Miami? Are we in the 1990s?
Florida State still has an 87 percent probability of beating Miami on the road Nov. 15, and with such a high probability in Florida State's statistically toughest game, naturally there are several other games within a few percentage points. So, does Miami really present the toughest matchup this season?
Since Jimbo Fisher took over as coach, Miami has provided little resistance. His teams are 4-0 against rival Miami and have doubled up the Hurricanes in total points, 142-70. History won't dictate the game, but it illustrates the gap between the two programs whose annual rivalry game had national title implications seemingly every season for the better part of two decades.
Nowhere is the gap more noticeable than at quarterback. Florida State has Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Miami doesn't know who will start the opener as it's unlikely Ryan Williams, who tore an ACL in April, will be able to play. The hope is Williams will return at some point this season, but it has only been four months since the surgery.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen could be in line to see the most playing time in Williams' stead, but he still has yet to fully command the respect of his teammates and head coach.
"Kevin is really made a lot of improvement this summer on being a good teammate, but, for him to be the quarterback of the team, he needs to ascend to a leadership position," Miami coach Al Golden said last week. "He's matured … and he's being a good teammate. Now he needs to go and be a good leader like Ryan Williams is. You can't be a quarterback without being a leader."
What the Hurricanes do have is the conference's top running back in Duke Johnson, and he is Miami's best chance at the upset. If Johnson can find some running room early and the Hurricanes offer him a steady diet of touches, it could provide the winning formula.
A 100-yard game from Johnson would benefit the Hurricanes two-fold: The offense would move the ball with limited risk of a mistake from the quarterback, and it keeps Florida State's offense off the field. Miami played well defensively in Tallahassee last season through two quarters, but ultimately the unit spent too much time on the field; Florida State held the ball for more than 38 minutes. The defense collapsed over the final five games.
But while this rivalry awoke last year from a nearly decade-long hiatus from national relevancy, it seems there are games on Florida State's schedule that are equally tough.
Clemson is considered the next toughest game on the schedule (88 percent win probability), and the Seminoles host the Tigers on Sept. 20. There are not many recognizable faces on the Clemson offense, but the defense is among the best in the country. Critics will point to last season when that defense allowed 51 points to the Seminoles, and with good reason, but the unit should be better with Vic Beasley, Stephone Anthony and now five-star Mackenzie Alexander in the secondary. Florida State might not be as potent on offense in 2013 either without Kelvin Benjamin, Devonta Freeman and Kenny Shaw.
Florida is the next toughest matchup statistically for the Seminoles (91 percent), but there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Gators. The injury bug bit Florida hard last season, and it showed on the field, especially at quarterback. Jeff Driskel has been on the hot seat much of his career in Gainesville, but he was clearly missed in 2013. If the Gators' offense can simply be efficient and avoid turnovers, similar to 2012, Florida's defense might be able to keep the Seminoles' offense at bay.
Those two games might not be as tough statistically as the Miami game now, but that could drastically change once the season begins.
5. Jamison Crowder, Duke
Position: Wide receiver
Crowder has a chance to leave school as the ACC's career leader in receptions and yards receiving. The electrifying Crowder needs 85 receptions and 1,152 receiving yards to set those marks, well within reason considering he has gone over 1,000 yards receiving each of the last two years. But beyond his receiving skills, Crowder is one of the best punt returners in the country, ranking No. 6 in the nation last year. He has led Duke in all-purpose yards for three straight seasons and needs just 1,537 yards to set the school record in all-purpose yards.
4. Rashad Greene, Florida State
Position: Wide receiver
Greene makes the top five here, but he continues to be one of the most underrated receivers nationally. His numbers speak for themselves. Greene has led the Seminoles in receiving three straight seasons and is coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign. Already, he ranks fourth in school history in career receptions (171), sixth in receiving yards (2,465) and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns (22). Greene has caught a pass in 29 straight games, and that speaks to what he has done better than any receiver in recent history. He is consistent. Greene rarely makes mistakes and rarely drops passes. He will be critical to Jameis Winston's success this year.
3. Duke Johnson, Miami
Position: Running back
Johnson knows how much he means to Miami. That became pretty clear when the Hurricanes went into a tailspin after he broke his ankle against Florida State in November. Nobody else on that team can replicate his speed, power, quickness and ability to make defenders miss. Johnson has never posted a 1,000-yard season -- a backup as a freshman and injuries derailed him last year -- but he does have something more impressive. His career average is 6.6 yards per carry, a true testament to how dynamic he is as a runner.
2. Vic Beasley, Clemson
Position: Defensive end
Beasley could have left school early for the NFL draft after a monster 2013, in which he had 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss to rank as one of the best in the nation. But he decided to return to anchor what could be one of the best defensive lines in the country. Beasley is not that much bigger than a year ago, but he has worked on dropping back into coverage along with fine-tuning his pass-rushing skills to be even better this season. Clemson expects him to be, especially since the Tigers will be relying on Beasley and the defense to set the tone.
