Tag Archives: Jimbo Fisher

Jimbo Fisher’s Impact on Texas

In case you missed it, Texas A&M emptied the bank recently by hiring former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million deal, which is reportedly fully guaranteed. There’s no doubt this is a flashy hire the program needed, and time will tell whether Fisher earns his paycheck. Credit the Aggies…they needed a big hire like this and they swung for the fences and landed one of the top college coaches in the countries, and only one of four current coaches who have won a national championship.

So now that Fisher is going to be heavily recruiting the state of Texas, what does it mean for the Longhorns?

Things just got much more difficult on the recruiting trail, that’s for sure. Tom Herman hasn’t had a lot of difficulties getting the recruits he wants, and A&M was becoming less of a concern with every loss under former head coach Kevin Sumlin. But Fisher is going to be a different animal. The question isn’t going to be if, but rather, when?

I’d be lying if I said Fisher doesn’t have enough connections with Texas High School football coaches. He might or he might not, but since he has the A&M logo on his shirt now, he won’t have a hard time getting high school coaches on his side. I have no doubt Herman can still recruit with some of the best coaches in the country, but A&M not winning anything of significance recently has also helped tremendously.

Now, from an X’s and O’s standpoint, Fisher’s staff is going to be critical to his success on the recruiting trail and on the field. It sounds like Fisher burned every bridge possible as he was exiting Florida State, so there’s a good chance he will have to start from scratch when assembling his staff. This would be a great sign for Texas, as there’s one person on Fisher’s staff at Florida State who could be a difference-maker: Tim Brewster.

Brewster was a long-time coach under Mack Brown and was known for being an outstanding recruiter. He definitely played a huge role in assembling some of the great Texas teams from the mid-2000’s. Herman tried to pluck him away from Florida State when he was hired last year, but Brewster accepted a raise to stay in Tallahassee instead. Now that things may have gone sour with Fisher, is Texas back in play now if Herman wants to make a change or addition on his staff? I would think so, and hope so.

Honestly, though, the only way the Longhorns can counter the Aggies move of hiring Fisher is to win games. They will have recruiting momentum through the early signing period and maybe even through national signing day. But if A&M has a significantly better year on the field in 2018, then the momentum could shift dramatically.

Maybe this hire will be a good thing for Herman. Not that I don’t think he put every ounce of his energy into this season, but now there’s a much greater sense of urgency to win and win right now. It’s unfortunate that these two programs can’t play on the field to settle any arguments about who is better than the other, but that’s exactly what we have to deal with…recruiting battles.

Texas secured their coach for the future last year, and A&M just got theirs as well. The new energy will be good for the A&M program and their frustrated fan base, but Texas fans shouldn’t be nervous just yet. But if the Longhorns decide to lay another egg next season and put together a 6-6 campaign or worse, then you might as well sound the emergency signals in Austin.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

The Sunday Morning Notebook: Afternoon Edition

Please pardon my tardiness and please enjoy this week’s notebook.

 

Clemson Escapes Tallahassee

Deandre Francois did exactly what a quarterback can’t do on a fourth down with the game on the line – he took a sack.  That turnover on downs secured a 37-34 victory for Clemson to help the Tigers stay undefeated on the season.

Week-by-week, Deshaun Watson’s Heisman hopes continue to waiver.  His performances have been excellent, but his solid and consistent numbers are not staggering enough to earn him consideration for the award.

Last week, Watson’s performance was only average by Heisman standards (378 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, 35 rushing yards and a touchdown).  Yesterday, Watson completed 27 of 43 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.  He also rushed for 52 yards.

