Written by: Conner Pack
During the 2016 season, the Florida State Seminoles finished with a 10-3 record. However, they had their share of ups and downs. After getting a big win opening night against Ole Miss, to losing star defensive back Derwin James for the season the next week, to getting a good ole fashion beat down from Louisville, to eventually ending the season with an Orange Bowl win against Michigan. If you followed the Seminoles last season it sure was an emotional roller coaster. But all of that is in the past, this season the Seminoles have a ton of hype and are expected to make the College Football Playoff. It’s very well possible they could make a run and get in, with only a couple of weeks away we’re just going to have to wait and see. Until then, here are five points of interest as the season approuches.
1. Deondre Francois
Last season Deondre Francois surprised many people, first by showing his toughness and secondly by always staying poised. He finished the 2016 season passing for 3350 yards and 20 touchdowns. Not to mention the kid took quite a bit of big hits last season and continued to get back up and play. And no, he didn’t take the hits while scrambling or running. His poise was second to none, throughout the season Francois rarely ever seemed rattled or lost in the moment. What really helped him out was the fact he had Dalvin Cook, all time leading rusher at Florida State, in the backfield. By having him the Seminoles didn’t have to rely solely on the passing attack last season. As for this season I’m looking for Francois to take the next step and continue maturing as a passer and as a leader. He’s shown he has the ability to become an elite player not just in the ACC but all of college football.
2. Can the Offensive Line Be Better?
The Seminoles offensive line last season was questionable to say the least. From week to week there was no telling which offensive line was going to show up. In Florida States first eight games they gave up 27 sacks. That’s not including the number of knock downs and hurries quarterback Deondre Francois took. On the bright side however, over the course of the last five games the offensive line began to gel. During that five game period they managed to only give up nine sacks. Coming into the 2017 season, the Seminoles return four of their five starters, so there should be some continuity as the season begins. If this Seminoles team wants to make that championship run the offensive line has got to be good from the start.
3. Who Will Step Up At Receiver?
The Seminoles lost wide receivers Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield, and Bobo Wilson all to the NFL draft. All three of these guys were major contributors last season. They proved upper class leadership as well as game changing play making ability, the loss of all three is big. However, the second half of last season the Seminoles saw the emergence of two talented sophomore wide receivers, Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate. Nyqwan Murray had his coming out party during the Clemson game, he finished the game with 6 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. From that game on Murray would go on to have 22 receptions for 395 yards and score 5 touchdowns, after only having 4 receptions for 46 yards in the first seven games. As for Tate, his big frame gave him the ability to make big late game catches that got him some recognition. I’m looking for both Murray and Tate to step up and have break out seasons. Being the two most experienced receivers these guys will have to lead the way for the younger less experienced guys. As well as tight end Ryan Izzo, the always reliable tight end will play a major role in the success of this offense.
4. Derwin James and The Defense
5. Running Backs
Replacing a guy like Dalvin Cook is never easy. However, the Seminoles have a ton of talent at the running back position. Starting with newly named Starter Jacques Patrick. Jimbo Fisher has already named the 6’3, 231 pound junior the starter for week ones showdown with Alabama. Through his first two seasons Patrick has had 124 attempts for 664 yards and 9 touchdowns. His career average is 5.4 yards per attempt. Then there’s the freshman Cam Akers who was the number one high school running back. All we’ve seen is his spring game performance which was pretty impressive. I’m excited to see how Fisher will utilize these two very talented running backs.
– Final Thoughts
The 2017 Seminoles have the pieces in place to make a run at the national championship, but they’re going to have to take it one game at a time. It’s a tough road ahead but lead by coach Fisher this team should be able to go far.