Florida State Seminoles: Roberto Aguayo

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
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It’s that time of year when the preseason lists start appearing, and Athlon is out with its preseason All-America teams (four of them!), which include a healthy dose of the ACC.

The ACC has eight players on the first-team All-America squad, tied with the Pac-12 for most by any conference. In all, the ACC had 27 selections (26 players, as Duke’s Jamison Crowder was named as both a receiver and punt returner). Florida State, not surprisingly, led the way with a whopping 12 players named on the four lists, including Jameis Winston, Nick O'Leary, Tre Jackson, Cameron Erving, Jalen Ramsey and Roberto Aguayo as first-teamers.

Of course, these preseason lists are always a little subjective and a lot different from how the end-of-the-season results shake out. (Example: Just seven of last year’s Athlon preseason picks were also first-team selections at year’s end.)

With that in mind, here are a few ACC names that didn’t show up on any of Athlon’s four preseason All-America teams that could well be first-teamers by the time 2014 draws to a close.

CB Ronald Darby (FSU): The forgotten man in Florida State’s incredibly talented secondary, Darby nursed a nagging groin injury, but still was as good a shut-down cornerback as there was in the conference a year ago. He has flown under the radar nationally, but he has the talent to be a star if QBs decided to test him just a bit more often this season.

DT Grady Jarrett (Clemson): The 2014 season promises to be a pick-your-poison scenario for teams hoping to slow down Clemson’s immensely talented pass rush. Vic Beasley gets most of the hype (for good reason), but he is also going to get a lot of the attention from offensive linemen. That opens the door for Jarrett (10.5 tackles for loss last season), along with a host of others to make some noise, too.

LB Steven Daniels (Boston College): It is a bit surprising that Miami’s Denzel Perryman is the only ACC linebacker to make Athlon’s cut since there is clearly a lot of talent at the position, including Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, Duke’s Kelby Brown and David Helton and Syracuse’s Dyshawn Davis. But we all know the history of linebackers at Boston College, and Daniels could be next in line. He still has room to improve, but his 88 tackles last season are the seventh-most by a returning player in the ACC, and that number figures to grow in 2014.

RB Dominique Brown (Louisville): He had 825 yards and eight touchdowns last season in a more buttoned-down offensive system with a highly touted QB on the field. Now the Cardinals turn to a novice at quarterback and an offensive guru at head coach, which could promise big production out of the backfield for Brown. Or, perhaps we will all be talking about Michael Dyer here by season's end.

DE Eli Harold (Virginia): As bad as the Hoos have been, it makes sense that they are not getting much preseason love, but Mike London is quietly assembling a heck of a defensive line at UVA, and Harold might be the best of the bunch. His 15 tackles for loss last season trail only Beasley among returning ACC defenders.

That is my list. Who else do you think could make a push for All-America honors by season's end?

More links:
  • Charges could be dropped against one of the key figures in the UNC academic fraud scandal, according to the Charlotte Observer.
  • Miami picked up a commitment from a QB for 2016, writes the Sun-Sentinel.
  • Syracuse is shelling out big bucks to play Central Michigan in 2015, reports The Post-Standard. With new scheduling guidelines and the College Football Playoff in place, this is going to become the norm for signing games against mid-level opponents.
  • Former Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe is battling Parkinson’s Disease, but he is back in college football as a special assistant at LSU, writes The Courier-Journal.
  • Tomahawk Nation goes searching for Florida State’s flaws. Not to spoil the ending, but there aren’t many.
Athlon Sports became the latest publication to put out its preseason All-America team Monday, and not surprisingly there is major ACC representation across the board.

Perhaps most notably, Athlon has Jameis Winston as its first-team quarterback. Why is this notable? College football guru Phil Steele has Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as his first-team All-America quarterback, ahead of Winston. Steele also has Mariota as his top Heisman candidate headed into the season, with Winston at No. 2. It certainly will be interesting to see how the competition between them plays out, especially since they are widely considered the top two quarterbacks in the country.

As for the other players featured on both All-America teams, Athlon and Steele only differ on a few ACC first-team players aside from Winston. Athlon has Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey on its first team, while Steele does not; Steele has Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman on his first team, while Athlon has him on its fourth team. Steele also listed Florida State's Kermit Whitfield as his first-team kick returner, while Athlon had him on the third team.

Looking at both teams, there is no denying there is major talent at Florida State once again. And there is no denying the ACC has the top special-teams players in the country. Athlon features Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo and North Carolina punt returner Ryan Switzer on its first team, while also giving nods to Whitfield, Duke's DeVon Edwards (fourth-team kick returner) and Jamison Crowder (second-team punt returner) and Virginia Tech's A.J. Hughes (fourth-team punter).

In all, the ACC has eight players on the Athlon first team, tied with the Pac-12 for the most in the country. Overall, 27 ACC players are listed on the Athlon All-America first-, second-, third- and fourth-teams -- more than any other league.

Video: ACC special teams analysis

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
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Andrea Adelson takes a look at special teams in the ACC, where some of the top players in the country are set to return for 2014.

