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Hokies' Game Preview & Prediction: Florida State Seminoles

By Sam Stromberg | October 04
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FSU wide-receiver Keon Coleman celebrates in FSU's week one win against LSU. Coleman may be poised for another big game on Saturday against the Hokies (photo via Fox Sports).

#5 Florida State Seminoles (4-0)

Head Coach: Mike Norvell

Last time out for FSU: W; 31-24 @ Clemson

Saturday, October 7th, 2023

Virginia Tech (+24) @ Florida State (-24); o/u53

3:30pm ET


On Offense

Offensive Coordinator: Alex Atkins (first-year as OC; previously only OL coach)

Who’s playing QB?

The Seminoles have All-ACC Jordan Travis back at QB. Despite maybe not living up to all the hype thus far, Travis has still solidified himself as one of the best QBs in the nation. Through four games, Travis has over 1,000 yards through the air and 12 total TDs. At 6’1” 212 lbs, Travis is a serious threat on the ground as well, averaging about five carries a game.

Travis has been especially impressive in the middle of the field. He is 19/23 on completing passes from 10 yards in and between the numbers. The Virginia Tech linebackers must come ready to play – in the pass game just as much as the run game.

Key Skill Position Players

Jr. RB Trey Benson (6’1” 223 lbs) - Benson is an upright runner who the Seminoles love to pitch it to. He is averaging 4.7 yards a rush and has four touchdowns on the year. Not the best RB the Hokies will have faced this season, yet certainly has “big play ability.”

Jr. RB Lawrance Toafili (6’0” 188 lbs) - Despite being listed as a RB, the Seminoles tend to throw it to Toafili. Against LSU in week one, Toafili had two receptions for 49 yards. Expect some sneaky passes to Toafili in Saturday’s contest against the Hokies. Nearly all of the carries will go to Benson.

Jr. TE Jaheim Bell (6’3” 240 lbs) - Bell, the transfer from Shane Beamer’s South Carolina has fit in just right in this FSU offense. Bell is averaging just over 15 yards a catch and already has two touchdowns through four games. On the goal line, they will even hand it off to Bell for an end-around, just as the Hokies had previously done with TE James Micthell a few years back.

Jr. WR Keon Coleman (6’4” 215 lbs) - Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman has a remarkable six touchdowns on the year thus far, tied for third in all of FBS. At 6’4”, Coleman may still be the fastest recover in this FSU WR corps, making him an absolute matchup nightmare. But just wait ‘till you meet his counterpart.

Jr. WR Johnny Wilson (6’7” 240 lbs) - The aforementioned counterpart to Coleman is the 6’7” Johnny Wilson. Wilson leads the team in reception yards with 303. He also is averaging 18.9 yards a reception. Wilson and Coleman is a WR tandem that may be the best in the nation. The Hokies will certainly have their hands full on Saturday.

Key Matchup Battle

If Virginia Tech wants any chance of leaving Tallahassee with a win, then the Hokies’ defensive line must generate pressure on Jordan Travis. You can not give a QB of Travis’ caliber time. He also has an arsenal of weapons which the Hokies will probably struggle with.

This will be no easy task for the Virginia Tech defensive line, as FSU’s offensive line, headlined by r-Sr. LG Casey Roddick and r-Jr. C Maurice Smith, have only allowed four (!) sacks on the year, ranking top five nationally.

On Defense

Defensive Coordinator: Adam Fuller (previously at Memphis under Mike Norvell)

In the Middle

FSU runs a 4-3 and has a very veteran LB core. The Seminolnes mainly rotate three LB’s in at the two traditional LB positions: Sr. Tatum Bethune (34 total tackles), Sr. Kalen DeLoach (three sacks), and Jr. DJ Lundy (13 total tackles). So. Shyeim Brown will start at the Buck position, somewhat similar to Virginia Tech’s “Star” position – a DB/LB hybrid. Given how talented this FSU defense is, the LB group may be the weakest, and that’s saying something.

Playmakers at Corner

UVA transfer r-Jr. Fentrell Cypress is now a Seminole and starts at corner. Cypress has actually been targeted a decent amount in 2023, giving up 12 receptions through four games. Nonetheless, still one of the better corners this Virginia Tech WR unit will face all year. The most impressive DB for FSU thus far, though, has been Sr. CB Renardo Green. Green has two pass deflections and one interception in 2023, not to mention an impressive 14 solo tackles. The corner is third on the team in total tackles with 16. Green is a guy who you’ll see all over the field, merely due to that “dog” he has in him. Green has certainly made a name for himself in 2023 and is a first team All-ACC performer.

Size and Talent on the Line

R-Jr. DE Jared Verse (6’4” 260 lbs), r-Sr. DT Braden Fiske (6’5” 297 lbs), r-Sr. DT Fabien Lovett (6’4” 318 lbs), and r-So. DE Patrick Payton (6’5” 239 lbs) round out a very large FSU defensive line. The D-line is not putting up crazy numbers, yet it is one of the more talented ones the Hokies will face in 2023. Verse was a highly touted JUCO guy who the Hokies and many others were going after a couple years back and Fiske has been around forever and has great size. Verse is one of the quickest I’ve seen of the edge this year. He will certainly pose a challenge for OT Xavier Chaplin. Fiske is like a brick wall through the A gap. Virginia Tech may have to utilize the edge and pitch it to RB Bhayshul Tuten, as it did vs. Pitt (and it was pretty successful). But this FSU defense is far more intimidating than that of the Panthers.

Key Matchup Battle:

Kyron Drones against FSU front seven: Can Drones get it going on the ground to help control the clock? It will be important to Virginia Tech’s offensive success if Kyron Drones can push forward for 3-4 yards on first and second down.

However, I would not be surprised to see Virginia Tech come out guns-a-blazin and air it out. Throw in some play action, misdirection passes, roll outs, etc. Just a thought.

Final Prediction

Virginia Tech scores first and keeps it competitive in the first half. FSU’s talent, size, and athleticism become apparent in the second. I think the Hokies have a shot, but it would take a nearly perfect game.

Florida State 39 - Virginia Tech 24

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Been a Hokie fan ever since I can remember. Immensely passionate about journalism and Virginia Tech sports. Go Hokies!

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