The 2019 College football season kicks off tonight with one of the most anticipated games on the season, certainly within the state. Florida and Miami will be facing off in Orlando for the first time in six years.
Here are three things we’re looking forward to watching:
The redshirt freshman was named starting QB earlier this month, beating out former Ohio State Buckeye and former 5 star recruit Tate Martell and last years end of season starter, N’Kosi Perry.
Williams saw action in one game with the Canes last season, completing 1 of 3 passes for 17 yards, and running twice for 2 yards and a touchdown in a win over Savannah State. With such little college experience, no one really knows what to expect from him tonight, but we do know he’s has been praised for having the best arm of the group and used that to win this job.
Williams has got some great targets on offense that includes veteran running back DeeJay Dallas, wide receiver Jeff Thomas and Buffalo transfer K.J. Osborn. What will be key is if Miami and produce some solid protection at the line with a group of less experienced OLs.
Gators living up to high preseason expectations
Dan Mullen lead the Gators to one the most improved seasons in all of college football last season, more than doubling the amount of wins for Florida from 2017 to 2018. The pressure is even higher for the second year coach, after fans have gotten a taste of what it’s like to be back in the elite status.
Earlier this week, the Gators were ranked number 8 on the AP preseason poll, which is the first time Florida has ranked in the top 10 since the 2013 season. They are one of six SEC teams, four of which are also in the Top 10, and the only Power 5 school in the state of Florida in the preseason poll.
With the best set of offensive players they’ve had in nearly a decade, Gators QB Feliepe Franks has a wide range of solid targets including running back Lamical Perine and wide receivers Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Trevon Grimes and Joshua Hammond.
However, Franks has had an interesting run as the Gator’s signal caller. Last season was much improved form his first, throwing for 2,284 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, with six interceptions. However, his pass completion rate was just 58.5 percent, which is much lower than most QB’s at Top 10 schools.
How much improvement Franks will show tonight could be an indicator of how much of a force Florida will be this season.
New offensive lines on both sides
Tonight will be a debut of mostly new offensive lineman, which could have their hands full against two really strong defenses. Florida lost four OL starters from last season and will be debuting four first-time starters up front, including tackles Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance.
There will also be some new faces on the Cane’s offense with Freshman tackle Zion Nelson and RS Freshman John Campbell making their first career starts on the line.
How well these lineman can protect each team’s quarterback against two solid defenses could likely be the determining factor in the sunshine state rivalry this evening.
Also important to note, is the history between the two coaches, as Manny Diaz was Mullen’s defensive coordinator — not once, but twice. The two have had a repeated crossing of paths throughout their coaching careers, and tonight Diaz gets to match wits with Mullen.
Manny not only has the advantage of knowing how Mullen thinks; he has been able to see how Mullen has evolved. We wrote previously that this game will be like an intimate chess match between the two coaches.
Former Canes coach Golden apparently ready for trial against school
Former Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden is apparently about to have his day in court, while trying to recoup what he says is multi-millions of dollars that the University still owes him from firing him 5 years ago.
Miami Herald writer and columnist Barry Jackson had more on Monday evening that there apparently will not be a settlement by the school with the man that coached them for parts of five seasons in the 2010s.
UM schedule change, another new hire, Golden trial, why Ray Lewis says hiring Ed Reed is a ‘genius move,’ and Kosar weighs in. And more: https://t.co/MvTx7WxJND
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) February 4, 2020
Golden is seeking in excess of $3 million for what he says is compensation per his contract that he was owed when Miami terminated him in October of 2015 after a humiliating 58 – 0 lost to Clemson. The University says that Golden has been paid what the contract required.
As Jackson reported, there have already been depositions on both sides, including with Miami athletic director Blake James. And both James and Golden will be testifying in the civil suit about what went wrong and how it has not been rectified for almost three years, since the dispute started.
Golden came to Miami after having turned around the Temple football program, but only went 32 – 25 in his four plus seasons. He contends in a chain of emails that were obtained by the media recently, that the University mislead him about the Nevin Shapiro payment scandal and the punishments that Miami was going to receive for scholarship losses and a bowl ban.
He further contends that he asked for tough opponents like Wisconsin and Michigan State to be pushed back on the Canes schedule early in his tenure, while they were in the middle of the sanctions. However, that James would not relent, thereby, making it much tougher for Miami to compete and win.
The University has had no comment on the possible suit going to trial. Golden’s lawyer told the media recently that they are anxious to have their day in front of a judge and jury.
Golden has been a position coach in the NFL with the Detroit Lions the last two years. Meanwhile, Miami is still trying to find their footing with coach Manny Diaz coming off a dismal 6-7 season where they lost their last three games. That included a humiliating 14-0 shutout loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.
Hurricanes name College Hall of Famer Ed Reed Chief of Staff
The Miami Hurricanes are hoping to reestablish their winning ways, and coach Manny Diaz is starting 2020 by reaching back to a prominent member of their recent past to help them.
Diaz and the school announced Thursday afternoon that former All-American, National Champion and College and NFL Hall of Fame safety, Ed Reed, will be coming aboard as a newly-created “Chief of Staff” position for Hurricanes football:
Visits and vacations are nice, but there is no place like home.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 30, 2020
As the school’s release said, Reed “will be responsible in advisory role of all aspects of the football program including strategic planning, quality control, operations, player evaluation and player Development among other duties.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ed back to Coral Gables,” Diaz said. “He is not only one of the most decorated players in Miami football history but also a devoted Cane who cares deeply about this program. All of our players, coaches and staff will be fortunate to tap into his experience, knowledge and passion on a regular basis.”
This hire comes on the heels of Miami apparently botching the hiring in a similar role of former star RB from the 80’s Alonzo Highsmith earlier this month. Highsmith negotiated with Diaz and AD Blake James about looking to come back to Coral Gables after having been in a similar role with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL this past year. Alas, they could not agree. Highsmith has since been fired after the Browns fired GM John Dorsey and shook up their front office.
As for the “Chief of Staff” position, numerous college programs, including Clemson Alabama and Georgia have a similar positions to aid and assist the head coach with the day-to-day administration of program.
You cannot find a more decorated Cane willing to help, as Reed was arguably the best safety in college football in the 2000s. Miami posted a 23 – 1 record over his final two seasons (’00-’01) and he was part of the 2001 BCS Championship team that finished 11-1 and destroyed Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.
Reed with a consensus First-team All-American in 2000 and 2001 and set the Hurricanes record for interceptions with 21 before leaving Coral Gables.
Reed was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 for his accomplishments.
Reed was later a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2002, playing at 11 sasons with them before playing his final year with the Texans and the Jets. He is a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-Pro six times. Reed was just inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame year ago.
Read was not quoted in the release by the Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon.
However, he did participate earlier during Super Bowl week in Miami with former Hurricanes legendary coach Jimmy Johnson in a special program from Fox Sports with other famous Hurricane alumni like Michael Irvin.
"This is a moment in time that needed to be done and it couldn't have been done in a greater place." #TheReUnion, hosted by @FOXSports, made for great stories and honest discussion about the brotherhood formed only at The U. https://t.co/6bdlY8IQkV
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 30, 2020
The program called “The ReUnion” dealt with Miami trying to regain the winning ways and dominance of the 80s and 90s.
Miami stumbled to a 6-6 finish and then was embarrassed to end Diaz’s first season with a 14-0 shutout loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.