Stop me if you've heard this before; Florida State had a solid season a year ago and absorbed some key losses, but has a lot of talent coming back along with one of the nation's best recruiting classes, this team should help bring the Noles back to national prominence.
That's Florida State football for like every year since like 2005, right?
Yeah, I know.
I'm sick of it too. Look, the fact of the matter is Florida State is not "back" until they're back, and for all the hoping and wishing that folks—both Florida State centric and general folks alike—have the truth, which is until they win the conference, beat a legit out-of-conference opponent and/or win a BCS Bowl, they're just the same old Florida State that we've known and love for about a decade.
You know, the same old Florida State: good but not great. Better talent than your team's roster but you can still beat them if you don't screw up. Destined to drop a game or two that they should never lose, ever. And all in, they're a team that comes out of the gate with "wow" moments, but also a lot of "ugh" to go along with it en route to a finish outside of the top 15.
To be clear, this is not a slam on Florida State, it is more just a pretty blunt assessment of the holding pattern that the Seminoles and the fans, media and college football world have existed in for the better part of a decade now.
Reality is that yeah, Florida State has talent and this spring is no exception as they will get to start moving toward that ACC Championship goal with one of the better rosters in the league. Sure, they lose some guys up front, but the fact is that thanks to injuries they got some unexpected playing time a year ago. Quarterback E.J. Manuel is back, running back Devonta Freeman is back and their top four pass catchers are back. This offense should be able to move the ball both efficiently and explosively.
On defense the biggest loss will be Nigel Bradham, but much like with their offense there are young guys who got a lot of playing time that are ready to ball. Throw in Brandon Jenkins returning to school and you've got a defensive line that should be among the nation's best. Year three in the Stoops system, that means more understanding, more playmaking and faster reaction out of a defense that is constructed with speed in mind. Linebacker Christian Jones is a guy I'm watching this spring because, simply put, the kid is special.
At the risk of sounding like the broken record that we mentioned earlier; this Florida State team has a lot of pieces. Spring focus for the Noles should be on offensive line cohesion and shoring up a secondary that gave up yards in big spots. Florida State doesn't have huge tweaks to make. The team is not akin to Wisconsin going in without a quarterback, or even Michigan who still has to find consistency at the quarterback spot from a production standpoint. But even as Florida State sits without a glaring flaw on their spring to-do list the fact is the Badgers and Wolverines are coming off BCS Bowl trips and Florida State isn't.
For the Noles the push to being "back" starts this spring, again.
Update: It appears the Noles leading rusher, Devonta Freeman, is out with a back injury and will miss spring ball.