The Florida State Seminoles come into the season as the No. 3 team in the College Football News rankings. Here are five things that matter heading into the Seminoles’ 2016 season.
Party like it’s 2013
You know how recruiting types like to see if a big season leads to a big payoff a few years later? That appears to be happening at Florida State, where the national championship season of 2013 is about to pay dividends with a fully-loaded Seminole squad three years later.
Of course, Florida State didn’t need much time to crank the talent back up when it lost all the key parts on defense, and now the depth is there across the board to go along with the developed veterans.
The other big key for that FSU team? The emergence of Jameis. The Noles have to catch lightning in a bottle again with …
America, meet Deondre
No one’s expecting rookie quarterback Deondre Francois to be a Heisman winner right out of the gate like Jameis Winston turned out to be, but he’s a superstar talent who just needs a little bit of time to realize his potential. He won’t get a running start into the season, with Ole Miss up first, but if he can be the big play star everyone expects him to be early on, everything else is in place for the Noles to be College Football Playoff good again.
The offensive talent is incredible
Replace Francois with Deshaun Watson, and Florida State would be the slam-dunk, no-questions-asked No. 1 team – and it might just be that if Francois is at least okay.
Dalvin Cook is a special running back working behind a terrific line led by NFL-caliber Roderick Johnson at left tackle. Francois’ job will be made easy with Travis Rudolph and a tremendous receiving corps stretching the field.
The defense isn’t all that bad, either
This is where the tremendous recruiting classes are really going to pay off. It’s going to take a few unproven players to shine in key roles, needing a few of the five-star prospects to live up to their billing, but there’s little concern. As long as the linebacking corps is okay right away, the rest of the defense will do its job. All the FSU defense has to do is hold serve a few times while the offense blows up – it’ll do more than that.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
This isn’t the 2013 team. That squad had a nasty attitude from the start, and Winston turned into one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all-time. That doesn’t mean these Noles won’t be fantastic, but they’ll lose a heartbreaker at Louisville to open up the ACC season, and they’ll get stunned by a jacked up Miami a few weeks later.
They’ll roll the rest of the way, winning the final six games including the Clemson showdown, but it won’t be enough to win the ACC title and get into the CFP. A 10-2 record is a success for just about any team, but this one has national title talent that won’t get the job done.