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Staff predictions: FSU football’s 2019 season

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We make our picks— what are yours?

Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Okay, let’s get to it: how will the 2019 season play out for Florida State football? We offer as many answers as possible, in the hopes that we might hit the right ones along the way.

Jon Marchant: Last year I was too optimistic, as I had FSU going 9-3. I thought FSU’s offense would be really good and really fun. They were anything but, as FSU’s offensive line was the worst in the Power 5 and the offense near the worst in the FBS in several categories. But maybe I was just a year too early? Don’t get me wrong — I still think the offensive line will struggle. But new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ on-field resume is proven and has allowed head coach Willie Taggart to concentrate on the program has a whole. Briles also brought highly respected offensive line coach Randy Clements with him, which seems just like what the doctor ordered.

But these things take time. And on the other side of the ball FSU doesn’t have great depth at edge rusher, even if the secondary is stacked and the linebacker group is making strides. So I’m going to go with a more measured optimism of 8-4, with 7-5 the next most likely and then 9-3. I look forward to the ’Noles starting a new bowl streak.

Oline0175: 8-4 this season for the ’Noles. Kendal Briles simply is an offensive mastermind at the college level and will get every ounce of potential out of the offense. Defense will struggle to get a pass rush consistently and good teams will take advantage. This is a major step in the right direction though for Willie and the program.

Kyle Griffis: I’m going to predict the ’Noles go 7-5, with 8-4 being more likely than 6-6. I need to see evidence that this offensive line is improved in actual game action against another team. I also need to see some semblance of a pass rush to replace Brian Burns, quality linebacker depth, and improvement in the secondary, which are all major concerns on the defensive side of the ball. Until that point, I just can’t buy into any overly-positive preseason improvement hype.

As to the schedule, let’s say ULM, Alabama State, and Louisville are automatic wins. Let’s say Clemson and Florida in Gainesville (for now) are losses. That leaves seven tossup games. FSU would have to win five of those seven to get to eight wins. Which of those five are you comfortable predicting an FSU win? The opener against Boise? On the road against Coastal favorite UVA? NC State? Wake Forest? Syracuse? Miami? The road game against Boston College is probably the most likely win of the group, but it’s too early to predict that as a certain win. To be frank, I just can’t confidently predict five of those seven as wins at this point.

Hopefully this is all moot, and the ’Noles prove me wrong. I do think the coaching will be better, and I expect little things like eliminating penalties and bone-headed plays to occur. I am excited to see the offense under Briles, and I do still think Willie is the man for this job. That being said, I need to see on-field evidence of improvement in games of importance before I predict a three-game improvement over last year.

That...or just go ahead and add the white numbers in 2019. Those are worth at least one more win, right?

TimScribble: I think FSU will go 7-5 and with offensive lineman health luck, 8-4. Unlucky? FSU will be looking at a 6-6 regular season record. ULM and Alabama St. are the only guaranteed wins. Let’s not forget this FSU team was a fluke interception away from losing to Louisville last season. Clemson is your guaranteed loss and Florida is likely. All other games are a toss up. Briles and Clements may be the difference makers as they reshape the offense. The first week matchup with Boise can’t get here soon enough.

Prince Akeem Joffer: I’m going with 8-4. Obviously the focus is on the offensive line. I think that this unit will be improved (it can’t get worse, right?) and therefore the entire offense should be better. The rest of the team looks solid (or better) and I think that Briles is a pretty significant upgrade over Bell as offensive coordinator.

Looking at the schedule, I think the Noles go 4-1 through September, split with Clemson and Wake (I’ll let you decide where the loss will be) and split with Miami and Syracuse. FSU will end the season with a 2-1 stretch to get to 8-4.

Trey Rowland: I envision Florida State’s 2019 football season going similar to Chris Jericho’s 1999 debut year with the WWF. Stick with me here nerds. Both will come out of the gates hot with impressive victories. Y2J had one of the most iconic introductions of all time when he interrupted current movie star, and former University of Miami mediocre football player, The Rock. In a similar fashion, I expect the ’Noles to put the potato farmers of Boise in the figurative “Walls of Jericho” with a convincing win in Jacksonville. GET HYPE PEOPLE!

Unfortunately, as things didn’t go smooth for Jericho, they won’t for FSU either. There will be some stumbles along the way. For Jericho, it was against foes like X-Pac and Chyna. For Florida State, it will be against teams like Clemson and Florida. I also expect 2 losses against the trio of Syracuse, Miami, and Virginia. However, the Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla (what a nickname) finished his year off strong by winning the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship, which set him up for greater success down the line. Ditto for FSU, as they finish the regular season at 8-4, win their bowl game, and prepare to do some serious damage in 2020.

