Big things were expected for the Florida State Seminoles this past season. We had them at #6 when we did our Pre-Season predictions. After picking apart two "easy" teams, the Seminoles ran into some trouble in late September. A loss to Oklahoma was almost expected given how high they were thought of coming into the season but losses to Clemson and then Wake Forest almost took the season off rails. FSU got right in the easier part of their schedule as they won five straight games before being upset by Mike London and the Cavs. FSU would finish 9-4 which was well below where they wanted to finish but they did finish up on a positive note. They beat rival Florida for the second time in as many years and also beat Notre Dame in their bowl game to salvage the season. To get an inside perspective on the 2011 season we caught up with Adam Tolliver of Unconquerednoles.com .
CFBZ: Florida State had some lofty expectations in 2011. What were the primary reasons they didn't live up to those expectations?
Adam: The most identifiable answer is horrific injury luck. Not only was the amount of injury unfortunate (10 of FSU's top 13 offensive linemen missed some sort of significant time), but Florida State's offensive line was considered to be the biggest question mark prior to the season, even if it had remained healthy. Other theories surrounding the disappointing season will vary, but it's difficult to imagine that a lot of the personal issues facing Jimbo Fisher's family away from the field had zero impact on the preparation going into the year.
CFBZ: Jimbo Fisher has been in he position of Head Coach for two years. What is he doing well and where do you think he needs to do a better job?
Adam: There's no question that Fisher understands recruiting and does it as well as anyone in the country. Over the past 24 months, there isn't a team that can say they've been definitively hotter on the trail than FSU. He has a great understanding of how to fulfill needs with great talent. He evaluates players very well and does a wonderful job of dealing with the ins and outs of building a roster for consistency. Perhaps what he could improve on is allowing his well paid assistants to handle more of the everyday responsibilities that he likes to control himself. The argument has been made that he perhaps spreads himself too thin. Overall, I think Jimbo Fisher is going to be a great head coach one day. The biggest question is how long it will be before he puts it altogether and whether or not he'll still be at FSU when it happens.
CFBZ: If you could have a "do over" for any game which would it be (and why)?
Adam: It's difficult to choose between the two early ACC losses. Both of which were played in a sloppy fashion and flat out embarrassing. But I have to say the Wake Forest game is the one. For one, EJ Manuel should have started that game. That was a major mistake on the coaching staff's part and in my eyes may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the team. The starting QB (Manuel) was almost healthy enough to go, but Florida State felt they could win that game with their backup and give Manuel another week to rest. The Seminoles came out flat, dug themselves into a hole and were unable to recover against a team that they far outmatched talent wise. It was an inexcusable loss and Seminole fans wanted to believe that those types of days were behind them.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Adam: The lasting memory I'll have is watching the FSU defense grow and gel into a top 5 unit in the nation. The talent that the Noles have stocked on that side of the ball in the last three years is absolutely astonishing and it was finally evident as the team dominated the majority of its schedule on defense.
CFBZ: Which players need to step up in 2012 for Florida State to win the ACC?
Adam: In 2012, the spotlight is on the 5 upfront on offense. That's the missing link for this team, as the defense performed as one of the best in the entire country and returns 9 of 11 starters, while the offense returns the bulk of its production. Aside from the OL as a unit, the individuals to watch for will include rising sophomore receiver Rashad Greene, who showed the makings of a star as a true freshman. Greene taking the next step as a receiver would easily make him the best receiver that FSU has been able to boast in over a decade.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
Big 12- Kansas Jayhawks