Thoughts on the ACC Championship game

December 4, 2005

I fear that the one true football game is going to be my only bit of football cheer today.

On the concrete merits, I don’t see any ray of hope for Florida State.  There is no part of the Seminoles team that Hokies would trade out with theirs.  Every unit of the Hokies have played at a higher level more consistently than their respective units on the Seminole squad.

The only sort of game that I can reasonably envision the Seminoles winning is if the Virginia Tech offense is as mistake prone as they were in the Miami game.  But can Florida State make itself into the sort of surprise terror that Miami was?  I don’t think so, and the reason lies in the more abstract part of the game that bothers me more than Florida State’s weaknesses in the concrete.

The only way Florida State can overcome its weaknesses is to play bigger than itself.  They need to come out lean and hungry with something to prove.  They need to recognize that their backs are against the walls  and that the only way out is to play above and beyond.  Florida State does not appear to be in that mood.  Recent history makes me wonder if it is whatsoever possible for the current coaching staff to get them into the necessar mindset.

While Florida State has had a run of greatness, they have not been the undisputed top dog in the past few years.  They have had several games in which they came in as distinct underdogs.  Ones that spring into mind are the 2001 Florida game, the 2002 Sugar Bowl (vs Georgia), and the four Miami games prior to this season.  Florida State lost each of those games.

The only game in the past ten years that I can think of that Florida State came in perceived as an almost certain loser and came out a winner is the 1998 game against Florida.  Florida was the favorite of most as Florida State was without its starting quarterback (Chris Weinke) and his replacement (Marcus Outzen was perceived to be an inferior substitute).  Florida State had one heck of a concrete edge, though, in its stiffling defense.  That defense combined with a great gameplan concocted by Mark Richt, combined with Outzen playing the game of his life (perhaps thanks to Chuck Amato’s coaching), resulted in Florida State winning in a manner that seemed to be easy.
Despite all of their concrete advantages, it is instead Virginia Tech that has the underdog mindset.  All week the Hokies have been talking about the greatness of the Seminoles and how they strive to have a program like that of Florida State.  They have talked so big of FSU that one would think our team was fielding the legendary Charlie Ward, Warrick Dunn, Peter Warrick, et al., instead of the current squad, which failed to have a single player make first team All-ACC (Virginia Tech, on the other hand had five).  It is Virginia Tech that is going in lean and hungry.

Virginia Tech is not absolutely unbeatable, of course.  A team that can contain their running game while maintaining a mistake-free drive-the-ball offense of their own has a chance.  As such, a Florida State win is not absolutely inconceiveable.  It is just that they have not shown themselves to be capable of that and they do not appear to be in the mindset to make a sudden transformation tonight.

I’ll have another post on the game at half-time.


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