2014 Teams to Watch

Anybody that would tell you that they predicted Auburn vs Missouri in the SEC championship game is probably not somebody you want to trust your life with. It’s not very likely that anyone saw that one coming.

 

Auburn had a magical season a year ago and so did Missouri and one could make a case for Duke as well. Auburn was 3-9 in 2012 and looked even worse than the record indicated if that’s possible. They fired their coach just a couple of years away from winning a national championship. They hired Gus Malzahn and he brought in Nick Marshall and the rest is history. They were last place and horrible to first and very good in a single year and played for the national title.

Missouri was not quite as dramatic, but they were way back in the pack in 2012 to winning the SEC East in a single year. They lost to Auburn in the title game which is not really a surprise, because the SEC is really unbalanced right now favoring the West Division.

Duke had an incredible year and won the ACC Coastal. The Duke Head Coach, David Cutcliffe was named coach of the year over Gus Malzahn and Gary Pinkel. College Football Crazy was not around back then, or Malzahn would have been coach of the year.

 

The previous year, 2012, it was Texas A&M with Johnny Football and the first Freshman to ever win the Heisman.

 

There is almost always a school that will have that fantastic season where nobody sees it coming, or almost nobody. That’s one of the more interesting things about football, the classic Underdog story.

 

Like the bank shot in a game of pool, if you call it beforehand, then it’s not luck. So, I am calling these teams for 2014

 

 

This year, my teams to watch are Florida, Ole Miss and North Carolina.

 

In 2013, Florida was horrible. They had an outbreak of injuries and finished the season at 4-8. Surprisingly, Will Muschamp did not lose his job and has another shot at it this season.

 

If luck is on his side, the Florida Gators have a shot at being really good.

Jeff Driskel is a really good QB if he’s not broken. He’s a big guy at 6-4, 240 and can really run as evidenced by his 11 carries for 177 yards and 3 TDs against Vanderbilt. Driskel did not put up huge numbers as a starting QB, but that was because the Gators did have one of the more conservative offenses in the country.

Muschamp, seeing a problem, went out and hired the Offensive Coordinator from Duke, Kurt Roper. Roper came with the intention of opening the offense up. Driskel and the offense looked really good in the Spring.

Should Driskel get broken again this season, they now have a better back up. Skyler Morhinweg looks better than last season and true freshman Will Grier can be the next super star QB. I really believe that Grier will be something special. It would be ideal for Driskel to stay healthy and Grier be able to redshirt. But, the kid has an arm like few others and he is extremely mobile. He is just one of those special type of players that come along every now and then and I hope I am not setting him up for failure.

 

The Gators have a mammoth Offensive Line and they have excellent Running Backs in Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane. Lane could be the next big thing at Running Back.

 

Florida will have a defense as long as Muschamp is around. Muschamp was an incredible Defensive Coordinator at Auburn and then again at Texas. His defenses at Florida have all been very good and that shouldn’t change in 2014. It was his offense that was the problem and it appears that he has that problem corrected for 2014.

 

They do have a difficult schedule with Alabama in the 4th game, then they travel to Knoxville and take on Tennessee. LSU and Missouri come to Gainesville. Then, they have dangerous Georgia and South Carolina, finally closing with Florida State. It’s possible they could lose every one of those

tough games and go 5-7. But, I don’t see it happening again with Driskel in the line up.

 

Next year I believe we will see some happy Will Muschamp moments.

 

Ole Miss probably shouldn’t qualify for this because they were a pretty good team a year ago finishing 8-5. They lost a couple of close games and then to in state rival, Mississippi State, in overtime. They also beat LSU.

But, the Rebels believe that they can do much better and I am not going to argue with them.

Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace is back for his senior year and he’s hoping to stay healthy this season. Wallace threw for over 3300 yards in 2013 and looks to improve on that. He returns his leading receiver, Laquan Treadwell and a ton of talent at RB. The Rebels also have one of the biggest and best Offensive Lines in the nation.

The Ole Miss offense should be really good. The defense is where I expect to see the most improvement and expect a coming out party for Robert Nkemdiche.

 

They have a tough schedule. In the fifth game, they host Alabama. After that, they travel to College Station to play the Aggies. Then, it’s Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. They finish with Arkansas and then rival Mississippi State.

It’ll be tough sledding, but not any worse than Auburn had a year ago. I am excited about this season and I like the Ole Miss Rebels chances in 2014. Head Coach Hugh Freeze has been described as an inspirational leader and a rising star in the coaching ranks. He is a Mississippi guy and should be around for the long term. They have the talent to challenge in the SEC West which is saying something. If they don’t challenge, they should at least beat some of the top teams in their division.

 

The North Carolina Tar Heels were my first choice to have a break out year and to be a team to watch this season. But, I have kind of cooled on them a bit.

The Tar Heels had a horrible start last season going 1-5 before ripping off 5 straight wins. They then lost a heart breaker to Duke 27-25 giving the Blue Devils the ACC Coastal championship. North Carolina roughed up Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl finishing up 7-6.

I believe Head Coach Larry Fedora will turn the Tar Heels into a big winner, but he still may be a year or two away.

Wide Receiver and Punt Returner, Ryan Switzer is excitement in a 5 foot 10 inch, 175 pound

package. Quinshad Davis at Wide Receiver is a threat with 48 catches for 730 yards and 10 TDs. Marquise Williams was a part of the late season success last year, but he looked a little off in the Spring Game. Hopefully, he will regain some of that magic of 2013.

Another reason I had North Carolina football on my radar was the signing of super Running Back, Elijah Hood. He looked outstanding in his high school days but not as much in the Spring Game. If my first impression was correct as well as all the recruiting evaluators, then Hood will improve the Tar Heel offense immediately.

 

The defense was middle of the road last season, but they do return a lot of players.

The schedule will be difficult as well.  After opening with 2 easier games, they then take on East Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. Virginia has not been good lately, but then it’s Miami, Pittsburgh, Duke and then rival North Carolina State. The schedule is why I have cooled slightly on UNC, that and the Spring Game performance. But, I still believe in Larry Fedora’s coaching ability.

2 thoughts on “2014 Teams to Watch

  1. Jeff stone

    Ole miss could be a top 10 team. I like unc but may still be a couple of years away. The gators can stay terrible!!!!!

    Reply

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