Watson still doesn’t stack up to Lamar Jackson. Jackson has thrown for more yards and a higher passer rating. They’ve also thrown the same amount of touchdowns.
We can officially count Watson out for the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Notes:

  • Florida State’s final drive was possibly the worst final, comeback-attempt drive a top 25 team has ever had.
    • The drive started on FSU 21-yard line.
    • The first two plays each resulted in a first down.  A third-down holding penalty on the fifth play of the drive created a third and 23 from FSU’s 40 yard-line, but Francois completed a 26-yard pass to Travis Rudolph for the first down on the Clemson 34, which should have set up a game-tying field goal.
    • However, two different FSU linemen moved early on consecutive plays, pushing the Seminoles back ten yards and out of field goal range.  Francois threw consecutive incompletions, then took a sack on 3rd and 20.  After an FSU timeout, Francois took another sack on 4th and 32.
    • To recap: Florida State committed three penalties for -20 yards and gave up two sacks for -33 yards, including one on fourth down that ended their attempt to tie or win the game.
  • Dalvin Cook has been outstanding.  Cook rushed 19 times for 169 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, including this 70 yard TD run.  After three sub-100 yard games to start the season, Cook has averaged 168.2 rushing yards and nearly two rushing touchdowns per game. He’s 5th in the nation in rushing yards and 10th in touchdowns.
  • Clemson should cruise through the rest of its regular season schedule with matchups against Syracuse, Pitt, Wake Forest and South Carolina remaining.

 

Washington Remains Unbeaten

Washington may be the most balanced team in the country.  Jake Browning is a solid passer/decision maker and Myles Gaskin is electric (he averages 6.5 yards per carry).  At the same time, the Huskies’ defense has been stout, helping the team win games by an average of 30.4 points per game.

Browning passed for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, and Gaskin rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Utah’s effort should not go unnoticed, however.  Quarterback Troy Williams threw for 163 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.  Joe Williams carried the ball 35 times for 17 yards and a touchdown.  24 points are the second most points any team has scored on Washington all season.

Utah’s defense also held the Huskies’ offense to its fewest point total of the season.

Notes:

  • It’s very likely that the Utes and Huskies meet each other again in the Pac-12 championship game.  Utah is currently second, behind Colorado, in the Pac-12 South.  The two will meet in the last week of the season, which will likely decide the South champion.
  • Washington is tied with Washington State for first place in the North.  Washington will play Cal, USC, and Arizona State before a match-up with Washington State during the last week of the season, which could very well decide the North champion.

 

Cornhuskers Can’t Complete Comeback 

Many would consider Nebraska and Wisconsin to be the Big Ten’s third and fourth best teams. They surely played like it yesterday, as Wisconsin staved off a Nebraska comeback to beat the ‘Huskers 23-17 in overtime.

This was a defensive battle as neither team was able to get much going on the offensive end.  The only impressive offensive performance of the day came from Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale.  Ogunbowale rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (10.9 YPC).

Notes:

  • Nebraska still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten west.  It is currently ahead of Wisconsin with a 4-1 mark in the conference, but the Cornhuskers still have Ohio State to get through.  Wisconsin has a much more favorable remaining schedule (Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota).

 

Other Notes:

-Jimbo Fisher wasn’t happy with the referees.

-Les Miles really wants a new job.

-Boise State lost to the only team that can pull off a brown and yellow uniform combo.

Evan Berry is very fast

-Texas probably has no idea what to do with Charlie Strong. Just when it seems Strong will be axed, he wins a game like yesterday’s upset of Baylor.

-Notre Dame upset Miami but somehow still looked bad.

 

E-mail Evan at or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: Flickr, Phil Roeder

Mark Helfrich Is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis

These days, the only thing more aflame than Oregon’s uniforms is coach Mark Helfrich’s hot seat.

Just two seasons after finishing runners-up in the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Ducks stare down the barrel of extending a three-game losing streak to four in this week’s matchup against the #5 Washington Huskies. They’re allowing 210 rushing yards per game, they’re the sixth-most penalized team in college football, and they’re endangering their shot at earning a bowl invitation.

How have Oregon fans responded? By launching a GoFundMe page to bankroll Helfrich’s massive buyout.

Have faith Oregon fans. At the time of this writing, there’s only $10,999,790 left to go.

To his credit, Helfrich isn’t making any excuses. “Anything that’s bad in this program is my responsibility,” he insisted after a disappointing loss to Nebraska. “Anything you think of that’s bad is my fault.” Don’t get me wrong- that degree of integrity and accountability in a head coach is truly admirable. I like Mark Helfrich. Maybe he doesn’t know a lick about how to play defense (or how to choose a defensive coordinator), but Mark Helfrich is still a quality individual.

