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2018 FSU football season staff predictions

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The staff channels its inner Nolestradamus.

NCAA Football: Delaware State at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Football season is here at last, and we’re back to tell you exactly how everything will play out, without error or exception. Okay, half of that is accurate. But let’s do it anyway. Here are our staff predictions as to how things will shakeout for the Seminoles during the 2018 campaign.

Kyle Griffis:

I have the ’Noles going 9-3 in the regular season, with 8-4 being more likely than 10-2. FSU will need to score points in bunches, but the lack of depth at offensive line and linebacker is particularly worrisome. Losing more than one starter to injury at either of those position groups would be catastrophic.

The backloaded schedule would be difficult for any team to maneuver, let alone one going through a coaching change and system overhaul. Starting with Clemson in Doak on October 27, FSU closes with trips to Raleigh and South Bend coming before two home games against Boston College and a cupcake to close the season against Florida. The NC State game is concerning given FSU’s history at Carter-Finley and its peculiar placement sandwiched the week after Clemson and the week before a trip to Notre Dame. I think the goal should be FSU escaping that stretch with two or fewer losses. Otherwise, going to Miami on October 6 may be the bellwether for determining whether the ’Noles get to 9 wins.

Matt Minnick:

In an up and down year, FSU wins one it shouldn’t and loses one it shouldn’t to finish 9-3. The offense puts up points by the bucketful against everyone except Clemson and ND, but the defense is a year or two away.

Tim Scribble:

With an almost entirely new staff, this could be an up-and-down year for Florida State. The kids might have more fun this year but could also make more mistakes as they learn the new playbooks.

I think the season hinges on the OL. If the unit gels and stays healthy, this could be a 10-2 or 11-1 regular season team. I’ll settle on 9-3 with more likely 8-4 than 10-2.

Trey Rowland:

It’s going to be an interesting first year for new head coach Willie Taggart and the Seminoles in 2018. Taggart had the unenviable task of completely overhauling the program culture, installing a new offense/defense, and trying to navigate one of the toughest schedules in the country. It looks like he accomplished the first goal in the offseason, and I expect him to do fairly well on the other two.

Look for the ’Noles to come out firing and pick up a big win over Virginia Tech on Labor Day. I think they go 4-0 up until the Louisville game where the schedule gets a bit more dicey. This team is very talented at some spots (hello running backs) and dangerously thin at others (sup linebacker and offensive tackle). Additionally, although the new offense and defense will be a welcome sight to some fans, there will also be headaches involved in the installation of both. Based on all of that, I expect this team will produce a few clunkers.

I predict FSU to go 2-3 in the games against Louisville, Miami, Clemson, NC State, and Notre Dame, with the only guaranteed loss coming from Clemson. I expect the Seminoles to surprise on the road against either Miami or Notre Dame. That leaves the team with a 9-3 record in the regular season. Taggart picks up his 10th win of the year in the bowl game and somehow manages an extremely respectable 10-3 record in his first year as head coach of Florida State.

Juan Montalvo:

The scheduling gods did Willie Taggart no favors in his first year. Taggart’s Noles could be markedly improved and still come away with little to show. With Clemson and NCSU both having strong options at QB, the Atlantic is likely a pipe dream— and that is before you consider that Miami and Virginia Tech are the two crossover opponents from the Coastal! That and a trip to South Bend makes for a schedule with 3 top-15 and 7 top-40 projected opponents.

My winshares have 8-4 most likely, with 7-5 and 9-3 being fairly even behind them. Year 0 for Taggart will be a tough one.

Jon Marchant:

9-3 regular season, 3 losses in a row against Clemson, NC State, and ND, but they beat Miami by 3 and Florida by 16. This offense is going to be extremely fun. Taggart signs a top-5 class.

ricobert1:

If you’re reading these season previews, you are desperate for some FSU football. Let me fuel that desperation. Team buy-in is the highest it’s been since 2010, but this time with much better talent. Young bucks are pushing their way up the depth chart, FSU’s 5-stars will flash, and this offense is going to put some up very crooked numbers on scoreboards. Don’t worry about the defense much, just try to get that ball back and watch the offense do some work. Give me 9 wins and a fun bowl matchup.

evenflow58:

It’s always difficult to judge a team during a coaching change, so I think my projections are a bit pessimistic. I don’t have a ton of confidence in the defense, and I think a prolonged power outage by the offense could cause FSU to be closer in some game than they should be, if not out right lose them. My win share projections suggest 8-4 with 7-5 being more likely than 9-3 and that feels right. The final 5 games of this schedule is down right nasty with Clemson, @ NC State, @ Notre Dame and then home against Boston College (trap game?) and then Florida. Both Clemson and NC State should have the best QBs in the ACC by a long shot, and I don’t think FSU can keep up in those shoot outs.

