Last year the Seminoles were the heavy favorites to win it all, and they did so sweeping the nation in fashion knocking off all their opponents. Led by Heisman trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston at the helm of Jimbo Fisher’s lethal offense, Florida State went 14-0 last season, beating the Auburn Tigers in the National Championship.
This year the Noles are coming back, but with the loss of seven players to the NFL, which is a lot for any team to suffer losing. With team leaders like Kelvin Benjamin, Devonta Freeman, Lamarcus Joyner, Timmy Jernigan, and Terrence Brooks, amongst others, all gone, new key players were forced to step up into the limelight.
While the Seminoles did lose many instrumental players on both sides of the ball, Jimbo Fisher’s recruiting skills are just as good as his coaching abilities on the field. In the backfield, Florida State is led by Karlos Williams now, who is a pure bred workhorse. He’s 6’1, 225 pounds, and knows how to pick up yards and make big plays. In the first two games he rushed for 132 yards and 1 touchdown, which isn’t bad for an offense that spreads the ball around a lot.
If there’s one major issue the Noles are currently facing, it is replacing the star-studded set of receivers they had last year. The Noles had 2 receivers leave for the NFL, leaving just Rashad Greene behind to fill in a big role, which he has done tremendously this year so far. Greene could go on to be one of Florida State’s most distinguished receivers of all time depending on how he finishes this season. In the opening game against Oklahoma State Rashad Greene had over 200 receiving yards and one touchdown. Defenses are going to continue to try to lock him down, however, knowing that he is the only big play-making receiver.
The Noles are still waiting on rookies Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph to step up more as wide outs. The last game against Citadel, however, saw Winston connect with 10 different receivers, showing better signs. Along with Lane and Rudolph, the Noles are expecting Jesus ‘Bobo’ Williams to play a big role in the offense. He returned against Citadel from his suspension due to being charged with third-degree grand theft during the summer.
Once all the receivers are clicking with Winston, the Noles should get back on a track . Although Florida State’s new receiving core is relatively young, they were all also five star recruits out of high school; not to mention they have Jameis Winston as their quarterback.
On the defensive side of the ball Jimbo Fisher isn’t too concerned with his boys. Some key defenders on this team include junior cornerback Ronald Darby, who has proven to be one of the best lockdown corners in the ACC. In the first two games this season, Darby has averaged 3 tackles each game.
Lined up on the other side of the field is the other junior, P.J. Williams, who is entering his second season as a starter, and came off a great season last year. Nominated for the All-American Award and Jim Thorpe Award last season, he is expected to have a huge impact this year.
Eddie Goldman, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Justin Shanks all went down in the game against Citadel and never returned to the game. Later reports said that Mario Edwards Jr. said that he had spoken with each defensive lineman and they looked ready to go for Saturday’s game.
The Seminoles will be taking on the Clemson Tigers at 8:00pm this Saturday in Doak Campbell stadium under the beautiful lights of Tallahassee. After taking down the Tigers 51-14 in the Death Valley last year, the Seminoles return as heavy favorites again. Clemson is coming off a great performance against a weak South Carolina State team that in no way matches Florida State’s high powered offense. Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney went on to note that he is confident in his senior quarterback, Cole Stoudt, saying he will give them the best chance against Florida State. Still,
by CHRISTOPHER THAMES / contributing writer