Except, quality individuals make awful head coaches. As far as I can tell, that’s the college football reality we live in. Show me a coach with 409 career wins, and I’ll show you someone who reprehensibly covered the tracks of a child rapist. Oh, is it too soon for those questionable Joe Paterno references? Apparently, it isn’t too soon for Penn State to roll out the red carpet in questionably honoring him.

Also, I’m almost certain one of the top five coaches in college football spends his Sundays posterizing middle schoolers at the local YMCA. Is that coach Jim Harbaugh? The world may never know.

Enabling sexual assault. Committing blatant recruiting violations. Hiring coaches recovering from alcoholism. That’s the kind of college-football-isn’t-supposed-to-be-fun mentality you need to coach in college football. Mark Helfrich lacks that mentality. Mark Helfrich looks more like Kermit the Frog than somebody willing to drown a litter of puppies to secure a five-star recruit. When I see Jimbo Fisher, I see a man who would trample a sea of helpless baby orangutans just to re-polish the encased ACC Championship trophies perched so prominently atop his mantle.

Helfrich is clearly more understated than his mentor and predecessor, and while that can have its benefits, it doesn’t help him in either recruiting or developing players and assistant coaches. Helfrich earned his reputation under Chip Kelly by tutoring a number of high-skill quarterbacks, including, most notably, Marcus Mariota. Truth be told, Chip Kelly and Scott Frost (currently at UCF) deserve an enormous amount of the credit assigned to Helfrich. As luck would have it, both men have surfaced in coaching carousel discussions surrounding a potential Helfrich departure.

Helfrich is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis. The latter halves of the comparison each continued onto questionable coaching careers in the NFL. The former half failed to fill the shoes of their coaching mentors. The University of Miami has finally left a downward spiral triggered by inept coaching. If the Ducks don’t act fast, now may be only the beginning of that spiral.

Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti built the Oregon program to stardom in the previous two decades, yet a decision to stand pat with an average coach in Helfrich threatens every last ounce of that stardom. The Ducks are currently trending away from a winning season and trending away from the offensive firepower that led them to a national championship. A handful of graduate transfers at quarterback have kept the program momentarily afloat, but in a matter of years, the full incompetence of the Helfrich regime will become fully exposed.

And by then, it’ll be too late.

Oregon tried and failed to maintain operations in-house. It’s time for the athletic department to expand the coaching search beyond the boundaries of Eugene- and whatever the hell they call that offense- to bring in an regularly-credentialed asshole with some know-how. If the Ducks waste the 2017 season with a proven lost cause at the helm, who knows whether the former glory of the Oregon program can ever be fully salvaged.

Then again, at least they’ll always have those jerseys.

Email Cole Hankins at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.

Photo courtesy – Wikipedia

All Aboard the Tar Heel Bandwagon

Down the stretch last fall, a good buddy of mine hopped on the North Carolina Tar Heels’ bandwagon.  He’s a big fan of this guy, Ryan Switzer.  Why exactly, I couldn’t tell you.

Now, contrary to popular belief, being a bandwagon fan is not a bad thing.  If your hometown team sucks, or if you lack one altogether, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking up an alternate rooting interest.

Doing so can revitalize your love for the game.  Believe me, as a Michigan fan that spent his high school and college years watching Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke coached teams, I know.  If you have a true love for the game, you’ll be able to pick up that side team no problem.

Anyway, I had been watching last year’s Heels somewhat closely ever since they’d proven me wrong, winning at Georgia Tech in early October.  Then, when they popped Pitt on the road at the end of the month, I was ready to ride the Fighting Michael Jordans all the way to a surprise playoff appearance.

I called for the upset in the ACC Championship Game, but the Heels and I can’t get no (dunh nuh nuh) satis-faction.  So, I’m here now to double down.

ACC Ripe for Picking

The Tar Heels are the team to beat on the East Coast this fall.

A quick aside: UNC’s athletic director’s name is Bubba Cunningham.  Without knowing anything about him personally, that’s a man I want to see succeed, if only because we’ll get to hear the name Bubba Cunningham more often.

