Tar Takes 2/25: Aftermath of UNC defeating Duke, FSU, Should Zion Williamson sit out season?

On this week’s episode of Tar Takes we discuss the aftermath of the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team’s amazing week which included two decisive wins over the Duke Blue Devils and Florida State Seminoles. We also break down what we saw against Duke, who will win on Tuesday in Syracuse vs. UNC, and ask the question should Zion Williamson play anymore basketball games for Duke?

We also start the show by making an apology to UNC forward Luke Maye since he balled out against Duke after Tar Takes was not optimistic in its predictions for Maye against the Blue Devils last Wednesday.

Takeaways and thoughts after UNC’s win over Duke? Florida State?

Is UNC being ranked at No. 5 too high, too low or just right?

What should we expect tomorrow night against Syracuse? Will UNC lose, win by a little or win by a lot?

Should Zion Williamson play another game for Duke?


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

What needs to happen for Florida State to win national title

Photo via Associated Press

FSU ended last season ranked eighth in the AP poll, but they’re one of the top contenders for the college football title next season. Under the right circumstances, this year’s FSU team is a recipe for success.

Last Time Out 

Overall, the Seminoles had a successful 2016 campaign, but there were some bumps in the road, with surprise losses to UNC and Louisville. The ‘Noles bounced back and only suffered one more loss against powerhouse Clemson, and then edged Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Throughout the season FSU had powerful players on both sides of the ball, but the big story is whether they’ll be able to replace RB Dalvin Cook, who just got drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.

Ground Game

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Top ranked running back recruit Cam Akers impressed all at the FSU spring game. Photo via AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst

It looks like the Noles have an answer to the Dalvin Cook question in freshman running back Cam Akers, who was ranked the No. 1 RB in his class by 247 Sports.

To supplement Akers, FSU is also bringing in the No. 4 ranked running back Khalan Laborn and the No. 15 ranked RB Zaquandre White. Laborn is a five-star recruit out of Virginia, and is ranked No. 1 among all-purpose backs.

With this stacked RB recruiting class, it seems the Seminoles have solved the problem of Cook’s departure for the long term. If Akers, Laborn, and White perform as well as they’re ranked, FSU won’t lose any sleep over running concerns.

Passing Prowess

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Deondre Francois threw for over 3,000 yards in his debut season for the Seminoles. Photo via Wayne McGahee III

Any doubt that people had about Deondre Francois’s passing game is all but gone.

In his first season as FSU’s quarterback, he threw 235 completions for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Francois has been working consistently to become a better team leader, and he thinks he’s doing well. “I feel like I’ve gotten better this spring,” he told ESPN in an interview. “I will never be pleased with myself internally, but as a team and as an offense, I am very pleased with how we’ve been doing.”

One thing that Francois did struggle with was protection – he was sacked 37 times last season, and if changes aren’t made to the O-line the ‘Noles have a problem.

O-Line Issues

The main culprit for all these sacks is the rest of the offense. Francois was also tackled for a loss 86 times and was hurried 28 times, terrible numbers for a top-10 team.

The bottom line is, if Francois doesn’t receive better protection, he’s going to continue to get sacked, which will impair FSU’s ability to reach the title game.

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Offensive tackle Roderick Johnson leaves a gaping hole in the O-Line for the Noles. Photo via Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

All-American offensive tackle, Roderick Johnson, recently left for the draft, leaving yet another hole in the Seminole O-Line. For a line already plagued by injury, losing a player like Johnson is a recipe for mediocrity. If FSU is going to have a strong offensive line, their young players are going to have to step up.

Josh Ball, a 6’8″ 287 pound offensive tackle out of Virginia, might help the Noles answer some questions. He redshirted last season and comes into this season as a freshman. Redshirt freshman Jauan Williams, a four-star offensive tackle, and Baveon Johnson, a four-star center, also hope to supplement the struggling line.

Sense a trend here? It looks like FSU had a lot of talent in reserve last season. If this group of promising players pans out, FSU looks good for the post-season.

Top-Notch Recruiting, as Usual

Ranked as the sixth-best recruiting class in the nation, the Noles have an impressive group of young talent coming in on both sides of the ball. Besides the obvious with Akers at running back, the Seminoles have some quality offensive players for the upcoming season.

FSU’s receiving corps added eighth-ranked wide receiver D.J. Matthews. He’s joined by wide receiver Tamorrion Terry, and tight ends Tre’ McKitty and Alexander Marshall.

It seems like FSU put more focus on the defense this year, though. Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, a five-star recruit out of Florida, is the third-ranked WDE in the country and ranked ninth in the nation overall.  He’s joined by four-star cornerback Stanford Samuels and four-star safeties Cyrus Fagan and Hamsah Nasirildeen.

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Five-star defensive tackle provides a backbone to the growing FSU defense. Photo via Miller Safrit/ESPN

The Seminoles also recruited five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who is the No. 1 ranked defensive tackle in the nation.

Add four-star defensive tackle Ja’len Parks, and FSU looks strong on defense for the upcoming season.

Why Florida State will win the college football title game

FSU has played well consistently since 2012, and last season was no exception. This year they come back with a more mature quarterback and a stellar ground game, as well as a defense that’ll be tough to beat.

