If you think that OU fans are bitter at Florida State over the Mike Balogun situation then you're absolutely right. Because of the FSU compliance office Balogun was robbed of his final year of football and the Sooners were unjustly punished at a position where they were already thin. Now, before the self-righteous Seminole fans take the stance that Balogun only has himself to blame let me point out that, A) the NCAA had already cleared Balogun to play before the FSU gumshoes decided that it was their business to get involved and B) the actual evidence in the case supported Balogun but the NCAA being the fine institution that it is decided to go ahead and punish Balogun on hearsay.
This whole case was about Florida State not having something that someone else has. Apparently they wanted a player with some semi-pro experience and were turned down by the NCAA so in true temper tantrum fashion they went after Oklahoma. Of course this is the same program that started a guy at quarterback who had his AARP card in the 2000 season. Speaking of the 2000 season, you know what else Florida State doesn't have? If you guessed national prominence then you are correct. You have to go back to the 2000 season to find the last time that the Seminoles were relevant in the landscape of college football as far as national championships are concerned. Of course we all remember how that season ended.
Now that my rant is over let's take a look at the FSU squad that will be visiting Norman on September 11th. We've chosen Ronnell Lewis as the chairman of our welcoming committee.
The Seminoles will be ushering in a new era with Jimbo Fisher at the helm. That in itself is a bit of a travesty because Bobby Bowden still had a bit of ribbing coming his way for all the times he had voted Oklahoma so low in the coaches poll. Nah, he's not bitter over that 2000 Orange Bowl.
Florida State finished 7-6 overall last season (4-4) in the ACC and beat West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. They were 6th in the ACC in points scored (29.8) and 10th in points allowed (30.8). Their offensive strength was their passing game where they averaged 278.8 yards per game through the air. They weren't bad on the ground though with and average of 4.6 yards per carry and 143.2 rushing yards per game. Defensively they struggled equally against both the rush and the pass. They were 11th in the ACC in pass defense (240.3 yards allowed per game) where opposing quarterbacks completed 60% of their passes against them. The Seminoles were dead last in the ACC in rush defense (203.3 yards allowed per game) where opponents averaged 5.3 yards per carry.
Christian Ponder returns for his senior campaign as the Seminoles signal caller after statistically having the best season of his FSU career in 2009. He completed 68.8% of his passes last year for 2,717 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished the season with an efficiency rating of 147.7. He does lose his top target from 2009 in wide receiver Rod Owens who led the team in receptions and receiving yards. However, Bert Reed who was a very close second to Owens returns as a junior. Also returning as a junior is Jarmon Fortson who led the team in receiving touchdowns with four.
In the running game, Florida State returns their leading rusher from 2009. Jermaine Thomas ran for 832 yards and 9 touchdowns with a 5.1 yards per carry average. He was spelled by Ty Jones who will also be back in 2010. Jones averaged 4.9 yards per carry in `09 and will be looking to increase his carries in 2010 from the 51 he got last year.
Possibly the greatest asset FSU has in their offensive arsenal is an offensive line that remains intact for `09. This is a unit that was fairly young last season and only allowed 20 quarterback sacks on the year. They return this year as seasoned veterans and will try to improve on the already impressive 4.6 yards per carry team average they paved the way for last year. If the Seminoles are going to threaten Oklahoma's home winning streak, it'll because this unit is winning in the trenches.
Turnover was needed on a FSU defensive unit that struggled heavily last season but the Seminoles have lost some heavy hitters. The secondary took the brunt of the losses with three key members and a collective 160 tackles gone due to graduation.
Returning is linebacker Nigel Bradham who led the team with 93 total tackles, Kendall Smith who was second in tackles with 85 and defensive end Markus White who placed second on the team in tackles for loss with 10.5 (Dekoda Watson had 13).
As usual they Seminoles will have an athletic and physical defense and they return enough players to form a core leadership nucleolus but the schematics are going to have to be totally different in 2010 than they were last season for this unit to improve to where it needs to be. The good news is that it can't get any worse.