TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida State Seminoles lost a pair of defensive ends, a record-setting placekicker, and a multi-year starting quarterback who was a first-round draft pick.
For most schools that might spell disaster, but in Tallahassee, the Seminoles are simply reloading.
Everything starts with the quarterback position where Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher must replace E.J. Manuel. Luckily for Fisher, he has arguably the top freshman quarterback in the country in Jameis Winston ready to lead a potentially explosive offense.
Winston, a two-sport star at FSU, was the top quarterback recruit two years ago and dominated the spring Garnet and Gold game. Still, Fisher said the quarterback race is a tossup between Winston and redshirt sophomore Jacob Cooker. Fisher also wouldn’t rule out using two quarterbacks.
“If it helps us win,” Fisher said of using two quarterbacks. “All decisions are based on winning.”
Along the defensive line, the Seminoles lost a star defensive end in Bjorn Werner, but once again have a young phenom ready to step into the lineup in 6’3”, 285 pound sophomore Mario Edwards, Jr., another former top overall pick.
The Noles also return two great defensive tackles in Jacobbi McDaniel and Timmy Jernigan to help give the line a push up the middle. All of it gives Fisher, and Noles fans, reason to be confident heading into the upcoming season.
“We have a chance to be a very good football team,” Fisher said shortly before the Seminoles began preparation for their Sept. 2 opener against Pittsburgh. “I’m excited about this team to see some of these young guys take new roles. I like the experience we’ve got coming back.”
Fisher also said 6-foot-6, 280-pound Giorgio Newberry was moving from defensive end to tight end to shore up a position where Nick O’Leary was the lone experienced player returning healthy. The depth on the offensive line was also dinged with the loss of Trey Pettis (transfer) and Dan Foose (injury).
“You can’t predict injury,” Fisher said. “But you’ve got to have an idea when those things happen.”
FSU faces a relatively easy early schedule past the opening game which will be on the road at new Atlantic Coast Conference member Pittsburgh. The Noles come back to Tallahassee for two likely wins against Nevada and Bethune-Cookman before heading to Boston College.
The Noles’ biggest early season test comes on October 19 when the team travels to Clemson, South Carolina to face a Clemson Tigers team likely to be ranked in the top 25. The Noles get Miami at home this year, but will have to travel to Gainesville to face a Florida team also likely to be in the top 25.
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