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Takeaway Tuesday: Putting a bow on FSU’s, CFB’s regular season

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One of the most challenging regular seasons in Florida State and college football history has come to an end. FSU finished its first season under head coach Mike Norvell with a 3-6 record when its last game against Wake Forest was cancelled due in part to the Seminoles not having enough offensive linemen for the game. There were several other regular-season games cancelled as the focus turned to the Power Five’s and Group of Five’s conference championship games. And just like any week during college football season there was plenty to take away from this past weekend from Tallahassee and beyond.

  1. The results in the wins and losses column might not have been quite what FSU fans expected to see going into fall camp but this team did show progress over the course of the season in many areas compared to where it was last year. FSU established itself as a run-first offense, which is something very few, if any, saw coming prior to the season or even two weeks into the schedule. The success the Seminoles found on the ground was centered around a young offensive line and quarterback Jordan Travis. A team whose coach questioned its physical and mental toughness early in the season seem to mature in both areas as the season went on. It is also a team that seemed to find a belief and faith in each other as its roster got smaller and younger seemingly by the day due to opt-outs and season ending injuries. It is a team that won games because of special teams and not in spite of them. It was a team that took on an extended season despite its roster getting smaller and smaller, which had to take a physical toll on everyone. But that’s especially the case for underclassmen who are not really where they need to be from a strength and conditioning standpoint. That doesn’t take into consideration what I am sure became a stale and sometimes frustrating routine of going through testing for Covid-19 and all the protocols and restrictions imposed on this group of young men, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, operations staff, video and staff and any other departments or persons involved with the football team. I think what we saw as this season wore on was the transfer of leadership to the underclassmen, who made up 75 percent of the 2020 roster. And I think that may be the beginning of the return of the Unconquered Spirit, which we have become accustomed to seeing even when the scoreboard isn’t in FSU’s favor. Here’s a virtual fist-bump to all the players and coaches at FSU and across the country for the sacrifices they made in order to play as many games as possible.
  2. I think my top three pleasant surprises from this season are: 1) The success of the ground game. What Mike Norvell, Kenny Dillingham and Alex Atkins were able to do with a young offensive line and Travis — who missed most of fall camp and was third on the depth chart two weeks into the season — was nothing short of remarkable. FSU finished the season ranked 31st in the nation in rushing offense and established Travis as one of the conference’s most dynamic playmakers with the ball in his hands, especially when he is running. The good news is he will be back and so will at least seven of the eight offensive linemen who either started games this season or played significant backup roles. 2) We knew Travis would be a threat with his legs but he is a much more gifted runner than I ever imagined and it will be fun to see how he develops moving forward. 3) Hamsah Nasirildeen’s return. I didn’t think it would happen by any stretch of the imagination. He had much more to lose than he did to gain by coming back so late into what was turning into a dreadful season. It says a lot about him as a competitor and person. And while it was a concern that he might be making a mistake returning to the field this season, I must admit it was refreshing to see that kind of unselfishness and determination.
  3. Speaking of determination and the Unconquered Spirit. It was all the opt-outs due to injury or entering the transfer portal that made the headlines this season but I think the story when we look back at Norvell’s first year in Tallahassee in a couple of seasons might have been the buy-in by a group of upperclassmen that includes Baveon Johnson, Brady Scott, Emmett Rice, Janarius Robinson, Joshua Kaindoh, DeCalon Brooks and Nasirildeen that were real indicators of where this program was headed.
  4. FSU has signed 16 high school/junior college prospects (WR-2, TE-2, OL-2, DL/DE-5, LB-1, CB/S-4) to national letters of intent so far in the 2021 recruiting class, two graduate transfers (QB-1, CB-1) and has one offensive lineman (Kimo Makaneole) committed and expected to sign in February, which should leave the Seminoles with six scholarships left to give. I think they will try to sign two more offensive lineman (from the transfer portal), a transfer wide receiver, a transfer running back, a transfer safety and/or one or two transfer linebackers.
  5. At the time of my writing the leaders of college football (conference commissioners and television) went out of their way to get Ohio State, which played just six games, into the College Football Playoff and spent little to no time trying to figure out how to keep a 9-2 Army team in a bowl after the Independence Bowl was cancelled. It wasn’t until Monday night, when Tennessee backed out of the Liberty Bowl due to lack of numbers on the roster, that the Black Knights had the opportunity to play in a bowl (against West Virginia). We can never repay the men and women of the Armed Forces enough for what they do for us but paying it forward by finding this Army team a bowl seemed to be the least college football could do in this unusual season.
  6. Since we are deciding who gets into the College Football Playoff based on the eye test instead of a team’s body of work shouldn’t we decide the national champion the same way. Ohio State being voted in despite only having played six games this year has made this year’s playoff laughable. There is nothing that will happen in the two rounds of the playoffs that will convince me that Alabama isn’t the best college football team in America based off the eye test with either one or no losses at the conclusion. And their case only gets stronger when you look at the resumes of the other three playoff teams.
  7. I am not sure which of the three will win the Heisman but I think it will be decided between Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. All three are deserving.
  8. The top three non-playoff bowl games this season are: North Carolina vs. Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl, Cincinnati vs. Georgia in the Peach Bowl and UCF vs. BYU in the Boca Bowl (Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN).
  9. The three bowl games that I find least appealing this year: South Carolina vs. UAB in the Gasparilla Bowl, Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State in the Lending Tree Bowl and Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin.
  10. I think the College Football Playoff needs to expand to eight teams, but I have been an advocate of this prior to the season.
  11. The bowl matchup I think I would have most like to have seen outside of the playoff: Oklahoma vs Texas A&M. Both teams are heading into their respective bowls playing really solid football.
  12. Merry Christmas to all our subscribers. Thank you for allowing Bob, Jerry, Mark and Charles to share our perspectives with you this season and I can’t wait until the start of spring ball, which we will hopefully have access to in the spring.

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