Florida State’s seniors will take the field at Doak Campbell Stadium for the final time on Saturday as No. 14 FSU takes on Chattanooga. With a win, the senior class for the Seminoles would tie a school-record with 48 wins during their careers. To break down Saturday’s contest, each member of the Noled Out staff gives his “Five Things”:
1. On Chattanooga
Mike Ferguson: Chattanooga is a FCS powerhouse that relies heavily on the run. The Mocs have a pair of rushers in quarterback Jacob Huesman and Derrick Craine, who could break the 1,000-yard mark this week. Chattanooga is currently ranked ninth in the FCS Coaches Poll.
Clint Eiland: The Chattanooga Mocs are an FCS team from Tennessee currently ranked No. 9 in the FCS top 25. They have already clinched their third straight Southern Conference title and a trip to the FCS Playoffs. A good offense is headed by the reigning SoCon Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Jacob Huesman, while the defense is the top 20 in multiple areas.
Jon Marchant: No offense to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs, but Florida State plays a tune-up game this week before facing the Florida Gators next week. The Mocs are a very good FCS team at 8-2.
2. Players to Watch for FSU
Ferguson: For me this week, it’s cornerback Javien Elliott. Chattanooga isn’t a team that passes a lot, but Elliott has been one of the better stories for FSU this year. A Panama City native, Elliott has gone from walk-on to starter and will be playing his final game at home.
Eiland: Wide receiver George Campbell has been getting late game reps in multiple contests this year, and this one will probably see him appear again. He’s certainly had his ups and downs this season as he is trying to convert raw talent into on-field success. This game will give him a chance to tune up some of his issues and give fans a glimpse of what the team has in store for years to come.
Marchant: Derwin James. Running back Dalvin Cook should sit and James is just ridiculous. Freak of nature isn’t a good enough superlative to describe how good he is.
3. Biggest Concern for FSU
Ferguson: The biggest concern for Florida State in this one will be coming out sluggish and not putting away Chattanooga early. It’s highly unlikely the Seminoles lose on Saturday, but if they play well from the start, it could means more reps for the younger, more seldom-used players. Playing the starters for an extended amount of time also adds to the probability of injury.
Eiland: FSU needs to be healthy if they want to beat the Florida Gators next week. There’s no need to risk any freak injuries if the Seminoles get up by three scores or more. That being said, all it takes is one wrong move and a season can be over. Florida State should try and limit such occurrences on Saturday.
Marchant: Injuries! The Seminoles have to stay healthy before facing Florida. The offensive line especially needs to come out of this game unscathed.
4. X-Factor for FSU
Ferguson: The X-factor in this one will be senior quarterback Everett Golson. Golson was demoted this week to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Maguire, but against an inferior opponent, the Notre Dame transfer should see time. It could be the last time that Golson sees the field in an FSU uniform.
Eiland: How aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher will be to start the game. Ideally, the Seminoles would come out and put the game out of reach by halftime, giving the backups and rotational pieces some time to play.
Marchant: I’m interested to see if some of the younger FSU receivers, who have had trouble earning their way onto the field for snaps this year, get some burn and get a chance to show what they can do.
5. FSU Wins If…
Ferguson: Florida State will win on Saturday if it avoids a complete meltdown. The Seminoles should win with ease, but FSU fans should hope for an easy victory and a lot of playing time for the players down a little further on the depth chart. Getting out of Senior Day without further injury would also be a huge plus.
Eiland: …it gives at least 50 percent effort. There’s just too much of a talent gap for Florida State to seriously be in trouble during this game. Chattanooga has the FCS playoffs coming up, so its probably preparing for that more than this game. As long as FSU puts for some modicum of effort, it should avoid a scenario like 2007 Michigan-Appalachian State or 2013 Florida-Georgia Southern.
Marchant: The talent advantage simply favors FSU too much for any drama in this one. The Seminoles will earn their ninth win of 2015.