Yesterday, we had the first installment of our 3 part roundtable discussion leading up to Saturday’s rivalry game between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles. You can see that discussion here:
We pick up where we left off yesterday with the last 5 questions of our discussion. Don’t see predictions? Don’t worry. Those will be up tomorrow.
Here’s the rest of our Roundtable discussion:
QUESTION 6: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Cam Underwood: Long droughts of nothingness on offense, poor OL play (when it’s bad, IT’S BAAAAAD), poor kickoff coverage, and coverage breakdowns in the secondary. Miami can probably overcome one of those in Saturday’s game (as long as it’s not an offense drought that’s too long). If multiple of these issues are a problem — especially kick coverage, because FSU has been very good at this and Miami’s coverage has been bad — things could trend in a direction that would be negative for Miami.
Matt Washington: Miscommunication on defense. There have been times early in the previous three games where guys were not on the same page and it led to points. FSU has the talent to take advantage of those mistakes. If everyone is not on the same page, it will be easy money for FSU to find their groove on offense.
Justin Dottavio: Recent history. FSU has won however many in a row and Miami has to prove it can provide a different outcome.
Stefan Adams: The offensive line, besides a few breakdowns, has been solid this year. But in years past, they have struggled blocking elite edge rushers, of which they have not really faced yet and which FSU definitely possesses. The offense runs hot and cold, something they could get away with against Bethune, Toledo, and Duke, but might come back to haunt them against FSU. Miami's run defense was shredded at times against Duke, and FSU has the running back talent to really make them pay if that trend continues. If Mark Walton is not fully healthy coming off his ankle woes, that's one less weapon that Miami can rely on.
Mike Grunewald: Miami can lose against the Noles in a number of ways. I think the two biggest has to be turnovers and penalties. After the first three weeks, Miami is better than the Noles. They just are. But in rivalry games, things tend to happen positive for one team and negative for the other. The last seven or so years, it's been all FSU with the bounces. Who's to say that is to stop on Saturday...
Mat Scholtec: I've seen Mark Walton playing with a bum ankle and that worries me. If his injury forces him to be apprehensive or he aggravates it against FSU then Miami's offense could sputter enough to keep the Noles in the game.
John Pickens: Even if Miami ends the week as a favorite and looks like the better team, 7 straight losses to FSU is not a fluke. Miami has led in the second half in each of the past 3 years and hasn't been able to close out the Noles. Malik Rosier will be starting in the toughest road environment of his career.
Charlie Strauzer: Inconsistency and Rosier has never started at Doak.
Carter Balderson: I have seen two different defenses from this team. I have seen one that has trouble containing much of anything and that allows big, explosive runs to Bethune Cookman, and one that looks as if it can shut down top offenses. If the defense can’t find consistency, it will be hard to win the big games like this one.
Ky-Shon Hepburn: Miami has had offensive droughts in the first-half against Bethune-Cookman and Toledo and in the second-half against Duke. The offense has to be consistent and continue to put points on the scoreboard even if they are up early.
Donovan Hutchins: In the small sample size of 16 games under Coach Mark Richt, the Canes are 0-3 in games decided by 7 points or less. If this game is tight late, like it has been over the past years, I don’t know if the culture has changed enough to close out.
QUESTION 7: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Underwood: The easy answer is “everyone” since it’s been 7 years since we last saw Miami beat Florida State. In the interest of specificity: 1. Malik Rosier (yes, he’s 4-0 as a starter at Miami, but he’s never started against a team of FSU’s caliber); 2. a non-Ahmmon Richards receiver (need balance with 82’s stellar level of play in the passing game); and 3. the coaching staff. From CMR to Manny Diaz to every position coach, there needs to be an elite performance calling plays, motivating the team, and making in-game adjustments. Those are the specific people in my mind that need to step up.
Washington: The offensive line. Against Duke that line could not get a good push or create space for the run game, leading to Rosier to try and scramble to avoid the pass rush. That offensive line is going to need to get nasty and be the aggressor if Miami is going to have sustained success on Saturday.
Dottavio: The cornerbacks, the offensive line, and the entire kicking game.
Adams: KC McDermott has to prove he can block top-notch pass rushers and keep Rosier upright in this game. I want to see Joe Jackson go completely bonkers in the backfield and become the face that keeps James Blackman up at night. Dee Delaney needs to continue the progress he made against Duke and not have any huge busts. The Canes will almost certainly need big plays from Walton and Ahmmon Richards to survive in Tallahassee. And Rosier really needs to have a coming out party to legitimize all the buzz he's built up through 3 games. A win on the road in Doak Campbell to break the streak would give him his very own place in Hurricanes football lore.
