HEAD COACH: Jimbo Fisher, 31-10 (3 years) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Jimbo Fisher |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Jeremy Pruitt
After EJ Manuel led FSU to a victory over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl, everyone knew the Seminoles would have to search for a new quarterback this season. What we couldn’t have predicted was what a wild ride that would be. For the first time in five years, Florida State conducted a truly open competition at quarterback during spring drills, and the winner appears to be redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Coach Jimbo Fisher won’t confirm that just yet; he might not officially name his starter until preseason camp in August.
But Winston was so impressive during spring drills that junior Clint Trickett, who entered the spring atop the depth chart, announced he was transferring just four days after the Seminoles’ spring game. Winston, who was rated by many the nation’s No. 1 quarterback coming out of Hueytown (Ala.) High School near Birmingham, still will have to fight off challenges from sophomore Jacob Coker and redshirt freshman Sean Maguire.
FSU returns two junior tailbacks with starting experience. Devonta Freeman finished with 660 yards and eight touchdowns last season, while James Wilder Jr. had 635 yards and 11 scores. And the wide receiver group is deep and talented, led by junior Rashad Greene. Kenny Shaw, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Dent all caught at least 27 passes last fall.
The Seminoles are solid up front, with four starters returning and the lone new starter being a veteran (junior Bobby Hart) with plenty of experience. FSU is not particularly deep on the line, however, so overcoming injuries would be a problem.
When Fisher lured Jeremy Pruitt away from Alabama to be his new defensive coordinator, he did so with the hopes of reshaping his defense in the mold of the Crimson Tide. He wants more turnovers and big plays, and the Seminoles should have the talent to make that happen.
Seniors Christian Jones and Telvin Smith lead a deep and talented linebacker corps, and the Seminoles might have even more talent in the defensive backfield. Senior Lamarcus Joyner is coming off of an All-ACC season at safety but worked primarily at cornerback in spring drills. Senior Terrence Brooks led FSU’s defensive backs in tackles last season, and juniors Tyler Hunter and Karlos Williams emerged as potential stars late in 2012.
The biggest challenges will be replacing four starters on the defensive line, but new tackles Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister each put up better numbers in 2012 than the starters they are replacing.
There very likely will be a drop-off at defensive end, where the Seminoles lost high NFL Draft picks Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine. Sophomore Mario Edwards Jr. and senior Dan Hicks likely will fill those roles.
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Lamarcus Joyner, CB - Can cover in space, is a big hitter despite a small frame, and will be used in blitz packages.
Rashad Greene, WR - Isn’t a big body, but has great toughness and breakaway speed. Led the Noles in receptions (57) and yards (741).
Timmy Jernigan, DT - Uses his strength and quickness to be a major disruptive force on the interior of the Seminoles’ defensive front.
Fisher believes redshirt freshman placekicker Roberto Aguayo could be even better than departing All-American Dustin Hopkins. Punter Cason Beatty returns from a solid freshman campaign, but the Seminoles will need to make improvements in the return game, where they struggled with fumbles last fall.
This hasn’t been the easiest offseason for Fisher. Not only is he replacing a slew of starters on both sides of the ball, but he also lost six of nine assistant coaches to other schools.
Despite that turnover, the Seminoles again will be among the most talented teams in the country. If Winston can handle the starting quarterback job as a redshirt freshman and FSU avoids injuries on the offensive line, the Seminoles will have a chance to win at least 10 games for the third time in Fisher’s first four seasons.
Athlon ranks the top 10 Florida State players since 1967. Buckley started for only two seasons in Tallahassee, but got his name securely into the record books. He claims the school’s all-time interception record with 21 and INT return yards with 501 – which also happens to be an NCAA mark as well. In 1991, Buckley led the nation – and set an FSU single-season record – with 12 interceptions (returned for 238 yards and two TDs). He was named an All-American and claimed the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back. Buckley also played two years of varsity baseball and lettered on the Outdoor Track and Field team once. He was selected with the fifth overall pick in the first round on the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
As a three-time All-ACC performer, Dunn is the only Seminole to top the 1,000-yard mark in three consecutive seasons. His 3,959 career yards and 1,418 yards in 1995 represent the career and single-season records for Florida State. Dunn was a part of the 1993 National Championship team and has scored more TDs (49) than any other Florida State player. His 21 100-yard rushing efforts are also a school record. The Noles were 31-1 in ACC play during Dunn’s four-year career. He was also an All-American on the Track and Field team in Tallahassee. He was drafted in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Bucs and went on to rush for 10,967 yards in his illustrious pro career.
