Robert Craft

Storm In Miami

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After five games, what have we learned about the Miami Hurricanes?

They aren’t well coached. The Hurricanes are off to a poor start with a 2-3 record. The Hurricanes have yet to beat a Power Five opponent, losing to Florida, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

First year head coach Manny Diaz is saying all the right things but morale victories don’t keep you off the hot seat. Is Manny in over his head?

On December 30, 2018, Coach Diaz was hired as the head coach at the University of Miami. Diaz was Miami Defensive Coordinator from 2016-2018. Coach Diaz is considered the engineer behind the “Turnover Chain” and a top 10 defense.

Miami fans want to restore the glory days of the 80’s and 90’s. When ‘THE U” rained terror down of college football. The Hurricanes dominated college football landscape winning five National Championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 & 2001) plus national finalist (1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000 & 2002).

Obviously, the Hurricanes of today won’t live up to the “The U” standards.

While it is premature to call for Coach Diaz’s job; the rest of the coaching staff should feel the pressure.

Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker has taken a top 10 defense and turned it into a dumpster fire. Miami currently ranks 15 in total defense. Virginia Tech scoring 42 points is not the Miami standard. It’s very clear Coach Diaz has to become more involved with the defense.

Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos inherited an offensive line that is offensive. Miami’s offensive line has been under scrutiny all season and are ranked 125th in the country in sacks allowed.

Quarterback Jarren Williams had been getting destroyed. Miami has talent at receiver and tight end but it doesn’t matter if Williams has no time to throw the ball.

Running Backs DeeJay Dallas has made the most of their opportunities rushing for 410 yard and scoring 6 touchdowns in five games. Dallas could be one of the top running backs in the country if he wasn’t having to make two guys miss on every play.

Enos get paid to put points on the board. He’s doing just that with the worst offensive line in college football.

Enos now has a quarterback controversy with Jarren Williams getting benched and N”Kosi Perry throwing for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday.

The remainder of the Hurricanes schedule is relatively easy to manage. The Hurricanes play Virginia, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Louisville. FIU and Duke.

Miami must win 4 of these games to become bowl eligible. After losing to Virginia Tech this past Saturday, becoming bowl eligible will prove to be an uphill battle.

How does Manny Diaz salvage the remainder of the season? First, Diaz must become more involved with the defense. Second, he must hold coaches, players and himself accountable. Finally, he has to do a better job recruiting.

Diaz must influence the defense in practice and on a day to day basis. Coaching defense is how Manny Diaz got the job at Miami. This is the biggest sense of urgency for Miami.

Players and coaches must be held accountable for their actions. Miami finished the game against Virginia Tech with 11 penalties for 90 yards.

Three key personal foul penalties extend Virginia Tech drives. Miami tied the game but Mike Harley’s personal foul for celebration gave Virginia Tech great field position on their winning touchdown drive.

Miami coaches created the “Turnover Chain and Touchdown Rings.” Players care more about wearing them than winning.

The blood of college football is recruiting, and The Hurricanes must do a better job. Miami is currently ranked 27 nationally and 4th in the ACC (247Sports). This is unacceptable!

The Hurricanes glory days appear long gone and the future does not look bright.

The Trask Train

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

“What if I told you a quarterback that hasn’t started a game since ninth grade would be the starting quarterback for the University of Florida.” Stealing the tagline for ESPN’s 30 for 30, Kyle Trask made his first start at quarterback last Saturday.

Kyle Trask, a redshirt junior, hasn’t started a football game since he was on the Freshman team at Manvel High. Trask backed up current Houston Cougars starting quarterback D’Eriq King.

Saturday that all changed, Trask led the Gators to a 34-3 routing of Tennessee. Trask went 20 for 28 with 293 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

He completed his first five passing attempts for 98 yard and most of the 98 yards were air yards, not yards after the catch.

Trask stated, “I’ve been waiting for my number to get called, and I knew I was going to be ready when my number was called.”

He came close to starting last season after playing well in relief of Feleipe Franks against Missouri, but a foot injury ended that chance.

Many fans on social media and message boards speculated that Trask would transfer to Central Michigan. Central Michigan is coached by former Florida coach Jim McElwain.

Trask has said repeatedly he never considered entering the transfer portal. That decision has paid off for both Trask and the Gators.

