By: Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles will be without Jameis Winston for the first half of Saturday’s game against Clemson. This suspension follows an incident where he yelled “offensive and vulgar” comments over a microphone in the student union. The Noles will now be forced to start a redshirt sophomore with zero starting experience. In fact, Sean Maguire has only thrown the ball 26 times in his career!
Before Jameis’ 1st half suspension, I was feeling confident that the Noles, coming off of a bye week, would beat the revenge-seeking Tigers. After Florida State’s dismantling win in Death Valley last season, you’d be naïve to expect the Tigers to come to Doak without their blood boiling. This suspension changes the whole dynamic of the game because you would have to imagine that Clemson’s defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, will be licking his chops at a chance to rattle FSU’s young quarterback early and often.
Jimbo Fisher must be livid with the immaturity of his star player. Fisher now must adjust his game plan in order to hang with Clemson until Winston returns after halftime. The running game will be counted on immensely, and with the uncertainty surrounding Maguire and the passing game. The problem that Jimbo Fisher faces is that the Tigers defense will be expecting a heavy dose from the running game, forcing Maguire to put the ball in the air against a very talented secondary.
Clemson was going to come into this game giving the Seminoles their best shot, and with two entire quarters to build a lead, you have to wonder if the Noles will be in a hole when their star returns? You can only hope that the Seminoles defense will show something that they haven’t shown yet this season: dominance. If the Noles can dominate the Clemson offense led by the average play of quarterback Cole Stoudt, then you have to expect the game to be within reach when Winston returns.
Clemson’s entire season rides on the outcome of this game and the last thing that Jimbo Fisher wanted to do, was to give them any leverage at all. After a season opening loss to Georgia, the Tigers now can put their season back on the tracks by beating the No.1 team in the country in their own house. The Tigers will be pulling out all of the stops; trick plays included (as they like to do). Hopefully the Noles can play a turnover free first half to hold the game at bay while Winston serves his half of suspension. This could the perfect storm for the No.1 team to go down.
By: Carl J Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
The Florida Gators escaped embarrassment and beat the Kentucky Wildcats for the 28th straight time on Saturday.
Kentucky came into this game fired up. Head coach Mark Stoops had his team prepared for battle and they were not afraid. The Gators on the other hand looked like they were the ones taking a cat nap.
Let’s start with what went wrong on defense. For most of the first half they were playing lights out, barely allowing Kentucky to do anything with the ball. The problem though, once Kentucky figured out the Gators weakness, they exposed them. Kentucky’s quarterback Patrick Towles, was completing the back shoulder pass numerous times. Will Muschamp, who is supposed to be the guru of defense had no consistent answer for it. Sure the defense had 3 interceptions, but they gave up a touchdown on a blown coverage and allowed the same play to work too often. Gator fans have to be sick of the defense not playing a complete game. The defense shows up for the first half, and then disappears in the second. Dropped interceptions, broken tackles and bad secondary coverage nearly cost them the game. If the quarterback throws a back shoulder pass every time then switch the defense to a zone or keep it in man and blitz him so he doesn’t have all day to throw it. I am afraid Muschamp will live and die with his beliefs of man coverage and pressure on the quarterback with only four linemen. If he wants to keep his job he must learn to change his ways and create more in-game adjustments.
Where to begin with the offense? I wrote an article two weeks ago praising Kurt Roper. I am not ready to declare him a failure, but someone needs to tell him that Jeff Driskel is not Eli Manning. He is not a pocket passer and he needs to use his feet to gain confidence. Driskel and Muschamp can say all they want about taking what the defense gave them; however there were numerous times Driskel should have kept the ball when he had the option. Not to mention he would throw the ball late, miss wide open receivers and look very timid at times. If you listen to his responses when he spoke to the media he was very defensive when answering why he didn’t run the ball more. You have to wonder if he is worried about getting hurt again. If defenses know Driskel will just stand in the pocket they will continue to pack eight in the box and make him beat them with his arm. If college football has taught us anything, having a quarterback with the type of speed Driskel has is a dangerous skillset. Roper must get him into open space, and keep the defense honest with the option of a quarterback scramble.
As for the rest of the offense, welcome to the Swamp, Demarcus Robinson. Gator fans have waited a long time and it was great to see him dominate in a game. The running backs played well, and the combination of Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones looks impressive so far. The offensive line did a good job blocking, but other times reverted back to the same problems that plagued them in 2013. The nightmare of two players blocking the same guy returned. Muschamp has gone on record saying that this team is his most complete and the offensive line will get another test this weekend when they face Alabama without DJ Humphries. Too many times a Kentucky player would be left free on a blitz and hit Driskel. The Gators must fix those communication issues before something worse happens against Alabama.