FSU room to improve: Special teams

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
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The celebration of a BCS championship victory is in the rearview mirror for Florida State, and Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston and Co. have already turned their attention toward adding another trophy in 2014. So as Florida State preps for spring practice, we’re digging into the biggest questions, position battles and storylines facing the defending national champs.

This week, we’ll look at the five position groups with the biggest question marks looming in advance of spring practice.

Previously, we reviewed the defensive line, running backs, linebackers and wide receivers.

Last up: Special teams

Projected starters: Roberto Aguayo (K/RS So.), Cason Beatty (P/Jr.), Kermit Whitfield (KR/So.), Jesus Wilson (PR/So.)

[+] EnlargeRoberto Aguayo
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State kicker Roberto Aguayo was nearly perfect on field goals (21 of 22), converted on all 94 PATs and could force touchbacks with his kickoffs.
Special teams are something of a broad category, and in several areas, Florida State was a monster in 2013. Whitfield was a revelation in the kick return game, racking up 36.4 yards per return, including two touchdowns. Aguayo was just as impressive in his first year as the team’s kicker, connecting on 21 of 22 field goals. But in other areas, there was an obvious shortcoming. Kenny Shaw handled the bulk of punt return duties, and while he was consistent, he was rarely great. He averaged 9.7 yards per return -- down about 5 yards from the team’s average in 2012. Meanwhile, Beatty continued to struggle in his second year as the team’s punter, finishing last in the ACC in net punting (35.4 yards/punt) in 2013, with his struggles particularly exposed in the BCS title game.

Strength in numbers: Karlos Williams (Sr.), Ryan Green (So.), Rashad Greene (Sr.)

Williams was a fixture in the kick return game throughout the past three seasons, but with his new role as the starting tailback (and only RB with much experience), it remains a question how much Fisher will utilize him on special teams. Greene was a playmaker as a punt returner in 2012 but muffs forced him to the bench. With Shaw gone, he could get another look this year. While there’s a plethora of speed throughout FSU’s roster that could find a role in the return game, Green is among the top options among the younger players.

New on the scene: Ja'Von Harrison (Fr.), Trey Marshall (Fr.)

Fisher’s focus on recruiting speed at the skill positions means there are plenty of options in the return game both on the current roster and among the new faces inked in the Class of 2014. Harrison and Marshall are among the top choices and both figure to get a look on scrimmage downs and coverage teams as well, adding some incentive to forego a redshirt.

What to watch: The battle to replace Shaw as punt returner should make for some interesting battles both in spring and fall camp, but Florida State has so much talent on the roster that the options are plentiful. The bigger question is how much Fisher will rely on veterans in those jobs -- particularly Williams and Greene -- given their significant roles on scrimmage downs. The one area where Florida State has a real concern and, likely, no clear alternative on special teams is at punter, where Beatty showed only minimal improvement in his second full year as the starter. It’s possible Fisher could give a look to a walk-on, and he at least gave some lip service to QB J.J. Cosentino's history punting (a highly unlikely scenario for myriad reasons), but odds are it’s Beatty’s job still, regardless of his previous struggles. In 2013, the punting woes were easily overcome by an avalanche of blowout wins (FSU averaged 3.0 punts per game, fewest in the nation), but as the schedule improves in 2014, that’s a luxury the Seminoles can’t assume they’ll have again this season.

FSU's early 2014 power rankings

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
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In the days after Florida State wrapped up its BCS National Championship run, we ran through our final Seminoles power rankings of 2013. But, of course, the football world moves quickly, and fans are already looking ahead to what could be in store for 2014. With that in mind, we’re taking an early crack at our preliminary power rankings for next season, with departing stars nixed from the countdown and emerging ones projected for 2014.

(Final 2013 ranking in parentheses.)

1. QB Jameis Winston (1): OK, this one was easy. Winston won the Heisman in his first season on the field, but expectations will be even higher for 2014. So what will he do for an encore? Having four-fifths of his offensive line back certainly makes the job a bit easier.

[+] EnlargeRonald Darby
AP Photo/Richard ShiroRonald Darby was excellent in 2013 despite being slowed by an injury. The 2014 season could be even better if he's healthy.
2. CB Ronald Darby (NR): Quietly, Darby was among the most dominant corners in the ACC in 2013, with quarterbacks avoiding him at all costs in spite of a groin injury that never completely healed. He figures to be 100 percent in 2014, meaning FSU could pair Darby and P.J. Williams in the secondary for arguably the best set of starting corners in the country -- even without Lamarcus Joyner in the mix.

3. WR Rashad Greene (4): Winston attempted 384 passes in 2013, and Greene was on the receiving end of more than 30 percent of those targets. He led FSU in receiving for the third straight season, catching 76 balls for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns. More importantly, the receivers responsible for 206 of Winston’s other targets are gone, putting Greene at the forefront of a revamped receiving corps.

