Florida State Seminoles: E.J. Manuel

ACC Week 6: Did you know?

October, 4, 2013
Here a handful of statistical nuggets, with a tip of the cap, as always, to ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments across the conference.

MARYLAND: Maryland leads the FBS in defensive expected points on passing plays (+69.5), and is one of two teams to allow just one passing touchdown. Defensive EPA is a measure of the expected points that a defense contributes to its net points in a game as a result of controlling field position, forcing turnovers and stopping its opponents.

FLORIDA STATE: Quarterback Jameis Winston has posted a Total QBR of 92.0, fourth highest among FBS quarterbacks. He has had at least two pass touchdowns in all four games and leads the ACC with 12. Winston has the fourth-best completion percentage (73.6 percent) and third-most yards per attempt (11.5) in the FBS. Last season, EJ Manuel had a Total QBR of 70.0, 26th among qualified quarterbacks.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers defense has posted back-to-back weeks of limiting opponents to less than 200 yards of offense for the first time since 1972. Virginia held VMI to 79 yards and Pitt to 199. When Virginia last accomplished this 41 years ago, it held Vanderbilt to 188 yards and VMI to 122. The Cavaliers area leading the nation in forcing three-and-outs, at 8.5 per game. Their third-down defense ranks No. 5 nationally, holding opponents to a .239 success rate.

NORTH CAROLINA: Quarterback Bryn Renner is one of six scholarship Tar Heels from Virginia, hailing from West Springfield. His father, Bill, was a Hokies punter from 1979-82 before playing for the Green Bay Packers. This will mark Renner's 30th career start. He leads the ACC and is 24th nationally in passing yards (279.3 ypg). His seven touchdown passes this year have given him 61 for his career, and he is seven away from Darian Durant's school record of 68.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies picked off two passes in last week's upset win at Georgia Tech, giving them 11 for the season, the most in the nation. They had 13 all of last season. Since the start of the 200 season, however, they have tallied 251 interceptions, which are 20 more than any other FBS team during that time span. Not surprisingly, Virginia Tech's pass defense is tops in the ACC, surrendering just 138.2 yards per game through the air. Things may only get better for the Hokies if cornerback Antone Exum plays after being cleared to practice this week following his offseason knee injury.

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles may just be the most disciplined team in the country under new head coach Steve Addazio. They have been penalized just eight times through four games, good for the nation's top mark (2.0 ppg). BC also leads the nation in fewest penalty yards per game (22.25).

NC STATE: The Wolfpack defense has been strong in the fourth quarter this season, giving up an average of 35.8 rushing yards, 38.5 passing yards and 74.3 yards of total offense over 60 total minutes of fourth-quarter action in 2013. NC State has forced five punts and five turnovers in 14 fourth-quarter possessions.

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe is 31-10 for his career in games against fellow North Carolina schools, but he is just 6-6 against NC State, which has the best record against him among schools in-state. Grobe is three wins away from becoming the winningest coach in Demon Deacon history, as his 75 are two behind "Peahead" Walker.

CLEMSON: The Tigers are one of three FBS teams that have not thrown an interception yet. New Mexico and Oregon are the others. Of those three, Clemson has by far the most pass attempts (154). Oregon has 116, New Mexico has 54. Clemson has committed just two turnovers overall this season, tied for the fewest in FBS with Louisville and Oregon. Clemson also has 28 offensive touchdowns on plays of 25 yards or more since the start of last season, most in the ACC and tied for fourth-most in the FBS. The Tigers will be making their first trip to New York since Nov. 8, 1952, when they played Fordham to a 12-12 tie. Their only other game in the Empire State was an Oct. 2, 1937 loss to Army, 21-6.

SYRACUSE: The Orange are looking for their first win against an AP top-three team since 1984, when Dick MacPherson’s team knocked off Tom Osborne’s No. 1 Nebraska. Syracuse is 0-8 against AP top-three teams since then. Quarterback Terrel Hunt hasn’t exactly been tested yet, but he’s performed well in his limited action so far. Hunt has a 98.9 Total QBR on the year, but most of his participation came in two games: against Tulane and FCS school Wagner.

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets will be playing their fourth conference game of the season, while Miami has yet to play its first ACC game. Georgia Tech is one of four schools in the FBS that has already played three or more conference games. The others: Pitt (2-1 ACC), Florida Atlantic (0-3 CUSA) and Air Force (0-4 MWC). To put it in perspective, there are 39 FBS teams that have yet to play a conference game this season (Note: This excludes schools transitioning to FBS).

MIAMI: Quarterback Stephen Morris has an 82.4 Total QBR in the first half and an ACC-low 10.3 Total QBR in the second half this season. The Hurricanes are 4-0 for the first time since 2004, when they started out 6-0 and climbed to No. 3 in the AP poll. They are also one of four schools to rank in the top 10 in the FBS in both scoring offense (ninth) and scoring defense (seventh).
ESPN is examining each of the nation's top college football programs and projecting what the next few seasons might have in store. We've accounted for Florida State's coaching, talent, recruiting, stability and program clout to find out how the Seminoles stack up, with ESPN's experts ranking FSU seventh in their Future Power Rankings.