NoleThruandThru: Following recruiting will be my focus this season, but I’m optimistic that many of the younger players have grown under adversity while many members in the newest recruiting class will push hard for playing time. The OL literally can’t get any worse than last year. My guess is 7-5 with 8-4 more likely than 6-6. FSU will start a new bowl streak, and demonstrable improvement on the field results in another strong recruiting class.

Matt Minnick: After a school record for wins in a season and yet another deep March run, FSU brings back a backcourt with ample experience and explosiveness— what’s that? Wrong sport? **checks football record for the last two seasons** Oh. I see. I knew there was a reason I bought that Men In Black flashy light gadget.

The offense has a few games where things click and the full potential under Briles is tasted, but also has a couple games that cause me to add a few grey hairs to the scalp. The defense plays about the same, but produces a good bit better results thanks to not consistently getting kicked in the face by the worst offense I’ve ever seen wearing garnet and gold. I’ve done my win shares about 20 different times and consistently arrive between 7.4 and 7.7 victories, for whatever that’s worth. Ultimately, Florida State wins more football games than last season and at least plays in December.

Dakota Moyer: There’s a lot of reason for optimism surrounding this Florida State team. James Blackman is the starting quarterback, Kendal Briles is the new offensive coordinator and the defense returns a good amount of production.

But there are some concerns I have with this team.

The offensive line is poised to take a step forward with new starters like Ryan Roberts, Baveon Johnson, and Dontae Lucas. But we saw last year how injuries can ravage this unit. Does FSU have the depth to hold up along the OL this season? Can players like Mike Arnold and Andrew Boselli step if if their numbers are called?

Brian Burns also gave FSU a ton of production as a pass rusher. With Burns gone to the NFL and Joshua Kaindoh in a state of limbo regarding his health, who rushes the passer for FSU? Leonard Warner or Janarius Robinson? The interior of FSU’s DL should be elite with Marvin Wilson and Cory Durden, but the Seminoles need someone to step up as an outside pass rusher.

Finally, who becomes a leader on this team?

Florida State has been searching for true leaders like Telvin Smith and Lamarcus Joyner for quite some time. Does Blackman step up? Or perhaps a guy like Wilson or Dontavious Jackson?

When the chips are down (and they will be down often this year), FSU needs players to look up to. Willie Taggart and his staff are the figureheads of the program, but the players will look to each other for guidance when they’re down by 10 points in the fourth quarter this year.

Ultimately, I feel as if this team is still in a state of rebuilding. I’m going with 7-5 as my prediction for this season. Get the offensive line back to a below average performance, get back to a bowl game, and we’ll look forward to really making some noise in 2020.

LastNoleOfKrypton: I’m in a good mood so i’m going with 9-3. Admittedly that’s on the high side b/c I have 7-5 as the most realistic mathematical result, but that’s because I really like the intangibles of this program’s off-season. That’s not just fan speak. You can see the physical difference of a partial buy-in and a major buy-in between this year and last year. The linemen are bigger, stronger and more disciplined. Discipline in the weight room and your diet tends to lead to discipline elsewhere.

For example: this spring 24 FSU football players recorded a GPA of 3.0 or higher; another example of a higher level of buy-in and commitment for this program that was in need of fresh blood. Remember, FSU’s four-year APR was so low that Willie Taggart couldn’t cut the bait that he really wanted to cut when he arrived.

There’s buy-in within the coaching staff too; everyone on the offensive side of the ball, staff-wise, is on the same page, and you’ve got an offensive line coach whose philosophy is married to his coordinator’s attack. Everyone speaking the same language should lead to a smoother running of the offense.

On defense, I’m somewhat worried about the pass rush, but FSU is facing a lot of new faces at quarterback this year and FSU returns seven starters on a defense that performed well before being doomed by offensive ineptitude. Last year’s QB slate included Trevor Lawrence, Ryan Finley, and Eric Dungey; this year, of that group, only Trevor Lawrence returns.

My point is, an easier QB schedule and a better offense that doesn’t leave the defense out to dry (last year’s opposing teams average starting field position was their own 36; that’s horrendous) will lead to a better record.

Offensive MVP: Cam Akers

Defensive MVP: Marvin Wilson

Go ’Noles.

