FSU has completed the first half of its season. No fan or pundit imagined the team’s first six games going this badly. Most were expecting a 5-1 record, maybe 4-2 at worst.
What should the second half of FSU’s season look like? What expectations should FSU fans have now? Let’s answer the most important immediate questions facing the team heading into the off week.
Will FSU be bowl eligible?
Thirty-six consecutive bowl appearances. The bowl streak is one of FSU’s great football achievements traditions. Rivals may joke about its importance, but a bowl game is important to those who play the game and this streak should matter to everyone associated with the program.
Only four teams can go to the College Football Playoff, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the nation doesn’t have something to play for in the postseason. Bowl games beat being back at home early. If for nothing else, it gives you an extra month of practice to be able to hone skills for the next season or provide more film for the NFL.
Will this team be able to get its act together enough to win a minimum of three more games to reach six total wins and bowl eligibility?
In short, yes.
The second quarter of the FSU season – the last three games – saw signs of life in the offense. Playmakers are starting to emerge.
However, this offense can only go as far as the quarterback takes it. Deondre Francois is improving, along with every other position group, but he has to show more of what everyone expected after his 10-3 redshirt freshman year.
FSU goes as far as he can read the defense.
It’s apparent that Willie Taggart is not going to put James Blackman in barring an injury.
FSU has four games left it should be able to compete in and two where it appears out-matched (Clemson and Notre Dame). Maybe I’m being optimistic. Florida is a better overall team than FSU currently and N.C. State is ranked and that game is in Raleigh.
Can FSU beat a ranked team?
If we are to believe the first half of the Miami game, FSU can compete with anybody when firing on all cylinders. FSU’s greatest obstacle isn’t the opposing team, or the ACC officials as fans are quick to point out, but themselves.
The four ranked teams currently on the schedule are Clemson, Notre Dame, N.C. State and Florida. The first two present a steep challenge considering how their offenses put consistent pressure on a defense. FSU’s secondary has made poor decisions at times and it’s difficult imagining them holding up against the Tigers or Irish.
N.C. State has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and will host the game in a traditional house of horrors for FSU – including much better teams than this one. Dan Mullen has Florida performing better as a team than FSU, winning games it probably shouldn’t, that’s what a well-coached team does.
Clemson and Florida are rivalry games that mean to FSU and perhaps playing the spoiler, as they did against Miami, will bring out the best in them. Clemson’s offensive line struggled against Syracuse, bouncing back the next week. Florida has offensive line issues, but is playing better. Potential weaknesses there and familiarity with the opponent make those, along with N.C. State, who, despite all its advantages over FSU is far from a world-beater, the most likely wins.
I don’t see FSU beating Notre Dame.
I can’t see them going 0-4 in those games, but I thought FSU would finish the regular season with a 10-2 record before the season began. What I can tell you is FSU will go 0-4 in those games if it doesn’t figure out a way to put together four solid quarters of football.
Will FSU have consecutive games with one offensive line combination?
FSU’s offensive line has been a patchwork of different combinations. Landon Dickerson’s absence due to injury has proved more serious than originally thought. There are no good answers here.
Almost everybody on the line is playing out of position. Most people don’t understand how hard it is for a guard to play tackle. Hell, it’s difficult for a right tackle to play left. It’s like asking a wide receiver to play running back.
Injuries have really hurt this position group which didn’t have much depth to begin with due to attrition.
Based on how this season is going, you’ll probably see more injuries. The off-week is well timed for the offensive line so hopefully FSU gets healthier here.
Who emerges on defense other than Brian Burns?
Brian Burns finally broke through from coming close to sacking the quarterback to actually sacking him. It’ll be harder for him to do that now as teams will shift protection towards him, forcing him to fight off double teams.
One guy who has emerged is “Honey Fried” Marvin Wilson. His pushing the pocket and had a breakout game against Miami.
Fred Jones is also turning in a solid season.
Names along the defensive line who need to emerge are Joshua Kaindoh and Demarcus Christmas. Time to live up to your press clippings.
Bigger than the defensive line, or the poor linebacking corps, is the secondary. Someone has to step up and be “that guy” consistently. There’s entirely too much talent there for them to give up as much as they have, especially in clutch situations.
What’s the matter? If you’ve seen the movie “Space Jam,” that might help.
I believe opposing teams have come into the FSU locker room like the Monstars and stolen the ability of some of our key defenders. We have the size and look of four and five-stars, but the talent has been sucked out.
Hopefully they look in the mirror during this break and remember they’ve got talent.
The second half of the season presents numerous serious questions and also opportunities for FSU to show what the future can look like under Taggart. His being able to keep the 2019 recruiting class in tact despite the dreadful start is a testament to how well he can sell potential.
This off week present the chance for FSU to recalibrate and push towards the goals that remain and finish strong.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/answering-fsus-biggest-questions-for-second-half-of-season