Tag Archives: Derwin James

Bold Predictions for Florida State vs Houston

With the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl only being a day away, there isn’t a whole lot that hasn’t been said about the matchup between the Houston Cougars and Florida State Seminoles. The Seminoles are favored by seven, which most people agree with, giving the benefit of the doubt of a close matchup to the team with a better profile in recent history. Even with that, there isn’t much doubt that this will be a game that goes down to the end.

The Seminoles haven’t been able to put a lot of points on the board against any quality team this season, while Houston scores the 11th-most points per game in the nation. On the other side, Florida State allows the fifth-least points per game to opponents in the country, compared to Houston, who rank 19th in points allowed. Statistics can’t be relied on to predict a winner in this one, this will be your classic; is the national powerhouse team in fact better than a similar team that isn’t in a power five conference?

Having said all of that, here are a few bold predictions for the game:

GREG WARD JR. RUSHES FOR 150 YARDS AND 2 TD’S

This has to be the scariest aspect of the game for Florida State fans; the prospect of a running quarterback. Greg Ward Jr. is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the Seminoles have faced in the past few years outside of Marcus Mariota, and typically, these types of quarterbacks are able to run free against Seminole defenses. Deshaun Watson and Justin Thomas, of Clemson and Georgia Tech, respectively, each accumulated at least 88 yards rushing against the Seminoles, and both games were losses for the Noles. I don’t see why this game will be any different (save for maybe the loss column.) Ward will be able to do what he wants on the ground, to the tune of over 150 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

SEAN MAGUIRE THROWS FOR 350 YARDS AND 4 TD’S

It's been an interesting year for Sean Maguire, but he'll prove his doubters wrong in this game
It’s been an interesting year for Sean Maguire, but he’ll prove his doubters wrong in this game

It’s been an interesting year behind center for the Seminoles. It began with Everett Golson, developed into a seesaw between him and Maguire, to now, where Maguire has firmly become the quarterback for the Seminoles. This will be the best game of Maguire’s season. Considering Houston’s rush defense (which I’ll get to later,) and their terrible pass defense that has allowed 3,449 yards through the air this season (which ranks them at 121 of 128 teams,) Maguire will have a field day against the Cougar defense, throwing for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. This will be Maguire’s break out game for the Seminoles, and will begin the big question of whether he should remain the starter for 2016, or if the five-star recruit Malik Henry should be given the reins as a freshman.

HOUSTON HOLDS DALVIN COOK TO LESS THAN 50 RUSH YARDS

As I was alluding to earlier, Houston’s rush defense is very, very good. The Cougars allow only 3.3 yards per rush attempt, good for 6th in the nation in that category. Obviously they face a tough task in stopping one of the best running backs in the country in Dalvin Cook, but Houston will be up to the task. They’ve had success this season against potent rushing attacks, most noticeably having held Navy – who have the second most rush yards on the season – to only the 3.9 yards per carry in a win. Cook will have his hands full against Houston, and the results will tell the story, Houston will hold Dalvin Cook under 50 rush yards.

DERWIN JAMES HAS TWO INT’S AND TWO SACKS

Derwin James is poised to have a breakout game to finish his freshman campaign
Derwin James is poised to have a breakout game on a national stage to finish his freshman campaign

One of the wild cards of this game that I’ll be very interested to watch will be how the Seminoles utilize freshman safety Derwin James. James has proven to be a jack-of-all-trades for the Seminoles as the season has worn on, as he’s proved to be equally talented in coverage as he is rushing the passer. I think he’ll be put all over the field, at times being in charge of containing Ward, and at times dropping back in coverage. People who have watched James play recently are certainly aware of the talent he possesses and it can be argued that he has already had a couple breakout games. However, this will be the first time since he’s become a vital component on the Nole defense that the nation will be able to watch him play, and the nation will recognize a star in the making after he has two sacks and two interceptions on New Year’s Eve.

Seminoles defeat the Gators; ACC Wrap Up

On Saturday the Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators in dominant fashion 27-2. The Seminoles have now won five of their past six games against the Gators. Without an ACC Championship berth, the Seminoles head into bowl season with a 10-2 regular season record.

This wasn’t the prettiest game to watch for non-Floridians, as both offenses struggled to gain momentum for most of the game. At 13-0 heading into the fourth, the Florida Gators held the ‘Noles in check for most of the game, but Dalvin Cook eventually wore the Gators down and proved to be too much for them to handle. Cook ran for 150 of his 186 rushing yards in the fourth quarter, scored two touchdowns and ultimately brought home the victory for the Seminoles.