It’s not time yet to jump off the wagon Gator fans. Mushcamp must preach consistency and playing an entire game. It was great to see the Gators pull out a win after being challenged. Last year, the Gators might have folded and allowed defeat. They took Kentucky’s best punch and came out victorious. The Gators will need that same perseverance to win this weekend. Florida will travel to Alabama, and play a very talented team with aspirations of a National Championship. If fans wanted a game to measure this team’s future success, they will get it this weekend. Muschamp will also find out the type of team he has and more importantly Roper will face the toughest matchup he has seen since playing FSU last year in the ACC Championship.
CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
For those of you who read my weekly picks last week hopefully it made you a little bit money. I finished last week 3-2 with the Gators and Titans dominating. Arkansas State was a nail biter and too close to watch for taking. I lost with Colorado State and the Cowboys as both teams were blown out, but still a winning week. As always my picks are below with my updated record and best of luck to all this week.
My updated record: 5-2
Arkansas Razorbacks +1.5 @Texas Tech: If you have watched Texas Tech play this year you will know that they have underachieved and not impressed with close games against Central Arkansas and UTEP. UTEP had a chance to beat them last week, but couldn’t pull it out. Arkansas is in need of a defining win. New coach Bret Bielema did not have a major victory last year and needs this one bad to give fans a little hope. Arkansas will slow the game down with their powerful rushing attack. Get this pick in now because the line is moving fast. Take Arkansas and the points.
Central Florida Knights +10 @ Missouri Tigers: The Knights got a much needed rest after their long trip to Ireland. Even though they lost against Penn State, the Knights figured out who their quarterback is. Sure the Tigers blew out Toledo on the road last week after being everyone’s trendy upset pick, but they have not been impressive. George O Leary is not going to take his team on the road and get blown out. The Knights will be ready and are still out to prove the Knights are for real. Take the 10 points and roll with the Knights.
Mississippi State Bulldogs @South Alabama Jaguars +14: I know I know I am doing this again. Going with a small conference team against a SEC school just like last week. Hear me out though. This is South Alabama’s national championship. They want to upset the giant. The line opened as high as 15.5 in some places and has already been bet down to 14 or 13.5 even though money is on Mississippi State. Grab it while you still can. Mississippi State has not been impressive and will win this game, but it will be much closer.
Tennessee Volunteers @ Oklahoma Sooners -20.5: The Vols are playing very well after an abysmal year last year, but are still very young and inexperienced. Those 21 true freshmen that played against Utah State will be playing their first road game in a very tough environment. Bob Stoops is one coach that is sick of hearing about the SEC dominance and he will not shy away from putting up points. Oklahoma is legit and will smash the Volunteers. Grab the Sooners before it gets to high.
Louisville Cardinals @ Virginia Cavaliers +6.5: Virginia is playing very good football and stood up against UCLA at home and also defeated a pesky Richmond squad that always gives teams trouble. I also don’t like Bobby Petrino and I am sick of all the credit he is getting for rebuilding the Louisville program like it was in such terrible shape. This is an early kickoff I like Virginia here to cover and possibly even upset the Cardinals.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Diego Chargers +6: Yes, I know it’s the Seahawks, yes I know they just blew out the Packers and yes I know this is the same Chargers team that can't even beat the Arizona Cardinals. Now they are going to beat the Seahawks? Don't know the answer to that, but I do think they keep it close. The public is pounding the Seahawks and I say go opposite and take the Chargers and the 6 points
Atlanta Falcons @ Cincinnati Bengals -5: This game is very interesting. The line has opened at 4 some places and is now at 5 while others opened at 5 and haven’t moved too much. This line is interesting because you have both teams coming off huge wins, but you can argue the Falcons had the bigger one. I don’t see the Falcons coming in and keeping focus against an AFC team. They opened up with a big division win, but will not beat the Bengals. The Bengals D is much better than the Saints and I think the Bengals will win this easily. Take the Bengals before it gets too high
CJ Rooks (@CJRooks0415)
The Florida Gators will look to continue their win streak against the Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday. The Gators have been victorious in this matchup 27 straight times which is the longest active streak in Football Bowl Subdivision.
This isn’t the same Kentucky team that your father is use to seeing. Second year coach Mark Stoops, has his team playing with something they haven’t had much before, confidence. I can’t recall the last time a Kentucky football player was talking trash, but it happened this week. Running back Joko Kemp, had some choice words about coming out of Gainesville with a win this weekend and rubbing it in the Gators faces. Stoops has recruited much better players at Kentucky than in years past, but I am not sure I would want to poke the bear like Mr. Joko has done. Or should I say poke the Gator. This is also a night game for the Wildcats, and a night in the swamp is a recipe for a loud and raucous crowd.
