#19 Florida State 2018 Football Preview

Florida State Seminoles
Overall Rank: #19
#4 ACC
 Florida State Logo
Florida State brought in Coach Willie Taggart after the Seminoles finished a disappointing 7-6 in 2017. Coach Taggart will implement his fast pace spread-option offense that he used at South Florida and Oregon. The Seminoles are garnering high expectations heading into the fall and they certainly have the talent to back it up.
2017 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2017 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Southern Miss (W 42-13)
Coach: Willie Taggart (0-0 at Florida State, 47-50 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Bell
Defensive Coordinator: Harlon Barnett
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Cameron Akers, RB, 1,024 yards
Passing: James Blackman, QB, 2,230 yards
Receiving: Nygwan Murray, WR, 604 yards
Tackles: Brian Burns, DE, 48
Sacks: Brian Burns, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Stanford Samuels, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Jacques Patrick, QB Deondre Francois, WR Keith Gavin, OL Alec Eberle, S A.J. Westbrook, DT Demarcus Christmas, K Ricky Aguayo
Key Losses: WR Auden Tate, TE Ryan Izzo, DL Derrick Nnadi, DL Josh Sweat, LB Matthew Thomas, LB Ro’Derrick Hoskins, S Derwin James, S Trey Marshall
The quarterback situation is muddled, but Coach Taggart has experienced options. Two years ago Deondre Francois was the starter, but he missed most of last season with an injury. Francois is very athletic and a great fit for the scheme, but it remains to be seen if he can get back to full speed. When Francois went down last year, James Blackman stepped in and threw for 2,230 yards and 19 touchdowns. Wide receiver Auden Tate left for the NFL after his junior season, but FSU returns Nygwan Murray and Keith Gavin. There is not much experience behind them, but the hopes are high for youngsters like D.J. Matthews and Tamorrion Terry. But in this offense, FSU will want to stick to the ground. Cameron Akers broke the team’s freshman rushing record with 1,024 yards last season. Senior Jacques Patrick added 748 yards and those two will form a dynamic one-two punch that will keep this offense moving.
The defense lost their top four tacklers so there are quite a few holes to fill. The front four will be led by Brian Burns, who tallied 48 tackles and 4.5 sacks. On the other end, Joshua Kaindoh had a promising freshman campaign and added 4.0 sacks. With Demarcus Christmas back to man the middle, the front four should be in great shape. There are bigger questions at linebacker where all three starters need to be replaced. Juniors Dontavious Jackson and Adonis Thomas should be capable of filling much of the void, but it will not be easy to replace their production. The secondary has a couple talented cornerbacks in Levonta Taylor and Stanford Samuels and they will be very important in new defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett’s aggressive press defense.
The Bottom Line:
The Seminoles start the season with a tough home game against Virginia Tech. That contest could set the tone for the rest of the season. But there are big games a few weeks later when FSU travels to Louisville and Miami in back-to-back weeks. If Florida State is going to make a run for an ACC Atlantic title, they need to get off to a fast start. Beating Clemson at home on October 27th would help too.
Projected Bowl: Pinstripe Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 155.7 (76th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 196.2 (89, 12)
Total Offense: 351.9 (100, 13)
Scoring Offense: 27.8 (71, 8)
Rushing Defense: 135.6 (31, 4)
Pass Defense: 195.5 (29, 5)
Total Defense: 331.1 (18, 3)
Scoring Defense: 21.2 (29, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.46 (102, 12)
Sacks: 2.23 (51, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.46 (94, 10)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#35     Brian Burns
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#34      Asante Samuel Jr.
#39      Jaiden Woodbey
#44      A.J. Lytton
#122    Robert Cooper
#141    Xavier Peters
#143    Amari Gainer
#148    Christian Meadows
#149    Warren Thompson
#231    Tre'Shaun Harrison
#236    Malcolm Lamar