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4 posts from December 2, 2012

December 02, 2012

Going Polling: Florida State Remains 12th in Final Regular Season Coaches' Poll, 13th in AP Poll


The final regular season polls come out today and though they matter very little to Florida State at this point, we'll take a look anyway.

None of the polls will affect Florida State's standing, they are assured of a BCS trip to the Orange Bowl. The polls could affect who the Seminoles play if a non-AQ team can jump up above 16 in tonight's BCS release. That would mean FSU could play NIU as opposed to Louisville.

That could be a possibility...

Florida State stays 12 in the final coaches poll. The top five shifts a little with Georgia dropping from three to five after losing to Bama in the SEC Championship game. The top five is now Notre Dame, Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Georgia. Boise State is ranked 15, NIU is ranked 16, Louisville is ranked 18.

Good news for BCS busters, bad news for schools from AQ conferences.

The ACC is poorly represented with Clemson at 13 and no one else receiving votes.

In the AP poll FSU held steady at 13. The AP five looks different with Notre Dame, Alabama, ineligible Ohio State, Florida and Oregon rounding out the top five. Georgia drops from three to six. 

As for the BCS crew, Boise is outside looking in at 20, but NIU is 16th. The AP doesn't factor into the BCS (and their votes are inferior to the coaches according to Jimbo Fisher) but it's still worth pointing out. 

Clemson is up a spot to 14, no other ACC schools were considered.

I'll be back with Harris poll rankings when they release...

Thoughts From the Morning After: Congrats on the Title FSU, Your House is Collapsing


That headline may be a little melodramatic (it is) but it underscores a greater point, there's a ton of stuff to get taken care of this week as Florida State moves towards the Orange Bowl.

This week will be vital to the future of the program.

Last night FSU beat Georgia Tech 21-15 and won their first ACC Championship since 2005, it was their 13th total since joining the conference back in 1992, Florida State trails only Clemson [14] for the all-time lead. While this is a big triumph for the program in their quest to return to college football's elite it's important the people running things remember the 24-hour rule they impart to the players after games.

Enjoy this one for 24 hours because there's a ton of work to be done.

As soon as Jimbo Fisher gets going this week he's likely going to need to spend some time recruiting. Last week Fisher lost ground with the news his DC was leaving and the preparation for the ACC Championship game preventing him from hitting the road.

Will Muschamp– who had the week off while his Gators watched the SEC Championship game– hit the pavement and made visits. So did Al Golden. Fisher was in Tallahassee answering questions about Mark Stoops and preparing for Georgia Tech.

Meanwhile a lot of the verbals that FSU has locked up are getting new attention from opportunistic coaches who may smell blood in the water with Stoops leaving.

Recruiting is absolutely vital to the long-term success of a program. I personally find it boring trying to delve into the thinking of an athletically gifted 17 year-old, but that doesn't change the fact that programs are built on a coach's ability to recruit.

A huge part of that is having a power structure in place and a sense of stability.

Right now Florida State has question marks with both, which is why Fisher's not going to have much time to spare in his search for a new defensive coordinator. 

Fisher can try to retain DJ Eliot by offering him a promotion from within or he may end up looking outside the program for a replacement. There are a number of good candidates out there but Fisher needs to think about how ambitious his next pick is or else the Seminoles could be dealing with this situation again in a few years.

Either way, the sooner a decision can be made the sooner Fisher can sell that certainty to the kids he's recruiting. Right now other schools are using that against Florida State.

Where the headache for Seminoles fans will start to get worse is with the potential pursuit of Jimbo Fisher by an SEC program. Right now Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas have vacancies and there have been calls to look at Fisher from all three fan-bases.

Fisher is rumored to be on both the Tennessee and Auburn short-lists.

For his part Jimbo has remained adamant that he's happy where he is, he loves Tallahassee and he isn't looking for another job. But anything is possible.

It's likely at least one school comes at Fisher with a substantial offer and that will only inject instability and muddy recruiting and the search for a replacement DC more.

Personally, I don't think Fisher would go. He just broke ground on a 15-million dollar practice facility, he's got the backing of the school, Florida State is a good job and thus far he has been able to bring a few very good recruiting classes in.