Clemson is good, yes.  DeShaun Watson will likely be the best quarterback in the draft class.  Florida State is also good.  Dalvin Cook will be a top pick, too.  The Tigers and the Seminoles will come up short this season, though.

What Clemson did last year was captivating.  We all wanted that team to succeed so we could watch Dabo Swinney act a fool after big wins.  Realistically, a repeat performance will be tremendously difficult.

Say goodbye to seven key members of last year’s defense, including ends Shaw Lawson and Kevin Dodd, corner Mackensie Alexander, and safety T.J. Green, who all went in the first two rounds of the draft.

Overwhelming firepower only takes you so far when you lack proper fortifications.  I’ll err on the side of Clemson’s replacements not being as sturdy as the now pros they’re taking over for.

Florida State is the new USC.  That 2013 national championship was supposed to be a springboard for FSU, not the pinnacle.

We keep hearing about how loaded Jimbo Fisher’s group is but we’ve not seen enough supporting evidence the past two years to legitimize the hype.  The Seminoles have lost the benefit of the doubt.  They’ve got a lot to prove in order to earn it back.

Closing Statement

North Carolina wins the ACC this year because it replaces its gamebreaker with a steady hand that can utilize all the returning talent around him.  Mitch Trubisky is taking over for Marquise Williams and with a name like that he’s got to be good.

Five All-ACC selections return on the offensive side.  Switzer, along with running back Elijah Hood, receiver Mack Hollins, guard Caleb Peterson, and tackle Jon Heck will all be reliable cogs in the UNC machine.  Receiver Bug Howard, tackle Bentley Spain, and center Lucas Crowley are all back as well.

Interestingly enough, former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman is now a volunteer coach for the Tar Heels.  Beckman, who was fired almost a year ago to the day for mistreatment of players, will help scout and evaluate film.

This is an excellent move by head coach Larry Fedora, who’s familiar with Beckman from their time together on the 2007 Oklahoma State staff.  Basically, Fedora is getting a major bargain, adding a veteran defensive-minded coach with plenty of incentive to get his act together at no cost.

Normally, having to replace a quarterback, particularly one of Williams’ stature, is a great way for me to not pick you to do much.  However, the progress report on Trubisky and the supporting cast he’ll be able to lean on have me sipping the Carolina blue kool-aid.

No, it won’t be either one of the usual suspects representing the ACC in this season’s playoff.  It’ll be the team whose bandwagon is about to pick up many more interested travelers along the way.

Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke.

ACC Links: The Weakest Link Edition

Boston College’s ACC Struggles

The Boston College Eagles have had a history of success in their athletic program, especially in football. This past season they managed to lose every single conference game they played. To make matters worse, the Boston College basketball team also lost every single one of its conference games. The Eagles have seemed to slowly decline since they joined the ACC in 2005. As in previous years, the ACC was clearly trying to become more of a “football conference.” And, as in previous years, the program that they chose to add only became worse after becoming a part of the conference. This raises all sorts of questions about what happens to a team when they start playing ACC football, or any ACC sport, for that matter. So is it time to vote Boston College off the ACC Island? Well, I’m just going to go ahead and vote for everybody and say yes. Boston College, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

Heisman Potential in ACC Football

The ACC had outstanding offensive talent scattered throughout the conference last season. Much of that talent is returning this year, leaving a pretty decent list of the conference’s top five Heisman Trophy candidates. This list obviously includes Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who I discussed in last week’s ACC football links. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was also clearly included in the list after being an integral part of the Seminole offensive attack last season. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was also included, as he had a solid season last year and is expected to grow even more under Mark Richt. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is on this list despite having a quiet season last year since he shared reps. Finishing out the list is North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. With players like these playing huge roles in each team’s offensive attack, I would not be surprised to see a Heisman winner from an ACC football program this year. I guess you could say that these guys are definitely not the weakest links.

