With six new assistants on staff and a new quarterback this fall, Florida State isn't going to look like the team that won the ACC title and the Discover Orange Bowl last season. That doesn't mean, though, that the Noles can't be as good as or better than they were a year ago. Many -- including ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson -- are convinced this will be another 10-win season in Tallahassee. Of course, there are always a few doubters out there. Can the Noles win 10 games again? It depends, of course, on whom you ask ...
Andrea Adelson says you can count on at least 10 wins:
AA: I have to hand it to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. He is a master salesman.
He has convinced me that Florida State will just pick up where it left off last season, despite the major personnel losses, despite the staff overhaul, despite potentially starting a redshirt freshman quarterback.
But, Andrea, you say, Florida State drops a game it absolutely should not EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Why is 2013 different, when this team has to replace 11 players lost to the NFL draft?
Because Florida State is finally in a place where it can reload, and not rebuild. Take a look at this team. The Noles have more junior and senior starters this year than last year. Fisher dropped that little nugget during the ACC spring meetings, and the small group of reporters gathered around him stood speechless.
Fisher chuckled as he said, “Y’all didn’t realize that until I said it, did you?”
It is true the Noles lose experience with EJ Manuel gone. But they have a potentially dazzling replacement in Jameis Winston. I do not need to remind Noles fans that Manuel took his share of criticism for coming up small on the big stage more often than not.
What's more, Florida State has major talent returning on offense to help Winston out. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman form one of the best running back duos in the league. The receiver group is talented and deep. The offensive line should be one of the best in the ACC.
Defensively, Florida State has the potential to be even better without Mark Stoops, Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Xavier Rhodes. The Noles are loaded up front, and are expecting a huge year from tackle Timmy Jernigan. Christian Jones is the best linebacker in the ACC; Lamarcus Joyner the best defensive back. If Florida State plays as aggressively as promised, watch out.
Now let’s take a look at the schedule. This one provides an opportunity to win at least 10 regular-season games. Aside from the two toughies -- Clemson and Florida -- tell me who has a shot here. Nevada? Idaho? Miami? Find a defense first.
Wait. I hear Heather screaming, "Pitt!" Yes, this game will be tough, on the road with a first-time starting quarterback. But the Panthers are rife with problems. No depth at running back. No depth at receiver. Mediocre (bordering bad) offensive line. Pitt won’t beat Florida State up front, and that is why the Noles will ultimately win.
Anybody else? Do I hear NC State? Not without Mike Glennon. Wake Forest? Bowl bound perhaps, but not good enough to beat Florida State. BC, Maryland, Syracuse? Win, win, win.
Add it all up, and there is no doubt Florida State will win 10 or more games once again.
Heather Dinich says not buying it:
HD: If you look at the talent on Florida State’s roster, it’s easy to believe the Seminoles should have another 10-win season.
Or, more accurately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing it.
Just like everyone thought FSU would win the Atlantic Division in 2009, when the Noles finished in third place and lost to South Florida on the way. Or just like in 2011, when FSU was predicted to win the division, and lost three straight, including to Wake Forest for the fourth time.
The media loves to love Florida State.
Florida State was the preseason favorite in its division in 2007, when it finished in fourth place. It was the media’s preseason favorite to win the division in 2006, when it finished in fifth place.
Oh, I know, I know … times have changed under Jimbo Fisher. Those were the downward spiral days of Bobby Bowden’s career. The program is on an upswing now. It’s coming off its first ACC championship since 2005 and a BCS bowl win.
And a loss to NC State.
Look, I’m not here to stick a pin in Florida State’s dreams. Consider me, rather, your reality check, your ghost of Florida State past.
Florida State had all of the pieces in place last year to be a national title contender and had two fourth-quarter meltdowns. So now, after losing six assistant coaches and a total of 13 starters -- more than any school in the conference -- you expect me to believe it's going to cruise to another 10 wins?
Quarterback Jameis Winston, if he does indeed turn out to be The Guy as many expect, will be making his first career start on the road against a Pitt defense that should be one of the best in the conference. FSU has to play AT Clemson. Who says the Noles are going to beat Miami? And a road trip to Florida is always a challenge.
I see nine games Florida State should absolutely win this fall: at Pitt, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, at Boston College, Maryland, NC State, at Wake Forest, Syracuse and Idaho. Anything can happen in the other three games, but knowing Florida State’s inconsistent tendencies and all of the turnover that has taken place this offseason, the Noles still have something to prove.
This is a team that has a new defensive coordinator, a new starting quarterback, and no offensive coordinator. If there aren’t a few bumps in the road, Fisher will get my vote as the ACC’s Coach of the Year.
If there are a few bumps in the road? Well, then, it’s true -- history repeats itself.