Seminoles prepare for season opener vs. Georgia Tech
Against all odds, Florida State football is set to kick off a 11-game season when they march on to the field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium against Georgia Tech on Sept. 12.
Under the guidance of head coach Mike Norvell, the Garnet and Gold look to set the groundwork for a new era with a mix of promising newcomers and multiple familiar veteran pieces set to contribute.
Norvell’s staff has been working on getting his players to buy into his offensive philosophy that prioritizes quick scoring drives and explosive plays.
The former Memphis Tigers coach appears to be a good match with this new set of players, who averaged almost 28 points per game last season, despite suffering through periods of inconsistent play. Seminole fans can still vividly remember how many drives would prematurely end due to a sack caused by a struggling offensive line.
However, there’s been high optimism coming out from practice for this group, according to Norvell.
“It’s a daily work in progress. I feel good about the guys we’re getting to coach,” Norvell said.
Incoming redshirt senior transfer Devontay Love-Taylor has been touted as the focal piece of the line over the offseason. The 6-foot-4 left tackle will need to be the cornerstone of this unit if the ’Noles are to lower their abysmal 48 sacks allowed from last year.
The quarterback room inherited new faces during the summer but can still count on the veteran presence of redshirt junior James Blackman, the odds-on favorite to begin the year under center ahead of freshman Chubba Purdy and redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis.
Rumors of a quarterback competition were squashed two weeks ago when Purdy, a four-star recruit hauled by Norvell last December, left a scrimmage with a broken collarbone that will prevent him from seeing the field for the beginning of the season.
FSU looks to shine once again in the passing game with 6-foot-4 redshirt junior Tamorion Terry leading the way. Last season, the Ashburn, Georgia native received second-team All-ACC honors after hauling 1,188 yards and nine touchdowns. The team’s second-leading receiver, senior D.J. Matthews, will look to provide a deep threat with his blistering speed.
The former corner, now sophomore wideout Isaiah Bolden, has been personally asked by Norvell to switch positions where his skills might make more of an impact.
“He was doing a good job… he’s done a great job as a returner and I think he can make an impact there on the offensive side of the ball,” Norvell said.
The tailback position has been an open slot to fill since Cam Akers, arguably Florida State’s best player last year, was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the L.A. Rams. Redshirt sophomore Jashuan Corbin’s pass-catching skill set gives him a major edge when it comes to who might be the main runner in Week 1.
A double-edged sword for the ’Noles is the fact that the defense boasts 10 returning starters.
Defensively, the Garnet and Gold struggled to hold opponents to less than 200 yards, only achieving the feat twice whilst forcing a mediocre eight turnovers through the air.
Projected first-round pick, Marvin Wilson, is undoubtedly the leader of not just the defense, but the team. His presence on the defensive line is notable in every snap, but his surrounding teammates will need to generate a pass rush of their own if Wilson is to be the threat he can be in the run game as well.
The defensive backfield provides much-needed competition with the addition of four-star recruit Demorie Tate and notable standout last season Asante Samuel Jr., who received third-team All-ACC honors after being the only Power 5 defender with 14 pass breakups and more than 45 tackles.
If Samuel can take that next step in becoming a consistent shutdown corner, the Seminole defense will benefit exponentially.
Despite the secondary allowing 277 yards per game, senior safety Hamsah Nasirildeen had a breakout season earning second-team All-ACC honors. Nasirildeen is the prime example of the talent this defense Norvell has inherited, but he will need to make a cohesive unit, something that was not the case in his time in Memphis.