Perry Kostidakis: With a forgiving first few weeks, Florida State has a schedule perfectly suited for a team looking to take things to the next level.

But in the end, even with all the potential issues at all other positions, the season is going to boil down to one thing: can Florida State’s offensive line go from one of the worst in the country to below average?

If they can, the Seminoles could be looking at an 8-4 or 9-3 season. Clemson is the obvious choice for one of those losses, and then the others could come from anyone from Florida, Virginia, Miami, Syracuse, Miami, Boise State or Boston College. It’s a schedule built for a team to grow, but if that growth is non-existent, things could get ugly, fast.

Florida State football could, and should, be fun to watch for the first time in two years this season. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Juan Montalvo III: Hope springs eternal. Hope summers eternally. Hope for eternal fall Saturdays.

There is a potential haiku above, but I am not the wordsmith that Spencer Hall is/was. I can’t weave in personal anecdotes, three to five graphs at a time. I can’t finish it and leave you in awe.

But I can talk some ball.

And this should be some fun. I think this will be the most fun offense FSU can see on offense since Richt’s offenses were led by the likes of Ward, Kanell, Busby, and Weinke.

The Briles offense will be the fastest since the Fast Break Offense. It will be guided by the most explosive football minds of recent years.

Don't even care to talk defense. Let’s do this.

8-4, 9-3, 7-5.

People will be pleasantly surprised by the offense, especially a resurgent Akers, Blackman, and an explosive receiving corps.

Roll tribe.

FrankDaNole: I’m expecting an 8-4 season with the possibly of 9-3 if our injury and turnover luck takes a 180-degree turn from last season.

I think the Clemson game will result in a loss. I think most will agree that Trevor Lawrence is Clemson's version of a generational talent similar to our own Jameis Winston, but without the personality, looks, charisma, and lack of legal issues.

I’m expecting one loss between either UM or UF, and another unexplainable loss to one or 2 of our ACC division rivals, who we should beat but wind up losing to due to our growing pains.

I enjoy watching FSU football games.

Evan Johnson: I think Willie Taggart has this program headed in the right direction. I think he was handed a tire fire last year, which really handcuffed what he wanted to do here. That doesn’t mean that Taggart and Co. were not complicit in last season. They certainly made their fair share of mistakes, but those mistakes were magnified because of the poor state of the program. Giving away $3 isn’t that big of a deal when you have $100, but when you only have $5 to your name, it’s a problem.

My win shares predict a 6-6 season, and I think this is largely due to me not being as bullish on the offensive line as many combined with the fact that FSU has no pass rush and no depth at defensive tackle. I do believe somebody will emerge at the defensive tackle position to give fans hope going into 2020, but I don’t how that same thing happens at defensive end/rushing linebacker. FSU will have to scheme open quarterback pressure but that still has its limits.

I feel like the offense will be better but still be very up and down. The biggest thing I am looking for is if they can get lined up and run the system with pace. This also means limiting meaningless penalties. I’m fine with holds; the offensive line won’t be able to hold up without them, but false starts and illegal formations have to stop.

Ultimately I feel like 7-5 is realistic and should be considered a successful season. This season is all about selling hope to not only fans but recruits. This staff has done a very good job on the recruiting trail after a 5-7 season but needs to keep building that momentum there, and I think 7-5 would be good enough to keep the current class in place, if not better it.

David Visser: So the first time I did this, like a week ago, I picked FSU finishing the regular season 8-4, with 7-5 being the Seminoles’ next most likely record. To be honest, as kickoff nears, I’m hedging more toward that 7-win total. But I’ll stick with 8-4. You know, for the kids.

The factors that scare me are not dissimilar to the ones mentioned above. Pass rush and depth up front on defense. And the offensive line, as well as the offensive line and the offensive line. Also, the offensive line.

But I like the secondary, and I really like the DL if it can stay healthy and get some contributions from its depth. What really brings me up are the improvements made by Taggart and his staff— and mostly that they seem to finally be just that: a cohesive staff, not an assemblage of separate assistant coaches wearing the same polos.

Headlining what helps me get out of bed in the (late) morning is the addition of Briles and Clements, but so much of that is tied to the fact that they’ve been just that: Briles and Clements, working together, in the past, with proven results. Like a retro cop drama or something. And now all I can picture is the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” video, and you should too, and we can all be perfectly content with that.

Because like that video, my crystal ball isn’t always so crystal clear, but also like that video, I think this season will be more fun, maybe a touch chaotic, while ultimately leaving FSU fans smiling at the Seminole ship being righted.