But there is a flip-side too, a devil's advocate card to play. Nobody knows how Fisher really thinks, even amongst the media he's friendliest with he keeps it very close to the vest. If he's not confident in next year, if he believes this was the year to take the shot and that things may take a step back next season (after all, Clemson is loaded, UF is trending upwards and the 'Noles will be breaking in a new QB), then he could sell high.

This would be the time to do it.

Fisher says he's happy at Florida State but everything about him screams SEC, he recruits like an SEC coach, runs a program like an SEC coach, he's from the SEC, if the right offer came along– with him coming off a conference title knowing how things could regress next season– he absolutely could jump at it.

Now, again, that's not what I think happens. FSU is pretty loaded talent-wise and I tend to take Fisher seriously when he says he likes what he's building here. I think worst-case for Florida State fans he leverages an offer for a nice fat raise.

But would it shock me if he left?


So think about that potential turmoil swirling around up top while the Seminoles try to replace a defensive coordinator and potentially several assistants and make up ground in-state on the recruiting front all while defending their verbal commits from the Sabans and the Meyers of the world. 

Then add the fact that Athletic Director Randy Spetman is going into the last year of his contract (he received a one-year extension earlier this year) and his status for the future is potentially tenuous. So if the house of cards collapses he may not even be the guy the school wants picking the cards back up.

That only makes the FSU power structure appear murkier and raises a potential nightmare scenario where in the absolutely-worst-case the 'Noles could be without a head coach or a viable AD.

Oh, but congratulations on the ACC Championship.

The Early Read: Karlos Williams Breaks Out


Last night on the opening play of the ACC Championship game senior LB Nick Moody suffered a head injury covering the kickoff and didn't play another snap all night. 

"I was behind [Nick] Moody all week in practice," said sophomore Karlos Williams, who replaced Moody. "[I was] getting good reps, making sure I knew my assignments and alignments, and after he went down the first kickoff my name was called and I was kind of nervous, but it's the game of football, you've got to go out there and step up and it was my time and I think I played pretty well tonight."

That is an understatement.

Filling in for Moody all Williams did was lead the team in tackles and clinch the game with an interception in the final minutes to give Florida State the win. 

A week after losing the team's leading tackler to an ACL tear when Tank Carradine went down against UF, it was an unlikely hero who stepped in and picked up the slack. 

Williams finished the night with 11 tackles, eight of them solo, but perhaps no play was bigger than his interception. With Georgia Tech down by six and driving late in the game Williams snagged a deflected pass and returned it 41 yards down to the Georgia Tech goalline. 

"I just broke on it and tried to tip it up and bat it down," said Williams. "But luckily it tipped up in the air and I just tried to make a sure catch and that's what happened. I'm just happy I got the call and we're ACC champs."

Karlos Williams is Vince Williams' younger brother and as soon as they open their mouths you can see the relation. Both of them are exceptionally quick-witted, engaging young men and both of them can bring the lumber on the field come Saturdays.

Early in his career Karlos Williams has stood out for two things, he's incredibly potent on kickoffs and he has a knack for blowing up the ballcarrier (or blockers, or just guys in the way) and drawing roughness flags. Case in point, this was Williams' most memorable contribution against UF a week ago:


But last night was essentially Karlos Williams' coming out party. With some spots opening up on defense next season he made a very big play– on a national stage no less– for why he'll be a big part of the Florida State D next year. 

And from the looks of it he could be quite a force.

James Wilder Jr. won the MVP honors, I question whether Williams wasn't more deserving.

It's interesting, all week you've heard players and coaches say someone was going to need to step up. Mario Edwards did a good job replacing Tank Carradine last night but nobody stepped up like Karlos Williams did. 

And in the end that may have made just enough of a difference.

Wrapping Up: FSU 21 GT 15


There's plenty to look at in the wake of Florida State's 21-15 win over Georgia Tech to claim their first ACC crown in seven years. 

"We knew the road was going to be hard any time you win the championship and our kids fought hard and overcame circumstances and our offense played a great first half, our defense played a great football game overall," said Jimbo Fisher afterward.

We'll start with the good. Florida State's defense was able to clamp down on an offense that it was incredibly unfamiliar with. In the midst of all the distractions circling around this week and with starter Nick Moody getting knocked out on the opening kick the Seminole defense made good on its stated intent to send Mark Stoops out with a bang.

