I ran this piece out there last year, and it was generally well received. So hey, it’s Miami-FSU again, so let’s bring this piece back for another year.
Here’s the general premise: If you combined the Miami and Florida State rosters, who would start at each position? There is always an argument of “how many players from (rival team) would start on (person’s favorite team)”, and it’s always engaging and fun.
With that being said, here’s how I see things at each position on the field heading into the 2017 installment of the Miami-Florida State rivalry:
Quarterback: Malik Rosier (Miami)
As Miami’s QB, Rosier is 4-0 (counting the 3-0 start this season and the win at Duke from 2015). While he’s had his misses, and times where he was “checkdown Charlie”, it’s hard to argue with the numbers Rosier has put up to start this season. Check them out:
Malik through 3 games— Scoop (@scoopontheU) September 30, 2017
97 yards rushing
2 rushing tds
I may have undervalued
Yeah, that’ll work.
Running Back: Mark Walton (Miami)
Walton is the best running back playing CFB in the State of Florida, and the best back on either roster. He’s not as big as others (Jacques Patrick) or as fast as others (Travis Homer/Amir Rasul) or as heralded a recruit as others (Cam Akers), but he’s the best all-around player at RB on either team, hands down. He gets the start.
Honorable Mention: Patrick (FSU), Homer (Miami), Akers (FSU)
Wide Receivers: Ahmmon Richards (Miami), Auden Tate (Florida State), and Braxton Berrios (Miami)
Richards may be the best WR in all of college football, Tate has developed into a dangerous player with his combination of height, athleticism, and speed, and Berrios is flourishing now that he’s being used appropriately in the slot. That’s a dynamic and balanced starting receiver group if ever I saw one.
Honorable mention: Nyquan Murray (FSU), Lawrence Cager (Miami), Keith Gavin (FSU), George Campbell (FSU), Mike Harley (Miami), Jeff Thomas (Miami).
Tight End: Christopher Herndon IV (Miami)
What, you thought I was gonna pick Ryan Izzo? hahahahahahaha
Tackles: Derrick Kelly II (FSU) and Kc McDermott (Miami)
Not really a great group of tackles to choose from on either side. Kelly II was FSU’s LT until he got hurt in the Wake game, but he’s the guy I’d go with there. McDermott has stepped up his game as a senior at LT for Miami, but he’s an average-average plus type player. Who’d have thunk that this would be arguably the weakest position group of a Miami-FSU combined roster. Wow.
Guards: Navaughn Donaldson (Miami) and Landon Dickerson (FSU)
If healthy, Dickerson could be in the running for All-ACC honors. Donaldson was a highly touted recruit who is already starting for Miami. He’s not perfect (struggled vs Mike Ramsay from Duke last week), but Donaldson’s combination of size, strength, and surprising athleticism means he starts on this combined-roster line.
Center: Tyler Gauthier (Miami)
Gauthier has stepped his game up ever since being thrust into the starting role last yeaar. Combine that with his familiarity working with our combined-team QB Rosier, and this is an easy choice for him to start IMO.
End: Chad Thomas (Miami)
The only 5-star recruit on Miami’s roster is finally living up to that billing. Thomas is making plays all over the place and commanding double teams, which free up his fellow DL guys to go make plays. Thomas is even flexing inside to DT in some 3rd down rush packages for Miami. His well-rounded game fits as a starter.
Tackles: Derrick Nnadi (FSU) and Kendrick Norton or RJ McIntosh (Miami)
Nnadi is the best DT on FSU’s team, and might be the best DT on either roster. Big, strong, and disruptive, you have to account for him on every play. The tough decision, for me, was picking between Miami’s elite DT duo of Norton and McIntosh. I asked twitter (I even put up a poll with it)....and still couldn’t get a clear consensus. So, Norton and McIntosh are “or” starters at the other DT spot, and I’ll leave it up to the coach to decide which one starts the game. But, let it be known that EITHER ONE could easily start.
VIPER/BUCK: Brian Burns (FSU) or Joseph Jackson (Miami)
This is the Norton/McIntosh debate from the DT spot, but with players from both teams. Both Burns and Jackson wear #99 for their respective team, and they are both great players with size, length, and speed off the edge. If you look at the stats, they’re comparable. Both were Freshman All-Americans last year. Both are from South Florida. And the comps go on and on. Either one could start and I’d be fine with it. Flip a coin, then put whichever #99 you choose on the field and let him get after the QB.
Linebackers: Matthew Thomas (FSU), Shaquille Quarterman (Miami), and Michael Pinckney (Miami)
Quarterman and Pinckney have been stellar from day 1 at Miami, and continue to be elite players early into their sophomore seasons. Thomas was a 5-star recruit and when he’s healthy, he has elite talent and production. If I went off recruiting rankings here, this trio might look different. But based on on-field production? Gimme this trio and let’s ride.
Cornerback: Tarvarus McFadden (FSU) and Malek Young (Miami)
McFadden has been FSU’s besst corner for 2 years, and he was a starter in this article last year. It stands to reason that, since he’s still in college, he starts again. Although others may have more cache, but Young’s play has been exemplary (and his interception numbers are sure to soar once he starts turning his head in coverage). These 2 CBs are built very differently (McFadden is 6’3” and Young is 5’9”), but both are very good. This is my starting pair.
Safeties: Jaquan Johnson (Miami) and Derwin James (FSU)
Johnson has been one of the steady players in Miami’s secondary early in this season. He has moved all over the field from FS, SS, Nickel, and even LB in the past, so his versatility is key. James has struggled a bit, much like the FSU team, to start 2017 season, but he’s still a physical freak at 6’3” 211lbs and running a 4.4-ish 40. Comparisons btw James and previous Miami superstar Safeties are unfounded, but the Noles star is still damn good even if he’s not as great as certain legendary players from CFB years past. Either way, he starts on this merged roster.
Nickel: Kyle Myers (FSU)
Simply put, he’s been great in this role for FSU, and made plays to help the Noles fend off a tough Wake Forest team to earn their first win of the season. If that doesn’t earn a start, IDK what does.
Kicker: Michael Badgley (Miami)
Improved leg strength. Already-elite accuracy. And, all the swag in the world. Jersey Mike is the kicker and you can shut up if you think differently.
Punter: Logan Tyler (FSU)
The better of two not-so-great options at current. Somebody’s gotta punt, and one of the 2 punters for these teams has had a punt go for NEGATIVE YARDAGE, so I guess Tyler gets the nod, but I don’t feel great about this.
Kick Returner: Derwin James (FSU)
He’s big, he’s fast, and he had a 102-yard TD return against Wake Forest called back for holding. Why not put him back there and see what happens?
Punt Returner: Braxton Berrios (Miami)
Miami Hurricanes: 17 starters
Florida State Seminoles: 11 starters
Last year, Miami had a 14-13 edge in the starting lineup. However, one of FSU’s starters was Dalvin Cook, which kinda made the difference.
This year, that has grown slighly, with Miami taking a 17-11 win. (I counted both Burns and Jackson as starters, but if I only took Burns to start, it’s 16-11 Miami, for the record).
If you think of this in terms of boxing rounds, this would be a 7 to 5 (115-113) championship fight. Yes, it’s a win, but not a 1st round knockout or anything like that.
Agree with my Miami-FSU merged team starters? Disagree on one (or more)? Hop in the comments and let me know.