It’s no secret FSU has had a rough go of it the past few seasons, but could year three under Mike Norvell finally be the turning point for the Seminoles to get back on track?
It would be nearly impossible to cover every small detail that needs to happen this far out from the season. There is still a lot that could change between now and the opener on August 27th.
However, there are a few macro level concepts I feel need to come to fruition for the Noles to have success in 2022.
First, let’s define what a successful season would even look like for FSU. I always try to be optimistic while also being realistic about what that means at this point in time.
Of course, it is possible for any team to have a breakout season and stockpile a surprising number of wins or vice versa.
When you add together more continuity in year three of the same system, quarterback Jordan Travis having more experience, and the addition of a few transfers at key positions; I would like to believe the Seminoles are poised take a step in the right direction.
With that being said, I still think a “successful” season for FSU is as simple as achieving a winning record, making a bowl game and not having any overwhelmingly embarrassing losses as we’ve seen the past few seasons.
Fans should be excited about what can happen. After all, that’s what being a fan is all about. However, it is also necessary to keep things in perspective to avoid setting yourself up for a major letdown.
So, let’s take an early look at three macro-level keys that could set FSU up for a successful 2022 season.
This first point may seem obvious and apply to just about every team in college football but is especially critical for the Seminoles.
There is reason to be optimistic about what the starting 22 could accomplish this fall. However, if FSU is forced to dig much deeper into the depth chart things could go south in a hurry.
We saw firsthand just how bad this offense became any time Jordan Travis left the game due to injury. FSU did not get a single win without him on the field, including a loss to an FCS team.
Hopefully better offensive line and wide receiver play translate into Jordan being in less situations where he’ll have to take unnecessary hits. Unfortunately, he has still been prone to injury throughout his career at FSU.
Another factor of why his health is so important is neither of the quarterbacks behind him have a similar skill set to run an offense that is being tailored towards his style of play.
There have been rumblings of improvement from presumed backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker this spring, but he has had well…less than stellar showings when forced into action in the past.
Putting the success of this team on the back of true freshman quarterback AJ Duffy is probably still wishful thinking for right now as well. For FSU to have a successful season Jordan Travis needs to stay healthy, period.
Quarterback is not the only position FSU is thin at on the depth chart when it comes to proven production. Both lines of scrimmage, the linebacker room and wide receiver core have talent to be excited about, but there’s a significant drop off in either talent, experience or both once you get past the starters.
FSU has landed a number of nice young recruits, but they are undeveloped and unproven right now. As with the quarterback position, having a team’s success rely on those young players probably wouldn’t bode well.
FSU will need injury luck on their side to sustain success throughout the duration of the season and achieve the results fans are looking for.
There are several players that have the potential to make an impact for this team. However, potential doesn’t always translate into production as we’ve seen in the past.
Obviously, it would be ideal for every player to live up to their potential. But for FSU to take the step forward we’re looking for there are a few names in particular I feel need to have a standout season.
On offense, Kayden Lyles is a name that comes to mind first, mainly due to being at a major position group of need. Lyles solidifying the starting center job and performing well would be huge for FSU. He has experience, looks the part and comes from a school known for their offensive line play in Wisconsin.
The Noles have rotated multiple bodies at center the past few years to try and solve snapping issues and get a push up the middle but have struggled to find an answer. Lyles could be just the guy they need, and also give FSU the option to shuffle other pieces around to get the best starting five possible.
Kayden Lyles having a solid season and living up to his potential would be a huge boost for this unit and could lead FSU to decent or above average offensive line play this season.
I also think Robert Scott is a name to watch up front. He has the measurables and upside at a critical position for FSU. He performed well last year and started 11 games for FSU. His success on the field will be vital for the Noles this year.
With the Mims situation behind us, unless they find another day one starter at tackle to transfer in, Scott is likely the guy FSU will be counting on.
Another name at a position of need on offense is Mycah Pittman, who has already shown the potential to be an impact player in his short time on campus. FSU has lacked an explosive wide receiver threat that defenses have had to respect in recent years.
With the injury to Winston Wright, and outside of getting another quality transfer, I feel Pittman is going to have to be the guy for FSU in 2022.
Ja’khi Douglas is a player who has flashed multiple times and 6’7 receiver Johnny Wilson could be huge (no pun intended) for FSU if he puts it all together. The concern is neither have a record of proven production as is the case with the rest of the Seminole receiving core.