Prince Akeem Joffer:

I’m predicting 8-4 with 9-3 more likely than 7-5. The offense should improve. Although the offensive line is still a concern, the skill-position talent is impressive. The receiving corps especially should be better. Defensively, the talent level may suffer a bit of a dropoff, but that should be offset by better coaching.

Perry Kostidakis:

With how dreadful last season felt, and how much excitement has surrounded the beginning of this one, it’s hard not to buy into the soft factors. College football, at its core, is a stupid, dumb, random sport decided by the emotions and performances of 20-year-olds, so why shouldn’t you get deluded into thinking that some hot-ass beats and new swagger are all Florida State needed to get back into national title contention?

Well, one, the schedule. As noted by just about everybody else here, it’s a murderer’s row, with away games at Miami and Notre Dame coupled with home ones vs. Virginia Tech and Clemson, mixed in with the wild cards of Boston College, Louisville, and NC State. Even Wake Forest is supposed to be good!

If Deondre Francois can take his 2016 performance to a new level in an offense suited to his strengths, if Cam Akers and his merry gang of running backs can put up the yards that they’re expected to, if the defensive line clicks and the secondary utilizes its talent and the linebackers hold up and the receivers step up and Ricky Aguayo manages to perform well enough to erase the memories of last year then, maybe, just maybe...Florida State can go 10-2.

Keep your fingers crossed for excitement, lots of points and yards, and just, you know, actively enjoying the sport of football rather than cursing its very existence every minute spent watching it. It’s a new era and new season, and after last year, any positive feeling will be multiplied by ten.

Even if it’s an 8-4 season.

NoleThruandThru:

The good vibes flowing through Taggart-hassee have finally carried us to the start of football season. Florida State will have a new look on both sides of the ball, led by a hungry coaching staff looking to bring back the big plays. Will Deondre Francois be the leader FSU needs him to be? How will James Blackman be incorporated throughout the year?

I fully expect Cam Akers to surpass 1,000 yards once again while seeing significant contributions from Amir Rasul and Anthony Grant. As the self-appointed conductor of the Tre’shaun Harrison Hype Train (he will house a return this year!), I’m most excited about the WR corps in this offense with Noonie Murray and D.J. Matthews leading the way and any of Terminator Terry, Jordan Young, Warren Thompson, and Keith Gavin straight up Mossing people downfield.

Tre McKitty could also be an under-the-radar weapon. The OL will be the largest question mark, and I’m very interested to see how Greg Frey coaches them up. Defensively, Harlon Barnett’s crew looks to have great strengths across the DL and defensive backfield, but how will the linebackers fare? In terms of development, the guys on D I’ll be most interested in watching are Janarius Robinson, Wally Aime, Xavier Peters, Stanford Samuels, Kyle Meyers, and Jaiden Woodbey. I expect a lot of high scoring games this year for both FSU and opponents.

The season is tough to predict, but I’ll say the Seminoles finish the regular season 9-3, with 8-4 more likely than 10-2. The losses will be to Clemson, Notre Dame, and either NC State or Boston College (I’m very high on the Eagles this year and NC State’s Ryan Finley is the best QB in the ACC, at least until Trevor Lawrence gets some games under his belt). I believe that FSU will defeat Miami and Florida in close contests to win the state title in Willie’s inaugural year, and will make a bowl game once again despite missing out on the ACC Championship game.

Austin DeWitt:

I expect the Taggart Train to be rolling with a head of steam following a big win in the home opener against Virginia Tech. Undefeated heading down to Doak South on October 6th is where the schedule gets dicey. Despite some losses, Miami’s defensive line is still nasty, with the returning DE tandem of Demetrius and Joe Jackson. Luckily, Deondre Francois is well acquainted with Miami’s front seven. A combination of experience and a faster paced offense allows Francois to stay off the turf (for the most part) and the ’Noles head back to Tallahassee with a win.

