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11 Florida State
CORY MCCARTNEY
August 20, 2012
Dadgum! The Seminoles will bring back the good old days—if they can protect the pocket
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August 20, 2012

11 Florida State

Dadgum! The Seminoles will bring back the good old days—if they can protect the pocket

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Key Recruit

MARVIN BRACY The two-sport athlete is an absolute burner—he had the world's fastest time this year at 55 meters (6.08 seconds) for Orlando's Boone High—who will make an impact as both a wide receiver and a kick returner.

Breakout Player

CAMERON ERVING After a redshirt freshman season in which he had 20 tackles as a defensive tackle, Erving is playing on the opposite line for the first time. He has ideal size (6'5", 315 pounds) and drew rave reviews in the spring for his transition to left tackle, where he will be E.J. Manuel's bodyguard.

The Skinny

ARE THEY back? Over the past seven years, Florida State has averaged five losses, a staggering number for a program that once went 14 seasons without more than two defeats. But third-year coach Jimbo Fisher has 15 starters back, the most of any ACC team. The defense, which ranked fourth nationally last year, boasts what is arguably the country's best front four, bookended by Brandon Jenkins and former German exchange student Bjoern Werner. On offense the leading rushers from both 2011 (Devonta Freeman) and '10 (Chris Thompson, who missed most of last season with a back injury) are back, and fifth-year senior QB E.J. Manuel will have no shortage of familiar targets: Eight players with at least 11 catches return.

Final Analysis

IT'S BEEN seven years—back when dadgum was still part of the Seminoles' football vernacular—since Florida State last won an ACC title. There's certainly enough talent in place to end that drought, but the Seminoles will have to do a better job protecting Manuel. Only eight FBS teams allowed more sacks last season than Florida State, which gave up 41. The line will be young: All five starters could be sophomores, including converted defensive lineman Cameron Erving at left tackle. But if the unit can keep Manuel upright, Florida State will be the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.

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