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Primer- USF UCF and FSU all in need of home conference wins

Jamil King

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Week 5 of college football in Florida brings a couple of intriguing games, while the others seem one-sided. The Noles will host NC State, the Gators welcome Towson, USF opens conference play with SMU and the Knights will host UConn. Last week the Noles were able to beat Louisville, the Gators blasted Tennessee, and the Knights lost dramatically to Pittsburgh.

Florida State was finally able to hold onto a lead in a big game. No, it wasn’t vs. a ranked team, nor was it a pretty win, but it was a win. Cam Akers continues to showcase why he is one of the best backs in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, as he is leading the Noles offense.

QB James Blackman was forced to exit the game last week against Louisville with a knee injury and transfer Alex Hornibrook stepped up and led the Noles in the second half to the win.

Now, Hornibrook may be in line to make his first start as a Nole. The Noles defense might have their hands full against a Wolfpack team that has scored 27 points or more in every game this season. In what looks like will be a high scoring game, can the Noles play a complete four quarters and go over .500?

UCF is coming off a heartbreaking loss last week. Pittsburgh knocked off the Knights with the similar “Philly Special” play at the goal line, like the Eagles did to the Patriots. Now, the Knights get to regroup. The offense had some struggles, especially early, last week, but should bounce back in a huge way against the Huskies, who they will play as AAC members for the last time.

UConn heads back to the Big East next year and becomes a football independent.

Expect the Knights to roll against a defense that has allowed over 30 points in back to back games. UConn struggled on the defensive side of the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers, as they allowed 38 points and a total of 430 yards of offense.

The Gators have a huge game next weekend against Auburn, but it is essential they are not looking ahead to that. They still have a game this week against Towson. The Tigers are 3-1 and play in the Colonial Conference in the FCS. The Gators should win the game, but it might not be a cakewalk.

QB Kyle Trask will need to be at his best not just for this win, but to gain confidence going into next week.

The Gators have not been as dominant on the ground as they had hoped and should establish that early and often in this game. Playing two FCS schools in four weeks isn’t ideal to evaluate exactly what this team is, but it is what is on the schedule and will look to work out the kinks before hosting the Auburn Tigers.

USF will host SMU, who just beat rival TCU, in their conference home opener. The Mustangs have a pair of dangerous WRs that will challenge a talented defensive backfield the Bulls possess. Stopping James Proche, Reggie Roberson Jr, and QB Shane Buechele will be the way the Bulls win.

On offense, frehsman Jordan McCloud looks to be the new man under center. After playing against South Carolina State and getting a BYE week what does the attack have up their sleeve for SMU?

Finally, Florida Atlantic has won two games in a row against easier opponents, since losing the first two-game against ranked teams. QB Chris Robinson has been playing great during this two-game winning streak, and as long he stays hot, the Owls have a chance to be atop the C-USA.

This weekend they will travel to Charlotte a game that will be shown on the NFL Network. The Niners will be led by running back, Benny LeMay who is averaging 6.8 yards a carry.

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.

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USF Bulls

USF QB Barnett undergoing season ending surgery

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Barnett’s wild college career may be coming to an unfortunate end, sooner than expected. Multiple sources have reported that his ankle injury will require surgery that will keep him out the the remainder of this season.

Bay News 9 Tampa Bay reporter Chris Torello broke the news Thursday night.

It’s also been confirmed by Bulls beat reporter, Joey Knight.

Barnett suffered the injury in the Bulls Week 5 game against SMU. Last week, USF head coach Charlie Strong said that Barnett would not be available for the Bulls’ game vs. BYU and would meet with doctors to re-evaluate the injury. Unfortunately, the news was not good for the 23 year old, veteran quarterback.

Out of high school, he was heavily recruited and landed on Alabama’s roster as the starter before being quickly beat out by freshman Jalen Hurts. From there, he spent a season at Arizona State before transferring again to South Florida where he was named QB1.

In his first season with the Bulls, Barnett threw for 2,705 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 11 games, missing two crucial conference games with injury. He led them to a strong 7-0 start to the year before the team fizzled out on a 0-6 losing streak to end the season.

His second season in Tampa started off rockier when began the year with a 49-0 shutout against Wisconsin. It didn’t get much better as the Bulls found themselves with a 1-3 record in their first four games. In 2019, Barnett threw for 434 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Jordan McCloud, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, will continue to start for USF, with sophomore Kirk Rygol now at backup with Barnett down for the season. OC Kerwin Bell confirmed on Wednesday that McCloud should be ready to play by Saturday in their matchup with Navy.

As for Barnett, it is still up in the air as to whether this will be his final season as a college quarterback. Because he’s only played in four games this season, he could attempt to take a medical redshirt after already using his regular redshirt. However, he’s already been to quite a few programs, so it’s possible that he may just elect to end his college career.

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Former USF QB Quinton Flowers returns to Tampa in XFL

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Next February, the XFL Football League will reemerge in its reformed version by Vince McMahon. On Tuesday, the league’s eight teams were making preparation’s with a draft of players. And, this includes the Tampa Bay franchise, The Vipers, who in the 5th round, selected former USF Bulls quarterback, Quinton Flowers. 

Even though his previous seasons in Tampa have been spent under center, he has been selected as a running back for the Vipers.

 

We wrote previously, that a local high school and SEC star, Aaron Murray was given to them as their starting Quarterback.

Murray has ties to the Tampa Bay area, as a native who led Plant High School to a State Football Championship. He’s also the Southeastern Conference all-time leader in completions passing yards and passing touchdowns in a career.

Murray briefly was with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-16.

He was last seen quarterbacking earlier this year in the now-defunct Alliance of American football with the Atlanta Legends (above) franchise. They selected Murray for the same regional interest of him having played college ball down the road in Athens, Georgia.

As for Flowers, in his time at USF he threw for 8,124 yards, 71 TDs and 23 INTs while also rushing for 3672 yards and 41 TDs.

Though he had a record-breaking career at USF (he owned or shared 34 school records), there was lots of debate about the dual-threat’s quarterback to succeed professionally.  Flowers was dominant as a run-heavy QB, and he became #1 in the schools career rushing attempts, career rush yards, single season rush yards, rush yards and attempts by a quarterback, rushing touchdowns in a season, career rushing touchdowns, and yards per rush in a season.

Many scouts felt as though he needed to consider a position change from quarterback if he hopes to succeed in the NFL, which ended up happening when he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, as an undrafted free agent in 2018 as a running back. After being waived the following summer, the Colts signed him to the practice squad, but then released him six days later.

Now, in the second ever XFL Draft, Flowers went number 37 overall, is returning to not only the same city, but same stadium that he took four years of snaps in during college.

The XFL have continued to fill out rosters in the Tuesday draft, with numerous players from Florida or Florida schools working out regionally for all of the clubs.

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