Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
It isn’t often that an undefeated defending national champion could be improved, but that is just the case with this year’s Seminoles. Jimbo Fisher may have lost seven studs to the NFL along with his defensive coordinator and I think he will be fielding a better team this season.
Everyone points to receiver as a deficiency and the offensive strategy is sure to shift from an aerial brigade to a lethal ground attack. FSU features great talent in the backfield highlighted by the Seminoles' yard-per-carry leader from last season, Karlos Williams. I don’t just think that Williams will be an All-American, but I think he’ll be in New York for the Heisman voting. This is going to be the hardest backfield to defend for opposing defenses since the three-some of Greg Jones, Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker.
Williams brings a scary blend of speed and power while Mario Pender, Ryan Green and Dalvin Cook all possess top-end speed and agility that will create little drop off when Karlos Williams needs spelled. This may be the fastest offense that Florida State has ever fielded, with speed spread out all over the field. Not to mention that the Seminoles still have the Heisman trophy winning quarterback in the backfield.
I have yet to metion what most experts believe is the best offensive line in the country, a unit that returns four starters from last season while the one new starter (center Austin Barron) is a senior with starting experience.
It may be a tall order to have the number one secondary in the country again after leading the nation in interceptions and passing yards allowed last season, but don’t be surprised if this group puts up better numbers from last year’s squad. P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby are the best cornerback duo in the nation.
Tyler Hunter returns at safety after injuring his neck against Nevada last season. Hunter was a headhunter at safety who is a beneficial part of the defense against the run and the pass. Jalen Ramsey will shift into Lamarcus Joyner’s role at nickel and look to improve upon his freshman All-American season while key reserver Nate Andrews should slide into the starting free-safety spot. Andrews quietly lead the team in interceptions off of the bench and should have a spectacular season with the increased playing time.
The defensive line took a hit with the departure of Timmy Jernigan and will look to Nile-Lawrence Stample to fill his shoes. Stample is a big body very capable of taking over at the zero-technique. It will be a defensive tackle by committee approach, but with the talent at that position, the fresh legs should provide a huge amount of production. I expect the sack numbers to increase after finishing 30th in the country last season. New defensive coordinator Charles Kelly is rumored to call more blitzes which will have offensive lines across the nation trembling.
At linebacker Matthew Thomas will take over outside for Christian Jones and add a heavy dose of athleticism to the lineup. Terrance Smith will look to build on his extremely productive season where he emerged as one of the biggest playmakers on the defense. Every linebacker on the roster is capable of starting and making a huge impact so look for a deep rotation at this position.
It might be too much to ask for the Seminoles to win it all again although with their roster and experience it is hard to expect anything less. Before last season I thought the team was a year away. With a sophomore quarterback with weapons at his disposal, there should be no stopping this offense. On defense I would be shocked if there was a team that put up more than 24 points this season. So in the end, anything short of a championship will be a bust.
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