The Seminoles must replace playmakers in the back seven as well, with the most glaring loss being standout cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Lamarcus Joyner (51 tackles, one interception) will anchor the play in the secondary, while fellow senior Christian Jones (team-high 95 tackles) headlines the linebacking corps.
Heading into the ACC, the hope is that Chryst can build off a strong offensive season, especially passing the football. That will be easier said than done however, as quarterback Tino Sunseri has moved on. Rutgers transfer Tom Savage (6-5, 230) gets the nod under center to start the year, but redshirt freshman Chad Voytik (6-1, 205) could see playing time as well.
Regardless of who is throwing the football, they will be looking for veteran wideout Devin Street down the field. Street (6-4, 190) is a game-changer on the outside and is coming off a season in which he hauled in 73 passes, for 975 yards and five touchdowns.
Chryst is very happy to have a player of Street's caliber to lean on.
"It's great to have him back. Obviously Devin is a very good player. He did a lot of really good things, but I'm excited because I still believe he can continue to get better. He realizes what he's got in the value of Coach (Bobby) Engram coaching him day in and day out. Certainly Devin is going to be one of those guys we need to play at a high level and lead at a high level. It's a tremendous feeling having Devin here."
The Panthers could also look to 6-2 freshman Tyler Boyd in the passing game. A smooth receiver with a great feel for the game, Boyd comes to Pittsburgh following an impressive high school career, where he amassed 5,755 yards and 117 touchdowns.
To achieve balance however, Chryst must find someone to step into the void left by Ray Graham's departure, after he put up 1,042 yards and 11 TDs last season, en route to All-Big East First-Team honors. Junior Isaac Bennett (4.9 ypc) played sparingly last season and will get the first crack at earning the lion's share of the carries.
The defensive side of the football will see less atrophy, with the return of nine starters. The unit as a whole, was extremely stingy in 2012, giving up just 330.5 yards of total offense.
A veteran-laden defensive front is led by senior tackle Aaron Donald (6-0, 275), who posted 64 tackles last season, with 11 TFL and 5.5 sacks. He will be flanked by fellow senior tackle Tyrone Ezell (6-4, 300), who had 39 tackles and 3.5 sacks last year.
A strength of the unit last year was the secondary, which returns three of its four starters, highlighted by Second-Team All-Big East safety Jason Hendricks, who had a huge season, posting 90 total tackles and six interceptions. Senior cornerback K'Waun Williams (5-10, 195) is another ball hawk, finishing last year with 47 tackles and four picks.
The Panthers received no preferential treatment coming over to the ACC, as they begin a new era of football against one of the conference's top powers. While Pittsburgh may hit its stride by midseason, getting it done against the Seminoles in the season-opener is a tall task indeed.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 27, Pittsburgh 13