The Next King Bee?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia Tech fired head coach Geoff Collins after starting the season 1 – 3. Collins never won back-to-back games at Georgia Tech. He was outscored 210-20 over the final 5 games of his tenure against FBS opponents.

Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Brent Key filled in as interim head coach.

Key went 4 – 4 and led the Yellow Jackets to some upset wins. They beat #24 Pitt and #13 North Carolina. He has interviewed for the position but I don’t believe Tech is going hire him.

Athletic director, Todd Stansbury was also fired with Collins. J Batt was hired as the new AD after working at Alabama for five years as its executive deputy AD, chief operating officer and chief revenue officer. He’s also made stops at East Carolina as the senior associate athletics director and at Maryland as the associate AD.

We are going to take a look at the finalists for the position. Bill O’Brien is one of the names that has been mentioned. The 53-year-old was an assistant for the New England Patriots from 2007 to 2011. He also replaced Joe Paterno as head coach at Penn State from 2012-13. O’Brien became the head coach of the Houston Texans in 2014 and stayed until 2020.

He was hired as the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2021. He helped the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2021 while assisting Nick Saban in crowning his first Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (Bryce Young). O’Brien coached Alabama’s offense to 40.8 points per game this season.

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz is also one of the four coaches interviewed for the position. He led the Green Wave to a 10 – 2 record and they are ranked No. 18 in the nation. He’s been at Tulane since 2016 and his overall record is 41 -45.

Fritz met with the media today ahead of Tulane’s conference championship matchup and he was asked about the reports that have linked him to the Georgia Tech head coaching job. Here is what Fritz had to say:

“I talked to the team about it and obviously the initial report gets more traction than the secondary report but I am the head football coach of Tulane, I am extremely proud to be the head coach at Tulane and we are looking forward to the ballgame on Saturday and that is what I told our guys when I visited with them this morning. So… I don’t want to talk about those kinds of things, I want to talk about the ballgame.”

Tulane plays UCF in the AAC Championship Game this weekend and the winner of that game is likely heading to represent the group of five conferences in the New Year’s Six Bowl Game, which would be the Cotton Bowl this season.

Fritz was the HC at Georgia Southern in 2014-15 and led the Eagles to a 17 – 7 record. This stop also means he has experience recruiting in the state of Georgia.

Coastal Carolina head ball coach Jamey Chadwell is also in consideration for the job. He has led the Chanticleers to a 39 – 21 record since taking over in 2017.

Georgia Tech has to hire a good coach that can make the program relevant again.

2022 Crusade

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Whether intentional or not, it would seem that every Frederica Academy football season has a theme.

2018 championship season was the fastest, the 2020 was the smartest, and it seems the 2022 was the steadiest.

If you had to describe the 2022 season in a single word, it would be weird.

The season started three hours late, when the opening game versus Brookwood was delayed by lightning. Thankfully, the game ended early as well, the Knights losing the abbreviated opener 41-12.

Week two was a much more favorable result, with the Knights leaving Chula, GA with a 34-27 victory.

Frederica went to an all-time record of 4-4 versus the Panthers and brought themselves to a .500 record on the early season.

The next four games proved to be as difficult as expected.

Head Coach Brandon Derrick knew that his team would not get better playing lesser teams, so he scheduled a buzzsaw of a lineup for this year’s squad.

The following four games against Valwood, John Milledge, Clinch County, and Tattnall Square would prove to be losses but valuable ones at that.

Invaluable they were, indeed. While the team was not registering wins, junior running back Jordan Triplett and classmate LB Hamp Thompson were putting up statistics that would place them in the top of the standings in the state of Georgia.

By the end of the year, Triplett would have 2,305 yards rushing on 315 carries with 26 touchdowns, while Thompson would wind up #10 in the state across all divisions with 123 total tackles and 70 solo tackles on the year.

After a 1-5 start to the year, the Knights ran out the schedule in championship style.

The last four games of the year saw the Green & Grey put up an identical 42-point score, and their offensive powerhouse RB Triplett put up a minimum of 300 yards and 3 touchdowns per game, apexing with a 400-yard 6 touchdown effort in the final game. That secured a region championship for Frederica.

The regular season championship would grant the Knights a first-round bye and a second-round matchup against Deerfield Windsor Academy out of Albany, Ga. Frederica had only faced the Deerfield Windsor Knights once before. That was a second-round playoff upset at home ‘Under the Oaks’ in 2016.

