The Florida State Seminoles 2013 College Football Preview
2012 Record: 12-2; ACC 7-1
Doak Campbell Stadium
Introduction: The Florida State Seminoles are coming off its first ACC title since 2005, beating Georgia Tech, 21-15. Coach Jimbo Fisher is coming off a 12-win season and returns 6 starters on offense, and 4 on defense. The 2012 Florida State defense was sixth in the nation allowing 14.7 points per game, while the offense averaged 39.3 points, 206 yards rushing and 265 yards passing last season. The Seminoles schedule has two tough road games, at Clemson and Florida. Fisher has recruited well and the ACC Atlantic title will probably be decided with a road trip to Clemson on October 19th, as the Seminoles avoid Virginia Tech and UNC from the Coast division this year.
Offense: EJ Manual led Florida State to a victory over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl last season, but he has now moved on to the NFL. The Seminoles held an open competition at quarterback during the spring, and the winner appears to be redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Coach Fisher has not confirmed that Winston will start yet, but all signs point the freshman getting the nod. Winston was so impressive during spring practices that Clint Trickett, who entered the spring as the top quarterback, announced he was transferring just four days after Florida State’s spring game. Winston, who was rated by many the nation’s #1 quarterback coming out of Alabama, will have to fight off competition from sophomore Jacob Coker and redshirt freshman Sean Maguire. Florida State returns two junior running backs with starting experience. Devonta Freeman finished with 660 yards and 8 touchdowns last season, while James Wilder Jr. had 635 yards and 11 touchdowns. The wide receiver group is deep and talented, led by junior Rashad Greene. Green has great breakaway speed and led the Seminoles in receptions (57) and yards (741) last season. Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin all caught at least 27 passes last season. The Seminoles are solid up front on the line, with four starters returning and the lone new starter, Bobby Hart, who has plenty of experience. Florida State is not deep on the line, so overcoming injuries may be a problem.
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Defense: The Florida State defense has lost several key players from last year’s #2 total defense including All-American DE Bjoern Werner and defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to Kentucky. The new DC is 37-year old Jeremy Pruitt, who was Alabama’s defensive backs coach for the last two years for Nick Saban. Pruitt is known for being a great recruiter in the Deep South region, but has limited coaching experience. The defensive line needs work, but the linebacker corps and secondary have a great deal of talent. DT Timmy Jernigan should not be taken lightly this season. Jernigan uses his strength and quickness to be a major disruptive force on the interior of the Seminoles’ defensive front line. CB Lamarcus Joyner is an elite athlete who can cover well in space, is a big hitter despite his size, and will most likely be used in blitz packages this season.
Special Teams: Redshirt freshman placekicker Roberto Aguayo could be even better than departing All-American Dustin Hopkins. Punter Cason Beatty returns from a solid freshman season. The Seminoles will need to make improvements in the return game this season, as Florida State struggled with fumbles last year.
Final Analysis: This has not been the easiest offseason for Coach Fisher, who not only lost a slew of starters; he also lost six of his nine assistant coaches to other schools. Despite the turnover, Florida State has one of the most talented squads in the country. Florida State will have success offensively if QB Winston can handle the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman and the Seminoles can avoid injuries on the offensive line. The defense should be strong again this year and I think the Seminoles have a good chance of winning 10 games for the third time in Fisher’s first four seasons. Assuming Florida State doesn’t have any devastating injuries; the Seminoles should win the ACC Atlantic division and find themselves back in the ACC Championship game.