1. Jameis Winston, Florida State
Year: Redshirt sophomore
Maybe Winston can do what Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel could not -- become just the second player in history to repeat as the Heisman winner. Winston has a terrific shot to do so, given all the talent the Seminoles return. He was the overwhelming choice to repeat as ACC Player of the Year and is on the preseason watch list for every major quarterback and player of the year award. He will be playing behind the best offensive line in the country, though he faces his biggest test adapting to new players at the skill positions. Outside of Rashad Greene and Nick O'Leary, a new cast of players need to step up as reliable targets. There is no 6-foot-5, 240-pound safety blanket named Kelvin Benjamin anymore. If the offense can transition seamlessly with new faces at key spots, Winston will be the reason.
The Seminoles added another player to the race with the commitment of ESPN 300 No. 55 Deondre Francois, who announced his decision Thursday at his high school.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Elite 11 participant and No. 4 dual-threat prospect in the 2015 class selected the defending national champions over Auburn.
The Seminoles were considered the favorite for the majority of the recruitment, but Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Tennessee all made runs at the Under Armour All-America selection at various times since the end of the 2013 season.
Francois played his junior season at Olympia High in Orlando, but transferred in the spring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, where he now plays for former Florida State quarterback and 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
Francois joins fellow ESPN 300 signal-caller De'Andre Johnson in the Seminoles' 2015 class, and just minutes before Francois' announcement, quarterback Kai Locksley, son of Maryland assistant Mike Locksley, also committed to the Noles.
Once on campus, Francois and Johnson will compete with current Florida State backup quarterbacks Sean Maguire
The Florida State Seminoles aren't going anywhere, as the defending national champions are the No. 1 team in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.
FSU, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, got 56 of the 62 first-place votes.
"We're very excited about being No. 1 and happy to be No. 1, but we understand that we have to play like No. 1 and play great football," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told USA Today. "That's going to be our objective. We're proud to start there and now we just have to go play great football."
Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn, which lost to FSU in the final BCS title game last season, round out the top five. Ohio State starts at No. 6, and is followed by UCLA, Michigan State, South Carolina and Baylor.
Overall, the SEC leads the way with seven teams in the poll. The Pac-12 is represented by six teams, and the Big 12 and Big Ten each have four teams in the poll.
The Seminoles received 56 of the 62 first-place votes as they enter 2014 looking to repeat as national champions.
Clemson and North Carolina were the only other ACC teams to be ranked, coming in at Nos. 16 and 23, respectively. For those keeping track, that means UNC is the only team from the Coastal Division to be ranked in the poll. This comes after Miami was chosen by the media in Greensboro, North Carolina, last week as the preseason Coastal favorite, in the same poll that saw Duke receive the most first-place Coastal votes. It is worth repeating again: This division race is wide open.
Notre Dame, which begins its football affiliation with the ACC this fall, checks in at No. 17 in the coaches' poll.
Miami leads the ACC contingent in the "others receiving votes" category of the coaches' poll, coming in at No. 34 overall. Right behind the Hurricanes? Duke and Louisville, at Nos. 35 and 36, respectively. Virginia Tech comes in at No. 40 while Georgia Tech is No. 48.
Half of the ACC's coaches vote in the poll: Frank Beamer, David Cutcliffe, Larry Fedora, Jimbo Fisher, Al Golden, Paul Johnson and Dabo Swinney. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly votes as well. Shockingly, all eight of those coaches saw their teams receive votes.
Until then, no news is good news, and North Carolina is the latest to find that out, with multiple reports saying that three scholarship Tar Heels are no longer on the team.
A school spokesman confirmed the departures to ESPN.com.
Defensive tackles Shawn Underwood and Greg Webb and linebacker Clint Heaven will not be with the Heels when fall camp kicks off Friday. Offensive guard J.J. Patterson is not a part of the 105-man roster, the spokesman said.
Underwood and Webb are no longer a part of the program due to personal reasons, the spokesman said, while Heaven has transferred to Northern Iowa.
Underwood is the most decorated of the four, having been on the two-deep up front and coming off a 10-tackle junior season.
As Insider Carolina's Greg Barnes notes, 15 UNC scholarship players with eligibility remaining will not return for the 2014 campaign, a number that would be staggering if it wasn't so familiar in the conference already. As Andrea Adelson noted last week, fellow Coastal division foe Georgia Tech has lost 13 non-seniors since last season ended.
Here's to relatively quiet camps this next month.
Elsewhere across the ACC:
- Jameis Winston was stopped by police at gunpoint in a 2012 incident, Rachel Axon writes in USA Today.
- Yahoo! Sports' Eric Adelson profiles former FSU defensive back Jajuan Harley, who turned in his Walmart badge for a shot with the Buffalo Bills.
- Sad, sad news out of South Florida, where 22-year-old Joseph Grosso, who was an aspiring walk-on at Miami, died on the first day of lobster miniseason.
- Miami released some potential new helmets for next season.
- Pitt coach Paul Chryst chats defense, receivers and more with Dejan Kovacevic.
