It’s been noted by several sports writers, bloggers and fans that this team seems to have no real identity, with no real leadership. Some blame the backup, fresman starter at QB. Others follow the chain of command all the way to the general, Jimbo Fisher. I say there’s plenty of blame to go around. There’s clearly a lack of leadership from the top down–from coaches to Derwin to Blackman. No leadership at any level on this team and the product on the field shows it. The 2-4 record reflects it, as well.
What has this rudderless team given us besides some mediocre football and a losing record? Well, for starters, they’ve given us a winless home record. That hasn’t happened in multiple decades. They’ve all but dashed all hopes of another bowl appearance. That, too, hasn’t happened in decades. On top of that, they’ve failed at just about every goal they set out before the season. Even beating arch-rival Florida won’t “save” this 2017 football season.
But let’s look deeper at the subpar numbers. Near last, 108th, in interceptions and not much better, 96th, in sacks. Call me a spoiled fan if you will, but I think back to the great defenses of the Mickey Andrews era and meet-you-at-the-quarterback sackmasters like Seymour, Wadsworth and Boulware. The current defense is supposed to be anchored by one of the most highly touted athletes in the game, but where has Derwin’s leadership been this year?
Currently, we are 119th in points per game (less than 20 points) and 123rd in number of sacks allowed (more than 3 per game). Our offense goes for negative plays more often than not, coming in a dismal 126th in allowing tackles for loss per game. Our turnover margin ranks 123rd overall. The slow tempo of this team is off the charts for college football, but especially for Florida State Seminoles Football.
This week, the Noles, once favored to reach the BCS Playoffs, fell 15 spots in the S&P+ rankings, from 25th to 40th.ESPN now ranks us 11th out of 14 teams in our conference. You know, the conference that we helped to reshape and build into a Power 5? This is the conference that we started out dominating in the early 1990’s as soon as we joined! Now we’re reduced to basement dwellers, the likes of Duke? If you go back and watch that Duke game, when we were deadlocked, we looked about Duke caliber on offense and defense. I remember at the time thinking how sad that is. Now, with the new power rankings, that miserable realization is actually sinking in. We’re ACC bottom-feeders now.
John Cooper laid out more frustrating facts in his last blog post. The numbers and the power rankings don’t lie folks. This team is bad. And why has it fallen on such hard times? Ineffective leadership or the lack of any at all.
You can say that the offense lost it’s leader after the Alabama game, but Coach Fisher is considered by most a quarterbacks guru. So why didn’t he have backup James Blackman better prepared to play? Why have his in-game adjustments been nil or ineffective? Why in Game 6 is he still having to do so much coaching of this kid on the sideline? Blackman’s clearly got the raw skills to be a top-tier QB in college football, but he’s still making freshman mistakes and the “QB Guru” doesn’t seem to have any answers. Also, there are 10 other offensive players on the field. Where’s Eberle’s leadership? Or Patrick’s?
I’m of the opinion that you can only blame these young players so much. The blame for a lack of leadership has to lay squarely on the head coach’s shoulders. After all, he’s the one with the ginormous salary, the vault-tight contract and all of the grown-up responsibility for this team.
We’ve seen Fisher stick with his assistant coaches for two seasons too long, being almost loyal to a fault. We’ve now seen him lose it post-game going after a fan in the stands at Doak, then make excuses for it in the press conference. That was inexcusable. I don’t care what his defense was. He reacted in the heat of the moment out of pure frustration. Period. Does that look like a confident leader to you?
Leadership starts at the helm. Players will follow their general into battle if they truly believe in him. But look where he’s taken this program–into the basement of the ACC and out of the national conversation. Some sportscasters are calling this the most overrated FSU team ever! The lack of leadership is evident on and off the field. It doesn’t mean we need a new head coach, we just need him to pull his head out of his backside, quit being so prideful and make the requisite changes. Regain the trust of your men, Coach!
With a rudder, this team could have at least achieved ACC mediocrity, but at midseason, we’re not even middle-of-the-pack good. We’re 11th out of 14 and just plain awful. I’m not sure we can wait five more games–six if ULM is rescheduled–for the necessary fixes. This team is broken, Jimbo. The ship is sinking and aimless without it’s rudder. Fix it…and fast!