Friday, July 20, 2018
Colleges

State of the state: Matt Baker assesses Florida college football

TAMPA — A month has elapsed since USF opened the state's 2017 college season at San Jose State, and disorder has prevailed ever since.

Hurricane Irma caused scheduling upheaval. Some teams are just now re-entering their normal routines. Still, we believe the collective body of work is produced by the Big Five (Florida, Miami, FSU, USF, UCF) is sufficient to deliver a late-September assessment. Here then, is how we rank the state schools at this point:

Ranking the state

1. Miami

2. USF

3. Florida

4. UCF

5. FSU

Do I think the Seminoles are truly the worst team in the state? No. But you are what your record says you are, and FSU is the only winless team of the bunch. The 'Canes still look like ACC contenders heading into Thursday night's big game at Duke. USF doesn't look like a playoff buster, but the Bulls remain on track for a nice season, and I think the Gators' last-minute luck eventually runs out, perhaps as soon as Saturday against Vanderbilt.

Best surprise: UCF 38, Maryland 10

Maybe the Terps aren't as good as we thought when they opened the season by beating Texas, but they're still a solid Big Ten team - one the Knights beat by four touchdowns, on the road. UCF's defense kept Maryland from converting on 11 of their 13 third downs and held the Terps to 3 yards per play - almost a third of what Texas allowed. Are we sure UCF isn't the team to beat in the AAC?

Biggest disappointment: Florida State's defense

I thought FSU's defense would be good enough to keep the Seminoles in the ACC title race, even without quarterback Deondre Francois. I was wrong. When even star safety Derwin James is whiffing on tackles, you know things are going poorly. If things don't get better quickly, it's hard to see FSU hanging with Clemson - or even beating rival Miami next weekend.

State MVP (so far): RB Mark Walton, Miami

You can knock the defenses he faced, but Walton leads the country with 13 yards per rush. Miami's offense stumbled when Walton hurt his ankle last week against Toledo, but he (and the 'Canes) recovered as Walton recorded the seventh 200-yard game in school history.

Comments
Where do Mullen, Taggart rank among college football’s offensive masterminds?

Where do Mullen, Taggart rank among college football’s offensive masterminds?

With offensive-minded head coaches taking over Florida and Florida State, we wanted to know how the recent offensive successes of Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart rank among their peers.After crunching thousands of numbers, here's our answer: Not as hig...
Published: 07/20/18
ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

College football's talking season commenced this week with three Power Five conferences staging their annual media days. We were in Charlotte for the ACC gab-a-rama, where sound bites ranging from the bizarre to the brain-dead were generated.And that...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

Florida State defensive forecast not that simple

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — His debut at the ACC kickoff attracted a wholly unsurprising assortment of topics. New FSU coach Willie Taggart was asked about his culture, his quarterbacks, his catch phrases.He handled each question deftly, hardly devi...
Published: 07/19/18
Willie Taggart: Francois’ offseason problems are ‘behind us’

Willie Taggart: Francois’ offseason problems are ‘behind us’

FSU coach Willie Taggart indicated Thursday the tumultuous offseason of QB Deondre Francois won't factor in to his quest for the starting job when preseason camp commences next month."He's handled his consequences behind that, and he's moved on," Tag...
Published: 07/19/18
SEC media days: Why I’m picking Alabama and Georgia to meet again

SEC media days: Why I’m picking Alabama and Georgia to meet again

ATLANTA — Continuing my annual tradition of idiocy, here are my predicted SEC football standings for the fall. I'll revisit them after the season, so I can laugh at myself before anyone else can laugh at me.SEC West1.   ...
Published: 07/19/18
SEC media days: No answers on Alabama quarterback battle

SEC media days: No answers on Alabama quarterback battle

ATLANTA — Alabama coach Nick Saban had little to say Wednesday about the biggest topic of the offseason.Who will be the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts?"I think the number one thing that you will want to ...
Published: 07/18/18
Dan Mullen’s old team will be better than his new one. That’s a good thing

Dan Mullen’s old team will be better than his new one. That’s a good thing

ATLANTA — The difference between where the Gators are and where they could be showed up in back-to-back days behind a podium at the College Football Hall of Fame.On Tuesday, first-year Florida coach Dan Mullen said the program he inherited...
Published: 07/18/18
SEC media days: Mississippi State not looking ahead to Dan Mullen’s return

SEC media days: Mississippi State not looking ahead to Dan Mullen’s return

ATLANTA — If the Dan Mullen's return to Starkville on Sept. 29 is going to be one of the biggest games in Mississippi history, his former Mississippi State players aren't ready to talk about it."We know it's a big-time SEC game," safety Ma...
Published: 07/18/18
ACC chief doesn’t like ‘optics’ of widespread college sports gambling

ACC chief doesn’t like ‘optics’ of widespread college sports gambling

A few highlights from ACC commissioner John Swofford's nearly hour-long opening address at this morning's ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.•  Swofford noted the ACC Network — in partnership with ESPN — remains set to launch i...
Published: 07/18/18
Bill Hancock talks College Football Playoff expansion (not happening) and UCF

Bill Hancock talks College Football Playoff expansion (not happening) and UCF

ATLANTA — College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock answered the question before it could even be asked."There is no talk about expansion among the university presidents and the conference commissioners who sit on our b...
Published: 07/18/18