As week 11 rolls on today, we have two teams looking to bounce back from losses. One team looking to continue a winning streak, and a rivalry down south. With UCF already losing at Tulsa Friday night, as well as USF losing Thursday night at home to Temple, things are off to a rough start in the state.
Florida State is set to play its first game post Willie Taggart. Odell Haggins will coach as the interim for the second time in 3 years. As far as the actual game goes, the Noles defense will need to be up to the challenge of stopping the Boston College running backs. A.J. Dillon leads the group that is a top 5 rushing attack averaging 280 yards a game.
FSU will be without star DT Marvin Wilson due to a broken hand, further depleting a group that will be relied heavily upon. David Bailey, the back up running back, is also a big back like Dillon and will receive about 10- 15 carries and could also be a real problem for the Noles. As far as the offense for FSU, we know it begins and ends with Cam Akers. After a slow day last week in a loss to Miami, we learned he has been battling an injury.
The Noles need an effective Cam Akers and, more importantly, a functioning passing attack. Boston College can be beaten through the air allowing almost 300 yards a game. This game has the makings to be a shootout and could be a sneaky good game in the early window.
The Florida Gators are also looking to bounce back this weekend. They lost to rival Georgia last week and all but ended their chance at the SEC East title. Now they will focus on getting back to a New Years’ six-game. They will host a Vanderbilt team that only averages 17 points a game. Expect the Gators who have been saying they will be playing mad to come out fast.
The defense should be swarming and especially on third down where they were gashed last week. On offense, look for them to get the running game going. Last week against Georgia it was nonexistent. The Gators are heavy favorites at home and should be able to win this game with no heroics.
The Miami Hurricanes are looking to go on a three-game winning streak. Jarren Williams has given the offense new life since throwing the game-winning touchdown at Pitt. They will now face a Lousiville team that is better at offense more so than defense. Expect the canes to get DeeJay Dallas involved early to help set up the play-action to guys like Jeff Thomas, K.J. Osborn, and Brevin Jordan.
On defense, the Canes will need to key in on Chatarius Atwell and Javian Hawkins. Both guys are playmakers with the ball in their hands and will have the ball a lot. If the Canes can stop those two, then they should be on their way to another win and an excellent rebound after the Georgia Teach game.
We saved the best for last, with a rivalry game down south between FAU and FIU in the latest edition of “The Shula Bowl.”
Both teams are coming off of wins making the game more exciting. The Owls are also tied for the top spot in the C-USA east, and FIU will want to spoil the Owls season here. For FAU, the offense is going to go through QB Chris Robinson (above). The Owls are a better passing team, and Robinson has been the engine to that.
The FIU defense, though, has been dreadful against the run and good against the pass, meaning someone in the FAU backfield could find themselves in a vital role. For the Panthers, the offense is led by the run and by Anthony Jones. Last week it was Napoleon Maxwell who led the team in rushing, but both will be the catalyst for this team. James Morgan will need to make some throws, however, because the FAU defense has been better against the run than they have against the pass.
Both teams come into the game better at stopping the teams’ strengths meaning this could come down to coaching between Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin.
C-USA fined FAU coach Lane Kiffin Sunday night
FAU Coach Lane Kiffin is known for being brash, and at times outspoken. And as it turns out, his criticism of the officiating in the conference in which his team plays, has cost him in the pocketbook.
This after Sunday night when Conference USA announced they were fining the third-year FAU coach for criticizing the officials with a social media post on Saturday evening.
First, Kiffin was unhappy with the officiating in his team’s Friday Night 36-31 loss at home to Marshall. It was the Owls first conference loss of the year. In the game, they were penalized 9 times for 90 yards.
After the tough loss, Kiffin told the media post game,
“I already made the decision I’m not going to get into officiating,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know if we lose money in this conference. We probably do, and I don’t have a lot anymore. I’m not going to lose any.
I’m about to say what I want to say, but I’m not going to. The assistant AD is back there shaking his head like, ‘Hey, don’t say what you want to say.’ I’m not gonna say anything.”
Kiffin though did add,
“The game might’ve taken five hours because every call took 10 minutes to figure out how to explain it,” Kiffin said. “I can’t get fined for that.”
Then, on Saturday Kiffin told the media that the Conference admitted that there were “inconsistencies” on several calls and non-calls in the game.
Later Saturday, Kiffin put out on Twitter a the meme of game officials with guide dogs, sunglasses and red and white cane poles:
— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) October 20, 2019
That drew this response Sunday afternoon from the Conference and its commissioner Judy McLeod,
“Conference USA has specific rules and standards regarding sportsmanship which have been adopted by our membership,” said Commissioner Judy MacLeod. “We have an obligation to enforce our rules, including the prohibition of public criticism of officiating.”
It is laughable that apparently the extent of their initial punishment is only a $5,000 fine, which is a small fraction of the money that the former Raiders and USC coach makes in Boca Raton.
And further, it’s well known that a coach continuing to complain publicly about officiating is less likely to get favorable judgment calls in the near future. And, that’s more important than a conference reprimand or small fine.
Quarterback uncertainty dominates state schools
One thing is for certain as we head towards the 2019 college football season, around the state of Florida most of the prominent programs have more questions than answers at their quarterback position.
This was magnified last Wednesday, when it was learned that UCF’s presumed starter to begin the 2019 season, Darriel Mack, Jr., had suffered a non-football injured broken ankle. And, he is now out indefinitely. That has now thrown a real curve ball into Coach Josh Heupel’s plan to have Mack be the guy, but potentially be challenged by Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush.
Now, it appears that it’s Wimbush’s job and Mack may end up being medically redshirted all together.
There is equal instability in both Miami and Tallahassee. And, in both of the cases of Florida State and the Canes, a veteran transfer may end up being in their mix immediately, as well.
For the Noles, after the January dismissal of last year’s starter Deondre Francois, junior James Blackman will apparently be the quarterback for this season. However, the pressure is on second year boss, Willie Taggart, and he secured left-handed Wisconsin graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook, who could become the guy very quickly, if Blackman falters or should get injured.
Meanwhile, in Miami the Hurricanes are excited for Ohio State transfer Tate Martell (photo above) coming to them and winning an NCAA waiver ruling to make him immediately eligible. Miami does have part-time 2018 starter N’Kosi Perry that they can go to at the beginning of the year, but it’s believed that Martell will eventually take over the offense of new coordinator Dan Enos and maybe, soon.
The other two prominent programs in the state both return an experienced starter.
In Gainesville, the Gators will turn things back over to senior Feleipe Franks for the third consecutive year. Franks improved under Dan Mullen and his staff in 2018 and even though his statistics weren’t tremendous, he won critical games at the end of the year against South Carolina, FSU and the huge “New Year’s Six” bowl win over Michigan.
Clearly, the Gators are in the best shape of all state programs and want Franks to help lead them to what they believe could be an SEC East Division winning season in 2019.
And finally, that USF Bulls will also return veteran quarterback Blake Barnett for his second season in Tampa Bay. Barnett played very well at the beginning of last season as USF and coach Charlie Strong started at 7 – 0. However, with Barnett banged up down the stretch of the year, the Bulls faltered losing their final six games.
Barnett won’t face a challenge from last year’s backup and part-time starter Chris Oladokun, as he has transferred out of the program. So, the hope is the former Alabama and Arizona State quarterback can recapture some of the form that we saw last season. Then, the Bulls should be a bowl contender again this year.
Still that’s not certain.
And in Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami, they want QB answers, too.
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