CFN Preview 2013 - Florida State Seminoles
Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan
Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan
Posted Jul 11, 2013 Preview 2013 - Florida State Seminoles

Florida State Seminoles

Preview 2013

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Jimbo Fisher
Fourth year: 31-10
Returning Lettermen
Off. 27, Def. 26, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best FSU Players
1. CB Lamarcus Joyner, Sr.
2. NG Timmy Jernigan, Jr.
3. WR Rashad Greene, Jr.
4. LB Christian Jones, Sr.
5. LT Cameron Erving, Jr.
6. QB Jameis Winston, RFr.
7. RG Tre' Jackson, Jr.
8. LB Telvin Smith, Sr.
9. RB James Wilder Jr., Jr.
10. C Bryan Stork, Sr.
2013 Schedule
9/2 at Pitt
9/14 Nevada
9/21 Bethune-Cookman
9/28 at Boston College
10/5 Maryland
10/19 at Clemson
10/26 NC State
11/2 Miami
11/9 at Wake Forest
11/16 Syracuse
11/23 Idaho
11/30 at Florida
Next stop: National Championship contention.

Fourth-year head coach Jimbo Fisher is doing things right in Tallahassee these days, methodically building Florida State back to prominence. He inherited from Bobby Bowden a fading program, one that had won 10 games just once in the previous nine years. Fisher has already done it twice in three years, capped by last season's 12-2 mark and first ACC championship since 2005.

The resurgent ‘Noles have been using a simple formula for success of late, attracting top talent, both players and staff, and coaching up that personnel, something that had noticeably slipped toward the end of Bowden's tenure. So when Florida State loses a school-record 11 players to the 2013 NFL Draft, it knows that it has the troops and the process in place to retool instead of rebuild.

Florida State's biggest departures occurred at quarterback and along the D-line. QB EJ Manuel was selected in the opening round by the Buffalo Bills, and three ends were chose in the first 162 picks. All eyes this summer will be on Manuel's successor, likely precocious redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Winston was one of the stars of the spring, drawing all kinds of comparisons, from RG3 to Charlie Ward. If Winston holds off Jacob Coker, and keeps evolving, he'll get ample support from WR Rashad Greene, backs James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman and a fast-emerging O-line.

Yeah, the D is undergoing some significant changes, such as the rebuilt line and the presence of first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, but it'll be just fine in 2013. Better than fine, in fact. The ‘Noles house an abundance of existing talent, such as CB Lamarcus Joyner and LB Christian Jones, that will mesh seamlessly with up-and-comers, like NG Timmy Jernigan, LB Telvin Smith and CB Ronald Darby. Florida State is loaded for Pruitt, needing only to prove that it can finally shut down QB Tajh Boyd and Clemson during the regular season.

Florida State may not be all the way back, but the renaissance is in full swing under the guidance of Fisher and his staff. The ‘Noles bounced back from a disappointing 2011 to win a conference title and finish ranked in the top 10. As long as the program keeps sticking to the plan, it's only a matter of time—and a little more patience—before the school is in the hunt for even grander prizes.

What to look for offense: Ground control. The Seminoles plan to batter opponents between the tackles, and occasionally outside of them as well. It's a logical plan of attack since the new starting quarterback has no experience and the offense's strengths reside in the backfield and along the O-line. Three backs are capable of shouldering the load, with powerful James Wilder Jr. and speedy Mario Pender poised to make the biggest leaps in 2013. The pair, along with steady Devonta Freeman, will be running behind an offensive line that blocked remarkably well a year ago, despite being perilously inexperienced.

What to look for on defense: A monster season out of Timmy Jernigan. The junior is one of the game's elite linemen. You just don't know it because he's been a part of such a deep D-line rotation over the past couple of seasons. Now that the Seminoles have been dinged by graduation, Jernigan's ability to whip opposing blockers with his strength, quickness and motor will be on display on a more continuous basis. The 6-2, 292-pounder is dynamic enough to parlay his first season as a full-timer into first-round money next spring.

