The Daily Nole

Comeback Season: FSU Players Prime for Turnaround in 2018

Mike Erdelyi/FSU athletics

Most Florida State players would like to forget the 2017 season, or otherwise use it as motivation for 2018. When a team underperforms as severely as the Seminoles did, finger-pointing reveals little about the true sources of the frustration. A lot of players who looked good in 2016 simply did not reach those levels last year.

Head coach Willie Taggart and a new staff are trying to tap in to that natural talent which couldn’t shine through under all the turmoil. For many players, the change gives them a blank slate to work from. They can turn a bad 2017 into a footnote on their FSU careers.

For consideration on our next list, we look at players who didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2017. If they redshirted or otherwise saw very little action last season, they don’t qualify. The goal is to identify the players who fell short in 2017, but can still benefit the most from the new system:

Cole Minshew, G

Minshew makes the list under the “disappointment” label. According to Pro Football Focus grades, Minshew actually did finish the season as a top 10 player on offense, but that’s a far cry from the expectation that he’d contend for top overall lineman. Minshew looked dominant at the end of 2016 and most thought the run game would greatly benefit from his return.

To be clear, he still finished as a slightly above-average run blocker in 2017. Yet both Landon Dickerson and Derrick Kelly surpassed him in this regard. In addition, his pass blocking was some of the worst of the starting linemen, which allowed center Alec Eberle to also grade out better than him.

There’s now a breath of fresh air with Greg Frey leading the unit instead of an aging Rick Trickett. Frey’s acumen as a coach and the shift towards a more mobile line will likely benefit Minshew at the guard position. Much like 2016, Minshew got better as the season went on, which again leads to the hope that 2018 is the year the redshirt junior puts it all together.

Kyle Meyers, CB

Few freshmen in 2016 were as surprising as Meyers. The Louisiana product impressed coaches enough to get rotational work early on, eventually turning in to a legitimate slot cornerback who would contend for a starting spot in 2017.

It became obvious midway through that 2017 season that Meyers simply lost confidence. Plenty of players did, and the defense as a whole underperformed. But Meyers was especially downtrodden, dropping considerably in his PFF grade and reverting to a rotational player at best.

What new defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett figures to do with Meyers remains to be seen. He still has good quickness and speed to his game, and no major injury is holding him back from reasserting himself on the defense. Knowing how confident he was as a freshman, it’d be shocking to see Meyers not rebound as a cornerback.

Carlos Becker, DB

What happened to Carlos Becker? Injuries, coaching upheaval, and more injuries. Becker was hampered throughout 2017 with an ankle issue, which disappointed plenty of fans who had witnessed him make valuable contributions in 2016, including the Orange Bowl-clinching interception against Michigan.

That injury reared its head prior to spring practice before it was confirmed that he would undergo surgery to correct the issue. He ended up missing all of spring practice, but was still expected for fall camp.

Becker is a cornerback/safety hybrid who has the length and speed to play either position at a high level. Barnett’s variant of the 4-2-5 would allow him to put Becker in whatever position suits him strongest, whether it be covering a receiver or playing closer to the line for run support. The junior certainly has the athleticism to excel in either role. Becker might not become a dominant defensive back in 2018, but if he’s used properly, he could see the biggest comeback on this list.

Keith Gavin, WR

Unfortunately for Gavin, 2018 is probably his last chance to secure a starting spot at receiver. FSU is bringing in some impressive talent at the position which will push Gavin down the depth chart if he’s not able to focus on the task at hand.

Willie Taggart’s offense requires bigger receivers who can stretch the field vertically. Gavin fits the description, with good size and enough speed to give a defense fits in coverage. He showed it often against Alabama, striking one of the nation’s best defenses for seven receptions and 50 yards in what many considered a breakout game. The rest of 2017 clearly did not work out like that, leading some to wonder if Gavin would ride out his FSU career as a “what could have been” story.

He has the chance to prove the naysayers wrong in 2018. The only solidified starter at receiver is Nyqwan Murray in the slot. This is probably the most fluid the position will be for years. Gavin needs to translate the physical skills into consistency and provide the offense with the deep-ball threat it desperately needs.

One Comment

  1. finance85

    July 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    I hate to do it, but I have to speak to some Bobby and Jimbo discussions from years past. The 2017 team could have been very good. FSU beat Bama in 2 of 3 facets of the game. Special teams lost the Bama game. That set the stone rolling. FSU was 7 seconds and 1 play away from beating Miami. FSU was a fumble away from beating Louisville. Other than BC, FSU realistically was in every game with a chance to win.

    This team still has an immense amount of talent. It has arguably upgraded the coaching staff at every position except Interior Line (stayed the same), and perhaps TE.

    Making schemes simpler on both sides of the ball will allow the athletes to use their ability. I think the most immediate impact will be with the receivers, who should flourish in a new scheme. Likewise the OL should be much better because they only need to play within a single scheme 90% of the time.

    IMO, Trickett wasn’t at fault for the OL failing as much as Jimbo. Running different schemes from play-to-play caused confusion and missed assignments. Opposing defensive coaches took advantage.

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