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Hey! Where's our balloon?

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Okay, so we're probably not in this league yet, but it would be nice to be included now that we are 1A.

High expectations for state teams


This is the time of year when all fans can dream about a trip to college football's promised land.

By Jeff Darlington
Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted April 19 2005

Florida State, UCF and USF finished their spring workouts over the weekend, meaning each of the state's "Big Five" Division I-A programs is done with spring football.

But the winners of those spring-ending scrimmages – whether it was White, Orange, offense or defense – no longer mean anything to the task ahead. With spring in the past, teams begin shifting their attention to summer workouts, when strength and technique become the primary tasks for players readying themselves for the upcoming season.

"This is going to be a big three months for our players," Florida Coach Urban Meyer said.

Actually, it will be a big three months for the state's other programs as well.

For now, though, fans, coaches and players can revel in the great expectations that crop up at this time of the year.

Florida: Receivers improve

After a spring practice overshadowed by the hype surrounding a new coach, it might have been easy to overlook one especially important aspect: the players themselves.

As it turns out, while the rest of the world was focused on Urban Meyer, the Gators were busy piecing together an overhaul of the offensive system in what turned into a particularly impressive spring.

"We have a young, talented group," Meyer said. "They're immature. But they're young and they're talented, so this is going to be the most important offseason of their lives."

At the start of spring, Meyer was blunt with his criticism toward the linebackers and tailbacks. While he still doesn't sound overly comfortable with either position, he said he certainly feels more at ease than he did. Linebacker Todd McCullough established himself as the unit's third starter, and tailback DeShawn Wynn had an impressive showing the backfield.

Perhaps the most improved unit, as anyone who attended the spring game could see, was the wide receivers.

"The receivers probably graded a 'D' during the first half of spring practice," Meyer said. "During the last half, they graded an 'A.' They did a nice job."

– Jeff Darlington

FSU: Many questions remain

True freshman Greg Carr managed to stand out this spring amid all the injuries to the rest of the receiving corps, problems with the offensive line and confusion at quarterback.

His progress in his first spring on campus was a highlight of spring practice, when few of FSU's most urgent offensive questions were answered. But Coach Bobby Bowden was cautious about even that positive development.

Freshmen who find a way of standing out in the spring often are lost on the field during the season.

In a way, that leaves the Seminoles – at least on offense – where they were before spring practice started. The players who stood out in the spring must repeat those performance during two-a-days. And for everyone else, that is when the most important position battles will begin.

Bowden's staff still must decide on a starting quarterback. The offensive line remains in a holding pattern until four projected starters recover from injury over the summer. And every other lineup change and offensive tweak following last season's disappointing campaign rests on addressing those first two problems.

Perhaps the most tangible thing to have come out of this spring was that young players who might be called upon to start for the first time have gained confidence. And the players on offense know they'll face few defenses in the fall tougher than the one they saw on their own practice field.

– Emily Badger

Miami: Quarterback derby

There were questions about the Hurricanes' offense headed into spring practice, and a lot of those questions remain. Who's the new quarterback? Who will be the feature tailback? Is the line going to be better than it was last season?

It all starts with consistent quarterback play, something UM did not get the past two seasons from Brock Berlin. Sophomore Kyle Wright will go into fall practice as the starter, but redshirt freshman Kirby Freeman still is in the hunt. If those guys don't play well, it won't matter if there's an elite tailback or a solid line.

There are far fewer concerns on defense. As usual, there is good speed throughout the unit, and while there isn't necessarily one standout, there is good talent and depth everywhere.

The only potential trouble spot is at cornerback. Kelly Jennings has one starting spot nailed down, but the other corner remains a question.

Miami is coming off a three-loss season in its first year in the ACC. While a 9-3 record would look good to 90 percent of the nation's programs, another three-loss season could make things difficult for Coach Larry Coker and his staff. That means Wright and Freeman need to have productive summers.

