For Florida State fans, 2017 was a season full of ups-and-downs. It was a disappointing season, especially by standards of one of the most successful programs in the last 30 years. In our Florida State Seminoles 2017 Season Review, we explore why Seminole fans are ready to turn the page into 2018.
Florida State Seminoles 2017 Season Review
Rough Season for the Noles
What began as a goal of “Atlanta to Atlanta” ended with a 7-6 season and a win over Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl. It was a season filled with ups and downs for the Seminoles. From the loss of starting quarterback Deondre Francois to injury in a week one loss to Alabama to the emergence of freshman running back Cam Akers breaking Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record with 1,018 yards this season, it was an up-and-down season. The defense was no different–there were spots of brilliance and moments of disbelief. For one of the most steady programs in college football over two generations, it was an unusually bumpy season.
Close Wins And Tough Losses
The Seminoles struggled at times but fought for all they had this year and it shows with close wins at Duke and Wake Forest. But close losses at home to Miami and Louisville stymied any momentum. Florida State played almost every game tough this year except for the Boston College and the Alabama game. But games like Miami, ultimately decided with a minute left, made fans cringe knowing the Seminoles had simple mistakes deciding several games this year. Six games were decided by seven or less points.
Akers was the bright spot on an otherwise lackluster season. The freshman served as a back up to veteran running back Jacques Patrick. Patrick will return for his senior season and will play a huge leadership role for a maturing team under new head coach Willie Taggart. The tandem of Patrick and Akers will be one of the top running back units in the nation heading into 2018.
Alongside Akers in the backfield was another true freshman, James Blackman, who took over as starting quarterback after Francois was injuried. He was under massive amounts of scrutiny from the beginning. From Blackman’s lack of size to his inexperience with the playbook were common refrains from fans all season. Blackman’s statistics weren’t stellar, but they weren’t as bad as some contend. He completed 173 passes on 297 attempts (58.2%) for 2,250 yards. Blackman also threw 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His 11 interceptions were second most in the ACC. While none of those stats are higher than sixth in the conference, his rating of 135.02 was fifth in the ACC, ahead of Kelly Bryant, Eric Dungy, and Malik Rosier. Blackman gained a season of experience, however, which should make for an interesting quarterback battle come next fall.
Receiver Auden Tate helped the true freshman out considerably even with a nagging shoulder injury that limited his production but only missing one full game. Tate totaled 10 touchdowns on 40 receptions for what was still a monster year for the junior wide receiver. He will forgo his senior season to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Tate is a projected to be drafted between the first and third rounds.
Along the defensive side of the ball there was a whole lot of talent but it didn’t seem to show up consistently week after week. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden had a disappointing year after leading the NCAA in interceptions in 2016. McFadden didn’t record a single interception this season. Some of that is due to teams playing away from McFadden. McFadden is also forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Brian Burns, who burst onto the scene in his freshman year with 9.5 sacks, only registered 4.5 sacks this season. Josh Sweat will also forgo his season. Sweat had 14.5 career sacks as a Seminole. The defense will return five starters from the Independence Bowl and a lot of young and experienced players, however, and veteran big man Demarcus Christmas is returning for his senior season.
Coaching and Looking to 2018
But the biggest news story of the 2017 season was Jimbo Fisher leaving Florida State for a more lucrative contract at Texas A&M. He accepted a deal worth 75 million over 10 years in College Station. Fisher stepped down before the regular season finale against University of Louisiana-Monroe. Former Seminole legend and Defensive Line Coach Odell Haggins served as interim head coach for the final two games.
With the departure of Fisher, Florida State started its first head coaching search since the they hired Bobby Bowden in 1976. But the search did not last long. The Seminoles hired Willie Taggart away from Oregon to take over the football program in Tallahassee.
Looking ahead to 2018, the Seminoles should have high expectations. First, they’ll have two experienced quarterbacks battle it out in camp. They’ll be competing for a chance at the starting job in Coach Taggart’s “Gulf Coast” offense. Taggart has already brought on former Maryland Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell to the same position. Bell joins former Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Harlon Barnett as Taggart’s primary deputies. Secondly, the Patrick-Akers running back tandem will be one of the best in the nation. And the defense should be much better next season as well. Only another unexpected injury and a tough ACC should cause concern for Seminole fans.
As the calendar has turned over for yet another year, Seminole fans are ready to put a disappointing 2017 season behind them and look forward to getting back to their winning ways in 2018.
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