TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The transfer window has been kind to Florida State coach Mike Norvell.
Florida’s Billy Napier should hope for similar success when he takes a deep dive this offseason.
The 16th-ranked Seminoles (8-3) are likely to start seven transfers on offense when they host the rival Gators (6-5) on Friday night. The roster includes dynamic quarterback Jordan Travis (Louisville), leading rusher Trey Benson (Oregon) and leading receiver Johnny Wilson (Arizona State).
The trio has been the backbone of a team that has scored at least 38 points in four straight victories, each by more than three touchdowns.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them do the same to Florida, which is coming off a humiliating loss at Vanderbilt and has already been held to more than 400 yards in seven games this season.
FSU is a 9 1/2-point favorite according to FanDuel Sportsbook. It’s the largest point spread in favor of the Seminoles at home in the series since 2000. Getting to that point was thanks to Norvell, who has hauled in 35 shutouts in his first three seasons.
“If there’s the right player that might have a little bit more experience or can come in and have an immediate impact that still fits into our locker room and what we’re building, then obviously we’ll explore all those things,” Norvell said.
Norvell’s starting lineup is loaded with transfers: three offensive linemen, the team’s top two tacklers and its top pass rusher.
Napier used the slot sparingly in his first year, bringing back Montrell Johnson and right guard O’Cyrus Torrence from Louisiana-Lafayette and adding Arizona State receiver Ricky Pearsall. All three were integral additions. Johnson leads the team in rushing, Torrence is a likely All-Southeastern Conference selection and Pearsall leads the Gators with three TD catches.
Napier is expected to make further inroads into the varsity pool in Year 2, especially since the Gators are losing nine scholarship players to graduation and have already seen eight more guys leave the program in the past month.
“I think it’s a shame sometimes when they do it before the season,” Napier said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily positive. But those are the rules we were given, right? You can sit back and worry about it, or you can just focus on the things you can control. … I think we all understand that this is happening everywhere.”
Florida could lose three key starters, including one midway through the game. Linebacker Ventrell Miller, the heart of the Gators’ defense, must sit out the first half due to a targeted ejection against Vanderbilt. The Gators could also be without safety and leading tackler Rashad Torrence and leading receiver Xzavier Henderson.
Miller’s absence would be the biggest setback considering the Seminoles have rushed for at least 200 yards in six consecutive games — the longest active streak in the country.
“It’s going to be a big loss,” Florida safety Trey Dean said. “But we’ll be fine, I promise.
FSU’s Travis completed 81.6% of his passes through three games in November. He has 11 TD passes and just nine incompletions in wins over Miami, Syracuse and Louisiana-Lafayette. Travis has 21 TD passes, five rushing scores and a TD reception this season.
NOT THAT SPECIAL
Florida is coming off its worst special teams performance of the season. The Gators muffed a punt that led to a touchdown and missed the extra point in a seven-point loss at Vanderbilt.
From returning a punt 48 yards to set up a score against Missouri in early October, Napier’s team did little to change the game at this stage.
Meanwhile, Florida State’s units have flourished under Norvell and could have an advantage.
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