewer than 30 points in all but the visit from UAB.   

Looking Ahead: Hey, it's Florida State, so no one would be floored if next year was the season that the program finally gets back to double-digit wins for the first time since 2003.  Mickey Andrews' defense will be fine, but to get over the hump, the Noles need an offensive wake-up call and a breakthrough final year from QB Drew Weatherford.      

- 2007 FSU Preview
2006 FSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4
2006 Record: 7-6

Sept. 3 at Clemson L 24-17
Sept. 8
UAB W 34-24
Sept. 15 at Colorado W 16-6
Sept. 29 Alabama W 21-14
Oct. 6
NC State W 27-10
Oct. 11 at Wake Forest  L 24-21
Oct. 20
Miami L 37-29
Oct. 27 Duke W 25-6
Nov. 3 at Boston Coll W 27-17
Nov. 10 at Virginia Tech L 40-21
Nov. 17
Maryland W 24-16
Nov. 24 at Florida L 45-12
Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 Kentucky L 35-28

Dec. 31
2007 Music City Bowl
Kentucky 35 ... Florida State 28

Florida State was without 36 players due to academic suspension and/or injury, but it still battled down to the final play. UK QB Andre Woodson threw four touchdown passes with throws of 13 and 38 yards to Steve Johnson, a two-yard pass to Rafael Little, and a 14-yarder to Jacob Tamme early on, capitalizing off a blocked punt, to start the scoring. The Seminoles were helped by the defense with Tony Carter taking a Woodson pass 24 yards for a second quarter touchdown to tie it at 14, but it was all UK in the third quarter with the Little score and a four-yard Tony Dixon touchdown run. FSU's Drew Weatherford ran for two short scores and threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Greg Carr to stay alive, but was never able to get the lead. The Wildcats couldn't run out the clock after the Carr score, and Weatherford got a second chance after throwing an interception to Micah Johnson, who fumbled it back to FSU with 29 seconds to play. On their own 17, the Seminoles got a 24-yard catch from Carr and a ten-yard pass to Preston Parker to get to the UK 44 with a shot at a desperation pass with three seconds to play, but UK broke up the final desperation pass in the end zone.
Offensive Player of the Game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson completed 32 of 50 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns with an interception
Defensive Player of the Game: Kentucky LB Wesley Woodyard made 15 tackles
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 22-48, 276 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Antone Smith, 17-156. Receiving: Preston Parker, 8-105
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 32-50, 358 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rafael Little, 28-152. Receiving: Rafael Little, 8-50, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ... Florida State played its guts out. With no depth and missing a slew of starters, the Noles hung tough for a full sixty minutes rarely playing like a short-handed team. ... Kentucky will obviously be happy about getting a second straight Music City Bowl win, but considering the circumstances, this wasn't exactly an impressive performance. The Wildcats should've been able to pound the ball and worn down the FSU defensive front, but couldn't do it. The Noles held on to the ball for almost 11 minutes in the third quarter. ... What is it about Florida State and running the ball in bowl games? After having no ground game last year, it ripped up UCLA in the Emerald Bowl, and this year it struggled all year long on the ground but got 156 yards out of Antone Smith against the Wildcats. ... FSU QB Drew Weatherford needed to be perfect, and he wasn't. To be fair, he didn't get a whole bunch of help on several key plays that could've changed the game. ... Andre Woodson became UK's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 40 for his career after tossing four against the Seminoles. ... Penalties killed Florida State with ten for 102 yards. Kentucky committed seven, but for just 45 yards.

