Key Takeaways from the 2017 Spring Game

Photo by Logan Stanford

The 2017 Garnet and Gold Spring Game concluded on Saturday, with the Gold squad beating the Garnet team 17-7.

Defense was the dominant unit in the game. With several key offensive weapons out, both defensive units were able to limit the opposing offenses en route to a low-scoring affair. Logan Tyler certainly had his work cut out for him, as he punted 13 times in the game. Deondre Francois finished 13/28 for 133 yards and one touchdown, which speaks to the lack of offensive talent around him. The only offensive touchdown on the day was scored by Jacques Patrick on a one-yard run.

On the other side of the ball, several players stood out on defense. Derwin James wasted no time in announcing his return, looking like the dominant player he was as a freshman. Florida State showed off the deep rotation it has along the defensive line, even with players like Josh Sweat sitting out. Finally, the dominant secondary that Florida State returns in 2017 showed up big time, limiting the quarterbacks through the air and bullying the walk-on wide receivers.

With this year’s spring game in the books, what are some things that we learned?

Cam Akers is the real deal.

Without question, Cam Akers looks every bit the five-star recruit that he was in high school. Akers finished with 10 carries for 87 yards, good for 8.7 yards per carry. The freshman early-enrollee looked strong, physical and fast, running both through and around defenders throughout the game. He bounced off of Derwin James a couple of times, not an easy feat. Between him and junior Jacques Patrick, who also had some nice moments, the Seminoles should be confident in their backfield as they attempt to replace Dalvin Cook.

Backup QB is still a question.

There is no question that Francois is the starter, but Florida State needs to find a backup option this offseason. Junior JJ Cosentino has not proved anything in his time on campus and failed to impress in the spring game. He looked a tick too slow and his passes seemed to be off their mark throughout the game. Meanwhile, early-enrollee Bailey Hockman threw some nice, but incomplete, passes and still looks to be a work in progress. FSU will need one of them to step up this offseason, especially with the situation surrounding the offensive line.

The offensive line is still under construction.

With none of the positions along the offensive line guaranteed, each job is up for grabs. But the spring game showed that there is still a lot of competition to be had. Josh Ball had his moments at left tackle, but was also bullied by the edge rushers during the game. Guys like Corey Martinez and Mike Arnold were consistently beat by the defensive linemen as well. Derwin James returned to his role as pass rusher and whipped Abdul Bello on a couple of occasions. Honestly, this speaks more to the depth and talent that Florida State has along the defensive line, but it is fair to say that the offensive line has a lot of work to do.

Florida State is going to have a plethora of pass rushers next year.

Brian Burns. Jacob Pugh. Derwin James. Joshua Kaindoh. These are all names that Florida State will have rushing off of the edge next season. Even with DeMarcus Walker going to the pros, the Seminoles will have a lot of talent returning. Pugh, who was named the overall spring MVP, could potentially blossom into that next big-name pass rusher for the ‘Noles. Meanwhile, guys like Burns and Kaindoh might not be starters, but they could combine for double-digit sacks as situational pass rushers. If there’s one area that Florida State should feel confident about, it is the talent they return coming off of the edge.

The secondary should be elite.

Derwin James is back and, to no surprise, he is still an elite player. But guys like Kyle Meyers, Stanford Samuels, Carlos Becker and Levonta Taylor also showed some nice things in the spring game as well. With two job (field cornerback and nickel cornerback) open, there should be some nice competition this offseason for those spots. Meyers, a sophomore, picked off Francois and returned it for a touchdown. Malique “Bones” Jackson, a senior who has rarely seen the field, also had some nice plays in the game. Even if he doesn’t start, it still says a lot about the amount of talent that the Seminoles return in their secondary.

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