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July 29, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #19 Florida State


2009 Record – 7-6, 4-4 ACC
Bowl Game – Gator Bowl – Beat West Virginia 33-21
Letterman Returning: 43
Stadium – Doak S. Campbell Stadium (82,300)
College Location – Tallahassee, FL
Coach – Jimbo Fisher, (1st year)


Key Returnees – QB Christian Ponder (below), G Rodney Hudson, RB Jermaine Thomas, WR Bert Reed, T Andrew Datko

Key Losses – WR Rod Owens, WR Richard Goodman

- Offensive lines don’t get a lot of love. Close to about the amount Keanu Reeves gets from movie critics. The biggest men on the field often go unnoticed. It’s hard not to notice the FSU offensive linemen; however, it seems like the group has been playing with one another for a decade. All five starters return for the second consecutive season, led by first team All-America guard, Rodney Hudson and All-ACC selection, tackle, Andrew Datko. Between the five starters, 146 starts lie under their belt, second most amongst FBS teams. The offensive line plays a particular important part in the FSU offense in keeping all-conference quarterback Christian Ponder off the ground. Ponder has been a reliable starter for the Seminoles, however, he has yet to pass for more than 14 touchdowns in two seasons as a starter. Last season’s 68.8 percent completion percentage proves he is capable of a larger load though. This season, Ponder will have more opportunities to throw in a more spread out offense. A talented group of receivers returns in juniors Jarmon Forston and Bert Reed. The two combined for 105 catches for 1,320 yards last season, but caught just four touchdowns – all Forston’s. For the first time since 2003 the Seminoles brought in over 400 yards of total offense a game last year, 272 of it coming in the passing game. Because of that, it may be unlikely to expect a 1,000 yard rusher in FSU’s backfield this season, as the team has not produced one since Warrick Dunn in 1996. Junior running back, Jermaine Thomas, brought in 832 yards with nine scores last season and should see around the same amount of production in a passing offense in 2010.


Key Returnees – OLB Nigel Bradham (below), CB Greg Reid, MLB Kendall Smith, DT Jacobi McDaniel

Key Losses – OLB Dekoda Watson, CB Patrick Robinson, S Jamie Robinson, ROV Korey Mangum

- You won’t find the caliber of player along the lines of a Derrick Brooks or Antonio Cramartie or even a Corey Simon on the 2010 FSU defense, but you will find that typical FSU speed and lots of it. Unfortunately for the 2009 Seminole defense, speed doesn’t always translate to holding offenses at bay. Last season’s defense gave up an average of 435 total yards a game, including 205 rushing yards. The most shocking stat however was the 30 points per game given up by the Seminoles, a number more typical of an ACC foe like Duke. It should go without saying that if this seasons FSU team wants to improve on last season’s seven wins, a better defense is a dire need. Five members from the teams front seven return, led by junior linebacker, Nigel Bradham. Bradham has all the physical tools at 6’2’’ 242 pounds to be great, leading the team with 93 tackles last season, along with 5.5 for a loss. Senior Kendal Smith returns to his middle position. Ends Everett Dawkins and Markus White, return to the defensive line and will need to produce far more than they did in ’09. Neither player had more than two sacks last season. Sophomore defensive tackle Jacobi McDaniel is a player to keep an eye on this season. The number one player at his position in high school, McDaniel should come into his own in his second year as a Seminole. The secondary returns just one starter in senior corner, Ochuko Jenje, but also returns freshman sensation, Greg Reid. Reid busted onto the scene early in Tallahassee, becoming a playmaker in the secondary and on special teams. Big sophomore safety, Nick Moody, steps into departed rover Korey Mangum’s position. Moody started two games last season, bringing in 33 tackles. The number one goal for the FSU defense in 2010 will be to shut down the run. All areas of the defense will need to put behind a season in which they gave up an average of 6.0 yards rushing five times and a 401 yard game against Georgia Tech.


- For the first time since 1975, a new face will be in control of the FSU sidelines. Jimbo Fisher, the longtime assistant to the longtime head man Bobby Bowden, takes the reins of a program looking to rebound. The last five years the Seminoles have not surpassed more than nine wins a season and have brought in three 7-6 years. The first task Jimbo Fisher will have is to win at Doak Campbell, where the team has put together a 7-6 record on the grounds of what used to be a nasty place to play for opponents. Equally bad, a 12-13 away record lies on the backs of the Seminoles the last five seasons. This year the Noles will be tested early with a Sept. 11 meeting at Oklahoma, followed by home visits from BYU and Wake Forest in consecutive weeks. The heated rivalry game between the Noles and Hurricanes kicks off Oct. 9 with a trip to Miami and you can believe both teams will be ready. A pivotal ACC Atlantic game against Boston College is set for Oct. 16, in a matchup in which the Eagles have won two out of the last three meetings. Four consecutive ACC matchups lie in wake starting with at NC State, Thursday, Oct. 28, then UNC Nov. 6, Clemson Nov. 13 and at Maryland Nov. 20. The battle for the sunshine state kicks off Nov. 27 against the Florida Gators. The Noles have lost the last five meetings by an average score of 36-11.

Schedule rating: B+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Christian Green, *#5 WR, 6-2 185, Tampa, FL

Green, a phenomenal athlete, played quarterback and some wide receiver in high school, but will concentrate on wideout fulltime for FSU.

2.) Lamarcus Joyner, #2 CB, 5-8 165, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Don’t let Joyner’s size fool you. One of the best cover men in the country, he plays much bigger than his size indicates.

3.) Jeff Luc (left), #2 MLB, 6-1 240, Port Saint Lucie, FL

Luc is one of the hardest hitters from the high school ranks in years making him a Youtube star.

4.) Christian Jones, #5 OLB, 6-4 230, Winter Park, FL

The size and athleticism are there for Jones but the learning curve to the college game may take a year.

5.) Kenny Shaw, #28 WR, 5-11 155, Orlando, FL

Shaw is quick off the line and shifty in open space but will need to add some size before he sees the field.

*Rankings according to

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