Florida State Football: Issues We Would Love Fisher to Address at ACC Media Days
Most coaches would like to have Jimbo Fisher's concerns going into the 2014 season.
The Florida State football team is coming off a national championship, has a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Jameis Winston, a playmaking receiver in Rashad Greene, a senior-laden offensive line and a defense that's loaded with talent.
Even after losing 10 starters (five on each side of the ball), it's tough to find a glaring weakness. Let's instead consider it a potential flaw.
So let's take a look at five points that we would like Fisher to address when the ACC Football Kickoff begins Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats from Seminoles.com. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
Jesus Wilson's Status with the Team
Jesus Wilson's status with the football team is unclear. The wide receiver is facing a felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle after allegedly stealing a scooter on campus in June, according to a police report provided by the FSU police department.
Fisher has suspended Wilson indefinitely, according to a release from the school (via the Orlando Sentinel) July 10.
Wilson is a talented receiver who was expected to compete for a position in the slot in 2014. He will need to reach a plea agreement on a misdemeanor charge—or have the charges dropped—to be reinstated.
Fisher will also need to decide on what type of punishment, potentially a multigame suspension, Wilson's actions warrant.
No. 2 Wide Receiver Candidates
FSU isn't lacking talented receivers. The Seminoles are simply missing consistent, experienced targets at the position.
Greene (1,129 receiving yards, nine touchdowns) is FSU's playmaker and has become a mentor for the young receiving corps. But after Greene, the only other receiver with 10 or more receptions last season was Christian Green (13 catches for 157 yards).
FSU has one of the nation's top tight ends in Mackey finalist Nick O'Leary, who has 11 career touchdown receptions. Fisher said in the spring that he wants to use more plays with two-tight end sets that feature O'Leary and senior Kevin Haplea. And Fisher can use FSU's running backs—Karlos Williams, Ryan Green, Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook—as pass-catchers out of the backfield.
There are plenty of options for Winston. But FSU coaches would like to see a consistent No. 2 receiver emerge. It could be one of a pair of seniors, Jarred Haggins or Green, or from the group of sophomores, Kermit Whitfield, Isaiah Jones and Wilson, if he is reinstated.
But Fisher, who calls FSU's plays, needs to feel comfortable with who he sends out on the field at receiver beyond Greene. And, in Greensboro, expect Fisher to talk about some of the receivers that are in the lead to take on the responsibilities as a starting receiver.
FSU lost defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, a physical, high-motor junior that entered the NFL draft a year early in 2014. There doesn't appear to be anyone on the roster that is capable of mirroring Jernigan's production—yet.
The Seminoles will start junior Eddie Goldman at one defensive tackle spot. Who will start alongside Goldman is a question mark.
Nile Lawrence-Stample, who had 15 tackles as a reserve in 2013, has the most experience. He and Derrick Mitchell, along with end-turned-tackle Desmond Hollin, are the front-runners for the starting job.
Fisher and new defensive coordinator Charles Kelly need to decide on a No. 1 option and get him plenty of reps in August to prepare him for the season.
FSU also signed five defensive tackles in February: Demarcus Christmas, Frederick Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Adam Torres and Arthur Williams. Fisher raved about the group on national signing day, but it remains to be seen which linemen could make an impression during preseason camp in August.
Cason Beatty often saw entire halves go by without needing to punt. That's a sign of a very good offense.
When Beatty did punt, however, the result was unpredictable. He averaged 41.1 yards per punt but was just as likely to boom a 50-yarder as he would a 32-yarder.
Beatty had an uneven spring game in April, starting with an 18-yard punt and then following with a 51-yard punt (inside the 20), a 33-yard punt and a 46-yard punt (inside the 20). The junior clearly has the leg strength, but the lack of consistency has caused Fisher to raise his concerns.
''I want to see consistency," Fisher said. "I'd rather see a 4.0 hang time and a 40-yard kick, and you can keep all the 48s and 50s.''
FSU's offense is tough to stop. But if the Seminoles have to punt? That uncertainty has Fisher closely watching Beatty but also walk-on Jonathan Hernandez and true freshman JJ Cosentino, who was a punter on his high school team in Pittsburgh.
Pressure on Jameis Winston
Winston handled the on-field pressures of being a quarterback well in 2013.
But in 2014, he will be the quarterback whom many fans will expect to win another national title and a second Heisman Trophy. It's a ton of pressure for anyone, especially a 20-year-old.
Fisher must help Winston manage the expectations. Neither coach nor quarterback will get caught up in the passing yards and the touchdowns. There should be no desire to compare the stats of Winston 2013 to Winston 2014.
The schedule this season is tougher than 2013 but manageable for a program with this much talent coming back. And Fisher will need to make sure that Winston doesn't feel that the weight of repeating as champion is on his shoulders. They would be wise to continue the one-game-at-a-time mantra and see where the season takes the Seminoles.
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