NoleGameday

Midseason Position Grades

Photo by Logan Stanford

Sitting at the midseason point of Florida State’s 2016 campaign, we have a good idea for what this team is made of. They sit at 4-2 on the season, with loses coming to Louisville and North Carolina, but still have a good chance of reviving their season and making a respectable bowl game. Although expectations were high coming into the season, many fans have adjusted those accordingly after Florida State’s beat down at the hands of Louisville.

How have each of the positional groups fared so far this season. Let’s go through each one and hand out some grades at the midway point of the season.

Quarterback

Coming into this season, there were high expectations surrounding Deondre Francois. Six games into his redshirt freshman season, it’s fair to say that the young signal caller has exceeded, or at least met, expectations. Through six games, Francois has completed 63% of his passes for 1,557 yards and nine passing touchdowns. He’s also added 150 yards and two touchdowns on the grounds as Florida State has worked to implement the QB run game more. Yes, he’s had some struggles (mostly versus Louisville) but overall Francois has the makings of a multi-year starter for the Seminoles.

GRADE: B

Running Back

Dalvin Cook did not start off the season hot. However, these past couple of weeks he has really turned on the jets. Cook rushed for 267 yards against USF, 140 against North Carolina and 150 against Miami. Oh. and he’s also added 227 receiving yards over the course of those three games as well. Cook is currently on pace for Heisman-like numbers once again and should have a good shot of being invited to New York.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Jacques Patrick is a major boost for Florida State. After running small and timid last year, Patrick is really running like the 230-pound back that he was recruited to be this year. Through six games, Patrick has rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Although the majority of the carries will still go to Cook, Patrick has made some notable improvements this year.

GRADE: A-

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The trio of Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield continues to be the Seminoles’ most reliable receivers. Wilson currently leads the pack with 29 catches for 388 yards and a score. He has been Florida State’s best receiver over the past couple of games and made some great catches versus Miami.

Auden Tate was thought to be a breakout player this year, but has only registered six catches for 98 yards and three touchdowns. Although he is a great red zone weapon, the coaching staff needs to find a way to implement his size in between the twenties when they are driving down the field.

At tight end, Ryan Izzo is still a solid receiver and blocker. However, the bigger storyline is the emergence of Mavin Saunders. Against both North Carolina and Miami, the redshirt sophomore made some seriously impressive catches. Saunders is still learning how to play football, originally being a basketball player, and his improvements over the course of this season are very encouraging moving forward.

GRADE: B-

Offensive Line

The offensive line has seen some shake up this season. Kareem Are, the starter at left guard, missed the first couple of games with an injury. True freshman Landon Dickerson stepped in for Wilson Bell at right guard. Perhaps most notable was the poor play of Rick Leonard, a converted defensive end who received a lot of hype this offseason, which caused him to get benched in favor of Brock Ruble.

But now, with a lineup of Roderick Johnson, Are, Alec Eberle, Dickerson, and Brock Ruble, the Seminoles seem to have found some continuity. They still have their struggles, but the run game has noticeably improved. Pass blocking is still an issue and Francois has taken some rough hits because of it.

GRADE: C+

Defensive Line

First and foremost, DeMarcus Walker is playing himself into a great draft position. The senior defensive end is playing the best football of his career and is the clear heart and soul of his defense right now. The blocked extra point versus Miami is a great example of Walker fighting to the last whistle.

The other defensive end position has kind of been in flux due to Josh Sweat’s injury. The sophomore has not played very well this season, but much of that can most likely be attributed to his knee injury. Jacob Pugh has been solid and true freshman Brian Burns has showed flashes when he’s been on the field.

In the interior, Derrick Nnadi had himself a game versus Miami after being limited with an ankle injury this season. Demarcus Christmas, Walvenski Aime and Fred Jones have all been solid as well and the rotation of those four players is one of Florida State’s biggest strengths this season.

GRADE: B-

Linebackers

The play of the linebackers has left much to be desired. Matthew Thomas looks lost at times and is showing rust after not playing football for an entire year. Ro’Derrick Hoskins, while a solid starter, is limited athletically in what he can do and is simply beat at times. Meanwhile, the true freshman backups in Dontavious Jackson and Emmett Rice have provided some spark when they’ve been in. But true freshman can only do so much, especially in coverage. We will get a bigger test of what they can do when Jackson starts against Wake Forest due to Thomas’ first-half suspension for targetting.

GRADE: C-

Defensive Backs

Where do we start with this group? For a positional unit that was billed to be amongst the nation’s best this year, it has performed amongst the nation’s worst. Florida State has allowed 12 passing touchdowns this year and 241.7 yards per game through the air.

Yes, star safety Derwin James is currently out with an injury but other players are struggling. Marquez White does not look like the same cornerback from last year. Tarvarus McFadden, while he does lead the team with four interceptions, has given up his fair share of big plays. Marcus Lewis looks completely lost at times and has been a major liability from the STAR position. A.J. Westbrook, who replaced James at safety, does not look ready for major snaps.

We will see how this positional unit performs when James returns, but for now it is the weakest unit on this defense by far.

GRADE: D+

Special Teams

After hitting six field goals versus Ole Miss, Ricky Aguayo came back down to earth with three missed attempts against North Carolina. He is currently sitting at 13/17 on field goal attempts for the year. Meanwhile, fellow true freshman Logan Tyler has averaged 43.5 yards per punt. Punt coverage has already given up some big plays in the punt return game and part of that can be attributed to poor punts by the freshman.

GRADE: C+

Dakota Moyer

Florida State student and writer for NoleGameday.



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