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Florida Gators

No surprise- Gators top our initial state rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Week one is in the books for the 2019 college football season.

In the State of Florida, we had some blowouts, under-performances, and some disappointments.
With all the action done until this weekend, this is how the state stacks up:

1. Florida Gators- In a very tight decision, but the Gators check-in as the top team in the state to open things up. Florida had a bye week following to tough week 0 win against the Hurricanes. The Gators get the edge over the Knights for going playing a tough rival and getting the win, even if that win wasn’t a pretty one.

The Gators showed that they have plenty of talent back this season, but need to clean up the penalties and tackling. Both of those things can be addressed and should be fixed this week against Tennessee-Martin.

2. UCF Knights- The Knights high powered offense was on full display against in-state opponent Florida A&M. Brandon Wimbush was impressive in his first game at UCF throwing for two scores and 168 yards. Freshman Dillon Gabriel was also excellent throwing for three touchdowns and 127 yards. The running game was strong with Adrian Killins Jr. rushing for 106 yards and scoring.

Greg McCrae also chipped in a touchdown. The defense was stifling all night holding the Rattlers to less than 100 yards. The Knights will look to continue their regular-season dominance Saturday, when they face a bigger challenge in FAU in Boca Raton.

3. Miami Hurricanes- The Canes had a week off following their defeat to Florida in week 0. During the game, the Canes defense showcased why they are a dangerous unit forcing four turnovers on the night. The O-line was an issue for the Canes in that game, and freshman QB Jarren Williams was learning on the job. He did show great promise though and will look to take those things he learned the hard way into next week.

The Hurricanes begin ACC play next week, however, not playing an FCS team like some others. The Canes will get Mack Brown and the North Carolina Tar Heels coming off a win against South Carolina. A win here and the Canes will have an early confidence-boosting win to jump-start conference play.

4. Florida State Seminoles- What a roller coaster the Noles took fans and enemies on. In the first half, the Noles offense was firing on all cylinders. James Blackman looked good hitting Scary Terry ( Tamorrion) for a 75-yard pass, as well as connecting on another 58-yard touchdown to Keyshawn Helton. Blackman had a third touchdown in the first half, and Cam Akers ran for 116 yards on the day. Despite all the first-half offense, the Broncos were never truly out of it due to their ability to run the ball.

In the second half, the Noles offense couldn’t move the ball, and the Broncos just kept running downfield. The Broncos had 231 yards rushing from a trio of backs and true freshman Hank Bachmeier was unfazed. The Noles showed flashes of being a much better team, but in the end, they started to play like much of last year. They should get back on track next week against UL-Monroe at home.

5. FAU Owls– The Owls were also a tale of two games. They started bad with Justin Fields doing whatever he wanted. Fields had five scores before halftime, and the Buckeyes led 28-3. In the second half though, the Owls were able to make the game more competitive.

The Owls had two strong touchdown drives of 16 plays for 81 yards and 8 plays for 76 yards. The Owls will look to take that momentum into another ranked matchup this time with in-state foe UCF.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

Florida Gators

Gators maintain top spot with others moving up our rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in Florida, we were given another gift with numerous programs winning! In college, the Gators, Canes, Owls, and even FSU came out on top. It wasn’t all good news; however, with USF and UCF taking weeknight losses. And in the NFL, the Jags had a week off, while the Bucs and Dolphins were both victorious.

With some shocking results, this is how the top 5 looks in the state.

Florida Gators- The Gators keep the top spot after demolishing Vanderbilt over the weekend. Florida flexed all of their muscles in this one putting up 56 points and shutting out the Commodores. Kyle Trask had a career day with 363 passing yards and three touchdowns. Emory Jones also got into the action with three rushing touchdowns.

The defense was also a part of the scoring with Jonathan Greenard getting a scoop and score. The Gators turned it on in the second half with 28 points scored. The Gators will finish their SEC schedule next week, traveling to Missouri.

Florida Atlantic Owls- The Owls won a huge game over the weekend, defeating rival Florida International. The Owls rode the hot hand of running back Malcolm Davidson to a 37-7 victory. Davidson had 144 yards and three scores to lead the Owls to the “Shula Bowl” win.

The win keeps the Owls in striking distance for a C-USA east division crown. They still need Marshall to drop one of their next three games. Regardless, Lane Kiffin has done a terrific job this season, turning the Owls into one of the best teams in the conference.

Miami Hurricanes- The Canes have turned things around since the embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech. “The U” has now won three games in a row and looks like a whole new team. QB Jaren Williams had a career game with six touchdowns. The Miami offense is starting to look more like the offense many fans thought it would be to start the year with the addition of Dan Enos.

The Canes will take this win streak into their next game against cross-city rival, FIU.

Florida State Seminoles- Credit where credit is due, the Noles didn’t quit. After going down 14-3 in the second quarter, FSU could have laid down and rolled over. Instead, they rallied and put up 21 points in a row. Then, Boston College came back from two scores down, and the Noles once again rose to the challenge winning the game 38-31.

On a day where Cam Akers was held in check, two QBs stepped up for FSU. James Blackman, and Tamorrion Terry destroyed the BC secondary, while third-string Jordan Travis took to carries and turned them into 12 points. The win puts the Noles in a position to become bowl eligible, something they failed to do last year.

