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Fast 40 countdown: Florida State

August 26, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Florida State

Last season: 10-4, 18th in the MRI

The good: Florida State snuck into the ACC Championship game last year because North Carolina State couldn't close. The Seminoles lost to the Wolfpack during the regular season, and should have been on the outside looking in at Russell Wilson.

But wishing doesn't change history and Florida State, with a less than impressive team, stumbled into the championship (yes, less than impressive with a 6-2 conference record) and promptly lost to Virginia Tech.

But the loss to Virginia Tech should serve as motivation, along with the bowl win against South Carolina. Florida State had grown as a team last season into a contender for 2011.

That is why Florida State's 15 returning starters should be considered the favorites to take the ACC title this year, and possibly contend on a national level.

Now that is something that hasn't been actually possible in almost 10 years.

Christian Ponder may be gone, but the offensive line is intact to give EJ Manuel plenty of time to grow. That includes left tackle Andrew Datko who allowed one sack all of last season.

Manuel will also have the entire running core back and all but one of last season's top three receivers (Taiwan Easterling is now showcasing his talents in the Chicago Cubs farm system).

On defense, only one real impact player is gone, and the defensive backfield should be among the best in the country in terms of speed and talent.

The bad: The worst thing you can say about Florida State is that the quarterback isn't the same as last season and its schedule could be its downfall.

While Manuel isn't a greenhorn at the position for the Seminoles, he isn't Christian Ponder, and still has to get used to having the constant scrutiny of being the number one guy in Tallahassee.

He has a head start on most of the guys who take over as signal caller for the Noles in that he has had the job at times thanks to injuries.

Florida State faces Oklahoma (in Tallahassee) and travels to Florida, which should be the only two games on the schedule where they are not favored to win. The ACC portion of the schedule shouldn't be an issue provided Florida State stays focused given that they are more talented than every team they face.

Best name: Tank Carradine - an exquisite combination of both power (Tank) and Kung Fu (Carradine)

Trending: Up - If Florida State can pull off an upset in one of the big games on the schedule and win the ACC title, they could find themselves playing in the title game again. Beating Oklahoma won't be simple, but the Sooners will be traveling to the Noles and that could make the difference. Still, they could face them again in the title game, which would make for an interesting rematch. It is easy to see Florida State improving on last season's defensive numbers and tearing through the ACC. Look for the Seminoles in the top 10 of the MRI all season long.

   

Posted August 26, 2011 3:17 PM

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