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2015 Fierce 40 Previews: #10 Florida State

by DJ Boyer on Sep. 8, 2015

#10 Florida State Seminoles

2014 Recap:

Only one blemish on the Florida State record at 13-1, but the loss was a big one. Florida State was demolished by Oregon 59-20 in the Rose Bowl (AKA College Football Playoff semi-final). This was the only loss with Jameis Winston at quarterback during his two year run at Florida State. The bar has been set so high at Florida State that anything other than an ACC title would be considered a disappointing year.

Coaching:

Jimbo Fisher has done a remarkable job after replacing the legendary Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Fisher has only 11 losses during his five year stay in Tallahassee to go with 58 wins and a National Title. Randy Sanders and Lawrence Dawsey are the co-offensive coordinators. The offense ranked a respectable 35th overall last season and was 33rd in scoring at 33.7 PPG. The defense ranked a low 61st overall and 49 in scoring at 25.6 PPG. The defense will be led by Charles Kelly. Kelly was new in his role a season ago, and we will see if the Seminoles can improve with Kelly at the helm for a second stint.

 

Offensive Analysis

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

It was bad enough for the Seminoles to have to think about how they would proceed after watching Heisman-winning redshirt sophomore Jameis Winston move on, they were almost left without an even more important part of the offense. A piece of the offense more important than Winston? I know it sounds crazy but freshman running back Dalvin Cook simply became “the man” going down the stretch for Florida State. Cook became the starter about midway through the season supplanting Karlos Williams and responded with 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns. Cook was a little loose with the football and suffered a few key fumbles, but he is a hard runner and he is a little bigger than what you might think watching him run. Cook nearly had to watch this season from the sidelines after an off the field incident came to light where Cook was accused of assaulting a female at a bar. Cook was just found “not guilty” of battery, and he is cleared to play the upcoming season free of penalty or sanction from the NCAA and school. Cook will be the focus of the offense even though it seems like Notre Dame graduate

Everett Golson will win the job as the starting quarterback over Sean Maguire. Golson has a year of eligibility and since he has graduated he is immediately eligible to play. A number of teams clamored for Golson looking for his services, but he decided upon Florida State and was brought aboard. Macguire struggled in his lone start last season against Clemson, and he has not looked sharp when spelling Winston in games last season.

Best Draft Prospect: Dalvin Cook RB 3rd Round 2017 (if he declares, part of the 2018 draft class).

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Gone are the two most reliable receivers from years past in wide receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’ Leary. Greene caught a remarkable 99 passes last season with O’ Leary second with 48. Travis Rudolph had an impressive freshman campaign, and his 38-555-4 gave fans a glimpse of what he can become when given the chance to be a full-time starter. Jesus Wilson is a smaller target but looks to be more like a reliable third down option. His 42 receptions last season ranked third on the Seminoles.

To think the receiving options stop here is just foolish, as players like George Campbell, Ermon Lane and Ja’Vonn Harrison are waiting in the wings and there are another 2-3 capable receivers behind them on the depth chart. Freshman Ryan Izzo will look to take the spot vacated by Nick O’Leary and the redshirt freshman has had time to work in this offense and is ready for the field. This is a very deep and fast unit.

Best Draft Prospect: Travis Rudolph WR 2nd Round 2017 (if he declares, part of the 2018 draft class).

 

Offensive Line:

Roderick Johnson is the lone returning starter as he became a fixture down the stretch for the Seminoles a season ago. Florida State has reached into the junior college ranks for a few prospects that will be a little more seasoned after losing five offensive lineman to the NFL. Left guard Kareem Are is a mammoth at 340 pounds and was the #1 ranked JUCO guard in the nation. Are has the size to move over to tackle, which he may do from time to time, but guard is where the Seminoles want him to start.

Chad Mavety will be the right tackle, and he comes to the Seminoles via Nassau Community College in New York. Mavety was the 32nd ranked offensive tackle in the JUCO ranks and a Top 10 JUCO player overall. Wilson Bell and Alec Eberle round out the starting lineup with Cody Martinez figuring to see a lot of minutes at guard and possibly even at center. This will once again be one of the best lines in the conference if not the nation , despite having only one starter back.

Best Draft Prospect: Roderick Johnson OT 2nd Round 2018.