The most important thing for the Seminoles to focus on right now is their opening game against Alabama. It could prove to be their toughest game of the year, and the Crimson Tide won’t hold back.

It will be interesting to see the Hurts-Francois matchup, since so many people have compared them this offseason. FSU will also be going up against one of the best offenses and defenses in the nation.

Even with an opening day loss, the ‘Noles won’t completely lose their spot. It would be an important win for Francois’s confidence and their ranking, though.

The new receivers will have to learn how to work with Francois as he develops, and his offensive line will need to make sure he has time to get rid of the ball.

If those two things happen, the Seminoles will be a hard team to beat, and will most likely make the title game.

Deondre Francois, the Next Heisman Trophy Winner?

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida State has a knack for recruiting quality players. Deondre Francois came into the program after Jameis Winston made, what I consider to be, his great escape. The investigations were iffy, the departments in charge were in disarray, and Winston probably took his lawyer’s advice and declared for the NFL draft (of course, he probably would have anyways).

FSU didn’t have the best season in 2015. Sean Maguire didn’t have what it took to keep them in playoff contention, and they suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Houston Cougars in the Peach Bowl. Fast forward to 2016, and Francois has helped them rebound to a top 10 program once again.

Francois had an impressive season statistically, but he had less success than several ACC Quarterbacks. He passed for 3,350 yards with a 58.8% completion percentage and threw for 20 touchdowns. In the game that mattered most, when FSU pulled out a win against Michigan 33-32, he didn’t perform well completing only 9/27 passes for 22 yards.  Luckily for FSU, Dalvin Cook was there to save the game.

Francois will have an immediate test in 2017, against Alabama in the season opener, to prove that he is a Heisman contender. Vegas has already flagged him as a possible 2017 Heisman candidate among 18 other players. During Winston’s Heisman trophy campaign as a freshman, he threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while completing 66.9% of his passes. The difference is pretty staggering. Even in 2014 when Jameis was 6th in the running for the trophy, he did better than Francois’s redshirt freshman year.

There are several things that need to happen for him to be considered a serious contender for the Heisman. First, FSU needs to step up the caliber of their offensive line. After losing Cook, they might need to pivot and become a pass-heavy team—the only way they can possibly do this is to protect Francois more than they did last year.

Next, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, and Baker Mayfield need to have average seasons. I could see Mayfield doing this, but the other two might prove to be a problem. FSU has the opportunity to beat Louisville, and improve Francois’ Heisman chances, but may need USC to lose to several games throughout the year.

Jimbo Fisher never recruits uncoachable players. He’s fostered many amazing players in the last couple years, and not only do I see Francois staying through his junior year, but he will improve each season as well.

Francois has a lot of talent that he hasn’t cultivated yet. He has as much talent as anyone in the nation. If he can stay focused and play like everyone knows he can, then he will make an impressive case for the Heisman next season.

It wouldn’t hurt if FSU makes it to the College Football Playoffs next year, either.

2016 Deondre Francois Highlights

December 30 Bowl Game Previews and Predictions

Photo via Associated Press

Tomorrow will be the most exciting day in the bowl season thus far. There are five games throughout the day starting at noon (EST) and ending with the start of the Orange Bowl at 8. In this article I’ll focus on the Sun Bowl and the Orange Bowl, but I’ll also include some quick notes on the remaining three games.

Sun Bowl — UNC vs Stanford

2PM EST

El Paso, Texas

ESPN

Winner: UNC

This is going to be a tight one. The Cardinal haven’t had the best season, especially at the beginning, and losing Christian McCaffrey to the NFL draft will only cause more harm. Check out our article

Should Future NFL Prospects Skip Their Bowl Game? for more on this subject. Regardless on whether it was the right decision, it might prove to be detrimental to Stanford’s offense.

UNC is starting Mitch Trubisky (projected top 10 pick), and he will be the key to a Tarheel’s victory. He has only thrown an interception in two games, and has reliably led this explosive offense. If Trubisky plays as he has all year, the Cardinal will be hard-pressed to shut down the Heels.

If UNC can get over the apathy they seemed to possess during the NC State and Duke losses and the Cardinal can’t get over the loss of McCaffrey, the Heels should be a lock to win.

Orange Bowl — FSU vs Michigan

8PM EST

Miami Gardens, Florida

ESPN

Winner: Michigan

Jabril-Peppers

#5 Jabril Peppers

Image by Tony Ding/AP Images

The Orange bowl is always a big game, and this year should be no different. It has huge implications for next season and promises to be a close one.

The Seminoles have had a hard time this season playing balanced teams like Michigan, and I think the Wolverines will take advantage of their weakness.

FSU’s impact player is Dalvin Cook; whenever he lights up in a game and delivers on his full potential, FSU wins. Cook is one of the nation’s best RBs and he’ll definitely get his yards—the question is whether it’ll be enough to win the game. I think Michigan’s defensive line will tear FSU’s sub-par O-line apart and render Cook ineffective. This will also serve to frustrate most of Francois’s attempts to move the ball. The Wolverines only allow 3.1 yards per carry and have 44 sacks on the year (2nd in FBS).

