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Florida State Seminoles

Orange Bowl Preview: Florida State and Michigan Get Set to Tangle

Ari Russell

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(Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire)

The day has finally arrived, where we have some big time bowl games popping up. Probably one of the most anticipated non CFB Playoff  match ups takes place on Friday night in Miami Gardens, as the Florida State Seminoles get set to take on the Michigan Wolverines. 

This game has a bunch of intrigue for various reason.

Let’s start with Dalvin Cook. It’s expected to be the last time we see Cook in a Florida State uniform as all signs are pointing to him skipping his senior year for the NFL Draft. He has nothing else to prove at this level. Cook will leave FSU as the most decorated RB in school’s history. After breaking the school’s career rushing record and TD record, what else does he have to do? The amazing part is that he did this all in three years. It’s going to take a real stud for anyone to break Cook’s records any time soon. Sad to see him go, as he’s such an explosive player, but it should be fun one last time to see him Friday night.

The net intriguing part of this game is to see how inspired Michigan will be. We know that Harbaugh, and the Wolverine faithful, feel slighted about not making it to the CFB Playoff. They felt they got robbed in the Ohio State game, and they have a point. However that loss to Iowa, wasn’t a good look, and it’s hard keeping one loss teams out that won their conference ahead of a 2 loss team that didn’t even win their division. Either way you know Harbaugh is going to get his troops fired up for this one. When he’s angry, usually his opponents feel the pain. Plus we saw how fired up those Stanford teams got, when they felt slighted. Could we see the same with the Maize and Blue on Friday? It’s possible.

The last intriguing part, well not last, but last for this article, that at least I’m interested in seeing, is FSU freshman QB Deondre Francois. If for whatever reason you haven’t seen this young man play, Friday night you want to turn your TVs on. There is no question Francois is going to be an emerging star. Expect Heisman hype going into next season, especially if he has a big Orange Bowl. The ACC is turning out to be a QB heavy league, and that will be even next year with Mitch Trubisky, Brad Kaaya and DeShawn Watson possibly going pro. Keep an eye out for Francois. We know the Michigan defense is stout, but this guy is special.

Should be a good one at Joe Robbie…I mean Sun Life….I mean Hard Rock Stadium Friday night.

The Capitol One Orange Bowl (have to mention sponsor before I get sued) Kickoff at 8pm ET.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU visited by Dungy and Brooks in Bradenton

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FSU has spent the week practicing at IMG in Bradenton. On Wednesday, head coach Willie Taggart invited former NFL head coach Tony Dungy and Seminole legend Derrick Brooks spend some time with the team and offer a few words of wisdom after practice.

Taggart wanted the guys to give his payers some insight on what it takes to be a part of a turn around team.

The former Super Bowl winning head coach told the team team that, if they want to see success on the field, they’re going to have to come together to do it.

He ended with what it really means to be a champion, and having that championship mentality goes far beyond what you can do for your school on the field.

“Being a champion isn’t just being the best you can be on the field. Thats part of it. But it’s being the best teammate you can be, its being the best student you can be, person you can be and impact everyone. We didn’t bring you to Florida State just to win a national champion ship…Be the best person you can be for this university, for your family for your teammates, and you’ll leave a legacy here at Florida State.

You guys wanted to come to Florida State because of what these guys did. There are kids now who are going to want to come to Florida State because of what guys do. And that’s the power, that’s the fun, that’s what you’re going to really remember.”

Brooks then joined him for an extended Q&A session and told the group of guys, including his son, sophomore DeCalon Brooks, about what goes into a championship culture.

“It doesn’t take talent to have a championship culture, right? It takes effort. It takes awesome. No excuses, no explanations.” And mirroring the sentiment of Dungy he added, “that championship culture has to extend itself off the field…and we have the ingredients to be a championship-culture program.”

You can watch the full conversation here.

Coach Dungy has had a relationship with the Seminoles for a while, as Bobby Bowden was one of his role models when he began his career in coaching. And, in his time in Tampa with the Bucs, he coached two FSU greats in Brooks and Warrick Dunn.

Dungy and Brooks were foundational pieces of turning the Buccaneer program around and instilling a championship culture in Tampa Bay.

There’s no doubt that Tallahassee is ready for the return of a championship culture.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU Starting QB plot thickens

Abbey Radeka

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Many FSU fans are heading into the football season cautiously optimistic that this year, at the very least, will be an improvement from the last. Others are still questioning if Willie Taggart’s second year will look any different from the first, and that’s largely due to the fact that the Noles are just under three weeks away from kickoff with no certain QB1.

With former FSU starter Deodre Francois long gone, the battle is mainly between former backup QB James Blackman and former Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook. From what we can tell so far, it seems as if FSU’s offensive staff has spent much of the offseason preparing Blackman for the job, but for the most part, it still seems up in the air.

On Monday, Taggart was asked by the media if there would any benefit to deciding who is going to be the starting quarterback sooner rather than later.

His answer was vauge, but encouraging.

“It all depends on the circumstances. I think you always like to have a guy that’s your guy but we’re going to keep it competitive. Both guys are doing a great job and it’s been fun to watch. They both go in and execute the offense and I’ve been impressed because not only do they execute the offense with the ones but they get in with the twos and do that same thing. That’s impressive to me. They both are having a really good camp and we’ll keep it going.”

“We’ll keep it going” is not exactly what Florida State fans want to hear as they eagerly await for an offensive leader they can begin rallying behind.

For now, all we have to go on is what’s been happening in practice.

Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 reported on the state of the competition from practice on Monday. Here’s what he had to say about each of the guys vying for the job.

Sonnone started with Blackman, saying that he’s continuing to stand out.

“Spent 10-15 minutes watching the quarterbacks throw on Sunday and James Blackman remained the most consistent of the bunch in that viewing time. Blackman, who appears to be having fun but also quickly getting in and out of reps, was on target on every throw he made on the day. He regularly put it across the facemasks of his receiver or on their hands. Easily catchable balls.”

As for Hornibrook, Sonnone said:

“He also knows where he is going with the ball and when to get rid of it. His main issue is that he sometimes leaves them a bit high.”

But, now officially in the mix is Louisville transfer, Jordan Travis. On Monday morning, it was announced that he has been officially been granted eligibility for the 2019 season.

According to Noles247, “He had one of the nicer balls of the viewing session when he connected on a vertical route with wide receiver Adarius Dent. Travis has looked to be moving around with a bit of a limp in recent days.”

The addition of Travis into the competition is likely going to make it harder for Taggart and OC Kendal Briles to select their starting guy, but on the positive side, it’s better to have too many options than not enough.

We just hope that the right decision can be made before the season kicks off, rather than during.

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