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Film Preview: Florida State at Miami, Part 3

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FSU travels to Miami Gardens to face the Hurricanes on 10/6

North Carolina v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes host the Florida State Seminoles in the annual rivalry game. This rendition is on October 6th at 3:30pm eastern on ABC. The Seminoles had the advantage under Jimbo Fisher with a seven year winning streak over the ‘Canes but Miami knocked off FSU with late game heroics in 2017.

During the season two premier of Friday Night Lights, Landry poses this sage advice to Matt, “In some situations you need to ask yourself, W.W.R.D.? “What Would Riggins Do?” In this situation?” Thus we’re going to cover WWDD, What Would Dottavio Do? Against the Seminoles on Saturday afternoon in front of a rowdy crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Check With Me”

As an offensive coordinator in 2018 there’s no excuse to get stuck in a bad play call. Players are acclimated to ideas like going no huddle, using run-pass options, and running audibles to get out of bad looks. If I’m going to attack the FSU defense that’s been playing well, ranked 33rd per the S&P+, I feel it’s with a “check with me” system.

What that means is to have the offense line up in a formation and see what the defense shows as a base alignment. In the picture below, the Heels show a 7 man box so the running game is a tough look. Miami has often ran into 7 man boxes which results in a loss or maybe a two yard gain at best.

Here, there are a variety of “check with me” looks available. With the cornerback and safety backed off at the top of the screen, a tunnel screen could work as well as a hitch with the outside receiver and a slant with the inside receiver to allow for spacing to the hitch.

A tunnel RPO could work here, too. On the bottom of the screen a hitch and slant are off because of that overhang player that is considered a 7th man in the box, too.

Attacking Man Coverage

Coaches typically design their passing concepts with split field in mind, unless we’re talking about the traditional Air Raid which dabbles in full-field concepts. Most coaches want one side of the field, often split by the center, with a cover 2/4 beater and one with a cover 3/man beater to the other side. This makes sure that your quarterback has the right play called for any defensive coverage.

What are the characteristics of a man coverage beater? Great man beaters force defensive backs and linebackers to change their assignments mid-play. The first play most NFL offensive coordinators install is some for of curl/flat combination. Above, I use a “dig/flat” because personally that’s what I like to call. The dig is easier to teach and carries the receiver across the field in case he doesn’t come open on the curl. It also causes the CB and linebacker to switch responsibilities and linebackers aren’t usually that adept at covering a dig route.

FSU under Jimbo Fisher loved a good rub route or a legal pick. The rub forces man CB’s and flat defenders (nickel backs or linebackers) to rub or bump into each other. This means one or the other of your targets will come open because, like in basketball, the defenders are forced to go around the offensive player.

My version of Snag works the same way (we call it Stop at my current coaching gig). When teams are jumping your bubble RPO it’s always good to use a bubble/stop combination and you look them off with the bubble and hit the stop which is usually left open.

On the bottom right is “switch” or a post/wheel combination. Both receivers attack upfield for seven yards and around the seven yard mark will scissor. The inside receiver hits the numbers underneath the outside receiver who runs a post through the hashes. This is a late switch for the defenders and allows many of those “blown coverage” looks for and against Miami over the past 2.5 seasons.

Spice Up The Swing and Screen Game

The Swing

Miami has two athletic quarterbacks in Perry and Malik Rosier and the bonus is that they have three really good running backs in the position room with Travis Homer, Deejay Dallas and Lorenzo Lingard waiting for carries. All three can catch the football, even if Dallas is the best of the three. With Dallas in- the swing game needs to become a priority. Again, it shouldn’t be something the ‘Canes offense is stuck in.

The Screen

A play I would like to see the ‘Canes use is a sweep-tunnel option. The quarterback reads the flat defender to the tunnel side. If that flat defender stays home after seeing jet motion cross the formation the quarterback hands off the sweep. If the flat defender crosses the formation, as often happens in the man coverage that FSU loves, the quarterback will throw the tunnel screen.

Defense: Four should be plenty enough

Ladies and gentlemen; do you really think Manny Diaz needs to blitz in order to get pressure on the FSU quarterback? This clip sums up the depravity that is the Seminoles offensive line situation in 2018. Bud Elliott covered the blocking woes of the ‘Noles in his piece titled “How did Florida State’s offensive line get this bad?”

If Francois starts beating Miami over the middle on crossing routes or deep with posts to FSU’s speedy receivers I don’t want to hear that Diaz had to blitz. If Diaz has to bring 6-7 man pressure Jess Simpson isn’t doing his job. Joe Jackson is obviously a talented individual, throw in Pat Bethel, Gerald Willis III, and the rest of the crew and the linebackers need to run free and keep Francois from finding holes in the coverage.

North Carolina v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images


The Hurricanes should steamroll the struggling Seminoles but FSU has put together a string of wins as of late. Deondre Francois has found his rhythm and the Miami front four should be able to get penetration without needing the blitz. Francois isn’t as mobile as he used to be but he’s not the statue that James Blackman was in 2017. Francois is an accurate passer to an extent who does have a good arm. If Miami can get pressure with the front four, as it should, they can drop those extra defenders into coverage and not leave the defensive backs in such a bind.

On offense, FSU has a really good defense but it should be on the field too long to be effective in the second half heat of Hard Rock Stadium at 3:30. Miami has to sustain drives, which they’ve improved upon since Perry has taken over the reigns as quarterback. Hopefully he stays in, can handle the pressure of this rivalry showdown, and guides the ‘Canes to a dominant victory.

Prediction: Miami by 17