Florida State returns a Heisman Trophy-caliber running back in Dalvin Cook, who churned out the most rushing yards in Seminoles’ history last fall as a sophomore with 1,691 yards. The Noles also possess some key returners on defense.
It’s for these reasons that FSU is considered a national title contender, if the Noles can get past Clemson and not have any blips on the rest of the schedule.
But what is concerning for FSU is who will play quarterback and deliver in the passing game once teams key on stopping Cook, who averaged 7.4 yards per carry in 2015.
Deondre Francois, a redshirt freshman, will start the season, hoping to match the results of the last redshirt freshman to start in Tallahassee: Jameis Winston.
Sean Maguire was scheduled to be the starter, but he sat out the spring game with an injury sustained at last year’s Peach Bowl. That allowed Francois, the former IMG Academy standout, to shine with 200-plus passing yards and two touchdowns.
Then Maguire broke a bone in his right foot during preseason camp, which sidelined him into the regular season and cleared the way for Francois.
Malik Henry, a freshman who had a brief stay at IMG before leaving the program prior to last season, looked sharp in the spring, but he was suspended on Aug. 20.
The only other quarterback on the roster is redshirt sophomore J.J. Cosentino.
DB to watch
Derwin James, So.
Losing a top-five NFL draft pick in Jalen Ramsey put a dent in FSU’s secondary, but the Seminoles still possess the top one in the ACC due to James. A freshman All-American, James’ versatility led to the free safety playing a hybrid role last season and leading FSU in tackles (91) and a second-best 9.5 tackles for a loss.
Campbell is a little down on the wide receiver depth chart, but he possesses considerable talent and something the starting trio of receivers (Kermit Whitfield, Bobo Wilson and Travis Rudolph) don’t: size. Standing 6-foot-4, Campbell is a prime red-zone target who could find plenty of touchdown chances this season.
At a glance
Herald’s forecast: 12-0, playoff appearance
Ranked No. 4 in the preseason Coaches Poll, there’s no denying Florida State has the hype. The Seminoles can back it up, too. They’re also a slight underdog in their own ACC Atlantic Division, because last year’s national runner-up Clemson is taking top billing. This year’s battle takes place in Tallahassee on Oct. 29. Both possess talented offenses, but FSU has key returners on defense that the Tigers are missing. A victory at home against their bitter ACC rivals fuels the Noles into the college football playoff picture.
Deep at: Wide Receiver
Thin at: Defensive back
Head coach: Jimbo Fisher
Career: Seventh season, 68-14 record
Mississippi, 8 p.m.
Southern, 12:30 p.m.
at Louisville*, noon
at South Florida
at N.C. State*
Times TBD unless noted
* — ACC game
Texas State W 59-16
USF W 34-14
at Boston College W 14-0
at Wake Forest W 24-16
Miami W, 29-24
Louisville W, 41-21
at Georgia Tech L 22-16
Syracuse W 45-21
at Clemson L, 23-13
NC State W, 34-17
Chattanooga W, 52-13
at Florida W, 27-2
Houston L 38-24