The team will be much better if ... it begins tipping the turnover scale in its favor. The Seminoles finished remarkably well in the standings, considering they ranked an unacceptable 93rd nationally in turnover margin. They were a mediocre 58th in takeaways, and 96th in turnovers. The 2012 edition of Florida State, with a veteran at the controls of the offense, was able to overcome a high level of generosity. The 2013 squad, though, may not be as fortunate, as a new man behind center gets broken in.

The Schedule: It's not bad, but it's really, really interesting starting out with Pitt's ACC debut in Heinz Field. That's one of the matchups against the Coastal, and the other is in November against an improved Miami. On the plus side, there's no Virginia Tech to deal with from the Atlantic, and missing North Carolina isn't bad, but the really, really big deal comes on the road. If everything goes according to plan, the Noles shouldn't have any problems with anyone in the ACC against Clemson, and the division battle is in Death Valley. Fortunately, there are two weeks off to prepare, and there's a nice mix overall of road games without having to deal with two in a row. The non-conference slate isn't too bad with Nevada, Bethune-Cookman and Idaho coming to Tallahassee, but the Florida showdown is in Gainesville.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Rashad Greene. Clemson has Sammy Watkins. Florida State has Greene. The multi-dimensional Greene became the first Seminole in 13 years to produce touchdowns three different ways in the same year. The 6-0, 175-pound burner caught a team-best 57 passes for 741 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, adding a rushing score and two punt returns for six. An electrifying game-changer on the outside, Greene doesn't figure to get passed over by All-ACC voters for a second straight year.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Lamarcus Joyner. On the nation's All-Underrated Team, Joyner is a starting defensive back. Often overlooked and unheralded nationally because of his small frame, the senior is arguably the smartest and most complete defensive player on a very good defensive team. A year after earning a spot on the All-ACC First Team as a strong safety, Joyner is making the move to cornerback, where a seamless transition is anticipated. Instinctive and hard-working, he's the kind of player that just seems to do all the little things really, really well.

Key player to a successful season: Junior RT Bobby Hart. The Florida State O-line authored a remarkable turnaround in 2012, laying the groundwork for further progress this fall. Four starters return, but chemistry and continuity could suffer a blow if Menelik Watson isn't sufficiently supplanted at right tackle. While Hart is the best option right now, he's had a rocky career since becoming a 17-year-old starter in 2011. Last year was a washout, marked by questions about the linemen's focus and work ethic. With an underclassmen replacing EJ Manuel at quarterback, the ‘Noles have to be fortresses at the point of attack. And Hart is the blocker most likely to be targeted by opposing D-linemen.

The season will be a success if ... the Seminoles build on last season by again winning the ACC and capturing a BCS bowl victory. Naturally, the next step in the evolution would be to play for a BCS National Championship, but that's a stretch goal with a first-time starting quarterback in charge. Instead, Florida State would be thrilled to take another stride toward reestablishing itself as the league's heavyweight. Back-to-back ACC titles would go a very long way toward ensuring that the malaise of the pre-Jimbo Fisher has been eradicated.

Key game: Oct. 19 at Clemson. This annual matchup between the Tigers and the Seminoles has picked up a head of steam as one of the must-see games each fall. Tajh Boyd and the Clemson attack vs. the grown-up Florida State D is about as good a game-within-the-game matchup that there'll be in 2013. Obviously, the winner in Death Valley jumps out to a commanding lead in the Atlantic Division race. And who knows? The Week 8 survivor could also be a contender for a spot in the National Championship Game.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Points per game: Florida State 39.3 – Opponents 14.7
- Yards per rush: Florida State 5.6 – Opponents 2.7
- Sacks: Florida State 36 - Opponents 26
- 2013 Florida State Preview | 2013 Florida State Offense
- 2013 Florida State Defense | 2013 Florida State Depth Chart