Football fans in Tallahassee had to do a double take this past season to make sure they had not drifted back in time. Florida State suffered its first losing season since 1976 and failed to make a bowl for the first time since '81.
After a 5-7 campaign, head coach Willie Taggart looks to continue his trend of rebuilding programs in 2019. Returning to glory and unseating Clemson may seem like long shots for the Seminoles, but there are reasons to believe that things will get better.
1. The hiring of Kendal Briles
It would be difficult for Florida State to get much worse offensively in 2019 and with the hiring of Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator, it doesn’t appear to be something that the Seminoles would like to try. In 2018, FSU ranked 103rd in yards per game and 113th in scoring offense despite going with a more up-tempo approach. Briles comes over from Houston, where the Cougars ranked fifth in the nation in scoring and seventh in yards per game. In three prior years as an offensive coordinator at Baylor and Florida Atlantic, Briles’ offenses ranked first, sixth and seventh in total offense.
2. Skill players on offense
Entering the 2019 season, there is likely to be another quarterback battle between Deondre Francois and James Blackman and the offensive line has the potential to remain a mess for FSU. The good news for Florida State is that there is still no shortage of talent at the skill positions. Although the offensive line did him no favors last season, Cam Akers remains one of the more talented running backs in the country. While Jacques Patrick has graduated, Khalan Laborn will return from a kneecap injury to provide an explosive piece to complement the junior Akers.
At wide receiver, Tamorrion Terry returns for a redshirt sophomore season after leading the ACC in yards per catch and touchdown grabs during the regular season. Tre’Shaun Harrison, Jordan Young, Warren Thompson and Keyshawn Helton are all talented second-year players worth keeping an eye on. Senior wide receiver Keith Gavin, junior D.J. Matthews, and junior tight end Tre’ McKitty could also be in the mix.
3. Depth in secondary
Although it was hardly a strong suit in 2018, Florida State has a lot of returning depth and talent in the secondary. The lone notable loss is safety AJ Westbrook, who was a liability at times. Returning are juniors Hamsah Nasirildeen and Stanford Samuels III. Nasirildeen led the team in tackles while Samuels led the Seminoles with four interceptions. Senior cornerbacks Levonta Taylor and Kyle Meyers will both bring a veteran presence to the secondary. The Seminoles are loaded with talented young players such as Asante Samuel Jr., A.J. Lytton, Jaiden Woodbey and incoming freshman Akeem Dent.