ACC: Brandon Powell

On Sunday, esteemed ACC writer Andrea Adelson wrote a piece talking about how Florida isbehind instate rivals Florida State and Miami -- two teams the Gators lost to in 2013.

While I agree that Florida is behind these two at the moment, Andrea and I had a bit of an argument when it comes to the 2014 season. Even though Florida went an embarrassing 4-8 last year, I think that with an improved offense under new coordinator Kurt Roper and what yet again should be a fierce defense, the Gators will have a better record than Miami, which went 9-4 last fall.

Andrea disagrees, saying Florida's offensive questions and schedule will be too much, while the Canes have a more manageable schedule and a more proven offense.

We decided to take our argument to the public and debate both sides for you all to see:

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Getty ImagesJeff Driskel is back from his 2013 season-ending injury, and he's looking more comfortable in the new Florida offense.
Edward Aschoff: I have to admit, Andrea, your piece on Sunday about the three power schools in the state of Florida was spot on. I agree with everything you wrote, but then came Monday, when our conversation left us in disagreement. You think Miami, which went 9-4 and beat Florida last year, will finish this season with a better record than Florida. I have to disagree. Last year was a disaster of epic proportions in Gainesville, but the Gators lost 15 players to season-ending injuries, including starters such as Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones, Dominique Easley and Chaz Green. Florida won't have the same injury problems this fall, and expect a lot more from this offense with Roper (you know him pretty well) running the spread. I talked to Driskel and his receivers about the offense and they are way more comfortable with Roper's system, and they've been gassing a pretty good defense with the uptempo. The receivers are incredibly confident in the new system, and it's clear this is the offense Driskel was born to run. Florida does play Alabama and LSU from the Western Division, but LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri and Florida State are all games the Gators will play in the state of Florida. Call me crazy, but I think that if this offense figures things out and the defense plays to its potential, Florida has a chance to win nine games in the regular season. Miami? How about eight?

AA: Edward, take the Gator head off and breathe deeply. Nine wins against that schedule? I agree Florida will be better, but it is hard to find more than seven wins given the opponents and all the unknowns on offense. And that is not just coming from me. A few months ago, a Gator fan walked up to me at a speaking engagement here at the Orlando Touchdown Club and said, "I will be so happy if we go 7-5!" How expectations have shifted in state. While it is true I have some doubts about Miami, too, I have two words to counter your argument: Duke Johnson. Miami has him; Florida does not. Maaaaaybe if the Gators had a dynamic skill player, I'd believe you. But they don't. Miami was 7-0 before Johnson got hurt last year -- including a win over the Gators -- and 2-4 without him. Need I go on?

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsFlorida doesn't have a proven skill player on a par with Miami's Duke Johnson.
EA: Gator head? Real original. Remember two names: Kelvin Taylor and Demarcus Robinson. Both sophomores have a chance to be special for the Gators. Taylor is leaner, quicker, faster and stronger. The coaches have raved about his improvements since spring practice began, and he should have no problem being the lead back from the start this year. He isn't as explosive as his father -- All-American Florida back Fred Taylor -- but he's shiftier and will be a real weapon in Roper's offense. As for Robinson, he barely did anything last year, but has finally found his focus. He's a big-play threat in this offense, and the coaches trust in him a lot more right now. He has really come into his own during practice this fall. The folks in Gainesville see him as that playmaker at receiver they have desperately needed. Driskel shouldn't have a problem using them. Speaking of quarterbacks, you suiting up to throw the ball for the Canes?

AA: Miami does have a hole at quarterback, a hole I have pointed out repeatedly (and much to the chagrin of Miami fans). But I don't mean to sound like a broken record here. Talented skill players have this way of making their quarterback look good. Driskel has struggled, in part, because he has had no help. Miami will provide its starter with a plethora of help, from potential 1,000-yard receiver Stacy Coley, to deep threat Phillip Dorsett to tight end Clive Walford. Just to name three. Aside from Johnson, Miami is deep and talented at running back, too, and its offensive line has been solid. I am not going to win any arguments between the Miami D vs the Florida D. Gators have the edge there going away. But a talented (and high-scoring) offense can easily cover up for an average D. Miami has one of the tougher schedules in the ACC with difficult crossover games, just like the Gators. In the Canes' case, it's Florida State and Louisville. They've also got a tough nonconference game at Nebraska. When I look at the schedule, I think Miami has 10 winnable games. Doesn't mean they are going to win all of them, but it means they have a better shot at getting there than Florida.

SportsNation

Who will have a better season in 2014?