Grunewald: The defensive line needs to stay consistent and sap the soul of FSU's offense all game. Wake Forest was up to the task for 3.75 quarters last weekend and it was awesome (Jack Nicholson "Yes.. Yes.." nodding GIF). I think they had as a defense something like 20 tackles for loss? It was awesome to watch. Miami can really stomp the Noles and it would be a glorious sight to see.
Scholtec: Malik Rosier has been playing much better than I expected, and I hope that continues into this game. Will he have the clutch gene and the poise to go into Tallahassee and win? I think this is the moment for which he's been waiting four years to prove he's a Miami-caliber quarterback.
Pickens: Rosier needs to play with composure and the offensive line needs to step up to deal with FSU's talented defensive front. Miami's defense needs to force a few turnovers and take advantage of Blackman's inexperience. Dee Delaney and Malek Young will be tested by physical wide receivers and will need to make plays on some 50/50 balls downfield. Against FSU, special teams will be key. Feagles' negative punt last week didn't hurt Miami, but can't happen on the road in Tallahassee.
Strauzer: Rosier needs to play smart and the secondary needs to step up.
Misemer: Although I don’t expect Blackman to have a heavy impact in this game, he easily can if Miami’s secondary play like it has. So far, the only secondary player I’m impressed with is Malek Young. Besides Young, though, the entire secondary needs to improve, Dee Delaney in particular. Delaney has looked disastrous, and based on size and speed, he looks like the perfect corner to lock down Auden Tate. If Delaney can match his preseason expectations, Miami will be able to limit Auden Tate and, ultimately, shut down Florida State’s passing game as a whole.
Balderson: Zach McCloud. His name has not been called a whole lot this year. If Miami wants to beat FSU, they will need all of the LB’s to be playing at their absolute best. Pinckney and Quarterman have had their moments already, and McCloud could have his this weekend.
Hepburn: The offense has to remain consistent and get off to a quick start. It would be nice to see some variety in play calling so the offensive scheme isn’t predictable.
Hutchins: The O-Line. The blocking performance was not encouraging against their first real test at Duke. If you take away Travis Homer's late 4th quarter run, the RBs had 54 yards on 19 carries. To win, they will need to create running lanes. CMR's offense is built on establishing the run and it’s hard to win games dropping back and throwing 30+ times a game.
QUESTION 8: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Underwood: It’s not so much the team, it’s the streak itself. It’s become almost a tangible thing, and it has been bearing down on me, Canes fans, and apparently the Canes team for quite a while. Streaks have a weird way of extending themselves against all odds — look at Florida/Kentucky over the last few years — and I obviously don’t want that to happen. But that’s what concerns me more than anything about FSU’s team.
Washington: The FSU secondary is loaded with talent. I'm concerned that they will take away Rosier's initial options in the passing game, forcing him to scramble or bait him into some bad decisions.
Dottavio: Jimbo Fisher is used to winning this game. That's confidence going in. FSU's defense is off but still good. Blackman is getting better.
Adams: Jimbo Fisher. During the losing streak, Miami has come into this game with a great gameplan a few times and gotten up on the Seminoles early, but every time, FSU comes back and seems to look especially better after halftime. That tells me that the talent on the field is not very far apart between the programs, but that the Hurricanes are getting out-coached on gameday every year. Fisher has the ability to diagnose exactly what is giving his team trouble and make the proper adjustments on the fly to defeat his opponent. He's 7-0 against UM for a reason. It's high time that Miami is the one making those crucial adjustments.
Grunewald: FSU's freshman Blackman and the two running backs concern me the most. The last two drives last week, Blackman seemed to get on track throwing bombs. I hope it was just a fluke and the rest of the game before that is the norm. I joke about the FSU offensive line because they're terrible, and they are, but Patrick and Akers still can find holes. Those two could still go for 150 between them even with no running lanes.
Scholtec: Like Miami, FSU's defense is loaded with talent. Matthew Thomas, Demarcus Christmas, Josh Sweat, Derwin James are a few names that Miami needs to be concerned about. If their defense plays A+ football for four quarters, it will be difficult to top the Noles.
Pickens: My main concern is the overall talent on FSU's roster. The Noles haven't played well as a team this season, but there are NFL players on both sides of the ball. Guys like Akers, Sweat, James, and Burns are all studs.
Strauzer: Their defense, especially the ability to stuff the run.