Nov. 24
Florida 45 ... Florida State 12
Florida rolled up 541 yards of total offense with Tim Tebow running for scores from 23 and five yards out and throwing for three scores with two to Louis Murphy. Percy Harvin ran for 157 yards with a 24-yard touchdown dash putting a cap on the scoring. Florida State only managed four Gary Cismesia field goals, but he nailed a 60-yard bomb at the end fo the first half.
Player of the game: Florida RB Tim Tebow completed 19 of 28 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 13 times for 89 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 20-37, 188 yds
Rushing: Preston Parker, 12-48. Receiving: Preston Parker, 6-55
Florida - Passing: Tim Tebow, 19-28, 262 yds, 3 TD
Percy Harvin, 16-157, 1 TD. Receiving: Cornelius Ingram, 5-75

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... If you needed an indication of how wide the talent gap is between Florida State and the rest of the nation, witness the Florida debacle. The Seminoles weren't just beaten by a better team, they weren't even close the Gators did whatever they wanted to. Not getting any offense is one thing, that's been a continual issue for FSU, but for the defense to be gouged like it was against Tim Tebow and company means the program needs to go back to the drawing board.

Nov. 17
Florida State 24 ... Maryland 16
Florida State jumped out to a 21-3 first half lead with Drew Weatherford running for a one-yard score and throwing a ten-yard touchdown pass to DeCody Fagg, but the star of the show was Preston Parker, who ran for an 18-yard score in the first half and finished with 133 yards. Maryland pulled within eight on a 14-yard Darrius Heyward-Bey catch late in the third quarter, but the Noles got a 30-yard Gary Cismesia field goal to get comfortably ahead. The two teams combined to convert just five of 27 third down chances.
Player of the game: Florida State RB Preston Parker ran 20 times for 133 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 21 yards
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 16-26, 204 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Preston Parker, 20-133, 1 TD. Receiving: DeCody Fagg, 4-68, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 16-32, 242 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Keon Lattimore, 13-46. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 5-82, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Noles might not be anything special, but they've done a good job of pulling out of the midseason tailspin by winning three of four games before dealing with Florida. It's possible the quarterback situation is finally settled a bit with Drew Weatherford back and solid, but the real key has been the running of Preston Parker, who unlike Antone Smith, has been able to make things happen. The defense kept Maryland's offense under wraps, especially the running game, but to have a shot at Florida, Weatherford has to be more effective on third downs.

Nov. 10
Virginia Tech 40 ... Florida State 21
Virginia Tech was down one going into the fourth quarter thanks to a an FSU run sparked by a 40-yard Dekoda Watson interception return for a score and an eight-yard DeCody Fagg catch, and then came 20 unanswered points. Tyrod Taylor ran for a three-yard score and Chris Ellis picked off a pass for a five-yard touchdown. Taylor threw two first half touchdown passes and Branden Ore ran for a two-yard score on the way to a 20-yard Hokie lead before the Noles made their midgame run.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor completed ten of 15 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran 17 times for 92 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Christian Ponder, 8-18, 105 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Christian Ponder, 5-51. Receiving: DeCody Fagg, 4-63, 1 TD
Virginia Tech - Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 10-15, 204 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Tyrod Taylor, 17-92, 1 TD. Receiving:
Justin Harper, 5-167, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Considering Drew Weatherford got knocked out of the game and Xavier Lee wasn't around to rely on, the Seminoles did a great job of staying alive against Virginia Tech for three quarters. When the wheels started to come off, it would've been nice if the offensive line could've taken over and Antone Smith could've been the man, but that didn't happen. Erased from the gameplan early, it was all Christian Ponder, and this wasn't the time to get his feet wet. With Maryland and Florida to close out, this might not be a pretty few games to close things out unless the quarterback play is steadier.

Nov. 3
Florida State 27 ... Boston College 17
Boston College couldn't pull out a second straight close game with Matt Ryan getting picked off three times, with the last one a by Geno Hayes for a 38-yard score with 1:10 to play. Drew Weatherford bombed away for 354 yards for the Noles with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Preston Parker and a 42-yard pass play to Decody Fagg, but the Eagles stayed in the game with a 30-yard Brandon Robinson touchdown catch and a one-yard Ryan Purvis catch. Jamie Silva made 16.5 tackles with a forced fumble and a sack for BC. The two teams combined for 786 passing yards and 18 penalties

Player of the game: Florida State QB Drew Weatherford completed 29 of 45 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 26-53, 415 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Matt Ryan, 9-30. Receiving: Brandon Robinson, 7-163, 1 TD
Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 29-45, 354 yds, 2 TD
Antone Smith, 22-63. Receiving: Preston Parker, 9-93, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the loss to Miami a few weeks ago, and with the switch to Drew Weatherford, the passing game has finally found some consistency, helped by an offensive line that's doing a good job of keeping him upright. While Weatherford was tremendous in outplaying Matt Ryan this week, punter Graham Gano might have been the MVP of the game highlighted by a brilliant 64-yard kick that pinned the Eagles deep, and averaging 49.5 yards on four kicks. Will this win over BC give the team the confidence to win road games at Virginia Tech and Florida in the final three weeks? A good season could turn into a fantastic one if the team continues to play this well.