If FSU’s O-line can come out aggressive, Francois has the chance to be a mobile and effective QB. He has 3,128 yards this season and may be up to the Wolverines’ challenge.

FSU’s defensive line shouldn’t be overlooked. They lead the nation with 47 sacks, and have had 15 of them come from DeMarcus Walker.

Jimbo Fisher’s team is always impressive, but this year has been barred with disappointment because of a bitter loss in the bowl game last year vs Houston and several losses this season. Michigan is bitter after losing their chance at the college football playoffs, and will want to use this game as a catapult towards a national championship next season. It’ll be a close one, but the Wolverines will come out on top.

Liberty Bowl — Georgia vs TCU

12PM EST

Memphis, Tennessee

ESPN

Winner: Georgia

Nick-Chubb

#27 Nick Chubb

Contributed Photo /Times Free Press

It is hard to believe that the Horned Frogs and the Bulldogs are meeting in the Liberty Bow. It wasn’t too long ago these programs were churning out wins and were top ranked opponents. This definitely isn’t what either team wanted, but as with any bowl game, winning is important to give them confidence going into next season. TCU simply won’t be able to stop anything that Georgia throws at them, and Kenny Hill won’t be able to jump-start his own pass offense after throwing just 3 touchdowns in his last 6 games. Jacob Eason isn’t golden either, but he’ll get the job done despite his 55% completion rate.

Music City Bowl — Nebraska vs Tennessee

3:30PM EST

Nashville, Tennessee

ESPN

Winner: Tennessee

Obviously you can’t overlook the home field advantage, but it’ll be hard for Tennessee to pick up enough slack to win the game. The Vols had a tough loss against Vanderbilt to end the regular season and they need to shake it off and come into this game fresh and ready. Nebraska is dealing with some pretty big injuries, and although the Cornhuskers have a pretty good team coming in, the Volunteers will take the W.

Arizona Bowl — Air Force vs South Alabama

5:30PM EST

Tucson, Arizona

America Sports Network

Winner: Air Force

South Alabama won’t be able to shut down an impressive Falcons run game.  Although South Alabama will be able to throw a few touchdowns, Air Force has the more impressive offense and should win by more than a few scores. South Alabama’s 6-6 record doesn’t give me confidence that they’ll win in just their second bowl game ever against a 9 win Air Force team.

College Football Week 13 (Rivalry Week) Rundown

Photo via MGoblue.com

#2 Ohio State vs #3 Michigan — Winner: Michigan

Home field Advantage? Check.

Winning at home vs Michigan since 2000? Check.

Chaos factor (i.e., they muddle up the process of choosing playoff contenders completely)? Check.

Everything seems to point to the Buckeyes. Regardless, something deep down tells me that Michigan is going to win and cement themselves for the playoffs. Don’t ask me why.  The game will be decided by less than five points and in the last five minutes, but I think it’ll be decided in favor of Michigan. I think Ohio State will have the first half advantage—and for a home game, this is huge—but desperation and a strong and balanced team will give Michigan the comeback power it needs to take the game.

#1 Alabama vs #15 Auburn — Winner: Alabama

Every year I want to choose Auburn to win this one. Alabama is hungry for its postseason, and they want to be on top when they inevitably enter the playoffs at the end of the year. Saban is 6-3 in the Iron Bowl, and the Crimson Tide enjoys their time at the top too much to lose to their bitter rival. Their defenses are pretty even, but I think Bama has the competitive edge when it comes to offense, and ultimately they’ll win a bitterly close matchup.

#10 Colorado vs #12 Utah — Winner: Colorado

Utah will be unable to stop the Buffaloes’ crazy win streak, especially after being humbled by a 3-7 Oregon team last week. Liufau is going to have a miraculous showing, and with no home field advantage for either team, even Utah’s strong special teams via Andy Phillips won’t be able to snag the win.

#6 Washington vs #22 Washington State — Winner: Washington State

This is my huge upset of the week, and I think I’ll be spot on about it. Washington showed its weakness when it lost to USC, and I think it’ll be caught off guard by Falk and his receivers. Falk will throw for well over 300 yards, and while it’ll of course be a close game, WSU will come out on top and Washington will lose its hopes of going to the playoffs.

#17 Florida State vs #23 Florida — Winner: FSU

This is gonna be a super close game. Last year, even Seminoles fans were disappointed at how badly the Seminoles beat UF, and now the Gators will be back with a vengeance. Despite that, the over 80,000 capacity venue at Doak Campbell in Tallahassee will be enough to rattle the Gators, and they won’t be able to slow down Dalvin Cook nearly enough.

#8 Penn State vs Michigan State — Winner: Penn State

Looking at records this seems like a no-brainer, but all I’m saying is that Michigan State and Dantonio are gonna keep this closer than anyone expects.

#16 LSU vs #25 Texas A&M — Winner: LSU

The Aggies will be too overconfident with their home field advantage, and LSU will show them why that’s a mistake. It won’t be close, but I can predict a high scoring game from both teams. LSU will get a strong showing from both Guice and Elting, and Knight just won’t be able to cut it for TAMU.