The game looked to be a tale of two halves; unfortunately, the first half was the better for Frederica.

The opening drive was a clinical one. The Knights drove 80 yards in 13 plays, cumulating with a Jordan Triplett touchdown 7 ½ minutes into the first quarter.

After a three and out, Jordan ‘The River’ Triplett picked up a punt on two bounces and took back a blissful 88-yard return for a touchdown, taking the Knights to a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Unfortunately, that would be the end of the offense on the night.

Deerfield Windsor would put up three touchdowns over the final three quarters while shutting out Frederica, ending their March to Mercer two weeks early by a score of 18-14.

While any season that doesn’t end on the field at Mercer University seems like a letdown for the Frederica faithful, the 2022 season seems almost like a warmup to what should be another championship run.

2023 should prove to be just as memorable as 2022, regardless of the outcome.

Gold Rush

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Ka’ Shawn Thomas should be the Region 2-AAAAAA defensive player of the year. No other player in this area has had a bigger impact on that side of the ball than Thomas has had.

The 300-pound senior finished his Pirate career with that heartbreaking 29-28 OT loss to Houston County. Thomas has been the ringleader of a senior class that won 35 football games and 3 region championships.

When you mention the name Ka’ Shawn Thomas to his head coach Garrett Grady you get the following “Ka’ Shawn has been an outstanding football player for us for four years. He is our leader on defense. When things get tough the other kids look to him for leadership and he makes things happen on the football field. He can dominate the line of scrimmage and make teams struggle in the run game. He is also a great pass rusher, and he caves in the pocket in the passing game. You don’t see many kids like him that come through high school programs. He will be missed around here and will be a productive college player at Wake Forest both on the field and in the classroom. He has set the standard around here for defensive linemen moving forward”.

Thomas could end up on some All-State teams after the current high school season concludes and will most definitely be an all-region player in 2022.

Thomas committed to Wake Forest back in March. He was the top player on the Wake Forest board and was the first player committed in their 2023 recruiting class.

Wake will be getting a young man with a great motor, quick first step, and at 300 pounds a man who can command double teams from an opposing offensive line. Wake Forest is a program that is on the rise and is very competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ka’ Shawn comes from a great family, and he would probably tell you his favorite person and role model is his mother, Tashana.

Tashana is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and she has an amazing personality and when momma talks Ka’ Shawn listens. She has raised a solid young man that is going to be a success in life long after his football career is over. His mother and family have instilled a great foundation in Ka’ Shawn.

Ka’ Shawn leaves a great legacy at Brunswick High School. He will be mentioned as one of the all-time greatest players to ever come through the school. I personally believe that he is one of the top ten players that BHS has ever produced.

It has been a privilege to broadcast Ka’ Shawn for his entire BHS career on Pirate Radio. He has been a great ambassador for the program and a ‘yes sir’, ‘no sir’ kind of young man that always greets you with a firm handshake and the upmost of respect.

I know Ka’ Shawn is going to have a fine college career at Wake Forest, and possibly in 4-5 years you could hear his name called by an NFL in a future NFL draft. I know this the young man will be missed on Altama Avenue.

I will leave you with one final comment that I firmly believe. Ka’ Shawn Thomas is the best defensive lineman to ever play at Brunswick High School. I have seen many kids come through the program since I went to my first Pirate football game in 1974 and I can’t think of one better at his position than Ka’ Shawn.

 

 

The Best Remain

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The second round of the 7A GHSA playoffs had a major upset. No. 1 Buford lost their first game of the season to No. 6 Walton, 42 – 35. They ended the Wolves 22-game win streak, quest for a fourth consecutive state championship and a possible national championship. This is the first time this century that Buford has not advanced to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

“We’re not used to feeling like this around here and that’s a good thing,” Buford head coach Bryant Appling said. “It also handicaps you to an extent because you’ve got to understand what it feels like (to lose) and work a little bit harder. There’s an inch in there we can get and we just didn’t get to it this year.”

The upset means any of the remaining eight teams in the quarterfinals has a legitimate shot to win it all. We are going to take a look at those matchups.

#2 Colquitt County vs North Gwinnett: The Packers (12-0) have to be the favorite to win the state championship now. They beat Harrison in the second round 49 – 28. Colquitt County has an explosive offense. The least amounts of points they scored in a game was 24 against Valdosta.

