In anticipation of the showdown between FSU and Maryland on Saturday night we got to exchange some questions with Rich from Chantrant.
1. What is the latest news on QB Christian Ponder's injury status? E.J. Manuel looked decent against Clemson last week but do you see the staff making any changes to the gameplan if Manuel ends up playing against Maryland?
A: Apparently Ponder mended during the week off and will start on Saturday. He may not be 100% but Jimbo Fisher has ultimate faith in him. If E.J. Manuel plays he'll be used as an occasional counterpoint to Ponder. While it hasn't reached the level of a QB controversy, FSU fans like what they see with Manuel. He threw two perfect bombs against Clemson -- two of the longest pass plays of the season for the Noles. He's also a quick runner and racked up impressive yardage with his feet last week.
2. The defensive statistics are good for FSU this season but is this more like the vintage Mickey Andrews squads or more ordinary?
A: The defense is still a work in progress. But then the Nole defenders are still learning a new system. Mickey Andrews played mostly a man defense, while Mark Stoops is mixing man and zone. The results were impressive earlier in the season, when -- except for the Oklahoma game -- the secondary played well enough to produce coverage sacks and the D-line did their job, getting good pressure by rushing only four. In recent weeks, the D-line has struggled and opposing QBs have had more time to find receivers.
3. It took a 50+ yard field goal in the closing seconds to avoid a three game losing streak. What did UNC and NC State do to FSU to pull out wins?
A: UNC and N.C. State had creative game plans and executed them well. Specifically the Tar Heels exploited FSU's young secondary, confusing the DBs and producing blown coverages. The result: WRs getting loose far down field and a career day for UNC QB T.J. Yates. As for N.C. State, it was another strong QB performance, with the Wolfpack's Russell Wilson constantly escaping FSU's pass rush and scrambling for major yardage. But it wasn't just what the two Carolina teams did. FSU could have won both games in the final seconds. Instead, a fumble on the three-yard line and a missed field goal did the Noles in.
4. If FSU does not make it to the ACC Championship game this season what are the feelings about Jimbo Fisher's job performance among the FSU faithful?
A: With all due respect to the conference, winning the ACC is not the primary thing Nole fans will grade Jimbo Fisher on. The ultimate measuring stick is, and always has been, beating the Florida gators (an intended typo as we don't even capitalize their mascot). In case you lost count, FSU hasn't beaten the slimy reptiles in the past six seasons. So if Fisher can pull that off, he'll be hailed as a great hire. Should the Noles fall short against Urban Meyer's team yet win the ACC, it will be the equivalent of winning the Bronze medal at the Olympics instead of the Gold.