Jimbo Fisher’s Toughest Schedule

Much has been said about Florida State’s strength of schedule in previous seasons. This year, the Seminoles are playing what is arguably their most difficult schedule since Jimbo Fisher took over the team in 2010. Florida State opens the season against Ole Miss and also plays Louisville, North Carolina, Miami, Clemson, and Florida. The teams on their schedule actually posted a combined record of 96-61 during last season, which puts them at a win percentage of over 61 percent. If Florida State can navigate their way through this schedule and win the ACC, there should be no argument about whether or not they deserve to be included in this year’s College Football Playoff. To continue with the theme of weakest links, clearly Florida State’s competition does not fit that bill.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner is Cancer-Free

Last December, Pittsburgh running back James Conner announced that he had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. Conner was nursing a knee injury last year after having a great sophomore season in 2014. During that season alone, he ran for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns. His fighting spirit has been an inspiration to Pittsburgh fans as well as many others throughout the country. Conner recently made an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, only to be surprised by another football player who fought Hodgkin lymphoma, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. Just a few days ago, he announced that his body is clean of cancer. Here’s to hoping he pulls an Eric Berry, coming back even stronger than he was before his battle with cancer. That would be scary for the rest of the ACC football teams. And James Conner, you are ACC football’s strongest link.

Image courtesy of wikimedia user Ayzmo.

ACC Links: Rivalries, Replays, and Deshaun Watson

Rivalry Games

Rivalry Week is always one of my favorite parts of the season. Of course, the worst part about it is that it signifies the end of the regular season. But the best part about it is that I always know which teams my favorite teams will be playing year after year. I can plan accordingly months in advance…more than months in advance, actually. While Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher admittedly has a pretty great Rivalry Week game with the Florida Gators on the schedule every season, apparently that set rivalry game isn’t quite enough for him. Fisher lobbies time and time again to try to get other coaches on board with set weekends for ACC football rivalries as well. What if Clemson and Florida State played on the same weekend every season? How would that affect the ACC? While the consistency is good in certain respects, it could also just make scheduling more difficult for other teams when you start adding in more games like that. So maybe Fisher isn’t going to get any immediate results, but it seems pretty clear that he won’t let go of this idea.

Instant Replay Officials

As football fans, we all experience it: that moment when it seems like we can see something so much clearer on television than the officials who are reviewing it at the stadium can. Or what about that moment when one play gets called a certain way in one game but gets called the opposite way in another game? The ACC has made a move to try to make those problems a thing of the past. It’s all about consistency. To achieve this consistency, they’ll be using instant-replay officials in the conference’s Greensboro, NC office to participate in every review discussion during home games at ACC football venues, as well as during Notre Dame’s home games. While this move is not a permanent one at the time, after testing it out this season, we can expect the NCAA Football Rules Committee to make its judgment about off-site replay officials after the end of the 2016 season. The SEC has recently opted to follow suit, and will be testing its own version of this system during the 2016 season as well.

Deshaun Watson and Clemson’s Offense

On Tuesday, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson officially accepted the Manning Award for his performance as the top-performing quarterback throughout the 2015 college football season. Watson had a phenomenal season last year, posting incredible numbers. He finished with 4,104 yards passing, 35 passing touchdowns, 1,105 yard rushing, and 12 additional scores. Watson actually nearly single-handedly led the Clemson Tigers in an incredible comeback against the Alabama Crimson Tide during that National Championship Game last season.

But what does this mean for Clemson’s offense looking ahead? Fortunately for the Tigers, Watson was only a sophomore last season and is therefore returning as their starting quarterback this season. Although Clemson wasn’t particularly strong when it came to rushing the ball, Watson’s talent as a passer and while scrambling gave them plenty of options to try. Last season, the Tigers threw mostly quick passes. This season, there’s hope that they’ll be able to burn teams on some deep pass plays as well. With the return of Mike Williams from injury, Watson should have a great target downfield for those longer plays. But the offensive line needs to execute better, too, if they want to give Watson enough time to get off those passes accurately. Either way, Watson returning is huge for the Tigers. Whether or not the rest of the team steps up to play closer to his level remains to be seen.

 

Picture courtesy of Ken Lund.

Can Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes Win in the ACC?

