2012 Recap: 12-2. ACC Title. Their best record since the 1999 BCS title team. The Seminoles met the benchmark to be termed “a success,” but it never felt that impressive. They beat Clemson, lost to Florida and were upset on the road by N.C. State. On paper, they were 7th vs. FBS in yards per play offense and first in yards per play defense.
Offense: This unit has the potential to be quite decent. They have a lot of depth returning at the skill positions, especially at tailback. They bring back five upperclassmen offensive linemen with starting experience. The X-factor will be redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. He’s displayed some personality. He’s expected to be the next great college quarterback. Whether he’s ready to be so in 2013 (or Jimbo Fisher permits him to be) remains to be seen.
Defense: They lose six of their starting front seven on defense. Though, with five former five-star recruits and 12 former four-star recruits, we’re guessing they will be up to Florida State standards. The Noles are also stocked with veteran talent in the secondary. It’s hard to see this union not being in the top five to ten range nationally.
Assistant Turnover: Florida State returns only three assistants from last year. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops left to become head coach at Kentucky. James Coley left to call plays in Miami. The Seminoles also lost four other assistants who left to become at least partial coordinators. That could be a problem (see: 2012 Wisconsin).
Jimbo Fisher: He gets an A-plus for program building. He’s a great recruiter. The jury remains out on his in-game coaching. He’s had the pieces, really, since arriving at FSU. Last year’s team, which produced 11 draft picks including five of the first 42, should have done more. The team often plays down to its opponent. Offensive play-calling, which Fisher controls directly, has been an issue. Maybe it’s misfortune. Maybe it’s something more.
Ceiling: 12-0. Jameis Winston is kind of a big deal. The defense does not miss a beat. FSU suffers no let downs, wins road games at Clemson and at Florida and takes care of Miami at home.
Floor: 8-4. Assistant turnover rears its head. FSU loses to Florida, loses to Clemson and dumps another two ACC games.
Prediction: 10-2. Jameis Winston may be a first-round pick at quarterback. So were E.J. Manuel and Christian Ponder. The Noles lose to Florida, and split Clemson and Miami.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]