NoleGameday Monday Mailbag: Impact Players, Alternate Uniforms and Backup QBs

Congratulations to the New England Patriots, this year’s Super Bowl winners. Former Florida State offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson will earn his first Super Bowl ring as a member of the Patriots. But with the Super Bowl completed, that means there will be no real football until August…

Keep submitting those questions so we can get through this offseason together!

Who will be the “impact player” on offense, defense, and special teams? (via Facebook)

Dakota: I take it this question means “new impact players” on each side of the ball. We already know that Francois, Tate and Murray will be key parts of the offense, so who are some new players on the offense to watch out for?

Offense: The obvious choice here is Cam Akers. I’ll go a little outside the box and say Keith Gavin. With Travis Rudolph moving on to the NFL, Florida State will need another receiver to step up opposite of Auden Tate. At 6-3, 225-pounds, Gavin has NFL-ready size as a college sophomore. If he can continue to learn the playbook and consistently catch the ball, he will be a matchup nightmare against smaller college cornerbacks.

Defense: He might not start in the first game against Alabama, but I believe Stanford Samuels III will work himself into the starting lineup by the end of the season. At 6-2, 175-pounds, Samuels has the size and length that Florida State covets in its defensive backs. By all accounts, he possesses the same intense mentality that his dad had at the cornerback position and is a player that will outwork everyone in the locker room. With Tarvarus McFadden locking down the boundary cornerback job, Samuels will have every opportunity this spring to battle for either the field cornerback position or the STAR position.

Special teams: I was very surprised when Levonta Taylor did not get any burn at punt returner. I think that’ll change this year, especially with how Noonie Murray ended the season at the position. In high school, Taylor was an elite punt returner and consistently flipped the field or scored when he returned punts. With lackluster punt return efforts the past few seasons, perhaps this is the year where Jimbo Fisher finally tries an explosive option back there.

Dakota: Maybe they’ll wear the black jerseys, but no one really knows. That is up to the discretion of Jimbo and it’s not something that the media will every be privy to until an announcement is made. I doubt that they’d open up the season against Alabama in the all-black, but who knows?

What receivers should we expect to see leading the pack and seeing the most field time? (via Facebook)

Dakota: We already know Auden Tate and Noonie Murray will be the top dogs at wide receiver. Tate emerged as a reliable big-play receiver while Murray burst onto the national scene after a fantastic two-touchdown performance against Michigan. With Tate at 6-5 and Murray at 5-11, Florida State will have one outside receiver and its slot receiver set for the upcoming season.

What they need to find is an outside receiver to play opposite of Tate. It was supposed to be Travis Rudolph, but he declared early for the NFL. There are a variety of options to work with. Keith Gavin, at 6-3, 225-pounds, has NFL-ready size as a college sophomore. Francois targeted him a lot in the Orange Bowl after Tate went out with an injury. He showed on his 66-yard kickoff return that he has some jets as well to go along with his size.

Another option is George Campbell, who will be a redshirt sophomore after sitting out last season due to a core injury. He has 4.4 speed at 6-4 and is a player who can stretch the field vertically. The problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. If he is able to stay on the field, then he will be a big time contributor.

Deondre at the QB position is awesome, but if he gets hurt and leaves the game for a play or two, can the freshmen contribute?

Dakota: Florida State fans might not like to hear this, but it should be expected that redshirt junior J.J. Cosentino will be the backup heading into next season. Cosentino might not be the player that people thought he’d be when he showed up on campus, but he is entering his fourth year in the system. If Francois is only out for a play or two, then expect Cosentino to get into the game.

Throughout Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at Florida State, both as an offensive coordinator and head coach, no true freshman quarterback has ever played. It is obvious they prefer to redshirt their quarterbacks in their first year on campus. Bailey Hockman, who is an early enrollee, is probably the more college-ready of the two guys they signed.

If Francois (knock on wood) gets injured and misses a key series or an entire game, the situation gets a lot more interesting. Do the coaches trust Cosentino to handle the job for a game or two? If they’re set on redshirting Hockman or Blackman no matter what, do you look at Jake Rizzo perhaps? Will Hockman have enough grasp of the playbook to manage a game if necessary?

Obviously, the best case scenario is that Francois stays healthy. But injuries happen in football and we all saw the amount of punishment he took last season. Hopefully this offseason the offensive line can find some consistency and Francois can continue to develop his pocket presence to render this conversation moot.

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