Spring Football '14: Florida State's Quest to Repeat
|Winston celebrating 2013 national title|
Along with Winston, who threw for 4,057 yards in his redshirt freshman year the Seminoles return a number of other stud players. Senior running back Karlos Williams ran for 730 yards last season on just 91 carries, an average of 8 yards per carry. Williams is a powerful back with a nose for the end zone and could have a breakout year in Devonta Freeman's absence. Winston by himself is fantastic, but he could not have had the 2013 year he had without the receiving options that he possessed. Kelvin Benjamin is off to the NFL and could likely be a late first-round pick because of his playmaking and NFL-caliber size. Senior tight end Nick O'Leary had a serious car accident just months before the 2013 season and still managed to haul in 557 yards and 7 touchdowns. O'Leary is very quick for a tight end, is a great route runner and has fantastic hands for his size. Senior Rashad Greene is back and is hoping for a grand finale after recording 76 receptions and 1,128 yards last season. Also back for FSU is dangerous Christian Green and sophomore speedster Kermit Whitfield, who had the huge kickoff return in the national championship to fuel Florida State's comeback. With all that back, a solid offensive line and a recruiting class that includes Miami product Dalvin Cook and lethal wide receiver Ermon Lane, Florida State's offense will once again be one of the most dangerous in the entire nation.
The Seminoles' offense received so much credit last season but the defense was also very important, holding teams to just over 12 points per game. The defense will lose nose tackle Timmy Jernigan, linebacker Christian Jones and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner but it should still be one of the nation's most stout units. Juniors Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards will lead the defensive line, two former big name recruits who came in with Winston, they haven't seen the snaps to be stars yet. Edwards is extremely athletic and has fantastic speed coming off the edge, while Eddie Goldman will see a lot of opportunities at defensive tackle with Jernigan gone. Junior Terrance Smith should likely take over Jones' spot at middle linebacker. Smith has great lateral movement and covers the field extremely well. The secondary will rely heavily on junior cornerback Ronald Darby and hard-hitting sophomore safety Jalen Ramsey to stop the dangerous offenses that the ACC has to offer. Special teams is a very underrated aspect to most teams, and Florida State will also have a great unit in that area. Kicker Roberto Aguayo earned All-American honors as a freshman last year and is back along with junior punter Cason Beatty.
A quick peek at Florida State's 2014 schedule shows that they will have a tough non-conference slate. The Seminoles will start their season with a meeting against the high-octane offense of Oklahoma State on August 30th. They will meet old rival Notre Dame on the 18th of October, a team that could be very dangerous this year if they stay healthy and will have their annual match up with Florida to end the season, after beating the Gators by 30 in 2013. The ACC should be a lot weaker this season than last, and it wasn't great last year as Clemson, Miami nor Duke could give the Seminoles a good game. The Tigers, who will play the 'Noles on September 20th, lose Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins and their defense also took a hit. Miami will also have to deal with a large number of players gone and Louisville will struggle in a new league without their star quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. More good news for FSU: since both Duke and UNC (the likely other top two teams inside the conference) are in the other division, meaning the only time they have a chance to see them is in the ACC Championship. Even with two tough non-conference games, Florida State still has the schedule to get through this next season without a blemish.
No college football team this next year will have the talent on both sides of the ball that Florida State will possess. They have the best quarterback in the nation in Winston, a number of offensive playmakers surrounding him and a defense that should be the best inside the ACC. Along with a favorable schedule, the Seminoles have a real shot to repeat as champs and win their fourth official national championship.