What's at stake tonight?
For the 'Canes all hopes of an ACC Coastal Division Championship likely diminish if they can not win this evening Vs FSU. Let's face it, Duke's schedule is too easy for 2 losses.
But perhaps equally important, victory would bring back National relevance on a big stage, not to mention provide a major shot in the arm for recruiting.
Knocking your biggest rivals out a chance at repeating as Champs isn't too bad of a consolation either.
So what does UM need t do to get that sweet, sweet victory this evening?
Here are my 3 keys:
#1 Translate paper to money: No, no NCAA violation suggestion here. What I mean is that in order to defeat the Seminoles, Miami's defense (11th Nationally in total D and in the upper echelon of most statistical categories) needs to look good in a big game on the field, and not just on the stat sheet. The last 2 weeks against Va Tech and UNC have been revelations. But neither of those teams have Jameis Winston at QB. Mark D'Onofrio and Co. have down a great job of preventing the big play all season long, but they need to stymie the methodical drives as well. Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister, Jermaine Grace, and Raphael Kirby combine to give the 'Canes one of the most complete LB corps in the country. Tonight they need to remain stout and potentially force a few turnovers as well. Consistent stops whether via taking the ball away or getting off the field on 3rd downs will be at a premium. If Miami's D can not get off the field one way or another, it does not matter how well the O plays, which brings me to.......
#2 Take care of the football: The 2014 FSU defense is vulnerable. But they still have Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman up front, and Jalen Ramsey and P.J. Williams on the back end. So if Brad Kaaya is careless in the pocket and/or Duke Johnson does not protect the football in traffic, the Noles' star defenders can wreak havoc. However if UM avoids turnovers, they should put a lot of points on the board. With the roll this unit has been on, fumbles and INTs may be the only chance Florida State has at stopping them.
#3 Be leery of O'Leary: 33 catches for 364 yards and 2 TDs may not be eye popping numbers, but FSU TE Nick O'Leary is a handful if he gets going. Some of Winston's 11 INTs this season have resulted when he went away from veteran targets like O'Leary and WR Rashad Greene, and had miscommunications with his younger receivers. You know Greene is going to see a lot of passes his way, and make some plays. If O'Leary joins him and puts up big numbers, it may be too much for Miami to overcome. S Deon Bush will probably get the first crack at slowing him down. Bush needs a big game.
Well there you have it 'Canes fans. If Miami can show the recent success of the defense is more than a statistical anomaly, avoid turnovers when they have the ball, and keep Nick O'Leary at bay, UM should have its' biggest victory in years.
Enjoy the game all!