Misemer: Florida State’s defensive line decides the outcome of this game. Miami’s offensive line has exceeded expectations so far, but they haven’t seen a defensive line like Florida State’s. Florida State can hinder Miami’s run game, and like I said before, could lead to more offensive imbalance and imperfection.
Balderson: Their defense still has the ability to be top-notch. They have been shaky to start the year, even against Wake Forest, but their time is coming. I won’t be surprised if the top-5 defense that was talked about coming into the year suddenly shows up on Saturday afternoon.
Hepburn: Florida State has been more competitive against Miami in the past few years, although the Hurricanes hold the all-time series edge, 31-30. FSU’s defense is talented and they will try to pressure Rosier, so the O-Line has to holdup.
Hutchins: They are wounded and have nothing to lose. There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded “animal” or a man with nothing to lose and that is FSU. FSU’s season is not going, as predicted, to the College Football Playoff, and ACC Championship aspirations are slim, so this is now their championship game. In a down year, beating Miami would speak volumes and could turn their season around. I expect them to pull out all the stops for this game.
QUESTION 9: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday's game?
Underwood: James Blackman putting it all together with his elite arm to hit a throw or 2. Derrick Nnadi/Demarcus Christmas demolishing the interior of the Canes’ offensive line. Auden Tate winning 1-on-1’s and leaping over DBs in the endzone. Derwin James living up to the hype and actually making a play that matters.
Washington: James Blackman is rail-thin, gets smacked all game, and could miss easy throws for most of the game. Yet, the next minute he'll make an NFL-throw and spark the momentum for the ’Noles offense. The kid is resilient under pressure, and even if Miami smacks him around, I feel like he will be able to withstand the punishment. Cam Akers is due for a big game sooner or later. Let's hope it is later.
Dottavio: Honestly, no one in particular, just entire units. Their RB's are good, their defense, as a whole, is solid. Big strong D-Line. Kicking always matters in this game and Aguayo is solid.
Adams: The combo of Brian Burns and Josh Sweat off the edge has the potential to really disrupt what Miami wants to do on offense. DB's Derwin James and Tavarus McFadden could turn a couple of those Rosier overthrows into points. While he hasn't shown much yet, freshman RB Cam Akers has game-breaking potential and all it would take is one missed assignment for him to shake loose. The sheer size of FSU's receiving corps (6'5 Auden Tate, 6'4 George Campbell, and 6'3 Keith Gavin) could give Miami's secondary trouble considering their best two cover corners might be guys that are 5'9.
Grunewald: The player that concerns me the most, and who I noted above, would be Patrick. He's a load at 230 and can run pretty well as a RB. He'll test the linebackers in this game, but he definitely can be bottled up in the back field before he gets a head of steam.
Scholtec: Miami's cornerback play hasn't been great, so a guy like Auden Tate could have a lot of opportunity to make plays. With his size and speed he could take a simple slant route and turn it into 6 points against Miami's secondary.
Pickens: Derwin James. He's Florida State's best player and has the ability to make a game-changing play. In each of the last two games, Malik Rosier has thrown a bad interception.
Strauzer: Their freshman QB showed some ability this past week, and Derwin James on defense.
Misemer: My main concern is Auden Tate. Even with sub-par quarterback play, his impact on games has still been plentiful. For example, he scored last week’s game-winning touchdown because he physically dismantled Wake Forest’s corner. With the most sensible matchup being Dee Delaney, things can get ugly if Delaney doesn’t improve. If Blackman can get Tate the ball, Miami is in trouble.
Balderson: I have to say Derwin James. He is so dynamic and can wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Rosier will have to keep an extra eye out for him all game and he has never faced a player like James before.
Tsang: Derwin James. Easily an All-American candidate. He can break the game wide open defensively and on special teams. I’ve felt that whichever defensive secondary plays the best will win on Saturday. If FSU wins, it’s because of James.
Hepburn: I’m most concerned about Auden Tate. The receiver has been productive for Florida State, but I’m also concerned about the crowd noise as well. Miami has to take the crowd out of the game early.
Hutchins: WR Auden Tate is their biggest weapon with 3 TDs and 226 YDs in 3 games. But, I am concerned about RB Jacques Patrick who had a breakout game last week with 120 YDs and a TD. My concern is if FSU is able to establish the run game, it will open up their offense. If the Canes are able to stop the run and make FSU pass heavy, I like the odds against a true freshman QB vs the Canes front 7.
QUESTION 10: What would a win against Florida State mean to the Miami Hurricanes program?
