Steve Barnes

Those Poor, Successful Seminoles

Created on Aug. 01, 2013 10:08 PM EST

Poor, poor Florida State.

The Seminoles not only lost 11 starters to the NFL draft, they also had defensive coordinator Mark Stoops defect to Kentucky.

Just what will poor, little FSU do?

The 'Noles will do what the 'Noles always do. The 'Noles will win.

One of the most overrated statistics in football in the offseason is the dreaded "number of returning starters." First, if a team was lousy a year ago with lousy players and they all come back, they are still lousy players. They are just a year lousier. If a team was good and had a lot of players rotating on and off the field — say an Atlantic Coast Conference champion — that team's reserves from a year ago are more talented than the lousy returning starter squad.

Take Florida State. They bring back just 11 starters, but finished 12-2 last season.

FSU returns arguably the best defensive personnel in the nation. Lamarcus Joyner and Christian Jones should be first-rounders next year. Timmy Jernigan will start this season after coming off the bench a season ago when he would have started for most teams in the country. Remember coveted recruit Mario Edwards Jr. a few years ago? In 2013, he finally will get playing time.

On the other side of the ball, the "returning starter" misnomer really comes into play. A team can only have one returning tailback. Florida State has two. Both Deonte Freeman and James Wilder Jr. are back in Tallahassee to give the Seminoles a solid one-two punch in the backfield. Rashad Green is one of the most talented wide receivers in the country. Four of the starting offensive linemen return for FSU, led by probably the best center in the country, Bryan Stork.

But, the naysayers will point out, E.J. Manuel is gone, so the 'Noles have no experience at quarterback. In steps Jameis Winston, a freshman. Poor thing. He even missed part of spring drills because he had the audacity to play for the Florida State baseball team. Too bad, Seminoles. You have a quarterback that is attempting to play two sports. The last time you had one of those was in the early '90s when Charlie Ward split time between Doak Campbell Stadium and the FSU basketball court. Wait, he won a Heisman Trophy.

That is this year, though. In 2014, Florida State really will struggle. Except for the fact they've led the ACC in recruiting the last five years. The Seminoles stock recruits the way Florida residents hoard bottled water before a hurricane makes landfall.

Yes, it would appear it will be a down year for Florida State. Probably just nine or 10 wins.

Poor, poor Seminoles.

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