The Sunshine State has endured massive amounts of football headlines over, well, its existence, from the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes, Jameis Winston’s dream regime, ‘Wide Right,’ the era of Tim Tebow, and everything in between.
This fall should not be anything new considering Florida State will slightly rebuild, Florida will begin a new era under Jim McElwain, and Miami will look to regain their stardom that has fallen since the mid-2000’s.
Behold, our predictions for the Florida squads come autumn.
Brad Kaaya under center looked to be the laughing stock of the U back in September, as we once viewed a clueless, startled freshman attempt to lead a Division-I offense back in September.
I can’t sit here and preach that these kids need to mature and prosper because you’re reading notes over here from a former NAIA wide receiver who quit his sophomore year of football. We as fans have it extremely easy, so I won’t lounge like an alumni, barking at the players and critiquing their every move, but Brad Kaaya grew up and he grew up quick.
He had at least one interception in the first four games to open last season, including three to Florida A&M and Arkansas State. That may have been the wake-up call, as if head coach Al Golden pulled the ‘Canes quarterback aside and stated, “listen Brad, this is Florida A&M, you can’t be pulling this rubbish.”
The next nine games: 16 scores, five interceptions. The nations saw the quarterback prosper and mature week by week. Unfortunately, a four-game skid to culminate the season kept the Hurricanes from a potential breakout year.
So what do we have for 2015?
A brutal cast of competitors, especially through the months of November and December: at Cincinnati, at Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, at Duke, Virginia. Sheesh, relax over there ACC.
I expect Kaaya to progress even more in his sophomore season (the slump is a myth), but no Duke Johnson could unbalance the offense given I expect wide receiver Stacy Coley to emerge as more of a playmaker (something he failed to do in ’14).
I really really want to believe the dynasty has begun in Miami. However, the ACC has climbed the ranks in regards to talent and coaching. It’ll be a great year, but nowhere near playoff consideration.
Prediction: 8-4, Russell Athletic Bowl (we can dream).
Florida State Seminoles
From one quarterback to the next, Florida State parts ways with the potential first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
“Will they miss him?”
Eh, I mean, only one loss in two years as a starter. I guess the Seminoles will feel a bit out place.
Dalvin Cook enters his second year at tailback, so expect the load to gracefully drop into his lap with Sean MaGuire (most likely) taking snaps. Losing two of the top receivers in Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary won’t bode well for the passing offense, but expect Florida State to tighten up following a brutal year in the secondary.
The non-conference schedules holds minimal issues with USF and Texas State, but trips to Death Valley, Florida, and Georgia Tech could make for a few scratches in the “L” column.
Prediction: 8-4, Military Bowl (still dreaming over here).
I don’t feel like repeating myself for twelfth time, so here’s the summary:
McElwain, quarterbacks, molder, Treon Harris, raw talent, great fit, potential breakout in 2015.
That do it for you?
Florida’s offense resembled watching someone watch paint dry. Not even paint drying itself. That’s how disheartening the Gators looked last season. Fortunately, Matt Jones returns to lead the running backs, while Demarcus Robinson leads the receiving corp. All-American Vernon Hargreaves and leading-intercepter Brian Poole will front the secondary in a conference that has transitioned to more of the spread look.
I love how Florida turned up the heat as their season dwindled. McElwain’s is a great fit, and they have the potential. It’ll all be about execution.
Prediction: 8-4, Belk Bowl (I think this one is a lock).
As for the mid-majors, I won’t get too much into the Atlantics and Internationals, but check back throughout the offseason for when I pick apart the Golden Knights and Bulls.
I promise they won’t both go 8-4.