The Associated Press poll is officially out and the Florida State Seminoles are ranked sixth, immediately sparking the question: is that too high?
Boise State and Stanford might have a legitimate argument. Both teams return solid quarterbacks, and both teams are coming off of one loss seasons. Texas A&M is another team that has plenty to be excited about, but Florida State isn’t exactly a stretch pick.
The Seminoles return plenty of depth from their ten win team from a year ago, but Christian Ponder isn’t one of them. Instead, E.J. Manuel steps in, and while this will be his first year as a starter, Florida State fans have been waiting for this day for some time now.
Manuel has been praised a lot by the coaching staff and there’s good reason. In the games he’s played within the past three years, he’s produced on the field. He played good enough to win against South Carolina in last year’s bowl game and when Ponder was hurt, Manuel filled in nicely.
Now, this is Manuel’s team and there are very high expectations for him, but he’s not the only one who has to prove himself.
The defense last season slowly became one of the pleasant surprises in the country, and budding stars Greg Reid, Xavier Rhodes, Nigel Bradham and Brandon Jenkins had plenty to do with it, as did new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.
The offense improved in the running game, but the passing game took a step back, which had a lot to do with Ponder’s injuries. However, those statistics should improve in 2011. Even if the passing attack doesn’t come around right away, Florida State has five reliable running backs to count on.
The offensive line will need revamping with the losses of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, but in case you forget, Rick Trickitt is arguably the best offensive line coach in the country, and he molded Hudson and McMahon into the players they have become.
Then there’s the recruiting class—the top recruiting class in the country, highlighted by James Wilder Jr., Karlos Williams, Kelvin Benjamin, Nick O’Leary and Nick Waisome. The class was a huge upgrade and a sign of things to come for Florida State.
Fisher has the ‘Noles going in the right direction; now the team on paper will need to translate on the field. Is Florida State overrated? It seems like they are right where they belong. Now it’s up to them to prove it.