The Bulldogs (10-2) come into the game unranked but they have had a good season. Their best player is four-star defensive tackle Kayden McDonald. He’s ranked as the 22nd recruit in the state for the class of 2023 and he committed to Ohio State. They also have four-star linebacker Grant Godfrey.

I expect this to be a very close game but Colquitt will win.

#5 Mill Creek vs #7 Westlake: The Hawks (11-1) have the best player in the state, five-star safety/receiver Caleb Downs. They also have Clemson commit and three-star linebacker Jamal Anderson. I think this is the most talented team left in the playoffs.

The Lions (9-3) also have a Clemson commit, corner back Avieon Terrell. This should be a close game but I give the edge to Mill Creek.

#3 Carrolton vs #6 Walton: The Trojans (12-0) are unbeaten and still somehow underrated. They only have two wins this season that were decided by less than 10 points. They beat Marietta in the second round, 47 – 14.

Walton quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski and running back Makari Bodiford played key roles in the upset of Buford. Neither team has a senior ranked as a top 100 recruit in the state but they have talent. I’m picking the Raiders to win since they were able to beat the top ranked team.

#8 Milton vs #10 Grayson: The Eagles (9-3) beat Norcross 30 – 23 to advance to the quarterfinals. Senior safety Bryce Thornton is a three-star recruit and he’s committed to Florida. They have another three-star safety, Robert Billings and he’s committed to Clemson. The strength of the defense is the secondary.

The Rams (10-2) beat Camden County 28 – 10 in the second round. The best player on the team is four-star safety and LSU commit Michael Daugherty. At linebacker they have Tennessee commit Jalen Smith.

I think this will be a very good defensive game and the offenses will have to protect the football. I think Grayson will win.

 

The Cats Are Back

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 season has come to an end for the Camden County Wildcats.

Camden traveled to Loganville, outside of Atlanta, to play the Grayson Rams in the second round of the GHSA playoffs. The Rams ended the Wildcats season with a 28-10 win.

Camden ended the season with an 8-4 record and the Wildcats accomplished a lot this season.

The Wildcats earned a two seed in Region 1-7A, upset the #3 ranked team in the state in the Valdosta Wildcats, beat the Lowndes Vikings for the first time since 2015, won three region games and won a first-round playoff game for the first time since 2015.

Camden is on the right track to becoming a state title contender again and the future is bright.

The Wildcats will only graduate 22 seniors and will 44 replace them next season. The rising freshmen and sophomore classes are loaded with talent and those will classes will contribute heavily next season as juniors and sophomores.

Expect a deep playoff run in 2023.

Let’s take a look back on the amazing 2022 campaign.

August 19: Columbia @ Camden: The season got off to a rocky start as the AA Columbia Eagles came to Chris Gilman Stadium and stunned the Wildcats, upsetting them 13-10.

August 26: Camden @ Brunswick: The Brunswick High Pirates were expected to compete for a state title in 6A. The Pirates dropped Camden 16-10 on a goal line stand at the end of the game.

This is the game that turned the season around. You could tell the kids in the locker room came together after losing this tough game.

September 2: Glynn Academy @ Camden: The Glynn Academy Red Terrors walked into an ambush that night. They were expecting a struggling Wildcat team ripe for the taking.

Instead, they got a vicious, angry, physical team that sent them home with a 37-7 drubbing.

September 9: B.E.S.T. @ Camden: This would be more of the same. B.E.S.T. Academy, out of Atlanta, came down and were overwhelmed by the Wildcats, 45-0.

September 16: Somerset Academy @ Camden: The Wildcats woodshedded the Somerset Academy Panthers 48-21, but the game wasn’t even that close.

September 23: Atlantic Coast @ Camden: This wrapped up the trio of games against Florida schools and the result was the same as the priors. The Wildcats dominated Atlantic Coast, 47-6.

October 7: Camden @ Richmond Hill: Wildcats v Wildcats. Camden did not play well in this game but found a way to win and earn their first region victory of 2022, 21-14.

October 14: Camden @ Colquitt: The Wildcats headed over to the Hog Pen and found out what Colquitt was for real. The Packers outpaced the Wildcats, 49-21.

Colquitt was ranked #2 in the state at the time and this game was a flag-a-thon by the zebras. Most of the calls going against Camden. It’s tough to win at Colquitt for a reason.