Then comes the gauntlet that is the last five games of the season. As much as I want to say that FSU upsets one of Clemson or Notre Dame, it’s a hard sell. I think it drops three in a row in a tough slate against NC State, Clemson, and Notre Dame before finishing on a high note in Doak with wins against BC and a sixth straight victory over the Gators.

Not an ideal schedule for a first year staff, but the ’Noles are carried to a 9-3 regular season on the backs of 12, Akers, and an explosive, young receiving corps. With one of the toughest schedules in the country, a 9-3 record is certainly nothing to scoff at, and when you consider the growing pains that come with a new staff and system, there is no way that type of year can be considered anything but a success.

Dakota Moyer:

Call my prediction a little optimistic, but I have Florida State going 9-3 in Willie Taggart’s first year at the helm. This season will have its rough moments, but I think it will set up nicely to contend in 2019 and 2020.

The schedule plays out nicely to begin the season. A home opener against Virginia Tech doesn’t look as difficult given what the Hokies have lost this offseason. From there, games against Sanford, Syracuse, and Northern Illinois should be easy wins as well.

We will learn more about Louisville when the Cardinals open against Alabama, but the loss of Lamar Jackson should be significant. I have FSU losing to Miami the following week, but the Seminoles could pull out a win if QB struggles continue to be an issue for the Hurricanes.

Post-bye week is really where the schedule gets tricky. Clemson and NC State are two games I have pegged as losses. Clemson, for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, Florida State has struggled in Raleigh in recent years, and I think this will be the year that finally gets them.

To end the season, Notre Dame shouldn’t be nearly as difficult if their poor QB play continues. Finally, Florida is... Florida.

If Taggart can get this team to a decent bowl game in year one, I think it’s a success. The main thing I’ll be looking for is improvement and building for the future. This year isn’t a title year, but fans and administration will want Taggart to get the Seminoles back to the College Football Playoff sooner rather than later.

Frank D’Nole:

The Willie Taggart era at FSU will begin with a bang on Labor Day with a win over Virginia Tech.

The momentum will continue through the rest of September as the ’Noles head to Doak South for a reunion with Miami in a battle of two undefeated teams for what should be a nationally televised showdown. However, UM will squeak out a win in a hard fought match up for the second straight year, in what will be the first of two losses in the month of October for FSU, with the second loss coming at home against Clemson to end the month.

Although I expect some shoot-outs during the month of November, especially at the two consecutive road games at NCST and Notre Dame, the ’Noles will fast break their way through the month unscathed after slapping the Gators silly to end the regular season with a 10-2 record.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be that guy who predicts with his heart despite what the experts try to tell us to realistically expect for Willie’s first season.

10-2 with a major bowl bid and win in January to set up the National Championship expectations for next season.

David Visser:

Let’s pull back the curtain for a moment, shall we? As TN’s Managing Editor, I solicit these opinions from the gang, wait as long as I can until I want to publish, give them a quick once-over to ensure that nothing too audacious has been said, and then I weigh in with my own thoughts.

The beauty of overseeing this group is that it’s one that really knows its football, so aside from the occasional correction, it makes my job pretty easy. But this prediction is far from a walk in the park, Kazansky.

As this is a season prediction, I’m going big picture. Taggart and company have made all the right moves thus far, but this schedule is brutal. And young players will be expected to fulfill key roles. The offense, warts and all, will be fun to watch, and the defense is utilizing a feast-or-famine approach. Win or lose, I think that there’s a lot to be excited about regarding an FSU staff that is emulating Justin Timberlake and bringing some sexy back to Seminole football.

That said, this is a team with razor-thin depth at key positions, and the fear of untested players having to step up against elite competition is a very real concern. My gut has been telling me, so strongly, that this team will go 9-3. I want to believe that as much as Red wanted to believe that Andy Dufresne would remain untouched in The Shawshank Redemption.

But sooner or later, the competition makes its mark. So I’ll say 8-4— although I still think 9-3 is more likely than 7-5. As it was said in Shawshank, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” Regardless of how you see this season playing out, it’s tough to argue that there isn’t hope on the horizon for the Seminoles.

Be sure to check out the Nolecast for season predictions from our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith.