Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles
Last season seemed to be the year to take down the Seminoles if you were going to do it, and some teams, such as Louisville, took full advantage of that. That window has now closed, as Florida State seems to be in prime position to make another run for a national title in 2017. Despite opening the season with Alabama, win or lose, Florida State should have enough in the tank to get back for a possible rematch in January. This could be a big year in Tallahassee.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Deondre Francois is not getting the kind of attention that he should be getting, because I feel that 2017 is going to be a major breakout year for the sophomore that won the ACC Rookie of the Year award on offense last season. Francois passed for 3350 yards and 20 scores, and just missed a 3:1 TD to INT ratio.
Alec Eberle is back at C, and RT Brock Ruble are both back on the line, and instant holes are likely to be filled by Rick Leonard and Landon Dickerson, who were both key reserves last fall. This position was recruited well, so even with the losses, there should be no issue in making a seamless transition.
Even with WR Travis Rudolph leaving early, the receiving corps was in good shape as far as depth was concerned. Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate combined for 52 receptions last season, and one, or both of them have the chance to step up big in 2017. Passing options also exist at TE, as both Ryan Izzo and Marvin Saunders return this fall, and they each have something to add in the passing game.
Ricky Aguayo had an up and down freshman season at PK, but still managed to connect on 19 FGs (of 26 attempted). He returns with that year of experience under his belt.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Francois has got to stand on his own in 2017, and cannot leave the field. There is no depth or experience behind him, so the national title aspirations are squarely on his shoulders this fall.
Finding a back to fully replace Dalvin Cook, who is now in Minnesota in the NFL, will be a major priority in fall camp. Jacques Patrick is the early answer, but there will be more competition in fall camp, and there could be a few backs that get some calls.
There was enough experience at receiver to step up to start this season, but there now needs to be some new depth to spring up in fall camp.
The offensive line has the holes I spoke of, but they have enough to fill them. Now, like everywhere else, finding depth is imperative.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
DeMarcus Walker is a huge loss up front for the Seminoles, but the great news is that he is the lone loss in the front seven for the 2017 season. Brian Burns will replace Walker full time at DE after he finished with 10.5 TFLs last season. He may very well double that output this fall, and is a major player to watch nationally. DeMarcus Christmas and Derrick Nnadi are both back at DT. Nnadi finished with 10.5 TFLs as well. There is plenty of depth to go around for a rotation, and FSU should be very disruptive along the line and in the trenches.
The top five LBs all return from last fall, and that is huge for the Seminoles. Josh Sweat, a junior, returns outside, as does Matthew Thomas. They combined for 22.5 TFLs last season, and Thomas led the team with 77 tackles. Ro'Derrick Hiskins and Jacob Pugh also return, giving the Seminoles one of the most complete LB corps in the nation. Sophomore Dontavius Jackson also returns to add some depth.
Three starters will return in the secondary as well in CB Tarvarus McFadden, S Trey Marshall, and S AJ Westbrook. Marshall finished with 58 tackles on the season, and finished with four PBUs. McFadden broke up six passes, and Westbrook broke up another four. Levonta Taylor and Derwin James will see the field plenty as well, and both have plenty of experience as young players.
Logan Tyler, as a freshman, even averaged just over 40 yards per punt last fall, so all areas appear covered.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
There is not much at all to worry about with this unit in 2017, and this could be the unit that helps propel FSU to a national title game appearance.
Of course, losing someone with the talent of a DeMarcus Walker is never easy, but there is so much talent and depth amassed here that there will be plenty of guys stepping up to fill those shoes.
We will get a full closeup of how prepared this defense is in the opener against Alabama.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 Alabama at Atlanta, 9/9 UL-Monroe, 9/16 Miami, 9/23 NC State, 9/30 at Wake Forest, 10/14 at Duke, 10/21 Louisville, 10/27 at Boston College, 11/4 Syracuse, 11/11 at Clemson, 11/18 Delaware State, 11/25 at Florida
Final Overview
The talent is all there for the Seminoles in 2017. They have been a final four lock for me based on that information since last January. I have no doubt that this football team can win the ACC, and eventually compete for, maybe even win a national title. There will still be some challenges along the way, in games with Alabama, Louisville, Clemson, and Florida. FSU will have to win at least three of those games to reach their promise this fall.

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