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Miami Hurricanes Football: How to Beat Florida State

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Mark Richt has gone conservative at times in the past. Will he Saturday?

Florida State v Miami
Hurricanes fans hope to see a lot of this on Saturday: a Florida State QB running for his life.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I hope I’m wrong, but there is a good chance Miami, at least to start the game, goes with a conservative approach against FSU in Tallahassee on Saturday.

What do I mean by conservative approach? Running the ball incessantly into stacked fronts. Not taking shots downfield and limiting the passing attack to screens, short slants, and hitches. Running draws on 3rd and long instead of going for a first down.

We’ve seen Mark Richt do this before. We saw that strategy against North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame last season. Suffice to say, it didn’t work out for Miami.

Now, I’m not saying that playing this way can’t produce a win. The environment at Doak Campbell Stadium will be the toughest this team will face all season and playing conservative to start could help to settle Miami’s new QB Malik Rosier into the game and also lessen the chances for any mistakes. However, playing not to lose? Well, that is the surest path to an ‘L’ in my opinion.

Because that is how FSU wants us to play. That style of play raises the probability that this is a close game in the fourth quarter and the Seminoles under Jimbo Fisher thrive on being left around in games and coming back. It happened in Miami-FSU last season, as well as in 2014.

Look no further than Florida State’s last game against Wake Forest. Overall, I thought Wake came in with a great “conservative” gameplan...for Wake Forest. They screened FSU to death, they kept pounding the ball even when it wasn’t there, and they relied on some well-timed QB draws. That all worked fine...except when it didn’t.

Wake had the ball multiple times in the 4th quarter with a chance to put FSU away, both when they were up 19-16 and when the score was knotted at 19-19. They continued with their cautious approach and FSU was all over it. They left the Seminoles hanging around, hanging around, then BANG! James Blackman hit them with one deep pass and the game was over in the blink of an eye.

That approach was a sound gameplan for Wake Forest because they didn’t have the speed and athleticism on the outside to really test the Seminoles’ solid secondary. Working the intermediate and deep passing game wasn’t a viable option for them. Miami is not Wake Forest.

Miami V Florida State

The Canes have Ahmmon Richards, the league’s premier deep threat, at receiver. The man averages 20 yards per catch in his career for a reason. He can beat you on a 50/50 jump ball just as easily as he can turn on the jets and run right by you. Speaking of deep jump balls... do 6’5 Lawrence Cager and 6’4 Darrell Langham tickle your fancy? How about Braxton Berrios juking and jiving himself free from the slot? Take the bubble wrap off TE Chris Herndon and let him work the middle of the field. Lord knows that’s something the FSU defense never sees in practice. Run jet sweeps to Mike Harley and Jeff Thomas, something we haven’t seen out of the UM offense so far.

Florida State does not want to get in a shootout. They know their offensive line and quarterback are too inconsistent for them to sustain long drives. If they get down big early, this game could get ugly. They want to get in a field position punt fest because that is their best chance to win. A close game in the 4th quarter, hoping for one big play from their skill players or a Miami defensive bust to decide the contest.

Miami has a golden opportunity this weekend to break their losing streak to the Seminoles. Why waste it holding back? So, I say, test that Noles secondary early and often. Keep them off balance. Get creative and use the athletes that Miami is blessed to possess. Because we aren’t Wake Forest. This is the University of Miami and we’re here to...

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