Tim Jansen said Wilson had the initial felony charge reduced to misdemeanor petty theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Wilson already has paid $1,074 in restitution to the scooter owner, and was sentenced to spend 30 days on a jail work camp and two years' probation. The probation can be reduced to one year if he completes the work camp.
Wilson was automatically suspended from the football team after he was charged with a felony last month in connection with a stolen scooter. After initially telling police a friend let him borrow the scooter, he later admitted to investigators that he stole the scooter in June but did not plan on keeping it as long as he did.
The reduced charges pave the way for Wilson to be reinstated to the football team. There was no official word from Florida State about whether Wilson's status has changed.
Players report for fall practice Sunday. Wilson is expected to be a key contributor to the receiving group this fall after a standout spring.
"He feels great that this is over with. It's resolved. The restitution is paid," Jansen said. "It was a stupid mistake and he's moving on."
That's right, we're talkin' about practice.
Georgia Tech takes the field Thursday to kick off practice across the league. Here is a quick look at opening practice dates around the ACC:
- Boston College Eagles
- Duke Blue Devils
- Florida State Seminoles
- Pittsburgh Panthers
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Virginia Tech Hokies
10. Tre' Jackson, Florida State Seminoles
Position: Offensive guard
The interior linemen for Florida State have never gotten quite as much credit as the guys on the edge, but both Jackson and fellow guard Josue Matias have developed into top NFL prospects and elite blockers. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Jackson is the biggest member of a senior-laden line for FSU, and in his two years as a starter, the Seminoles have rushed for an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
9. DeVante Parker, Louisville Cardinals
Position: Wide receiver
Only five receivers in the nation recorded double-digit touchdown totals in both 2012 and 2013. Of that group, just one will be back for 2014, and that’s Parker. Louisville is the newest addition to the ACC, but the conference’s cornerbacks better get to know Parker quickly. For his career, Parker has racked up 113 catches and nearly 2,000 yards, but with offensive guru Bobby Petrino taking over as head coach this year, Parker is poised for his biggest season yet.
8. P.J. Williams, Florida State
A preseason first-team All-ACC selection, Williams is finally starting to get the credit he so richly deserved for handling so much of the dirty work on Florida State’s dominant secondary in 2013. Williams was often tasked with shadowing the opponent’s top receiver, and he was targeted more than any other defensive back on the Seminoles’ roster, but he held his own and clearly made strides as the season progressed. The result was 35 tackles, three interceptions and defensive MVP honors in the BCS national championship game.
7. Cameron Erving, Florida State
Position: Offensive tackle
Year: RS Senior
When Erving first made the switch from a back-up defensive tackle to the starting left tackle in the spring of 2012, coaches immediately gushed about his natural ability on the offensive side of the ball. And it was true, he was a quick fit on a developing line that made huge strides in his first year. But now Erving has refined those natural skills and, as coach Jimbo Fisher raved, he’s a far more nuanced lineman and leader, and he’ll be the cornerstone of a senior-laden line in 2014 that promises to be among the best in the nation.
6. Denzel Perryman, Miami Hurricanes
A first-team All-ACC selection, Perryman is the heart and soul of Miami’s defense. Perryman racked up 108 tackles last season, including double-digit tackles in six different games, highlighted by a 13-tackle performance in an upset win over Florida. Perryman’s speed and athleticism in the middle should make him one of the ACC’s most feared defenders again in 2014 and opens options for the Hurricanes to break in some young talent around him.
Those upgrades are expected to be completed this weekend, and the athletic department showcased the renovations Wednesday following a joint announcement by university and Seminole Boosters, Inc., that Florida State is in the midst of an eight-year, $250 million fundraising campaign.
"We're demanding so much today of our athletes ... that there has to a commitment on the Florida State side. The culture has changed," Fisher said Wednesday.
Athletic departments across the country annually are upgrading facilities with help from school donors, and Florida State is just the latest in the ongoing arms race across college football. Mark Robinson, Seminoles director of football operations, said few programs can match what Florida State is doing, and he said he has not seen any other program build a locker room that can mirror the Seminoles'.
"We can't be complacent," Fisher said. "We have to be ahead of everybody, let people follow us.
"... We plan on being on top for a while."
Now, which team will be the first to try and top this in 2015?
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Police say Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and Florida State teammate Chris Casher were held at gunpoint by campus police nearly two years ago while hunting squirrels with a pellet gun.
Officer Anthony Gioannetti responded to a call and found the pair on a campus bike path with a long-barreled pistol. He drew his gun, pointed it at the players and shouted several times for them to get on the ground.
One of the players dropped the gun and Gioannetti kept his weapon draw until another officer handcuffed the players across the street from campus. The officers then determined the pistol was a pellet gun.
"They said they were shooting at squirrels along the bike trail," Gioannetti wrote in his report.
The gun was confiscated and the players were released with no charges.
The story was first reported Wednesday by USA Today.
Contacted after the report, Winston said, "Sorry sir, I'm not talking about that."
College Football Player Rankings: 21-40
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