4. RB Karlos Williams (NR): Among AQ-conference tailbacks with at least 90 carries in 2013, none rushed for more yards per carry (8.0) or scored with more frequency (one TD per 8.3 rushes) than Williams. With Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. gone, Williams is in prime position to become FSU’s second straight 1,000-yard rusher.

5. S Jalen Ramsey (8): In Week 1 of 2013, Ramsey became the first true freshman to start at corner for the Seminoles since Deion Sanders. Three weeks later, he moved to safety and didn’t miss a beat. Ramsey started every game and racked up 49 tackles while anchoring the nation’s top pass defense. With a year of experience under his belt, 2014 could be even better.

6. LT Cameron Erving (NR): The expectations have been monumental for Erving since he first switched from the D-line to left tackle, and while he hasn't exactly reached star status -- hence, his decision to return for his senior year -- he’s made significant strides each season. He’ll be the anchor of a veteran O-line in 2014 and potentially one of the best left tackles in the nation.

7. DE Mario Edwards Jr. (9): He tended to get overlooked a bit in 2013 because of Florida State’s myriad of defensive stars, but Edwards was exceptional in his first season as a full-time starter. He tied for second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss (the most among returning players) and had 3.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. Perhaps as noteworthy, in the two games Edwards missed last season, opponents averaged 191 yards on the ground against FSU. In the 12 games he started, they averaged 113.

8. TE Nick O'Leary (NR): In 2013, O’Leary was FSU’s most reliable receiving target, catching 76 percent of the balls thrown his way while setting career highs in catches (33), yards (557) and touchdowns (seven). But O’Leary also only scored once after Nov. 1, and following his astonishing performance against Clemson (five catches, 161 yards), he didn’t have more than three grabs or 55 yards in a game the rest of the season -- including being held without a catch in the BCS title game. There’s room for O’Leary to improve, and with so much transition among FSU’s receivers, he figures to get plenty of chances to do it.

9. KR Kermit Whitfield (NR): He touched the ball just 25 times in 2013 and still racked up a whopping 818 all-purpose yards while scoring four touchdowns. Whitfield’s eight offensive touches figure to increase markedly next season as he steps in for Kenny Shaw as FSU’s top slot receiver, and his speed makes him a threat to score every time the ball is in his hands.

10. LB Matthew Thomas (NR): An injury cut Thomas’ 2013 season short after just five games of limited action as a true freshman, but he flashed the potential that made him a five-star recruit. Now, with Telvin Smith and Christian Jones gone, Thomas figures to land a starting job and blossom into a legitimate star.

Honorable mentions: DT Eddie Goldman, G Josue Matias, G Tre' Jackson, LB Terrance Smith, S Nate Andrews, CB P.J. Williams, K Roberto Aguayo
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State fans will be tearing the wrapping paper off presents tonight and tomorrow, but the Seminoles have already unwrapped a handful of surprises this year. Here’s a look at five of the biggest gifts Florida State got in 2013 en route to a berth in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game:

[+] EnlargeKelvin Benjamin
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneKelvin Benjamin has finally lived up to his hype.
Joyner, Jones return: OK, so this was more of a late Christmas present from 2012, but when Lamarcus Joyner and Christian Jones announced in January they’d return for their senior seasons, it set the tone for what this year’s defense would be. Florida State lost all four of its starting D-linemen in the draft, taking 28.5 of the 36 sacks the Seminoles had in 2012 with them. The big question entering 2013 was who would provide the pass rush, and it turned out, Joyner and Jones were up to the task. Joyner switched from safety to corner and has wreaked havoc on corner blitzes this season. Jones moved from weakside linebacker to edge rusher and has provided a spark to a defensive line in transition. Together, they have seven sacks this season -- matching their combined career totals from their first three years in Tallahassee.

Winston is a star: This wasn’t a surprise, of course. Jameis Winston was pegged for stardom from the moment he arrived at Florida State. But who could’ve predicted just how good he’d be? From his astonishing debut against Pitt to his four-TD performance in the ACC championship game, Winston was a dynamic playmaker, mature passer and locker room leader. In August, his name was a trendy pick as a dark horse Heisman contender. By December, he was the runaway winner. Winston replaced a quarterback who went in the first round of the NFL draft, and he’s exceeded EJ Manuel’s production in every facet -- something we didn’t exactly anticipate before the season began.

