Florida Power Rankings: Preseason

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the Division 1A teams in the State of Florida who is "King of the Mountain"? Each week SOTU will bring you a comprehensive list of each team, who they played, details from the game/bye week and the reason(s) for why they moved up/down on the rankings.

How the Teams were Rated

Each team was evaluated based on how they finished last year, how many returners were coming back, if there was a coaching change and lastly, the overall talent on the team.

This Report will be published every Tuesday and will take stock in who's moving up and down based upon on field performance and how their previous game went or if they had a bye, some news associated with the goings on during that week.

1 - FSU

Conference: ACC

Previous Season Record: 12-2 (7-1)

Coach and Record: Jimbo Fisher, 31-10

Returning Starters: 10 (6 on offense and 4 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: At this point Florida State is trying to maintain its stellar competitive level among the elite teams of college football. Last year they finished off a successful campaign with a BCS Bowl win against Northern Illinois and had another year where they saw their top talent drafted into the NFL.

Coach Fisher will really have to show his mettle this year as a true coaching evaluator. He essentially lost over half of his staff to Head Coaching vacancies (Mark Stoops to Kentucky) or other position coach/coordinator promotions (James Coley to UM where he can call plays). The outlook isn't bleak however due to the fact that FSU returns great talent from their constant high level of snagging impact recruits. We'll just have to see if the coaching overhaul and skills of the players mesh in time for their big time matchups this year with Clemson, Miami, Florida and the other opponents on their schedule.

Next opponent: Pitt

2 - UF

Conference: SEC

Previous Season Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Coach and Record: Will Muschamp, 18-8

Returning Starters: 9 (6 on offense and 3 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: Just like FSU, Florida had a tremendous season in 2012-2013 and looks to keep the good times rolling in 2013-2014. Last season they played in a BCS Bowl game but lost unexpectedly to Louisville in a not-as-close-as-it-looked type game, 33-23.

Florida emphasizes a power rushing attack and a smothering/speedy defense so it'll be interesting to see how they grow this season because their leading rusher Mike Gillislee has moved on to the pro ranks and they only return 3 starters along the defense. However, similar to FSU, Florida has recruited tremendous talent for the past decade (and beyond) so filling the vacancies that have been made by those before them shouldn't be a question; it's just a matter of how long it takes the new players to feel comfortable.

Next opponent: Toledo

3 - UM

Conference: ACC

Previous Season Record: 7-5 (5-3)

Coach and Record: Al Golden, 13-11 (40-45)

Returning Starters: 20 (10 on offense, 10 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: Last season for the Canes can best be seen as a learning year on the defensive side of the ball and a tremendous year of execution on the offensive side. Led by breakout seasons from Junior Stephen Morris and freshman Duke Johnson the Canes offense saw a resurgence to past seasons prominence. However, the defense was woefully undermanned with young players who many could argue weren't ready mentally to play college football yet due to the speed of the game as well as physically due to being undersized.

As we move into year three under Coach Golden, expectations are high. The defense is making the full transition to Golden's philosophy and under new Offensive Coordinator James Coley Miami looks to keep up their fast paced offense and build on what was seen last year.

Next Opponent: FAU

4 - UCF

Conference: American Athletic Conference (Formerly the Big East)

Previous Season Record: 10-4 (7-1)

Coach and Record: George O'Leary, 60-55 (112-88)

Returning Starters: 11 (6 on offense and 5 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: The Knights had a great season last year in Conference USA and won their Bowl game. Due to conference realignment they're now in the more competitive AAC. The usual formula for a George O'Leary led team is to have a stout defense that limits big plays and to have an efficient and hopefully effective offense. Heading into this season though, the Knights may actually have a potent passing attack with a very young and unknown defense. A few prognosticators have UCF finishing in the top three in the Conference.

Next Opponent: Akron

5 - USF

Conference: American Athletic Conference (Formerly the Big East)

Previous Season Record: 3-9 (1-6)

Coach and Record: Willie Taggart, 0-0 (16-20)

Returning Starters: 10 (3 on offense and 7 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: Sometimes when making a coaching change Universities catch lightning in a bottle and find a program builder as a Head Coach. Jim Leavitt was exactly that. He took over the program in '97 when they were an independent and from there guided them to an Automatically Qualifying Conference (Big East) and even a perennial bowl team. However, due to a physical confrontation with a player he was fired. USF thought it could possibly "catch lightning twice" with Skip Holtz at the helm but the situation quickly deteriorated over the last two seasons under his watch and now the Bulls have a new Coach in Willie Taggart.

Coach Taggart has decent talent in 7 returning defensive starters but the best term for the offensive talent is probably "disaster." Taggart wants to run a spread option style offense with a mobile Quarterback but unfortunately neither option on the roster with a shot at starting provides what he's looking for.  Senior Bobby Eveld is a pro style quarterback who has the most experience at the position and his backup is sophomore Matt Floyd who many believe does have the ability to be used in an option read scheme but has very rudimentary throwing skills at this point in his college career.

This may very well be a building year for Coach Taggart and the Bulls but many inside the program are excited in the direction he's leading them in.

Next opponent: McNeese St

7 - FAU

Conference: Conference USA

Previous Season Record: 3-9 (2-6)

Coach and Record: Carl Pelini, 3-9

Returning Starters: 15 (7 on offense 8 and on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: Carl Pelini's first season at FAU can best be described as a work in process. He came on board after being the Defensive Coordinator at Nebraska under his brother Bo Pelini and the team has had growing pains ever since.  The lack of personnel that fit his attacking defense (one of the starting defensive tackles is listed at 225 pounds..!!!!!) as well as the shortage of viable college level talent is really putting a crimp into the programs progression as a new competitive member in Conference USA (they just moved up from the Sun Belt).

With all that said, a new year is upon us and FAU is out to gain traction as a program. They have a new stadium opening up and they return a good number of starters. How many of them are viable division one athlete's is up for you to decide but they do have a lot of players coming back. Look for their Tight End Nexon Dorvilus and Wide Receiver William Dukes to provide most of the statistics in the passing games from a week to week basis. Both had good years last season and look to continue to contribute this season.

Next opponent: Miami (FLA)

8 - FIU

Conference: Conference USA

Previous Season Record: 3-9 (2-6)

Coach and Record: Ron Turner, 0-0 (35-57)

Returning Starters: 6 (3 on offense and 3 on defense)

Synopsis of Previous Season and Moving Forward: FIU had been building a competitive team the past few years under Head Coach Mario Cristobal. Going into last season USA Today was quoted as writing the following:

"the only thing that can stop Florida International is Florida International. This is what happens when you combine the league's best offensive line, best defensive line, best overall defense and best running game: you get the best team in the Sun Belt."

However, the best term to use for their 2012 season would probably be "implosion." FIU finished 3-9 and Cristobal was relieved of his duties.

Going into this season Ron Turner was brought in to hopefully stabilize the program and get it back on track. He prefers a pro style system and has a Junior Quarterback who had an average year last season throwing for 13 TDs and 2,127 yards. However, as noted above, they return very few starters on both sides of the ball and they've been realigned into Conference USA which is a step up in competition from the Sun Belt so the next few years for this program could be very lean when it comes to wins on the field.

Next opponent: Maryland

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