Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Q&A with Tomahawk Nation

It's finally ACC season, and to celebrate, here we have Bud of Tomahawk Nation to answer some questions about Florida State in preparation for the upcoming home game against the Seminoles. Florida State in Scott Stadium brings back some terrific memories (and some forgettable blowouts), but sadly thanks to the expanded schedule, that's an event less common than presidential elections.

The format is the usual; here are my questions and Bud's answers. A little bit of enlightenment to reacquaint everyone with FSU football. When it's up, I'll link the other half of the conversation. And here it is. Go read - the other half of these Q&As are always a great way to see what the other side thinks is important about UVA, and what I think about that.

1. Which is the real Christian Ponder - the Oklahoma version or the Wake Forest version? Which should we expect to see in Charlottesville?

The real Christian Ponder is hard to figure out right now. Clearly he is banged up with the triceps bruise that swells up sometimes. He wears a compression sleeve 24/7. Against Oklahoma the issues were with Ponder, the receivers, and the line. Even banged up, he's one of the better ACC QBs. I'd expect to see safe throws except off play-action. Ponder is still smart and quick through his reads.

2. How is the Jimbo Fisher era so far? Are FSU fans giving him as much of a chance as any new coach or do you see him having the kind of difficulties that usually seem to come with following a legend?

I don't think he's having the "following a legend" difficulties because Bowden left FSU in shambles. FSU has a 16-16 conference record over the last 4 years.... after losing 20 games in the last 4 years... after having the 7th worst major-conference defense... after not even winning its own division in the ACC in the last 4. Add all the stuff with hiring his unqualified or washed-up buddies to coach and the stuff with his son and the recent version of Bowden isn't much of a legend to follow.

Fisher is going through growing pains in terms or learning how to delegate and trusting others, particularly the media. On-field stuff has been sharp though, including clock management.

3. What's the biggest difference between Bowden's Seminoles and Fisher's Seminoles, besides fewer "dadgums" at press conferences?

Fisher is Saban-lite. The obsessive attention to detail and focus on "process over results." He's never satisfied and the team reflects that. The improved weight program (FSU's defensive linemen averaged more than 15 lbs of added muscle this off-season!) has also been a huge change. FSU is turning into an SEC-like team in terms of the way it looks physically, which is what Fisher wants. He's also changed practice routines to more than double the reps and has added a ton of new staffers to make sure no stone goes unturned.

4. Is E.J. Manuel a change-of-pace QB or have his appearances been mainly the result of the four blowouts FSU's been involved in?

Manuel is not a change-of-pace guy. He's decidedly the backup, though Fisher loves him. Manuel is Jimbo's prized recruit (from Virginia Beach) and Fisher has worked to change his delivery from the mess it was in 2008. He's come in during blow-outs and against Oklahoma because Christian was really rattled and hurting, but I don't expect to see him this weekend. UVA fans will get to see him next year in Tally for sure.

5. Would you trade a loss in this game if it meant you could guarantee a win next week at Miami?

No, I would not. I thought about this, and while the win in Miami helps recruiting, I think FSU has probably a 12% chance to lose both, a 32% to win both, a 48% chance to beat UVA and lose at UM, and an 8% chance to lose to UVA while beating Miami. Sorry for the gambling math there, but what I am trying to say is that FSU would be throwing more away than it gained. Plus, Virginia is still seen as a bad team after the last two years and the loss would be embarrassing to FSU fans, though I know UVA is better.

(Ed.: the math here means Bud figures an 80% chance of beating UVA and a 40% chance of beating Miami. With any luck, the reality will be the opposite.)


As always, thanks to Tomahawk Nation for their half. Check back tomorrow for the game preview!

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