Florida State came into the season with question marks on both sides of the ball. The Seminoles had to replace a Heisman winning quarterback, one of the top-2 running backs, a top-5 receiver in school history, four starting offensive linemen (three that are playing in the NFL), and the best tight end in school history on offense. On defense the Seminoles lost four players to the NFL draft. All four were taken in the first 78 picks, and three went inside the Top-50.
That left a lot of holes for Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher to fill. Fisher lured in graduate transfer quarterback Everett Golson from Notre Dame, but he was just a band-aid and ended up being benched in favor of Sean Maguire.
Ten different freshmen started for Florida State this season, including three on the offensive line. Coming into the season only true sophomore Roderick Johnson and Ryan Hoefeld any games for the Seminoles. Johnson is the only current starter who came into the season with any starts under his belt. Nine different offensive linemen have started a game for the Seminoles this season.
The Florida State offense played only 8 upperclassmen this season. Of the 8, only 2, Bobo Wilson and Freddie Stevenson, had started more than one game at Florida State. The offense played 23 underclassmen.
On defense the Seminoles had more upperclassmen, but they were also coming off a very lack luster season despite having so many future NFL starters on the roster. They started two true freshman for most of the season, lost their best linebacker for a five game stretch, and started a former walk-on.
Despite all of this the Seminoles were able to go 10-2 on the season, 6-2 in the ACC, beat both in-state rivals, and finish the season ranked in the Top-10 for the fourth straight year. Florida State will be making their fourth straight major bowl game when they take on Houston in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on December 31st.
A lot of that has to do with running back Dalvin Cook, who put the Florida State offense on his back at times this season. Still, the Offense has improved over the course of the season, and finished averaging just one point less than the 2014 team that had all that talent.
On defense, the 2015 Seminoles were far superior to their 2014 version. They allowed 9.8 points per game less this season than last season, and were the only team in the country not to give up more than 25 points in a game.
The Seminole defense will likely lose star defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the NFL Draft, and could lose defensive end Demarcus Walker and cornerback Marquez White as well. Terrance Smith, Reggie Northrup, Nile Lawrence-Stample, Giorgio Newberry, Tyler Hunter, Javien Elliot, Derrick Mitchell, and Lamarcus Brutus are all graduating. Despite all of that, Florida State is still set up to be an excellent defense in 2016.
On offense, Florida State only loses quarterback Everett Golson to graduation. Dalvin Cook is only a sophomore, and still has one more year before he can declare for the NFL Draft. With a year of experience for the very young offense, the Seminoles should be much improved on that side of the ball next season.
The 2015 season has set the Seminoles up for 2016 very well, but even in a rebuilding year, Florida State accomplished more than 90-percent of the other teams in college football.