Last week, I read through one of those “way-too-early” preseason rankings on ESPN. There were plenty of teams I expected to see in those rankings that were there. But there was one team included in the top 25 that completely surprised me, the Miami Hurricanes. In case you don’t remember what happened to them last season, Al Golden was fired during the middle of their sub-par season after an embarrassing blowout loss at home to Clemson. Then, at the end of the season,  Mark Richt was announced as the team’s new head coach. So, how did the Hurricanes land such a great head coach?

I have to say, I was shocked when the Georgia Bulldogs let go of their (now-former) Head Coach Mark Richt last year. Shocked may be a bit of an overstatement, but I was definitely surprised that they would let him go given all of the things he had done at Georgia. The problem is, there were things he hadn’t done…really big things. He didn’t win that big title. He actually never even got a shot at it. During his tenure, other SEC head coaches like Les Miles, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban were dominating the conference and Richt could never quite edge them out. Now that he’s in the ACC and he has the Miami talent pool to recruit from, can Mark Richt finally get those big victories?

If winning the National Championship is your goal, then the ACC is probably a better conference to play in. Just ask Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher about that one. Unfortunately for Richt, there is a new superstar coach on the rise in the ACC these days. Clemson Tigers’ Head Coach Dabo Swinney led the team to an impressive 14-1 overall record last season. The Tigers only lost one game, the National Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. That darn Nick Saban is always crushing other coaches’ hopes and dreams! Fortunately for Swinney, the Tigers are poised to have an equally impressive season this year. Unfortunately for Mark Richt, Dabo Swinney has arrived and is here to stay. And as for Jimbo Fisher, there’s no telling what next season holds. I’m sure he isn’t too happy about having a piece of SEC history becoming part of his ACC competition, though.

Then there’s that other thing that is really important to a team’s success, all that recruiting nonsense. Since Richt came into the process pretty late this season, the class he managed to put together wasn’t all that bad. Next season there will be much higher expectations. Richt is off to a good start for his next signing class, but there is still plenty of time for things to change. The best thing he can do is have a successful first season at Miami, ending with a bowl game victory. That, in and of itself, may not guarantee him a stellar recruiting class, but with the start he has gotten off to this spring it would definitely help.

Still, the question remains. Will Mark Richt be able to win in the ACC? I don’t mean post a 9-3 record when I say win. He did that at Georgia and we all saw where that got him. I mean, will he be able to win enough to at least play for the National Championship? In the short-term I don’t think he will. Dabo Swinney has a lot of momentum going at Clemson and Jimbo Fisher still has some of that magic left at Florida State, too. Richt will be working with someone else’s recruits and waiting for his own classes to come to Miami and gain crucial experience over these next few years. Because of that, he will almost surely be in the shadows of both Swinney and Fisher. If you give him a few years, I think he might just be able to finally get a really big win. Mark Richt has always been an outstanding ball coach and this time he may have a better shot at proving it.

For more football talk or to let me know whether or not you think Mark Richt is up to the challenge be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Turning Points of FSU’s season; ACC Wrap Up

This is the period of time in the college football season when you really get to reflect on your team’s season, assess what went right and wrong, and see what could have been. For the Seminoles, they were only a couple of plays from being undefeated, and a couple of plays from being 8-4. The Seminoles went through a couple quarterback changes and injuries on both sides of the ball that altered their season, but instead of running down a list of things that affected their season, I’m going to point out the pivotal moments of the Seminole’s season, positive and negative, in chronological order.

1. Seminoles stop Miami at midfield on 4th and 4 with 53 seconds left

This was one of the moments that could potentially have derailed the Seminoles’ entire season. With Miami down 29-24, they got the ball at their own 19-yard line with two minutes left with a chance to win the game. After getting a first down, the Hurricanes ultimately found themselves in a 4th and 4 situation at their own 42-yard line. With how well Brad Kaaya had been playing in the game, Seminole fans weren’t too confident in the defense’s ability to stop the Hurricanes, and were afraid they were about to watch Kaaya drive down the field and hand the ‘Noles their first loss of the season. Alas, the pass Kaaya attempted was incomplete, and the Seminoles were able to get into victory formation, and end the week at 5-0.

