The college football news cycle never sleeps and even as the season ends there is plenty to talk about between roster moves, coaching changes, and wrapping up the end of the season. Our Seminole wrap article series will give you the bullet point news and updates you need to know about FSU football while also allowing us to cover an array of topics in one all-encompassing article. So, let’s get to it!
Florida State hit the double-digit win mark for the 25th time in program history with the 35-32 win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-it bowl. This game was much closer than most of us expected but the Noles found a way to win in the end. The FSU offense got off to a slow start but picked up momentum and ended up racking up 597 yards of offense. Jordan Travis had a stellar game throwing for over 400 yards for the first time in his career. His leading target was Johnny Wilson who had a monster game going for an incredible 202 receiving yards.
The defense may have not performed well on paper giving up almost 500 yards including 253 yards on the ground but they got enough crucial stops when needed to help FSU get the win. Fabien Lovett was unexpectedly in street clothes for this game and as we have seen when he is not playing the interior defensive line has struggled. This is why the pickup of Braden Fiske, Darrell Jackson, and the return of Lovett for 2023 are crucial for the Noles defense.
As I mentioned in the pregame preview, Oklahoma’s 6-6 record may be a little misleading as they played in a tough Big 12 conference this season. Despite Lincoln Riley taking a chunk of their players with him to USC they still have a very talented and deep roster from years of success.
At the end of the day, all that matters is FSU got the win. No, it wasn’t quite the impressive performance we had hoped for but the end result is still a win and more momentum for 2023. Double-digit wins are not an easy feat in college football as you’ll see in the graphic below.
Mike Norvell will be on the hunt for a new defensive backs coach as Marcus Woodson will be moving on from FSU to join the staff at Arkansas. This was a move that felt like it needed to happen to not only elevate the play on the field but also in recruiting. Woodson did not do a bad job and gone are the days of seeing an opponent’s receiver walk into the end zone with no FSU defender even in the TV frame.
However, the Noles are in a different place now than when Woodson was hired. They can now offer stability, success, and pay about as well as most teams in the country at the position. I look for Norvell to bring in someone who will be an upgrade at the position as well as on the trail which may the most important factor in this hire. Strong ties to the state of Florida would be a huge boost in my opinion. Norvell has a successful record with hiring assistants so rather than speculate I’ll trust whoever he decides is best.
The Florida State staff once again flexed their ability to get high-level talent from the transfer portal with the addition of the #1 ranked defensive lineman in the portal Braden Fiske. Fiske comes to Tallahassee by way of Western Michigan and has quite an impressive stat sheet. In 2022, Fiske was responsible for creating 48 pressures, 8 sacks, 54 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles. For reference, the highest-producing defender in the pressure department for FSU this season was Jared Verse with 36 pressures and 9 sacks.
The 6-foot-6 300-pound defensive tackle brings 1,809 snaps of experience over 5 seasons. His PFF grades for the 2022 season were 86.4 overall, 83.8 against the run, and 80.3 pass-rush grade all of which are exceptional. While it’s unclear how a player will translate to the power 5 level Western Michigan did play both Michigan State and Pitt this season. Fiske graded out well in both of those games. This is a huge get for the FSU defense at a position that needed an upgrade for what FSU wants to accomplish next season. Fiske, Darrell Jackson, and Fabien Lovett returning gives a whole new outlook to the defensive tackle room.
As if getting the top-rated defensive lineman wasn’t enough, Norvell and his staff also went out and got the top-rated cornerback in the transfer portal Fentrell Cypress from UVA. The 6-foot 184-pound Second team All-ACC corner brings 987 snaps of experience and has an impressive stat sheet as well. In 2022, Cypress allowed just a 45% reception percentage with 9 PBU’s and Zero touchdowns allowed.
Against Miami and Syracuse combined, he only allowed 1 catch for 7 yards on 10 targets. I’ll take that proven production against teams on FSU’s schedule all day long. His PFF grades for 2022 are 87.8 overall, 77.4 against the run, and 87.6 in coverage which are all stellar grades.
FSU saw Renardo Green emerge this season at corner but some of the other names we expected to have a big year seemed to regress from last season. FSU still has a lot of names I like at the position but Cypress is certainly an upgrade to the secondary. The Noles may not be done in the portal as far as the secondary is concerned as they will need to replace Jammie Robinson who declared for the NFL draft but landing Cypress may give them the flexibility to shuffle some pieces around too.
Florida State safety Jammie Robinson has announced his intention to enter the NFL draft. Robinson was a 2-year starter for Noles and played 1,551 of 1,814 available snaps on defense during his time at FSU. Jammie was also the leading tackler on defense both years and racked up 99 total tackles in 2022.
There is not much left for Robinson to prove at the college level and while his presence will be missed it makes sense for him to test the NFL waters. The way he went out in the bowl game was a testament to the way he played leaving everything he had on the field that night. This will leave a hole for FSU to fill in the secondary but I do like Shyheim Brown at the position.
I still would like to see them take a safety from the portal if there is a quality one available. For now, I just want to wish Jammie the best at the next level. He truly was a fun player to watch in garnet and gold.
FSU got some big news with the announcement of Fabien Lovett’s return for 2023. We saw firsthand this season how badly FSU struggled against the run when Lovett was out with injury. This news combined with landing Fiske and Darrell Jackson from Miami will be a huge boost at a position that needed it.
Lovett was the highest-graded defensive lineman against the run (with a 50-snap minimum) this season for FSU. The Seminoles still have a lot of young talented guys that got some valuable experience this season but for what FSU is trying to accomplish in 2023 they needed to upgrade the defensive line, and this was a huge step in doing so.
Florida State wasn’t finished with the news of big names returning as they received the highly anticipated announcement that first-team All-ACC defensive end Jared Verse will also be back in 2023. This is obviously a huge boost for the defensive as Verse was projected to be a first or second-round draft pick. The Noles would have been a little thin at the position had he declared.
Verse led the team in pressures (36) and sacks (9) last season in only his first year at the Power 5 level. A defensive line of Jared Verse, Fabien Lovett, Braden Fiske, and Patrick Payton sounds like one we should be excited to see next season. Verse was a menace to opposing defenses last season and his return just feels like the cherry on top of all the good news we’ve received so far this off-season.
That’s the news for now but with more breaking seemingly by the minute, we’ll be back with more before you know it. Florida State is making the necessary moves to upgrade the talent floor and coaching that it needs to become a serious contender again.
It’s an exciting time for Nole Nation with 2023 shaping up to be a special year for FSU. We’ll be here to provide you with authentic FSU coverage along the way. Be sure to also check out our podcast where I talk about all this and more! Thanks for reading and Go Noles!
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