Benjamin emerges: The long wait for Kelvin Benjamin to blossom into a star finally came to an end this year, thanks to the redshirt sophomore’s improved maturity. Benjamin always had the tools, of course. He made so many miraculous plays in practice that teammates spoke about his exploits as the stuff of legend. But on Saturdays, he hadn’t done much in his first two years at Florida State. Down the stretch in 2012, Benjamin was almost a non-factor -- catching just seven passes for 52 yards and no touchdowns in his final five games. This year, however, he’s gotten better each week, and he’s become perhaps the most dangerous receiver in the nation in the final weeks of the season. In his last five games this year, he’s caught 25 passes for 481 yards and nine TDs, including at least one in each game.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State
AP Photo/Nell RedmondFreshman DB Nate Andrews is FSU's leader in interceptions.
Freshmen in the secondary: Florida State had the best secondary in the nation last year, and the depth figured to be even better this season. With stars like Joyner, Ronald Darby and Terrence Brooks and emerging talent like Tyler Hunter and P.J. Williams, there didn’t figure to be much room for the true freshmen to make much of an impact. As it turned out, Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews performed too well to keep off the field. Ramsey became the first true freshman to start at corner for Florida State since Deion Sanders in Week 1, then when Hunter went down with a neck injury against Bethune-Cookman, Ramsey switched to safety and has started each of the final 10 games. Andrews emerged as FSU’s top DB off the bench and has turned his limited playing time into big rewards, leading the Seminoles in interceptions. For the season, FSU’s true freshmen have a combined for seven interceptions, five forced fumbles and 13 passes defended.

The other Smith: For the past two seasons, Telvin Smith had been the most vocal player on the field for Florida State’s defense. Meanwhile, the more reserved Terrance Smith flew beneath the radar. In 2013, both Smiths emerged as impact defenders. Telvin Smith, a senior, leads Florida State in tackles and has continued to be the emotional leader of the group, but when Jones moved to the defensive line midway through the season, Terrance Smith got his chance to shine, too. He’s now third on the team in tackles (55), has an INT, four passes defended and two sacks. Since Terrance Smith became a full-time starter, Florida State has allowed just 2.8 yards per rush.

Stocking stuffers: Karlos Williams moved from safety to tailback in Week 2, and while he’s only had 14 first-half carries this year, he’s been dominant when he’s touched the ball, racking up 705 yards and 11 TDs; Roberto Aguayo hasn’t had to make a big kick all season thanks to an average margin of victory of 43 points for FSU, but he’s missed just one this season en route to All-America status; Kermit Whitfield’s role hasn’t been huge, but he’s averaging 31 yards per touch.

ACC wins big at awards show

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
10:40
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It was a big night for the ACC at the Home Depot College Football Awards show.

Five different players picked up awards on Thursday night, putting an exclamation point on some of the most outstanding seasons in college football for 2013. Here is a look at the winners:

Roberto Aguayo, Florida State. Aguayo took home the Lou Groza Award as the top kicker in the nation, becoming the third Seminoles player to win the award. Aguayo made 19 of 20 field goal attempts for the Seminoles and all 90 extra point attempts.

Aaron Donald, Pitt. Donald cemented his standing as the top defensive player in college football with two more awards: the Outland Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman and the Chuck Bednarik Award as defensive player of the year. Earlier in the week, Donald also picked up the Lombardi and Nagurski Trophy. Donald becomes the first Panthers player to win four major awards in one season.

Bryan Stork, Florida State. Stork won the Rimington Award as the top center in college football. Stork is the first Rimington Trophy winner from Florida State and first winner from the ACC.

Andre Williams, Boston College. Williams became the first player in Boston College history to win the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the nation. He ran for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns, becoming the first player to hit the 2,000-yard mark since Donald Brown in 2008. Williams will join Jameis Winston in New York this weekend as the second Heisman finalist in BC history.

Jameis Winston, Florida State. Winston took home the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Davey O'Brien Award as the top quarterback in the nation. Winston, also a Heisman Trophy finalist, set FBS freshman records for passing yards with 3,820 and touchdown passes with 38, and said afterward he was "overwhelmed" with his honors.

Also on Thursday night, the Walter Camp All-America team was announced. Williams, Donald, Aguayo, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, and Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner made the first team. Winston, Stork, Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving, Virginia safety Anthony Harris, Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller and Duke kick returner DeVon Edwards made the second team.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was voted the ACC Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year by the ACC's head coaches.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players, and ballots were worth three points for each first-team, two points for second-team and one point for third-team selections.

Winston was one of three unanimous first-team selections to the All-ACC team (named on all 13 possible ballots). He was joined by national rushing leader and fellow Heisman finalist Andre Williams of Boston College and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner Aaron Donald of Pitt was voted the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Duke’s David Cutcliffe was voted the ACC Coach of the Year by his peers for the second straight season, and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller picked up ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

2013 ACC Coaches All-ACC Football Team

(Voting points in Parentheses)

First Team

Offense

QB—Jameis Winston, Fr.-R, Florida State (39)

RB—Andre Williams, Sr., Boston College (39)

RB—Devonta Freeman, Jr., Florida State (28)

WR—Sammy Watkins, Jr., Clemson (39)

WR—Rashad Greene, Jr., Florida State (31)

WR—Jamison Crowder, Jr., Duke (31)

TE—Eric Ebron, Jr., North Carolina (38)

T—Cameron Erving, Jr.-R, Florida State (31)

T—Brandon Thomas, Sr.-R, Clemson (23)

G—Laken Tomlinson, Jr.-R, Duke (26)

G—Tre’ Jackson, Jr., Florida State (23)

C—Bryan Stork, Sr.-R, Florida State (38)

Defense

DE—Vic Beasley, Jr., Clemson (35)