Oct. 27
Florida State 25 ... Duke 6
Preston Parker caught a nine-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 14-yard end around in the third quarter, and Gary Cismesia hit four field goals, as Florida State dominated Duke. The Blue Devils gained nine yards rushing and only got nine first downs, with the only score coming on a three-yard Brandon King catch midway through the fourth. Florida State held on to the ball for 39:38 and outgained the Blue Devils 534 yards to 222.

Player of the game: Florida State QB Drew Weatherford completed 35 of 47 passes for 339 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 16-30, 198 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Thaddeus Lewis, 8-18. Receiving: Jomar Wright, 7-141
Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 35-47, 339 yds, 1 TD
Antone Smith, 23-146. Receiving: Richard Goodman, 11-73
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Noles might have only come up with 25 points in the win over Duke, but it was as dominant a game as the team has had all season long. Drew Weatherford was accurate and decisive in his throws, and Antone Smith finally, finally started to run like he's expected to. No, beating Duke isn't like coming up with a win over Boston College or Virginia Tech, but after a confidence builder like this week, anything might be possible in a brutal final month (at Boston College, at Virginia Tech, Maryland, at Florida).

Oct. 20
Miami 37 ... Florida State 29
And the rivalry just keeps getting more bizarre. Florida State got five Gary Cismesia field goals, including two 45-yarders in the second half, a 45-yard Toddrick Verdell interception return for a touchdown, and a six-yard Xavier Lee touchdown run on the way to a 29-24 lead late in the fourth quarter. The game appeared to be all but over when Miami's Kirby Freeman was stuffed on fourth and one on the FSU two, but the Canes got another chance and went 83 yards in 1:30 with Freeman hitting Dedrick Epps for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 to play. The two point conversion failed, leaving the door open for the Noles, but 11 seconds later, Colin McCarthy scooped up a Lee fumble for a 27-yard score to seal the win. FSU turned it over five times, Miami four times.

Player of the game: Miami LB Colin McCarthy made ten tackles, a tackle for loss and recovered a fumble for a 27-yard touchdown
Stat Leaders: Miami - Passing: Kyle Wright, 6-10, 88 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Graig Cooper, 10-80, 1 TD. Receiving: Darnell Jenkins, 4-106
Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 14-32, 208 yds, 2 INT
Antone Smith, 22-114. Receiving: Preston Parker, 5-83

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What kind of head and heart does Florida State have? To lose in painful fashion to Wake Forest is one thing, but to lose in heartbreaking fashion in the final minute at home to Miami is another. The turnovers were a major issue, but the big problem was a defense that couldn't come up with a key stop late for the second week in a row. Xavier Lee continues to make mistakes, and has problems at times being on the same page with his receivers, but he's still moving the offense relatively well, and he's adding a rushing element that Antone Smith isn't providing. Lose to Duke next week, and things then get truly ugly.

Oct. 11
Wake Forest 24 ... Florida State 21
Kenneth Moore caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to put Wake Forest up 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, and Sam Swank put it away with a 48-yard field goal. Florida State made it interesting with a 17-yard Xavier Lee touchdown run with 17 seconds to play, but the Demon Deacons recovered the onside kick. Josh Adams started off the scoring with an 83-yard run, and tied it for Wake with a six-yard scoring grab in the third, while Lee threw two touchdown passes, highlighted by a four-yard jump ball to Greg Carr. The two teams combined for seven turnovers and 18 penalties.

Player of the game: Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner completed 19 of 27 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions
Stat Leaders: Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 19-27, 215 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Josh Adams, 18-140, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Adams, 6-29, 1 TD
Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 24-45, 283 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Antone Smith, 14-32. Receiving:
Greg Carr, 8-108, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... This is one maddening team. It shows flashes of dominance with breathtaking athleticism and skill, and then it can't get anything working. Against Wake Forest, crushing penalties, four costly turnovers, and no running game opened up a shot for the upset, and it happened. If nothing else, Xavier Lee showed again that he deserves to be the main man, sink or swim. The offense had way too many down drives, but Lee also showed off the speed and mobility to throw a mega-scare into defenses. Now there's no margin for error; the Noles have to win out in ACC play.

Oct. 6
Florida State 27 ... NC State 10
The Seminoles got a two-yard touchdown run from Xavier Lee and a 40-yard scoring pass to Greg Carr, but the game turned around early in the second half on a Michael Ray Garvin interception for a touchdown. The Wolfpack held a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter with a 23-yard field goal and a two-yard John Dunlap touchdown catch, and then FSU scored the final 20 points. NC State turned it over four times and gave up six sacks.
Player of the game: Florida State QB Xavier Lee threw for 257 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-28 passing, while rushing 12 times for 14 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: NC State - Passing: Daniel Evans, 19-32, 172 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing: Jamelle Eugene, 14-101. Receiving: Jamelle Eugene, 5-30
Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 16-28, 257 yds, 1 TD
Antone Smith, 17-55. Receiving: Preston Parker, 6-61

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense mostly gets the credit for the win over NC State, getting into the backfield early and often, and coming up with four turnovers. However, the real story was Xavier Lee, who had a nice, efficient game throwing the ball, even though he didn't run much. There wasn't enough of a running game overall, as the offense still can't seem to find a way to get Antone Smith rolling. Even so, the Noles are winning, and are right in the thick of the ACC race with winnable games against Wake Forest, Miami and Duke ahead before the big battles on the road at BC and Virginia Tech.

Sept. 29
Florida State 21 ... Alabama 14
After a 0-0 defensive slugfest at halftime, the two offenses woke up in the second half with Xavier Lee taking over at quarterback for Florida State and working with DeCody Fagg for touchdown passes from seven and 70 yards. Antone Smith ran for a five-yard score for a 14-0 Seminole lead held late in the game, but the Tide got a seven-yard D.J. Hall touchdown catch with just over five minutes to play, and Keith Brown caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left to pull within seven. The Tide recovered the onside kick, but it was ruled FSU ball since the ball bounced off a Tide player.
Player of the game: Florida State QB Xavier Lee completed 12 of 19 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran 11 times for a team-leading 59 yards
Stat Leaders: Alabama - Passing: John Parker Wilson, 28-53, 240 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing: Terry Grant, 9-36. Receiving: D.J. Hall, 7-83, 1 TD
Florida State - Passing: Xavier Lee, 12-19, 224 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Xavier Lee, 11-59. Receiving: Greg Carr, 5-107

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's not like Xavier Lee hadn't gotten his shot in the past, but against Alabama, things started to click, and the talented receivers made the most of the switch. Lee not only threw well, but he finally showed off his mobility that makes him such a dangerous option in place of Drew Weatherford. Now the coaching staff has to pick him for next week's game against NC State, and stick with him. Lee can't be looking over his shoulder. Can there be a running game at some point? Alabama's defense might be nasty, but the ground game simply didn't work.

Sept. 15
Florida State 16 ... Colorado 6
Gary Cismesia hit thee field goals and Antone Smith tore off a 36-yard touchdown run as Florida State battled its way past Colorado. The Seminole offense sputtered and coughed all game long, but it appeared unstoppable compared to a Colorado attack that was stuffed for -27 rushing yards and could only manage an 11-yard Tyson DeVree touchdown catch in the final minutes. The two teams combined for a mere 500 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Florida State DB Tony Carter made seven tackles, picked off two passes and made a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 8-18, 126 yds
Rushing: Antone Smith, 19-66, 1 TD. Receiving: Greg Carr, 3-61
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 34-53, 306 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Demetrius Sumler, 8-14. Receiving: Scott McKnight, 6-62

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... For all the excitement and all the hubbub over Jimbo Fisher taking over the offensive reins, the Noles aren't exactly lighting anyone up. 221 yards against Colorado? 126 yards passing?! This isn't what the program was hoping for, and there needs to be more explosion and more pop, especially from the passing game, to make any noise in the ACC. Third down conversions continue to be a big problem, converting just one of 13 chances. On the plus side, the defensive line was dominant. CU had nowhere to run all game long.

Sept. 8
Florida State 34 ... UAB 24
It took a while, but Florida State eventually put UAB away. Tied at 24 late in the third quarter, the Noles finally pulled ahead for good on a 50-yard touchdown pass to Richard Goodman. Gary Cismesia added a 40-yard field goal for a little breathing room, and FSU escaped. Weatherford threw three touchdown passes, but UAB hunt tough thanks to a 21-yard Will Dunbar interception return for a touchdown, a four-yard Sam Hunt scoring run, and a 16-yard pass from Hunt to Joseph Webb. The Noles outgained UAB 520 yards to 345, but turned it over three times.
Player of the game: Florida State QB Drew Weatherford went 22-of-35 for 332 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Stat Leaders: UAB
- Passing: Sam Hunt, 17-35, 226 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Sam Hunt, 11-56, 1 TD. Receiving: Joseph Webb, 6-89, 1 TD
Florida State
- Passing: Drew Weatherford, 22-35, 332 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Antone Smith, 19-62. Receiving: Preston Parker, 4-89
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Florida State has hardly looked like a world-beater to start the year, but it's not quite time to completely panic. Chalk up the struggles against UAB to the short week. Remember, the Noles had an emotional opener just four days before facing the Blazers and were hardly focused. Even so, a good team blows out a bad Blazer squad, and the Noles couldn't do it. The secondary was a bit off, the running game didn't show up, and the offense reverted to its old ways with Drew Weatherford bombing away. Three turnovers, 12 penalties for 131 yards; the team needs to quickly come up with a good game to finally kick its season off the right way.

Sept. 1
Clemson 24 ... Florida 18
Clemson roared out to a 21-0 lead on two Cullen Harper touchdown passes and a 29-yard James Davis run, and seemingly had the game well in hand late in the third quarter up 24-3. And then everything changed as Jimmy Maners took an errant punt snap out of the end zone for a Florida State safety, and then it got interesting as Antone Smith ran for a one-yard score and Richard Goodman caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to pull the Noles to within six. But Clemson would hang on as time ran out on a final Seminole drive.
Player of the game ... Clemson LB Nick Watkins made 11 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and recovered a fumble
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 17-34, 142 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Antone Smith, 14-90, 1 TD  Receiving: Antone Smith, 5-57
Clemson - Passing: Cullen Harper, 14-24, 160 yds, 2 TD
James Davis, 18-102, 1 TD   Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 5-98, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... New coaches, same problems. FSU couldn't find any consistency in the running game against Clemson, and it had a nightmare of a time protecting Drew Weatherford. While the team did a good job of pouncing on the momentum swing, it only finished with eight first downs, did nothing on third downs in the first half, and only converted three of 17 chances. Weatherford was sacked five times, and he'll need far more time to get the passing attack moving. Working on the ground game against UAB next week is vital.

Sept. 3 – at Clemson

Offense: Clemson had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce. Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

Sept. 8 - UAB

Offense: From the staff and the system to the personnel, the offense will be getting a complete facelift in 2007.  Nothing will look the same which isn't such a bad thing considering how poorly the unit executed last season.  New coordinator Kim Helton is installing a pro-style attack that sprinkles in some no-huddle and option calls, but realizes he'll have to tailor the first-year playbook to the talent he inherits.  All eyes in August will be on the continuing quarterback battle between senior Sam Hunt and sophomore Joseph Webb, a potential savior once he gets up to speed.  Whether or not the offense climbs out of the Conference USA cellar will depend heavily on the maturation of a rebuilt line that's replacing four senior starters. 
Defense: While the back seven of the defense figures to be a strength in 2007, you might not know it unless the defensive line can effectively replace three key starters from last year.  Senior end Brandon Jeffries will be productive, but after him, UAB is feverishly searching for answers to prevent opposing passers from having all day to throw.  Junior college transfer Antonio Forbes is being counted on to deliver right out of the gate at tackle.  The linebackers have a budding star in junior Joe Henderson and senior free safety Will Dunbar is one of just a handful of Blazer defenders with all-league potential.

Sept. 15 – at Colorado
Offense: Call this a stepping-stone season for the offense before it explodes in 2008. The overall production can't help but be better after averaging a Big 12-worst 291 yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if all the problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen go away, and if the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's better than last season showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick Nelson can shine right away at quarterback, the Buffs should start to have the offense that Buff fans expected when Dan Hawkins was hired.
Defense: The defense was better than it every got credit for considering the offense provided no help whatsoever. The starting 11, in whatever configuration that turns out to be, should be excellent as long as a pass rush is found from the ends. The linebacking corps will be the strength with tackling-machine Jordon Dizon leading the way. George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas form an excellent tackle tandem to work around, while Terrence Wheatley is an All-Big 12 corner to handle everyone's number one. Now there needs to be more from the secondary, and the run defense has to be as strong as it was last year despite losing key linemen Abraham Wright and Walter Boye-Doe.

Sept. 29 - Alabama
Offense: Major Applewhite takes over as offensive coordinator and will play around with several different formations and ideas, while trying to stick with Nick Saban's run-first philosophy. He'll incorporate a little bit of spread and four-wide sets. There's one problem; Bama might not have the backs to run well on a consistent basis. The strength is in the passing game with the great 1-2 receiving tandem of D.J. Hall and Keith Brown working with rising passer John Parker Wilson. The line welcomes back five starters led by soon to be All-Everything tackle Andre Smith.
Defense: Former Florida State defensive coordinator Kevin Steele came in and switched things up to a 3-4 in an attempt to jump-start a woeful pass rush by getting more production from the outside linebackers, led by a hybrid position of defensive lineman and linebacker, manned by Keith Saunders. Wallace Gilberry and Bobby Greenwood look the part of top ends, and now they have to start producing. The biggest problem is tackle, where former backup center Brian Motley, who looked great this spring, has to be an anchor for everything to work right. The back eight should be excellent, led by all-star corner Simeon Castille.

Oct. 6 - NC State
Offense: This won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a 50/50 balance.
Defense: This will be a solid defense, but it won't be spectacular. It could be fantastic in 2008 when all the promising young prospects are ready to shine, but for now, this will be a good, sound D that should be far more consistent than last year. Demario Pressley and Martrel Brown lead a strong line that should be the strength, while three senior linebackers will keep the mistakes to a minimum. The secondary has to come up with more big plays after helping the Pack pick off just seven passes.

Oct. 11 – at Wake Forest
Offense: Wake Forest will never come out and outbomb anyone, but it'll run effectively behind a veteran offensive line, get the timely passes when needed, and won't screw up. The attack only averaged 21.6 points per game and was 96th in the nation in offense, but there were only 15 giveaways. QB Riley Skinner is back after helping the offense lead the ACC in passing efficiency, but everything will revolve around the ground game with several good runners and four starters returning up front. The receiving corps will be an issue needing to move 2006's leading rusher, Kenneth Moore, back to his natural receiver position.
Defense: The D could be even better than last year when it was solid at bending but rarely breaking finishing 12th in the nation in scoring defense. There's not a Jon Abbate to rely on, and a few key defensive backs need to be replaced, but there's plenty of experience everywhere and lots of speed and athleticism in the secondary. There needs to be more pass rush from the defensive front and there could stand to be fewer big plays allowed against the pass, but the overall production should be solid.

