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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

Overrated?

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

We are approaching the start of the college football season, and in a lot of ways, the games can’t get here soon enough. A perfect example of trying to fill the time and the internet space is anytime you trot out the “Overrated/Underrated” lists for anything.

In an item titled “Candid Coaches” CBSSports.com has done that with a survey of roughly 30 anonymous FBS coaches and they published it this weekend. And as you can imagine, we perked up when there were prominent Florida coaches names on both lists.

Let’s start first with a couple of ground rules, a survey like this that has over 90 of the 123 Division One bosses NOT giving input is far from scientific, and may not even be a true reflection of the group.

Two, CBS Sports didn’t give us any breakdown if most of the coaches were from one region or another. And further, and this is always a factor, if you are talking to coaches who have repeatedly lost to another coach/program on the field, in recruiting, etc. that should be taken into account, when they are being knocked.

Let’s call that the “Nick Saban Effect.” This is because, he’s repeatedly and consistently beaten almost everyone in the SEC and with the exception of Dabo Swinney, almost everyone else in the College Football Playoff too.

So the “Saban Effect” will make others resent your success, like the one coach (who has to be someone he whips regularly) that told the survey:

“If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you’d win like Nick Saban]. He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he ‘s playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he’s the best in the country. It’s like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year.”

Yeah, that’s not Dabo Swinney saying that to CBS Sports.

So onto their “Overrated” list and when the name Willie Taggart is tied the top with James Franklin at 20% of the votes, it stood out to us at F.F.I.

Keeping in mind that it means only 5-6 coaches a piece, but still.

And while the one anonymous coach points out that FSU’s new boss has a losing career record, he leaves out a couple of important facts. Taggart turned Western Kentucky (his alma matter) from a losing season to a winning one and won a bowl game. He landed the USF job because of it.

And while the Bulls plummeted his first year to 2-10, he turned them back into a winner and won a bowl game before leaving for the Oregon job.

And, while Oregon has had monstrous success for two decades, when Taggart took over for Mark Helfrich, they were 4-8. He had a 7-5 record before getting the FSU job.

So, at three programs, he made them better quickly. And that’s the hope in Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, it’s obviously easy for coaches to knock FAU’s Lane Kiffin and he’s on that overrated list.

And there’s the one anonymous coach that said what others have said,  “If you’re born on third base, that’s great, but don’t think you hit a triple.” And, he’s referring to Kiffin getting the Raiders, Tennesee and USC jobs in succession with no winning track record.

Still Kiffin ran the table in Conference USA with the Owls and they won the title game and a bowl game in his first season. So, that has to be factored in.

And as for the “Underrated” list, we saw the name Dan Mullen of Florida, too.

Again, 8% means that roughly only 1 or 2 of the coaches polled thought so for him.

Still, Mullen did have some success with Mississippi State, which may be one of the 2-3 toughest places in the “Power Five” conferences to recruit and win.

And there’s no question that he knows quarterbacking and should be able to turn Florida back into an SEC yearly contender, quickly.

Lists are designed to create debate, criticism and even outrage.

Mostly, it’s something to get us to two weeks from now,…. when they games begin.

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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart eager to get practices started Monday

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally arrived. College football teams have begun to gather and hit the practice field aiming towards the start of the season at the end of this month.

And in Tallahassee, there is renewed optimism and enthusiasm for first year coach Willie Taggart.

We have well documented Taggart’s quick ascent to the Noles top spot, as it started with coaching his alma matter Western Kentucky, then returning USF to a nationally ranked bowl winning program and then, a single season in the Pac 12 at Oregon.

Now, the Noles, who floundered to a 6-6 regular season barely making a bowl game, hope Taggart can lead them back into ACC championship contention and beyond. Even if that’s not realistic for 2018, the belief is that they will be there next season for sure.

Taggart met with the media Sunday afternoon in advance of the Seminoles first practice for Monday and covered many subjects:

One hot topic is the quarterback position battle. That’s where last year’s true freshman starer James Blackman will be challenged by 2016 starter Deondre Francois. Francois was injured and lost for the season in the fourth quarter of FSU’s opening defeat against Alabama last September.

And the Noles have a third option to potentially go to in Bailey Hockman.

“They’re all going to have an opportunity. They all understand that,” Taggart said. “That starts now. … They know they’ve got to separate themselves.”

Taggart also told the media that receiver Nyqwan Murray and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson both with knee issues are not available to start practicing this week.

“Those guys will be limited. You won’t see them the first part of training camp, but I think as we get towards the end in training camp, you’ll see those guys out there practicing with us.”

Finally, in another example of Taggart understanding and embracing FSU’s tradition, he is bringing back for long time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Andrews who coached numerous defensive All Americans in Tallahassee from 1984 through 2009, including two National Championship seasons, is beloved by a great many of the FSU alumni and fans.

Taggart glowed Sunday,

“It’s great to have someone like that, that’s been here. He’s seen it all and has a lot of knowledge of the game. He has a lot of knowledge of Florida State. I think he’s someone that not only myself, but our entire staff, can learn something from while he’s here.”

The Noles will all be trying to learn something about their new coaches and teammates. And it won’t be a “cream puff” in the opener with Virginia Tech on Labor Day night.

Time to get to work.

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Florida State Seminoles

Report- former FSU now Rams safety Derwin James robbed at gunpoint

Florida Football Insiders

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Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies often talk about their “Welcome to the NFL” moment. However, that’s usually reserved for something that happens on the field to remind them that they are playing against the best of the best and that they have to be careful for anything to happen to or for them.

Unfortunately, for former Seminoles star safety Derwin James, who was drafted in the first round by the L.A. Chargers in April, he was given that reminder apparently in a scary scene.

TMZ broke the story exclusively on Monday afternoon that James was robbed at gunpoint in Southern California last month:

According to the Gossip site, here’s the recap:

James, and his uncle were leaving an Italian restaurant on Sunset Blvd. on June 23 when 2 black males allegedly rushed them … demanding their jewelry. According to a warrant we obtained, both of the men had handguns and pointed them at James.

According to the docs, one of the men snatched the chain off James’ neck … and they also took his Rolex.

The thieves fled to a nearby car … and when Derwin tried to give chase in his Rolls-Royce, he discovered 3 of his tires had been slashed.

Cops are still searching for the suspects.

First off, no one is making fun of someone allegedly pointing guns at them and robbing them. However, when you read the report that he wanted to chase them, but his Rolls-Royce had three tires slashed, that’s straight out of Hollywood. Literally.

We wrote back in May after the draft that perhaps both the Bucs and the Dolphins, who both could have used safety help for this season, may have made a mistake by passing on the former Noles star. The Rams got him with the 17th overall pick. Miami had even drafted Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick instead of James at #11.

And Pro Football Focus pointed out here, that his 90.6 grade in pass coverage was #1 in their ranking formula for college safeties, and also his overall grade (92.1) on their scale ranked him #2. PFF had James ranked their fifth best player in the entire draft.

James, his representatives or the Chargers have still not commented on the robbery report.

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