Florida opened its season last weekend in a dominating fashion smashing Eastern Michigan 65-0. Yes I know it was Eastern Michigan, but wow it felt good to see Kurt Roper and that offense. I still don’t believe he was opening his full bag of tricks. You can see from time to time the same plays were being run, probably because they were working, but I think as the Gators get deeper into their SEC schedule he will have to open the playbook much more. Kelvin Taylor is the best back on the team hands down and Demarcus Robinson is a big play waiting to happen. More importantly Jeff Driskel looked much improved and finished the game with zero turnovers and more importantly no injuries. Other Gator players were not as lucky and it looks like the injury bug is still flying around. Starting tight end Jake McGee and reserve cornerback J.C. Jackson both suffered season ending injuries. The Gators will also be with out the services of starting left tackle DJ Humphries for 2-3 weeks because of a bone chip in his left ankle. Gator fans should feel fortunate that his injury was not worse. The offensive line must protect Driskel and play well to get the running game going. It will get a test against a very talented Kentucky defensive line that consist of two All SEC Honors players, in Za’Darius Smith and Alvin Dupree. If the line can win the battle in the trenches, the offense will light up the scoreboard.
The Gator defense will get their first test Saturday after giving up zero points and a meager 125 yards last weekend. Kentucky brings a very balanced offense and much more talented athletes than Eastern Michigan. Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles is a big kid at 6-5 and over 230 pounds. Towles loves the contact and will look to take on this strong Gator defense. Last week the Gators looked vicious flying all over the field and dominated as soon as the ball was snapped. Neiron Ball was a name I said to watch out for last week and he didn’t fail to impress. He finished the game with 2 sacks, a forced fumble and team high six total tackles. The corners were suffocating every wide receiver and will be a dangerous group if they can stay healthy. The defense also did the simple things by tackling well and not allowing very many big plays. They will need to be ready for every trick in the book with this Wildcat team.
It will be important to see how this Gator team improves week after week. I think with each game you are going to see these players gain more and more confidence. The offense still has work to do and Roper will get them there. The defense will be stout and won’t shut out this Kentucky team, but will give them enough headaches and force a few turnovers.
Look for the Gators to take their win streak to 28 and handle Kentucky 28-10.
By: Carl Rooks (@CJRooks0415)
For those of you who read my weekly picks last week hopefully it made you some money. I finished last week 2-0 after taking Penn State and Oklahoma State. It would have been 3-0 of the Gators would of played. This week will include a few more games with NFL kicking off. Best of luck to all this week.
My updated record: 2-0
Eastern Michigan Eagles @ Florida Gators -37.5: I know the Gators didn’t play last Saturday, but why are they favored even more this week. Like I said in my last article, Florida only put up 30 points themselves twice last year and now has to win by more than 37. Vegas knows that Kurt Ropers offense is going to be a handful to deal with. On top of that Eastern Michigan is dealing with a few problems off the field as some players were arrested last week. I don’t think there head is fully in the game. Take the Gators to lay the points before it gets any higher.
Arkansas State Red Wolves +17 @Tennessee Volunteers: I have gone back and forth on this game wondering which Vols team shows up. They played great last week, but Utah St. looked scared. Arkansas State will not be scared and thrives on the underdog role. Tennessee also has a big prime time matchup next week with a visit to Oklahoma. I am not calling for an upset here, but I like Arkansas State to cover the 17 points.
Colorado State Rams +10 @ Boise State Broncos: This is not the same Boise State that we are accustomed to seeing. The defense is decent, but the quarterback is a huge liability and lacks great arm talent. They are now a 10 point favorite only because they are playing on their home turf. Boise State has beaten the Rams every year since joining the Mountain West conference, however I don’t think that happens this year. The Rams have a former Alabama offense coordinator as their head coach in Jim McEwlain and he has a strong running game lead by former Alabama product Dee Hart. Take the Rams plus 10 and maybe sprinkle a little bit on the money line.
Tennessee Titans +3 @ Kansas City Chiefs: This line has dropped fast since opening at 5.5 and I think in the right direction. As great of a story the chiefs were last year I think they take a step back this year. The offensive line is rebuilt and Alex Smith was finally just handed the big contract he wanted. I am not sure how he will perform after that. As far as the Titans, new coach Ken Whisenhunt has had Jake Locker and the offense playing well all preseason. The Titans were victorious last year in week 1 on the road and I think the same happens this year. Take the Titans to cover the 3.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys +4: This line opened at 3.5 and climbed all the way to 5.5 before being bet back down to 4. I know Dallas can’t stop anyone, but I don’t think the 49ers will be able to keep up with Dallas’s offense. The 49ers have looked abysmal on offense all preseason and the team is dealing with injuries and suspensions to key players on the once stout defense. I look for high scoring affair and a close cover by the Cowboys. Take the Cowboys plus 4 before it gets any lower.