Florida State hopes to turn things around with another new head coach in Mike Norvell, who comes over from Memphis. This is quite the jump for Norvell, who had stints as an offensive coordinator at Arizona State prior to Memphis.
His task is getting the Seminoles back near the top of the conference after they finished 6-7 overall last year with a 4-4 ACC record. They had early +20000 preseason odds to win the National Championship, which surprisingly placed them second in the Atlantic division, only behind Clemson.
It doesn’t help Norvell that he didn’t have a full spring to work with the team or anything close to a normal offseason. Throw in questions at quarterback and FSU could have problems from the start of the season yet again.
James Blackman or Jordan Travis #1 QB
Coordinator Kenny Dillingham will hope to set his quarterback before the season with James Blackman and Jordan Travis the main competitors. Blackman has to work with yet another coordinator after an inconsistent 2019 campaign that culminated in one touchdown and four picks in the Sun Bowl.
If the line can improve, that’d help Blackman or whoever wins the QB battle. The Seminoles managed just 3.8 yards per carry as a team and that number could be better after numerous freshmen were thrown into the mix last year on the line.
Helping out is a decent receiving corps led by speedster Tamorrion Terry (1,188 yards, 9 TDs), while Khalan Laborn is the best choice to take over at running back if he can stay healthy.
The ‘Noles aren’t expected to run roughshod over the conference, but they could be better behind a new coaching staff and could surpass last year’s 408.3 yards and 27.9 points per game. There are similar hopes for the other side of the ball after they gave up 436 yards and 28.5 points per game.
Adam Fuller New Defensive Coordinator
New coordinator Adam Fuller also comes over from Memphis and he has some tools to work with, namely on the line. Marvin Wilson can be a force on the front and if others like Cory Durden and Janarius Robinson can get to another level, that unit could be a positive.
However, Fuller brings a 4-3 scheme and the back eight will need to step up. At the least, the ‘Noles should have more depth this season with newcomers like linebacker Stephen Dix Jr. expected to fight for time.
The addition of transfer Meiko Dotson gives the secondary another boost to go with corner Asante Samuel Jr. and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen. Given how bad this group has been the last couple years, they can only improve under Fuller, who has had success at most of his stops.
7 or 8 Wins Will be a Challenge
While Norvell provides a nice culture change for Florida State, there’s a real possibility things start rough with a difficult early schedule that features WVU, Boise, NC State and Clemson.
If the Seminoles can escape those first five games with three wins, that’ll be a good sign for a winning record because they’ll ideally pick up a few more home wins the rest of the way.
Getting to seven or eight wins will require upsets and this team may not be there yet, as trips to Louisville and Miami will be difficult, not to mention the finale against Florida.
If Blackman gets a boost under new direction, the offense could be in a situation to get FSU to a winning record, but there are still plenty of questions on both sides of the ball that will likely limit their ability to separate themselves as the second-best team in the ACC.
2020 Florida State Seminoles Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. West Virginia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta) (FSU -6.5)
Sept. 12 vs. Samford
Sept. 19 at Boise State (early preseason line FSU +1)
Oct. 3 at NC State
Oct. 10 vs. Clemson
Oct. 17 vs. Wake Forest
Oct. 24 at Louisville
Oct. 31 vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 7 at Miami (FL)
Nov. 14 vs. Boston College
Nov. 19 at Syracuse
Nov. 28 vs. Florida