Welcome to my weekly observations column on local college football! Each week, I’ll post a blurb about the local teams that tend to make the news cycle on the First Coast. Let’s get started.
- Everyone has seen it by now. As dramatic an ending to a college football game as you will ever see. Moments before, grumbling, second-guessing and an apparent collision course for overtime in a game no one seemed to want to win. Moments later, one flick of Felipe Franks right arm and Tyrie Cleveland was laying in the endzone as pandemonium enveloped The Swamp. So far, the play of the young 2017 season. Our friend Stuart Webber of Action News had a great view.
- Let us not forget how we got to that moment. A game that was defined by futility on the offensive side of the ball for three quarters and featured Florida head coach Jim McElwain electing to not use his timeouts before the Franks Hail Mary cannot simply be erased by one play. More questions than answers continue to hover over Gainesville.
- Game one of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier moving up to the booth seemed very similar to games with him on the sidelines. It appears this team at least belongs to Franks on the field, but is still itching to find playmakers around the youngster.
- I wondered before the season if the defense could continue to lose players to the NFL and reload. I think the answer to that question is ‘yes, it can.’ If they continue to stay healthy, this will continue to be a dominant group, one good enough to keep them in games, and perhaps the offense one play away from winning.
- I don’t currently have a television, so after getting home from work Saturday, I elected to listen to the radio call of the game while streaming ESPN Goal Line to keep an eye on the other contests in the afternoon slot. I’m glad I did, because I got to hear Mick Hubert live. He’s never been my favorite broadcaster, but he can do a call like this justice for Gators unlike anyone else.
- Another week, another cancellation/delay for the Noles. That Alabama game already feels like it was last season.
- True freshman quarterback James Blackman is getting to go through almost another fall camp, this time as the starter, so you have to figure the extra time should prove beneficial to him.
- The team’s home opener will finally take place this Saturday at noon vs. NC State, two weeks later than planned. We know the team will be itching to play a game again, still looking for win number one this season. Will the extended time off help or hurt, as the Noles kick in a time slot that has traditionally lead to slow starts under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
- The Wolfpack lost its opener to South Carolina in Charlotte and has won two straight at home since then, over Marshall and Furman, respectively. First true test for Dave Doeren’s team, who were a trendy preseason pick to make some noise in the ACC Atlantic.
- NC State tends to give FSU fits in Carter-Finley Stadium, but the Noles have had little to no trouble with the Pack at home. The last three matchups in Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State has outscored NC State a combined 117-34.
- Miami is in a similar boat to Florida State, having also missed the opportunity to play games the last two weeks.
- After putting a sluggish first half in the home opener against Bethune-Cookman behind them, Miami exploded to 41 points in its opener.
- Expectations were high entering Mark Richt’s second season, and now will get a tuneup game at home vs. Toledo before starting its ACC slate at Duke and then the rescheduled grudge match vs. rival Florida State.
- Not to look too far ahead, but a constant reminder (because you know Canes fans haven’t forgotten) that Miami has not beat Florida State since 2009.
- The Dolphins practiced just one day due to Hurricane Irma, and then promptly dismantled Division II Walsh in its home opener Saturday, 56-31.
- The offense scored on all but two possessions Saturday, one, a turnover on downs in the first half, the second hardly counts, as JU simply kneeled it out to win the game.
- Quarterback Rylan Wells threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns, earning Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
- JU, now 1-1, open up league play on the road vs. Marist this weekend. Marist, coming off of an upset of Georgetown, should be a great test for a dynamic Dolphin offense and a resurgent defense, which lost some focus in the second half Saturday after holding Walsh to just a field goal in the first half.
Bets of the Rest
- Florida Atlantic got its first win of the Lane Kiffin era, spanking Bethune-Cookman at home 45-0.
- Local QB product De’Andre Johnson has not had a chance to make his mark for the Owls yet, and was reportedly hospitalized last week after two blood clots were found in his arm.
- USF finally put together a complete performance, in crushing former Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith’s hapless Illinois squad, 47-23 Friday night. Two notes: perhaps playing on a odd night had the Bulls feeling at home again (doesn’t AAC football on Friday nights just feel right?) and it was a bad week for former Bucs in Tampa.
- After having games cancelled this week due to Hurricane Irma, UCF (at Maryland) and FIU (at Rice) return to the field this week.