  •  
    42%
  •  
    58%

Discuss (Total votes: 8,581)

EA: I told you to watch out for Robinson and Taylor, but Florida has a few more options at both receiver and running back. I expect veterans Quinton Dunbar and even Andre Debose to make noise in this offense, but really keep an eye on sophomore Ahmad Fulwood. He can stretch the field and is a big boy over the middle. We know about Matt Jones and Mack Brown at running back, but freshman Brandon Powell could be really special. He missed spring but has been blowing up in fall practice. He can do a little bit of everything out of the backfield. Florida will be more competitive using a lot more space in Roper's offense. As for the schedule, it isn't easy. Florida plays six teams ranked in the AP top 25, including No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Alabama on the road. But I'll continue to stress that three of those games are at home and Georgia is in Jacksonville, Florida. An improved offense that can actually take some pressure off the defense can get three wins out of that slate.

AA: Maybe I should tint my glasses rose to match yours. Seriously, though, this debate serves as a reminder that these rivals need to play more often (that is a different debate for a different time). This needs to be settled on the field! The race to chase Florida State is tough to handicap. I don't think Miami is quite back to returning to its past glory, but I do think the Canes have the capability of building on their success from a year ago. Quarterback might look messy now, but coaches have been raving about the maturity and ability true freshman Brad Kaaya brings to the table. The defense looks better so far in preseason camp, and Denzel Perryman could have an All-American type season. If Miami is solid at quarterback and makes improvements on defense, this team will be better than Florida. Again.

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
8:00
AM ET

A national championship was just the beginning of a great week for Florida State as the Seminoles secured several commitments from top recruits that should keep the Noles in a position to return to the national title game for years to come.

Best ACC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
8:00
AM ET
Florida State has the top class among ACC schools right now, but that is taking the Seminoles’ entire 23-recruit class into account. The Noles don’t have the best class at every position, as some of Florida State’s top rivals are looking stronger at certain positions. Here’s a look at which ACC school has the best class by position:

Quarterback
Strongest class: Clemson
The Tigers just don’t have the No. 1 quarterback in the conference but the top quarterback in the entire country. Clemson has an argument for the best QB class in the nation with Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) in the fold. Heisman candidate Tajh Boyd will be gone after this season, so Watson could even come in and make a major impact as a freshman in 2014. Watson, who has been committed for more than a year, has also helped the Tigers reel in the conference’s strongest class at another position.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC recruiting storylines: Aug. 8 

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
9:00
AM ET
As recruiting begins to slow a little, thanks to the opening of fall camps around the country, news isn't as plentiful as it was over the summer. But still, there were some coming and goings inside the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami continues at home

ESPN 300 athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) was all set to head off to Tennessee when it came time to sign his letter of intent. That is until the Hurricanes got a hold of him. He promptly decommitted from the Volunteers on Saturday and pledged to Miami just a short while later. The Hurricanes' class is up to 25 commitments for 2014 and 11 of them are ranked in the ESPN 300.

North Carolina loses a running back

D'Ernest Johnson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), a three-star running back, had been committed to North Carolina since late May. But this week, he decided that his commitment was no more. Louisville, the reigning Sugar Bowl champions, have made a big move for Johnson and are now considered the favorite.

Pitt looking for help north of the border

ACC newcomer Pittsburgh has turned to Canada for a defensive end option. Julien Kafo, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound lineman from Vanier College in Montreal has an offer from the Panthers. Pitt is up against the likes of Connecticut, Indiana, and Minnesota to land him. He will make an official visit to see the Panthers at some point this fall.

Virginia lands ESPN 300 ATH


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ACC class rankings analysis 

August, 7, 2013
8/07/13
6:00
PM ET
The SEC has dominated the recruiting rankings for much of the past decade, but the nation’s top conference is chasing the ACC right now. The ACC, which has received its share of criticism the last few years, has the nation’s top class and another team in the top five of the rankings. Florida State remains No. 1 and Miami is No. 4, which finally might validate each fan base’s claim that the Noles and Canes are “back.”

Trending up: The Hurricanes jumped a spot from No. 5 to No. 4 after flipping south Florida product Brandon Powell, who was previously committed to Tennessee. Powell, an ESPN 300 athlete, inched Miami closer to a top-three ranking as the Vols sit just one spot ahead of Miami. Last week, Miami landed No. 13 defensive end Trent Harris, the third highest-rated recruit in Miami’s class. Harris joins local defensive end product Chad Thomas, another ESPN 300 member who committed to Miami in late July. In all, the Canes now have 11 ESPN 300 commitments and 13 four-star pledges.



To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

NoleNation links: DB Shelton decommits

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
12:18
PM ET
Corey Dowlar writes: Insider Four-star DB Sojourn Shelton decommitted from Florida State late Tuesday, but said FSU still stands high on his list.

Dowlar: Insider 2014 DB Brandon Powell, who was at this month’s Jimbo Fisher Camp, hopes for an FSU offer.

Hale: Insider OL Tre Jackson, who started in FSU’s Champs Sports Bowl win as a freshman, is today’s subject in NoleNation’s Carrying the Spear series of player profiles.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ACC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12