Here's a quick look at what could change those numbers, for better and for worse:

The Seminoles will rise if: Jameis Winston develops into a star.

For Florida State's redshirt freshman, the expectations are already so high that he might never fully reach them, but that's not the standard he should be worried about. When E.J. Manuel made an early push for the Heisman a year ago, Jimbo Fisher famously referred to his quarterback as a "hunting dog" rather than a "show dog," and that's exactly what he'll want from Winston, too.

But while Manuel arrived with an impressive track record and lofty expectations, too, there is something different about Winston, who is already being pegged by some as a future No. 1 overall draft pick. He's got a big arm, good speed and tremendous confidence that sets him apart.

For all his talent, Winston still needs some time to develop on the job, and Fisher's offense isn't designed to allow him to post huge numbers from Day 1. For FSU, the key is for Winston to keep moving forward, and if he does, the next three years could be a turning point for the program.

A lot of other things will have to fall into place, too, if FSU is to take the next step, but Winston will be at the forefront for good reason. After all, in the Seminoles' two previous national championship seasons, they had eventual Heisman winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke running the show.

The Seminoles will fall if: The stability Fisher has built falls apart.

There are more than a few fans eager to point out the flaws in Fisher's first three years on the job, and indeed, ugly losses to teams such as Wake Forest and Virginia in 2011 and NC State in 2012 derailed otherwise promising seasons. But while Fisher hasn't quite fulfilled mammoth expectations, he has managed a major overhaul of the organization by implementing a strict plan for recruiting, coaching and running the program.

Essentially Fisher has tried to follow in Nick Saban's footsteps by not simply coaching the Xs and Os, but working to refine even the most minor aspects of the program. But 2013 brings the first major challenge to that routine, with six new assistant coaches joining the ranks, the departure of a vast amount of NFL talent (11 players picked in 2013's draft), an increasingly arduous schedule on the horizon and a search for a new athletics director looming.

For three years, Fisher has been the captain of a relatively stable ship, but new challenges have arisen. Fisher went outside the box with his hiring of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. His refusal to give up play-calling duties led his offensive coordinator and top recruiter, James Coley, to bolt for ACC rival Miami. He faces recruiting challenges from SEC programs with more resources in a time when FSU is trying to find a new leader for its athletics department. Whether Fisher can keep the program on the right path and follow Saban's blueprint for building a champion will be a major question during the next few seasons.

Breaking down UF-FSU matchups 

November, 19, 2012
GatorNation's Michael DiRocco and NoleNation's David Hale break down Saturday's Florida-Florida State game in Tallahassee, Fla.:

UF offense vs. FSU defense

Florida: The Gators have really struggled to move the ball during the second half of the season, especially through the air. Teams are stacking the box and concentrating on stopping RB Mike Gillislee (964 yards, 8 TDs). The pass protection has been inconsistent and the receivers, other than TE Jordan Reed, have trouble separating. UF isn’t able to mount more than one or two sustained drives against good defenses.

Florida State: The numbers speak volumes for Florida State's defense, which ranks among the nation's best for the second straight season. It starts with defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, the most prolific pass-rush duo in the country. But from the powerful interior line to a strong secondary, there are few weaknesses. The Seminoles rank first nationally in total defense, fifth in scoring defense, first against the run and fifth against the pass.

Opening camp: Florida State

August, 6, 2012
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Heather and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp ...

School: Florida State.

Start date: Today.

Predicted finish at media days: First, Atlantic Division.

Biggest storyline: Can the Seminoles match increased expectations this year? It seems like we have been waiting on Florida State to return to its rightful place among the elite for ages now. Many thought last year was going to be the year, as the Seminoles were picked to win the Atlantic and started the season ranked No. 5 in the coaches' poll and No. 6 in the AP poll. But Florida State faltered to an 8-4 record in the regular season and went 5-3 in conference, tied with Wake Forest for second in the Atlantic. Not exactly the return everybody imagined. Headed into this year, expectations are high once again not only in the ACC but nationally as well. Florida State starts the season ranked No. 7 in the coaches' poll, so there clearly is confidence that THIS will now be the year of the Seminole. Florida State has 17 starters returning, including quarterback EJ Manuel and one of the most talented defensive fronts in the nation. The time is now for this team.

Biggest position battle: Cornerback. With the dismissal of three-year starter Greg Reid, that position is now up for grabs headed into fall camp. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, this position went from one of strength to one of major question marks. None of the potential replacements has much in the way of game experience. Among the options: sophomores Tyler Hunter and Nick Waisome, who were expected to compete for the top nickelback job. There also is freshman Ronald Darby, who ran track in high school. As for returner, where Reid excelled, potential options include Darby, freshman Marvin Bracy, sophomore Karlos Williams and safety Lamarcus Joyner.

(Read full post)


Top Position Battles Heading In To Spring
While a good portion of the country is buried in snow, spring football is underway. Adam Rittenberg looks at some of the top position battles heading in to spring practice.