Tampa Bay Sports Day

BEAIRD: State Teams in Good Positions to Make Post Season Count

Photo by FSU Sports Information

College football starts in earnest next week. Let’s take a look at what might happen this coming season with some of the state of Florida teams.

SEC: Alabama wins the Western division. The Tide is still the best team in the SEC, if not the nation. Once again they have to break in a new quarterback, but that has not been an issue for them the past two years. Receiver Calvin Ridley from the Miami area is a superstar. Running back Bo Scarbrough, who is from the IMG Academy, has potential to be a Derrick Henry type clone.

Florida wins the Eastern division. The Tennessee love is warranted with nearly 20 returning starters plus the addition of former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, but Florida knows they can get to Atlanta while Tennessee thinks they can win the division. Tennessee could even beat the Gators and still fall short due to the tough schedule stretch against Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama after the Gators come to Knoxville.

‘Bama wins the SEC again despite improvement for Florida in several key areas such as quarterback and kicker. The Tide defense might be quicker and more athletic than last year.

ACC: Florida State wins the Atlantic division and the ACC after a fierce divisional battle with Clemson. This might be a special Noles team. We might see the emergence of Deandre Francois as a Charlie Ward type quarterback. The concern now for the Noles is who backs him up after the suspension of Malik Henry. There are landmines on the schedule including trips to Louisville and Miami and the annual Florida showdown.

North Carolina faces the Noles in the ACC title game after winning the Coastal Division. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Elijah Hood are two of the best offensive weapons in the ACC. This is year two with former Auburn coach Gene Chizik running the Tar Heel defense.

Miami could easily be a contender in their division if the defense under Manny Diaz improves because the offense with quarterback Brad Kaaya will be hard to stop.

AAC: The eastern division of the AAC has has UCF being picked at the bottom of the division and USF predicted to be at or near the top.

UCF coach Scott Frost is not concerned about winning titles yet. Frost brings some much needed energy to UCF. He will need quarterback Justin Holman to learn his fast paced system on the fly. The Knights need a strong running game from senior Dontravious Wilson.

USF has a real opportunity to make this coach Willie Taggart’s best year because they will battle Temple and Cincinnati for the divisional title. The offense welcomes back quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack. The offensive line must be rebuilt after losing three starters. Leading returning tackler Auggie Sanchez will help new defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie ease into his position after Tom Allen went to Indiana. The Bulls host FSU in a showdown the fourth game on the season.