BY DANIEL MOGOLLON
COLLEGE FOOTBALL INSIDERS
2006 RECORD: 7-6; BIG EAST: 3-5
Won Emerald Bowl vs. UCLA 44-27
LOCATION: Tallahassee, Florida
STADIUM: Doak Campbell (82,300)
HEAD COACH: Bobby Bowden
OVERALL: 366-113-4 (41 seasons)
AT FLORIDA ST.: 293-81-4 (31 seasons)
We go from a program that is winning like they never have before (Rutgers) to one that just wants to get back to the good old days, when it seemed that they were destined to finish in the top five, something they did for 14 straight seasons, but have failed to do in the last six. Is this season’s squad good enough to join the elite of college football? I believe they are, but only if several questions end up with positive answers, beginning with who is quarterback. The extension of that question (Part II) is whether or not either Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee will live up to the promise both brought with them as highly touted prospects coming out of high school.
WHEN THE ‘NOLES HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Jimbo Fisher (1st Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 6
KEY LOSSES: Lorenzo Booker, Chris Davis, Mario Henderson, Brandon Warren (Transfer)
It is all about the quarterback play, OK not all, the offensive line needs to pick it as well...nevertheless, the bottom line is they desperately need either Weatherford or Lee to step up and play consistent football. Weatherford showed promise as a freshman, but failed to take the next step last season, while Lee has yet to cash in on his vast athleticism. It is not a surprise the Noles are having trouble picking between the two, but it was supposed to be because both were going to be so good. If either does find himself, in Greg Carr and De’Cody Fagg they have a pair of capable wide outs who bring size with big play potential. Which is what made Antone Smith one of the most highly recruited players coming out of high school, you cannot teach his sub 4.4-speed. Finally, for all of this talent at the skill positions to come together the offensive line must be better, but the potential is there.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Greg Carr (JR), 2) De’Cody Fagg (SR), 3) Antone Smith (SO), 4) Shannon Boatman (SR), 5) Joseph Surratt (SR), 6) David Overmeyer (SR), 7) Bobby Frady (SO), 8) Jacky Claude (SO)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINAROR: Mickey Andrews (24th Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 7
KEY LOSSES: Buster Davis, Lawrence Timmons
While they have not been the Noles of old, this defense is stacked. The trio of linebackers, Geno Hayes, Marcus Ball and Derek Nicholson, can all fly and may rival some relay teams, coupled with the return of Chuck Amato, expect some hard hitting this season. In front of them is tackle Andre Fluellen, a stout run stopper, who should benefit from the return of nose tackle Paul Griffin (injured). What they are looking for is an outside pass rusher, something their vintage teams would produce on a regular basis. Everett Brown flashed potential as a freshman, while Neefy Moffett is their fastest lineman. In the secondary, corners Tony Carter and Jamie Robinson are one of the top duos in the country, with sophomore free safety Myron Rolle a future super star and senior strong safety Roger Williams a solid veteran.
PRO PROSPECTS: 1) Myron Rolle (SO), 2) Geno Hayes (JR), 3) Andre Fluellen (SR), 4) Everett Brown (SO), 5) Marcus Ball (SO), 6) Jamie Robinson (SO), 7) Tony Carter (JR), 8) Derek Nicholson (SR), 9) Roger Williams (SR), 10) Alex Boston (SR), 11) Lawrence Bryant
“On the road again” is the theme of the 2007 Seminoles season. They open up the season on Labor Day once again, making a trip to Death Valley for another Bowden Bowl, as Papa takes on son. Out of conference, they make their way to the high altitude of Colorado, they play Alabama in Jacksonville (neutral site) and end the season at the defending champion Gators. In ACC play, their trips are to the defending conference champ (Wake Forest), their toughest challenger in the Atlantic Division (Boston College) and the consensus ACC favorite (Virginia Tech). With only five games in the friendly confines, FSU is one of the few big name schools to play most of their games away from home.
The quarterback position comes in as a close second, but I will go with the many coaching changes made in Tallahassee as the more encompassing off-season happening. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher comes over from LSU and has a nice resume working with QBs, so he could be the biggest addition of the year. Also on offense, line coach Rick Trickett is the in your face type this group needs. Defensively, they should benefit from return of Chuck Amato, who played a big role on all those successful squads. In addition, there are the ex-Noles, Dexter Carter, Lawrence Dawsey and the recently added Terrell Buckley. Not officially listed is another Bowden boy, Terry, who will be pitching in as well.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
Pure talent has not been the problem at Florida St. the last few years. Obviously, the success Miami has had and the resurgence of the Gators in Gainesville has cut into the talent pool, but there is more than enough to go around. Looking at the roster, this should be a top ten team and I was tempted to start them there, however the lack of success from both Weatherford and Lee would not permit me to do so. If Fisher and Trickett earn their paychecks by squeezing all the ability that the quarterbacks and lineman have, this could be the best team in Tallahassee since 2000. The defense is set, as long as the offense handles their end of the bargain.
Check back tomorrow to see who is #14 in CFI’s Top 25 Countdown