October 21: Valdosta @ Camden: Another Wildcats v Wildcats matchup. Camden kicked a Field goal to take a 17-14 advantage.

Valdosta marched down the field to attempt their own field goal to tie the game, which Camden blocked and then ran out the clock on the folks from Winnersville.

When it was all said and done Camden had knocked off the #3 ranked team in the state, 17-14.

November 4: Lowndes @ Camden: The Lowndes Vikings were hoping take the #2 seed away from Camden by beating them at home. Instead, the Vikings were run out of Chris Gilman, 48-21 and the game was not that close.

November 12: East Coweta @ Camden: The East Coweta Indians made the long drive from Atlanta to Kingsland. The first half ended with East Coweta up 21-14.

In the second half the Wildcats outscored East Coweta 30-12 and ended their season with a 44-33 win.

November 18: Camden @ Grayson: Jeff Herron returned to place where he won his last state title in 2016. The Rams were a solid team and the Wildcats couldn’t quite find that one big play to get them going.

The Rams eliminated Camden 28-10.

See you next Spring.

Florida Cup

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For the first time in series history, the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles will play on Black Friday.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving has been the traditional date for the Sunshine Showdown but Mike Norvell had a different vision for this year. The Noles (8-3) opened as an 8.5-point favorite.

“It’s always important and we’re on Friday night. Friday night lights,” senior linebacker Amari Burney said. “It’s very important any time you play Florida State. It’s a rivalry and everybody knows that so we have to strap up and come ready to play.”

It will be the first time that Mike Norvell will be the favorite in the rivalry game. Norvel’s first season at the helm was in 2020, so his introduction to the rivalry was in 2021. The Gators, despite having fired Dan Mullen just six days before playing the Noles, edged out a 24-21 win at home.

After starting the season unranked, Florida State University broke into the Top 25 in September following a 4-0 start, however they quickly fell back out after their fair share of losses.

The Noles have been on a tear of late, winning their last four games. If FSU wins this Friday, it would be the program’s first nine-win season since Jimbo Fisher was Head Coach in 2016.

The Florida Gators are just 1-3 on the road at this point of the season, and Florida State is 4-2 at Doak Campbell.

The line sits at 8.5, home teams typically get three points on a betting line as home-field advantage, meaning Vegas views this as a one-score nail-biter.

This will be the 66th all-time matchup between the Gators and Seminoles. Florida owns a 37-26-2 lead and an active three-game winning streak.

Florida State’s Mike Norvell is well aware that anything can happen in the world of college football, and that his team is far from unbeatable. Any coach on the planet is well aware of what this game means to either of these programs.

FSU has already taken out Miami, and in a humiliating fashion. Now, the Gators are gearing up for a prime-time showdown against the hot-handed Seminoles.

From the looks of things, Norvell has Florida State on the right track. They’re playing week to week hammering potential bowl teams like they’re Cumberland College.

The Seminoles’ first-team defense has only given up one touchdown in a month, and their offense puts up yards and points like it’s 1993. But losing to this rivalry is different; and there is a sour taste in the losing team’s mouth

Forget that it’s Year 1 under Billy Napier, who was tasked not only to replenish UF’s thin roster, but also with rebuilding the entire culture Dan Mullen left behind, let’s not talk about the new “Gator standard” on and off the field.

Florida has one regular-season game to play under their new head coach, and best of all- it’s at their bitter rival Florida State on Black Friday.

Make no mistake, this game matters immensely to the Gators. It’s the rare game that impacts recruiting directly (especially in state); the last thing Florida wants to do is lose convincingly and allow FSU to sell their program as on the rise and the top option in the state.

After embarrassing Miami, could you convince a recruit toward Miami over Florida State?

Win, and Napier cools the heat of his defeats (almost instantly) and gives the Gators a bit of juice heading into the final stretch of recruiting.

Lose, and, well, the Gators are 6-6, off to a low-tier bowl game, and paying lip service to the importance of bowl practices while keeping one foot, if not both feet, on the recruiting trail for a top-level SEC program.

It won’t be played on Saturday, but it’ll be special like always, no matter the final score.

My prediction: Billy Napier will be the first Florida coach not to beat a single rival in a season since 1979. FSU 42   Florida 20

Resurrected Terrors

By: Joe Delaney

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Glynn Academy Red Terrors went through a 6-5 season in Coach Rocky Hidalgo’s 9th season as the head man at the school.

