Well I guess the most logical place to start is the most hyped freshman in America. We've seen him throw a football over frat houses. We've seen him gun down a base runner from centerfield. (h/t to @martinrickman at Campus Union for the links.) Pretty soon Superman will wear Jameis Winston pajamas instead of Tim Tebow pajamas. (Still trying to confirm if the Virgin Islands are now known as just the Islands after Jameis Winston returned. We do know that they were still the Virgin Islands after Tim Tebow returned.)
In all seriousness, Jameis Winston is a fantastic prospect and I believe he can step in and be an excellent player from day one. He went 12-15 for 205 passing yards and two touchdowns in Florida State's spring game. At 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, he is an absolute man, and when you combine his great size and elusiveness, he will be extremely difficult to bring down. Winston is absolutely capable of taking this team to an ACC Championship. Usually when you lose a first round NFL Draft pick at quarterback you experience a significant dropoff. The scary thing is, Florida State may have gotten better at the quarterback position.
We've heard a ton of hype about Jameis Winston this offseason, but we haven't heard anything about their offensive line. The truth is, this offensive line is nothing short of fantastic. They return 96 starts and center Bryan Stork and right guard Tre' Jackson were both 2nd team all-ACC last season. They should provide their excellent tailbacks with holes and give Winston plenty of time to hit his receivers. If you want to make an argument about depth being an issue that's fine, but their starters are excellent and they've had superb recruiting under Jimbo Fisher for the past several seasons, which makes them more capable than most of handling injuries.
The Seminoles have a sensational pair of tailbacks in James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman, who combined for 1,295 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.85 yard/carry as sophomores. While Jameis Winston is maturing throughout the year, the Seminoles will be able to rely on these backs to carry the offensive load for large stretches at a time.
Florida State doesn't exactly have a dearth of returning skill position talent either. Look no further than Rashad Greene for some that. #Sources he is fast. Greene had nearly 750 receiving yards last season and also called Applebee's and made reservations for six while he was taking two punt returns to the house. Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin are other excellent targets that Winston will have in addition to safety valve Nick O'Leary at tight end.
Last year's Seminole defense was simply suffocating as they held opponents to 14.7 points/game, good for 6th nationally. Their defensive line was probably the weakest part of their defense and that is likely to be the case again this year as they lost two defensive tackles who combined for 40 tackles and four defensive ends who combined for nearly 120 tackles.
They will have two monsters at defensive tackle in Timmy Jernigan Jr. (top 15 pick according to Mel Kiper Jr.) and Demonte McAllister who combined for over 55 tackles and 5 sacks last season. The Seminoles will also hope that Mario Edwards becomes the player everyone thought he was going to be out of high school when he was the top rated recruit in his entire class. Depth is a legitimate concern on the defensive line, and this unit is probably the weakest unit on the team. They certainly have the least margin of error.
The Seminole's linebacking corps will be led by middle linebacker Christian Jones, who is a potential 1st round draft pick according to Mel Kiper Jr. The former 5-star prospect is a solid 235 pounds and led the team in tackles last season. Jones will be joined by Terrance Smith and Telvin Smith at the outside linebacker positions. If any of those players go down they will have to turn to either a sophomore or any of four freshman. Fortunately for Florida State, every one of those five backups was at least a four-star according to Rivals. #FirstWorldProblems. Their depth at linebacker is just scary and will allow their defense to give so many different looks.
As good as their linebackers are, I think their secondary is even better. Yes, Xavier Rhodes is gone, but they literally return every other player from their secondary. Their top four corners of Lamarcus Joyner, P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby, and Jalen Ramsey is unbelievable. Incredible top talent and depth. Karlos Williams is built like a linebacker at strong safety, and Terrence Brooks led the secondary in tackles last season while playing free safety.
Truth be told I couldn't find out much about Roberto Aguayo other than he was rated as the #3 kicker in 2012 according to Rivals. It also appears the longest field goal he has kicked in a game was 51 yards, which he has done twice. Aguayo has also reportedly made a 63-yarder in practice before. Replacing Dustin Hopkins will certainly be difficult and is a huge question mark for this season. Is it too soon to make a wide right joke? Probably.
Cason Beatty is a very good punter for this team and was able to either land it inside the 20 or force their opponents to call a fair catch on 98% of his punts. Their return game should continue to be excellent with Lamarcus Joyner and Karlos Williams returning kicks. Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Tyler Hunter should do a nice job returning punts. Given their defense they should get plenty of opportunities.
I know they lost both offensive and defensive coordinators, but they didn't lose their offensive play-caller, as Jimbo Fisher does that. They also brought in ex-assistants under Nick Saban (I've heard he's good) and other coaches who had been coordinators and even head coaches for BCS teams. I know Florida State plays at Clemson this year, but this team is more than capable of heading into Death Valley and emerging victorious. The winner of that game will almost undoubtedly represent the Atlantic in the ACC championship game. Right now I give Florida State the edge in that one. I've researched every team in the conference and Florida State is the most complete team that I've seen. I immediately regret not making them number 1 in my initial #goacc Power Rankings. They are capable of scoring points in bunches and they can shut teams down defensively. Given this team's weapons they should probably go 10-2 or 11-1 in the regular season.
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