Trask did have three turnovers in the game. He was sacked in the first quarter and fumbled the ball. That cannot happen. The two interceptions are correctable with proper coaching.

The Florida Gators, after this week’s sacrificial lamb game against Towson, will face four games in six weeks against three teams ranked in the top 10. This stretch of games will define the Gators season and Kyle Trask.

Trask has shown in a game and a half that he is pocket passer and a willing runner.

Trask must improve his mental clock, reading coverages and blitzes. He looks too cool in the pocket with defenders bearing down on him.

He must recognize time in the pocket and either throw the ball away or run. Trask must learn to read the blitz package and get rid of the ball to appropriate receiver.

With Auburn, LSU and Georgia will Trask have enough in game experience to make good decisions? Those are the real tests.

For the Gators to be competitive against the Elite programs: Georgia and LSU, they must clean up their carelessness and bad decisions with the ball.

Simply put, they have to stop turning the ball over. Florida will not beat Auburn, LSU or Georgia if they lose the turnover battle.

In my opinion, the Gators are a better team with Kyle Trask at quarterback. His calm cool demeanor makes him QB1. October will make or break Trask.

Gator fans time to hop aboard the TRASK TRAIN.

As The Jaguars Turn

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Just barely into a long NFL season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars look like a franchise in chaos. Injuries, poor coaching, and a star player demanding a trade hovers over DUVAL.

The Jaguars made a huge splash in the off season by signing Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. The deal was a four-year contract worth $88 million. The deal reportedly has 50 million dollars guaranteed.

Nick Foles’ Jaguars debut did not follow script. Foles was injured in the first quarter against Kansas City, suffering a broken left clavicle (collar bone). Rookie Gardner Minshew replaced Foles after the injury.

The Jaguars’ aspirations for a revival this season relied on Foles arrival. Many fans believe the Jaguars are one capable quarterback away from being a Super Bowl contender.

Just one quarter into the season, the Jaguars already were left dealing with an injury to Foles and now they will be without him for 8 to 10 weeks.

Game two was filled with drama. First on the field, trailing 13-6 with three minutes remaining, the Jaguars took possession at their 32-yard line. Gardner Minshew lead a two minute and thirty second drive capped with a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.

Coach Doug Marrone decided to go for a two-point conversion.  Leonard Fournette was stopped inches short of the goal line and the Jaguars fell 13-12.

Doug Marrone must have thought he was a Riverboat gambler, who decided to risk the game on a controversial decision to go for two-point conversion at the end of the game.

From the decision to the actual play call, Fournette run between the tackles. The question remains why go for two?

The Jaguars defense was playing extremely well. Minshew had the hot hand, leading a 68-yard scoring drive.

Coach Marrone just outsmarted himself and his team paid the price. My opinion, the Jaguars should have taken their chances with momentum into overtime.

The headline story Jags camp was the sideline spat between All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone.

On a third down play, Ramsey was covering Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  Hopkins made a diving catch and Ramsey immediately jumps up and waves his arms to signal incomplete.

Ramsey wanted Coach Marrone to have the play reviewed. Marrone did not throw the red challenge flag. The drive continued and the Texans kicked a field goal to take the lead 3-0.

Gene Steratore, the CBS official analysis, stated the it looked pretty clear that it was not a catch. Ramsey walking off the field clearly upset and when Coach Marrone said something to him, he turned around and the two went at it.

Marrone put his hands on Ramsey, who jerked away. Moments later, he walked over to Ramsey and said something that set him off again. Ronnie Harrison had to get between Ramsey and Coach Marrone.

That’s when it ended. Not so fast.

On the following Monday, the Jaguars All-Pro cornerback demanded a trade. Ramsey must be taking a line out of Antonio Brown’s off-field play book.

Ramsey quoted “the whole city trash. Coaches trash, fans trash too. They only care about crab trays and hard drugs. I’m Out!”

 

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Recapping last weekend college football action around the sunshine state, we have the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, to steal a line from the classic 1966 spaghetti western.

The Good:

UCF traveled to Boca Raton on Saturday and true freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led the Knights to a 48-14 victory over FAU.

UCF’s rushing attack of McCrae (93 yards), Thompson (91 yards and a touchdown), Anderson (75 yards) and Killins (37) amassed more than 300 yards rushing for the second week in a row.

Gabriel finished the night 7 of 19 passing for 245 yard and 2 touchdowns. UCF’s defense put pressure on Florida Atlantic quarterback Chris Robinson all night long. UCF tallied 5 sacks with 16 tackles for loss.

Up next for the Knights is Stanford.

Stanford quarterback K.J. Castello is expected to start after missing last week’s loss to USC due to a concussion.

UCF opens as a seven-point favorite over the Cardinals. This is a classic battle of two contrasting styles. UCF wants to play fast, whereas Stanford prefers to play in a phone booth.

UCF’s defense will be challenged against Stanford’s huge offensive line.

Game time is 3:30 at The Bounce House.  Stanford melts in the fourth quarter. My take: UCF 34 Stanford 21

Florida Gators took care of business against one of their cupcakes on Saturday by shutting out UT Martin 45-0. Feleipe Franks completed 25-27 for 270 yards, 0 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. The Gators took care of business on both sides of the ball against a less talented UT Martin.

Up next for the Gators is a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to open SEC play against the Wildcats.

Both teams are 2-0 but Kentucky is forced to play without starting quarterback Terry Wilson due to injury. Wilson torched the Gators last season as Kentucky ended a 31-game losing streak vs. Florida.

Sawyer Smith will get the nod for the Wildcats on Saturday night. Kavosiey Smoke leads the Wildcat’s rushing attack 18 carries for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Florida will enter this contest with two major players out due to injury Kadarius Toney (shoulder) and C.J. Henderson (ankle).

The Gators look for revenge in the commonwealth after Kentucky broke the streak.  Gators defense too much for Smith and company. My take: Florida 31 Kentucky 16

The Bad:

The Miami Hurricanes have lost their first two games since 1978.

North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Hurricanes 28-25. The Tar Heels were led for the second week in a row by Freshman quarterback Sam Howell. Howell’s touchdown pass to Dazz Newsome with 1:01 left in the game put the Tar Heels up 28-25.

Miami had one last chance but Bubba Baxa shanked the field goal attempt wide left to seal the North Carolina victory.

Jarren Williams 30 for 39 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns and Deejay Dallas 14 carries for 107 yards paced the Hurricanes.

Miami will rebound this week with a blowout win against an overmatched Bethune Cookman Wildcats. My take: Miami 54 Bethune Cookman 13

The Ugly:

Florida State won the game against UL Monroe but collapsed in the 2nd half again.

Leading 24-7 at half, Florida State forgot for the second week that there are four quarters to play.

UL Monroe scored on their first four drive of the second half. UL Monroe outscored the Seminoles 31-14 in the second half, and forced overtime.

Cam Akers carried the Seminoles the entire game with 36 carries for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns while also catching 5 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Akers scored on a third and goal to give the Seminoles lead 45-38.

UL Monroe QB Caleb Evans walked in moments later to bring UL Monroe an extra point from a second overtime.

The Seminoles got lucky when the extra point sailed wide right.

Florida State travels Virginia to open ACC conference play against the Cavaliers. Coach Taggart and company avoid a second straight disaster.

FSU right now is a dumpster fire and the Cavaliers take advantage of the chaos.  My take: Virginia 31 FSU 23.

The Florida Heat

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With fans on social media torching coach Willie Taggart in the aftermath of Saturday’s season opening loss to Boise State, Seminole fans are wondering what it will take for the FSU administration to Fire coach Willie Taggart.

Florida State played in 36 consecutive bowl games from 1982-2017. Before last year’s 5-7 season Florida State opened the 2019 season by blowing an18 point lead at half and getting beat down by a less talented Boise State.

This game, like the whole state of Florida, was impacted by Hurricane Dorian. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night in Jacksonville, but the venue and time changed.

It looked like Florida State was benefiting from a noon start at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles jumped out to a halftime lead 31-19 thanks to explosive plays from James Blackman and Cam Akers. Florida State fans were gloating about offensive coordinator Kendal Briles had succeeded and raised the bar for the Seminole offense.

Someone forgot to tell FSU they had to play four quarters on Saturday.

Florida State’s collapse was a complete (lack of) team effort.

Boise State’s ability to run the football wore down the Seminole Defense, and the offensive side of the ball.

