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Thursday, September 1,2016

College Football Season brings more questions than answers

By Mark Tudino  

As part of a continuing tradition, for our next two visits we will dedicate this space to previewing the football teams in the Sunshine state. Since the college season starts first, we begin with the kids. Part of the challenge in looking ahead is you first must figure out what each squad returns. Each season we do this preview by looking at which team is expected to do best, therefore, we begin our journey in Tallahassee.



Given the success Coach Jimbo Fisher’s had with his last three squads, winning or playing for the national title twice, and last year finishing with a 10-3 record, you would think all signs point upward for the Noles, right? Well, as a famous announcer would say, not so fast my friend. An early fall camp injury to slated starting QB Sean McGuire has the Garnett and Gold faithful nervous – especially since, at least to start the season, the guy under center will be freshman Deondre Francois. Now, playing quarterback is tough enough and with expectations high at FSU, young Mr. Franc is will be looked to for production, though Coach Fisher is not likely to put a lot on the rookie’s plate - yet. Still, it won’t be a walk in the park to start the season – Florida State opens with Ole Miss of the SEC – yet the overall schedule is favorable with home games against rivals Clemson and Florida; the toughest game may be on October 8th, when they travel to face Miami. But let’s not kid – this team is loaded, starting with All-Everything RB Dalvin Cook and an offensive line anchored by pre-season All- American Roderick Johnson. DB Derwin James is the experience on defense and he will look to lead that unit. There may be a few hiccups here and there, but this team will be favored to be playing in January for the title: prediction, 11-1.


For the Gators, 2015 was a tale of two seasons: before “WG” and after “WG”, “WG” being the since departed quarterback Will Grier, who was suspended halfway through the season and took with him any chance of Florida having a big year. At times, the Gators were lucky to beat low level D-1 schools and they ended the year with three consecutive blowouts, albeit to ranked teams. As for 2016, it all depends on the quarterback play and if Coach Jim McElwain can find a signal caller he can trust. The defense lost a number of guys to the pros, but does return All-Conference CB Jalen Tabor (who is suspended for the opener). There’s also the matter of the schedule, which has road games at Tennessee and at FSU. Still, McElwain has shown he can compete with the big boys, winning the SEC Eastern Division in his first year. And it’s not like there’s no talent on campus; three straight solid recruiting classes have shored up many needs; now it’s a questions of coaching, player development – and luck. Prediction: 9-3.

MIAMI: For UM it’s a question of what’s old is new again. New man Mark Richt, an alum from the early 80’s, brings with him enthusiasm, offensive creativity and a knowledge of high school talent to Coral Gables. More importantly, he wants a return of the ‘Cane attitude from the glory days. Problem is, you need talent to back up any boasting and Miami is not there – yet. Still, they have the best QB in the state in projected first rounder junior Brad Kaaya, as well as a variety of offensive weaponry to call upon; but the defense needs time to develop and the schedule is not the cakewalk it was in the past. Prediction: 8-4.

There you have it and good luck to your team, or your school. And remember not to take these predictions to Vegas.

Let’s kick it off!!


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