FSU vs. Charleston Southern: Five Things We Learned

Unlike Florida State’s annual FCS tuneup game, we actually learned quite a bit from the Seminoles’ game against Charleston Southern on Saturday. The starters played well into the third quarter and we also got a chance to see some new faces take snaps in garnet and gold uniforms for the first time. It was an ugly game, but that was to be expected after coming off of a short practice week. With a huge matchup with Louisville looming on deck, the Seminoles will need to regroup and prepare for Heisman-candidate Lamar Jackson and a dangerous Cardinals offense.

Here are five things we learned from the game on Saturday.

1. Landon Dickerson is challenging for a starting job.

Perhaps the most surprising change to the depth chart heading into this game was true freshman Landon Dickerson starting at right guard. Jimbo Fisher stated after the game that Wilson Bell, the normal starter at the position, was dealing with an ankle injury. Dickerson started off slow, missing a few assignments, but then settled down and played fairly well. Aside from left tackle, no job along the offensive line is locked down. Dickerson will absolutely be given every opportunity to win the starting job from here on out after his great performance in the Charleston Southern game.

2. Deondre Francois is not perfect.

After a sensational performance against Ole Miss, Francois came back down to earth in the game on Saturday. Although he completed 78% of his passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, he attempted a couple of passes that should have been intercepted. Eventually, Francois did toss his first interception of the season and the redshirt freshman did not play as well as the stat line suggests. As previously stated, Florida State only had a couple of days of practice this week due to the Ole Miss game on Monday night, so it is not a huge surprise that the young quarterback struggled.

3. Secondary depth is going to be tested.

We can speculate all we want about Derwin James’ injury, but until Florida State comes out with an official announcement we will not know if he will miss any time. Logic dictates that James will likely miss some time, meaning that the Seminoles need to find a new starter in the secondary. Sophomore A.J. Westbrook is penciled in as James’ backup at free safety, but there are multiple directions that Florida State could go with. An interesting option is moving sophomore cornerback Marcus Lewis back to safety, where he reportedly practiced at throughout the offseason, and plug in true freshman Levonta Taylor at the STAR position. A five-star recruit out of high school, Taylor has the athleticism to play at STAR, but Jimbo Fisher and Charles Kelly will see if the young defensive back has a good knowledge of the playbook before being asked to start at perhaps the most important position on Florida State’s defense. If James has to miss time, Florida State is well prepared. The Seminoles have recruited defensive backs as well as any team in the country and they have plenty of options available.

4. Brian Burns is ready to make an impact.

Although he played primarily in garbage time, true freshman pass rusher Brian Burns was phenomenal on Saturday. He finished the day with 4.5 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Burns looked very explosive and his speed off of the edge was very hard to defend. Although he is listed at 6-5, 218-pounds per Florida State’s official roster, Burns looks like he has gained a few pounds since fall camp. While the Seminoles will still rely on DeMarcus Walker, Josh Sweat and Jacob Pugh as their primary trio at defensive end, don’t be surprised if Burns sees the field in specific pass rushing situations from here on out.

5. Bobo Wilson is primed for a phenomenal senior season.

All offseason, people were writing off Bobo Wilson. They claimed he could not be relied upon due to drops and made no impact in the punt return game. Well, he has proven everyone wrong so far this season. Wilson is currently second on the team with 178 receiving yards on 13 catches. He had been one of Francois’ most consistent targets and had over 100 yards receiving versus Ole Miss. On Saturday, Wilson also scored the first punt return touchdown for Florida State since 2012 on an 89-yard return. He has been very impressive so far this season and will continue to be one of Francois’ first options at receiver.

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