FSU Preview: Life Without Jameis

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The Florida State Seminoles have won the ACC Championship each of the last three seasons, which includes a National Championship in 2013. With a lot of key losses on offense, their run of conference championships could be in jeopardy.

How good will Florida State be in 2015?

Previewing the offense

To say Florida State lost a number of key players from last year’s team would be an understatement. Former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, record-setting receiver Rashad Greene, Nick O’ Leary, Karlos Williams and four starters on the offensive line are all gone and the Seminoles only return three starters on that side of the ball.

Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson transferred to Florida State on May 19 and is expected to be the starter. The question is how quickly can Golson learn the Seminoles offense?

Florida State could opt to start Sean Maguire, but he has far less game experience than Golson. Maguire’s only start came against Clemson last season when Winston was suspended. Even though he threw for 304 yards, Maguire was sacked five times and intercepted twice in the 23-17 overtime victory.

Entering the season, running back was expected to be a strength for Florida State, but Dalvin Cook has been suspended indefinitely. In June, Cook allegedly punched a woman several times in the face. Now that Cook’s return is a huge question mark, the Seminoles lack depth at running back.

Freshman Jacques Patrick may be asked to take on a much larger role than head coach Jimbo Fisher originally envisioned. Patrick was ranked as a top five running back in the 2015 class by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports. He rushed for 7,922 yards and scored 103 touchdowns in high school, so he has a ton of talent.

Redshirt junior Mario Pender and sophomore Johnathan Vickers will likely also receive some carries if Cook is out for an extended period.

Travis Rudolph and Jesus Wilson should have big seasons in 2015 with Greene now off to the NFL. Ermon Lane also should see a lot of balls thrown his way.

Roderick Johnson is the only offensive lineman that has any experience on the line as the Seminoles will be breaking in four new starters. Junior college transfers Kareem Are and Chad Mavety have received a lot of praise from Fisher but have yet to play any meaningful snaps since being on campus.

Previewing the defense

Despite losing defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. to the NFL draft, Florida State’s front four should be okay. Senior nose tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample is back after missing nearly all of the 2014 season with a tore pectoral injury. DeMarcus Walker should improve from his 38 tackle sophomore season.

Seniors Terrance Smith and Reggie Northrup will both start at linebacker. Northrup led the Seminoles in tackles last season with 122. Smith is a very tough and versatile player that played through a knee injury in 2014.

The Seminoles secondary is among the best in the country as All-American Jalen Ramsey leads it. The junior moved from the star/nickel position to cornerback in the spring and was very impressive.

Trey Marshall will likely step into the star/nickel role vacated by Ramsey. Florida State will also have veterans Nate Andrews and Tyler Hunter returning at safety.

Final Outlook

While Florida State lost some players to the NFL Draft, expectations remain high in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have won a combined 39 games the last three seasons and fans will be expecting another double-digit win season in 2015.

Florida State’s inexperienced offense will have its ups and downs and that will likely keep them out of national championship contention this season. However, the Seminoles still could win the ACC Championship.

November 7 at Clemson will likely determine the ACC Atlantic Division title. If FSU wins that, they would certainly to be favorites in the ACC Championship, should they get there. Florida State should easily win 10 games in 2015, but Clemson and that game at Florida will probably be their toughest test.

You can follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley

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