The Florida State Seminoles released their season-opening depth chart for their matchup against the LSU Tigers. The top-10 showdown is an important start for FSU’s most promising team since the title run days, offering a chance for the Seminoles to set the tone for the season.
Now that we know what to expect from the FSU side of the ball, the Tomahawk Nation staff has gathered to breakdown the depth chart: what stands out, the most anticipated players to see, the biggest surprises on the two-deep, and more.
Florida State came into the offseason with their best depth perhaps at the offensive line position. How do you feel about the projected starting lineup?
Tim: Honestly? I think it could be better. I was hoping for a combination of (Left to Right): Harris, Roddick, Smith, Meech, Byers. Sounds like experience won out for Scott at left tackle.
Perry: I know that sometimes, the “OR” on the depth chart can be for a little bit of gamesmanship, but there’s perhaps been no better usage of it when it comes to the Florida State offensive line room. Alex Atkins usually makes a concerted effort to emphasize he doesn’t want to have a starting five but rather, a starting seven to eight. The fall-off from first team to second has steadied out heavily since Atkins arrived in Tallahassee and that progress is even more evident than this year.
Juan Montalvo: I would like to see a little better quality of depth, but that’s one of the difficulties for any coach. One notable aspect: all of the two-deep is Redshirt Junior or older - grown men. This isn’t the 2007 Rick Trickett motley crew of Andrew Datko and Rodney Hudson.
NoleThruandThru: I’m just thrilled that FSU hasn’t had to push guys like Julian Armella and Jaylen Early into starting roles too soon. We saw what happened with Mo Smith, Thomas Shrader, etc.- getting pressed into duty too soon on the OL nearly always leads to injuries piling up and stunted potential.
Destyn Hill, Winston Wright, Keon Coleman, and Johnny Wilson. Does the wide receiver group have the highest upside of any position group?
NoleThruandThru: I went digging through some of my old posts from a few years ago and found this little gem: “a starting WR duo of Destyn [Hill)] and Keon Coleman would not only be a boot to LSU’s butt, but could form one of the most dynamic tandems in the nation in a couple seasons.” If only NT&T then knew what was coming! It’s incredible to see what FSU’s WR corps has become. Think of the talent listed on that two-deep, then think of names you don’t see (Vandrevius Jacobs) waiting in the wings… this group has outstanding potential! Best in the nation outside of Ohio State, and even then it’s close.
Perry: I don’t know if you can make any argument otherwise — on paper, the position group is almost incompressible considering the state of the wide receiver room in Tallahassee for nearly a decade prior to 2022. The level of talent is so deep that there are players not listed on the two-deep who will absolutely have an impact in a game at some point this season. If NCAA Football was making its return this year rather than next, then FSU would absolutely be a cheat code team just based off the fact you could roll out with Travis and launch it to a wide-open receiver on every play.
Matt Minnick: I’m just loving seeing Coleman’s name listed as a starter. We had a fun little discussion in slack a couple weeks ago about current players on FSU’s roster who had the highest NFL potential (regardless of their previous or future college impact). Coleman’s name was brought up several times and to see that he has earned the coaches trust already is a great sign. With him and Wilson on opposite sides, who do you leave on an island?
Biggest surprise on the offensive side of the ball?
Perry: That 13 starters are listed? It might be that, despite not having played football in two years and missing spring football, Destyn Hill has emerged as a co-starter. It’s a testament to the 20-year-old true freshman and his work ethic in not just his short time in Tallahassee but over his time away from the game.
Tim: I’m not sure surprise is the right word, but I was really hoping transfer kicker Tyler Keltner would have seized the kicking responsibilities from Ryan Fitzgerald. It’s probably my biggest concern right now.
Juan Montalvo: That Tate the Great has not supplanted Jordan Travis for the starting job. Kidding aside, the age of this team - this group was built for 2023. This season had been marked on the calendar a couple years back, and it’s proving to be the intersection of talent and experience.
NoleThruandThru: I’m most surprised that the two starting tackles aren’t Bless Harris and Jeremiah Byers. I figured Robert Scott would be top backup to those two.
Does the “or” for Fabien Lovett and Joshua Farmer give you any pause/concern? Or do you think this is just typical coaching gamesmanship?
Tim: Overall I think this is more what Josh Farmer has been doing versus Lovett being injured. I expect Lovett to be the starter.
NoleThruandThru: I’m hoping it’s the latter, basically a nod to how well Farmer has performed. I can’t help but be nervous with Fabo’s injury history though. As deep as FSU’s DT unit has become, number 0 is still a crucial piece of the puzzle if FSU hopes to attain its goals this year.
Juan Montalvo: There are lies, damned lies, and depth charts. There are myriad reasons for the “or” or other minutiae on the depth chart that we know that we don’t know. These known unknowns are part and parcel of coachspeak.
Matt: It certainly caught my attention right away. Anyone who watched FSU last season can attest to the difference Lovett’s presence on the field makes for the defense. Really need him at least 90% healthy.
Which defensive newcomer (non-starter for FSU last year) are you most excited to see on the field?
Tim: For me, it’s Braden Fiske. I think he has the potential to be a big time disrupter on the defensive line. Combining him with Lovett (or Farmer) makes this line really impressive.
Perry: Not a completely new face, but I’m excited to see what Patrick Payton does as he emerges as a full-time starter opposite Jared Verse. The 2022 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year has an exciting cast to play alongside in the trenches, and with there no seemingly points of weakness for opposing offensive coordinators to hit along the line, he’ll have the chance to create plenty of havoc as teams struggle with a combined rush of Payton, Verse, Lovett/Farmer and Fiske.
NoleThruandThru: Transfer: Fentrell Cypress. I’m a sucker for a lockdown corner and I’m excited to see him in prime time matchups. Freshman: Conrad Hussey. He’s a baller!
Matt: Put me down for Fiske as well. Verse, Payton, and Lovett all have the full attention of opposing scouting departments. And rightfully so. But Fiske is a bully and with opposing blockers’ attention elsewhere, I’m excited to watch him blow someone up.
Biggest surprise on the defensive side of the ball?
NoleThruandThru: I love the amount of true freshmen on the two-deep. It’s clear that FSU is expecting contributions from Conrad Hussey, Edwin Joseph, Kenton Kirkland, Blake Nichelson, and Quindarrius Jones this year, and not just on special teams.
Perry: Cribbing NTT here and seconding that the amount of youth across the board is a surprise — but an encouraging one. Those players have all impressed throughout camp, on and off the field, and the reward is recognition. It’s a far cry from true freshman being forced into playing early in Norvell’s first years, where depth issues forced the youth movement from the jump. Getting them on-field action would be fantastic, but the empowerment that comes with being placed on the two-deep should play major dividends in the newcomers recognizing the responsibility and potential they have.
Which player not currently starting will overtake the starting role by the end of the year (either side of the ball)?
NoleThruandThru: Whoever doesn’t get the LSU start between Jeremiah Byers and Bless Harris. Assuming health, I think those are your two starting OTs.
Perry: In at least one game this season, Tyler Keltner will serve as Florida State’s starting kicker.
Matt: One of Wright or Hill on kick return.
We’d love to hear your thoughts below. Let us know what stands out to you as we inch closer to the start of a potentially special season for the Florida State Seminoles.