Florida State’s defense simply shut the Gator’s offense down, holding them to only 262 total yards. Gator’s quarterback Treon Harris’ poor play continued against the Seminoles, and Kelvin Taylor’s 136 rushing yards weren’t enough to carry the entire offense. Florida’s offensive ineptitude was one of the biggest takeaways from this game, and one has to wonder how they are going to score against Alabama in the SEC Championship.

For Seminoles, this was the perfect way to end the season. In a year that was supposed to be a transition year after losing Jameis Winston, the Seminoles were only a couple of plays away from playing in the ACC Championship Game. In total, it was a pretty successful season for the Seminoles. Despite shuffling quarterbacks during the season, they still managed another ten-win season, and there are a lot of positives to take into the next season. The Noles still have one more season from superstar running back Dalvin Cook, and freshman safety Derwin James looks ready to lead the defense in the future.

It wasn’t an ACC Championship year or a particularly great season for Florida State fans with lofty expectations, but fans have to be happy about how the year panned out and the way the team played. Jimbo Fisher turned in one of his best seasons as the head coach, and made a team that lost NFL players at many positions a top ten team in the nation. Going 10-2 in a year that was considered a transition year speaks to the amount of talent that Florida State has within the program. Coach Fisher continues to bring in top recruiting classes, and this season really tested the depth of his team.

At 10-2, the Seminoles have some time off before their bowl game and opponent are announced.

Here’s what else is happening in the ACC:

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP

On Saturday the #1 Clemson Tigers will play #10 North Carolina in the ACC Championship. Even with North Carolina’s relatively low ranking, the winner of this game will probably find themselves representing the ACC in the College Football Playoff. This has all the makings for a high-scoring game that showcases the two best quarterbacks in the ACC between Deshaun Watson and Marquise Williams. Prior to the season it wouldn’t have surprised many people to see Clemson playing in the Championship game, but UNC has been the surprise of the year in the ACC. Behind Marquise Williams’ great season, the Tarheels have the #11 ranked offense in the nation in points scored. That offense will face their toughest task of the season against Clemson’s 7th ranked defense in yards allowed. In order for the Tarheels to win Williams will have to prove to the nation he is as advertised. The ACC Championship is at 8pm on Saturday the 5th.

VIRGINIA TECH IS BOWL ELIGIBLE

Virginia Tech defeated Virginia on the road 23-20, and will be playing in a bowl game in Frank Beamer’s last season with the Hokies. The scene after the game on Saturday was one that would put a smile on anybody’s face watching Beamer celebrate with his team. At 6-6, it hasn’t been a good season by any means, but considering the circumstances Hokie fans have to be content with the way the season ended up playing out. In a bowl game yet to be determined, Beamer has a chance to end up with a winning season in his last year with the program.

THREE ACC TEAMS IN THE TOP TEN

Heading into championship weekend, the ACC has three teams ranked in the top ten between #1 Clemson, #9 Florida State and #10 North Carolina. The ACC as a whole is pretty top heavy, but three teams placed in the top ten is great for any conference. With five conferences and an independent team ranked in the top ten, the ACC and Big-10 are the only conferences with multiple top ten teams. It goes without being said that it has been a strong year for the ACC. With either UNC or Clemson participating in the Playoff, the ACC has a chance to win two of the last three College Championships.

What to watch for in FSU’s Spring Game

Entering the 2015 Football season, the Florida State Seminoles have a few more questions surrounding the team than in years past. First and foremost, Jameis Winston will no longer be the signal caller for the Seminoles, as Winston is likely heading to Tampa via the first pick in the NFL Draft.

Staying on offense, the Seminoles have lost four senior offensive linemen in Cameron Erving, Bobby Hart, Josue Matias and Tre Jackson, all of which will likely be playing on Sundays in the near future. In addition, star TE Nick O’Leary has entered the NFL draft along with one of the best receivers in Seminole history, Rashad Greene.

The only players returning on offense who can automatically be penciled into a starting spot are RB Dalvin Cook, and WR Travis Rudolph. Cook emerged towards the end of last season as the most explosive back on the Seminoles roster, and cemented his spot after rushing for over 100 yards in the final three games of the season. During the course of the season he surpassed both Karlos Williams and Mario Pender, as not only was he the most effective runner with the ball, but also presented the biggest threat coming out of the backfield. Rudolph proved himself last season as an explosive slot-style receiver, a la Rashad Greene. As a freshman, Rudolph was the second leading wide receiver in receiving yards, and established his spot on the offense as a quick and elusive threat that could stretch the field not only vertically, but horizontally.

