Key returns: Cam Akers, James Blackman, Marvin Wilson, Stanford Samuels III, Levonta Taylor, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Tamorrion Terry, Keith Gavin, Decalon Brooks
Key Arrivals: Akeem Dent, Dontae Lucas, Brendan Grant, Travis Jay
The 2018 football season will be one the Seminoles program and fanbase will not soon forget. Florida State finished with a disastrous 5-7 record and missed a bowl game for the first time in 37 years, marking a low point that FSU was not accustomed to being in.
First-year head coach Willie Taggart certainly took his lumps with a team that struggled to make a bowl game in 2017, but there were problems inherited that needed to be corrected. As 2017 ended and recruiting started for the Seminoles, they lost two commits in quarterback Sam Howell and safety Nick Cross as they flipped from Tallahassee to NC State (Howell) and Maryland (Cross). The Seminoles still managed to secure a top 20 recruiting class in 2018 despite not securing a quarterback commit. Transfer Alex Hornibrook from Wisconsin helped alleviate concerns and will look to start a new chapter in his collegiate career.
At the end of the 2018 season, changes were made to the offensive coordinator position as Walt Bell departed for the head coaching position at the University of Massachusetts. The new OC is now Kendall Briles. Also, quarterback Deondre Francois was dismissed from the team due to off the field issues. Briles comes in with a familiar style of offense that Taggart likes. Taggart wants to run the ball and will be tasked with maximizing output of the offense with some young pieces that gained valuable playing time last season in recievers Tamorion Terry and Keith Gavin, who will look to stand out in their Sophomore campaigns. Running back Cam Akers will also look to regain his 1,000-yard form from 2017 behind an offensive line that returns three of five starters that will certainly be looking for redemption after their 2018 effort.
Last year defensively, FSU finished 80th in total yards allowed and 119th against the pass, but this year the Seminoles look to change that as the unit returns all but eight starters from 2018. Anchored by the linebackers, the unit will also look to regain their form as a top unit and top destination in the NCAA. Incoming freshmen Akeem Dent, Brendan Grant, and Travis Jay look to contribute on defense right away. The defense will need to do better after giving up 378 points in 2018. Freshman Jaleel McRae will also look to contribute early and often for the Seminoles.
The Seminoles will look to claim the spot behind Clemson in the ACC. Non-Conference games against Boise State and the Florida Gators pose challenges but so does conference battles with the Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Cavaliers and the defending champions, ClemsonTigers. The 2019 campaign will be a make or break year for the Noles, they could rebound with eight or more wins or they could have another struggling season. If the Noles struggles continue, there’s going to be a lot of negative noise around Coach Taggart.