8:00 PM ET, August 30, 2014
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
(AP) -- Jimbo Fisher isn't looking for the record-setting numbers his Florida State offense put up en route to winning the final BCS national championship.
The coach doesn't believe the Seminoles need that.
"I don't talk yards or anything like that or points," Fisher said. "It's about the efficiency of our offense and how it fits our defense. I think we can be very efficient. We just have to continue to execute whether we throw it, we run it or we keep the versatility of what passes and things we throw.
"We'll feature the talents of the players we have."
The Seminoles' offense lost two receivers, two running backs and a center to the NFL, including first-round receiver Kelvin Benjamin, fourth-round running back Devonta Freeman and fourth-round center Bryan Stork.
Expectations remain high, however, for a group that returns Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, one of the most prolific receivers in FSU history in Rashad Greene and an offensive line with four senior starters. Also returning is running back Karlos Williams, who averaged eight yards per carry in 2013.
The Seminoles set an FBS record with 723 points scored in 2013 and their 7,267 offensive yards were an Atlantic Coast Conference record. And Fisher doesn't run a hurry-up-every-play offense that has trended throughout college football.
"The next step is just keep that thing going, keep putting points up, keep executing day in and day out," Williams said.
Florida State may lean on the run game more early in the season with a veteran offensive line and Williams running the ball while the receiver position gets sorted out. But there's still the reigning Heisman winner under center and All-ACC tight end Nick O'Leary will have a larger role.
"We may feature different plays, different players in different ways," Fisher said. "Or may ask them to do the same things if they do them as well as we did last year. We just have to figure out what they do well and feature those and keep a great balance with physicality of running it and still being able to throw it."
Fisher's team will start that process on a big stage, facing Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night.
The Seminoles lost 1,600 rushing yards and 56 percent of the ground game from the title team to the NFL. Williams, though, is a preseason all-ACC selection who ran for 748 yards and 11 touchdowns after switching from safety last season. The senior needs to prove he can carry the load from the opening whistle with only youngsters joining him in the backfield.
Greene is ranked in the top seven in FSU history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. However, there is no significant experience at the position outside of Greene. Winston needs someone to emerge from sophomores Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield, seniors Jarred Haggins and Christian Green and five-star freshmen Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane.
The Seminoles return five seniors, including four starters to the offensive line. The group has a combined 112 starts between left tackle Cam Erving, right tackle Bobby Hart, center Austin Barron, left guard Josue Matias and right guard Tre Jackson. This unit should set the tone for an offense that lost several starting skill players.
While FSU suffered key losses on offense, the defense remained more intact. The Seminoles boasted the top pass defense in the nation in 2014 and had a school-record 26 interceptions.
The secondary remains the deepest position on the team. P.J. Williams and Jalen Ramsey are stars. Ronald Darby is one of the top cover cornerbacks in the country and Nate Andrews led the team with four interceptions in 2013. Safety Tyler Hunter is back from a neck injury.
Defensive lineman Mario Edwards, Jr. is ready to join the ranks of the truly dominant Florida State lineman. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation reshaped his body and diet, increased his speed, is squatting 600 pounds and benching 450. The goal is double-digits in sacks and consistent domination.
Though Oklahoma State returns just six starters on offense and four on defense, the Cowboys went 10-3 and lost in the Cotton Bowl last season. Coach Mike Gundy believes his program will continue to evolve despite the loss of personnel.
"These players expect to win and expect to play on a high level," he said. "Confidence builds success, and success brings more success. Our players have been around and have been in the locker room and bowl games and what not. Some of the guys haven't played at this level, but they were around teams that expected to win. I don't think there's any question that that helps."
Oklahoma State could still be dangerous offensively after averaging more than 39 points last season, with J.W. Walsh likely to start under center after starting five games last year and passing for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns overall. Running back Desmond Roland also returns after scoring 16 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2013.
A secondary that returns only cornerback Kevin Peterson should get an immediate test from Florida State's talented receiving corps.
"We have heard that they have Olympic speed, but covering receivers like that is going to be fun," Peterson said. "Conditioning is what it's going to come down to."
Florida State has won three of four matchups with Oklahoma State. The teams haven't met since 1985.
Top 25 Overview
The reigning national champions open their season in the same place they hope to end it, but the Seminoles say they aren't looking past Oklahoma State. There are questions on both sides of the ball for Florida State, but it still boasts arguably the nation's most talented roster. The Cowboys are in rebuilding mode and are big underdogs, but Mike Gundy has proved his Pokes will never slide too far under his watch.
|Avg Points Allowed||31.0||37.0|
With the loss of Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, Jameis Winston targeted Rashad Greene 20 times, Greene's career high.[+]
- Greene averaged 8 targets and 81 receiving yards last season.
No team was within 3 points of Florida State after halftime in any regular season game last year. Saturday, Florida State ran 18 plays with the game within 3 points.[+]
Florida State - 2nd-Half of Regular Season
Jameis Winston is just the 14th Heisman Trophy winner to return for the following season; however, it's even MORE rare to have a winner return who was as dominant as Winston was last year. He will be the fourth Heisman winner to play the season after at least doubling-up the 2nd place finisher. Archie Griffin, the last to do so, became the only two-time winner while Roger Staubach and Vic Janowicz didn't figure into the voting.[+]
Won Heisman Trophy with Twice as Many Points as Runner-Up - Returned for Following Season
After rolling through the 2013 regular season, Florida State struggled to close out Oklahoma State in the opener.[+]
Too Close for Comfort - Florida St in Regular Season
Florida State mustered 106 rush yards Saturday against Oklahoma State, their second-lowest output since the beginning of last season.[+]
With the loss of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr., the Seminoles turned to Karlos Williams as their feature back. However, he was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on more than half of his rushes (52 percent). He was hit at or behind the line on 22 rushes last season (24 percent).
Florida State Rushing - Last 2 Seasons
This was the closest call in a season opener by a preseason number 1 in over two decades. The last preseason AP No. 1 to lose a season opener was Miami in 1990. Until tonight, every preseason No. 1 won its season opener by more than two touchdowns.[+]
Smallest Margin of Victory in Season Opener - Preseason No. 1 Since 1990
ESPN Stats & Information