Florida Gators’ opponent preview: Florida State Seminoles

Florida closes out its regular season by hosting the rival Seminoles on Saturday.


The Seminoles are No. 46 nationally in scoring offense (32.8 points), No. 55 in rushing offense (184.3 yards), No. 40 in passing offense (251.6 yards) and No. 41 in total offense (435.9 yards).


After Everett Golson began the year as the Seminoles’ starting quarterback, it’s Sean Maguire’s job for the rest of the season. Maguire will start his fourth game of the season on Saturday. He has completed 65 percent (76-117) of his passes for 968 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He has only four rushing attempts this season, so he’s not close to the rushing threat that Golson can be.

After deciding to play at Florida State this year, Golson has been inconsistent. He has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 1,778 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Despite losing the starting job, Golson is still the backup this season while Deandre Francois takes a redshirt.


The best offensive player for either team by a long shot, Dalvin Cook is a threat to score from anywhere on the field whether as a runner or a pass catcher. Cook has 1,475 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 10 games this season, but he has done that while battling hamstring and ankle injuries. The sophomore is averaging 147.5 yards per game on the ground while totaling 207 receiving yards and one touchdown through the air.

While Cook has been in out and at times this year because of the injuries, freshman Jacques Patrick has been the next in line. He has 62 carries for 315 yards and five touchdowns. Mario Pender has also been involved for 30 carries and 140 yards, but the Seminoles have been extra careful with him as he battles back from a collapsed lung.


Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield are tied for the team lead with 51 receptions each. Rudolph has 693 receiving yards for six touchdowns while Whitfield has 690 receiving yards for six touchdowns. Jesus Wilson is listed as a starter over Whitfield on the depth chart, and the junior has 45 receptions for 516 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

The issue for this unit is size. Rudolph is listed at 6-1, but Whitfield (5-8) and Wilson (5-10) don’t have the ideal size to attack balls in the air. There are plenty of tall receivers on the Florida State depth chart -- George Campbell (6-4), Ja’Vonn Harrison (6-2) and Ermon Lane (6-3) but none of them have made a significant impact.

Besides Rudolph, Whitfield and Wilson, no Florida State receiver has more than six catches.


Florida State’s tight ends have 17 total receptions this season. Ryan Izzo leads the way with 11 receptions, 141 yards and two touchdowns. Mavin Saunders has six catches for 52 yards.


Left tackle Roderick Johnson, a true sophomore, leads the Seminoles’ offensive line with 16 career starts. He was named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. Left guard Kareem Are has played in 11 games with six starts at left guard this season. He was one of four players on the offensive line to make their first career start in the season opener against Texas State.

Center Alec Eberle took over during the second half of the season. Last week against Chattanooga was his fourth straight start.

Right guard Wilson Bell joins Johnson as the only two players on the offensive line to start every game this season. Right tackle Chad Mavety has seven career starts, with five coming at left guard and has started the last two games at right tackle.



The Seminoles are No. 11 in scoring defense (17 points), No. 39 in rushing defense (143.1 yards), No. 31 in passing defense (190.5 yards) and No. 20 in total defense (333.6 yards)


Defensive end DeMarcus Walker is the Seminoles’ most disruptive player up front. He leads FSU with 12 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. No other player on the FSU defense has more than three sacks. Giorgio Newberry backs him up with 20 tackles and two sacks.

Opposite of Walker, the Seminoles have a future star in Josh Sweat. The true freshman is already making a significant impact with 32 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, one interception, two pass deflections, three quarterback hurries and three fumble recoveries.

At defensive tackle, the Seminoles start a pair of 300-pounders in Nile Lawrence-Stample and Derrick Nnadi. Lawrence-Stample has 27 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss while Nandi has 36 tackles and two tackles for a loss.


Florida State leans mostly on three linebackers -- Ro’Derrick Hoskins, Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith. Hoskins’ status for Saturday’s game is expected to play after suffering a knee injury against Chattanooga. He’s tied for third on the team with 52 tackles and is third with 6.5 tackles for a loss.

Northrup has also been banged up in recent weeks, but he leads the team with 78 tackles -- 10 more than any other player on the team. He has five quarterback hurries. Smith has 44 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss with one forced fumble this season.


Jalen Ramsey is sixth on the team with 39 tackles, leading the Seminoles with 10 pass breakups and 10 pass deflections. He doesn’t have an interception, but the future first-round pick impacts the game in every way possible.

The opposite cornerback, Marquez White, has one interception with two tackles for a loss and two pass deflections.


Sweat isn’t the only freshman turning heads on the FSU defense. Safety Derwin James has turned into a true different maker. He’s second on the team with 68 tackles despite starting six games this year. His seven tackles for a loss are second on the team, adding four pass breakups and deflections, three quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles and recoveries.

Lamarcus Brutus starts at free safety. He’s third on the team with 52 tackles, adding three interceptions and four pass deflections with one quarterback hurry.

Javien Elliot is the fifth defensive back with 26 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one interception, one quarterback hurry and two forced fumbles.


Kicker Roberto Aguayo is a weapon. He’s 18-22 on field goals this season, and all four of his misses have come from 40+ yards. The Seminoles have the fifth best kickoff coverage unit in the country and are No. 103 at punt coverage. Punter Cason Beatty is No. 22 nationally with 44.0 yards per punt.

The Seminoles are No. 12 nationally at kickoff returns (25.6 yards) and No. 114 at punt returns (4.2 yards).

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