It was another winning season for Coach Rock and the Terrors, who have made the state playoffs every year during his tenure. However, it was not what the Red Terrors wanted in the form of a region title and deep run in the playoffs.

In my conversation with Coach Rock, it was apparent how very proud of this team he was. Especially how they fought like hell in the first-round loss on the road 18-13 to the second seeded Northside Eagles.

The Brunswick Pirates were bounced out by a fourth seed and the Effingham Rebels were hammered by the three seed from 1-6A. The Red Terrors acquitted themselves well on the road against the Eagles.

They had real chances and only a missed field goal kept them from potentially taking control of the game late in the fourth quarter.

Coach Hidalgo said the game showcased how far this edition of the Terrors had come and how it bodes well for the 2023 season.

While the Terrors will say goodbye to a small core group of seniors led by Tyler Devlin, Hank Noonan and others, they will return a large group of seasoned sophomores and juniors led by the electric Greg Peacock. They all played major roles in the teams’ 2022 success.

Let’s take a quick look back at the 2022 season.

8/19  Glynn at Statesboro. The Red Terrors squeak out an exciting 43-42 win on the road against the Blue Devils to start the season.

8/25  McIntosh Co Academy at Glynn. The Red Terrors make it two in a row, pulling away with a win over the tough Buccaneers; 22-13 at Glynn County Stadium.

9/2  Glynn at Camden County. The Red Terrors take their first loss of the season with an away loss at Chris Gilman Stadium to the 7A Wildcats.

9/8  Creekside (FL) at Glynn. In a pouring monsoon the Red Terrors lose a heartbreaker 21-20 to fall to 2-2.

9/23 Brunswick High at Glynn. The powerful Pirates drop the Terrors to 2-3 on the season with a dominating 55-21 win.

9/28 Effingham County at Glynn. The Terrors fail to bounce back and drop a fourth straight game. The Rebels take it by a 31-14 score. The second loss in the region puts the Terrors in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time under Coach Hidalgo.

10/7  Glynn at South Effingham. The Terrors taste victory again with a 13-9 victory over South Effingham

10/14  Grovetown at Glynn. The Terrors turn it around and level their record at 4-4 with a 46-13 pounding of the Warriors between the bricks.

10/21  Evans at Glynn. In a pivotal region game, the Red Terrors come from behind to take a thrilling 25-22 win over the visiting Knights. Its Senior Night and the Terror Nation shows its appreciation with a great crowd.

11/4  Glynn at Lakeside Evans.  The Terrors win their fourth in a row as the Panthers are declawed 42-20. The Terrors finish out the regular season at 6-4 and head into the playoffs again.

11/11  Glynn at Northside. The Terrors go on the road and put up a great fight against the second seeded Eagles. They have real chances to win the game going tooth and nail with Northside.

In the end a missed field goal and an interception hurt the Terrors and they lose late 18-13. It’s another tough loss that the Terrors couldn’t quite pull out. The Terrors end the year at 6-5.

As I mentioned above, when I talked to Coach Rock you could see how proud he was of this outfit and how they came back and played hard after being 2-4.

They could have folded up and headed home but didn’t. He was very proud of what they had accomplished. They were winners!

Rocky Hidalgo is one of Glynn’s winningest coaches ever. He has region championships and a state championship appearance under his belt.

He has averaged over 8 wins per season in his nine years with the Red Terrors. So, when he says he is looking forward to this sophomore and junior dominated team coming up big next year. I’m all in. Let’s do it Rock!

Pirates’ Journey

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Year one of the Garrett Grady tenure at Brunswick ended in heartbreaking fashion with a gut wrenching 29-28 loss to Houston County in the first round of GHSA 6A state playoffs.

The Pirates finished the 2022 season with a 10-1 record. The Pirates were crowned Region 2-AAAAAA champions with a 30-27 win over Effingham County.

Let’s look at the 2022 season:

August 19, 2022: The Pirates hosted Andrew Jackson from Jacksonville at Glynn County Stadium. The Tigers finished 7-4 in 2021 earning a playoff berth.

Jayden returned a punt for a touchdown and the Brunswick Black Flag defense held the Tigers to 200 yards of total offense on the night in a 23-13 opening night win. The win was Grady’s first win as a head coach. Andrew Jackson finished the 2022 season with an 8-3 record and playoff berth in Florida.

