Okay, that last one is about as realistic as Coach Coley switching to decaf. Guys are just not going to be as geeked up to play Virginia as they are to suit up against Miami in a nationally televised spectacle. What they must do, though, is progress emotionally beyond those Jekyll and Hyde mood swings that were so puzzling last year.
Take the Jacksonville State game -- please. (Yeah, it turns our stomachs a little, too, just to bring it up.) And don't blame the rain for that atrocity. Not when you score the go-ahead TD with 35 seconds left against a I-AA opponent.
It was a stinker that had Seminole fans ready to turn Mormon if it meant there was any hope of having a chance against BYU the following week. So what does the team that looked like the Keystone Kops against Jax State do? Drop-kicks the heavily favored Cougars all over Provo, ending their 18-game home win streak.
So now the Noles had found their mojo, right? Or so we all thought. USF came to Doak and, though the score wasn't as lopsided, embarrassed FSU as much as the Noles had humbled BYU a week earlier.
What the hell happened to the offense that rang up 54 points against the (then ranked) no. 7 team in the country!? It didn't show up in Boston, either, as FSU sleepwalked through nearly three quarters in losing to B.C.
Later in the season the cruise control attitude struck again. After thoroughly exorcising the curse of the Demon Deacons at Wake -- with a near-flawless performance by Manuel making his debut -- the Noles practically gift-wrapped a W to Maryland. As ugly wins go, this one was Medusa on her all-time worst bad hair day.
So, yeah. Consistency. It's a concept we trust has been preached and will continue to echo as a goal and measure of the team's success.
The coaching staff will need to find creative ways to keep the motivation cranked from late August to early January. (It helps that coaches are all on the same page this year.) Beyond Samford, there are zero cupcakes in the 2010 murderer's row. Even Virginia won't resemble the conference doormats they sunk to in recent years. New Coach Mike London is already beginning to do for the Cavs what David Cutcliffe did at Duke -- build a program that can challenge, if not beat, anybody in the conference.Chances are the Noles won't win 'em all. Not this season. But if they can bring their A game when it really counts and a B game in between -- unlike last year -- they'll know what it takes to contend for the Top Ten again.