On defense the Seminoles are losing some talented players as well, but the replacement of these players is not as much of a question mark compared to the offensive side of the ball. Both starting cornerbacks from last season have declared for the NFL Draft in Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams, both of which are projected to go in the top two rounds of the draft. Additionally defensive linemen Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman are also moving on. These four players were the foundation of the Seminole defense last year, but will be more easily replaced. DB Jalen Ramsey, who starred as the nickel back playing the ‘Star’ role on the Seminole defense last year, has been moved back to corner back, assuming the number one spot after starting his freshman season at corner. The question marks surrounding the secondary exist at the second corner position and the nickel back.

For the defensive line, the Seminoles have a plethora of players with the ability to claim the starting jobs. The Noles have upperclassmen that they can rely on to set the tone for the defensive line in Derrick Mitchell, Chris Casher, DeMarcus Walker and Nile Lawrence-Stample, but the possible emergence of sophomores will be the question regarding the depth chart. Defensive ends Lorenzo Featherston and Jacob Pugh played great in flashes last year, but couldn’t put it together over an entire game. Their progression during the offseason will be a huge factor in developing the depth chart going into the 2015 season.

With all of this in mind, here are a few of the things I’ll be watching carefully during the spring game that will go a long way towards determining what the starting line up will look like on September 5th.

 

Who will seize the starting quarterback position?

If I had to guess who the starting quarterback will be for the first game of the 2015 season, I would say Sean Maguire. This is the easy answer, as he played against Clemson last year in the game that Winston was suspended for. However, the competition for the position will most likely come down to the wire. J.J. Cosentino appears to be the quarterback who will challenge Maguire the most. At 6’4” 237 lbs. the redshirt-freshman represents a player with a higher ceiling than Maguire, but also is more of a wild card. With prototypical size and arm-strength for a quarterback, he has the potential to be a playmaker, opposed to the game-manager that Maguire has looked to be. Even though Maguire appears to have a leg-up on the competition, a good showing by Cosentino could foreshadow a change in the depth chart.

 

What will the secondary look like?

This question goes back to the second corner back position, the nickel back position, and the safety rotation. In regards to who will play the corner position opposite of Jalen Ramsey, it appears that the competition will be between Trey Marshall, Lamarcus Brutus and Malique Jackson. This is a battle that likely won’t be decided by the end of the spring game, or even cemented during the season, but once that player gets established, the rotation of players in the secondary could get very interesting for the Seminoles. Returning starting safeties Tyler Hunter and Nate Andrews are currently the two starters heading into the 2015 season, however, with both of these players displaying occasional lapses during their 2014 seasons, Derwin James, an incoming five-star recruit and number one overall defensive back in the nation could shake up the entire secondary. Depending on James ability to adjust to the college game, he certainly could be the best safety on the Seminoles roster, forcing either Andrews or Hunter off of the field. From the beginning, I expect James to assume the role that Ramsey occupied last year, the Star position. Ultimately, James role on the team heading into the next season will be a huge determining factor to what the Noles secondary will look like. I’ll be intently watching where the Seminoles choose to line him up, and in what packages.

 

Who will be playing on the offensive/defensive lines?

The faces on the Noles two line will be completely different from the ones last season. With numerous departures on both sides, the Noles are basically starting from scratch. On offense, C Ryan Hoefeld and LT Rod Johnson are the only linemen with game experience so it is fair to assume that they will be starters on opening day but besides that the competition is the definition of open. Defensively, the Noles have many experienced players hoping to step up and emerge this year, players like Casher and Lawrence-Stample have showed promise at times, but haven’t displayed enough to be lock down their spots on the depth chart. I’m looking at Featherston, Derrick Nnadi and Jacob Pugh to be players that can really push the seniors, and also establish themselves as pass-rushing threats, as this is something that the Seminoles have continually struggled with.

 

 

What will the wide receiver depth chart look like?

The depth chart beneath Travis Rudolph is very up in the air at this point. Based off of last season, assumedly next in line would be Bobo Wilson, and Ermon Lane, but that doesn’t take into consideration the incoming freshman receivers, nor the promising returning sophomore receivers. George Campbell is a freshman that has the talent to step in and immediately make an impact. At 6’3”, 200 lbs. Campbell could establish himself as the outside receiver if he can prove to the quarterback that he can go up and make tough catches, something that Lane struggled with last season. Besides these guys, there are still numerous players at receiver that could emerge as reliable receivers, Kermit Whitfield, Ja’Von Harrison and Da’Vante Phillips could all make a statement to the coaching staff if they can make some plays during the spring game. The wide receiver depth chart is wide open, and the spring game could help provide clarity to who will be lining up on the field September 5th.