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    Column: State Of The Seminole Union - Vol. 1

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    Anybody who knows me is well-aware of the fact that I love to write about sports.

     

    It's not a hobby but rather a passion. And what do I enjoy writing about most in the sports world? The Florida State football program, of course.

     

     As an assistant sports information director at FSU, I unfortunately don't get to write as often about Bobby Bowden's boys as some may think. After all, my exciting duties working for the volleyball and softball programs and all the other tasks that come with working within the walls of an elite Division I athletic program keep me busy.

     

    It's my hope, though, that this blog will serve as the platform to share both my thoughts and love for both the written word and Seminole football on a more frequent basis.

     

    What I'd like to do is start a once-per-week column about the state of affairs regarding the Seminole football team. We can call it the "State of the Seminole Union."

     

    Let's get started.

     

    Whether it's early February, the end of June or the middle of October in the heart of the college football season, one thing is a constant in my life. I always have time in my day to talk FSU football with my friend Josh Chancey.

     

    Obviously the time of year dictates our FSU topics but we never run out of things to discuss, debate and, excuse the blatant pun, ponder. If it's February, we are talking recruiting. If it's June we are talking summer workouts. If it's October, we are talking upcoming opponents and what the Seminoles need to do in order to make it the conference championship game in December.

     

    This week our topic was obvious. "What happened to FSU on Labor Day?" It's a pretty clear answer to those that follow the program or even the five-million-plus college football fans that tuned in to Monday night's ESPN broadcast.

     

    The FSU defense was lackluster and made too many costly mistakes.

     

    Head coach Bobby Bowden commented on his Thursday call-in show that FSU players were responsible for over 20 missed tackles in the loss to Miami. That's definitely unacceptable no matter whom the opponent is but against the Hurricanes it was the proverbial nail in the coffin for FSU.

     

    Sure, Miami has been down in recent years but it's still Miami. They still have the same type of athletes that Florida State has. They still have speed. You can't have that many missed tackles and not have a fight on your hands against that type of opponent.

     

    So the real question we decided was why? Why did we miss so many tackles? Why did the Miami offense - which has several young players and a brand new offensive coordinator - have the success it did against the Seminoles -- especially in the passing game?

     

    Well, it all starts up front and you can go from there.

     

    FSU was unable to generate a consistent pass-rush against Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris. Missing talented senior Justin Mincey and highly-touted freshman Demonte McCalister, FSU was short on big bodies at the defensive tackle position.

     

    On the outside, the loss of star Everette Brown to the NFL in April is painfully obvious. Markus White is going to be a player - and he showed he's got superb athletic ability by returning an interception for a 31-yard touchdown - but he is still learning how to become "The Guy" for the FSU defense.

     

    Opposite White, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is dealing with a lot of young, unproven players who are still battling the learning curve. Senior Kevin McNeil has the chance to be a book-end on one side but he is still getting back into playing shape after missing a huge chunk of time in the summer and at the start of two-a-days.

     

    There are few constants in the game of football but one thing remains unchanged: no pass rush means no room for error in the secondary.

     

    With a lot of time to throw, Harris was able to surgically pick apart the FSU defensive backfield. Outside of true freshman Greg Reid's interception in the third quarter, the Seminoles were unable to prevent the Hurricane aerial attack and ultimately couldn't stop Miami from marching down the field and getting into the endzone late in the ballgame.

     

    So, what about the positives?

     

    Hopefully mine and Josh's future FSU talks won't have to focus so much on what went wrong but rather what went right against the previous opponent.

     

    And make no mistake about it, there were a lot of positives to take from Monday night. Christian Ponder is a perfect example. The redshirt junior quarterback looked just like ... well ... a redshirt junior quarterback. It was pretty apparent that Ponder is much more comfortable in the pocket than he was last year and that comes with a full year of starting experience and better understanding of the playbook.

     

    Many times a season ago, Ponder's "happy feet" would get the best of him and after moving too much in the pocket he would escape too fast out of it. His great athletic ability and deceptive speed helped him become a dual threat, but the truly successful quarterbacks are the ones that can stand tall and deliver from inside the protective cocoon created by the offensive linemen.

     

    Outside of a few errant throws (blame many of those on the ever-improving timing between him and his receivers), Ponder made great reads and didn't force too many passes. It's going to be fun to watch him continue to progress this year while his young pass-catchers grow within the offense and the tailbacks get it in gear.

     

    On the other side of the ball, Reid has certainly been worth mentioning in the discussion of positives thanks to an amazing performance in what was his first game at FSU. The former five-star prospect looked every bit like one the nation's best prep players in 2008 as he made an impressive impact on both defense and special teams Monday.

     

    Would it seriously surprise anyone if he returns a kick for a touchdown this weekend against Jacksonville State? I didn't think so.

     

    Josh and I already have talked about the possibility of the speedy Reid getting some burn on offense. After all, he is electric with the ball in his hands. But perhaps we should take it slow with him? You know, let him continue to get the feel for the college game while hopefully continuing to make opponents look silly along the way.

     

    Who am I kidding? He's a playmaker and that's a characteristic absent from the FSU roster the last several years now. Wouldn't a legitimate two-way star revitalize the Seminole fanbase and cause concern for opponent offensive and defensive coordinators alike?

     

    We shall see.

     

    For now, let's sit back and see how this year's edition of the FSU football team responds to early adversity this weekend against Jacksonville State. The loss to Miami is a thing of the past and a big win inside Doak could help set the tone for what's going to be a very challenging rest of the season for the Seminoles.

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