I've been waiting to write these three words for way too long; football is back. That means it's time for our first Monday Mailbag of the fall where I'll be answering questions from fans on football, basketball, recruiting, and anything in between.
Florida State is just six days away from taking the field against Notre Dame to kick off the season and an offseason of positivity has the fanbase cautiously optimistic about what this team could turn into. I'm interested to see if the Seminoles can prove they're on the right track against a solid Fighting Irish team.
Winning this game, or at least keeping it within fighting distance, is huge for this team out of the gate. I'd even argue this might be the most important game to be competitive in all season with the number of recruits that are expected to be in Tallahassee this weekend.
Let's hop into our first mailbag of the season!
Are we going to have a quarterback verbally announced by Sunday? @Marvswaflehouse
Who's going to be the starting QB? - Patrick Meleady
Is Jordan Travis really gonna start? - @jameisfan25
This is the question that everyone has wanted an answer to since the quarterback battle between McKenzie Milton and Jordan Travis began back in the spring. Leading up to fall camp, I was confident that the job was Milton's to lose and fully expected him to start on Sunday night against Notre Dame.
That said, there has obviously been some uncertainty around the veteran signal-caller throughout the last couple of weeks. Ultimately, I think those question marks, plus Travis taking the necessary steps forward this offseason, will lead to him taking the field against Notre Dame.
I don't think the competition is necessarily over. If Milton can get back up to speed after missing time, there's a chance he pushes for playing time throughout the season.
Got an idea of what they're doing to honor Bobby or what uniforms we will be wearing against the Catholics? - @CrackedOutPooh
During an appearance on his radio show last week with Gene Deckerhoff, head coach Mike Norvell stated that FSU does have some plans to outwardly honor Bobby Bowden during the season. An exact plan for that hasn't been released yet, I think the Seminoles want to keep it quiet until Sunday to make it more special. I expect it to be some sort of patch on the jerseys or helmets but we'll see.
As for the uniforms, we'll probably get an announcement this week but I'm going with the traditional garnet and gold.
When is Emmett Rice coming back? - @benp51284
As you may remember, veteran linebacker Emmett Rice suffered a lower-body injury during the spring that threw his availability into question. Thankfully, it seems like he dodged something serious as Rice was spotted without a brace during the spring game and has been a limited participant throughout fall camp. He even has been fully dressed out for some of Florida State's full-pads practices.
The coaching staff has been slowly ramping up his workload and Norvell has expressed optimism that he'll make an impact on the defense. I doubt he'll be ready for Notre Dame as he wasn't listed on the depth chart earlier today but we will see him early on this season.
What’s your starting 5 at OL and your starting pass-catchers? - @BerardoGarcia
What is the starting 5 on the offensive line going to be? - Justin Hill
Two questions in one so I'll start off with the offensive line here. Alex Atkins enters his second season at FSU with the majority of his unit returning and some quality additions to the room such as grad-transfer Dillan Gibbons. There has been a lot of shuffling around through fall camp but I fully expect the starting five to be; left tackle Robert Scott, left guard Dillan Gibbons, center Maurice Smith, right guard Devontay Love-Taylor and right tackle Darius Washington. Other linemen such as Dontae Lucas, Baveon Johnson, and Brady Scott will push for snaps during the year.
Moving over to the wide receivers, I think they're the group that needs to step up the most on offense. They've struggled with consistency and drops but the potential is there to have a solid core of skill players. As for starters, I was going with grad transfer Andrew Parchment, true freshman Malik McClain, and veteran Keyshawn Helton. However, FSU released its first depth chart while I was writing this article and the starters will be Parchment, Helton, and Ontaria Wilson. Malik McClain, Joshua Burrell, and Bryan Robinson will be asked to contribute as well.
If the defensive line play is improved, will the LB’s be less of a liability in your opinion? - wellyn_enough
I think if the defensive line plays better, it will only benefit the entire defense. They simply couldn't get to the quarterback a year ago and the rushing defense wasn't any better. Florida State identified this weakness early and added six new scholarship defensive ends over the offseason, including Jermaine Johnson, Keir Thomas, and Marcus Cushnie.
The linebackers are definitely an interesting group though. Amari Gainer will be the standout but FSU will need newly named starters DJ Lundy and Kalen DeLoach to step up. Stephen Dix Jr, Cortez Andrews, and Emmett Rice will also be in the rotation. If they can just end up being average, it would be really beneficial.
Jaleel Skinner with the UM towel last week and releasing edits from several other schools (but not FSU). Trying to throw off the scent? Or is he at risk of committing elsewhere? - @NoleRockin
A ton of predictions for Jaleel Skinner to Florida State, including my own on NoleGameday's Discord, have gone in since June. Personally, I feel like this is more of him trying to throw people off so that he can have some hype around his commitment.
Skinner transferred to IMG Academy to play with #Tribe22 pledge AJ Duffy during their senior seasons, he grew up a fan of the 'Noles, and he likes the pitch of playing wide receiver in Tallahassee. I'm confident about where FSU stands though it's important for the program to get off to a good start.
Does 2-10 have any chance of getting Norvell terminated? - @TalentEvaluator
Let's just say it wouldn't be good for Florida State if the program somehow ended up 2-10 this year. That would mean the season went to shambles, the recruiting class likely falls apart, and the optimism that's building quickly gets turned into confusion and anger.
There would have to be some tough decisions made with the amount of money that's still owed to the last coach that failed to turn the Seminoles around.