DE—Jeremiah Attaochu, Sr., Georgia Tech (29)

DT—Aaron Donald, Sr., Pitt (35)

DT—Timmy Jernigan, Jr., Florida State (33)

LB—Telvin Smith, Sr., Florida State (37)

LB—Denzel Perryman, Jr., Miami (30)

LB—Kevin Pierre-Louis, Sr., Boston College (28)

CB—Lamarcus Joyner, Sr., Florida State (38)

CB—Kyle Fuller, Sr., Virginia Tech (32)

S—Terrence Brooks, Sr., Florida State (33)

S—Anthony Harris, Jr., Virginia (22)

Special Teams

PK—Roberto Aguayo, Fr.-R, Florida State (28)

P—Pat O’Donnell, Sr.-R, Miami (31)

SP—Jamison Crowder, Jr., Duke (27)

ACC weekend rewind: Week 15

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
10:00
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That wraps it up. The regular season is over, and the bowl lineup is set. Let's see how we ended up here as we take one last look back at the week that was in our weekend rewind.

The good: What's not to love about this past weekend if you're from the ACC? The conference set an NCAA record by placing 11 teams in bowl games. That's topped, of course, by No. 1 Florida State, which is bound for the VIZIO BCS National Championship, where it will face No. 2 Auburn. The ACC broke its NCAA record of 10 teams in bowls, which was set in 2008. (The league also placed seven of its nine teams in bowls in 2002, which was then the NCAA's highest bowl participation percentage ever, at .778.)

[+] EnlargeKelvin Benjamin
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneKelvin Benjamin and No. 1 Florida State head an impressive group of 11 ACC bowl teams.
The bad: It is tough to be really harsh on Duke considering just how many firsts the program accomplished this season. That said, the Blue Devils did themselves few favors to make it a game Saturday in a 45-7 loss to Florida State. Ross Martin missed a 48-yard field goal on Duke's third possession that would have broken a scoreless tie. Anthony Boone threw two interceptions. Kelby Brown dropped a potential interception. Duke did come up with two on the night, but could not manage any points from them. Redshirt senior right tackle Perry Simmons left the game with a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his left knee. The two-time All-ACC selection had started 50 consecutive games.

The records: Jameis Winston broke FBS records for both passing yards and passing touchdowns by a freshman, as the Heisman Trophy front-runner was 19-of-32 for 330 yards with three touchdowns (and two interceptions) to finish with 3,820 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns in the regular season. Duke receiver Jamison Crowder set a program single-season record in receiving yards Saturday and finished with 1,197. Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo's 45-yard second-quarter field goal helped him set an ACC record with 142 points.

The added bonus: The ACC title game had just kicked off when our Joe Schad reported that Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher had agreed to a five-year, $21 million contract extension with the program. Athletic director Stan Wilcox confirmed after the game that a deal had been reached, with details still being finalized. Just another bit of great news for the Seminoles on a night with no shortage of it.

Bowl subplots to watch: Boston College's Andre Williams (329) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (322) lead the nation in carries and will square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. … Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson will get a shot at his in-state program, Pitt, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. … Miami can see its hometown product, Teddy Bridgewater, up close and personal in what could be the Louisville quarterback's final game, the Russell Athletic Bowl. (The teams face each other next year, too, when the Cardinals join the ACC.) … Let's not overlook the obvious historical note when Ohio State and Clemson meet in the Discover Orange Bowl, either, as the programs will meet for the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl, which ended up being Woody Hayes' final game after the coach punched Tigers linebacker Charlie Bauman.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Devonta Freeman has never been to California, and he’s already concerned about the long flight west. Six hours on a plane is more than he’s accustomed to, never mind that it’s a trip he has been dreaming of since the spring.

The BCS made it official Sunday night, and No. 1 Florida State will face No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena on Jan. 6 with a national championship on the line. Freeman’s vacation plans in the interim are simple.

“I just want to grind,” Freeman said. “Get better.”

Freeman met with running backs coach Jay Graham on Sunday, asking for areas he could improve on before he takes the field again in 28 days. The work begins immediately.

There was celebration for Florida State, which wrapped up a conference title with a 45-7 win over Duke on Saturday, but Freeman’s mantra was the overwhelming narrative as the Seminoles begin the month-long wait for the final step on their march toward a national championship. They’ve come far, but the goal wasn’t simply to get here.

“It won’t mean nothing if we don’t go out and win this game and finish it the right way,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “We’re going to go out, prepare well and play hard.”

There will be ample time for revelry between now and Jan. 6. A handful of Florida State’s stars will be on the banquet circuit, collecting awards for a season’s worth of goals met. Jameis Winston will be in New York next week for the Heisman Trophy presentation, which he’s the heavy favorite to win. There are holidays and vacations and down time, but Florida State is well prepared for the distractions. It has spent the entire season preparing for them.

From the Heisman hype to off-field legal drama, two turns on ESPN’s "College GameDay" and 11 other contests that seemed over before they kicked off, Florida State has ridden the roller coaster and still come away a bastion of consistency. Thirteen wins, all by at least two touchdowns, all because the mindset hasn’t changed.

