FSU -- Why the hype?

It's a fair question, and one I've been asked a lot lately: Why the hype over FSU? The Seminoles' defense was one of the worst in the country last year. FSU allowed 30 or more points five times in 2009.

True. Florida State's defense has a lot to prove, and it remains a question and the big reason for doubt. But when you're one of the worst, the only way to go is up. Here are three reasons why Florida State should be considered one of the top 25 teams in the country heading into the 2010 season:

  • Quarterback Christian Ponder has Heisman Trophy potential. Prior to his shoulder injury last year, he ranked among the country's best in passing yards per game and pass efficiency. He missed the final three games of the regular season and the bowl game, but finished with 2,717 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes. He'll be protected by an offensive line that returns all five starters, and surrounded by an experienced supporting cast.

  • New coach, new attitude. There is no longer the uncertainty about where the program is headed, no more wondering about Bobby Bowden's future. FSU football is in Jimbo Fisher's hands, and he's done everything he could so far in recruiting, hiring and marketing to convince fans, boosters and outsiders that he has things headed in the right direction. Having the staff on the same page can go a long way.

  • New faces on defense means a new defense. Mark Stoops was a promising hire as defensive coordinator, but he's not the only one who can give that side of the ball a boost. And no, the Noles don't have to depend on true freshmen for help. Redshirt sophomore DT Anthony McCloud (juco), redshirt freshman CB Xavier Rhodes, and redshirt freshman DE Dan Hicks are among the top newcomers to watch. But there are also outstanding recruits capable of contributing immediately if need be in freshmen linebackers Jeff Luc and Christian Jones, and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.