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Tomahawk Roundtable: 2021 FSU Season Predictions

What does our staff think 2021 FSU football brings?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 NC State at Florida State Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Okay, first off — who are your predicted offensive and defensive MVPs?

CoachAB: Offensively I am going to go with Jordan Travis. He may not even be the starting QB but he is the most dynamic weapon you have on offense. I can’t overlook that. Defensively, I think you have to take a similar mindset as offense, which points to Jermaine Johnson. There are folks who think he is the best player on the team and that leads to big impact on the field.

TimScribble: Can I just type see above? The offensive MVP will be whoever ends up the QB. As I think this is going to change very often in the game, I’ll just say the Quarterback. On defense, it feels like Jermaine Johnson is the clear choice. If he brings the pressure that Florida State has been missing, it could transform the entire defense.

Tommy: I’m going to go with AB and Tim for offensive MVP. It is such an important position and question mark for this team that really any success from the QB room will attract those types of honors. As far as defense, Jermaine Johnson would be my first choice but since he’s already mentioned I’m going to go with Travis Jay. I think Jay is taking the next steps needed to be a solid defensive back and his work on special teams stands out as well.

NoleThruandThru: QB QB QB, blah blah blah. I’ll say something different. Give me Dillan Gibbons as the offensive MVP for his leadership and steady presence on a much-maligned unit. He’ll finally have the chance to shine as a starter after years of waiting at Notre Dame. On defense, I’ll say Jammie Robinson. He’ll be counted on to provide leadership for the defensive backs and his prior experience should be a bonus.

Frank DNole: The offensive MVP and a Heisman Finalist will be McKenzie Milton. The defensive MVP will be Keir Thomas.

LastNoleofKrypton: Gonna roll with Frank and say McKenzie Milton is offensive MVP; his ability to run RPO and make quick decisions will be huge for this offense. Defensive MVP: Travis Jay; he’s gonna erase some good wide receivers this year

Brian Pellerin: To me, this program and its fans should want the answer to be Jordan Travis. Having the redshirt sophomore win this job over McKenzie Milton would be enormous for Mike Norvell in the coming years. But that’s still unknown so I’ll go off the board with Keyshawn Helton. The offensive coaches have been singing his praises and he seems to be all over the field during camp. On defense, it’s got to be Jermaine Johnson. Getting to the QB is so crucial and he’s the best pass rusher they’ve got.

Jon Marchant: Jermaine Johnson on defense and for fun I’ll go Lawrance Toafili on offense.

Perry Kostidakis: I’ll keep it simple — running back Jashaun Corbin for offensive MVP, as for defensive, I’ll go with Fabian Lovett.

Which player’s name will the fanbase know by the end of the year that they don’t know now?

CoachAB: The every day fan may have no idea who Kevin Knowles is but will by years end. The hardcore fan may not know a ton about Kalen DeLoach but I’m predicting his rise to the tops of the depth chart today.

TimScribble: True freshman Jackson West or Joshua Burrell. Both have the potential to be a go to reliable receiving option. They may not be flashy, but will be where the QB needs them.

LastNoleOfKrypton: I’m going to assume that most of the fanbase doesn’t follow recruiting like we do so the unknown name that FSU Fans will know by the end of the year will be Malik McClain.

Tommy: Shyheim Brown, hardcore fans may know this name and if not by years end, most fans will know it next year for sure. He’s confident, good in coverage and always seems to be around the ball. For offense, I agree with Tim. West or Burrell will be solid go-to options to get the yards needed to keep drives alive.

NoleThruandThru: I’ll go with TE Jordan Wilson on offense. Injured all of last season, many ‘Nole fans may have completely forgotten about Wilson. He’s an enormous human being and while his biggest contributions will be blocking, you can bet he’ll score some red zone TDs and could be a safety valve for the QBs on conversion downs. For the defense, the linebacking unit desperately needs some guys to step up. I think DJ Lundy can be one of those guys.

Frank DaNole: Keir Thomas will be a star by the end of the season.

Brian Pellerin: Having Jermaine Johnson on one side of the defensive line will open up one-on-one matchups for other guys and I think Keir Thomas will be the beneficiary. The South Carolina transfer comes with tons of experience and versatility to shine and be the star of the line.

Jon Marchant: Lots of good suggestions here, but I’ll go with Jammie Robinson. A lot of fans already know of Jarvis Brownlee so I think he’s technically not eligible for this, even if I think he has a good chance as anyone else to be a fan favorite by the end of the year.

Perry Kostidakis: Meiko Dotson. He’s going to showcase why he led the country in interceptions while at FAU.

Which position group will be the strength of the offense? Defense?

CoachAB: The running back room has the most depth so there? In all seriousness, it has to be quarterback and running back but I feel as though we have more answers at RB today. On defense, I have stated I think the defensive line is the strength of this team up top. I am going to stay with that.

TimScribble: Crazy to say this after last year, but defensive end. Johnson, Cushnie, Thomas, plus the incoming freshmen. On offense, quarterback for the reasons AB said.

Tommy: Running backs. The way head coach Mike Norvell heavily uses them in the passing and blocking game will make the quarterback room look a lot better. It’s tough to say the defensive line will be THE strongest position group after how much it was hyped last season. We do have pieces upfront, new and old that make a good argument for that unit. Jermaine Johnson II, Kier Thomas, Dennis Briggs Jr., and Robert Cooper come to mind when I think of standouts thus far. Marcus Cushnie is getting into the mix as well.

LastNoleOfKrypton: Call this speaking into existence but at the end of the year the strongest group on offense will be the offensive line; on defense it will be the defensive line. FSU’s front-four should be quite good and there’s an influx of fresh talent at defensive end that will show much better depth than last year.

