The case for
Despite big losses to the NFL, including quarterback E.J. Manuel, the Seminoles have plenty of veterans. Four starters return on the offensive line, along with 12 players who combined for 2,797 receiving yards in 2012. Florida State should gain plenty on the ground as well. Junior backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. could be the best one-two punch in the ACC. The spring game performance of 6'4" redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston had Tallahassee buzzing, but coach Jimbo Fisher is also considering 6'5" sophomore Jacob Coker for the starting job. The D, which ranked No. 6 in the nation in points per game (14.7), has standouts such as middle linebacker Christian Jones. A talented group of linemen waited its turn in '12 behind NFL-bound Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine; now former role players such as junior tackle Timmy Jernigan and sophomore end Mario Edwards Jr. can establish themselves as stars.
The case against
While the Seminoles have plenty of experience overall, they'll have an untested QB. And they still haven't shown they can win all the games they are supposed to win. In 2011, FSU lost to Wake Forest; in '12, to N.C. State. There's no excuse for losing to a team with inferior talent this year.
You haven't decided whether Jameis Winston or Jacob Coker will start at quarterback. Why?
I want to see how they handle fall camp. I've seen springtime heroes and when fall comes, it doesn't work that way. I think both guys will continue to progress, but I want to see who can stay consistent.
How did winning the program's first ACC title since 2005 affect the players?
Nobody on this team had won a championship. You win a championship, you think different. You act different. You understand what it's about. We have a rule: You don't wear hats in the [football complex]. They wouldn't take their ACC championship hats off. They'd walk in my office with them knowing I was going to get on them. You know what? I didn't make them take them off.
You had 11 players drafted from last year's team. Do you worry about replacing them?
Our offense last year was very sophomore-oriented. We'll have more junior and senior starters in 2013 than we had last year.
Player to Watch
After 27 straight starts at strong safety,Lamarcus Joynerhas moved to cornerback for his senior season. Though he's just 5'8" and 190 pounds, Joyner is a ferocious hitter; he'll use that physicality to jam receivers at the line.
GARY BOGDON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILDER)
James Wilder Jr.
GEOFF BURKE/GETTY IMAGES (FISHER)
Projected 2013 Stats
QB Jameis Winston
Pass: 2,850 yards, 20 TDs
Run: 415 yards, 5 TDs
RB James Wilder Jr.
Run: 900 yards, 12 TDs
Rec.: 160 yards, 1 TD
WR Rashad Greene
Rec.: 770 yards, 8 TDs
Run: 30 yards, 0 TDs
The Seminoles will be challenged immediately, opening the season on Labor Day at Pittsburgh. FSU has an open date before the Oct. 19 showdown at Clemson, which likely will decide the ACC Atlantic Division. That game kicks off a tough three-week stretch that includes visits from N.C. State and Miami.
SI Power Ratings
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