Part of FSU week ...
BC Interruption: The biggest change for FSU has to be the switch from Christian Ponder to EJ Manuel. Can you tell us a little about your signal caller and why 'Noles fans are so excited?
Tomhawk Nation: EJ will be a 4th-year player with significant experience under his belt prior to outright starting the 2011 season. Christian Ponder had a bit of the "Chris Rix" in him at times - "What's a slide?" - but mostly Ponder was just an intense, intense competitor. Unfortunately, he didn't really have the shoulder pads to handle DeAndre McDaniel at Clemson in '09, and his season was cut short on a busted AC joint in his throwing shoulder. Enter Manuel: On the verge of its first losing season in seemingly forever after falling to 4-5 after the Clemson lost, Manuel would pilot the Noles to 3 more wins. The capstone to his RS-Fr. season came with earning the Gator Bowl MVP against WVU. Throwing for 189 yards and rushing for 70 yards more and a rushing touchdown, Manuel piloted an offense-rich / defense-depleted 2009 Seminoles team on the last stretch of the Bobby Bowden coaching era.
Many are worried by his 6 TD to 10 INT ratio. But look at the breakdown, courtesy of TN's own Dogrel:
G Att-Cmp-TD-Int Pct Yds
7 106 - 69 - 2 - 6 .651 817 (2009)
10 93 - 65 - 4 - 4 .699 861 (2010)
So the man is completing nearly 70% of his passes. And 3 of his 4 picks came against Clemson (1) and against VT in the ACCG (2). (The 4th pick was an ugly pic against Samford, where EJ threw to the post route though the MLB had dropped back in coverage a la Tampa-2).
To sum up: He's not a rookie. Not at all. He'll make some questionable passes, no doubt. But he is learning to be an efficient passer and thinker (exception: Jamarcus Russel) in the mold of Jimbo Fisher / Dameyune Craig coached quarterbacks. Oh, and he runs pretty well, too.
BCI: FSU & BC both have excellent defenses. Luke Kuechly is obviously the name everyone brings up for BC, who are some FSU defensive players Eagle fans should know about going into this matchup?
TN: If you're dropping back to pass on an expected passing down, you will be hearing from our representative Brandon Jenkins. The man came in his freshman year and outplayed virtually all of the ends in '09, but rode the pine as FSU had horrible DE coaching. (How bad, you ask? Jenkins sat the bench, while a walk-on started because of in-staff feuding. Mind-boggling.) His 2010 year showed that even good offensive tackles just weren't going to be able to slide stop back and get their paws on him (Castonzo gave up 2 sacks to Jenkins in '10). Jenkins is shifty, agile, has great acceleration and an above-average 1st step off the snap. He is incredibly instinctive. He's a local guy, and he just understands football. Rumors are that he's up to 260 (played at 240ish in '10), but I suspect he'll play somewhere around 250-255. He's another great WDE in the FSU tradition.
BCI: Expectations are high this year for FSU. What are outcomes you are looking for this season?
TN: We just completed our first reader poll at TN using the win share proportions method. And most readers have us at about 9-10 wins, and 6-7 wins in conference. Unfortunately, as the Bowden era featured a product on the field that was no longer ideally filling the seats, our administration started scheduling more "marquee" games (USF, OU, WVU). That is putting a band-aid on an infected wound. Fortunately, Jimbo is addressing the on-field product rightly. But the old scheduling may very well cost us in the final polls and at the risk of more injuries / fatigue from playing a Top 5 opponent in OU. That game should be against Nobody U. the week before an important game...like the next week's game @Clemson ::facepalm::
BCI: BC fans are very excited about the FSU-BC night time game (though we are disappointed it's on a Thursday night). How important is this game to FSU?
TN: Intelligent FSU fans have long recognized that Coach Spaziani is an incredible defensive coach. In the recruiting mold of a Virginia Tech, Spaz gets his guys locally that others may or may not know about. Coach Spaziani makes up for the lack of elite recruits (national 4* and 5* players), though, by outstandingly coaching a front 7 that play off each other in a system as well as any front 7 in CFB. And the adjusted defensive stats back that up.
BC is a bend-don't-break defense; is well-coached; and provides opportunities for opponents to mess up (FSU is moving to this type of defensive philosophy under Stoops). A Thursday night road game plays excellently into their strategy. FSU would love to just sucessfully run the ball at BC. But I've only seen that work in the last quarter last year in Doak Cambpell. This game, along with NCSU, has to be considered one of the major make-or-break conference games for FSU. Only @Clemson (.6 +/- .2) do FSU fans will be tougher than @BC (.7 +/- .2).
BCI: An ACC Blogger picked BC-FSU as his upset special of the year. What are your thoughts on the outcome of this game?
TN: On paper, it looks like FSU should beat BC. But our paper vs. real record against you guys hasn't done so well. First, I think the short-week is equally disadvantegous to both teams:
It's both teams 9th game of the season. FSU will have just played NC State on home Saturday (guessing 3:30 regional broadcast), preceded by vs. Maryland, @ Duke, and @ WF prior to @Duke .
If FSU beats Clemson, they will be 5-0 rolling into the game, looking to most likely clinch the division that Thursday night. BC will be 2-3 or 3-2 at that point.
BC is coming off playing @ Clemson, @ VT, and @ Maryland prior to playing us.
FSU's bye week is 5 weeks before BC game.
BC's bye week is sandwiched between @ Clemson and @ VT, meaning they'll be 3 weeks removed from their bye week when facing us.
I don't think any of these constitute a striking advantage for one team over the other. But I'd say that BC's proximity to their bye week gets canceled out by having 3 away games prior to facing FSU, with two of these being very tough and physical games.
A significant injury prior to that Thursday night would definitely affect the outcome (Manuel / Kuechly out). But FSU is expecting to take what the BC defense gives them, pin BC deep with our excellent P and K, force long offensive drives, and defensively hope to produce failed drives and/or turnovers. I like FSU and BC close for 3 quarters, with FSU pulling ahead, runs the ball, and taking home a 26-17 victory.
BCI: Thanks for your time.
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