We're back guys! The Sunshine Seven Power Rankings are here again and it's time to roll out the Preseason Positioning. Really what I looked for was who is bringing back viable, known talent and is ready to make a run in their Conference or even the National Playoff that is debuting this season.
The top four Programs in the state are, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the bottom three in terms of talent but stranger things have happened. Florida lost to Georgia Southern and FAU rattled off a four game winning streak to end the season last year so crazier things have happened. We'll just have to sit back and relax to see how this season plays out in the Sunshine State.
Where FSU Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 1
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 1
As the old saying goes: "To be the man, you have to beat the man." Until that moment happens, FSU will stay atop the Sunshine Seven standings. There are a few teams in the country that simply don't accept (nor do they have to for that matter) the ideology of "rebuilding" their roster. They simply reload. Right now FSU is at that type of upper echelon level. Lose a running back to the NFL draft? Sign a four or five star to replace him. Quarterbacks decide to transfer for more playing time? Sign a few more four or five star kids. That's the way it's working in Tallahassee right now. We'll have to see if the well-oiled machine stays focus and properly calibrated this season.
Where UM Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 3
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 2
I cringe at putting Miami second but the fact of the matter is UF finished a disastrous 4-8 last season and UCF lost many really, REALLY important parts this offseason. Many of those players will be suiting up on Sunday's (Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson in particular).
With UM's defense a year older and the offense bringing back all the key parts besides quarterback, let's see how UM navigates what looks to be a very tough and tricky schedule.
Where UF Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 5
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 3
Nothing much went right for UF last season. Players got hurt in practice, players got hurt outside the football facility and of course players were injured during the games too. What is definitive though is that this is a make or break season for Coach Muschamp and his staff. During the offseason Muschamp fired his pro-style Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease and brought in Kurt Roper off of the staff from Duke who runs a spread attack which is what Gator fans will be familiar with due to the fact former Coach Urban Meyer ran a similar attacking style. In the end though.. This is it.. Recruiting is starting to erode for Muschamp as prospects are shying away (even decommitting) and waiting to see how the season plays out. I think in the end if I had to go with a number of wins I'd have to say 8 or 9 because there is talent at UF and they made it through preseason work relatively healthy (unless you count the fights they're getting into with each other) but again, we'll have to wait and see how the Gators traverse their SEC schedule.
Where UCF Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 2
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 4
Yet again, I rank them under "The Big Three" for a second season in a row. To be honest, as I've mentioned previously, I'm really hung up on their personnel losses this offseason. You don't simply plug in and play a new starting first round pick at the most important position on the field when you're a team at UCF's level. Yes, they are making strides with their football program but I'm very much in a wait and see approach with them this season.
Look for them to keep their formula consistent from last season's success. Smash mouth running on offense and a rough and grizzled group on defense. The games may not be pretty this season as they'll be breaking in new skill position players so anticipate low scoring affairs.
Where USF Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 6
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 5
This is the last Power Conference school in our listing and they have lots of work to do to catch up to the top 4. Last season was very much a rebuilding one for the Bulls. They ended up burning their redshirt on their quarterback halfway through the season and he was... very green (from the box score look at the penalty number.. most of those were illegal formations and false starts due to cadence issues) to say the least when it came to managing an offense. The defense wasn't much better and will be a question mark going into the season as a whole unit. The Bulls are in rebuilding mode but their Coach Willie Taggart already rebuilt WKU from a 2-10 bunch to a competitive 7-5 the following year so this will be another program to monitor as the season plays out.
Where FAU Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 4
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 6
I really enjoyed watching FAU last season because their games were ridiculous with how they played out. Multiple turnovers in the fourth quarter to cough up the lead and then lose the game? That happened. Last second field goal? Oh yea, that too.
What is worse is that game days weren't even the most entertaining part of the season for the Owls. They forced out their Head Coach Carl Pelini for allegedly using narcotics at a house party. He then decided to fight for his job after he quit. Post his resignation/firing fiasco the Administration promoted Offensive Coordinator Brian Wright to the Interim Head Coaching position and the Owls finished the season on a four game winning streak.
In the offseason they hired a new Head Coach in Charlie Partridge who coached defensive line for Bret Bielema at Arkansas and previously at Wisconsin. The reason he was brought in however was his ties to the local recruiting base in and around South Florida. He is originally from the Plantation area and was even the "Florida Recruiter" during his stints as Wisconsin and then later Arkansas.
Where FIU Finished Last Seasons Rankings: 7
Where they Start This Seasons Rankings: 7
The team you've all been waiting for.. THE GOLDEN PANTHERS!!! WHHHEEEWWW!.. No? Are you sure? Not much to say here but I wish Coach Ron Turner the best of luck this season. I hope the administration sticks with him through a solid five seasons because I'd like to see the talent he can bring in. It's not fair, at least in my opinion, for coaches to get fired before an entire recruiting cycle has gone through the program but this team... They're a rolling disaster and I don't know if it will ever get fixed.