Heading into this weekend's matchup with Florida State, Rich from www.chantrant.com got in touch with me about doing a Q&A. Sounded good to me, so here are my questions for him and his answers.
1. This week's game is another strength vs. weakness matchup for State (Duke being the first) this season. Christian Ponder's one of the best QBs in the league and playing really well. It's also a bit of a strength vs. weakness matchup for Florida State, as well (Russell Wilson versus FSU's defense). Do you think the over/under should've been in the triple-digit range?
Not a gambling man, but I think it's going to be a great show, if you like your football with non-stop offensive fireworks. FSU has had at least three such games this season -- two were at home, both of which they lost by a TD or less. Unless rain has a big affect on the game -- there's a 50% chance of thunderstorms -- this will be another barn burner. Everybody knows that Wilson is an exciting QB, who can make things happen with both his arm and his foot. Ponder has a similar style. And both teams should have some fresh incentive: The Wolfpack with a week off to heal and prepare, and the Noles encouraged by the comeback win over UNC. So I expect a fun game for fans, and the winner just may be the team that touches the ball last.
2. Florida State's defensive back seven reminds me a lot of State's in their hesitancy to attack and their sloppy play. Why do you think that is? Are they thinking too much on the field?
Most FSU fans would say the back seven isn't thinking enough. Of course, injuries have been a problem at times, and not just in the secondary. With most of the D-linemen hurting or out at various times, there's been a major lack of a strong pass rush. That's given opposing QBs plenty of time to find receivers. But blame must also fall on coaches. First, for failing to teach and develop players as FSU has in the past. Second, for not recruiting enough quality and quantity of defensive talent over the last four or five years.
3. What's your take on the Bobby Bowden situation? Should the old man be allowed to call his own shot, or should be be shown the door as gracefully as is possible with a coaching icon?
As much as I revere Coach Bowden for all he's done, I don't believe it should be totally his call. The plan in place is that Head-Coach-in-Waiting Jimbo Fisher replaces Bowden by January of 2011 or he receives a $5 million payoff. If Bowden wants to remain head coach after that, the spam hits the fan. I don't believe the boosters or the school, no matter how much they love Bobby, will dig deep into their pockets so that Bowden can stay. I'd be surprised if he steps down at the end of this season. But I'd be shocked if Bowden is still the head coach in 2011.
4. Does Florida State have a run in them to close out the season? Other than probably the Florida game, every game on the schedule is winnable. How do you see FSU's final record shaking out?
My best-case scenario is a 7 - 6 record and a bowl invitation. But I wouldn't bet the farm on better than 6 - 6 (which should still be good enough for the Weedeater or Meinke Bowl). If the Noles win less than six, though, it'll be the first time they don't go bowling since Ronald Reagan's first year as President. A final record of 6 - 6 would include wins over Wake, Maryland, and, of course, this Saturday against the Pack. But it would take a 180 degree turnaround by the defense for FSU to earn W's on the road at Clemson and Florida.
5. When (if?) Jimbo Fisher finally takes the reigns of the FSU program, can you see it returning to the level it was at in the 90s?
Realistically? Probably not. It's a good bet that Bowden's record of 14 consecutive Top 5 finishes will never be duplicated. Not at FSU or anywhere else in college football. But Jimbo Fisher will be a solid, if not flashy, head coach who will install a new defensive staff, recruit well, and guide a balanced offense. Under Jimbo, I see FSU becoming to the ACC what LSU is to the SEC. That is, a team consistently in the hunt for a conference title, with big seasons now and then that put the Noles in the national championship race.