The frst three-year starter at QB for the Seminoles under Bobby Bowden, Weinke became the second FSU player to win the Heisman Trophy when he was named the nation's best player in 2000. He led the nation in passing with 4,167 yards. Weinke led the Noles to an undefeated season in 1999 and the National Championship. He was a remarkable 32-3 as the starter. He set both ACC and school records for career passing yards with 9,839 and would set 26 Florida State records. His 536 yards against Duke in 2000 and his 79 career TD passes highlight the long list of FSU benchmarks. Weinke also won the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas trophies in 2000. The stellar QB was drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Jones became the first Seminole to capture two major national awards in the same season when he earned the 1992 Butkus and Lombardi Awards. He was only FSU's third two-time consensus All-American, and his 111 tackles helped lead the Noles to an 11-1 mark that year, when Jones finished fourth in the Heisman voting. He finished his career with 369 tackles (seventh all-time at FSU) and 28 tackles for a loss (third all-time at FSU). The New York Jets selected Jones with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Sellers remains the prolific receiver in FSU history. He held most of the NCAA receiving records from the end of his final season in 1968 until 1987. A flanker for FSU, he accumulated 3,979 yards on 240 career receptions. He caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, averaging 119.9 yards per game. He led the Noles to three straight bowl games in his time in Tallahassee. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and was drafted by the Boston Patriots with the sixth overall pick in the Common Draft of 1969.
A two-time consensus All-American, Brooks was the big-play man on dominating defenses that not only won ACC championships but also the 1993 National Title. That year, Brooks made 77 tackles, seven for a loss, en route to ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He finished his career with 274 tackles, five interceptions, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Brooks is one of eight Noles to have his number retired. The talented tackler was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, where all he did was go to 11 Pro Bowls, win a Super Bowl and the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
Few players from any school have ever had the raw explosiveness and play-making ability that Mr. Warrick possessed. He was virtually impossible to stop in the open field. The two-time consensus All-American caught more touchdown passes (32) than any FSUer in history. His 207 career receptions and 3,517 receiving yards rank second all-time to Ron Sellers. He was also the front-runner for the 1999 Heisman Trophy - scoring from five different positions on the field - before an off-the-field incident slowed his final season. He bounced back as the MVP of the 2000 Sugar Bowl, scoring three times in the National Championship victory over Virginia Tech. Warrick was the fourth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Very simply put: Simmons was the dominant defensive lineman in Florida State history, which is quite a statement considering the talent to roll through Tallahassee along the D-Line. After recording 81 tackles, six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 1979, Simmons finished ninth in the Heisman and earned his first of two consensus All-America awards. His career totals of 25 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss were Seminole records until the 1996 season. Simmons was the first Nole defender to have his jersey retired. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 1981 NFL Draft.
Likely the most exciting college player of his era, Sanders was a two-time consensus All-American and won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1988 as the nation's best defensive back. He intercepted 14 passes in his career (not including bowl games) and was a stellar return man who led the nation in punt returns at 15.2 per return in 1988. He holds seven FSU school records for INTs and/or punt returns. Sanders lettered in three sports - baseball, track and football - and is one of very few players to excel at two professional sports. Despite his lack of desire to tackle, Sanders is widely considered the best cover corner to ever play the game. Sanders was the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL Hall of Famer also was a career .263 hitter in 11 MLB seasons.
Ward might be the most decorated player in NCAA football history. The list of awards and accomplishments for No. 17 is astounding. The two most important took place in 1993. Ward, an experienced leader on both the gridiron and hardcourt, earned the Heisman Trophy as the game's best player as well as the National Championship. He set 19 school and seven ACC records in his two years as the starting QB in Tallahassee. A consensus All-American, Ward claimed upwards of 30 individual awards including the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award and the ACC Player of the Year. His dynamic rush-pass ability netted him 6,636 yards of total offense (second in FSU history), and he posted the highest completion rate in school history with a 62.3% mark. Despite playing baseball and football at Florida State (at an elite level), Ward took his raw ability to the NBA, where he was a first round pick in 1994 by the New York Knicks. He helped lead the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Known as the “Choke at Doak,” referring to the Seminoles’ Doak Campbell Stadium home, Florida State overcame a 31-3 fourth-quarter deficit, scoring four touchdowns to tie Florida. Rock Preston’s four-yard run with 1:45 left and Dan Mowry’s subsequent PAT evened the count at 31-31 and gave the ‘Noles a huge moral victory over their biggest rival.
On the game’s second play from scrimmage, cornerback Terrell Buckley returned an Elvis Grbac pass 40 yards for a touchdown, starting the top-ranked Seminoles’ 51-31 rout of third-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was the most points scored on the Wolverines since 1958 and gave FSU another contribution to its growing sod cemetery.
The standing ovation from the Nebraska fans said it all: Florida State football had arrived. The Seminoles stunned the number-three Cornhuskers, 18-14, for the first big road win of coach Bobby Bowden’s tenure in Tallahassee. (Note: We don't have video of that game, so enjoy this little promo for the 1980 Super Seminoles.)
Peter Warrick caught six passes for 163 yards and two TDs and scored on a punt return to help Florida State cap a tumultuous year with a 46-29 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl that clinched the national title. Chris Weinke threw for 329 yards and four scores for the victorious Seminoles.
Facing a 16-15 deficit to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl and the prospect of losing a shot at the school’s first-ever national title, the ‘Noles drove 62 yards in under a minute to set up Scott Bentley for a 22-yard field goal – his fourth of the game – to give FSU an 18-16 lead. When the Cornhuskers failed to convert a 45-yard try at the gun, Florida State was number one.
