Opening kickoff is just over two weeks away, and as we count down, let's analyze Boston College's opponents. Today we examine the Florida State Seminoles, a team that went undefeated last year on their way to a National Title.
The Florida State 2013 Season In Review
There wasn't much to be upset about last season if you were a Seminoles fan. They went undefeated, they beat teams by an average of 39.5 points, and their quarterback won the Heisman Trophy. They marched through their ACC schedule, dismantling Syracuse 59-3, Maryland 63-0, and Clemson 51-14. And those were just some of the bowl eligible teams. It took a few years but the old Seminoles are back, a team explosive on both the offensive side and defensive side of the ball. The scary part of this team is that there is still a ton of talent returning to the Seminoles, again on both sides of the ball. The only negatives that have come from Florida State would be the loss of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia, and the crab fiasco with Jameis Winston. Other than that, this team looks primed to contend for a second straight national championship.
The Florida State Offense
If you are looking for an indepth breakdown on how the Florida State works, definitely check out Football Study Hall's indepth analysis on last year's game films. They really break down the importance of the FSU offensive line, Nick O'Leary and how Jameis Winston's arm strength makes this offense unstoppable. Out of respect for not making this post 4,000 words long, I'll just link it here. It is definitely worth a read.
First I want to get into the key to the FSU offense, which you may think is Jameis Winston. It is not. It's their offensive line, which has to be one of, if not the best in the country. When you are talking talent the first name that has to come up is Cameron Erving, the starting left tackle for the 'Noles. He was an All American last season, and is the prototypical NFL tackle. Without a doubt he is going to be a 1st rounder next year in the draft. Go to the other side of the line and you have Tre Jackson, a 6'4 339 pound guard, who went all ACC last year and could be an All American this season. At center FSU is going to have to replace Bryon Stork (114 starts) who went off to the NFL, but look to replace him with senior Austin Barron. The line fills out with last year's starter Josue Matias (331 pounds) and tackle Bobby Hart. That is one massive and talented offensive line, that has depth to it too, with three four star true freshmen waiting in the wings.
Of course you can't talk about the FSU offense without bringing up Jameis Winston. BC fans saw up close what he can bring to the table last year when he made that unbelievable Hail Mary pass to give FSU the lead going into half time. What else needs to be said about him that hasn't already been said? He is effective, rarely makes a mistake (only threw 10 interceptions in 384 attempts last year), and can move the ball with his feet if needed.
In terms of the wide receivers, FSU lost Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin to the NFL, but still have a solid group of wide receivers to take their place. Rashad Greene is an All-ACC caliber wide receiver, who finished last season with 76 catches for 1168 yards. According to Bill Connelly he was Jameis Winston's most targeted wide receiver in 2013. Along with Greene, FSU rolls out Christian Green a senior that finished last season with 13 catches. But it's the youth that should be stepping up, they have two 5* wide receivers coming in that could see immediate playing time in Ermon Lane, and Travis Rudolph along with sophomores Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson. Tight end Nick O'Leary is also a target, but his real talent is his blocking abilities.
FSU is going to need to replace two of their top three running backs from 2013 with the departures of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. But just like basically every other position, FSU has talent there as well, starting with running back Karlos Williams. The senior led the Noles last year in yards per carry with 8.0, and finished second in touchdowns with 11. Behind Williams, FSU has a stable of talented backs including sophomore Ryan Green (who saw limited playing time last year) and true freshman 5* Dalvin Cook and 4* Mario Pender.
The Florida State Defense
As I mentioned before, FSU's biggest loss from 2013 might be the loss of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Before his departure he had the Noles defense clicking. Charles Kelly, last year's linebacker coach will take over the defensive coordinator duties.
On the defensive line, the name Eagles fans are going to want to watch out for is Mario Edwards Jr. The All-ACC junior finished last season with 9.5 tackles for losses, and 3.5 sacks. He is a name that could go from being a good player to being a household name pretty quickly. On the other side, look for Chris Casher, a sophomore who showed last season that he can be an every down lineman right away finishing his freshman year with 20 tackles. Playing in the 4-3 defense, FSU sets out two defensive tackles, and those most likely will be junior Eddie Goldman, and Nile Lawrence-Stample. FSU also has a boat load of talented freshmen that could find themselves playing if injuries occur, including 4*'s DeMarcus Christmas, Rick Leonard, Derrick Nnadi along with redshirt freshman Keith Bryant and junior Giorgio Newberry.
In terms of the linebackers, FSU is going to have to replace two solid contributors in Christian Jones and Telvin Smith. Look for Terrance Smith to be the starter at the MIKE, the sophomore played in 13 games last season compiling 46.5 tackles for the Noles. Junior Reggie Northrup will be the WILL linebacker for the Noles, he saw some playing time last year as well. Finally the SAM linebacker most likely will be Ukeme Eligwe, a sophomore. They Noles also have some young talent that they can fill in as well with 5* Matt Thomas, along with 4*'s Delvin Purifoy, Jacob Pugh, and Kain Daub.
The secondary also lost two major pieces with Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks moving on. But FSU still has a ton of talented players ready to step up. Easily the most talented of those would be corner back P.J. Williams. The All-ACC player had 7 pass break ups and three interceptions last year and could be one of the top corners in the country. Jalen Ramsey, a leader on defense will be the strong safety, you may have heard about him recently as the player who was kicked out of practice after an argument with the coaching staff (but he's back now). Rounding out the corners will be Ronald Darby, and at safety Nate Andrews.
Where BC Should Be Successful
Florida State showed few weaknesses at any point last year, but BC was able to hang with them for most of their game at Chestnut Hill. On offense they tried to keep the Noles guessing with a steady stream of running the ball and play action passes. BC is going to need to control the clock if they want to have any chance of winning this game. Keep Jameis Winston on the sidelines. But it's a delicate balance they will have to play, because if BC gets one dimensional the Noles are going to key in and stuff them. The passing attack will have to happen to some extent just to keep the Noles honest.
Where BC May Struggle
No matter what he's done outside the gridiron, Jameis Winston has shown that he is a very gifted and smart quarterback on the field. You better believe that he watched the BC/FSU game tapes over and over again from last season to learn from his mistakes. If Don Brown goes out there and tries a similar approach we could see "2nd quarter on" Jameis Winston all over again. If Winston gets going early, the FSU wide receivers could eat the BC secondary for lunch.
Wayyyyyyy Too Early Prediction
Florida State 45 Boston College 17. I would love to see BC hang with FSU again like they did in 2013, I really would. I just don't see BC as constituted being able to stick with a deep team like the Seminoles on the road for four quarters. Maybe BC will stick around for a quarter like last game, but FSU can just continue rolling out seven linemen on both sides of the ball and after a while of that, BC is going to get worn down and that is when Jameis Winston and that offense is going to put this one away.