The 2013 national championship run was special for Florida State. The Seminoles not only won every game, they did so by considerable margins in most cases. It was not just about winning; it was about destroying the competition. That season created an image of Florida State that was hard to sustain.
Though 2014 ended with an appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff and the 2015 Seminoles are sitting at 6-0, many analysts are not high on FSU. Many of the victories have been tight, but a win is always positive. And this year’s Seminoles seem to be getting better with each game.
Here is the halfway breakdown of Florida State with an eye towards the next six games.
Offensive MVP: RB Dalvin Cook
This choice needs little explanation. At midseason, Cook would be the runaway ACC Player of the Year and a potential Heisman finalist. As the FSU passing game was finding its way, Cook held the offense together.
Defensive MVP: CB Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey’s numbers at corner are not spectacular. He has 26 tackles in six games and no interceptions. But very few teams are throwing at Ramsey and he is the leader of and the best player on a very good defensive unit.
Best Moment of the First Half: Cook’s Winning Touchdown vs. Miami
Down 24-23 to the hated Hurricanes, Cook ran up the middle, broke three tackles, and sprinted into the end zone giving FSU a 29-24 victory. In a season of many special Cook moments, that one was the most important.
Best Newcomer: QB Everett Golson
Okay, so he has played a lot of college football in his career. But he is a newcomer to Florida State and his play has been critical to their success. Head coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t give Golson a lot to do early, but he is now in full gear. And the stats? He’s completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,449 yards and 11 scores against zero turnovers.
Biggest Surprise: LB Ro’Derrick Hoskins
Hoskins was an unheralded three-star recruit that did not have a whole lot of offers besides Florida State. But the redshirt sophomore has emerged as a cornerstone of the Seminoles' defense. Hoskins is second on the team in tackles and tackles for lost yardage.
Three Things to Watch in the Second Half
1. Keeping Cook Healthy
The only thing that has slowed down Cook so far this season has been his gimpy hamstring. Since the injury against Wake Forest, he has gone for 222 yards against Miami and 163 yards against Louisville, so the leg can’t be too bad. But there have been moments in each of the last two games where it appeared he had re-injured the hamstring. Keeping Cook on the field is FSU’s top priority.
2. Continual Improvement in the Passing Game
Considering Cook’s injury situation, Golson’s play is essential for second-half success. The Noles' quarterback has gotten more comfortable every week and has built a nice relationship with receivers Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield, who had his best game ever this past week against Louisville.
3. Defending the Pass
As good as the Seminoles were on Saturday, Louisville freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns. The FSU run defense has been pretty solid all year and with Deshaun Watson coming soon, the pass defense needs to solidify.
Ranking the Toughest Remaining Games on the Schedule
1. Nov. 7 at Clemson
Assuming everything goes according to plan for both teams, the Seminoles will go to Death Valley with the Atlantic Division title on the line.
2. Nov. 28 at Florida
Jim McElwain has revitalized the Gators. Florida’s defense is among the nation’s best and The Swamp is never fun on Thanksgiving weekend.
3. Nov. 14 NC State
The Wolfpack have been pesky against the Seminoles in years past and Jacoby Brissett is a dangerous quarterback. It doesn’t help that it is the week after the Clemson clash.
4. Oct. 24 at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is not having the year it anticipated and Florida State's defensive speed will be a nightmare for the Yellow Jackets.
5. Oct. 31 Syracuse
As LSU found out, Syracuse is not a pushover this year and the Noles could be looking ahead to Clemson. Still, at home FSU should not have much of a problem.
Nov. 21 Chattanooga
Chattanooga is a good FCS program, but the Mocs simply don’t have the horses to stay with Florida State.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.