Will Texas A&M finish ahead of LSU in the SEC West standings this year?
With Alabama expected to be the No. 1 team in most preseason polls in 2013, combined with potential top-10 teams in LSU and Texas A&M, the SEC West should be one of the deepest divisions in college football. That also doesn’t include an improving Ole Miss squad, and Arkansas and Auburn – two teams that should also get better under the direction of new head coaches.
Athlon Sports ranks the best dynasties in college football since the AP Poll debuted.
Dynasty is a word that gets tossed around all too liberally by fans and media members alike. However, there are periods of time in sports where the term is not only applicable but completely accurate. The NFL had the Packers of the '60s, the Steelers of the '70s, the 49ers of the '80s, the Cowboys of the '90s and the Patriots of the '00s. The NBA has the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and soon-to-be Heat dynasties.
HEAD COACH: Mike Gundy, 67-35 (8 years) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Mike Yurcich |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Glenn Spencer
Despite the transfer of sophomore Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State's quarterback situation is still surrounded in mystery heading into the fall.
For the Cowboys, their quarterbacking duo — senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W. Walsh — conjures nothing but positive thoughts. Both started and won Big 12 games a year ago. And neither lost the job due to poor performance, but rather injuries that sidelined Lunt and Walsh, clearing the way for the former third-teamer Chelf to seize the spot. Once handed the controls to OSU’s high-octane offense, Chelf thrived, starting the final five games and earning MVP honors at the Heart of Dallas Bowl after directing a rout of Purdue. Chelf also earned the trust of teammates and head coach Mike Gundy, putting him atop the depth chart entering the season. And after opening last season as an afterthought, he enters this season with complete confidence.
“Knowing I’ve played and have some experience under my belt, that just makes you more comfortable as a player and more confident in your ability,” Chelf says. “I definitely feel a lot better.”
There’s still competition, and knowledge of what all three have accomplished. Whoever stands behind center will operate with many major weapons and a stout offensive line. Receivers Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are both All-Big 12 types. And other pass-catching options are plentiful in OSU’s spread attack, which is bent on playing even faster under new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
Two-time All-Big 12 back Joseph Randle must be replaced, but Jeremy Smith vows he’s ready for the spotlight, and he’s been good enough in reserve to score 25 career touchdowns.
After seasons of being perceived as the weak link of the team, the defense has adopted an attack mentality. New coordinator Glenn Spencer, who replaced the fired Bill Young, is charged with orchestrating a change that is wildly popular among players.
“Now we get to play a lot more aggressive,” says cornerback Justin Gilbert. “And that’s going to be a lot better for us.”
There’s talent in place, from the league’s best tackle tandem in Calvin Barnett and James Castleman, to veteran and productive linebackers Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey, to safety Daytawion Lowe. Gilbert needs to play more like he did in a standout 2011 season than his scuffling effort of last season, but the potential is there.
And a cast of young players moving into more prominent roles has stirred optimism among the defensive staff.
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Josh Stewart, WR – Emerged as a clutch go-to receiver, posting the third-best season ever by an OSU sophomore with 101 catches for 1,210 yards.
Justin Gilbert, CB – Coming off a disappointing year, but he’s more than capable of locking down one side of the field.
Calvin Barnett, DT – A disruptive force in the middle who earned All-Big 12 honors last season; his eight tackles for a loss led the Cowboys.
Daytawion Lowe, FS – The enforcer of the secondary, Lowe is a playmaker against the run or pass.
Tracy Moore, WR – Back from a foot injury, the physical Moore is a matchup nightmare on the edge. He had four TDs against Arizona.
Gilbert is a dynamic kickoff return man, already owning the school record with five touchdown returns. Stewart offers similar potential on punt returns. But the kicking and punting chores — a program staple — are in flux. And the Cowboys may have to rely on true freshman Ben Grogan to replace three-year standout Quinn Sharp in both roles.
The bar is set high for the Cowboys — Big 12 championship high, with 12 returning starters and even more promising players on the rise. The schedule opens with a challenge: a date with improving SEC squad Mississippi State, in Houston. The Cowboys get TCU and Oklahoma, arguably their two major challengers in the Big 12, at home.
Gundy must be careful to keep the quarterback situation under control, as Chelf and Walsh tasted life as the starter and certainly hunger for more. So far, it hasn’t been an issue. Otherwise, it should be business as usual on offense, which during the Gundy era has been big business. If the defense makes a smooth transition to an attacking approach, the Cowboys will be hard to beat in the Big 12.
Is Clint Chelf the No. 1 quarterback in the Big 12?
The Big 12 should have one of the most wide-open battles at quarterback for first-team all-conference honors in 2013.
TCU’s Casey Pachall is back after a suspension, but he isn’t guaranteed the starting job. Oklahoma’s Blake Bell has a lot of talent and should thrive in his first year as the No. 1 quarterback. However, he has yet to prove he can consistently beat defenses with his arm.