2. Aguayo gets his kick blocked, and returned for a touchdown against GT

This obviously had a huge impact on the Seminole’s season, and the loss had a couple trickle down effects for the team. First of all, the decision to go for a 56-yard field goal, although long, had to have been a no-brainer for Jimbo Fisher considering he had one of the best kickers in the country in Roberto Aguayo, so let’s not argue with the decision itself. The team set up for the field goal, and knowing it needed to be a low-angle kick, a Georgia Tech defender managed to get a hand on it, and that’s when everything hit the fan for the Seminoles. It didn’t look too harmful when GT picked up the loose ball, but after reversing the field and getting to the sideline, Seminole fans started to realize what was about to happen. Two terrible missed tackles by Cason Beatty and Roberto Aguayo later and the clock had struck zero with the Yellow Jackets leading 22-16. This game not only was the first loss of the season, but it also brought up the first real questions about who should be starting at quarterback for the Seminoles.

3. Sean Maguire starts for the Seminoles against Syracuse

After losing to Georgia Tech, Fisher decided to switch out quarterback Everett Golson, in favor of Sean Maguire. Maguire was the quarterback everyone expected to be the starter in the spring, but after Golson transferred in during the summer, the quarterback battle was neck and neck going into the season with Golson slightly ahead of Maguire. A slip up by Golson gave Fisher enough of a reason to see what Maguire could do. Maguire proceeded to pass for 348 yards and 3 TD’s in a 45-21 win, and supplanted Golson as the starter going into playing #1 Clemson. This game brought up questions about whether Maguire should have been starting all along, and what might have happened in the Georgia Tech game had Maguire been starting.

4. Seminoles turn the ball over on downs with 6 minutes left against Clemson

This was the part of the game that decided the outcome of the game for the Seminoles. Down 16-13, the Seminoles had the chance to drive down the field and take a 4-point lead. At midfield, the Seminoles had two opportunities to gain one yard for a first down, but Cook couldn’t gain the yard in either of his two attempts. Clemson would take possession of the ball, and score a touchdown to go up 23-13 with 2:34 remaining. Getting that first down and potentially scoring a touchdown could have changed the entire landscape of college football. With a win, the Seminoles would have had the lead in the Atlantic divisional race with a head to head win over Clemson, and with a win in that game could have overcome the loss to Georgia Tech and found themselves playing in a playoff game. Clemson however rose to the challenge, stopped Cook and preserved their undefeated season. The game gave the Seminoles their second loss of the season, and ended any dreams of grandeur for the Seminoles.

5. The Seminoles defeat Florida 27-2

At 9-2, the outlook of the 2015 season for the Seminoles had a lot riding on the outcome of this game against Florida, that was the highest profile Florida vs. Florida State game in recent years. The Gators had a chance to make a run to the playoffs if they entered the SEC Championship with only one loss, and the Seminoles had a chance to extend their 10-win season streak. The game kind of went the way people had expected early, with both defenses playing well, allowing only 13 points going into the 4th quarter. In the 4th, Dalvin Cook ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Seminoles to a victory over the hated Florida Gators. The game gave the Seminoles a 10-2 record at the end of the season, and put an exclamation point at the end of the season, after losing a couple of tough games earlier in the year.

One has to wonder what could have been for the Seminoles had they managed to win the game against Clemson, however I’m sure there are a lot of teams thinking the same thing. In all, it was a good season for the Seminoles. Although fans have become accustomed to winning more, you can’t complain too much with a ten-win season, especially when one of the losses was to the #1 team in the country who remain undefeated.

The Seminoles have a chance to end the season 11-2, when they play #18 Houston in the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl December 31st at noon.

Here’s what’s happening around the ACC:

ACC HAS FOUR FIRST TEAM ALL AMERICANS

The AP All American teams were announced a couple days ago, and the ACC had four players placed on the first team. Two were named from Clemson between quarterback Deshaun Watson, and defensive end Shaq Lawson. Guard Landon Turner from North Carolina and safety Jeremy Cash from Duke were the other two. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and runningback Dalvin Cook from Florida State were both named second team All-Americans, and the third team consists of guard Joe Thurney of NC State and cornerback Mackensie Alexander from Clemson. This is a pretty good showing for the ACC when you consider the depth of the conference. With four first teamers, the ACC placed the third most players on the first team, behind the SEC with six, and the Big Ten with five.

