Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 – Team #1

#1 – Florida State Seminoles
Tallahassee, Florida
Doak Campbell Stadium (82,300)
2013 Record: 14-0 (8-0)

The Florida State Seminoles won their third national championship in 2013 after a fourteen year drought from a title game after playing in the first three consecutive BCS title games. The 2014 Seminole team returns the Heisman Trophy winner from 2013, Jameis Winston who set a school record for touchdown passes in a season with 40. Winston, a redshirt sophomore, finished the season with 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions and a 67% completion percentage, 2nd in last year’s ACC behind only Tahj Boyd of Clemson.

2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston.
2013 Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston.

Winston does lose two solid targets in Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny ‘Too Raw’ Shaw who each caught 54 passes last season. Even though those two guys are gone, the leader in receptions and yards from a year ago, senior Rashad Green returns (76 rec, 1128yds, 9 TDs). Green will be leading a talented but extremely inexperienced receiving group as no other returning receiver besides Green has a career touchdown reception. The Noles will rely on kick return specialist Kermit Whitfield, Jarred ‘Scooter’ Haggins (missed 2013 with an injury) and two freshmen, Ermon Lane & Travis Rudolph, to keep the passing game rolling along. There are serious questions at receiver but not a single one in the backfield as the running attack for Florida State will be much improved in 2014, and that’s not saying it was bad at all in 2013. Departed is Devonta Freeman who became the first Seminole rusher to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark since Warrick Dunn donned the garnet & gold in the mid 90’s but converted safety Karlos Williams will look to make it two years in a row after rushing for almost 800 yards as a backup in 2013. Williams will be spelled by a refocused Mario Pender and super freshman Dalvin Cook who enrolled in January. The runningbacks will have the luxury of running behind the best offensive line in the country that consists of five seniors, let by left tackle Cameron Erving. The line lost Rimington Award winning center Bryan Stork but replacing him is Austin Barron who has 4 starts under his belt and knows the system inside and out. The rest of the line is decorated like a Christmas tree with All-American & All-ACC honors: Guards Tre’ Jackson and Josue Matias and tackles Cameron Erving and Bobby Hart.

The Seminoles lost three emotional leaders of the defense who just so

Jalen Ramsey has the opportunity to be a breakout star in 2014.
Jalen Ramsey has the opportunity to be a breakout star in 2014.

happened to be the top three tacklers on the team in linebacker Telvin Smith, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Those three will be tough to replace on and off the field but the cupboard isn’t bare in Tallahassee. There is talent everywhere on the roster including the embarrassment of riches in the secondary with cornerbacks PJ Williams (BCS National Championship Game Defensive MVP), Ronald Darby and shooting star Jalen Ramsey who will be taking the slot corner position vacated by Joyner. Then at safety the Noles return team leader in interceptions in 2013 with 4, ¬†Nate Andrews and 2013 team leader in interceptions with 3, Tyler Hunter who missed majority of the 2013 season with an injury. Linebacker will be the biggest question mark on defense with two starters gone and a lot of inexperience left. Terrance Smith leads all returning defenders with 59 tackles a year ago and will be flanked by sophomore EJ Levenberry at one spot and most likely junior Reggie Northrup. The defensive line is loaded with talented players led by former #1 high school recruit defensive end Mario Edwards Jr, who is half-a-pork chop away from 300 pounds and if you question his athleticism, just YouTube¬†the play in the national championship game when Edwards brought down Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in the open field. Joining him on the line will be juniors Eddie Goldman (6’4″, 314lbs), Niles Lawrence-Stample (6’1″, 319lbs) and sophomore Chris Casher at the other defensive end position.

Mario Edwards Jr might be the best defensive lineman in the country.
Mario Edwards Jr might be the best defensive lineman in the country.

The Seminoles will have a tougher schedule in 2014 than they did a season ago starting with the opener in Arlington, Texas, against an Oklahoma State program that has won nine or more game in five of the last six seasons. The Noles benefit from a bye week prior to division rival Clemson visiting Doak Campbell Stadium on September 20th followed by a road game in Raleigh against NC State. Two weeks later Florida State travels to the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2004 to play Syracuse followed by a home date with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, a hot ticket in Tallahassee these days. Two weeks later, after a bye week, Florida State will travel to Louisville on a Thursday night. The last time the Noles played the Cardinals in Louisville on a Thursday night (2002), they lost 26-20 in overtime. November begins with Virginia at home followed by a road game in south Florida against the Miami Hurricanes, a team that Florida State has beaten for four straight seasons. Florida State will end the season on a two game home stand against division opponent Boston College and hated in-state rival Florida, who may show up with a lame-duck coach or an interim.

Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has recruited extremely well since becoming the head man in Tallahassee and it has shown on the field as the Noles have only lost six games in the last three seasons. The Seminoles will be looking for another national championship under the new College Football Playoff and have an extremely good chance of making college football’s ‘final four’ but will need some wide receivers to step up and make plays. The defense won’t miss a beat in 2014 and quarterback Jameis Winston will look to carry his team to consecutive national championships.

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium
Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium

Thank you for reading the Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 on! Make sure you tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday morning from 10am-Noon! This Saturday we will be on for an extra hour until 1pm as we will be previewing the upcoming high school and college football seasons! Its’ going to be a great year!

#1 – Florida State Seminoles
#2 – Oklahoma Sooners
#3 – UCLA Bruins
#4 – Ohio State Buckeyes
#5 – Alabama Crimson Tide
#6 – Auburn Tigers
#7 – Baylor Bears
#8 – Oregon Ducks
#9 – Georgia Bulldogs
#10 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#11 – USC Trojans
#12 – LSU Tigers
#13 – Michigan State Spartans
#14 – South Carolina Gamecocks
#15 – Ole Miss Rebels
#16 – Wisconsin Badgers
#17 – Stanford Cardinal
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 -Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 – Michigan Wolverines

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