No FSU receiver logged over 400 yards or had a single 100 yard game the entire season. To put this into perspective Wake Forest breakout freshman receiver A.T. Perry had more receiving yards than Florida State’s four leading receivers combined last year. He had seven 100 plus yard games including going for 155 yards vs FSU. For the Seminoles to have success in 2022 that simply has to change.
The lack or proven production also applies to the running back position. After a strong showing in the spring game, this stable of backs looks to be a potential strength on offense this year. They will look to replace the production of former starter Jashaun Corbin who racked up 887 yards during his final season in Tallahassee.
While that may not sound like a ton of yards to replace, the next closest back as far as production was Treshaun Ward with 515 yards and Lawrance Toafili with 163. The Seminoles did bring in Oregon running back transfer Trey Benson who looked electric in the spring game. Still though, he is coming off an injury that limited him to only 22 yards during his time with the Ducks.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, there are proven names like Jammie Robinson, Robert Cooper, Fabian Lovett, Tatum Bethune among others to be excited about. However, for this defense to be what FSU needs in 2022 other less proven names need to have a good showing.
Jared Verse and Derek McLendon come to mind first because of who they have to replace. FSU fans saw how impactful it was to have an elite pass rusher this past season in Jermaine Johnson. Filling the shoes of someone who earned 2021 ACC defensive player of the year and was a first round NFL draft pick will be no easy task.
Verse is still unproven at the power five level after transferring from Albany but was highly sought after by multiple big-name schools. Verse has shown flashes so far this spring that proves why FSU went after him.
McLendon will also be a name that is helping to fill the void left by Johnson. He has 3 years of experience in this system and had 16 tackles with 3.5 sacks last year. For reference Jermain Johnson has an astounding 70 tackles and 12 sacks to his name in 2021.
While it is unlikely to have a player with the same level of production as Jermaine Johnson, these two having a good season could combine to give FSU the pass rush they need to be competitive up front.
At linebacker, UCF transfer Tatum Bethune is someone I’m very excited to see in garnet and gold this season. He was a tackling machine for the Knights last season racking up over 100 tackles, something an FSU linebacker has not done since Reggie Northrup in 2014.
Opposite of Bethune we’ll look to names like Kalen DeLoach, Amari gainer and DJ Lundy who had promising seasons last year with DeLoach really coming into his own later in the year. However, once you get past those guys there is almost no proven production to rely on at the position.
Jammie Robinson is undoubtedly the cornerstone of this secondary, and with the departure of Jarvis Brownlee jr. FSU will look to a host of names to fill the open slots.
Duke Cooper and Kevin Knowles were a pair of names that flashed last season that could also make an impact for the FSU defense. This secondary is deep with potential talent but has had a hard time living up to their expectations in the past and will face a slew of very talented ACC quarterbacks this season.
Obviously, this is only a handful of names that could have a breakout season for the Noles. The point being is for FSU to get over the hump and have a successful season all the potential we’ve seen and heard about needs to be present on Saturdays.
Special teams have been anything but special the past few years for FSU. Lost yardage from puzzling kick catching decisions, lack of a return game and inconsistent kicking are just a few of the areas that have plagued FSU repeatedly. In fact, the Noles have not seen a kick returned for a touchdown since the 2018 season.
Oddly enough, Head Coach Mike Norvell has been known for having some of the best special teams units in college football. In his final season at Memphis, they ranked second overall in special teams compared to 106th last season at FSU. It is quite the head scratcher as to why FSU has struggled so much in that area, but it is something that needs to be cleaned up.
We do know that they focus heavily on special teams in practice, and Mycah Pittman could also make an impact on special teams with him having experience as a sure handed returner. Unfortunately, this was also an area Winston Wright would have been a big boost for FSU as he was a talented returner in his time at West Virginia. Hopefully he will make his return this season for FSU but his current timeline is unknown.
While it may not be the most important phase of the game, it has continuously plagued FSU especially when it comes to field position. The Seminole offense often had to start deep in their own territory.
For FSU to have a “good season” they at least need special teams not to be a hindrance. If they can turn things around and have special teams be an advantage for them, that could definitely account for some added success this year.
We’re all hoping for FSU to finally get things turned around this year because let’s face it, Florida State being good is good for college football.
There are still things we need to see develop before we can home in on the finer details of what will make this team tick in 2022. Keep in mind the transfer market is still open and some starting jobs up for grabs.
For now, this is just an early look at 3 key areas I feel FSU needs to have go right for them to see a successful season in 2022.
Thanks for reading and Go Noles!
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