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So How'd We Do? - SOTU Takes A Look Back At Previews and Predictions

Now that the season is over, State Of The U takes a look back at what they thought would happen before the season, and checks to see just how accurate they were.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The off season begins today, Canes fans, and Al Golden is sure to already have the kids working hard on getting better for next year. While the actual on the field football is over, covering the team we love never sleeps. Basketball is just getting started, and recruiting will be hitting stride here shortly. Not to mention the arrival of baseball in a few month's time.

Today, we are going to go back into the archives to dig up the predictions that the guys here at the site had for the 2012 season. We are going to see where we missed, where we were on target, and just how much of it got just plain weird. Let's start off with the position previews that we put together. We didn't predict any stats or anything like that, so there won't be incredibly in-depth analysis here, but we can at least see if we had a good enough eye for the talent to see who stacked up where in the end.

We start off with the quarterbacks with the preview done by aint no lobos. This one was fairly easy to do, since it was completely obvious to anyone that Stephen Morris was going to be the starter, and Ryan Williams was going to be the backup. There really isn't much to see here, except for the question on what kind of year Morris would have behind center. He finished with 245 completions on 421 attempts, which is a percentage of 58.2. While not the best, this is pretty good for his first full season as a starter. The real good work came with the 21 touchdowns compared to just 7 interceptions that he had all season. He tallied 3345 yards total over the course of the season. These are damn good numbers all things considered, and should definitely improve next year with another off season's worth of work.

Next up are the tight ends, who were previewed by rayrayrayrayrayrayrayray. Again, there wasn't much here outside of the debate between Asante Cleveland and Clive Walford as to who would step up to be the better target for Morris. It took about 7 games or so, but Walford stepped up in a huge way towards the end of the season. The work he put in will be a fantastic springboard into next year, when he should be even better than what we saw in the last few games. In his preview, Ray^8 spotlighted Walford as the guy he thought would need to step up more than the others, and he was dead on about that.

Ray^8 is back again with the wide receiver previews, and this one is gonna be interesting. To make this easier, we are going to look at each player previewed one by one. To start with, Phillip Dorsett. In his preview, Ray^8 stated that Dorsett was going to need to do a lot of growing up, and that he could potentially triple his catches and yards totals from 2011. Well, he was correct on that. Dorsett had 58 catches this year compared to 14 in 2011, and his yards ballooned from 147 total to 842 total, not to mention going from 1 touchdown to 4. Dorsett stepped up in a huge, huge way, and although he still had some stumbles and slumps, looks poised to be a great offensive weapon next year. Next is Allen Hurns, whose production actually sort of flat lined this season. He went from 31 catches last year to 28 this year, and his yards and touchdowns were very comparable. Hurns will be back for his senior year more than likely, and will help anchor this corps going forward. One place that Ray^8, and to be fair, everyone else, missed was on Davon Johnson. In his defense, the track record and sample size just wasn't there, so there was no reason to expect a 21 catch, 348 yard season out of the fifth year senior. Johnson failed to find the end zone, but was a first down conversion machine, and a reliable over-the-middle target for Morris. His season ended prematurely with a knee injury, and he will definitely be missed. When it comes to Rashawn Scott, Ray^8 more or less predicted that he would have a breakout year because of his size, speed, and underrated talent. Well, he was dead on. Scott was the teams second leading receiver behind Dorsett, and finished with 35 catches for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns. He will definitely be back next year, and if you haven't figured it out already, the Canes wide receivers will be in amazing shape. Ray also missed a bit on Kendal Thompkins, but not by much. Thompkins upped his stats from 2011 by about threefold, and if you took Ray's bet that he would improve his spring game numbers of 6 catches for 45 yards during the season, you would have won....sort of. He had exactly the same number of catches, but basically doubled the yardage (89) and scored once. Being a senior, this was the last we will see of Thompkins, unless he turns out to be that weird breed of college player who is middling in school by a perfect fit for the NFL. As far as the freshmen are concerned, we won't hold any misses against Ray, since there was no real way of knowing who would step up. He was dead on about Malcolm Lewis, wasn't given a fair shot at Robert Lockhart due to injury, and sort of missed on Herb Waters. Then again, I think all of us missed on Waters. Out of the three, Waters produced the most, although the first two had their season's cut short by injury. Lewis was on track to have a breakout first season, and should be back in a big way next year.

Interesting note, by the way; if you click the link above to the wide receiver post, you'll find a handful of comments by FSU folks more or less bemoaning the wide receiver situation, including one saying that Miami's wide receivers outside of Hurns wouldn't crack FSU's three deep. Well, let's take a look at the total stats as they currently stand, shall we?

Miami: 264 catches, 3545 yards, averaging 13.4 per catch, 23 touchdowns, long of 87

FSU: 246 catches, 3284 yards, averaging 13.4 per catch, 23 touchdowns, long of 77

Now, I'm no expert, but it seems like our wide receivers would fit in nicely with their offense this year, no?

Now we take a look at the running back position. Aint no lobos dropped his preview, and he was correct on most if it, save for Eduardo Clements. Mike James was the number one tailback for the majority of the season, even though his numbers paled in comparison next to Duke Johnson's. James' numbers basically doubled across the board for both rushing and receiving, except for his rushing touchdowns, which actually dropped. However, this is more due to the fact that he was primarily the goal line back last year, with Lamar Miller being the go-to guy. Unfortunately, James is a senior, and out of everyone on this team, he will be missed the most. He is one of the better Canes to come through Coral Gables in a long time, both on and off the field. He does, however, leave the team in the surprisingly capable hands of Duke Johnson. In a way, everyone was wrong about Duke. We all though he would contribute to the team, but good lord did we sell him short. He broke Clinton Portis' freshman rushing record, he won 4 ACC player of the week awards, he is in the running (and should win) the ACC freshman of the year award, and he sent a message to the rest of the conference that he has arrived. This kid is going to be something incredible over the duration of his career, and he started it off in the best possible way. Outside of those two, the teams best rusher was Stephen Morris, which should tell you where the rest of the guys like Dallas Crawford and Clements stand. Danny Dillard should get a lot of reps next year, along with whoever the coaches bring in with the next class.