Underwood: Everything. A win this week would be proof positive that the program is heading in the direction we so greatly desire. It would prove that the process, the systems and schemes Miami runs on offense and defense, can get the result we want (UNLIKE AL GOLDEN’S PROCESS THAT NEVER CHANGED EVEN WHEN WE KEPT LOSING). A win vs. FSU would hopefully give a boost to recruiting. It would extend Miami’s lead in the series, and, most of all, it would get the proverbial monkey off the Canes’ back. Miami is a program that is known for excellence, but a win this week would be validation for the current iteration of the Canes’ program, and be a huge, HUGE step toward a double-digit win season.
Washington: It would be GLORIOUS! It ends the streak, hopefully putting a stop to the question, is Miami back? It would be a big ACC win, placing Miami another step closer to winning the Coastal division.
Dottavio: "We Back"... just kidding. It's a huge game for momentum and Rosier's confidence.
Adams: It'd be huge, no question about it. Not only does it break the losing streak and bring bragging rights back to Miami, but it legitimizes all the work coach Richt is doing in the program and is a gauge on how far along the rebuild is. Beating FSU is the beginnings of a path to an ACC Championship that has eluded Miami so far. It is also a big deal in recruiting. FSU has poached far too much of our South Florida talent the past 7 years and that needs to end. For coach Richt, it is easy to tell kids your vision for the program. But when they can see the results for themselves, now you've taken it to the next level. While I don't think a recruit has ever made a decision strictly based off the winner of this game, I wouldn't be surprised if the buzz generated off a win was a contributing factor for some guys.
Grunewald: Honestly, it'd be a changing of the guard. You all know i'm the pessimist in the group, but since I've been doing the SS7 for the site, I tend to gravitate to watching the in-state teams play. Florida is garbage under McElwain. Sorry, not sorry. Y'all Gators can play in your decrepit SEC east and beat S&P rated 50’s and 60’s teams then play Bama in the Championship and get rocked, have at it. FSU thrives on finding playmakers to run the program. Unfortunately, those type of playmakers come once every 10-15 years or so. FSU got two of them in a span of 5. If Miami won, with a new QB and a defensive scheme that works, the state is theirs again, period.
Scholtec: Even though the Noles are unranked, a win would still finally get the monkey off the Canes' back. It's still hard to believe Miami has dropped seven consecutive games against FSU.
Pickens: A win over Florida State would be massive for Miami's program. Miami can't truly be back until it wins a game in this rivalry. In addition, the win would be critical for Miami's chances in the Coastal. The Canes play crossover games against Syracuse and FSU. Wins in both would give Miami breathing room to potentially lose to Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech and still win the Coastal. The only thing more frustrating than 7 straight losses to FSU is the fact that Miami has never reached the ACC Title Game.
Strauzer: When Miami wins, it will be the inflection point that many will point to as the game that propelled this team back to prominence.
Misemer: I believe a win in this game will cure the post-FSU hangover. Last year, Miami saw a very tough schedule after Florida State, but that wasn’t all to blame for poor performances in October. Miami always seems to lose motivation after playing Florida State, but a win can add a larger incentive, as Miami has a realistic chance of representing the ACC Coastal in the ACC Championship game and in the College Football Playoffs **knocks on wood**.
Balderson: A win on Saturday would be huge. Coming into the year, this was the only game that Miami was not favored in. There’s a long way to go before thinking about the ACC Championship and possible post-season seedlings, but the picture would get a lot brighter with a win in Tallahassee. It doesn’t matter that FSU is 1-2 and all but out of the CFP picture right now, beating the Noles is always big.
Tsang: It’ll mean momentum for an entire season uninterrupted for the first time in years. It also implies that Miami may actually play in its first ACC conference championship. If Miami loses, I expect for Miami a good, but not great season – maybe 3 losses.
Hepburn: A win would end the seven-year drought, push Miami to 2-0 in conference play, and keep the Canes in control of their own destiny in the Coastal.
Hutchins: Validation! Over the past few years, Miami has started the season hot and all you hear is “The U is Back”, until FSU happens. This win would be evidence that the Canes are headed in the right direction in year two of CMR and not just smoke and mirrors as before. This win could very well signify the changing of the guard in Florida's College Football landscape. Miami can’t be relevant nationally on the field if they are not the best team in the state. It will also help winning those head-to-head recruiting battles off the field, as they shot for that #1 recruiting class in 2018.
That’s it for the 2nd part of our roundtable. Be sure you hop in the comments and keep the conversation going.
The final installment — Game Predictions — coming is up for tomorrow.