The Seminoles stopped hitting those explosive plays shown in the first half. Boise State ran 108 plays and controlled the clock with 40:03 minutes of possession.

I could breakdown more stats on how Florida State choked on Saturday, but the bottom line is Boise State’s coaches out coached Willie Taggart and FSU’s staff.

Social Media went crazy after the epic melt down by the Seminoles. One Florida State fan posted a poll suggesting replacing Willie Taggart with Urban Meyer. TALK ABOUT POLL RESULTS!!

“We laid an egg in the second half,” Taggart said.  This is Taggart’s second straight home opener loss and Florida State’s third.

Florida State is a premier college football program. Rivals recruiting ranks over the past five years had the Seminole recruiting class at number three.

The Seminoles won a National Title in 2013 and were in the playoffs in 2014. Many Florida State fans still want to blame Jimbo Fisher on the lack of talent, but the Seminoles don’t have a problem with talent

Some media outlets say Willie Taggart is on the “hot seat.” I do not believe this to be entirely true.

Willie Taggart’s buyout after this year is $17 million, not including assistant coaches.

Florida State Athletics has lost $3 million last year and had to get $6 million from boosters to balance the budget.

Florida State fans, Willie Taggart is not going anywhere!

Taggart amazes me with his ability to rise up and convince Athletic Director’s to pay him insane money with a record (52-57).

Also, Taggart just hired Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator in December. Briles served on his father’s staff at Baylor and received and NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations. He was also named in a Title IX lawsuit filed against Baylor.

Florida State fans are fed up with Willie Taggart and it’s hard to blame them when you consider how last year went and how awful the collapse was in the second half Saturday against a non-power five opponent.

Considering the talent on the Florida State roster, Willie Taggart is in over his head.

Unless a Big Booster comes up with a pile of cash, Willie Taggart will be coaching Florida State this season and next, so buckle up Nole fans it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Gators and Hurricanes

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After all of the talking, all the predicting and all of the back and forth from both fan bases on Social Media, it’s finally here: The Miami Hurricanes and The Florida Gators kick off this Saturday.

The eyes of the College Football world will be watching Gators vs Canes when they face off at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on August 24th.  Let’s breakdown the kick off to the 150th season of College Football.

MIAMI OFFENSE vs. FLORIDA DEFENSE

Miami just announced that they are starting redshirt Freshman Jarren Williams.

Every football fan knows the best way to take pressure off a young quarterback is run the football. Establishing the run game early is vital for the Hurricanes success in this contest.

The Hurricanes rushing attack begins with junior Deejay Dallas. Dallas had an outstanding sophomore season, compiling a team best 1,260 all-purpose yards.

Promising sophomore Cam’Ron Harris is expected to back up Dallas. However, I believe the battle will be between the Hurricanes offensive line and the Gators front seven, and whether or not Miami can run the ball.

Miami is starting a true Freshman Zion Nelson at left tackle, and redshirt Freshman John Campbell at right tackle.

Florida lost Jachai Polite, but the defensive line is 9 deep with seasoned SEC players. Todd Grantham (D-coordinator) will disguise his schemes to confuse the young QB and tackles.

The question is, can Dan Enos (Miami O-coordinator) take advantage of Grantham’s aggressive style?

Miami has explosive receivers in Jeff Thomas, Mike Harley, and Buffalo transfer KJ Osborn.  They will match up against two top corners in CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson.

One advantage for Miami in this matchup is Tight End; Breven Jordan and Will Mallory against Florida’s Linebackers David Reese and Amari Burney. Florida has always had problems with Tight Ends.

FLORIDA OFFENSE vs. MIAMI DEFENSE

This is the match up I’m looking forward to watching: Head Coach vs. Head Coach.

Miami’s front seven is probably the greatest strength for Manny Diaz and his team. The Hurricanes return their starting Linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McClould.

On the defensives line for Miami, Junior defensive ends Jonathan Garvin and Trevon Hill are looking to take full advantage of Florida’s new starters at both tackles.

If Miami has a weakness, it is in their secondary; where the Canes have to replace 3 starters from last season.

Florida’s offense will ride or die in this game behind Feleipe Franks.