The offensive line preview was handled by yours truly, and it was a fairly easy one to predict outside of one player. The first four guys I listed, Brandon Linder, Shane McDermott, Jonathan Feliciano, and Malcolm Bunche, all started every game at their respective positions. The only variation came at right tackle, which was mainly due to Seantrel Henderson working his way back on the team, and freshman Ereck Flowers playing in his spot. Henderson was the wildcard on the offensive line this year, and while everyone, including me, had their doubts, he came back strong and proved every single one of us wrong. He got his head on straight, he worked his ass off, and he had his best season as a Cane. The next question surrounding him is whether or not he will return for his senior year. Both Kehoe and Golden have made comments that suggest they expect him to come back, which would be huge. Only time will tell, though, and if he chooses to test the NFL waters, Flowers as a replacement is not at all a bad thing. Of course, I missed on Jermaine Johnson, who left the team a few games in, but based on everything that was being said about him, how was I supposed to know?

On the defensive side, we split up the line into the defensive tackle preview and the defensive end preview. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the defensive line, because in the lead-in to my post I predicted that I wouldn't hold my breath on these guys performing very well this year. Well, I was right. They showed flashes, which I expected, but not much outside of that. Things will get better with new recruits and another year under the coaches, but this year was not good. The defensive ends, however, showed a bit of promise from a few unexpected spots. The Kelvin Cain saga is well known, and finished with him coming back to the team, and actually playing well in his chances. If he sticks around for his senior year, he could actually contribute. Anthony Chickillo is the unquestioned leader of this group, although his numbers were a bit down from his freshman year, even though he led the team in sacks. He should rebound nicely next year, hopefully due to better line play. The true surprise on the line came from Shayon Green, who actually led the team in tackles with 67. He didn't record a sack, but was a disruptive force on the line all year. Freshman Tyriq McCord also opened some eyes, finishing with 15 total tackles, but 3.5 of those were sacks. He played extremely well when he was in the game, and showed an unreal ability to get into the backfield.

When we did these previews, the position that drew the most bated breaths was the linebacker spot. The Canes had a wealth of talent and youth at the position, and also 5th year senior Ramon Buchanon, but it was a muddled mess of who would start. The Golden Era dropped his preview, and it reflected as much. Over the course of the year, however, the LB picture became a bit more clear. Buchanon sadly hurt his knee again, and missed the majority of his last year as a Cane. Denzel Perryman and Eddie Johnson stepped up in a big way, and, assuming EJ gets his mind right, they will prove to be an amazing tandem going forward. Outside of those two, Gabe Terry, Thurston Armbrister, Tyrone Cornelius, Gionni Paul, Jimmy Gaines, and Raphael Kirby all got time on the field, and all of them played well. This position is going to be just fine moving forward, especially if Golden is able to add the recruits he has his eyes on.

The safeties were a bit different. While there was youth there, the big question was whether or not the guys that had been there for a bit would be able to step up and improve. Once again, The Golden Era put down his words, and he was wrong on one big part. He was correct on Vaughn Telemaque not being able to cover as a safety, as he failed to improve in this area. Telemaque was pretty much a disappointment this year, which could not have helped his draft stock. Where TGE missed in his preview was on freshman Deon Bush. He basically had him pegged as a special teams player, and, as we all know, he is so far beyond that. Bush became the best safety the Canes had, and is poised to be one of the better safeties we have seen in a long time. Kacy Rogers and A.J. Highsmith fit in about where TGE thought they would, and Rayshawn Jenkins showed a lot of promise.

That wraps up where we thought the players would be, and, overall we had a pretty good eye. We of course missed on a few guys due to them being unproven, and we will get better (we promise). Next, let's see how the schedule predictions rounded out. We will take a look at three of them: one from me, one from EA Sports' NCAA '13, and one from the guys at Category 6, who of course have since joined us here at SOTU.

Lt. P.N. NCAA '13 Category 6 Actual
Be-Co W W W W
Duke W W W W
Final 7-5 (5-3) 8-4 (5-3) 8-4 (5-3) 7-5 (5-3)

As you can see, we were all pretty damn close, with me being the only one to get the final win/loss total correct. I missed on the UNC and VT games, which is acceptable in my opinion. No one thought that VT would have the horrible year they did, and UNC is always a tough game. NCAA '13 missed on a bunch, which shows you why you should never use video games as a scientific tool. Category 6 missed on UNC, VT, and UVA, which are all acceptable. As far as the poll that I ran in my schedule preview post, the voters were WAY off. Out of 557 total votes, 34% had the Canes going 5-7, 23 % had 6-6, 21% had them going 8-4, and only 11% had it correct at 7-5. The remaining 8% voted for "Who Knows."

Overall, football is becoming easier and easier to try and predict, but of course, there are still numerous variables that just cannot be accounted for. One thing is for certain, though, the Canes will be better next year without a doubt. They lose 17 seniors, and should not lose nearly as much to the draft as they did last year. The talented youth on this team is now a year older and a year more experienced, and that bodes extremely well for these guys. I know that myself and the rest of the guys here at SOTU can't wait to start laying down the predictions for next year.