This will be only the 4th time a College Football preseason #1 faces off against another Top 5 team, in the season opener.And it hasn’t happened in 30 years. Wait; there is one
more item that lifts up this Alabama-Florida State Showdown even more: Over the last 7 years, the Tide and Seminoles lead the way with total wins.
The head coaching match-up is awesome. Nick Saban takes on his former LSU OC Jimbo Fisher, in a match-up of National Champion-Hall of Fame leaders. Any list of top coaches has these two guys on the A-List, but you already knew that.
The QB match-up is very intriguing! Jalen Hurts and Deondre Francois are both looking to improve their performance level, after very successful rookie seasons. Both have worked overtime this off-season on improving their skill set as pocket passers.
Hurts had an outstanding freshman season, which led to him being named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. He accounted for 36 total touchdowns, as he abused defenses running around and making big plays. It was fun to watch. But late in the season, his pocket passing skills were exposed. Jalen completed less than 50% of his passes against Florida, Washington & Clemson. The Tide’s downfield passing package went missing in action.
Coach Saban says Jalen’s hard work this off-season has paid off. His pocket skills have improved. Basically, we’re talking about moving in the pocket and staying focused on delivering the ball, instead of pulling it down and running at the first sign of pressure.
If this is true, Jalen Hurts is going to be special this season. He’s got a quality O-Line, several primo running backs and an impressive wide receiver corps, which features a big-time, go-to-guy in Calvin Ridley. Look out! Jalen Hurts could be a dangerous man this season.
Florida State QB Deondre Francois was impressive in his rookie season too, but there is room to grow. I had respect for how tough he was taking all those hits last season. Also, he delivered FOUR 4th quarter rally wins. Very impressive.
How does Francois improve? Couple of things. He focused on getting the ball out quicker in the spring and summer workouts. That skill should reduce the number of hits he’ll take this season in the pocket. He’s also got to get better in 3rd-and-long situations, where he just completed 45% of his passes last year.
Coach Fisher appeared on The Buck & Kincade Show this summer and talked about challenging the young QB to get closer to his teammates and becoming a stronger leader. He’s done that.
Like Hurts, Francois will be working behind a solid O-Line, with a couple of talented backs, including freshman Cam Akers. The Seminoles return two wide receivers that enjoyed breakout seasons last year; “Noonie” Murray and Auden Tate are back. Deondre is set up to have a monster season.
I realize the big Mayweather-McGregor fight is getting a lot of attention this week, but I’m looking past that towards the FSU-Alabama blockbuster match-up! This is going to be awesome!