August 26, 2022: The Pirates hosted Camden County at Glynn County Stadium. Most pundits picked BHS to lose this game, but a strong defensive effort and second half power run game propelled BHS to a 16-10 win.

Lionel Twitty made the play of his BHS career by deflecting a Wildcat pass inside the Pirate 10-yard line to preserve the win. Camden was the #2 seed in Region 1-7A.

September 9, 2022: BHS played in the inaugural Georgia/Florida High School Football Classic at Glynn County Stadium. The Pirate defense completely shut down Bolles in a 20-3 win. This was another game the experts predicted BHS to lose.

September 16, 2022: BHS beat Islands High School 49-0 in a very lopsided contest. Outcome was never in doubt.

September 23, 2022: BHS hammered Glynn Academy 55-21 to win its third consecutive City Championship.

The Pirate offense was clicking throughout the contest and Glynn’s only scores came on trick plays and a fluke pass deflection.

The 55 points scored by BHS were the most ever for the Pirates in the long and storied history of the City Championship Series. BHS leads the all-time series 40-37-2.

September 28, 2022: BHS traveled to Grovetown in Augusta for a Wednesday contest that was moved up due to Hurricane Ian.

Touchdown Terry Mitchell scored 4 TDs on his birthday and the Pirates won a 56-39 shootout to stay undefeated on the season.

October 7, 2022: BHS hosted Lakeside Evans at Glynn County Stadium. The Pirates took control of the game early and cruised to a 44-10 win.

The Pirate defense dominated the contest.

October 21, 2022: BHS traveled to Guyton and hammered South Effingham 42-3.

BHS scored 6 touchdowns in their first 19 offensive plays. Mitchell caught a 54-yard TD pass from JR Elkins on the first offensive play of the game.

The Mustangs kicked a 42-yard field goal with under two minutes remaining on a running clock to avoid the shutout.

October 27, 2022: BHS traveled to Evans and lost LB Devin Smith for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle just two minutes into the contest.

The Pirates turned it over 6 times on the night in an ugly 28-7 win to stay unbeaten.

November 4. 2022: The Pirates held on late to beat Effingham 30-27 for the region championship in possibly the worst officiated game I have ever witnessed in person.

The story of the contest was yellow flags that wiped out two Pirate scores in the contest.

November 11, 2022: First round playoff game with Houston County.

The Bears rolled up 600 yards of total offense and led 21-7 in the fourth quarter.

The Pirates put on a furious rally and tied the game with 48 seconds left, and HOCO missed a 32 yards FG to win it with one second left on the clock to win it in regulation.

BHS scored to lead 28-21 in OT and Houston scored to cut it to 28-27 and went for two points and converted to end the BHS season with a 29-28 win.

This senior class won 35 games and three city and region championships. That ranks this group as one of the best in BHS history.

Garrett Grady should be region coach of the year.

Ka‘Shawn Thomas should be your defensive player of the year in the region.

Terry Mitchell should be your offensive player of the year in the region.

Things are looking pretty good right now on Altama Avenue.

Return To Chief-Hood?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

What a difference a year makes, FSU football statistically has made huge changes.

The Seminoles are trending on both sides of the ball in elite company.

First, the ‘Noles average nearly 100 more total yards per game than last year, jumping up from 379 to 477 yards per game due to a deeper set of skill players, a better offensive line, and stronger quarterback play.

Let’s start with QBs, redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Travis and his co-starter McKenzie Milton have already eclipsed the production in 2021 with 2,300 yards and 18 passing touchdowns. FSU’s passing offense, while effective at times later in the season, ranked in the bottom half of the ACC last season.

This year, on the other hand- Travis is ranked third in the ACC in passing yards (2,414) and touchdowns (24). A noteworthy turnaround for a team pointed downhill for almost 5 years.

FSU scores about seven more points per game than last season, jumping from 27.6 to 34 in 2022, aided by 41-point, 45-point, and 38-point outbursts in the current three-game win streak.

It’s also worth noting the FSU offense took its foot off the gas while comfortably ahead during stretches of the third and fourth quarters in four ACC games this season — those three wins and against Boston College.

The Seminoles’ rushing offense lost 2021 starter Jashaun Corbin, and has gone stretches without this year’s starter Treshaun Ward. Yet, FSU only continues to skyrocket the stat book on the ground.

