Friday, October 14, 2011

A Mid-season Look In and a Story about PRIDE

Since we are at the half way point of the season I want to take a quick look at where the Atlantic Coast Conference stands and talk to you about a game that could be a defining moment for a team. I hate to state the obvious, but the ACC does not have a program that can compete with the likes of Wisconsin, LSU and Alabama. The conference top to bottom is mediocre at best and is not too much ahead of the Big East. Hell, the Mountain West’s Boise State would own the ACC.

What was supposed to be the two flagship programs for the ACC this year, Florida State (2 –3) and Virginia Tech (4–1), have already been beaten soundly. After being as high as 5th in the polls, Florida State has dropped three in a row and should be concerned about this weekend’s road trip to play conference cellar dweller Duke if their defense does not show up again. Virginia Tech on the other hand has only lost to Clemson and has a glimmer of hope to make the ACC Championship Game with a little help, but has fallen off of the national radar.

The conference national respect now sits with the surprise Clemson Tigers and quirky offense of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, both of which have a tendency to drop a game when you least expect it. At this point in the season it would look like we are heading towards an Atlantic Division Clemson versus Coastal Division Georgia Tech ACC Championship Game, but we will get a sneak peak at this game on October 29th when these teams face off in Atlanta.

In the words of the great Florida State Alum “Sunshine Scooter” Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friends.”

Look for one or both of these teams to stumble along the way. Because, Wake Forest could be the team to come along and upset the apple cart. A couple of key games to look for will be the November 12th matchup of Wake and Clemson in Death Valley. And Georgia Tech has both Miami and Virginia Tech on the schedule, both of which have superior athletes to GT.

So what does all this mean? It means, the rest of the ACC Conference games are going to be a roller coaster ride with the possibility of several big upsets and don’t be surprised if you see a Wake Forest versus Virginia Tech ACC Championship Game.

Now on to a much anticipated ACC game this week (at least to fans in Tallahassee and Raleigh-Durham). This pick is going to be a qualitative pick versus the usual quantitative analysis of stats. One word as to why this pick does not need to go into stats is simple, PRIDE! Florida State is being beaten up by most sports media outlets in the country, in fact I just watched Mr. Pitt Homer Mark May call them the most disappointing team of the year with quite the little gleam in his eye, good grief, did he even watch Pitt play last week? I know, I know he does not write what he says on the air and he has been cast in the role of antagonist on the show, but I would think from an FSU player’s perspective the hits seem to be coming from all sides. That is why this could be a galvanizing moment for the team and for them to get that “us against the world” attitude.

After the Wake Forest loss last week, in a player’s only meeting, the players vented a lot of frustration with each other and what can be done to turn the season around. Sometimes these meetings are meaningless, but in this meeting some changes were actually made to the program. There was an issue with a certain segment of the fan base using social media as an outlet to bash players directly and in many instances went way over the line, even bringing the bashing to player’s families. I am going to state right, here right now, that fans like that are the bottom of the barrel of college football fans and can move on to their next “favorite team,” because they are probably not part of the long-term fan base anyway.

As a result, the team decided without the coaching staff’s input to close all their Twitter and Facebook accounts as a new player enforced policy. This type of decision making by the players shows they have closed ranks and are ready to get on with the season. I think you have a bunch of kids that are pissed off at the world. So I would look for a focused team this week against the Duke Blue Devils. I will be the first to admit that the Noles could go either way at this point: either have a complete meltdown or rattle off several wins in a row. I am going to go with the latter and think that having a healthy EJ Manuel back in action this week will be the spark the team needs to salvage some sort of success this season and preserve the PRIDE of the program.

Look for the Noles to win this game big on Saturday, something along the lines of 38 – 10.

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