With the 2019 football season approaching rapidly, our benevolent overlords at SB Nation have asked us to answer a handful of questions about the Seminoles’ upcoming campaign. This is a great way for fans with questions about Florida State’s opponents to get some quick input about the other teams on FSU’s schedule, simply by clicking around our sister sites. So let’s get to it.
1) Who is your most important player on offense this season?
These first two questions were largely addressed in a piece we ran last week about which ’Noles FSU can least afford to lose, on either side of the ball. After the embarrassment up front last year, several offensive linemen were considered. Also mentioned more than once: quarterback James Blackman, and since he plays the most important position on the field, I’m going with QB1 here, even if I said something else in that post (whatever— it’s a whole 10 days later).
The Seminoles need Blackman to get the ball out quickly to mask the OL’s shortcomings, and that will involve an improvement in his short-to-intermediate accuracy. They also need explosiveness, which requires his deft long-ball touch to continue.
Moreover, after the departure of a not-so-great “leader” like Deondre Francois, Blackman is a guy respected by his teammates. This team will have its valleys, and he’ll be crucial in keeping the squad galvanized. And leading from the sideline just won’t work.
2) Who is your most important player on defense this season?
This one is easier. It’s the best player on the team: defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. The Florida State defense really needs him to live up to the preseason All-America hype that’s surrounded his name, since he can make life easier for a linebacker group with questions.
The secondary looks promising, but that’s less because of a lone standout or two than reflective of an experienced, deep group. Still, if Wilson can create havoc up front, that benefits the DBs, too.
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
You want to read the words “offensive line” here, and while there’s some reason to harbor modest optimism, I don’t know if that big of a jump is realistic. So here’s my answer: luck.
There’s certainly plenty to hate about last season, but not all of it was entirely in the Seminoles’ control, which I addressed in early October last year. The ball just didn’t bounce their way. And that luck could get an immediate test:
Crazy stat: Boise State led the nation with 17 fumble recoveries last season. Florida State was dead last with just 3.— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) August 21, 2019
It’s just hard to imagine that FSU would wind up so unfortunate again in 2019. Losing is tough enough, but feeling like every break is going against you is just salt in the wound.
4) What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
Many may point to the Clemson game, since the Tigers are the national champs and have taken over the ACC. But at this point, that’s just not a realistic ask. Matchups against the rival Hurricanes and Gators are also candidates, and while those are both possible Ws (Miami more likely than Florida), I think this season is really more about FSU getting its own house in order. And for that reason, getting off to a solid start is a must.
So I’m gonna go ahead and suggest the opener, against Boise State. After that, it’s Louisiana-Monroe and a losable road game vs. Virginia, followed by the Seminoles’ conference home opener against a Louisville squad that shouldn’t be very good, and then NC State in Tallahassee. If Florida State can avoid the first-game letdown that saw 2018 begin with a whimper, 5-0 heading into a bye week is a possibility.
If the same negativity begins to swirl after a loss to the Broncos, 2-3 could come into play— with Clemson on deck. This team needs to find its confidence and experience prosperity early and often, and that begins in Jacksonville on August 31st.
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
We’ll release our staff predictions for the season soon, but in the meantime, here’s a tease. I think FSU goes 8-4, with 7-5 more likely than 9-3. The Seminoles have a lot of talent at offensive skill positions, which could help take some pressure off the defense, but I wake up screaming with concerns about the offensive line, and I need to see how Briles and Clements have addressed that devastating weak spot from last year.
But hey, that’s a nice improvement from 5-7 and a return to bowl play. So what would that mean? Maybe the Camping World Bowl, Music City Bowl, Belk Bowl, Sun Bowl, or Pinstripe Bowl.