2010 Florida State Preview
Florida State QB Christian Ponder
Florida State QB Christian Ponder
Posted Jun 2, 2010

Florida State is loaded with talent, athleticism, and veterans (at least on offense), and now it'll be up to the new head man, Jimbo Fisher, to show he can produce. With a great piece to the puzzle, QB Christian Ponder, healthy again, the sky's the limit. Check out the 2010 CFN Florida State Preview.

Florida State Seminoles

Preview 2010

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Jimbo Fisher
First year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen
Off. 20, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Florida State Players
1. LG Rodney Hudson, Sr.
2. QB Christian Ponder, Sr.
3. LB Nigel Bradham, Jr.
4. DE Markus White, Sr.
5. LB Kendall Smith, Sr.
6. LT Andrew Datko, Jr.
7. RB Jermaine Thomas, Jr.
8. WR Bert Reed, Jr.
9. CB Greg Reid, Soph.
10. C Ryan McMahon, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Samford
Sept. 11 at Oklahoma
Sept. 18 BYU
Sept. 25 Wake Forest
Oct. 2 at Virginia
Oct. 9 at Miami
Oct. 16 Boston College
Oct. 28 at NC State
Nov. 6 North Carolina
Nov. 13 Clemson
Nov. 20 at Maryland
Nov. 27 Florida

It's the dawn of a new era in Tallahassee. Will it bring the same old results that have plagued the program for the better part of the past decade?

For the first time in more than 30 years, Bobby Bowden is no longer calling the shots at Florida State, mercifully giving way to Jimbo Fisher. The change in culture has been immediately noticeable, from the way the ‘Noles practice to the way they handle the media. What remains to be seen is how long it will take to change what happens on Saturdays. A one-time juggernaut and perennial top 5 lock, the program has had one 10-win season and a pedestrian 74-42 mark over the last nine years. The time had come for this once mighty powerhouse to take a new direction, with Fisher driving the bus.

This is Florida State, which means attracting top-shelf talent is never going to be a major problem. However, the cupboard hasn't been so stocked in recent years that the program was able to overcome poor coaching and even poorer execution. Fisher's task is to change that dynamic. At least in the early going, he's going to rely on the offense to compensate for a defense that was historically bad last year, occupying the ACC basement in many major statistical areas. In Christian Ponder, the Seminoles have one of the game's best kept secrets, a senior quarterback ready to use his final year as a launching pad to the NFL. He's surrounded by good skill position talent, but it's the offensive line that could be his biggest ally. All five starters return, including All-American G Rodney Hudson.

While the coaching staff may be a little different than the last three decades, the agenda is exactly the same. Florida State wants to get out of neutral and start turning this vessel in the direction of the glory days. It won't happen this quickly, but now that Fisher has finally ditched the coach-in-waiting title, tangible progress should be on the horizon.

What to look for offense: The competition at running back. This was supposed to be the domain of Jermaine Thomas, last year's leading rusher, right? Uh-uh. Maybe it was for motivation or maybe the Seminoles are this deep, but the junior exited spring trying to avoid slipping to third on the depth chart. Chris Thompson was atop the pecking order and Ty Jones was in a dead heat with Thomas. The bottom line? Florida State will have plenty of options out of the backfield and the need for some deft coaching in order to keep everyone happy.

What to look for on defense: The emergence of sophomore CB Greg Reid. While Florida State has a lot of good players on this side of the ball, it has few great ones. Reid has a chance to be one of the exception. A dynamic playmaker, with or without the ball, he brings an attitude and a certain electricity to the defense. After playing a complimentary role as a rookie, he's prepared to explode on to the national as more than just a homerun hitter on special teams. The ‘Noles are in dire need of difference-makers after playing so poorly in 2009, a role Reid is capable of filling.

The team will be much better if ... The defense makes a quantum leap from a season ago. There's no question that this is ground zero in Florida State's quest to turn things around and get back to competing for ACC championships. The D was feeble by every possible measurement, struggling to stop the run and the pass. The Seminoles allowed an unthinkable 30 points a game, one of many reasons Mark Stoops was lured out of the desert to help turn things around. The offense is going to be good, but that doesn't mean it wants to be dragged into shootouts every weekend.

The Schedule: The non-conference schedule is as brutal as it gets. The scrimmage against Samford is more than forgivable with at Oklahoma, BYU, and Florida to deal with. The Noles will expect to beat BYU, and if they can split the other two their season might be made. The yearly game against Miami hurts coming on the road as part of an October with three road trips in four games, but if FSU is any good it needs to win at Virginia and NC State. Three of the final four games in Year One of the Jimbo Fisher era are at home, but they're hardly layups facing North Carolina, Clemson, and Florida with the lone road game at Maryland. Getting BC and UNC at home is the biggest break in the book in the hopes to win the Atlantic.

Best Offensive Player: Senior LG Rodney Hudson. Now in the discussion as the most decorated offensive lineman in Florida State history, Hudson returns for his fourth year as a starter and likely his fourth as an all-star. An All-American as a junior, he's a pillar of stability for the Seminoles, rarely making mistakes and regularly dominating his assignment. While not the biggest guy around, he's a textbook blocker, using his hands, feet, and head exactly the way the coaches draw it up. No, he won't get as much attention as the quarterback or skill guys, but no one on offense is better at his job.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Nigel Bradham. While not quite where he hopes to be, he is only two years into his Seminole career. The former blue-chipper really turned the corner in 2009, racking up a team-high 93 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks. Packed with a tremendous combination of size, speed, strength, and big hits, he's an intimidating force on the second level of the Florida State D.

Key players to a successful season: The defensive backs. There's no doubt that solving the problems on defense is the key to the 2010 season. However, it's tough to single out one player as the key to this group's fate. Instead, the D can point to the secondary as its most critical area. The ‘Noles ranked 110th nationally in pass efficiency defense, yielding 26 touchdown passes and 8.7 yards an attempt. Second-year CB Greg Reid should be fine, but it remains to be seen how well Ochuko Jenije, Dionte Allen, Nick Moody, and Terrance Parks can cover opposing receivers.

The season will be a success if ... Florida State wins the Atlantic Division for the first time since 2005. In yet another sign of cracks in the Seminole foundation, the program has been relegated to also-ran status in the league's weaker division. That has to change, beginning this year. Man-for-man, who is better in this half of the ACC? Clemson? Maybe, but the Tigers must travel to Doak Campbell Stadium on Nov. 13 in a pivotal game for both programs.

Key game: Nov. 13 vs. Clemson. Oct. 9 at Miami is a much bigger rivalry and Sept. 11 at Oklahoma will have more national appeal, but the visit from the Tigers could decide the Atlantic Division title. In what might be dubbed the non-Bowden Bowl for the first time, Florida State will be trying to reverse its recent problems against Clemson, dropping four of the last five in the series.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Florida State 149.5 – Opponents 204.6
- Passing yards per game: Florida State 271.8 – Opponents 230.0
- Third quarter scoring: Florida State 84 - Opponents 58

- 2010 Florida State Preview | 2010 Florida State Offense
- 2010 Florida State Defense | 2010 Florida State Depth Chart
- Florida State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006