Four weeks in a row and no new "State of the Seminole Union" updates? Say it ain't so!
My sincerest apologies but the SOTSU column had to be put on a hold for about a month because of the addition of a brand new Seminole.
That's right, my first child was born in early October and things have been a little crazy since then. But as my wife and I get into a routine with our burgeoning young family, I now have more time to talk FSU football.
And if one is talking about FSU football, one is talking about Christian Ponder.
Unless you have been living under a rock the past few months, you know by now that FSU's redshirt junior quarterback is unquestionably the shiniest bright spot on what has been an otherwise disappointing year in Seminole Nation. His accuracy, arm strength, decision making and leadership have turned the FSU offense into the backbone of this FSU team.
Any question as to whether or not he is the 'Noles' best quarterback since Chris Weinke? I didn't think so.
That's what makes it all the more frustrating that FSU has had a down year. Here is a guy that has single-handedly eradicated the trend of subpar quarterback play in Tallahassee since Weinke last donned his No. 16 jersey but he won't get much credit for it.
If FSU can't finish with a decent record, Ponder's impressive season under center likely won't result in much postseason hardware. But if the 'Noles can right the ship (and it starts by building off the UNC win and defeating N.C. State this weekend) and possibly make it Tampa for the conference title game, expect the Colleyville, Texas native to be in the thick of things for an award such as the Maxwell.
Ponder's steady rise towards college football superstardom couldn't come at a better time for a program that is struggling to stay relevant. While that team from the southeast currently boasts a No. 1 ranking and the one from South Florida is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, Ponder is doing his part to make sure FSU doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
And because of the fact that media darling Tim Tebow generates headline news when he makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the fact that Ponder has far superior numbers on the field and far more impressive credentials off the field in the classroom makes you that much more proud of him.
It makes you that much more proud to be a Seminole.
Don't you find it more rewarding to root for a guy like Ponder that doesn't shy away from the camera when times are tough and doesn't hog the spotlight when times are good?
Of course, the Tebow vs. Ponder argument is a "moo point" (you know, a cow's opinion) as long as that team from the southeast has zero losses and eyes on the National Championship and the 'Noles are fighting to get back to or stay at .500.
That's why it's imperative that the defense builds off the good things it did against North Carolina and shows up ready to play against the Wolfpack on Saturday.
They aren't just playing for the program. They are playing for the national respect of their quarterback.
You know the offense is going to keep FSU in games the rest of the year but the defense must extend the same courtesy. That means improved play from the defensive ends (i.e. getting pressure on passing plays and not allowing N.C. State to pick up big yards on the ground outside the tackles), a better job by the linebackers of reading-and-reacting quicker to the developing play and by the defensive backs of keeping everything in front of them.
Those are all musts if FSU wants to turn this season around as we head into the month of November.
One final thought before I sign off for the week: Hat's off to Patrick Robinson, who has endured some criticism in his final year at FSU.
The Seminoles' best defensive player hasn't made many of the big plays most expected out of him this season but that is because he never gets the chance. Watch on Saturday and see how many times Russell Wilson tests Robinson's side of the field.
I guarantee you will be able to count them on one hand.