Odell Haggins has this team playing with heart and will look to continue that this weekend against Alabama State.

Miami Dolphins- Who would have thought we would be saying this, but the Dolphins have won two games in a row. Facing back up Brian Hoyer, the defense forced three interceptions and keyed in on RB Marlon Mack. On offense, they did just enough with Ryan Fitzpatrick running in a touchdown and Jason Sanders nailing three field goals.

The Phins struggled to do anything on the ground with out Mark Walton in this one. Ryan Fitzpatrick also only threw for 169 yards.

However, a win is a win, and the Phins have two of those in a row. They could also be ending their chances to get the number one pick. Next, they will host the Buffalo Bills, and a win there would be a big win for the team but also the fatal blow to their odds at the number one or two pick.

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Florida Gators

Gators defense missed great opportunity Saturday

Matt Zemek

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In discussions of politics, you will hear references to “The Two Americas” This can refer to various divides in our nation, but the most central one is the division between ideological visions which give rise to red states and blue states.

In college football, fans of the Florida Gators are confronted with a non-ideological but very real problem after Saturday’s 24-17 loss to Georgia.

Yes, Georgia had to win this game and Florida did not – at least not with the same level of urgency. Yes, Georgia had Jake Fromm and Florida had Kyle Trask. Yes, Georgia has achieved at a level in recent years which Florida has not matched.

Yet, even though Georgia has built itself into a noticeably stronger program – with Florida trying to play catch-up – it was still discouraging to see how the Gators lost on Saturday.

No, the offense’s limitations do not represent the most alarming part of this loss. They need to be addressed, but part of this offense’s low ceiling comes from Feleipe Franks not being on the field with his equation-changing speed and running ability.

On a broader level, it is beyond obvious that Mullen hasn’t yet found his ideal quarterback. He better find one soon – which is another conversation for another time – but given the talent we saw on Saturday in Jacksonville, it was never realistic to expect UF to score a lot against Kirby Smart’s defense.

Hoping UF’s offense would thrive? Great – we always should hope.

Expecting UF’s offense to flourish? Not in a reasonable universe.

The Florida path to victory always needed to run through coordinator Todd Grantham’s defense. This was true mostly because Georgia’s offense had been atrocious the previous few weeks against South Carolina and Kentucky, but partly because the Gators were getting back two outstanding defensive players, Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga.

Florida figured to have the pass rush it needed to keep Georgia contained… and make Jake Fromm eat dirt.

Well, we all saw how THAT turned out. Georgia was able to protect Fromm on one third down after another. Third-down conversions were the difference in the game.

Yet, as bad as the third-down pass rush was, the secondary was equally bad. Trey Dean got lost on several occasions, and his teammates either suffered coverage busts or were half a step slow, or didn’t pick up the flight of the ball in time to deflect a Fromm pass.

It wasn’t one component of secondary play which killed Florida – it was every component of secondary play.

Georgia’s slumbering defense found an awakening against Florida. The Gators did nothing to keep Georgia fast asleep. That was the missed opportunity for UF on Saturday.

So, as we look to the future – and I am thinking about 2020, not the next month – Dan Mullen has a real choice to make, a choice only he can know how to handle.

If Mullen knows he can develop a high-quality quarterback – think of Will Grier under Jim McElwain; we don’t have to expect Danny Wuerffel or Tim Tebow – he can reasonably say that his offense will eventually be able to figure out Kirby Smart, the coach Mullen has to beat if he eventually wants to win SEC East championships and go to Atlanta in December.

However, if Mullen knows he won’t have that high-end QB (which is its own problem, but can’t be wished away if events break in the wrong direction), he has to think about firing Grantham.

No, Grantham isn’t terrible. He takes advantage of bad offenses, but against moderately good or great offenses, Grantham falls short. We saw a perfect example against Georgia.

Mullen has to weigh the resources of his offense versus the capability of his defense. If the offense figures to be limited, Mullen needs to get a rock-star defensive coordinator.

Florida shouldn’t be settling for a coordinator who can’t pounce on Georgia when the Bulldogs are vulnerable. Florida needs a defensive coordinator who can throttle SEC opponents with noticeable weaknesses.

No, I wouldn’t expect Grantham or any UF defensive coordinator to stop this year’s Alabama or LSU offenses… but Todd Grantham, if he is to earn his paycheck, has to be able to handle every other 2019 SEC offense.

On that score, he has clearly fallen short.

If Mullen develops his offense to an elite level, Grantham’s defense would be perfectly fine for this program. With a high-powered offense, Florida would have a lot of leads, which would mean a lot of must-pass situations for opposing teams, which would mean Grantham could unleash his blitzes and have fun.

But… if Florida can’t play that way, there is no sense in keeping Grantham around. Find a better mastermind for a defense which needed to bring some bite, but didn’t even have any bark against the Dawgs.

These are “The Two Floridas.”

Not just offense and defense, but the Gators Dan Mullen WANTS, versus the Gators Dan Mullen HAS, and will have in 2020.

Mullen needs to be honest with himself about the team he will have next year. That calculus ought to determine whether Mullen retains Todd Grantham for next season.

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