2015 Florida State Seminoles Football Preview
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher – (6th year at FSU and 6th year overall – 58-11 overall, 34-6 ACC)
2014 Record: 13-1 overall, 8-0 ACC
Bowl Result: Rose Bowl (CFB Playoff Semifinal): 1/1/15- Oregon 59 Florida State 20
Over the last few years, Florida State’s signing classes have been among the best in the nation. Now, it is time for the talent that Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles’ staff have stockpiled to step up while attempting to continue the program’s recent run of domination.
FSU, which saw its nation’s best 29-game win streak come to an end with its 59-20 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl and College Football Playoff Semis, returns just 10 of 22 starters overall and just three on the offensive side of the ball.
The biggest loss or at least the most high-profile one is that of Jameis Winston. The talented, but often controversial quarterback—as most people expected him to—decided to declare for the NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season.
Winston, who was 27-1 as the Seminoles’ starting signal-caller and is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, threw for just over 3,900 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. However, he was more mistake prone than during FSU’s title run in 2013, as he was picked off 18 times.
In addition to Winston, the Noles will be without their top two pass catchers from ’14 as wide receiver Rashad Greene (99-1,365-7) and tight end Nick O’Leary (48-618-6) have exited the program along with four starters along the offensive line.
Entering spring ball, Sean Maguire—Winston’s back-up who started the Clemson game last season—appeared to be the successor. However, Maguire’s competition for the job increased significantly when former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson decided late this spring to play his fifth and final season for FSU.
Golson, who led Notre Dame to the BCS National Title Game in 2012, was 17-6 as a starter for the Fighting Irish. The dual threat completed nearly 60 percent of his passes 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns (20 INT) while also running for 581 yards and 14 scores.
If the rebuilt offensive line can provide time for Winston’s successor to throw and create running lanes, the Noles certainly aren’t lacking playmakers at running back or receiver.
Dalvin Cook, who ran for 1,008 yards (5.9 ypc) and eight scores as a freshman, returns to carry the load at running back.
With an offense that probably won’t be as potent as a year ago, the Seminoles need to show improvement on the defensive side of the ball—particularly stopping the run and getting pressure on the passer. FSU allowed 170 yards per game on the ground and produced just 17 sacks in ’14.
The defensive line—which will be without Eddie Goldman and end Mario Edwards, Jr. who declared for the draft after their junior seasons—should be a strength as two starters return and a host of others with a lot of snaps under their belts return.
Seniors Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith, who were first and third on the team in tackles last year, return at linebacker. However, Northrup is coming off an ACL injury against Oregon and Smith has a history of battling injuries so keep an eye on the position.
On the back end, juniors Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey highlight the unit. Andrews, who was second on the team in tackles (93), led the team with three interceptions. Ramsey earned All-American honors for his play at nickel back after totaling the second most tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (3.0) on the team. However, he will man the boundary corner spot this year.
The kicking game should be solid as junior place kicker Robert Aguayo and senior punter Cason Beatty are back. Aguayo, who was 27-of-30 on field goals, was 18-of-18 inside 40 yards and 3-for-4 from 50-plus. Beatty forced 22 fair catches on 48 punts and pinned the opposition inside its own 20 on 15 occasions.
Last season, the Seminoles won seven games by six points or less and there were other games such as NC State and Louisville where they had to rally from two-plus scores down. This year, their ability to dig themselves out of those holes and margin for error may not be as great with several new pieces.
Don’t be surprised to see FSU contend for a third straight title, as the talent is certainly in the program. However, it would also not be shocking to see them lose three or four regular season games with some of the question marks that exist.
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