ACC: Brandon Davis
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: All five starters return in Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, David Spurlock and Zebrie Sanders.
Key departures: Backup Brandon Davis has decided to graduate and move on instead of returning for his fifth season. He stared in place of Hudson the last two games of the regular season.
The skinny: This group will finally have seniors in McMahon and Hudson, and collectively there are 142 career starts between the five returning starters. Last year, all five of Florida State’s offensive linemen were nominated by opposing ACC coaches for all-conference honors. Assistant Rick Trickett said he’s never had that happen to one of his groups before. Sanders and Rhonne Sanderson are both injured. Sanders will be fine by summer camp and Sanderson is limited this spring after foot surgery.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returnees: CB Ochuko Jenije
Key departures: CB Patrick Robinson, FS Jamie Robinson, RV Korey Mangum
The skinny: Aside from Jenije, the only returning starter, no one in the secondary has played more than one season. There are high expectations for cornerback Greg Reid, who will get a long look this spring to replace Patrick Robinson. Redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes will also get a chance there. Terrance Parks and Nick Moody were both the backups at safety last year, and they’ll get an opportunity to move up. Redshirt freshmen Justin Bright and Gerald Demps will also challenge at safety.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Florida State recently released its depth chart for the Miami game, and it reflects seniority across the board with one true surprise: Craig Yarborough is listed as the starter at left end with freshman Toshmon Stevens as his backup.
So the Noles are going to count on a walk-on to replace Neefy Moffett?
Again with the seniority, it's possible that defensive ends coach Jody Allen is sending Kevin McNeil a message because his eligibility was in question at one point this summer, and McNeil might not be in the greatest shape right now because he missed a few practices. Yarborough usually helps out on special teams, but I don't expect him to be on the field too long against the Canes.
Andrew Carter at the Orlando Sentinel tells me FSU fans are all up in arms over this, and unless Yarborough is the next Everette Brown, they should be. This just in: Florida State opens with Miami. Not Western Carolina. It will be worth watching how long Yarborough stays in the game. Then again, maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. If that's the case, he should probably be on scholarship.
Offensively, the competition at right guard between David Spurlock and Brandon Davis should be ongoing and might change from week to week, but for now, Spurlock, the sophomore, has the nod over the junior.
At placekicker, that battle went down to the wire and was decided by Saturday morning's scrimmage in which freshman Dustin Hopkins went 4-for-4 and beat James Esco. Hopkins has the stronger leg, and his range has been compared to Graham Gano. I'm told Hopkins could be one of the Noles' best kickoff guys since Sebastian Janikowski.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Biggest reason for hope: The offensive line
Despite starting three true freshmen last year, FSU had its best year running the football since 2000, and the Noles have the potential to be even better this year because of the players up front. The trio of Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon will make this line one of the best in the ACC, if not the best. If they continue to build off the momentum and what they learned last season, they can open things up for budding sophomore stars Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas. Don't be surprised to see them running to the left side all day. The running game will be key, but if the linemen improve upon their 26 sacks allowed last year, they can give Christian Ponder and the new receivers the time they'll need to find a rhythm. With Will Furlong gone, the battle at right guard is between Brandon Davis and Blake Snider this summer. It's the group's lone question mark.
Biggest reason for concern: Off-field distractions
Those within the program insist the ongoing battle between Florida State and the NCAA isn't a distraction, but it's a drama that could play out into the start of the season. The future of the program is facing some uncertainty, as Bobby Bowden has yet to announce his retirement date, and a new university president has yet to be named. The off-field incidents will be felt when the offense takes the field for the first time and there are new faces at wide receiver. Several suspensions, and the departure of key players like Corey Surrency, who was denied an extra year of eligibility, and Preston Parker, who was kicked off the team, could have an effect early. The players -- the receivers in particular -- have been on their best behavior lately and know there's no more margin for error.