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The Day After: Florida State

Our weekly look back on our commentary and analysis to see what was right, what was wrong, and how it played out on the field

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State
Darrell Langham. Legend.
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports


We’re back with another installment of The Day After, looking back at our commentary and analysis leading up to Miami’s huge, epic, amazing, wonderful, long-awaited 24-20 win at Florida State on Saturday.

Man, winning is fun. Writing this piece is great. Let’s get into it:

Matchup of the Week

1 vs. 1 Matchup of the Day

WR Ahmmon Richards (six foot one, 190 pounds) vs. Tarvarus McFadden (six foot two, 205 pounds)

Commentary: “WR Ahmmon Richards qualifies as a big time player. ... He’s Miami’s most talented option in the passing game, but there will be no time to acclimate to game speed as every possession in this rivalry is significant. With Richards battling against FSU CB Tarvarus McFadden, this is another prime opportunity for Richards to impress scouts at the next level.

Tarvarus McFadden has returned to form this season. Coming off a 2016 season where he secured eight interceptions and seven pass breakups, McFadden leads all FSU defenders with three pass breakups this season. What’s impressive about the tall, lean corner is his ability to play press coverage at the line of scrimmage, redirecting wide receivers from their intended route. McFadden is vulnerable to giving up big plays due to poor tackling and aggressiveness, however.

There is no guarantee that McFadden will shadow Richards for most of the game — however, if FSU truly believes in their defense, then we should see McFadden trailing Richards for the majority of the contest. With Richards likely to command the attention of FSU’s top corner, perhaps drawing help from the safety over top, it should help to create opportunities for WR Braxton Berrios, WR Lawrence Cager and TE Christopher Herndon IV to find space in the defensive coverage based on the attention that Richards draws.”

The Day After: Richards and McFadden were matched up most of the game. McFadden had 2 PBUs and tight coverage to force incompletions several times, but Richards was able to get loose for 4 catches for 68 yards on the day. Richards was targeted 12 times though, so McFadden did a great job limiting Miami’s best WR on the day.

But, to the rest of the commentary, Washington was right on. Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon IV combined for 11 catches for 145 yards and 2 TDS — both by Berrios.

Additionally, McFadden was in man-to-man coverage on Darrell Langham’s game-winning TD, where the 6’4” Canes WR went up over McFadden, caught the ball, turned and scored through a tackle attempt with 6 seconds left to secure the win. If that’s not “McFadden is vulnerable to giving up big plays”, I don’t know what is.

Positional Matchup to Watch

FSU’s Running Backs vs. Miami’s Front-Seven

Commentary: “The Seminoles have a good thunder and lightning combination at running back. RB Jacques Patrick plays the role of thunder, taking the ball between the tackles. Patrick averages 5.23 yards-per-carry, having rushed for 162 yards in three games and one rushing touchdown. Patrick is also FSU’s best option at the position in pass protection. Cam Akers serves as lightning to Patrick’s Thunder, averaging 4 yards-per-carry with 144 rushing yards. Akers may be the more talented option, but he has not been able to take over the position — something that many predicted would happen in the preseason. Akers is a freshman who needs to work on his patience, but given the blocking in front of him, he may not have too many options.

Against Duke, Miami’s front-seven piled up 11 tackles for loss. The ’Noles allowed Wake Forest to set a new team record 17 tackles for loss. Miami should continue to feast this week against a vulnerable FSU offensive line that has allowed 31 tackles for loss and 12 sacks to rank near the bottom half in the country in each category. FSU’s left tackle Derrick Kelly was injured last week against Wake Forest and the ’Noles struggled to get a good push against Wake’s defense. We could see a repeat performance from LB Michael Pinckney and DE Joe Jacksonrunning free in the backfield. This should also be a big game for Miami defensive tackles Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton who have, combined, 5 tackles for loss and two sacks so far this season.”

The Day After: Akers and Patrick combined for 31 carries for 212 yards on the game. A lot of that were chunk plays, with Patrick having 74 yards on 2 carries, and Akers routinely gaining big yardage on cutbacks.

