Lots of news and notes on Florida State sports today. And info on opponents of the Seminoles.
- FSU scored 23 runs and beat Texas A&M. The rubber match of this super will be at 7 on ESPN2.
- Tyler Hunter, the defensive back from Valdosta, Georgia, has decided to report to FSU this Saturday and will not sign a baseball contract with the Orioles.
- Chat: Chat with Bruce Feldman - SportsNation - ESPN
- Jimbo Fisher said on the baseball broadcast that EJ Manuel is at 242 pounds. That is excellent news. When you have a kid with legs like Manuel, you run him. Glad to see he is bulking up to take the pounding. I think EJ would still look lanky even at 250.
- Jim Lamar tweeted that Brandon Jenkins is up to 266 pounds. He's in line to make a few All-America teams and more importantly for him, that news could help him play the run better and impress scouts.
Sean (Tallahassee) Does FSU beat the Sooners in Doak this year?
bruce feldman (2:18 PM) My guess right now is no, but it will be a lot closer than FSU-OU was last year. Mark Stoops will have his D much better prepared and the Sooners are a much different team outside the state of Oklahoma. But I like the experience of Landry Jones, Broyles and Lewis in a tough road spot.
Miami landed three commitments over the weekend. All three are good, but not great prospects at this point. None held FSU offers. They did hold some decent defensive offers (UNC, BC, WVU, Ole Miss). Credit to Al Golden, however, for getting Miami's numbers up. He'll need to recruit better talent than those three, however, if he plans to stay at Miami in the long term as FSU is still crushing the 'Canes in recruiting. 70% of FSU's commitments are in the ESPNU 150. Miami has only 35% of its commitments in the 150. Recruiting rankings aren't everything, but they are the best predictor of future success.
Jonathan Taylor and James Deloach, a very good package deal from Georgia holding offers from everyone in the country, committed to the Dawgs. I didn't expect FSU to land the pair, but it's worth mentioning here that of all the teams, FSU did finish second. Taylor is 6'4" 320 and doesn't turn 17 until Thanksgiving. Scary good prospect. At least he did not choose UF, Miami, or Clemson. Have fun with him, Mark Richt.
Travis Blanks of Tallahassee committed to Clemson. Blanks wanted to leave the state and made that well known to everyone, as his finalists were Clemson, Auburn, UGA, and TCU. Blanks is a good player, though a bit overrated as he loves the media attention and attends a lot of camps (lots of exposure).
Here are a bunch of excellent previews for you to read. I love the work Bill and Paul are doing on these! You can know so much about every team before the season even starts. There's no reason to complain about the long summer.
Neuheisel has to be out at UCLA, right? Right? That seems like a good job now that SC is on full probation. What does Paul have to say?
I’m not optimistic. To me, this is where U.C.L.A. is slated to land: outside of bowl eligibility, in the five-win range, though I don’t think four is anywhere close to out of the realm of possibility. It all starts at the top, and Neuheisel’s hold on this ship is very, very unsteady. The whole program is unsteady; sure of what it wants to do offensively but lacking the pieces to really do so, talented on defense but still thin at some very key spots. So what is U.C.L.A. going to do? Rally together around a coach with a dim future and a staff full of new faces? That’s the only thing the Bruins can do if they wish to return to bowl play, but I’m not entirely sure if this staff is one that instills confidence with another tough schedule on the docket. This is basically the same team as a year ago, one that couldn’t beat a winning team and was often taken behind the woodshed during conference play. Houston and Texas will be much, much better, so a 2-1 mark outside of the Pac-12 will be more difficult to come by. When it comes to the Pac-12, I’m utterly unconvinced that the Bruins can score enough to keep pace with the teams on the schedule, and while the defense will be more aggressive I’m worried that it won’t be able to do enough to lead the Bruins to wins on its own. From top to bottom, I’m really not happy with the direction of the program as it currently stands: U.C.L.A. seems to be at best treading water, which is a troubling trend when compared to a conference full of teams on an upswing. Is there a silver lining? Of course. As mentioned earlier, another down season might lead to a coaching change, which I feel might be the best thing for the program. Now watch U.C.L.A. go 4-8 and Dan Guerrero decide to bring Neuheisel back for one more go.
Think the ECU Pirates miss former DC Greg Hudson (now FSU's linebackers coach)?
