1. The ACC is a crazy conference this year with everyone beating up on each other. The Coastal Division is also one of the toughest divisions in college football as every team has a winning record. As an Atlantic Division team, what do you make of this if anything? Also, go through FSU's remaining schedule and tell us if they can and how they'll stay on top of their division.
I think the ACC is the closest thing we have to the NFL in college football. SMQ profiled this in past years Here, and Here. I'll add that we've put more defensive players in the NFL than the SEC, over the past 5 years. The offensive talent in the league seems to be lacking, however, and I think that is because most of the head coaches are defensive natured. With so much defensive emphasis, games are bound to be close, and close games create parity. The Coastal Division has better records right now, but I'm not so sure they are better now with the injuries to VT's QBs. I'll point you to this huge piece I did on the remaining schedule issue, here.
2. Since 2005, the Seminoles have gone 8-5, 7-6, and 7-6. They are currently 6-1 and are 1 game away from being bowl eligible. What is different from this year when compared to the previous three?
The obvious answer is the change at Head Coach, err, "Offensive Coordinator" and Quarterback. Jimbo has completely changed the culture. Practices are much more intense. They pay attention to details. I'm not sure many realize just how disorganized and inept the previous administration was. At QB, Ponder is already ahead of fan favorite Weatherford, and our situation at QB looks excellent, with promising young talent, and experienced veteran depth. In short, it's the attitude changes brought on by the changes in personnel. One underrated angle, however, is injuries. FSU was the 2nd most injured team in the Nation over the past 2 years (measured by starts lost), and this year they seem to be slightly better than average in that department.
3. Last week, the Cavaliers picked our defense apart (we'll ignor the missed holding calls) with a solid running back and a calm quarterback. What about Florida State's offensive scheme scheme is going to give us fits?
I assume you mean what about FSU's OFFENSE. I don't think anything we do will give GT fits. I do think, however, that this offense is very difficult to defend, because if it's diversity. We have 2 guys on the outside who are very tall, and will be in the NFL, in Corey Surrency (6'5"), and Greg Carr (6'6"). At any time, Ponder can take a 3 step drop and throw the jump ball to those guys. In fact, he did it twice against one of the ACC's best corners in VT's Macho Harris (Carr caught both for 48 and 39 yards). Given than, teams are pretty reluctant to play Man- Free or Cover -1. It's safe to say that we see a lot of cover 2 and cover 3. There are also 2 other elements. We have 3 excellent slot guys, in Parker, Easterling, and Bert Reed. Parker was our huge weapon last year, Easterling has been phenomenal this year, and Reed is a serious track guy. When teams go cover-2 or cover-3, we throw bubble screens to those guys, over, and over, and over. Ponder threw 11 of them for over 150 yards against NC State, and we killed Miami with them as well. Instead of being a gimmick like many use it, we throw it as a base part of our offense. There is a 5 play set based off of this. We run the zone read, with fake bubble action (nice cutback lanes), the bubble, with zone action, the fake bubble and go (see the tall guys), the fake bubble qb draw, and the bubble- WR pass. FSU runs it so often that they're pretty smooth in it. This is truly a great screen team, and with our small linemen (averaging about 280 lbs), we should be. The other thing that might give VT fits is the running of Ponder. He has already run for over 20 first downs this year, and posted the top pro-shuttle time on our entire team. That said, our OLine has had major issues, and are in fact the youngest in America, with 3 True Frosh, a Soph, and a RS Soph.
4. Bobby Bowden: How involved is he actually on gameday? You don't usually see him grab for a headset. Is he a head coach in the fact that he manages the team Sunday through Friday and let his coordinators take over or is he really the epitome of a figurehead?
We get this question a lot, and it really implies two extremes, neither of which are true. Bowden doesn't do a lot of x and o's stuff, but he is not a complete figurehead. In modern day big boy college football, the head coach has a lot of duties that people don't think about. Bowden handles the media pretty well, and spends a lot of his time with that, as well as dealing with boosters stuff. That allows the true general, Jimbo Fisher, to watch film 24 hours a day like a maniac, haha. He seems much more alert this year than past, and my guess is that comes with his increased comfort level with Jimbo Fisher. On Gameday, he watches for things on the field, handles the officials, etc. What he doesn't do is get in his coaches way. If you're going to be the CEO type, and Bowden created this role, you can't meddle with your coordinators. He's done a great job of trusting them this year, something I and many other wondered if he could do.
5. Now that you have seen Jimbo Fisher in action for a bit, what are your views on him being the next in line for head coach? Do you like the trend of "next in line" coaches?
I think everyone loves Jimbo. He saved us from a pretty ridiculous situation. I don't think he is some offensive genius, though he is pretty damn goog. I would put him somewhere between the crazy schemer type (Saban), and the motivator, recruiter, caretaker (Less Miles, Mack Brown). He puts in the hours that you expect from someone who will soon make 4 Million. He's about to seal his second consecutive top 10 recruiting class, and has energized our efforts in that area, as recruits now know who will take over when Bobby retires. I'm going to pass on the second half of this question. It really is situation specific. Obviously, it brings a lot of stability. It also could create a horrible leadership conflict dynamic if the head coach stays too long, or opposes the deal. The real key is to do your homework as a University.
6. It's been quite a few years since Georgia Tech and Florida State last played football against each other and a rivalry seemed to be in the making. What do you miss most about those yearly matchups?
I asked Tomahawk Nation's resident historian, Fsued to answer this one: Always winning! Seriously, perhaps its because the Noles have enjoyed somuch success against the Yellow Jackets, but this has always felt like afriendly rivalry. One theory -- we've both been fighting for equal footingwith the "big in-state giant" (in your case Georgia, in our case ... well,you know who; guess we'll be rooting against each other in TWO games thisweekend!). For that reason, I think FSU fans have viewed GT as anon-threatening rival. Honestly, for those familiar with Seminole footballhistory, the 29-24 win in 1992 over the Jackets was so important to theevolution of the FSU program, that for that reason alone we've probablyreserved a soft spot for our neighbors to the north. With Tommy Bowdengone from Clemson, Ga. Tech is probably FSU's most natural out-of-stateACC rival. For that rivarly to blossom, however, the Jackets are going tohave to win some games -- y'all have a great shot to do that this weekend.