Hope Is a Good Thing, and No Good Thing Ever Dies
For some odd reason I've been feeling pretty good about my 'Noles and their place in the universe lately. Part of it is the fact that after last weekend's Spinning-Dragon-Kick-To-The-Nuts chain of events anything short of nuclear holocaust seems pretty good, and part of it is that there are some legitimate silver linings beginning to emerge around the dark cloud that has been the 2006 season so far:
- I thought it would never happen, but there's mounting evidence to suggest that Jeff Bowden's head is slowly emerging from his ass. Ever since the offensive debacle against Troy - which by all accounts had a lot more to do with Bobby mucking the gameplan right before kickoff than with Jeff's performance - the 'Noles have shown a balance and diversity in the offense that we haven't seen since the halcyon days of yore (btw, "yore" = the '90s). After two games FSU was averaging 23 rushing yards per game, good for 118th in the nation. However, in the four games since then FSU is averaging 160 rushing yards per game, which would put us at 41st nationally. Lorenzo Booker and Antone Smith have started to contribute big plays and JB has done a better job of mixing up formations and getting the ball to his playmakers in space. There's still a long way to go - the 'Noles are smack-dab in the middle of the pack coming at 60th in Total Offense - but the play-calling and preparation have been noticeably better the last few games. The 99-yard TD drive against NC State set a new high-water mark for the JB Era and got me all fired up. If we start to show some consistency this has the potential to be a good offense - who would have thunk it?
- Brandon Warren has emerged as a major playmaker. If FSU were undefeated instead of 4-2 Warren would be considered on the same level as Tim Tebow, Mitch Mustain, and Percy Harvin in terms of impact freshmen. As things stand he'll have to settle for being the best TE in the ACC in just his first year at the I-A level. If FSU can get Greg Carr going on the outside it would open up things even more for Brandon in the middle of the field. Hopefully he'll be ready to go against Boston College and the nation can get a good look at FSU's best TE since Lonnie Johnson.
- Drew. He hasn't had the kind of season FSU fans were hoping for but you've got to admire the kid's toughness and character. He takes huge shots and just keeps getting up. He never makes excuses and is always willing to take the heat. He's a leader, an inspiration, and a credit to the program. And he's only a sophomore.
- I'm not going to say anything about the offensive line until after the BC game. But I will say this...McHale is starting to make his mark.
- About a year ago the coaches seemed to make a conscious decision to put more of a focus on character. Certain malcontents were dismissed from the team and for the first time in several years the summer passed by without incident. Now, despite the disappointing losses, the team still seems focused and determined to get better. Meanwhile, down in Coral Gables the Hurricanes are stomping on FIU's logo...not the one on the field, the one on the players' helmets! The focus on good character is a welcome change for FSU and one that will produce benefits far beyond wins and losses.
- If we win this weekend it will mean we faced a 5-1 squad with perhaps the best QB in the ACC and beat them with a defense that has been absolutely gutted by injuries, with freshmen starting at DE, OLB, CB, and SS. Needless to say, I'd feel pretty good about the future of the defense if that happens.
- Mickey Andrews is still the Defensive Coordinator and Odell Haggins and Kevin Steele are still on his staff, so I think the above scenario has a pretty good chance of playing out.
- After last weekend's events it appeared as though the universe had tilted in favor of the University of Evil down in Gainesville. Then Urban Meyer got outcoached, Chris Leak wet the bed (again), Rex Grossman got completely owned by the Arizona Cardinals, and suddenly the Gator hype-machine went eerily quiet. Hopefully it will stay like this until basketball season starts.
- Looking around at Georgia, Oklahoma, Miami, and Michigan State makes me realize that Florida State's problems aren't all that bad.
It's a great time to be a 'Nole, ya'll. See you in Tallahassee this weekend for the BC Beat Down!