As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2016 ACC schedule when it plays Florida State on Nov. 19.
WHO STARTS AT QUARTERBACK?: Florida State boasts one of the deepest, most talented rosters in the country, but quarterback is one of the few areas of intrigue. When head coach Jimbo Fisher released his depth chart at the annual ACC Kickoff event in July, he slotted redshirt senior Sean Maguire at the top spot, despite Maguire missing all of spring with a fractured ankle. While Maguire was recovering, the spotlight was on redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, who dazzled in his spring game performance. Also in the mix are J.J. Consentino and Malik Henry. “We’re in great shape. The future looks really good,” Fisher said at ACC Kickoff. “Anxious to see how these first guys battle in fall camp, see where we’re at.”
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Heisman candidate Dalvin Cook had an exceptional sophomore season, rushing for 1,691 yards and racking up 1,935 all-purpose yards, both single-season records at FSU. The scary part for opposing teams is that there is room for improvement for the tailback. Keep in mind that Cook missed a game last season, and dealt with nagging ankle and hamstring injuries, along with a shaky offensive line. Cook is healthy, and he’ll be running behind a more experienced O-line. “We did return all 11 on offense,” Cook said. “It could be a plus and it could be a minus. But we working towards it to be a plus.” On defense, Fisher’s biggest coup in the offseason was retaining defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who was on the fence about whether to jump to the NFL. Instead, the senior is returning for his final season, and will build on the 58 tackles and 10.5 sacks from 2015.
PREDICTION: The story of the 2015 Florida State team was that it was billed as a “rebuilding” year. How many teams go 10-3 and play in a post-New Years Day game in an off year? It could be the year FSU again, plus the schedule breaks in the ‘Noles favor this season, with division rival Clemson coming to Tallahassee. FLORIDA STATE 52, SYRACUSE 14.