There are positively no worries whatsoever with this offense, which if anything will be better than it was a year ago. Davis has exceeded the expectations that surrounded his transfer from Boston College, fulfilling his promise and more in an offense well-suited to his talents. The offensive line lost some pieces but will be better in year two in this system – the same can be said of the rest of the offense, even a receiver corps and backfield that must also replace a few key pieces. Simply put, E.C.U. won’t struggle to score against most of the teams on its schedule. But will the Pirates stop anybody? Well, I’m really not convinced that the defense is going to be good enough to allow the Pirates to make any improvement in the win column. How could I be? Yeah, six starters are back from a year ago, but in my mind, the defense that returns will enter another learning curve with the new alignment, which may play to some of this group’s strength but will serve as the program’s third system in as many years. Of course, this factor is exacerbated exponentially by the fact that judging by last year’s results, this defense is still far away from putting a competent product on the field. It won’t matter if E.C.U. scores with abandon if the defense isn’t there, as we found out down the stretch in 2010. Then there’s this schedule, which isn’t conducive to a strong start; E.C.U. might need to close strong in order to get to six wins. I don’t think repeating last year’s bowl berth is an impossibility in the least, but I do think E.C.U. needs to find some answers defensively before we start considering the Pirates realistic Conference USA contenders. The real contenders are far more well-rounded.
A double dip with the Miami Redhawks here from Bill & Paul.
There is quite a bit to like about Miami this year -- an outstanding front seven, two solid quarterbacks, and a potential go-to receiver, to name three. But it is certainly worth reiterating that the Redhawks went 6-0 in close games last year and, from an F/+ perspective, really did not improve as much as their record would indicate. The improvement they did make is likely rather sustainable, but it was still only a step or two forward.
I really, really like Don Treadwell. I like the job he did in a fluid situation at Michigan State last year (head coach Mark D'Antonio suffered a heart attack, and Treadwell served as interim coach, beating Wisconsin in the process), and I think he could be capable of very good things in Oxford (and, therefore, the major conference job that he would naturally inherit in a few years). They are by no means a runaway favorite in the MAC, but they'll have a very good chance to defend their East Division crown. Our initial projections suggest an impressive four-way race between Miami, Temple, Ohio and Kent State, and that sounds about right to me.
What do you do for an encore after such a magical season? You win 11 games, of course. This team will lose 11 games before it wins 11, in my mind, though not to say that Miami doesn’t have the pieces in place to repeat as the MAC East and overall MAC champs. But I think we’ll see a step back in the win column under the first-year coach, most notably because of a schedule that’s far more imposing than the cakewalk that allowed Miami to leap to 10 wins a year ago. There are four very tough games in non-conference play; I think the RedHawks will go winless outside of MAC play, though Army is certainly beatable. Then there’s the fact that Miami gets three of the MAC’s best on the road – just as of today, I’m seeing at least six losses right off the bat, and thanks to a conference that won’t have quite as many weakling as it did last fall, the potential is there for more. And there’s the matter of pulling out close games: Miami won six games by a touchdown or less last fall, needing a fourth quarter score to win all but one, and that’s a concern. Why? Because the RedHawks aren’t creeping up on anyone in 2011; the MAC has its sites set on taking down the defending champs, and Miami had better be ready for every opponent’s best shot. Then there’s the first-year coach, one who won’t tinker with that much but who is sure to undergo the sharp curve associated with his first head coach position – though last fall’s experience at Michigan State will benefit Treadwell greatly. Now, this team is not any less talented in the least – though there are those continued issues up front and in the running game – so it’s not going to fall off the face of the map. But getting back to bowl play might be tougher than most expect.
2011 Season Preview: Ceilings And The Kentucky Wildcats - SBNation.com
Kentucky has won more than eight games in a season just three times in their history, and they probably won't do so in 2011 with a team in transition either. Joker Phillips appears to be a good young coach, but exactly what should be expected of him in Lexington?
The historical precedent at Kentucky is not particularly high, so five straight bowls is nothing to scoff at for the Wildcats. Games against Western Kentucky (in ... Nashville?), Central Michigan and Jacksonville State should get them halfway to a sixth straight, but the rest will depend on, obviously, how much the defense can rebound and how much the offense can avoid regression. A rebound in both fumbles luck and YPP margin (both of which were poor in 2010) will help, but only so much.
With a good offensive line and at least marginal experience at the skill positions, I don't see too significant a drop-off on the offensive side of the ball, but clearly the defense is going to be a hindrance here. UK's recruiting rankings don't really hold up in the SEC, and if Joker Phillips has any chance of taking Kentucky to a higher level, it is going to be a slow go. Kentucky could be interesting and somewhat entertaining in 2011, but despite an SEC East in transition, the Wildcats' ceiling should still be around 7-5.