Florida State Seminoles Season Preview


Nov 30, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Karlos Williams (9) runs with the ball against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators 37-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State Seminoles come into the 2014 season as reigning national champions.

After beating Auburn 34-31 in last season’s title game, FSU are the preseason number one team in 2014 and rightfully so.

They have returning Heisman winning quarterback Jameis Winston to lead their offense that also features running back Karlos Williams, wide receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. On defense they still have an extremely good secondary and will be one of the favourites to win it all this year this season despite losing some key players to the NFL.

Our friend and expert at ChopChat.com Patrik Nohe fills us in with his thoughts on the 2014 Florida State Seminoles.


PN: Well you have to start with the returning Heisman winner at quarterback. It’s easy to get caught up in all the talk about his offseason and his off-the-field life, but that just distracts you from the fact that this kid is probably already the best QB to have ever played at Florida State. A lot of folks will argue with that and say it was Chris Weinke or Charlie Ward, but Weinke was 27 and balding — which to me, makes his accomplishments less impressive — and Ward never went unbeaten. Beyond that, neither of them put up the kind of numbers — particularly touchdown passes — that Winston did in his first year. That’s made all the more remarkable by the fact Winston rarely played past the third quarter last year. When he had to, and the ‘Noles were trailing (which was rare), Winston was just as good, going 33/46 for 466 yards and 6 TD’s with no picks.

Like him or not, the kid is a damned good QB.

Beyond Winston, Karlos Williams is a 6-1, 225-pound beast of a running back. He flipped from safety to RB after the first game last year and finished with over 700 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 91 carries. This year he’s the bell cow back and will run behind an all-senior offensive line. At receiver, Rashad Greene is on pace to become the most prolific WR in Florida State history. Nick O’Leary is one of the top TE’s in the country. This offense is breaking in a few new receivers but there are plenty of weapons around Winston.

Defensively, FSU’s secondary was first in the nation last year in pass defense and interceptions.

Nov 9, 2013; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Ronald Darby (3) participates during the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Florida State defeated Wake Forest 59-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This year that group could be even better. PJ Williams and Ronald Darby are both elite corners, Jalen Ramsey started every game last year as a true freshman. Nate Andrews lead the team in picks last season. And Tyler Hunter — who was poised for a big season before breaking his neck last year — is healthy and has resumed his role as the leader of that unit. The Seminoles will play out of a nickel package a good deal of the time and with good reason. This group doesn’t give up much through the air.


PN: Linebacker. Terrance Smith is the only linebacker with significant experience. Smith played the Mike last year after FSU shuffled its defense following the Boston College game and was a revelation of sorts for the ‘Noles. This year, he’s the leader of the linebacking corps and has shifted back outside to play the will. Beyond Smith, Reggie Northrup and EJ Levenberry are both set to see significant playing time, but neither has much experience beside garbage time duty on the back-end of blowouts. Matthew Thomas has been out for most of camp, as has Ukeme Eligwe — both were expected to play major roles — and it remains to be seen how Chris Casher performs at the Sam when he’s on the field.

There’s plenty of talent in the LB group, but not much experience.

Three Players to Watch

Jameis Winston – How can you not watch Winston? He’s the reigning Heisman winner on one of the most potent offenses in the country. He’s in the news constantly. It’s tough not to pay attention to #5.

Karlos Williams – Go back and watch the highlight of Kermit Whitfield’s kick return TD in the BCS title game last year. Whitfield may be the fastest player in the country (there’s track and field data that supports this). Do you notice that number nine lays a block around the 30 and then catches up to Whitfield by the time he reaches the end zone? Number nine is Williams. He’s 6-1, 225 and runs like that. He’s not going to be fun for opposing defenses to tackle. If one guy on FSU could steal the Heisman away from Winston, it’s Karlos Williams.

Jalen Ramsey – The last true freshman to start a game at corner for Florida State before Jalen Ramsey was Deion Sanders. Ramsey was a five-star DB who flipped from USC to FSU days before the 2013 National Signing Day. He was a major part of Florida State’s defense last year and this year he will be assuming Lamarcus Joyner’s old role (FSU calls it the “Star”). That puts the highly athletic sophomore in even better position to make plays and have a major impact. Ramsey is going to be a first round pick one day, when you watch just one or two defensive series for FSU this year, it should be immediately evident why.

Three Can’t Miss Games

PN: That’s tough, FSU has good games against Oklahoma State, Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame, Miami and Florida.

I’m going to go with Louisville, Miami and Florida.

Oct. 30 @ Louisville – FSU travels to Louisville on a Thursday night this year. The last time FSU made that trip was 2002, also a Thursday, and the then-4th ranked Seminoles were upset. Louisville will be replacing Teddy Bridgewater, but before he left Charlie Strong loaded the cupboard and Bobby Petrino should have plenty of talent at his disposal this season. If FSU has its head on straight, they will win this one. But if they’re even remotely complacent this game has upset written all over it.

Nov. 15 @ Miami – As for Miami, even with questions at QB, FSU fans have been committing hubris for a couple years now by sleeping on the Canes. Al Golden is a far better coach than he gets credit for. He weathered the Shapiro scandal (sorry about that pun) and now he has Miami trending upward. FSU will be favored on the road in this one, but Miami has a lot to prove and little to lose. This will probably be the best game this rivalry has seen in at least half a decade.

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) throws a pass against the Auburn Tigers during the first half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Nov. 29 vs. Florida – And then finally, Florida. Here’s a fun fact about Florida: Gators fans are quick to point out differences in the strength of schedule between FSU and UF — Ess-Eee-See — but when you look at the way the NCAA calculates preseason SOS (opponents’ won/loss record from last season), the only thing that has UF’s schedule rated above FSU’s is the fact they play one another. UF gets an unbeaten team on its schedule, FSU plays a team that was 4-8. If FSU and UF didn’t play, Florida State’s strength of schedule would actually be higher than Florida’s. Now on to the game. UF is much better than the 4-8 performance they put in last year. They also get a shot at FSU in the last game of the regular season with a huge chance to play the spoiler. This one has all the makings of a knock-down, drag-out classic and will hopefully be a return to form for one of the best rivalries in the country.


PN: I have FSU 12-1 this season, winning the ACC but dropping a game somewhere during the regular season. I’m not sure a one-loss campaign gets them in the playoff though.