FSU Football: New changes could prove inconsequential

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Charles Kelly became the new defensive coordinator at Florida State on Wednesday. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Hiring of Kelly, transfer of Coker may have little ill-effect on Seminoles

As the old adage goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. Considering that Florida State has won 16 straight games, consecutive ACC titles and a national championship, there is little that the Seminoles would welcome more than for things to stay the same. Even with last season’s defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt now at Georgia and backup quarterback Jacob Coker heading to Alabama, FSU likely won’t look drastically different on either side of the football in 2014.

On Wednesday, linebackers coach Charles Kelly was given Pruitt’s position. In his only season as Florida State’s defensive coordinator, Pruitt led a FSU defense that yielded the fewest points in the country and held nine straight opponents below 20 points prior to the BCS National Championship.

The Seminoles will lose five starters from a very good defense and two other significant reserves in Jacobbi McDaniel and Demonte McAllister. Like Pruitt before him, Kelly had never been a full-time defensive coordinator at the FBS level. Kelly had been only an interim defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, but he has been a college assistant for 24 years and served as a full-time defensive coordinator at FCS schools, Nicholls State and Jacksonville State.

Kelly becomes Florida State’s third defensive coordinator in as many years, but what his promotion does is keep FSU from having to make major changes in scheme. Pruitt had previously replaced Mark Stoops, who left Tallahassee to become the head football coach at Kentucky following the 2012 season. While Stoops’ move brought about major changes to the coaching staff, head coach Jimbo Fisher’s staff in 2014 may feature only a new defensive backs coach.

The other big news surrounding the Florida State football program was the transfer of backup quarterback Jacob Coker. Coker will be a redshirt junior in 2014 and should he earn his degree as planned, he could instantly compete for the starting job at his new school — Alabama.

Reports were that Coker pushed redshirt freshman and eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, until the waning parts of fall camp for the starting job last season. Fisher mentioned Coker’s arm strength in the same breath with Jamarcus Russell, but after Winston’s accomplishments on the field in 2014, only injury would have allowed Coker to see many significant snaps.

Having Coker behind Winston was certainly a nice security blanket, but redshirt sophomore to be, Sean Maguire, will have all of fall and spring practice to get second-team reps. The Seminoles also bring in two of the top 15 high school quarterback prospects (according to Rivals) in South Florida product, Treon Harris and Pittsburgh native, J.J. Consentino.

As winter comes to a close and spring begins, FSU will have to halt its 2013 national championship celebration and look forward to trying to win another in 2014. Though the roster will look different as will the coaching staff, the defensive blueprint for Florida State as well as the quarterback position look to be fairly shored up. While former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and former quarterback Jacob Coker will have a bigger spotlight in the SEC in 2014, the Seminoles still look to be in pretty good shape in their pursuit of a third straight ACC crown and second consecutive national championship.

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