FSU improved from 177 rushing yards per game (No. 6 ACC) and 4.8 yards per carry last season, up to 5.5 per attempt and a dominant 213 yards per game. Aided by backs Trey Benson, Lawrance Toafilli, and along with Ward, those totals rank No. 1 in the ACC and No. 16 in the nation.

Of course, all those yards and offensive production wouldn’t be possible without a much-improved offensive line, even if the personnel stays the same.

Offensive fronts may not always have stats to back up their performance, but pass-protection wise, the returns are crystal clear: FSU gave up 36 sacks last year (2 per game) and only 16 this year (second-best in ACC).

Defensively, Florida State is in position of shaving off 8.4 points per game from its season average.

Last year, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller’s bunch gave up a respectable 26.5 points per outing, but this year they’re knocking that number down to 18.1 (tied for best in ACC).

The Seminoles also rose to best in the ACC in total defense (293 yards allowed), which is over an 80-yard improvement from last season’s 377.8 mark (No. 6 in ACC).

In many of these areas, FSU rose from the middle of the pack.

Special teams return yardage, the ‘Noles emerged from the doldrums of the conference.

Instead of ranking No. 12 in yards per kick return and No. 13 in yards per punt return, FSU now ranks third in the ACC in both categories.

Florida State is currently ranked No. 11 in the country in total defense and No. 16 in the country in total offense.

The only other teams to be in the Top 20 in both categories? Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.

I don’t know if Norvell will ever get this program back to an elite level, but man, after these last three weeks, and considering how far they’ve come in the last three years, it’s not exactly far-fetched, is it?

ACC Crystal Ball

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This is my favorite time of year. Not just because of the holidays, but we have several sports going on simultaneously.

Football, basketball and hockey being played means there’s a game to watch every night. We’re going to preview the ranked ACC basketball teams.

#1 North Carolina: The Tar Heels advanced to the national championship game last season. It was the first season as the head coach for Hubert Davis. They return their best player, senior forward/center Armando Bacot. He leads the team in scoring (22 PPG) and rebounds (7.5 RPG).

Junior guard Caleb Love is second in scoring with 21 PPG, 6 RPG and 3 assists per game.

UNC is the rare blue blood program in this era that relies on upper classmen. Teams like Duke, Kentucky and Kansas rely on one-and-done players.

The schedule has been weak so far, but starting on Thanksgiving the Heels will play the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland. The first game is against Portland. Villanova, #25 UConn, Iowa State, Oregon, Michigan State and Alabama are also in the tournament.

After this they play at Indiana before conference play begins.

I expect UNC to get back to the Final Four.

#7 Duke: The Blue Devils got to the Final Four last season but were beaten by archrival North Carolina. They rely on star freshmen players and this season is no different.

They had the top recruiting class of 2022 with four five-star players and two four-star.

Dereck Lively II is a 7’1 center and No. 1 recruit in the class. Small forward Dariq Whitehead (6’6) is the No. 2 recruit in the class of 2022.

Center Kyle Filipowski (6’11) add depth and length at the position. He was also the No. 4 recruit in the nation. So far, he leads the team in rebounds with 11 per game.

Power forward Mark Mitchell (6’8) rounds out the five-star players. He leads the team in scoring with 15.5 PPG.

Last season was Jon Scheyer’s first as head coach in Durham. It has not slowed down their ability to recruit.

Duke has a blockbuster matchup against #6 Kansas in Indianapolis November 15th. After that they have a couple of easy home games against Delaware and Bellarmine.

This is where we enter parallel universe territory. They also play in a Thanksgiving tournament in Oregon named after Nike’s co-founder. The Phil Knight Legacy tournament begins with a game against Oregon State. Florida, #2 Gonzaga, Purdue, West Virginia and Xavier are also in the tournament.

It’s hard to tell how young players will develop but they have a tough schedule that will answer that question.

#16 Virginia: It is hard to believe the ACC only has three ranked teams. I have to mention the shooting on the UVA recently, where three football players and two students were injured.

The home game November 14 against Northern Iowa was cancelled because of that.

The Cavaliers are scheduled to play in the Continental Tire Main Event tournament in Las Vegas later this week.

They will play #5 Baylor in the first game. They will face #8 UCLA or #19 Illinois in the following game. They play at #20 Michigan to end the month of November in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Senior guard Armaan Franklin leads the team with 14.5 PPG and makes 53% of his shots.

I think Virginia can go deep in the NCAA Tournament.

 

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