With Florida State’s spring practice in the books, here’s what we know and what we learned about the Seminoles as the offseason continues.
Florida State closed its fifth straight 10-win season by beating Michigan in an Orange Bowl classic. But there was a sense of unfinished business in Tallahassee for a program that sets the bar at a playoff berth each year. The Seminoles aimed to use their spring drills as a catapult to recapturing the ACC from Clemson, returning to national title contention and handling Alabama in the opener.
1. Cam Akers’ Learning Curve is Rather Flat
In just his first season out of Clinton (Miss.) High School, Akers is ready to help offset some of Dalvin Cook’s lost production.
While it’s unfair to compare any rookie to a back like Cook, the fact that there are unmistakable similarities is great news for Jimbo Fisher and his Noles. Akers was dynamite throughout spring, showcasing power, speed and vision reminiscent of his predecessor. In the Garnet and Gold Game, he rushed for 87 yards on 10 carries while displaying soft hands as a receiver. Akers is going to be an impact performer right out of the chute, maintaining pressure on veteran backs Jacques Patrick and Johnathan Vickers to keep raising the level of their play.
2. No Rust on FS Derwin James
James is back after missing most of 2016 to a meniscus tear in his left knee. And he essentially picked up where he left off prior to the injury.
James was in midseason form by mid-March, a refreshing site for a program that missed its elite free safety a year ago. The junior with the high first-round ceiling in 2018 was flying around the field as if he’d taken part in live action just a week earlier. James will be one of the most influential defensive game-changers in college football this season. And when combined with All-American CB Tarvarus McFadden and a slew of other talented DBs, it’ll be extremely difficult to throw on Florida State in 2017.
3. O-line a Youthful Work In Progress
There’s a ton to like about this edition of the Seminoles, Fisher’s eighth in Tallahassee. However, if FSU fails to achieve its 2017 goals, the offensive line could be the culprit.
The Seminoles, which have struggled to protect the pocket in recent years, are replacing three veterans from a year ago, including All-ACC LT Roderick Johnson and veteran OG Wilson Bell who recently transferred to Auburn. Making matters less cohesive for venerable line coach Rick Trickett, starting C Alec Eberle and RG Landon Dickerson sat out spring to recover from injuries. Florida State could start three redshirt freshmen this season, as Josh Ball seized the lead in the battle to protect Deondre Francois’ backside, Cole Minshew played well at guard and C Baveon Johnson made the most of Eberle’s absence.