FSU

New Chiefs

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Here are my latest observations about the Seminoles after their 3-0 start this season.

1 — This team’s toughness is legit. Every time things begin to look bleak; these guys find a way to fight back. Whether it’s the defense making a stop or creating a turnover or the offense stepping up to make a play.

Remembering Norvell’s Memphis teams, when we learned that FSU was targeting him for their vacant head coaching job in late 2019, what stood out most was how hard Memphis competed snap by snap.

They were physical on both sides of the ball, and seemed unfazed by the score or situation. Whether ahead or behind, Memphis seemed to play with the same high level of energy and intensity.

It’s such a positive thing to see a strong program battle back after challenging years. FSU fans should be falling in love with this team.

They know there will be times this season when the offense sputters or the defense has major lapses — heck, that’s already happened in the last two games (double heck, this ain’t even pro football! Kids mess up all the time). However, toughness is something that shouldn’t come or go. You have it or you don’t. Grit is absolute.

2 —Trey Benson’s break out. Even though he had 100-plus yards in the season opener against Duquesne, I didn’t think we saw the real Trey Benson in either of Florida State’s first two games.

I don’t know if maybe it was taking a little time to get acclimated to the speed of the game against teams like LSU and Louisville. If that was the case, it would be understandable. Remember, he missed nearly all of last season due to a catastrophic knee injury when he was at Oregon.

Maybe he’s just still getting comfortable with Norvell’s offense. Whatever the case, the guy is 6-foot-1, 215 pounds and built differently than everybody else FSU has in the backfield.

FSU got game(plans). As much credit as Florida State’s players deserve, the coaching staff prepare excellent strategies.

Despite the fact that QB Tate Rodemaker struggled several times in critical situations, Norvell was convinced that he would eventually turn the corner. Rodemaker may have actually done just that.

Injuries + Recruiting. Florida State has been dealing with several injury concerns. Then the list got much longer during the trip to Louisville, with QB Jordan Travis, DE Jared Verse, DL Malcolm Ray, OT Robert Scott, LB Tatum Bethune and others either leaving the game completely or missing time.

I also see the drop off in recruiting the past three years costing the Seminoles for the remainder of this season. With injuries mounting, the lack of depth will hurt the Seminoles as they navigate the remainder of their schedule.

FSU is off to a great start. The was the last time FSU had a 10-win season was 2015.

Will Norvell lead the Seminoles back to glory or will their lack of depth have them come up short?

War Path

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida State football program has suffered a severe fall from grace over the past few seasons. With that newfound mediocrity, comes an automatic lack of promise entering this season.

Can the Florida State Seminoles take advantage of a manageable schedule and return to some relevance as a result? Or, will they once again fall victim to bigger fish in the Atlantic Coast Conference? Let’s find out.

Vs. Duquesne (W)

Sure, the Florida State Seminoles have seen better days than the ones currently surrounding them, but they haven’t fallen so far that this matchup is a toss-up. Anything less than a 40-point win here would be a darn shame, even for a season opener.

Vs. LSU (L)

The LSU Tigers may have seen a downgrade in 2021, but they will be led into New Orleans by new head coach Brian Kelly. With that said, there is a very small chance that the Noles come out of this one with a win. Kelly should take this one by two or three scores, making an early impact in his still-young tenure at LSU.

@ Louisville (L)

Following a dog fight in New Orleans with LSU fails to make things any easier. The bye week placed between the games will help, but not really. The Noles will lose a close one here.

Vs. Boston College (W)

BC will be heading to Tallahassee while Florida State is desperate to make an impression. Expect a convincing Noles win from this one.

Vs. Wake Forest (L)

To put things delicately, the Demon Deacons were not nice to FSU last season. In a 35-14 loss that included a plethora of turnovers, the Seminoles were dealt what ended up being their worst loss of 2021. The Noles may not lose by 21 again, but a disheartening defeat is almost a guarantee, nonetheless.

@ North Carolina State (L)

Now FSU will travel to Raleigh, where they have not prevailed since 2016. If Wake Forest is going to down the Noles on the road, what NC State has in store for them at home the very next week feels almost unimaginable.

Vs. Clemson (L)

Boy, the punches just keep on coming. The Tigers are still expected to be a top-tier contender in the ACC for 2022. And especially with who all they will face leading up to this game, the Seminoles will fail to stay at Clemson’s level .

Vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Finally, we can see a rainbow through the storm. Most GT fans will probably end up praying for this one to end as soon as possible.

@ Miami (L)

Nothing about this matchup leaves the Seminoles with a positive outlook when entering it. Yes, they won the 2021 battle, but the Hurricanes have new head coach Mario Cristobal and they also look like the better team.

Due to the stigma of any big rivalry, the game will probably be closer than it should be. However, Miami should still be the victor by the time the game clock hits zero.

@ Syracuse (W)

This won’t be a blowout, but the Noles are a better team.

Vs. Louisiana (W)

The game should start out good, but FSU will most likely pull away in the second half.

Vs. Florida (L)

The Gators have also won the last three meetings with the Seminoles. The Gators will keep Florida State out of the bowl season again. The Gators are more talented and better coached. This game will not be close.

Conclusion:

The Florida State Seminoles will finish their 2022 regular season slate with a final record of 5-7. It will be their 3rd-straight season without a bowl appearance, and their 5th-straight season with a losing record.

The Real Question:

Will Mike Norvell keep his job if my predictions come true?

Buyer’s Remorse?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Through two seasons (one impacted by the pandemic) things have been disappointing for Mike Norvell at Florida State University.

In his third season as the head man in Tallahassee, Norvell is already setting high expectations. “We have great expectations,” said Mike Norvell. “The daily expectation with the season expectation is for us to go out there and do our best to improve daily, to go out there and not only be competitive, but to push to new limits of where we are and also where we’re going.”

“To see this team come together and to play as one. Those are the things that we’ve seen in laying that foundation this last year and to be able to see the growth, to see the confidence that our players have. I’m going to put no limits to what these guys can accomplish.”

To fix issues on the roster, Mike Norvell has leaned heavily on the transfer portal. He’s hoping that those players will be able to fill gaps.

The rest of the team is filled out by players Norvell recruited and developed. It’s a group that Norvell has a lot of confidence in.

“I’ve got an unbelievable amount of confidence in them,” Mike Norvell continued. “But ultimately, for us, it’s about us showing up every single day and going to perform and to execute at that level with an incredible level of consistency throughout that process. We have great expectations as a program.”

Through his first two seasons, Mike Norvell is 8-13. Florida State fired his predecessor, Willie Taggart part-way through his second season for going 9-12. The pressure is on Norvell and his players to win at Florida State, and win now.

“When you are at Florida State, that’s part of it. You don’t choose to come play at Florida State, you don’t choose to coach at Florida State unless you embrace that opportunity and embrace those expectations to go out there and play at an extremely high level on a day-in and day-out basis.”

Last year, Florida State played Miami and Florida as they were going through internal turmoil. They managed to beat the Hurricanes at home while losing to the Gators on the road.

Based on these spreads, Las Vegas clearly expects Miami to be the toughest challenge for FSU in 2022.

LSU, despite the game being played in New Orleans, has tons of question marks to answer. FSU has not played the Tigers since 1991.

At Florida, new head coach Billy Napier has tried to lower expectations in year one, pointing out challenges in rebuilding.

Whether or not FSU can win these key games will determine if their season is successful and disappointing.

New Path

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

McKenzie Milton has decided to officially hang up the cleats, announcing his retirement from football on Thursday.

The former UCF star returned from a catastrophic leg injury to play for Florida State in 2021, providing one great story last season.

But now that the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, Milton explained on Instagram that “my days of playing football have come to an end.”

Milton had a 27-6 record as a starter for UCF, after starting 4-6 his freshman season, he led the Knights to 23 consecutive wins. He contributed to two American Athletic Conference Championship teams, but that fateful injury in the regular season finale back in 2018 cost him the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Milton graduated from UCF and transferred to Florida State, where he was able to get on the field for six games with four starts during the 2021 season.

After participating in a pro day at Florida State and UCF this spring and not getting drafted, Milton can celebrate his recovery and still know he gave the NFL his best run.

In his announcement on social media, Milton made reference to the “what if” questions that might include whether his NFL Draft outcome might have been different without the injury. But he says his outlook is focused on his growing family, as he and his wife are expecting a boy this summer.

