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College Football Preview: 17. Florida State Seminoles

17. Florida State Seminoles

Florida State is officially back. After years of average play the Seminoles won 12 games a year ago and dominated the ACC. Even with quarterback E.J. Manuel gone along with all of their great front seven, the 'Noles still have the talent to win their second straight ACC championship. If Florida State can sort out their quarterback position and find some quality linebackers, Florida State can continue to rise back to power.

Backfield: A successful season rests on the shoulders of redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Winston is a huge quarterback with a rocket of an arm. He also can extend plays with his legs. Though there is a little bit of a quarterback controversy. Gigantic, 6-6 sophomore Jacob Coker and another redshirt freshman, Sean Maguire, will be candidates if Winston struggles. Like any young quarterback Winston will struggle in many areas including decision making and there may some growing pains early this year. Luckily for FSU they have a
James Wilder
number of great backs that will take the pressure off Winston. Juniors James Wilder and Devonta Freeman will likely split carries. Freeman proved to be extremely dangerous gaining 660 yards on just 111 attempts. Both Freeman and Wilder are quick and agile and are both very versatile. Fullback Lonnie Pryor is gone leaving a leadership void in the backfield but the Seminoles should still dominate on the ground.

Receivers: For the first time in a while the Seminoles have found a fantastic receiver. Junior Rashad Greene had a fantastic 2012 recording 57 receptions and is extremely shifty. His return means Winston will have an All-American caliber player to rely on early on in his career. Though Greene isn't the only dangerous receiver on the 'Noles' roster. Senior Greg Dent is undersized, just 5-11, but he is a very fast option that can make plays downfield. Other than Greene and Dent, sophomore Kelvin Benjamin is a huge, imposing target. Benjamin is pretty raw and is still learning Florida State's offense but has the potential to be a stud. Winston also has a security blanket in junior tight end Nick O'Leary who is one of the best tight ends in the nation. He isn't too much of a blocker but he is dangerous in the passing attack.

Offensive Line: Up front the Seminoles have the build of a SEC team with a great and psychical line and superior ground attack. The best linemen could be junior left tackle Cameron Erving. Erving is a massive, dominant force who moves very well for his big, 310 pound frame. With his potential and size he should be a future first round draft pick. Erving isn't the only great linemen on this FSU line. Senior center Bryan Stork is an anchor in the middle and is a very good run blocker. With Erving being young and Stork being the only senior he should really help in a leadership role. With Erving dominating on the left side teams will look for openings on the right. It won't be easy to find any as the Seminoles have loads of potential on that side. Junior right guard Tre Jackson can hang with even the best interior pass rushers and like Stork is a force as a run blocker. Junior tackle Bobby Hart should likely get the start at the right tackle spot and has the potential to have a big year. With a number of great run blockers and two great backs teams should really have struggles stopping this offense at times.

Defensive Line: Gone are talents Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Everett Dawkins but the 'Noles' D-Line still has the talent to be great. Coach Jimbo Fisher should continue to rely on last year's great recruiting class with the help of sophomore end Mario Edwards. Edwards also has the potential to be a future star in the NFL with his size and speed. He is very strong and is a more athletic Werner. FSU also has two great tackles up the middle including nose tackle Timmy Jernigan who can be a force this year and has proven he can do a number of different things. The other tackle, senior Demonte McAllister, also has the talent to do great things. He can stuff up the run but also proved to be a great pass rusher recording 3.5 sacks a year ago. The other end spot is a little bit of a question but like the rest of the line, has players with a lot of potential. Sophomore Giorgio Newberry is huge and has the ability to have a very productive 2013. It is amazing to think with two All-ACC defensive linemen gone that the 'Noles have more talent on their line this year.

Linebackers: This appears to be the biggest weakness on an otherwise great defense. Only one starter remains on this unit in senior Christian Jones, who is talented but needs some help around him. Jones proved to be a great tackler recording 95 tackles in 2012 and was durable playing all 14 games and being a force in every one. Sophomore Terrance Smith and senior Telvin Smith should compete for the other linebacker spots. Both are good coverage 'backers and are good tacklers but maturity looks like it will be an issue. Five-star prospect Matthew Thomas could see immediate playing time with this weak linebacker corps. Thomas is very athletic and has great range, flying from sideline to sideline.
Terrence Brooks

Secondary: With how great the line is it should help this secondary which overall is a solid unit but has some holes in it. Gone is first-round pick Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid leaving gaps at the cornerback slots. Former safety Lamarcus Joyner had an average 2012 after a great '11. He will move to cornerback to offset the loss of Rhodes. He is small just 5-8 which may hurt him with bigger targets but he has the coverage skills and hitting ability to have a strong year. The other cornerback spot is also a question with sophomore Ronald Darby and junior Nick Waisome competing for the job. Darby is more athletic and has more potential but Waisome has more experience. The safety positions are in good hands with Terrence Brooks who started all 14 games a year ago and Tyler Hunter both returning. Hunter proved to be a big play threat last year recording 3 picks in 2012.

A lot of talent still remains on the Florida State roster and if Winston is as good as advertised the Seminoles can definitely make it two straight ACC championships.

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