 

Defensive Analysis

Defensive Line:

A few faces from the defensive line are gone, but Florida State never has a problem reloading along the defensive line. DeMarcus Walker now looks like the best prospect the Seminoles have up front, but it would likely come as a linebacker unless he bulks up considerable from his current 228 playing weight. Walker had six tackles for loss and 38 total with one sack in limited action last year. Nile Lawrence-Stample now gets his chance full time in the middle after the departure of Eddie Goldman. Stample at over 320 pounds is one of the most agile lineman the Seminoles have, and he will play outside of Derrick Mitchell who goes 305 himself.

We should be prepared to see more of Derrick Nnadi another tackle/end type that is lightning fast off the snap. There are just too many good prospects here to mention along the defensive line where the Seminoles can throw nearly any combination of players they want at an oppossing offense.

Best Draft Prospect: DeMarcus Walker DE/LB 4th Round 2017.

 

Linebackers:

Reggie Norrthrup led the Seminoles with 122 tackles last season, but he does not make the type of impact that Terrance Smith can make. Smith was hobbled by separate knee and ankle injuries a year ago, but he played through it. Had Smith been healthy, there is no doubt in our mind that Smith would have had better numbers and likely would have left for the NFL after his junior season. The Seminoles win here, as they have a healthy Smith as a senior to play with Northrup in the 4-2-5 alignment that Florida State will utilize about 60% of the time. Even hampered by injuries Smith registered 87 tackles with 4.5 for loss and a pair of interceptions. Smith is the type of linebacker you can drop back and disguise in coverage, as he moves like a strong safety. Ro'Derrick Hoskins and Tyrell Lyons will be the primary backups.

Best Draft Prospect: Terrance Smith LB 2nd Round 2016.

 

Secondary:

Both starting cornerbacks from last season were lost to the draft in P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, and you would think that would cause a hole for the defense. Instead the Seminoles have a secondary that is loaded and likely the deepest area they have on defense. Jalen Ramsey has bounced back and forth between cornerback and safety and it looks like with these losses cornerback will be where he starts the season. Marquez White starts at the other cornerback position after primarily contributing on special teams a season ago.

Trey Marshall plays the rover or "star" position but we expect Tyler Hunter to see time here and at strong safety as he bounces around the secondary. Hunter was the unsung hero of the secondary a season ago with 65 tackles and seven pass breakups and eight passes defensed. Nate Andrews is just behind Jalen Ramsey for best prospect on this team, but like Ramsey he could leave a season early and make himself eligible for the 2016 draft. There is so much talent all over this defense it makes you wonder why the Seminoles aren't ranked in the top 10 in every major defensive statistical category.

Best Draft Prospect: Jalen Ramsey CB/S 2nd Round 2016 (if he declares, part of the 2017 draft class).

 

Special Teams

 

If you were reading ahead and saw the “Best Draft Prospect” section, you can see we state there is a chance that Roberto Aguayo declares at kicker after his junior season. It is possible because he is worlds ahead of any other prospect at the position at the NCAA level and is the best kicker by far. Aguayo has the leg and accuracy, as he is 48-52 in his two seasons as the Florida State kicker.

Cason Beatty has the leg at punter, but the consistency and hang time are not displayed as often as they should. Kermit Whitfield is still here to return kickoffs and is one of the fastest players at the college level. Jesus Wilson will likely take over the punt return duties from the departed Rashad Greene.

Best Draft Prospect: Roberto Aguayo K 5th Round 2016 (if he declares, part of the 2017 draft class).

 

2015 Schedule

 

Florida State could find themselves back in the College Football Playoff, and it may have more to do with their schedule then sheer talent. This has to be one of the easiest schedules the Seminoles have had in years with October 24th and November 7th road games against Georgia Tech and Clemson looking like the largest obstacles. This team won't have Jameis Winston to lead them back after falling behind, something they did often last year. If Florida State gets behind early with regularity like last season they will have more than one loss this season.

 

Draft Prospects & Outlook

 

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know why Florida State places more players at the next level than any other school. The recruits this team gets winning the recruiting war in the state of Florida is obscene. Now the National success has led Florida State to get more recruits from other areas of the country. It's hard to say just who the best prospect on this team is. My money is on Terrance Smith as far as draft positioning if he stays healthy with Roderick Johnson showing all the tools to be a dominant left tackle in a few years.

 

DJ Boyer