– Mike Huguenin

UCF: Will rely on youth

In the moments after UCF's final spring scrimmage Saturday, defensive coordinator Lance Thompson looked at the sideline and spotted recent signee Joe Burnett.

"I hope you're ready to play," Thompson said to Burnett, a cornerback from Eustis whose first college practice comes in August. "We're going to need you."

As many questions as the Golden Knights answered this spring, many more must be sorted out before a nationally televised Sept. 1 opener at South Carolina.

For instance, on defense, who's the middle linebacker? Who are the outside linebackers? There are a handful of candidates at the safety spots (Sha'Reff Rashad, Anthony Willis, Renford Parkes, Rashad Mays) but no clear starters.

"We have some time to evaluate, but no question we're going to need some help from some freshmen," Coach George O'Leary said. "We signed as many linebackers as we did [eight] because we knew someone was going to have to help us right away."

Spring did provide some insights. For starters, barring an injury to quarterback Steven Moffett or a miracle recovery by backup Kyle Israel (re-injury of a lower leg stress fracture), UCF's offense belongs to Moffett.

L.J. Anderson, Dominic Ignelzi and Josh Sitton proved they can play tackle. Newcomers Jason Peters and Clarence Howard will provide immediate help at running back and on the defensive line, respectively. And punter Aaron Horne looked good.

– Alan Schmadtke

USF: Big East looms

The Bulls head into the Big East coming off probably the most unsatisfying season in school history. USF was 4-7 last season and struggled on both sides of the ball. On paper, at least, there will be a tougher schedule this season.

USF still doesn't appear to have a quarterback it can count on; Anthony Severino and Pat Julmiste combined to go 16-of-52 in the spring game, which Auburn transfer Courtney Denson missed because of an ankle sprain. That means finding a starter – Coach Jim Leavitt said two incoming freshman also will get a shot at the job – and developing a legitimate passing attack are going to be top priorities in summer workouts and fall practice.

The defense got worse as last season progressed, an offshoot of the offensive struggles. But there appeared to be better overall talent this spring, especially on the line and in the secondary.

All that talent won't matter, though, if the offense doesn't improve. Things on that front might have become more difficult after offensive coordinator Mike Hobbie resigned Monday to pursue business interests.

– Mike Huguenin

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Hey! Where's our balloon?

That will change with time. We'll have a balloon to float over our domed stadium.. ;D

Besides, USF and UCF's balloons look a little deflated. Maybe they are not ready for the Big 5 label yet either.
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

How come they didn't write a segment on us >:(
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

I'm assuming that story's from the Orlando Sentinel? At least they didn't use a blimp with the old logo. They couldn't care less about FAU up there. They have their own powerhouse football team at UCF to worry about.

Spurrier and South Carolina are going to run it up on UCF in the season opener and the Golden Knight's streak will continue.

FAU is definitely in the same class as UCF and USF. Everyone will soon realize that.

President of the No Homers Club. Keepin' it real since 2001.
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

If not for Coach Schnellenberger, none of those teams would have balloons. He started the successful reign of Florida college football teams by winning the national championship at UM in 1983, and we must believe that he will do the same thing with FAU! Go Owls!
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

Anyone noticed that Sabastion on the UM blimp still has his pipe in his mouth. That was banned a few years back after the big tabbacoo issues. The new Sabastion no loger has a pipe.
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Hey! Where's our balloon?



Due to technical difficulties the "Owl Blimp" was late to the photo shoot.

Better late then never ;)
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

You 'da man, Bytor! 8-)
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

They are using the old USF logo as well. With as much as we might have been initially disappointed with our logos, which look pretty nice on that balloon……I like ours much better than USF's they spent a bunch of money to come up with a U with horns on it.
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Hey! Where's our balloon?

LOL, as funny as it is. I didnt like our new logo at first but to be honest with you I think it looks pretty good on that balloon. I think they should start mass production.
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