Florida State football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Seminoles, best players and season prediction.
What You Need to Know About the Florida State Offense
For the second straight year, the Noles will begin the season with a degree of uncertainty behind center. But unlike in 2015, senior Sean Maguire and redshirt freshman Deondre Francois will be working with a very deep and experienced supporting cast. Every offensive starter—and just about every letterwinner—is back from a year ago, so expectations will be justifiably high provided the QB situation gets sorted out.
RB Dalvin Cook will again be the headliner once he returns from offseason shoulder surgery, ripping through defenses as if he’s already NFL-ready. And it’ll certainly help to be running behind OT Roderick Johnson, OG Kareem Are and the balance of one of the country’s deepest front walls. Maguire and Francois will also relish the opportunity to play catch with a collection of budding receivers.
Travis Rudolph is a legit No. 1 and Kermit Whitfield and Bobo Wilson are playmakers. Plus, a pair of sophomores, TE Ryan Izzo and WR Auden Tate, will deepen this year’s options in the passing game. While the offense might not be as potent as it was in 2012 and 2013, the ceiling will be high as long as the unit improves its effectiveness on third downs and in the red zone.
Biggest Key To The Florida State Offense
Big man Tate. There are signs that whoever gets the ball from Jimbo Fisher, Sean Maguire or Deondre Francois, will have more targets with which to connect this season. Travis Rudolph is ready to take his game to another level, and jackrabbits Kermit Whitfield and Bobo Wilson are proven game-breakers.
But the corps of targets grew even deeper this spring with the development of sophomores Ryan Izzo and Auden Tate. Izzo is the rare tight end who’ll contribute as a vertical threat as well as a blocker. The 6-5 Tate, though, really opened eyes with his ability to create mismatches and make acrobatic grabs.
What You Need to Know About the Florida State Defense
The Noles successfully regrouped from a rocky 2014 to allow just 17.5 points per game for coordinator Charles Kelly last year. A continuation of 2015 is being banked on this fall.
Florida State lost some key players, like Jalen Ramsey, Reggie Northrup and Nile Lawrence-Stample. But it also returns a terrific base, fueled by a steady flow of star-studded recruiting classes. Kelly got a big boost when his top pass rusher, DE DeMarcus Walker, elected to return to school for his senior year. And some of last season’s key contributors, like NT Derrick Nnadi and S Derwin James, excelled as underclassmen.
For FSU to match last season’s efforts, it’ll need certain players to step up and fill openings. The staff is counting on former blue-chippers Josh Sweat and Matthew Thomas to take flight at end and linebacker, respectively. However, junior Ro’Derrick Hoskins is showing signs of being the next big stopper from the second level. And the corner job opposite underrated Marquez White, Ramsey’s old boundary spot, is boiling down to a competition between sophomores Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis.
Biggest Key To The Florida State Defense
Ro’Delivers. In the aftermath of the graduations of Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup, the Seminoles need someone to emerge at linebacker. Enter junior Ro’Derrick Hoskins who’s set to fill the void on the second level.
After making 52 stops as a part-time starter in 2015, Hoskins is showing signs of being a linchpin defensive performer. He has good size, 6-2 and 234 pounds, with the range to excel in run defense and in pass coverage. Now, if Matthew Thomas can put it all together, too, the Noles will be set at linebacker.
Florida State Will Be Much Better If …
It markedly improves in short-yardage situations. Considering Dalvin Cook is the feature back and the O-line is big, experienced and talented, it’s rather shocking that the Seminoles ranked 78% nationally in third-down conversions and 89th in red-zone touchdown efficiency. On third downs, the team inexcusably averaged .30 yards per carry, a sign that the blockers failed to generate a push when it obvious what play was being called.
Best Offensive Player
RB Dalvin Cook, Jr. – For the second time in his Seminole career, Cook underwent shoulder surgery in April. It’s always a concern, sure, but he ought to be fine long before the start of the season. Cook is one of America’s dominant backs, a decisive north-south navigator who’ll pop big plays by hitting the hole and powering through tacklers. In 2015, he was one of just two backs nationally who averaged more than seven yards on at least 200 carries. Cook is the complete package, and he’ll be running behind a line that returns intact from a year ago.
Best Defensive Player
S Derwin James, Soph. – Jalen Ramsey. Ronald Darby. P.J. Williams. Lamarcus Joyner. Terrence Brooks. Xavier Rhodes. James is the latest in the seemingly endless line of elite Florida State defensive backs. And he’s just getting starting in his evolution. James was even better than the hype in his debut season in Tallahassee, ranking second on the team in tackles. And with another full offseason of practice and conditioning, he’s about to vie for national notoriety in just his second year out of high school.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Sean Maguire, Sr. – As Maguire sat out the spring to recover from ankle surgery, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois rose above the rest of the contenders. The two will go head-to-head this summer. And while both could see the field in the fall, it’d be more ideal if the veteran with starting experience emerges as a senior leader.
Maguire had ups-and-downs as a five-game starter in 2015, including a four-pick effort in the Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Houston. FSU is going to need more consistency from the position to recapture the ACC and compete for a playoff berth.
The Florida StateSeason Will Be a Success If …
The Seminoles get back to winning titles. The bar in Tallahassee will never be lower than winning an ACC championship and competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Too much talent. Too much momentum from recent years. Plus, the 2016 edition is littered with returning veterans, particularly on offense, and the annual showdown with Clemson will take place on home soil. Anything less than a fourth league title in the last five years will go down as a disappointment for Florida State.
Oct. 29 vs. Clemson. – The victor of the last five meetings between the Tigers and the Noles has gone on to capture the ACC crown. And based on returning talent alone, both on the grass and on the sidelines, it would surprise no one if that streak rises to six this December.
Clemson and Florida State are the conference’s two premier programs, perennially churning out all-stars and high NFL Draft picks. This season’s consequential matchup will take place at Doak Campbell Stadium, where the Seminoles have not dropped a game in more than three years.
2015 Florida State Fun Stats
– Rushing Touchdowns: Florida State 27 – Opponents 10
– Second-half scoring: Florida State 229 – Opponents 109
– Sacks: Florida State 32 – Opponents 26
Florida State Football Prediction For 2016
What’s going to happen to Florida State football this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …