Photo Credit: Florida State Athletics

Wait. It’s…it’s September? We survived? The pandemic is still here, sure. But the murder hornets, Iran, Australian fire, election season…none of it could prevent this.

It’s football season. The first Power 5 conferences will take the field this week and that includes the ACC. Kicking off the Mike Norvell era at Florida State will be a home date with Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech at Florida State

  • Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL
  • Saturday, Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • FSU -12.5, O/U 54.5

Out With the Old

It’s going to be an interesting next few years for Florida State. Willie Taggart is now at Florida Atlantic, with about half of his coaching staff in tow. The other half is scattered. Seminole Boosters scraped together the money and got a new coach, unproven in the Power 5 ranks.

Mike Norvell was the new sheriff in town.

Then the pandemic happened.

Instead of spring football, Zoom meetings happened. Instead of offseason lifting, we had videos of FSU’s new (and admittedly jacked) strength and conditioning coach in his garage. FSU sent out weights instead of getting direct contact with staff.

Recruiting has been weird, too. The dead period that began in February still stands. Norvell and company have had to figure out who they can offer while attempting to only give those offers to athletes they’ve seen in person.

It’s a Year 0. It’s not what FSU fans had hoped, but it’s what they have.

Georgia Tech

This ain’t Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech. No more triple-option. No more cutting defensive linemen’s knees. But what the Ramblin’ Wreck does have? Hope.

Yes, they lost to The Citadel. And to Temple. But wins over Miami and NC State gave the Yellow Jackets something to cling to. Then they “steal” quarterback recruit Jeff Sims out from under FSU’s nose. The Jackets are feeling awfully good about themselves.

Perhaps Georgia Tech is a bit too confident for a team that went 3-9 a year ago.

When FSU’s on Offense

If you know exactly what we’ll see, please let us know and we’ll figure out how to get you a job here. Prognostications of that magnitude are rare in this business.

FSU is full of questions. How will the offensive line hold up? Does it have enough tight ends to effectively run Norvell’s offense? How much install has taken hold? SP+ likes FSU’s offense. It is ranked 28th in the nation at this point.

Some things, we do know. Redshirt junior James Blackman is a passable quarterback. Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry is still scary. Keyshawn Helton is back. But how that all works together? We can’t tell you. Defensively, Georgia Tech ranks 35th preseason in SP+ Defense.

A year ago, the Bumblebees had issues with pressure. The most tackles for loss came from Charlie Thomas, a defensive back. This is the early test. Can the offensive line hold up against an ACC defensive line that wasn’t impressive in 2019? Florida State has rejiggered its offensive line – will Darius Washington, Dontae Lucas, Maurice Smith, Baveon Johnson, and Devontay Love-Taylor hold up?

When FSU’s on Defense

Here, we have a little more certainty. FSU has the athletes on defense to keep it in the game – but for how long will depend on the offense. The secondary has the depth to rotate, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the linebackers and defensive line.

Regardless, the Wreck was a…well…wreck a year ago offensively. That’s to be expected, though, as it’s hard to move from triple-option to spread. What they lacked in production, they made up for in youth – Tech brings back all its leading skill players from a year ago.

Tailback Jordan Mason ran for almost 900 yards and seven touchdowns, while quarterback James Graham ran for another 300. But it won’t be Graham tossing the rock – true freshman and FSU theft Jeff Sims will be taking snaps. On the other end, receivers Ahmarean Brown, Adonicas Sanders, and Malachi Carter combined for 885 of those yards with nine touchdowns.

Can FSU dial up enough exotic blitzes to confuse the young signal-caller?

Score Predictions

John: Georgia Tech, 20-17. Georgia Tech returns the most production in the ACC from offensive/defensive sides. Year 2 of Geoff Collins is more bought in than Game 1 of Norvell.

Cory: FSU, 20-16. FSU looks disjointed offensively, but offensive line gives just enough hope for fans to overreact. A late pick seals the deal.

James: FSU, 34-21.

Mike: FSU, 34-17. Georgia Tech hangs around most of the way, but Florida State pulls away late. The Seminoles will dominate up front defensively and the offense will get into a rhythm eventually.

Jake: FSU, 27-17. The offense starts slow, but defense holds and FSU gets it together in the second half.