Florida is loaded with skilled players like Lamical Perine, Van Jefferson, Kadarius Toney (Tag Positions) and many more. The question is can Florida’s inexperienced offense line hold up against Miami’s front seven.

Florida’s offensive line coach, Dan Hevesy will earn his paycheck in this contest.

Florida has four new starters on the offensive line; Stone Forsythe (LT), Brett Heggie (LG), Chris Bleich (RG) and Jean Delance (RT) (Delance sustained an injury in camp and is questionable for Saturday’s game). Depth is an issue; Florida doesn’t have a true utility lineman among the reserves.

COACHES

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. This is the first game for Manny Diaz as a head coach with an entirely new offensive staff.

PREDICTION

This game gives me deja vu of Florida opener in 2017 versus Michigan.

Florida starting a redshirt freshman quarterback against a tough veteran defense.

I believe Florida’s defense controls the game long enough for Florida’s offensive line to wear out Miami’s front seven.

Feleipe Franks has a big game with his arm and legs throwing for 2 scores and running for another. Florida 31 Miami 17.

Follow The Money

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The first kickoff is two weeks away, but I sit and wonder what it will take for a Non-Power 5 team to receive an invite to The College Football Playoffs.

The University of Central Florida for the last 2 seasons have been undefeated, yet shut out by the College Football Playoff Committee.

Since the Playoffs have begun, only Power 5 teams have received an invite. Unlike College Basketball, which loves the Cinderella story, College Football has required a traditional powerhouse program to play for the National Championship.

After finishing 13-0 in 2017, UCF opened 2018 ranked 21st in the AP and 24th in the ESPN Poll. Teams like Washington, Wisconsin, Miami, FSU were all ahead of an undefeated UCF. When the dust settled on the CFP rankings, UCF (12-0) team was ranked 8th behind 2 loss Georgia & Michigan and 1 loss Oklahoma and Ohio State.

I know UCF’s transient quarterback McKenzie Milton was injured and the committee takes that into consideration, but just look at history; 2007 an undefeated Hawaii team was snubbed for a two-loss LSU. Yes, this was during the BCS.

Why hasn’t UCF received an invite? Maybe I watch too many police shows on TV, but if you want the simple answer “Follow the Money.” The Power 5 Elitist Do Not Want to Share the Wealth!

Power 5 conferences get $54 million each, while Non-Power 5 conferences split just over $84.5 million off Playoff revenue.

Giving a Non-Power 5 a bid would take millions of dollars from the conference that control the playoff (look who makes up the Playoff Committee).

I can hear one of my fraternity brothers now, “UCF does not play anyone!” Scheduling for Non-Power 5 teams has been an issue. In 2017 and 2018, UCF had Power 5 teams Georgia Tech, North Carolina (canceled due to a hurricane) Maryland, and Pittsburgh (which they beat handily).

I get a chuckle out of the talking heads: after UCF this past year manhandled Pittsburgh (45-14), the experts were saying this is a transition year for Pitt.

A month later, when Pitt lost to Notre Dame 19-14, the experts were praising Pitt for a hard-fought loss and a moral victory for the program. This season UCF plays Stanford (the winning Pac 12 team over the past 10 years) at home and Pittsburg (who not afraid of scheduling a home and home) on the road.

I said it once and I’ll say it again “Follow the Money”. Danny White, UCF Athletic Director has been vocal about this Elitist Attitude surrounding college football. In 2017 when White decided to claim a National Championship for UCF, the media went crazy.

Every day for two months UCF was talked about on national TV, Twitter, and Facebook. A study commissioned by The University of Central Florida in March of 2018 estimated the publicity from the school’s unbeaten season and National Title Claim was worth $200 million.

Last week, Danny was at it again when he scheduled a home and home against FAU. It’s was the lead story on many shows.

The question surrounding a two for one with the Florida Gators has been a hot topic. Danny White is open to a two for one with Florida, but Florida doesn’t want to play at UCF. Florida prefers to play the game at the Citrus Bowl.

As a UCF fan, Danny White is a genius, but Power 5 teams fans think he’s a lunatic. I think he’s an Evil Genius, he is setting UCF as the top Non-Power 5 school in the country. If or when there is expansion, UCF will be on top of the call list.

I leave you with this, why do the Power 5 Elitists hate UCF? MONEY