Tomorrow, the Canes will run through the smoke as the hated Seminoles come to Hard Rock Stadium. It’s a matchup Canes fans remember from every season (I definitely remember the win and the three losses during my time in Coral Gables), and its a measuring stick for every coach and quarterback that dons the U on their chest. Randy Shannon went 2-2 against FSU, while Al Golden went 0-4. Jacory Harris went 1-2 as a starter, Stephen Morris went 0-2, and Brad Kaaya went 0-3. After nearly a decade of futility against their main rival, the Canes finally figured out a formula last season, as coach Mark Richt and Malik Rosier helped Miami topple the Noles for the first time since 2010.
Last year’s triumph was CMR’s second attempt at knocking off FSU, as the Canes dropped a heartbreaker last time these teams met at HRS in 2016. Richt inherited Brad Kaaya at quarterback to start his tenure in MIami, and the combination appeared to be potent enough to take the Canes over the top. However, a blocked extra point left The U stunned once again, leaving Kaaya winless in 3 attempts against FSU.
In year 3 of the Richt-era, the stakes are high for the Canes, while the Noles are in a tough transition period. Despite the two programs being headed in different directions, any fan of this rivalry knows that much of the disparity between the two squads can be nullified when they meet on the field, so it’s still crucial for the Canes to learn from their prior experiences. Here is what Coach Richt and the Canes can take away from their last two Miami-FSU games:
You can’t rely on home field advantage
We all know that The Rock will have one of the best game day atmospheres around, reminiscent of the Notre Dame game last season, but in this rivalry that hasn’t provided as much of an advantage as either team would like. The road team has won both of the previous two games, and Miami’s last three victories against FSU have come in Tallahassee. Neither side will be phased by the crowd, so the Canes need to be prepared to take matters into their own hands.
Miami needs to run the ball better
In the last two matchups the Canes have been outrushed by the Noles 172-64 in 2016 and 204-73 in 2017. Dalvin Cook, Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick all gashed the canes in those games, controlling the clock and keeping the Canes defense on the field. In 2017, a struggling Noles squad nearly took down the strongest Canes team in years, as Miami needed a last second touchdown by Darrell Langham in order to secure a victory. Akers and Patrick will still be in the backfield for the Noles, so the threat of a strong Florida State rushing attack is still present if the Canes don’t cover their gaps and tackle well. On the other side, the Canes have a prime opportunity to control the clock and keep the offense humming with a strong performance by the offensive line and hardnosed running by Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas.
The better QB usually wins the game
In 2016, Deondre Francois threw for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns (he’s back this year by the way) versus Brad Kaaya’s 214 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. FSU Win.
In 2017, Malik Rosier threw for 254 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 pick versus James Blackman’s 203 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. Miami win.
Move the ball down the field, and protect the ball. It’s simple. Rosier was able to do it in this game last year, but struggled with those areas down the road. N’Kosi Perry is starting this game because he presents the best chance to do those things effectively. You can read more about his first FSU game here.
Which senior is going to come up big?
The Canes were kept in the past two games by by seniors having monster games. In 2016, it was Stacy Coley, who caught 7 balls for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the potentially game-tying touchdown (if they would have converted the extra point). In 2017, it was Braxton Berrios, who reeled in 8 passes for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns, helping the Canes get out to an early lead, as well as continuing the game-winning drive with a crucial first down. This year, could it be another senior receiver, like Darrell Langham? Maybe a defensive senior will change the game, like Jaquan Johnson, Sheldrick Redwine, Michael Jackson or Demetrius Jackson? Experience is crucial for high pressure games, and Miami-FSU is definitely one of those games.
The last two Miami-FSU matchups were decided by a total of 5 points. While we all would love to see the Canes blowout the Seminoles, history suggests Miami needs to be prepared to pull out a close victory. Hopefully, CMR and the Canes players will learn from their prior experiences and complete this week’s mission: Beat FSU.