After 34 years of leading the Florida State football program, Bobby Bowden has stepped down and handed the controls over to new head coach Jimbo Fisher. There have been so many changes made that the legendary head coach would not even recognize what the program is like now. The locker room is different, the weight room is organized much differently, a new strength program is in place, a new coaching staff has been hired and more importantly, a new attitude is very evident amongst the program.
Now, the Seminoles will hope these changes will also occur on the field. After a disappointing three straight years of just seven wins, FSU appears to be headed in the right direction. More importantly, everyone is on the same page with their new leader.
“Everything is coming from one voice,” said offensive line coach Rick Trickett, one of the few holdovers from Bowden’s staff other than Fisher, who was Bowden’s offensive coordinator the past three years. “He knows what he wants to do. He knows exactly how he wants to do it, and we’re doing it that way.”
One bright spot for FSU comes on the offensive side of the ball where all but one starter returns from last year’s team. Quarterback Christian Ponder returns to lead one of the most explosive offenses in the ACC. In addition, all five starting offensive lineman return and they are arguably, as a whole, one of the best in college football.
Defense is where changes had to occur. Long time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has retired and Fisher brought in Mark Stoops as his replacement. Stoops turned Arizona’s defense completely around while he was there and now looks to do the same at his new school. Last season was miserable for the Seminoles defense. They were 108th in rushing defense, 110th in passing-efficiency defense, and 108th in total defense. The 2010 edition of the Noles defense will get away from their man defense and work under Stoops’ 4-3 with multiple zone coverages. Defensive tackle Everett Dawkins is excited about the changes that have occurred.
“We just didn’t have the coaching mentally that we needed,” Dawkins said. “It was all about being tough, and we were tough, but mentally we were taking the wrong steps. The zone is going to help us out a lot. Coach Fisher, he’s put a big point on us to actually learn how to play football instead of going out on the field and counting on our athleticism.”
If the defense can produce as well as the offense is expected to do, Seminole nation will not have to wait long to get back a program that was once feared by their opponents. They do have a demanding out of conference schedule which includes a road game at Oklahoma and in-state rival Florida to end the season. Their immediate goal is regain their dominance in the Atlantic Coast Conference and ultimately get back in the national championship picture. NCAA sportsbooks however feel that FSU will not experience success as quickly and have their odds listed at 50/1 to win the 2011 BCS National Championship.