2019 season: 6-7, 4-4 in the ACC (T-3rd in the Atlantic Division)
Head coach: Mike Norvell (1st Season)
Last season was a year to forget for Florida State. Coming off the departure of long-time head coach Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M after the 2017 campaign, new hire Willie Taggart was supposed to be the offensive-minded coach the Seminoles needed to bring life back to the team. After going 5-7 in his first season, Taggart secured the second-best recruiting class in the ACC according to 247Sports, behind only Clemson. However, that was not enough for Florida State, as Taggart went 4-5 in his second year and was let go with three games remaining in the 2019 regular season.
That brings us to now, where new head coach Mike Norvell has taken over and is looking to build off the positives of the end of last year, when the Seminoles won two of their last three regular-season games. Norvell’s 2019 Memphis team was well known for its ability to hit home run plays. With offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham and quarterback James Blackman alongside him in Tallahassee, Fla., this could be a match made in heaven.
Although Florida State’s offensive play seemed inconsistent at times, it also showed upside. Blackman posted career-highs in yards and completions last season despite leaving a few games early due to injury. The 6-foot-5 quarterback has an arm perfect for throwing downfield—he tossed a stunning 91-yard touchdown against Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. He also has had time to build chemistry with his receiving core, which is expected to be full of returning targets.
The main concern comes from the offensive line, which has been the Seminoles' weak spot since the loss of Jimbo Fisher—the team finished 125th in the FBS in sacks allowed per game in 2019. FIU transfer Devontay Love-Taylor will be a key player at tackle, but the work is cut out for the coaching staff to fill the rest of the spots with quality blocking.
As for the defense, Florida State was 90th in yards allowed per game last season, though Norvell also brings new defensive coordinator Adam Fuller with him from Memphis. Couple Fuller with 10 returning starters, including defensive star Marvin Wilson and All-ACC corner Asante Samuel, and we can expect to see some improved play.
Florida State is a team with many pieces that give it the potential to return to the top of the college football world. It is now up to Coach Norvell and his staff to put them together and improve upon last year’s showing.