And with one game left to go, the Seminoles insist it won’t change now.

“We’re 13-0. This is where we started the season off wanting to come here. Now we’re here,” said kicker Roberto Aguayo, who has outscored all 13 of FSU’s opponents by himself this season. “It’s been in our minds the entire time. It’s nothing new. We’re playing for a national championship and this is where we should be.”

The team gathered Sunday for its annual awards night. They watched the BCS announcement together at the stadium. They cheered the inevitable, and then they prepared to go back to work.

It’s funny, Freeman said. A few weeks ago, Florida State was dogged with questions about what might happen if four or five teams finished undefeated. Now, the Seminoles are the only team with an unblemished record.

It was no accident, Freeman said, and all that matters now is that Florida State keeps doing what has gotten it this far.

“We’ve gotta win,” Freeman said. “We’ve gotta win. And I’m not doubting anything.”

ACC mailblog

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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Thanks for the great comments this week, keep them coming.

We start with a difference of opinion on who should play in the BCS national title game.

Hans in Winter Haven, Fla., writes: Notre Dame went undefeated with a lame schedule last year and this year we have Ohio State with the 53rd rated schedule toughness and FSU with 70th in schedule toughness but now 42nd with Duke on schedule. How many undefeated teams in the NFL won the Super Bowl? In other words when are reporters actually going to talk about what if Auburn played FSU's schedule or maybe Alabama playing Ohio State's schedule then who would be undefeated at the end of the year? An undefeated team playing lesser opponents and getting into final two is a joke. Thank goodness for some sort of playoffs next year because Alabama or Auburn would kill FSU and beat overrated OSU. Complete bias and horrible voting. The two best teams are Auburn and Alabama with Missouri not far behind.

Andrea Adelson writes: Where should I begin? First, college football is not the NFL so there is no need to even compare or talk about the records of teams in the Super Bowl. They have a playoff. College football does not yet. Second, what purpose would it serve to imagine Alabama hypothetically playing another conference's schedule and vice versa? These teams cannot up and flip conferences. Florida State and Ohio State must play the schedules laid out in front of them. It is an impossibility to switch them into the SEC just to see how it would play out. Also, we are talking about two legitimate conferences here, not the Sun Belt and the MAC. I am completely dumbfounded as to why only an unbeaten run in the SEC should be celebrated in college football. What makes you believe Auburn, with two fluke wins and several others that came down to the final possession, would beat Florida State? Because they are in a superior conference? That is hogwash. It should matter when you WIN all your games. Auburn should not get a mulligan for losing by two touchdowns to a three-loss team that almost lost to Arkansas (winless in SEC play).

Adam in Nashville, Tenn., writes: "Winning all your games in a power conference should be good enough for a shot at a national championship."Tell that to the '04 Auburn team.

Adelson writes: I felt bad for Auburn that year. But guess what? Two undefeated teams made it in ahead of the Tigers. This year, a one-loss Auburn team is asking to move ahead of an unbeaten squad. Not the same.

Greg in Newark, Ohio, writes: Thank you for putting together a well thought out article that gives a viewpoint of why FSU and OSU should get the chance to play for the NC provided they win.

Adelson writes: Thanks, Greg. I will reiterate: going unbeaten matters.

Jason in Atlanta writes: Am I correct in assuming that bowls must select 7-5 teams over 6-6 teams? So my Jackets (and BC and Maryland) are safe, right?Thanks!

Ryan in Clemson writes: Hey Andrea, I saw that you had Miami in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, however I thought there was a rule that would force them to pick Duke. The "Boston College" rule or something like that. I'm probably just remembering the rule wrong, but I was wondering if you could explain it? Thanks and have a great day!

Adelson writes: Let me answer Jason and Ryan at the same time. There is only one rule requirement in the bowl selection process: the one-win rule. Using the conference records of each team, if a bowl passes on a team with the best available league record, it can only choose another team within one conference win. So for example, if a bowl passes on a team that went 5-3 in league play, it could only choose another team that went 4-4. In the case of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Miami would be an eligible candidate. We kept the Hurricanes there based on a better potential national matchup vs. the SEC. Either Clemson, Miami or Duke will play in that game, depending on what happens with the Discover Orange Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJim Grobe
Jeremy Brevard/US PRESSWIREJim Grobe resigned on Monday as Wake Forest coach after 13 seasons at the helm.
Mark in Roanoke writes: Andrea, Thank you for the kind words you have written about Coach Grobe. I have been a Wake fan for just about my whole life. As a kid growing up in nearby High Point, N.C., I can tell you that very few people in the Piedmont Triad area of NC even cared about WF football. Coach Grobe changed that. You are right, Wake lost a great coach today, but college football lost an even better man. Jim Grobe succeeded at a place few thought anyone could succeed. Thanks again.