NoleThruandThru: I want to, but I just can’t pick the wide receivers yet with the drop issues still plaguing so many of them. I’ll echo running backs on offense as FSU has plenty of options and nice depth there. On defense, I’ll go with the lineba... (can’t even type that with a straight face). It’s defensive end, with immediate transfer help along with lots of young potential. I’m still so impressed with how quickly that unit was flipped in such a short amount of time.

Frank DeNole: I like the quarterbacks. After getting to witness FSU’s First Two Headed Quarterback, I can see the possibility of Norvell playing the hot hand. Whomever that may be. Who knows, maybe we will get to witness FSU’s First Three Headed Quarterback?

The defensive backfield will be the strength of the defense and will keep the Noles in some games. I like Travis Jay.

Brian Pellerin: The defensive line is getting my vote for strongest unit on that side of the ball. If they can stay healthy, they’ll be the straw that stirs the drink. Offense is tough because the answer needs to be quarterback. I’m not sure it will be, but this group won’t have a strength if this group isn’t it.

Jon Marchant: Easy, running backs on offense and defensive line, I think this staff put a ton of time and effort into remaking this defensive line with transfers. There’s as much or more talent in the secondary but development has been an issue for years and Adam Fuller’s aggressive playcalls could leave fans feeling like they’re worse than they really are.

Perry Kostidakis: Give me the running backs as the stars, with the defensive backs being the key to defensive success.

What are the weak links on offense and defense?

CoachAB: On offense it is still the offensive line. While they are improved and likely not the worst group on offense (tight end is) they are the most significant group and improved isn’t enough. The linebacking core is in the same boat and lacks any real depth.

Tommy: (Read above) Eeeesh... Depth. Injury luck will play a large role in how that unit and the team succeeds throughout the season. Although, I don't feel like tight ends should deserve the moniker of “the worst.” I'm excited to see the transfers and newcomers get to work. I am still team Camm though.

NoleThruandThru: On defense it’s the linebackers, without question. It still drives me nuts that FSU didn’t bring in a transfer at that position. I think FSU is going to get torched on plays where the LBs have to help in coverage, and you can only mask those deficiencies so much with DBs. Get used to opposing TEs having big days against FSU (oh wait, that’s already a thing). On offense, it’s the offensive line until it ain’t.

LastNoleOfKrypton: On defense the worst group has to be the linebackers; Emmett Rice isn’t 100% and the rest of the group just has not played good football. On offense the worst group until proven otherwise is actually tight end. Cam McDonald is the only proven commodity at the position; last year non-scholarship players got significant snaps.

Frank DaNole: Having had the time because of the pandemic, I have spent the last 8 months reviewing, analyzing, and grading film, and I could not really find any weak links on either side of the line. I expect all the position battles will be won by the player who has more heart, gives 111% on every play, and leaves it all out on the field.

Brian Pellerin: The offensive line would probably the weakest at this point. They struggled last year and will need to take a step forward to help their quarterback. They could certainly reach that point, but I’ll wait until I see it to believe it. On defense, I feel like it’s the same story for the linebackers. This group could be better this year, but I’ll wait until I see it to anoint them.

Jon Marchant: Wide receivers are even worse than the offensive line at this point, until they prove otherwise. On defense it has to be the linebackers. Can anyone play in space in coverage?

Last but hopefully not least — what’s your season projection?

CoachAB: I am going to ride or die with 6-6. This is going to be a better team than last year across the board but a tough schedule, young team, and multiple transition classes is too much to overcome.

TimScribble: I wish I was an idealist, but I’m not. I’m going with 5-7, which is still a dramatic improvement from last year. If the offense clicks and health doesn’t come into play, this team could end up with a winning record by the end of the year.

LastNoleOfKrypton: It’s time for FSU to have some decent injury luck again and that includes its opponents not always being full strength or multiple teams having a bye week before they face FSU every time. Give me 7-5. #MikeGotUs

Tommy: Ride or die! I like that, AB! I don't like the numbers but stick with it. This season has a lot riding on a couple of things going right. The 12th toughest schedule doesn't really give much hope but I want to see what team goes on the field after a full unadulterated (or somewhat normal?) off-season. Let's get some optimism in here, 7-5.

NoleThruandThru: I’m still on the 6 wins and a bowl game train, no reason to get off now!

Frank DiNole: Thinking that this year's Noles’ Team will make the playoffs would not be a realistic expectation. That said, I see no reason why this team can’t win 8 games with good injury and turnover luck. The Seminoles confidence level will double after upsetting Notre Dame in a packed Doak, on Bobby Bowden Field.

With a bowl win, FSU could win 9 games this season, but I rather not think that far in advance and not get ahead of myself.

Brian Pellerin: Surprisingly, I feel like I’m on the optimistic end of these predictions. As an outsider, I’m really impressed with Mike Norvell and the momentum building this offseason in recruiting, but they need a solid year to build on that. Looking through the schedule, I see likely losses to Notre Dame, Clemson, and North Carolina. Miami and Florida could go the same way, but it’s hard to know what the teams will look like at the end of the year. I’ll go for a split and one other surprise loss so give me 7-5.

Jon Marchant: I think this is a six or seven win team with limited depth saddled with the 12th toughest schedule in the country. So I will go with five or six wins. I will hope all season for 6-6 and a bowl game. It’s doable, they just might need a bit of luck.

Perry Kostidakis: This is concerning, but I’m going with Frank here. I think that, with an actual offseason and a revamped roster, this team is capable of reeling off eight wins. That’s going to take winning a game that FSU shouldn’t, on top of not faltering short in the ones it should. It’s going to take dramatic improvement, but at some point, that improvement has to happen if the CLIMB is real.