Oct. 20 - Miami
Offense: After a miserably inconsistent year finishing 87th in the nation in both total and scoring offense, the attack needs to play up to its talent level. The backfield will be amazing with Javarris James and true freshman Graig Cooper each good enough star for just about anyone in the country. The line has potential with two good tackles in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood to work around, and now the passing game has to be far better. The Kyle Wright vs. Kirby Freeman quarterback battle will be an ongoing debate, and the receiving corps has to step up and be better. Lance Leggett emerging as a true number one target would be a start.
Defense: The defense finished seventh in the nation last year despite not getting any help from the offense. The starting 11 should be good enough to shut everyone down, but there will be early concerns with the depth on the defensive line and the secondary. Safety Kenny Phillips and end Calais Campbell might be the two best defensive players in the nation, and everything will revolve around them; they must stay healthy. The linebacking corps might not have name stars, but it'll be a rock against the run with a good rotation of talents.

Oct. 27 - Duke
Offense: Eleven starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee with several different options to see carries, while the overall strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line, while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at corner.

Nov. 3 – at Boston College
Offense: It's Matt Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system. The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in 2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety. The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is a question mark.

Nov. 10 – at Virginia Tech
Offense: Can Tech win a national title with a mediocre offense? It was 99th in the nation in total offense, but it did a great job of taking advantage of all the breaks generated by the defense. Eight starters return, led by ACC Player of the Year candidate Branden Ore at running back, but he needs the line to be healthy for a full season, and better. The passing game has good pieces, but it has to be far more consistent considering there are four talented senior receivers returning. Quarterback Sean Glennon had a good off-season, and now it has to translate into better production.
For two years in a row, Tech has led the nation in total defense, and last season, was number one in scoring defense allowing 11 points per game. There's no reason the D can't be even better with eight starters returning led by the 1-2 linebacking punch of Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. Corner Brandon Flowers is emerging as one of the best in the nation, "Macho" Harris is a good defender on the other side, and the line is loaded with size, quickness, depth and experience. As good as things were, and will be, it's not like the D played a who's who of offensive machines, so the overall numbers might be a tad bit overrated, but make no mistake about it; this is a special defense.

Nov. 17 - Maryland
Offense: It's all there for the Terps to be steady, explosive and very, very productive as long as everyone plays as well as they should. This will be one of the four best offenses in the league as long as injuries don't strike up front. The line is full of veterans and should be a rock, but there's no depth. The receiving corps might be the fastest in the ACC and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore form a tremendous 1-2 rushing punch. It's all there for a big season, but that's what everyone said last year and the Terps were merely average.
The defense didn't exactly work last season, but it didn't seem to matter. No one stopped the run, the secondary was average, there weren't enough takeaways, and the 3-4 that was supposed to generate a serious pass rush wasn't even close. The Terps still won nine games helped be the defense coming through when it absolutely had to. This year's group won't be so fortunate and has to be better. The defensive line should be better with end Jeremy Navarre and tackle Dre Moore good enough to hope for All-ACC honors. Erin Henderson leads an athletic linebacking corps that needs experience, but should be good in time. The secondary is a concern, especially the corners hoping for Isaiah Gardner to become a shut-down defender after returning from a shoulder injury.

Nov. 24 – at Florida
Offense: Now it's time to see how this baby runs. Now the Urban Meyer spread offense will do what it's supposed to with Tim Tebow at the controls full-time, and with a slew of speedy players around him. The offensive line isn't going to wow anyone, but it's experienced, and good enough to win with. The receiving corps has explosion, led by Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and some tremendous tight ends, and the running backs, with the emergence of smallish speedster Chris Rainey, will have more pop. Now it's up to Tebow to not only shine, but stay healthy with two true freshmen behind him.
This is what's called giving Florida the benefit of the doubt. Anyone else replacing nine starters, needing a slew of true freshman to play big roles right away, and/or had the issues the Gators have on the line and at corner, would be instantly dismissed from any SEC East title talk much less the national championship discussion. The recruiting classes have brought in a ton of ultra-fast, ultra-athletic player for the back seven, but there isn't enough size up front, or developed depth anywhere, to hope for any sort of consistency. No, things won't fall off the map after finishing sixth in the nation in scoring and total defense, but there will be some major growing pains to fight through.


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