December 12, 2012

Top surprises and disappointments of 2012

With just the Orange Bowl left to play, takes a look at the biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2012 season.

Since no one likes ending with bad news, why don't we start off with the disappointments.

Top three 2012 disappointments

  • Florida State's defense was dominant for much of the 2012 season, yet despite ranking second in the nation in total defense, the Seminoles forced just 19 turnovers (tied for 72nd in the country). FSU had just 10 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Tyler Hunter and Xavier Rhodes each had three interceptions. No other player on the roster had multiple picks.

    Christian Jones scored the lone defensive score of the season on a 12-yard scoop and score, after Cornelius Carradine forced a sack-fumble against South Florida. Jones had two fumble recoveries, Toshmon Stevens had two recoveries as well. No one else on the team had multiple recoveries. FSU had just six games with multiple turnovers all season.

  • For the second straight season the Seminoles offense finished year looking stuck in the mud. Last season FSU finished last year with a pair of wins over Florida and Notre Dame and a loss to Virginia. Against UVA, FSU put up just three points in the second half. In the win over Florida FSU had just 95 yards of total offense, while it was shutout in the first half of a comeback win over Notre Dame.

    This season the offense has performed a similar stride down the stretch. In a 37-26 loss to UF, FSU had 300 yards of total offense, but had four turnovers as well. Before getting on the board with a field goal just before the half, five FSU drives had ended with three turnovers and two three-and-out punts. Then against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game, FSU was shutout in the second half. FSU had 328 yards of total offense in the game, but 222 came in the first half. In the second half FSU had six drives that resulted in three turnovers, and just 106 yards combined.

  • I think most Seminole fans will agree that the North Carolina State game is the biggest disappointment of 2012. FSU led 16-0 at the half, only to lose 17-16. In the second half FSU had seven possessions to combine for zero points, an interception, and just 124 yards total. Chris Thompons got off to a great start in the first half, but looked tired down the stretch. Despite Thompson's fatigue, Fisher chose not to go to the air and let EJ Manuel win the game. With the exception of three-straight passes to end the game, Fisher called 16 run plays compared to 10 pass plays in the second half, including three straight runs while clinging to a 16-10 lead with 2:47 left with the ball on his own 31. The loss took FSU out of the hunt for a national championship and took the wind out of the sails for a large portion of the fan base.

    Top three biggest surprises

  • Since he didn't arrive until the start of fall camp, it was unclear how much Florida State could depend on Menelik Watson in 2012. At 6-foot-6, 320-pounds Watson certainly has the frame of an offensive tackle. Yet Watson had only played one season of football in life, and it was 2011 for Saddleback Community College in California. Watson, a Manchester, England native, originally came to the states to play basketball for Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York but decided to give football a chance. Watson arrived at fall camp and promptly beat out fellow JUCO transfer Dainiel Glauser for the starting right tackle job.

    There was no question that Manuel was more comfortable when Watson was in the game during the season. Against Wake Forest, Glauser started while Watson dealt with a back injury. Manuel was sacked three times in the game. Watson sat out the entire North Carolina State game and Manuel was sacked four times. Despite his limited time playing football, there is no question that Watson was huge part of an offensive line that turned things around from abysmal a year ago, to solid in 2012.

  • With the dismissal of Greg Reid before the season began, sophomore Nick Waisome was thrust into a much bigger role than anyone expected in 2012. After playing solely on special teams as a true freshman Waisome earned the starting field corner job after fall camp. Despite winning the job, there was still a feeling around the program that Waisome was just keeping the seat warm for true freshman Ronald Darby. But Waisome never relinquished the job as he finished the year with 21 tackles, an interception and eight passes defended. Sure Waisome make some mistakes along the way, but it's safe to say he outperformed expectations.

  • After racking up just 160 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman, no one had a breakout season quite like James Wilder Jr. in 2012. The sophomore rushed for 583 yards, and a team-high 11 touchdowns. Wilder averaged 5.9 yards per carry, and also added two touchdown receptions to his rushing totals. Wilder was slowed some in the second half of the season with sore shoulder, but still lead the team with 99 carries. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound back lost just 17 yards all season long. Against Clemson Wilder carried the ball nine times for 65 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was named the ACC Championship Game MVP after rushing for 69 yard and two first-half touchdowns.

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