“A lot of people will wonder what if he never got hurt, what if this what if that? I asked myself those same questions for a while too,” Milton wrote in his announcement on social media. “It wasn’t until November 23, 2021 (three year anniversary of my injury) where I saw my son for the first time on ultrasound and then understood why I went through what I went through. It took three years to put it all in perspective. I get goosebumps thinking about how divine it is that three years to the day I get hurt, is the same day I see my baby boy for the first time.”

While Milton was working out with NFL aspirations, he simultaneously got active in the name, image and likeness business.

Dreamfield was founded in the summer of 2021 by two then-active college quarterbacks, McKenzie Milton and D’Eriq King. At the time, both had transferred to Florida schools after great AAC careers. Both said they wanted to take advantage of the new opportunity that was NIL.

Through their Dreamfield platform, they did things like releasing NFTs or non-fungible tokens, which are blockchain-based assets that allow college athletes to easily monetize their NIL, build their brand, and authentically connect with their fans in new and unique ways.

They also brought in other student-athletes, who wanted to use the platform to help find NIL deals.

Today, they offer numerous resources for the athletes who they’ve partnered with, including help with taxes, compliance, and brand building. Meanwhile, they help brands identify the right athletes for them and track the success of their campaigns.

They also exist to help boosters in the NIL era, as they try to begin crowdfunding and things of that nature.

Dreamfield works to bring student-athletes and brands together for the purposes of NIL. They do so without pairing up directly. Instead, they team up with the athletes themselves.

Among those athletes who they have teamed up with are Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham and Washington quarterback Michael Penix.

Now, with these new brands, they will be able to help those brands partner with more student-athletes in deals moving forward.

We may have seen the last of Milton on the gridiron, but he made his impact in college athletics.

Tar Heels To Step On Seminoles?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida State hosts number 5)North Carolina on Saturday evening at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Seminoles enter the game with a 1-3 record, including an ugly 0-3 record against their Atlantic Coast Conference foes.

The Tar Heels are at an undefeated, 3-0, with all three victories coming in conference play. North Carolina enters the game on a six-game winning streak.

The Tar Heels’ offense is led by sophomore quarterback Sam Howell (fun fact: He was at one time an FSU commit).

Howell leads the ACC with passes over 10 yards and greater (154), 30 yards and greater (30) and 40 yards and greater (17).  After three games, Howell is 57 of 83 for 777 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Howell isn’t the only weapon on offense, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams have created arguably the best running back tandem in today’s college football.

The duo has a combined average of 232 rushing yards per game.

Carter is averaging 10.3 yards per carry and has two rushing touchdowns so far.

Williams is averaging 6.3 yard per rush and has seven total touchdowns.

Both are very capable receivers as well; Carter has 8 receptions for 81 yards and Williams has 6 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.

Watch out for junior receiver Dyami Brown, he leads the Tar Heels with 13 receptions for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball the Tar Heels are led by sophomore defensive end Tomari Fox. Fox leads the team with 4.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. North Carolina has 20 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback hurries.

Florida State enters this game with one certainty, Jordan Travis will be the starting quarterback.

Travis was one of few bright spots in the 16 point beat down last week by Notre Dame. He showcased some play making abilities that were really impressive.

Jordan Travis, a transfer from Louisville, was 13- 24 for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

He also rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown. Travis’s 48-yard bomb to Tamorrion Terry late in the first quarter showed his play making potential.

The Seminoles still have a problem protecting the quarterback and opening lanes for the running backs.

All the sacks and pressures from the first three games can be placed into one of three categories: missed assignments, linemen getting beat, and poor quarterback play.

After last Saturday night, those categories have shrunk to two. But without a supporting cast on the front line, will it make a difference?

Freshman Robert Scott, getting his second career start at right tackle, showed some flashes and impressed me. The other four starters on the line couldn’t bust a grape!

Here’s a stat: No defense in the country allows more first downs than Florida State. The Seminole’s defense has been pounded on the ground and through the air. Playing defense has become a trending problem for every team in the entire state of Florida.

North Carolina opens as an eight-point favorite. This one will be close for the first half, then I see the Tar Heels wearing down the Noles. Final score: UNC 48 FSU 27.

FSU took another loss on Tuesday when their top linebacker recruit Branden Jenning decommitted. FSU currently has 16 commits and ranks 25 overall.