It has been seven years since Florida State played for a national championship. But the last few seasons have made those years feel like eons ago since the Seminoles demanded respect from the college football world.
In 2019, FSU finished with a disappointing 6-7 record overall and broke even with a 4-4 mark in ACC play. Florida State, who is used to racking up conference titles and playing for national championships, last finished above .500 two seasons ago with a 7-6 mark in 2017.
But now the Willie Taggart era of embarrassment has passed, and Florida State has confidence in its first-year head coach Mike Norvell who spearheaded Conference USA dominance in his previous job at Memphis.
The Noles host Clemson on Oct. 10 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., with hopes of avenging back-to-back blowouts with a combined 104-24 score, and five straight losses to the Tigers.
This is the fourth offense the Seminoles have installed in their last four seasons and on paper looks more promising given Norvell’s numbers at Memphis that ranked among the best in the nation. Expect a more explosive and aggressive style of play from the Noles this season.
The quarterback battle in Tallahassee looks to be extremely competitive despite junior Justin Blackman’s positive stats. Blackman makes plays but has proved himself to be a ‘Jeckle and Hyde’ type player with 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in his 23 starts. Freshmen Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker are vying for the job, as well as sophomore Jordan Travis.
They have a ton of experience returning at the skill positions that matches the talent you would expect from the Sunshine State but the offensive line has been the laughing stock of the Power Five in recent years. Last year Florida State ranked fifth nationally in sacks allowed in 2019 with 48. It gains a solid grad transfer in FIU’s Devontay Love-Taylor but will need better play from an experienced core.
Last year Florida State ranked 90th in total defense and 119th in passing defense so there is nothing but room for improvement on the other side of the ball. The Noles return a stud in tackle Marvin Wilson who surprised many by electing to return for his senior season and should have a record-breaking season. They also bring back two solid defensive tackles in Cory Durden and Robert Cooper, but will need stars to emerge on the ends.
At linebacker and in the secondary the Noles need vast improvement from the previous two years. They return junior Asante Samuel Jr. and senior Hamsah Nasirildeen in the secondary which should help with defending the pass. The new defensive coordinator, Adam Fuller, who followed Norvell from Memphis, looks to carry over some of his success with the Tigers from a year ago and to bolster a struggling unit with promising talent.
Florida State is back on campus for summer workouts and meetings. So far, one Seminole has tested positive for the coronavirus as cases reach record numbers in Florida. Their COVID-19 policy mimics that of most schools including Clemson. When an athlete tests positive he is quarantined for two weeks before reentry into team facilities.
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