Miami was able to generate 9 TFLs and 4 sacks on the day, but they were not as successful in the run game as one would have liked. Good analysis by Washington, but the W in this area goes to FSU.

Caneseye Players to Watch: Florida State S Derwin James, WR Auden Tate, Miami Hurricanes CB Malek Young, RB Mark Walton, RB Travis Homer

Commentary: “It’s impossible to avoid safety Derwin James, whether on the field or from his glorification in the lead up to his return in the off-season. James deserves high billing for his role within Florida State’s defense. James has the talent to line up just about anywhere — on defense, rushing from the line of scrimmage, dropping back in coverage or lining up as a cover corner on the field, FSU lines him up everywhere. As soon as the huddle breaks, you must account for James; it should be a priority before every single play. James can single-handedly swing the moment for the Seminoles, especially if Miami’s defense stymies FSU. The pressure won’t just be on the Seminoles defense to stop the ’Canes, but to score as well.

... Auden Tate who has been Mr. Reliable this season. A big target at six-foot-five and 225 pounds, Tate leads all Seminole receivers with 13 receptions for 226 yards and his 3 touchdown receptions are the only scores by a ’Nole wideout this season.

Miami looks to have found their number one cornerback in Malek Young, who leads Miami with four pass breakups this season. Young blanketed Duke receivers a week ago, however FSU will be a true test of his prowess given their size and athleticism. Look for Young to be tested — perhaps not much as Dee Delaney, but enough to prove that he is Miami’s best cornerback.

The stage is set for Mark Walton. There will be plenty of scouts in attendance, more than the 16 that were said to be on-hand for the Duke game. It was a grind for every yard against Duke, and he will be in for a similar grind against FSU. Limited to 39 yards on 14 carries for a 2.79 yards-per-carry average, Walton could face a eight-man front to limit his impact. With the return of Ahmmon Richards to lineup, it could take a defender out of the box, giving Walton more cut back options.

Walton did not finish the game against Duke because of a bothersome ankle injury. It’s expected that Walton is good to go for the contest — however, Miami will need a significant contribution from RB Travis Homer, who has flashed throughout the season and has an impressive 8.09 yards-per-carry average and is tied with Walton for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with three.”

The Day After: James was around, but didn’t do anything special, really. He had 2 PBUs under cutting routes, but no interceptions. Also, James, playing as a single high safety, tried to fool Malik Rosier by leaving the middle of the field and going to the wide side of the field.....away from the side with Ahmmon Richards and Braxton Berrios. And what happened on that play? TD Berrios. That was great for Miami, but baaaaad for FSU and James.

Auden Tate gave FSU the lead with a late TD on a busted coverage, and ended the game with 4 catches for 56 yards and the aforementioned TD. Tate didn’t do much throughout the game, but he made a huge play when FSU needed it most. That classifies as a player to watch, IMO.

Malek Young wasn’t really tested on Saturday. The sophomore CB had 5 tackles, 0.5 TFL, and 1 PBU. Most of his tackles came in run support, but when tested the few times int he pass game, Young held up to scrutiny.

Mark Walton, however, wasn’t his usual self. Still battling a left ankle injury, and faced with the best defense he’s seen this year, Miami’s star running back was held to 25 yards rushing on 12 carries — just over 2 yards per carry. An outstanding receiver, Walton was only targeted once, and the pass was incomplete.

Walton was hurt in the game as his leg bent under him on a tackle (a clean tackle, so don’t even think otherwise). He was seen being carted to the locker room after the game, with his right ankle wrapped. In all, FSU took Walton out of the game pretty much entirely, and that affected Miami’s offense, which was non-existent in the first half.

Just like the Duke game, Travis Homer came out of the bullpen to finish the game for Miami. And, when pressed into action, the sophomore RB did well. He had several key blocks in pass protection (including on the TD to Berrios when Derwin James left the middle of the field for no reason whatsoever lol), and had 3 carries for 29 yards on Miami’s final TD drive. Homer also played well on special teams with a tackle and a near tackle (forced returner inside to his help) on the day.

