It’s remarkable how Florida, Florida State and Miami all have subpar offensive lines.
And subpar might be overly polite. The Gators are openly courting grad transfers at the position, if you know of any 300 pounders with good feet and immediate eligibility. Miami and FSU have already added one apiece – Tommy Kennedy went from Butler to the Hurricanes, and Ryan Roberts is going from Northern Illinois to Tallahassee. After watching all three spring games in person, offensive line was my biggest concern for each team. So if you like sacks, that Aug. 24 matchup in Orlando is the game for you.
The transfer quarterbacks might be all right after all.
The early returns on FSU’s Jordan Travis (Louisville) and Miami’s Tate Martell (Ohio State) weren’t exactly glowing. But both looked pretty good to me in the spring game, with all the necessary caveats that entails. Travis began to catch on around the second week of spring and completed 22 of his 28 passes in the exhibition. Martell had the best play (an 80-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn) in the Hurricanes’ spring game and showed nice mobility, too. I don’t know if Martell will be the starter, and it’s still unclear whether Travis will even be eligible this season for the Seminoles. But both ended spring practice better than they began it.
Feleipe Franks looks different.
He ended last season well and made one of the biggest year-over-year jumps in the country under Dan Mullen. Franks built on that this spring. He looked confident, threw well and chirped during practice. I’m not saying he’s going to win the Heisman or be a top-10 pick, but I do think he has done well enough to make the quarterback “competition” in Gainesville look over.
I’m optimistic about an emergence from FSU defensive lineman Josh Kaindoh.
The IMG Academy product had a sack and forced a fumble in the spring game, which is a nice sign of his potential. With Brian Burns off to the NFL, FSU needs a new standout pass rusher. Maybe it’s Kaindoh.
Miami’s defensive front seven will be fine.
My lasting memory of end Jonathan Garvin was watching him the standout left side of Notre Dame’s offensive line as a true freshman. Garvin is a junior now, coming off a 17-tackle-for-a-loss season and a strong showing in the spring game. Miami’s linebacker corps is still very talented, and keep an eye on end Scott Patchan (Freedom High), whom coaches say had a good spring. Bottom line: the turnover chain should be on display a lot this year.
Give me the Gators over the ’Canes by 10.
It’s silly to make a prediction in April about a game in August, because there will be transfers in/out, and injuries, and arrests, and whatever else. But right now, I think Florida beats Miami in Orlando by two scores. The rough offensive lines cancel each other out, and UF has an experienced quarterback, an experienced coach and more talent and depth at the skill positions. In the state’s other marquee neutral-site opener, I already went on a limb and picked Boise State to upset FSU in Jacksonville in our ridiculously, ridiculously early 2019 predictions. I didn’t feel overly confident about the call in January, and I feel even less secure about it now…but I’m not ready to change it yet. Ask me again once we get closer to the season. It’ll give us something to talk about over the next four months.