The Yellow Jackets still managed 301 yards of total offense but their run game stalled out early and it wasn't until an EJ Manuel fumble that they managed a touchdown. Things were interesting late, but a Karlos Williams interception solidified the 'Noles' win.

"I was behind [Nick] Moody all week in practice," said Williams. "Getting good reps, making sure I knew my assignment alignments, and after he went down the first kickoff my name was called and I was kind of nervous, but it's the game of football, you've got to go out there and step up and it was my time and I think I played pretty well tonight."

With the game on the line in the waning seconds Williams caught a deflected pass and raced up the sideline to assure Florida State of their first ACC crown in years.

"Coverage was called, they're trying to get the ball downfield, really spread the ball out, trying not to really so much milk the clock, but try to run a little hurry up and I was covering 3, 3 to the field," said Williams. "He came across and the quarterback threw a pretty bad ball. I just broke on it and tried to tip it up and bat it down, but luckily it tipped up in the air and I just tried to make a sure catch and that's what happened. I'm just happy I got the call and we're ACC champs."

This was a game where Florida State's defense entered at a disadvantage but they managed to turn in a solid performance. That made all the difference.

NC State All Over Again

Midway through the fourth quarter when it was 21-15 and Florida State had to drive and run out the clock, things started to feel eerily similar to the game in Raleigh. That's because this game was extremely similar to the NC State loss. After scoring a few times in the first half the Florida State offense got conservative, a little sloppy and failed to add to its 21 points in the final two corners. 

The only difference between Raleigh and Charlotte was this time the Seminoles had enough of a lead.

Make no mistake about it though the Florida State offense was not in rhythm in the second half and it almost cost the Seminoles. After the game Jimbo Fisher also saw the similarities, but also saw growth:

"Exactly right. As I said, you find ways to win games. Good teams win games in different ways. The Clemson game we outscored them. This game we played great defense," said Fisher. "The NC State game we couldn't make enough plays either way. But again, that goes part of being a champion. There's a point in time you point back and you look at it and you say, that was it. That's the time that you got over that hump and you got there and you didn't let the circumstances blur your vision, and they did that.

"The defense -- and we were able to make that play. They were determined, they said at halftime we're going to do whatever we've got to do, and they did."

While I see Fisher's point about the defense stepping up, I don't see the same progress Fisher is lauding. Push came to shove and the offense disappeared again, the play-calling got conservative and the Seminoles found themselves holding on for dear life in the final minutes. 

The only difference on the offensive side of the ball was that Florida State won.

The Early Run

Florida State got just enough offense out of its rushing game in the first half when it ran for 147 yards and all three of their touchdowns. 

"You couldn't play a better first half than we did offensively," said Fisher. "We scored three out of four drives, we had the ball, ate the clock up, ran the ball, scored 21 points, missed a 3rd and inches, which is ridiculous.

"And then the second half come out with self-inflicted things. I thought we played a great first half offensively and a great defensive first half, then the defense continued to play well in the second half and on offense we just shot ourselves in the foot."

Devonta Freeman started things off in the first quarter before James Wilder Jr. turned in a dominating second quarter. Wilder finished with 10 carries 69 yards and a couple touchdowns, good enough for MVP honors.

Stoops is Gone for the Bowl Game

Mark Stoops confirmed after the game that he will not stay on with FSU through the bowl game. The writing was on the wall about that when Kentucky announced his availability in Lexington tomorrow back in the middle of the week, but now it's official. 

No word yet on who will run the defense in his absence.

"[I've got] some different thoughts and how we do things, and we'll get organized and I'll get back on that trail tomorrow," said Fisher. "Thanks. I was trying to enjoy something for five minutes. I can't even enjoy --now I'm back to that mode."

On to the Orange Bowl

FSU is 1-5 in BCS games. They last played in one in 2005 when Joe Paterno beat Bobby Bowden in a triple OT game 26-23. The result was later vacated though, so technically I guess FSU is 1-4 or 2-4, but really 1-5. The Seminoles lone BCS victory was at the end of their 1999 National title campaign when they beat Virginia Tech (then of the Big East) for the BCS Championship. 

It's likely FSU will get Lousiville in the game. The Cardinals joined the ACC this past week, FSU and Louisville haven't met since 2002 when the Cardinals upset the Noles on a Thursday night.

Check back tomorrow morning for more...




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