Adam Kessler in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Thank you for your incredible profile of Coach Grobe. I was at Wake during probably the best 4 years of sports imaginable (2004 - 2008), and Coach Grobe was an absolute standout. I am so glad you were able to share his Wake Forest legacy with the rest of the country with your wonderful article. In a time filled with coaching scandals, recruiting violations, and testy media relationships, Coach Grobe always did things the right way. I think our fan base agrees with his decision to step down, and while we're sad he's leaving, we're excited to have (hopefully) some new life in our football program. Thanks again!

Adelson: I know I speak for Heather when I say we are going to miss talking to Coach Grobe dearly. One of the nicest coaches I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Vern in Atlanta writes: Andrea: I just saw the "All-ACC" team. All I can say is WOW. The No. 1 scoring defense and No. 1 pass defense (FSU) has only ONE player listed on the "first team" (Lamarcus Joyner). Moreover, the placekicker from FSU has only missed one kick -- all year -- and he's second-team" Who selects the "all-ACC" team - a Florida Gator cheerleader???

Adelson: Very funny, Vern. The team you referenced was selected by 65 voting members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. I do not have a vote and neither does Heather. I understand why Florida State fans were upset, but there are other players in this league who had outstanding seasons. I only had issues at two spots: I would have had Telvin Smith and Christian Jones in at linebacker. Timmy Jernigan could have made it in over Nikita Whitlock at defensive tackle. You can also make the case for Roberto Aguayo at kicker, but Nate Freese made all 18 of his attempts, including two 50-yarders. Aguayo obviously got many more opportunities to score points because he was on a far better offensive team. I did not think that choice was as egregious, even though Aguayo is the Groza finalist over Freese. Let us also remember Florida State had 17 total selections to lead everyone. The coaches will come out with their own team next Wednesday, so we can compare then.

Finalists for annual awards revealed

November, 25, 2013
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The finalists for the Home Depot College Football Awards were revealed on Monday with strong representation from the ACC. Here is a look at the ACC players up for the major awards to be handed out Dec. 12 in Orlando and shown at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Chuck Bednarik Award, defensive player of the year: Aaron Donald, Pitt

Biletnikoff award, most outstanding receiver: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Lou Groza Award, most outstanding kicker: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State

Maxwell Award, college player of the year: Jameis Winston, Florida State

Davey O'Brien Award, best quarterback: Jameis Winston, Florida State

Outland Trophy, most outstanding interior lineman: Aaron Donald, Pitt

Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

Doak Walker Award, best running back: Andre Williams, Boston College

John Mackey Award, outstanding tight end: Eric Ebron, North Carolina; Nick O'Leary Florida State

Only one award does not have an ACC finalist: Ray Guy Award, which goes to the best punter in the nation.

For a complete list of finalists, click here.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden was peppered with questions about the old days when he made his long-awaited return to Doak Campbell Stadium last week, and he was happy to indulge. But when asked for any advice he might pass along to Florida State's current coach, Bowden was reticent.

It's Jimbo Fisher's team now, Bowden said, and the new coach knows what he's doing. If pressed though, there were some words of wisdom Bowden said he might impart in advance of this week's meeting with Miami.

"I'd say, Jimbo, have a talk with your kicker, and tell him where that goalpost is," Bowden joked. "Tell him to stay away from that bar on the right."

That right goalpost, the bane of Bowden's coaching career.

[+] EnlargeRoberto Aguayo
Fred Kfoury III/Icon SMIRedshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo hasn't missed a kick in his young career ... but this is Miami week.
The mythology of missed kicks in this series has been told again and again -- each named for the direction they wandered and punctuated with a Roman numeral. It's Florida State's version of horror movie sequels, the villain that won't die.

Fans have been happy to remind Roberto Aguayo of the stories this week, too, but honestly, he didn't need the history lesson. The first three kicks predated his birth, of course, but he's well aware of what happened. The last wide right, in 2004, still stings.

Aguayo was at a friend's house. The rest of the crowd was comprised of Miami fans, Aguayo and his brother the lone Seminoles supporters. Xavier Beitia missed a potential game-winner, Florida State fell in devastating fashion, and Aguayo left the house in tears.

"It broke my heart," Aguayo said.

This week, he has done his best to ignore that lingering memory, along with the slew of reminders from fans still wounded from all the misses that came before. Misses, after all, aren't really part of Aguayo's vocabulary.

Through seven games, the redshirt freshman hasn't exactly been tested. He has lined up for just 10 field goals, none longer than 45 yards. He has worn out his leg booting extra points, 48 of them in all. It has been a bit frustrating, he said, because Jameis Winston and the offense simply haven't provided him with many chances for big kicks.

"I'll be getting ready, all warmed up kicking them into the net," Aguayo said. "Then he gets the first down, and I go back and sit down."

Still, Aguayo's debut season hasn't been without accolades. So far, he has lined up for 58 kicks in his career, and he has made every one of them.

Turns out, that's a school record for consecutive kicks made, though Aguayo wasn't exactly celebrating his place in history. He wasn't aware of the record at all until a fan approached him after last week's game with the news.

