It’s that time, boys and girls: Florida State/Miami week.
I won’t bore you with any history lessons, past games, or nicknamed games and the like. It’s ancient history and as much as I’ve enjoyed some of the nicknamed games, missed field goals, and comebacks, it’s in the past. I’m focused on Saturday afternoon and how our favorite teams who love to beat each other matchup position-by-position.
Let’s get started.
Miami Offense vs. FSU Defense
The Hurricanes average 30.7 points per game, rushing for 1,429 (158.8 yards per game) and throwing for 2,038 yards (226.4 ypg). Conversely, FSU allows 189.1 ypg passing and just 78.9 ypg on the ground, giving up an average of 15.8 points per game.
WHEN MIAMI PASSES: Senior QB Jacory Harris is having an outstanding season. He’s completed 64.1% of his passes for an average of 219.6 ypg and has thrown 18 TDs and just four picks. Obviously, Harris three favorite targets in Tommy Streeter, Travis Benjamin, and Allen Hurns. Streeter has 32 catches for 666 yards and eight scores, Benjamin also has 32 catches for 460 yards and three TDs, and Hurns has 22 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns. The tight ends have caught 18 passes collectively and occasionally toss the ball to RB Lamar Miller who has 13 catches for 58 yards.
The Hurricanes offensive line has given up 12 sacks through nine games.
Harris has been effective at managing the game and not turning it over, finally finding the consistency that he’s so desperately been lacking until this season. He’s been brilliant at the line of scrimmage, getting UM out of bad plays and into better ones based on his pre-snap reads. The receivers have found that same consistency, not dropping balls and running better routes.
One has to believe that FSU will bring pressure to Harris and challenge a shaky Hurricanes offensive line from the onset. Expect the Noles to stack the box, try to take Miller out of the game and play man-to-man coverage in the secondary while rushing Harris to make hurried decisions in the pocket. Miami will counter the pressure with shotgun, four and five WR formations, various draws, screens, and quick passes. The Hurricanes will have to carefully plan when to take their downfield shots and more than likely max protect and off of play-action passes to buy Harris more time to throw, including rolling him out to his right, giving him a run/pass option. The gamesmanship started last weekend against Duke, with Miami giving multiple personnel and formation looks against the Blue Devils, in turn making FSU take up precious practice time preparing for schemes they may or may not see offensively.
FSU sophomore DE Bjoern Werner has six sacks and junior DE Cornellius Carradine has four. The ends will challenge Miami’s tackles, but the linebacker unit may be most effective in applying the pressure. Collectively, DEs and LBs have 22.5 of FSU’s 30 sacks.
The Noles also have a talented secondary. CBs Xavier Rhodes (6’2, 215, So.) will man up on Streeter (6’5, 220), while senior Mike Harris and junior Greg Reid will be given the task to cover Benjamin and Hurns. Don’t forget Lamarcus Joyner is roaming the defensive backfield, but the secondary has just three INTs.
Miami has a bit of a size advantage offensively, but these games are won in the trenches and FSU has the advantage. FSU’s secondary is keeping opponents 30 yards under Harris’ average per game. The Noles rank fifth nationally in sacks per game (3.33).
UM OL vs. FSU DL advantage Florida State
UM WR, TE vs. FSU DB advantage Miami
UM QB Harris vs. FSU DB advantage Miami
WHEN MIAMI RUNS: Sophomore RB Lamar Miller has accumulated 1,016 yard and eight TDs. Miller is a big play threat and could take it to the house on any given carry. As stated before, the FSU gameplan will be to stack the box to prevent Miller from getting loose and make Harris beat them by throwing. The Seminoles have been stingy against opposing ball carriers and Harris needs to be dialed in and focused because the game will be decided on how effective he is for the Hurricanes. If UM cannot run the ball it will create more possessions for FSU against a relatively ineffective and young Hurricanes defense. Miami has to get creative and execute to open some running lanes for Miller.
FSU LB Nigel Bradham leads his squad with 52 tackles and Christian Jones has 42. DTs Timmy Jernigan (6’3, 297, Fr.) and Anthony McCloud (6’2, 311, Jr.) are stout against the run. The Noles rank 12th nationally in tackles for loss per game (7.67).
Miami’s offensive line has paved the way for a 1,000 yard rusher, but this group needs to be more reliable against better competition. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will be tested in his first trip to Tallahassee.
UM OL vs. FSU DL advantage Florida State
UM RB vs. FSU front seven advantage Florida State
I’ll preview the FSU Offense vs. the Miami Defense later today.