Teams & Conferences

Florida State Preview 2016: Take The ACC Back

Florida State’s football outlook for the 2016 season. The Seminoles had a down year, but now there’s only one defined goal – get back on top of the ACC.

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Florida State has a defined goal in 2016—get back on top of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Seminoles were down by their usual standards in 2015, a three-loss campaign that the program is determined this offseason to make sure was a mere pause in the climb back up the conference mountain.

FSU has been dominant under Jimbo Fisher, winning 68 games, three conference crowns and a national championship in six years. However, last season was the program’s worst since 2011, capped by a 4-3 finish and a lackluster Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Houston. And that uncharacteristic seven-game stretch is fueling the entire squad this offseason.

The Noles are motivated, from Fisher to the walk-ons who can only hope to get on the field during blowouts. And they’ve got an ample supply of returning talent to parlay that motivation into a run for hardware, playoff contention and, well, redemption.

The offense brings back virtually everyone. Like, literally everyone who started the bowl game. Still, while RB Dalvin Cook and WR Travis Rudolph are skill position bosses, and the veteran line expects to dominate, the quarterback position is a bit of a post-spring question mark.

Can the incumbent, senior Sean Maguire, perform like a bona fide leading man behind center? For that matter, can he hold off redshirt freshman Deondre Francois this summer?

Defense ought to be a case of new year, new stars on the horizons. The Seminoles will be a stingy amalgam of proven players, like DE DeMarcus Walker, NT Derrick Nnadi and S Derwin James, and risers, such as DE Josh Sweat, LB Ro’Derrick Hoskins and CB Marquez White.

The D is loaded and primed for another terrific season, though it’s worth noting that both sides of the ball are going to miss the hidden yards and points that were provided in recent years by P Cason Beatty and PK Roberto Aguayo. The Noles are on the prowl for new specialists, which could include Aguayo’s younger brother, Ricky.

Florida State did the runner-up thing in 2015, and didn’t care much for it. Fisher wants his team to play with the hunger that existed before the national title three years ago, but that’s not the kind of thing that’s easily manufactured.

The Noles evidently harbor the requisite talent to dethrone Clemson and contend for a playoff berth. Now, they’ve got to go out and execute from wire-to-wire, beginning with a delicious opener in Orlando with Ole Miss.