Florida State Gets By With Another Fourth Quarter Comeback
Being down at half 21-0 didn't faze the Seminoles. They came out in the second half and doubled up Louisville's first half output as they came home with the victory 42-31. What is becoming clear is that FSU simply doesn't have the same defensive talent they had last season. Post losing players over the last few seasons to the NFL like Bjoern Werner, Lamarcus Joyner and a host of other high round draft picks the Noles are asking their backfills to play earlier. Some of the players are prepared to compete and "step up" but many of the true freshman and sophomores are getting exposed in coverage due to extended playing time.
Their next two opponents are the slumping Virginia Cavaliers and then the Hurricanes. Even if the UVA game is a trap game, which it very well could be, FSU should romp the Wahoo's in anticipation for the trip to Miami. Stranger things have happened though so we'll have to see what happens come Saturday night in Tallahassee.
Miami is Playing Their Best Football in over 5 Years
Over the last two weeks the Miami Hurricanes program has seemed to grow up and find an identity. During the season, specifically on offense, it looks like they've gone through three makeovers.
The first iteration was when Kaaya was pressed into the starting quarterback role and the game plan was to be conservative in calling short passes. Louisville's defense then keyed on stopping Duke Johnson and so this plan was quickly thrown out after only one week.
As Kaaya grew more comfortable in the system over the first two to five games the game plan changed to a much more attacking and aggressive aerial bombardment. The player that benefitted from the newest change was wide receiver Phillip Dorset who saw his stats mushroom to having an astounding yard per catch average of over 30 + yards (currently at 19 catches for 572 yards).
What we've seen the last two weeks though is actually a mixture of the two previous game plans. Offensive Coordinator James Coley has really found his footing when it has come to calling well balanced running plays (not the same one over and over again) as well as timely short to middle distance passes. Kaaya has excelled as the onus hasn't been on his arm strength but rather his "game manage" ability. If needed, he could go out on the field and throw 25 to 35 times per game but with Duke Johnson running the way he is and the unheralded offensive line bulldozing defenders it's simply not needed at this point in time.
Due to the slowdown in the offense and not going for the deep ball as frequently, the defense has been much more productive because they simply haven't been on the field as much (article on this later!!). Coupled with the fact that Defensive Coordinator Mark D'Onofrio is running a more aggressive style of defense his group is now amongst the top 15 in yards per game given up in the country.
Muschamp Gets a Timely Win Against Bitter Rival Georgia
This may be one of the most bizarre post seasons in college football history for the University of Florida. With the win over the Georgia Bulldogs last week the Gators now put themselves in contention for the very, very weak SEC East Division. With their next three games being very winnable against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and East Kentucky (really....) before playing at Tallahassee the Gators could be looking at a 7-3 record going into their last game. Assuming they do get to 7-3 they'll probably make a decent bowl game due to the slotting of the SEC bowl placements. We'll have to see the "post season review" Coach Muschamp gets from current Athletic Director Jeremy Foley.
UCF Knights Swimming with the Sharks Due to Upset Loss at UCONN
Simply put, UCF could not afford to lose a conference game and expect to win the AAC. Last Saturday they did just that and now they're in a five way (5 WAY!!) tie for first with a record of 3-1. The Huskies didn't really do anything to win this game, the Knights on the other hand lost it. Turnovers did UCF in. They had four interceptions to UCONN's zero (UCONN did have a fumble) and that was the difference in this contest.
The last game of the season could decide the Conference Champion as UCF takes on ECU in Orlando. Keep that game circled on your calendar, folks.
The Bottom Three Teams of the Rankings Are Cratering
FAU, FIU and USF are all 3-6 and have all lost two games in a row. Each team should have a different outlook on their record, however.
USF should be disappointed in their performance on the field. Especially as they're in year two of the Taggert era. Being in the lowly AAC should have afforded them some easy wins inside their conference but it has just not come to fruition so far this season for the Bulls.
FAU should be equally discouraged in their results so far inside their conference. With the way they finished last season winning almost every game the second half of the season they had momentum heading into 2014. You have to believe though that their early shallackings from Alabama and Nebraska had to damper their spirits even though the defeats should have been expected.
FIU on the other hand has to actually be kind of happy with themselves three fourths of the way through the season. This Golden Panthers program is really down trodden right now. Like.. "one of the worst football teams of the last decade" bad. Being 3-6 and actually competing with power 5 conference opponents (staying within 10 points of Pitt until the fourth quarter a few weeks ago) is seen by many within the program as a mental victory. If they can build on the success the pieces are in place to grow. They have the never-barren recruiting basin of South Florida and a brand new stadium to call their own. Consistently finishing seasons above 500 is possible if the Athletic Department gets its act together and decides to have a desire for a winning mentality.
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