CFB (1 Pick)
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8:00pm est: Florida State +2 (4 Units)
For starters this FSU roster returns 80% of it's offensive production and 94% of it's defensive production from last year. QB Jordan Travis returns after completing 64% of his passes for 3,214 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions. Lead Back Trey Benson ran for 990 yards averaging 6.4 YPC. The Receiver room brings back over 70% of it's yards and touchdowns. Most notably Johnny Wilson, their leading receiver and Travis's go to guy. The offensive line returns 3.5 starters but landed the #1 Tackle in the portal as well as a multi-year starter at Guard. HC Mike Norvell calls plays but his OC Alex Atkins is also his OL coach and a career one at that. The FSU OL will be stronger than last years.
They also nabbed Keon Coleman from MSU. He reeled in 65 passes for 848 yards and 8 touchdowns for the Spartans. Last years transfer WR Winston Wright is also healthy this year. He caught 129 passes for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns while also gaining 1,236 yards with two touchdowns on 50 kickoff returns in his Mountaineer career. Wilson and Coleman are the outside receivers with Wright in the slot. It's an absolutely loaded WR room that's easily top 5 in CFB and arguably #2 behind OSU. FSU averaged 273.3 passing yards per game last season and they've gotten better.
The LSU secondary has gone through more sweeping changes. They brought in 5 transfer CB's as they try to bring back the DBU nickname. They do return both starters at Safety however. With that, it's unlikely the young LSU CBs will see many cover zero snaps. LSU is either leaving a light run box to provide safety help over the top or their unproven CB room is being tasked with shutting down one of the best aerial attacks in CFB one on one. The suspension of Maason Smith really hurts here. The interior defender and absolute game wrecker won't play in this game. He has the ability to shut down the middle of the field all by himself. LSU also lost key pass rushers BJ Ojulari and Ali Gaye to the NFL. This LSU front 7 is going to be good this season but a large part of that is thanks to Maason Smith.
On FSU's defensive side you have one of the best players in the country in Jared Verse. He would have been a top 20 draft pick if he declared last season but opted to torment CFB QB's for another season. He had 9 sacks a season ago and he dealt with nagging injuries all season. At the opposite edge spot there's reigning ACC defensive rookie of the year Patrick Payton. The quick twitch Sophomore had 5 sacks during his freshman campaign. They brought in the #1 DT in the portal Braden Fiske, who's turned heads in spring. They also get DT Fabien Lovett back after an injury plagued 2022. FSU's defense last year w/Fabien Lovett on field: 193 snaps, 3.37 yd/play, 3.18 yd/des run, 11.5% sack rate. Without Lovett: 670 snaps, 5.27 yd/play, 4.82 yd/des run, 9.9% sack rate.
That's just their starting unit too. Inside they retained Joshua Farmer, who had 6 TFL's and 2 sacks in his first season. There's Dennis Briggs who is one of the most experienced players on the FSU roster and a key rotation piece. He had 3.5 TFLs and 3 sacks in 2022. On the outside they have Gilber Edmond to back-up Verse and Payton. Acquired through the portal from South Carolina. He had 39 tackles, 9 for loss, and 2 sacks last year. It's an incredibly deep front that returns both stud linebackers behind them.
FSU already had a case as the best DB unit in ACC based on '22 stats - 2nd in expl play%, PBU%, AdjQBR; 1st in Yd/att & adj comp% - and they've only gotten better w/addition of Fentrell Cypress from Virginia. He was the ACC's top ranked cover corner and 11th ranked nationally according to PFF. They did lose star safety Jamie Robinson to the NFL but Akeem Dent's started 20 of 23 possible games during his time at FSU and redshirt sophomore Shyheim Brown appeared in all 13 games last year. Can't replace a player like Robinson but they can fill the void.
LSU is going to have a very good offense this season. They return nearly all major production, same as FSU. Florida State just has the defense to match the offense while LSU's defense does not. Being littered with future NFL players in the front 7 should also hone in on Jayden Daniels rushing ability. They have the speed to match and most of these guys got live action against the slippery Daniel last year. They can also have the luxury of playing coverage without sacrificing a pass rush with such a talented defensive line.