Florida State was a dominant team not too long ago; they have been climbing back to the top for the last couple of years, after a solid season in '08 they look to move forward in '09.
Let's take a closer look at the Seminoles...hit the jump
The Seminoles offense lost a couple of key players but does return their starting QB among others.
Christian Ponder played well last year, but not great. He proved he can be elusive on his feet at times, but lacked accuracy in his passing game. This is a must step up year for Ponder. This offense has a lot of potential but Ponder will need to be the one to unlock it.
At RB Antone Smith will be replaced by Jermaine Thomas. Thomas has the talent for sure as he averaged 7 yards per carry last year. Smith got most of the carries in '08 and this year we will see if Thomas can carry the load. Helping Thomas with this duty is another talented youngster Ty Jones who is also an explosive runner.
Jermaine Thomas is an elusive runner, he will need to play well early in the season
If the Seminole coaches can find a way to use both of these backs together effectively then I think FSU can surprise some people on the ground.
At WR Florida State is hoping that Taiwan Easterling can return to 100% after rupturing his Achilles tendon. If healthy he is a big game player and will be Ponder's go to guy, if not then the Seminoles will be a little thin at wide out.
Now let's take a look at a defense with some young talent but a lot of holes to fill.
Everette Brown is gone up front, they will need to find someone to replace Derek Nicholson at LB, and Myron Rolle will need to be replaced in the secondary.
With all of those names gone it sounds like horrible news, but big programs reload. They have a solid group of youngsters ready to step up, the only thing they need is time.
As I said the Seminoles should have a pretty good offense if certain players can step up. They have a couple easy games early, hopefully they can win these without needing to dominate defensively. These first two or three games should give the young guns on defense a chance to figure things out. Once the Seminoles get rolling on both sides of the ball they will be a dangerous team.
Players to Watch: Jermaine Thomas, Taiwan Easterling*
Projected Record: 8-4
(Credit BXSportsCenter x2)