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2018

Florida State

College Football

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Florida State lost Jimbo Fisher, but fans are as excited as ever coming off a 7-6 season. Willie Taggart brings some offensive excitement with him after one year at Oregon and a few at USF before that. The defense will also look different under coordinator Harlon Barnett, formerly at Michigan State. The Seminoles still have plenty of work to do after finishing just 3-5 in ACC play. Their spring odds weren’t terrible at 5Dimes Sportsbook, +3500 to win the National Championship, the 12th-best number to go with an 8.5-win over/under. That places them only behind Clemson in the Atlantic division, although NC State has plenty to say about that.

Taggart’s offense will be a lot more up-tempo than anything Fisher ran and that’s why fans are excited. It’s a run-heavy system that managed 5.4 yards per carry and 40 touchdowns last season with Oregon. Of course, determining a quarterback is still the most important thing heading into the campaign. James Blackman had the leg up after the spring, but only because Deondre Francois didn’t play as he was still working his way back from a knee injury. Interesting enough, Francois was the one listed at 5Dimes in terms of Heisman odds (+3800), although some reports have Blackman as the projected starter. Either way, the ‘Noles are going to run a ton behind Cam Akers (930 yards, 7 TDs), Jacques Patrick (687 yards, 6 TDs) and freshman Khalan Laborn. Akers had surprisingly decent spring odds at +2700 to win the Heisman. It’s the same situation at receiver where Nyqwan Murray (604 yards, 4 TDs) returns, while a high-level freshman, Tamorrion Terry, stole the headlines in the spring. The line may end up being the biggest worry for this offense with four guys gone from last year. It was a problem in the spring and it could be going forward in the new system.

While it’s almost a given that FSU’s offense will improve, it’ll be hard for the defense to get much better after a solid 2017 in which it allowed 21.9 points per game. Six starters are gone, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue with plenty of talent and a new Cover 4 scheme to implement. Demarcus Christmas is still around to dominate opposing offensive lines, but Brian Burns could be the guy that breaks out on the end and makes a name in NFL circles. Those two should leave shutdown corner Levonta Taylor and freshman safety Jaiden Woodbey in a lot of good situations. Linebacker should be set, as well, with experience in Dontavious Jackson and Adonis Thomas, but also freshman DeCalon Brooks was close to earning a starting spot in the spring.

There are a lot of things to like about the Seminoles and that’s why their preseason odds were so high. But while that’s the case, they still have to make it through a difficult schedule, hosting Virginia Tech in the opener, a team that’s expected to be one of the better ones in the ACC again. It doesn’t get easier with back-to-back road games at Louisville and Miami in late September and that’s the start of it. Florida State has a brutal stretch of hosting Clemson followed by trips to NC State and Notre Dame. The Seminoles should be better than a year ago, but that doesn’t mean their record will be much better. If things are difficult for the offense learning a new system to go with an inexperienced offensive line, seven wins wouldn’t be surprising. At the end of the day, the odds are high because of the school name. Fans may be expecting 10 wins for Taggart in his first season, but eight is more likely. 

 

2018 Florida State Seminoles Football Schedule

Sept. 3 vs. Virginia Tech

Sept. 8 vs. Samford

Sept. 15 at Syracuse 

Sept. 22 vs. Northern Illinois

Sept. 29 at Louisville

Oct. 6 at Miami

Oct. 20 vs. Wake Forest

Oct. 27 vs. Clemson

Nov. 3 at NC State

Nov. 10 at Notre Dame

Nov. 17 vs. Boston College

Nov. 24 vs. Florida

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