2014 Florida State Seminoles Team Preview
Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
2013 record: 14-0 overall, 8-0 ACC Atlantic
2013 Bowl result: Beat Auburn 34-31 in BCS Championship Game
2014 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense
Odds to Win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 11/2
Odds to Win 2014 ACC Championship Game: 4/11
Odds to Win 2014 ACC Atlantic Division: 1/6
Regular Season Wins: under 11.5 -125 / over 11.5 -105
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Last season, Florida State won their third national title and first since 1999 with an undefeated season on the strength of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
The Seminoles had a dominating regular season. They beat Boston College 48-24 but every other win was by 28 points or more. FSU crushed Duke 45-7 in the ACC Championship game to advance to the BCS Championship game. Auburn took a 21-10 lead into halftime of that game and led 21-13 going into the fourth quarter. The Seminoles found themselves down 31-27 with 1:19 left in the game. Winston led the Seminoles on a drive and threw the game winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left to give FSU the last BCS Championship before the new four team playoff starts this season.
With 13 starters back, including Winston the Seminoles are a heavy favorite to win the ACC Championship and are among the favorites to make the playoffs under head coach Jimbo Fisher
Florida State was #6 in total offense at 519 yards per game including 316 passing yards and 203 rushing yards per game. The Seminoles were second in scoring at 52 points per game behind only Baylor. Fisher is his own offensive coordinator.
There is no question Winston is very talented and is arguably the best quarterback in college football. However, some troubling off the field incidents have cast a shadow over his considerable talents. Everyone heard about the sexual assault allegations that put his playing status in doubt last season. In the spring, Winston was suspended from his role on the Seminole baseball team as the closer for a couple of games after he was charged with theft of some crab legs at a Tallahassee supermarket. Fisher has not mentioned any punishment for Winston on the football team. Winston completed 66.7% of his passes for 4,057 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with 219 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. His back-up last season Jacob Coker has transferred to Alabama. Sophomore Sean Maguire will take over as the back-up in case something happens to Winston.
The Seminoles must replace leading rusher Devonta Freeman who had 173 carries for 1,016 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown. Freeman is now with the Atlanta Falcons. Florida State must also replace James Wilder, Jr. now with the Cincinnati Bengals. Wilder rushed for 563 yards and 8 touchdowns. Former defensive back Karlos Williams will be the feature back, after rushing for 730 yards on 91 carries with 11 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Mario Pender, Ryan Green, and true freshman Dalvin Cook will also get a lot of carries. Green had both a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown last season.
Leading receiver Rashad Greene is back after making 76 catches for 1,128 yards and 9 touchdowns. Florida State must replace receivers Kelvin Benjamin (54 catches, 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Kenny Shaw (54 catches, 933 yards and 6 touchdowns). Benjamin is with the Carolina Panthers and Shaw is with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Senior tight end Nick O’Leary (grandson of golf legend Jack Nicklaus) returns after making 33 catches for 557 yards and 7 touchdowns.
All five starters will be seniors on the offensive line, including Cameron Erving and Tre’ Jackson. Even center Austin Barron has started games in the past even though he wasn’t the official starter last year.
Florida State was #3 in total defense allowing just 281 yards per game last season. The Seminoles led the nation in scoring defense allowing just 12 points a game. Six starters return for defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.
Florida State must replace 5 of their 6 top tacklers from last year. The line must replace tackle Timmy Jernigan. Defensive end Mario Edwards does return and is a potential All-American.
Telvin Smith is gone at linebacker. The only returning starter in the linebackers is junior Terrance Smith.
The secondary should be the strength of the defense, despite losing two starters including All-American Lamarcus Joyner. Sophomore Jalen Ramsey can play either corner or safety and is a star.
Sophomore Roberto Aguayo won the Lou Groza award given to the nation’s top kicker. He made all 94 extra points and 21 of 22 field goals. Punter Cason Beatty struggled at times last year and might have to compete to keep his job in fall came. Levonte Whitfield will again return kicks and punts. He had a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Auburn in the BCS Championship game.
Florida State opens against Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas. The Seminoles also host the Citadel, Notre Dame and Florida in non-conference play. In ACC play, FSU hosts Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia and Boston College. The Seminoles travel to North Carolina State, Syracuse, Louisville and Miami. The schedule is tough but manageable. They should be favored in every game but trips to Louisville and Miami will be a challenge. I like Florida state to run the table and make the four team playoff.
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