This weekend was rare in Florida football this season. We witnessed multiple wins in the college ranks and the NFL. FSU, UCF, USF, FAU, and Miami were able to find ways to win. The Jaguars were victorious for the second week in a row as well, with the Bucs getting bit by the referees and fell in Nashville. And then the Dolphins were the Dolphins on Monday night.
With a lot of wins, this week’s rankings had a lot to choose from, so the top breaks down as follows:
Florida Gators- The Gators remained in the top spot with a BYE last week. Now, they will shift their focus to the biggest game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs. The cocktail party will once again be a defacto SEC East title game. With the Dawgs struggling on offense in their last two games, did they get things right over the bye to prepare for a stingy Gator defense?
UCF Knights- The Knights got things going again with an offensive explosion against Temple. UCF put up 63 points and 614 yards. Running back, Otis Anderson was the nest of the group in this one going over 200 yards and scoring a touchdown. Bentavious Thompson ran for 87 yards and two scores of their own.
QB Dillon Gabriel had only 219 of the 600 yards, but he also added three touchdowns of his own. The Knights will host Houston next week as they look to keep the offense rolling.
Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags won their second game in a row with a win over the Jets. The Jags have now gone four and two in their last six games on the season. Gardner Minshew had a great game with 279 yards and three touchdowns. He is making a strong case to remain the starter even when free-agent acquisition Nick Foles comes back.
The Jags will look to finally when that third game in a row this time with the Texans in London. The Jags sit just one game behind the Colts and the Texans in the win column and would raise some eyebrows across the league with another win.
Florida Atlantic- The Owls bounced back in a strong way with a 41-3 thumping of Old Dominion. A week after losing a heartbreaker to Marshall, the Owls offense never looked back in this game. Chris Robinson only had 208 yards but tossed a pair of touchdowns.
The Owls now prepare for arguably their biggest game of the regular season against Western Kentucky. WKU just lost to Marshall creating a log jam at the top of the conference between these three schools. The Owls will need a win to keep pace with Marshall and hope the heard drop another game this season.
Florida State- The Noles are coming off their best performance of the season, and it came at no better time with Miami around the corner. Alex Hornibrook got the start and was effective. It was Cam Akers, however, who was the star quarterback on this day. Akers ran the ball effectively out of the wildcat, pilling up 144 yards on the day and a whopping four touchdowns.
Next, the Noles get rival Miami in a game both teams need to win badly. With both schools sitting at 4-4, it doesn’t have the excitement this game once had, but still, this game can ruin the season of whoever comes out the looser and could miss a bowl.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?