"I was like, 'OK, that's pretty cool,' " Aguayo said.

But for Aguayo, that record actually might be the most appropriate marker of his success. He is not interested in the pressure of a big moment or the length of a booming kick. His goal, he said, is to treat each kick the same -- whether it's one of those 48 PATs or a potential game-winner at the end of another close game against an in-state rival.

Yes, Aguayo knows the history. It's Miami week, which means the kicker will be a talking point for everyone from casual fans to a legendary former coach. But for Aguayo, the key to his success is that it's just another day at work.

"Every kick's a game-winning kick," he said. "That's how you've got to think about it. So when you get into that position, you've already kicked it a million times."

FSU power rankings: Week 6

October, 7, 2013
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There's no question who tops the power rankings yet again. Instead, it's really a matter of where he shows up on the Heisman watch list.

Last week's rankings in parentheses.

1. QB Jameis Winston (1): Seven more touchdowns, another acrobatic escape act turned highlight-reel TD, and another big win. Ho-hum. But how about these numbers: This season, on the final drive of the first half and first drive of the second half, Winston is 26-of-30 for 493 yards and seven touchdowns. FSU has scored on all 10 drives, including nine TDs.

2. RB Devonta Freeman (5): It has been 17 years since an FSU runner went over 1,000 yards. Freeman is currently on pace for 1,001.

[+] EnlargeTelvin Smith
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsTelvin Smith (22) and the Seminoles held Maryland to 33 rushing yards.
3. DT Timmy Jernigan (8): The big mover in this week's power rankings, he set the tone for a major turnaround on the D line, which held Maryland to just 33 yards one week after giving up 200 to Boston College.

4. WR Rashad Greene (3): There may not be another player in the country who so easily floats under the radar after putting up 108 yards on four catches.

5. CB Lamarcus Joyner (2): Just one tackle, but he got solid pressure on Maryland quarterbacks throughout and forced a fumble.

6. LB Telvin Smith (6): The success from the D line opened things up for Smith, who created significant chaos in the Maryland backfield. He finished with five tackles and a PBU.

7. WR Kenny Shaw (4): What's a guy have to do to get a 100-yard game? Shaw has been between 89 and 96 each time out this year.

8. S Terrence Brooks (8): No one played with more ferocity Saturday than Brooks, who has come into his own as a force in the FSU secondary.

9. DB Jalen Ramsey (7): Another strong performance from the freshman in his new role at safety. Given the concerns about Tyler Hunter's neck injury, Ramsey's presence looms large with Clemson on the horizon.

10. WR Kelvin Benjamin (10): Fisher pushed Benjamin to do the little things better this year. He has responded, as evidenced by his five-catches, 60 yards and two TDs against Maryland.

Honorable mentions: Tackles Cameron Erving and Bobby Hart, DTs Jacobbi McDaniel and Eddie Goldman, DE Chris Casher, RB Karlos Williams, K Roberto Aguayo, CB P.J. Williams.

Week 6 helmet stickers

October, 6, 2013
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Saturday's game against Maryland was supposed to be a litmus test of just how good Florida State was. Instead, it was yet another blowout, where the starters were resting comfortably on the sideline by the fourth quarter. These were the top performances:

QB Jameis Winston: The fact that Winston was exceptional once again is becoming less newsworthy by the week. He now has played in three ACC games and has topped 300 yards and four touchdowns in each of them. His predecessor, EJ Manuel, did that just once in his career against an ACC team. And, as usual, Winston provided plenty of highlights, including shrugging off a sack with Houdini-like escape skills, rolling out and delivering a touchdown throw to Nick O'Leary. For the season, Winston has accounted for 19 touchdowns in five games.

RB Devonta Freeman: It remains a three-headed attack at tailback for Florida State, but there's no question who the top dog is at this point. Freeman turned in another stellar performance, rushing for 63 yards on 17 carries while adding another 35 yards on three receptions. There weren't always wide lanes Saturday, but Freeman showed some spectacular moves to find yards anyway. And for what it's worth, Freeman is currently on pace for 1,001 rushing yards, assuming FSU plays 13 games.

The defensive line: The difference between Florida State's defensive effort against Boston College a week ago and Maryland on Saturday couldn't have been more stark. BC racked up 200 yards on the ground and took advantage of FSU defenders being out of position routinely. Against Maryland, the Seminoles were clicking on all cylinders, and it started with the big guys up front. Timmy Jernigan delivered the motivational speech before the game, and the unit responded, holding the Terps to just 33 yards rushing while consistently pressuring the QB.

Hat tips to: Kenny Shaw had another solid game but couldn't quite get to 100 yards again. Karlos Williams now has six TDs on 28 rushes. Roberto Aguayo still hasn't missed a kick (7-of-7 on field goals, 35-of-35 on PATs).

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FSU Coach Explains Why Winston Went Unpunished
ESPN Florida State reporter Jared Shanker breaks down head coach Jimbo Fisher's explanation that Jameis Winston's suspension from the baseball team for a shoplifting incident in April was sufficient punishment.
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