Team: Florida State
2014 Record: 14-1
Returning starters: WR Travis Rudolph, WR Ermon Lane, WR Bobo Wilson, LT Roderick Johnson, RB Dalvin Cook, DT Derrick Mitchell, NT Nile Lawrence-Stample, DE Lorenzo Featherston, DE Jacob Pugh, LB Terrance Smith, LB Reggie Northrup, CB Jalen Ramsey, S Tyler Hunter, S Nate Andrews, K Roberto Aguayo, P Cason Beatty, KR Kermit Whitfield.
Most important offensive player: RB Dalvin Cook. Cook is easily the best player on the Florida State offense. He was the first freshman in Seminole history to run for over 1,000 yards as a freshman and he did it in only 8 games. Having him back takes a lot of the weight off of whichever quarterback wins the starting job.
Most important defensive player: DB Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is arguably the best defensive back in the country and will play multiple positions for the Seminoles. He will start at cornerback this season, but started at safety in 2013 and the star position in 2014. He is a shutdown defensive back that offensive coordinators will have nightmares about leading up to their games against Florida State.
Emerging offensive player: QB Everett Golson. Florida State has the tough task of replacing Jameis Winston and the Seminole will turn to either Sean Maguire or Notre Dame Transfer Everett Golson. Golson has the tools to be an elite dual threat quarterback and provides Florida State the best chance to win this season if he can get the base offense Jimbo Fisher wants to run down.
Emerging defensive player: DT Derrick Nnadi. Nnadi got some reps with the first team last season, but this season will likely start for the Seminole defense. He has the tough task of replacing Eddie Goldman on the interior, but he has the talent to make a big impact this season.
How they matchup with Syracuse: I said it in my season preview, but Syracuse doesn’t match up well with Florida State. The game is in Tallahassee and the Seminoles athleticism will be more than enough to cause significant problems for the Orange.
Season outlook: A successful season this year for the Seminoles would be winning their fourth straight ACC championship. Florida State has recruited better than every other team in the ACC, but are young at a number of positions. They have plenty of questions on both sides of the ball, and a three to four loss season is a possibility. For Florida State to reach that goal they will have to improve the pass rush. Florida State only managed to record 17 sacks last season and doing that poorly this year won’t be covered up by two corners who are expected to start in the NFL this season. On offense they will have to limit the turnovers. They were the second worst team in the country in turning the ball over last season. If they can limit the mistakes, specifically against Georgia Tech and Clemson, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to win the ACC again.