Florida State Seminoles
Head coach: Jimbo Fisher
2014 Record: 13-1; 8-0 ACC
2014 Bowl: Lost 59-20 to Oregon in Rose Bowl: CFP Semifinal
2015 Returning Starters: 3 offense, 7 defense
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +1800
Odds to win 2015 ACC Title: +200
Regular Season Wins: Over 9 (+100), Under 9 (-130)
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The Florida State Seminoles are without its Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston who declared for the NFL, but filling his void is just one problem amongst many for Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles this season.
The Florida State Seminoles return just three offensive starters from last season’s 13-1 team, and that comes in the form of Jesus Wilson, Roderick Johnson and Freddie Stevenson.
Losing record-setting WR Rashad Greene and TE Nick O’Leary is going to leave two huge voids in the offense. Four seniors were lost on the line, too, and while there is talent left behind it is all unproven and inexperienced.
TB Dalvin Cook rushed for 1,008 yards last year as a freshman, but he may not even be able to play this season. He was suspended July 11 for a pending legal charge for striking a woman outside of a bar.
That really doesn’t help FSU, bluntly. He would have been relied on for a lot of handoffs and now the Seminoles are going to be hoping junior Mario Pender is up for a major increase in role. Freshman Jacques Patrick is also going to factor large. Patrick had 7,900 yards and 103 touchdowns in his high school career and looked good in the spring game.
In the spring game, Patrick saw 16 carries while Pender received 10. That may typify what the Seminoles do at RB this year. It’s largely because after that tandem the talent thins out even more, with no real legitimate running backs to speak of (Jonathan Vickers and Ryan Green, both of whom are not really RBs).
At QB Sean Maguire is one candidate to replace Winston, but that’s a heady task for the junior. He started only one game thus far, under emergency circumstances last Sept. when Winston was suspended (familiar theme here), and he threw for 304 yards in that Seminoles’ OT win over Clemson.
In that contest, Maguire threw 21-of-39, but he was intercepted twice and sacked five times. The OL will be strengthened by two JUCO transfers that sat last season out, and Maguire will have options to hit with passes—should he win the battle at QB…
Everett Golson graduated from Notre Dame in June but enrolled at FSU following that. He was slated to lose his starting role for the Irish, but he may factor into FSU’s future. He started 23 games at Notre Dame and threw 41 TD passes.
Jimbo Fisher said the competition would resolve itself, commenting “I’m not going to make that decision. They are by their performance. It will all sort itself out.”
If the OL can provide adequate protection for whomever it is, the pieces are in place at WR to still have a high powered pass offense, and still to make a strong run at another ACC title. Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane caught for 822 yards between them last season. However, juniors Jesus Wilson and Kermit Whitfield need to be better and more consistent this season. That quartet could be as good as the typically vaunted Seminoles’ receiving corps.
The defense loses two junior starters to the NFL (T Eddie Goldman and E Mario Edwards, Jr.) but the Seminoles have a lot of depth in the defense to replace them. Senior NT Nile Lawrence-Stample will be back after missing most of last season with a chest injury and the Seminoles have experience on the line outside of him.
Florida State had just 17 sacks last season, however, and that is a figure it will look to improve on with better pass rush schemes. Second-year defensive coordinator Charles Kelly is hoping for more from his secondary, too. Jalen Ramsey was an All-American last year at S and this year he’ll make the move to CB. He did so in spring and looked really good at his new position.
Sophomore Trey Marshall will take the “star” nickel back position with safeties Tyler Hunter and Nate Andrews alongside him. The LB core is a little weak, though: Terrance Smith and Reggie Northup are both recovering from injuries but are expected to start. Neither was fantastic in 2014, though, so the Seminoles are relying on a lot of improvement without necessarily great reason to. Northup tore his ACL against Oregon and prior to injury he was an effective stopper of the run.
That’ll be required of him again if he’s good to go. Terrance Smith missed most of spring with turf toe, so he’s going to have to get back in the flow too.
Junior Roberto Aguayo has been superb the last two seasons and punter Carson Beatty was good in 2014. The Seminoles have great coverage units every season, but the kickoff return group must improve after averaging just 20 yards per return in 2014.
The Seminoles had a 29 game win streak prior to its loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl last season. The Seminoles are replacing a lot of talent, but expectations haven’t really fallen off for a program that is expected to be the toast of the ACC. That said, the Seminoles are the favorites at 5dimes to win the ACC, but with the talent turnover and Cook’s legal problems, it’s tough to imagine it all just coming up roses again for the Seminoles.
Prediction: 9 wins