With Walton’s status uncertain and even if he’s able to play in a limited role next week, Homer is likely to see his role increase, and if what we’ve seen so far has been an indicator of future performance, the West Palm Beach (FL) native is ready.

Game Preview

Commentary: “The Seminoles, for all their talent, have had an uninspiring season thus far. Sitting at 1-2, they’ve taken losses against Alabama and NC State before pulling out an ugly last minute win versus Wake Forest last weekend. Mistakes have piled up. The offensive line has been a sieve. They are even starting a true freshman at quarterback for the first time in Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at FSU, James Blackman, who was thrust into action after star QB Deondre Francois sustained a season-ending knee injury late in the Seminoles' season opener against Alabama.

However, there’s just something about this rivalry that wakes a team up and gets players to perform up to their full potential. For their part, the Hurricanes’ players know they’re going to get FSU’s best shot and don’t plan on getting caught off-guard.

"They are going to challenge the receivers like they always do," WR Braxton Berrios said. "They are going to run to the ball, they are going to hit. A lot of things they do the same and regardless of their record, Florida State-Miami is going to be Florida State-Miami."

The Day After: Yeah, that’s all right. Miami-FSU was a heavyweight fight, James Blackman made plays, Braxton Berrios made plays, and Miami came away with the win. That’ll work.

Opponent Q&A

Commentary: In our opponent Q&A, Dylan Kidd of Tomahawnk Nation said the following:

Re: James Blackman “So far I’d say the positives have been displaying that gorgeous deep ball and avoiding doing anything ridiculously dumb, which is tough to ask of most freshmen. The negatives have been what you’d expect: making checks, getting through progressions, feeling pressure, and getting the ball where it needs to go. He needs his offensive linemen to play better, too, or his 169-pound frame will not make it through this season.”


“In thinking about this game, I find myself clinging to hope that the streak itself will exert some mystical power in Doak on Saturday. We call those “soft factors,” though, so I have to pull myself back to reality. Play for play, drive for drive, and game for game, Miami has been a better team than FSU this season. Florida State is still more talented and is playing at home, but they’re going to be asking a lot from their defense yet again. I think Rosier, Walton, and Richards can make enough plays to score some points, and I think it’ll be a tougher row to hoe for James Blackman and the FSU offense. FSU always has some concepts to break out for the first time against Miami and I do think the ‘Noles will show up motivated for this game. But without a significant step up in quality of play from the team I’ve watched over the last two weeks, I don’t think it’s enough to keep the streak alive.

I think the ‘Canes win 24-16, which feels sacrilegious to type.”

The Day After: Blackman showed the arm talent Kidd alluded to, and also the check down interaction in the pass game, but it worked. Blackman also made a couple freshman mistakes, but he’s a freshman so that will happen.

As for the game prediction, The Streak almost had a life of its own, but Miami’s final drive killed that. Kidd was off on the final score by 4 points. Solid prediction, if you ask me.

SOTU Staff Predictions

Commentary: Every single contributor picked Miami to win. Here were the scores they predicted:

Cam Underwood: Miami wins 27-20
Matt Washington: Miami wins 24-13
Justin Dottavio: Miami wins 24-20
Stefan Adams: Miami wins 27-20
Mike Grunewald: Miami wins 30-17
Mat Scholtec: Miami wins 24-14
John Pickens: Miami wins 27-20
Charlie Strauzer: Miami wins 24-21
Grant Misemer: Miami wins 20-14
Carter Balderson: Miami 24-23
Silas Tsang: Miami wins 23-17
Ky-Shon Hepburn: Miami wins 31-20
Donovan Hutchins: Miami wins 27-16

The Day After: Every single contributor was right in their prediction. Justin Dottavio GOT THE EXACT SCORE, Charlie Strauzer was off by 1 point, Carter Balderson, John Pickens, and I were all off by 3 points in one way or another, and most everybody else was close.


That’s it for this installment of The Day After.

Love it? Hate it? Have a thought to make this piece better? Hop in the comments and let me know.

Go Canes