DESHAUN WATSON AND DALVIN COOK FINISH 3RD AND 7TH IN HEISMAN RACE

Deshaun Watson of Clemson finished in third place in the Heisman race, receiving 1,165 total votes, 831 more than the fourth place finisher. The Heisman race turned out as expected with Derrick Henry winning the trophy, and Christian McCaffrey coming in second. Beyond the top three, Dalvin Cook of Florida State finished seventh in the race, receiving 79 total votes. Of the power-5 conferences, the Big 10, Big 12, the SEC and the ACC each had two players in the top ten.

ACC Football: 8 Crazy Nights of Hanukkah

You know what they say, “‘Tis the season.” And for many, the “season” includes both Christmas and Hanukkah. Earlier in the week, I offered everyone a Christmas themed SEC article and would like to offer the ACC a Hanukkah based gift.

Night 1…

The ACC Coastal hired 3 seasoned head coaches. While the SEC East opted for lackluster hires, the ACC Coastal was attracted to candidates that had successful head coaching experience. Justin Fuente, Mark Richt and Bronco Mendenhall all join the ACC Coastal next season. Welcome to the family guys.

Richt brings his winning ways to Miami. Fuente tries to rebrand Beamer Ball at Virginia Tech and Mendenhall arrives at Virginia. Mendenhall’s former team, BYU, had a Fight Club mentality. Will the 1st rule of Virginia football be that we don’t talk about Virginia football?

Night 2…

Jimbo Fisher is staying at Florida St. LSU desperately wanted Fisher to return to Baton Rouge just as Ralpie wanted his Red Ryder BB gun. Yes, you’ll shoot your eye out!

Like a Red Ryder BB gun, hiring a top tier coach comes with a lot of responsibility and as they’ve proven with Miles, LSU wouldn’t have been able to handle it. LSU would have shot their eye out with Fisher.

Night 3…

Pizza! On the 3rd night of Hanukkah, Dabo Swinney gave Clemson pizza. Papa’s in the house as Dabo ordered 2,500 pizzas to be delivered to campus. It’s also nice to see that while the Clemson players are forbidden to use Twitter during the season, the coaches can still communicate in 140 character thoughts.

Night 4…

Bobby Petrino is sticking around for another year at Louisville. Due to his winning ways and impressive APR, he will enjoy another hefty bonus payout. Unlike Clemson, Louisville is all about KFC…you know the KFC Yum Center…and Petrino can buy a lot of chicken from the Colonel. Go for a ride in Petrino’s limo and get filled up on chicken and wins. What? You thought I was going to say motorcycle?

Night 5…

Does a Florida St. football scholarship come with a public defender? It probably should. Hell, just include it in the cost of attendance total. From the sound of it, it wouldn’t be a difficult job since the attorney would have a friend in the Tallahassee Police Department. Just go cheap. I hear this Gambini guy is available.

Night 6…

Will you have an all expense paid trip to beautiful Syracuse, NY? You will if Dino Babers considers you, “one of the good ones.” You know, on second thought, if this is the gift on night 6, you may just want to skip it. There is always that Hanukkah Harry gift that makes you say, “Oy vey!”

Night 7…

Hanukkah is not complete without spinning the dreidel and who better to do that with than Duke assistant basketball coach, Jon Scheyer. That’s right, the man known as the “Jewish Jordan” will be playing the dreidel game with you.

Night 8…

What would be better than a national championship? Nothing. Clemson is the ACC team that is in contention for the title. This would be great for both Clemson and the ACC. As a whole, the conference doesn’t get the respect that the SEC, Big Ten or Pac-12 receive. Clemson is playing for both personal and conference respect. Just imagine the pizza party that Dabo will throw for the fans if Clemson wins the entire thing.

Happy Hanukkah! Now go find a nice girl and make your Bubbe happy.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

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.