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 win against FSU?
Cam Underwood: A strong defense, timely offense, and a no-quit attitude. I know this season has been more up and down (particularly down) than we might have hoped for, but one thing we know for SURE is that a Manny Diaz coached team won’t quit. FSU has lost several games late that they led for the majority of the day. Miami’s perseverance will be key in the march toward a win.
Marshall Thomas: I’ve seen an aggressive defense and a team that plays to their opponent, for better or worse. This team doesn’t get down, and they’ll keep it close all game.
Justin Dottavio: It’s the young studs that make you excited. Greg Rousseau, the Bolden kid seems to be improving, Blades Jr is playing well. I think the youth need to be the focus going forward.
Gaby Urrutia: I love how the Hurricanes pass rush is coming along and I believe Miami’s defensive front against FSU’s offensive front is one of the biggest advantages the Hurricanes have in this one.
John Camera: The defense has shown glimpses of being it’s old self and did a very good job of bending but never breaking against Pittsburgh last week. Maybe they ride that defensive momentum and the offense does enough to find a path to victory.
John Michaels: I watched them live in person play toe to toe with the Florida Gators who are way better than FSU. At times the Canes defense looks like a good group, and they’ve fought to the end with every game, so the Canes don’t lay down like they’ve done in years past.
KappaCane:We’ve won the games we shouldn’t have and lost the games we should’ve won.
Carl Bleich: I think Miami’s defense is significantly better than Florida State’s and will keep the Hurricanes in the game throughout. Brevin Jordan and KJ Osborn could have a field day against this Seminole defense, depending on what Jeff Thomas’ role will be in his first game back from suspension.
Dylan Goldman: I’ve seen resolve from the team that shows me they aren’t afraid of adversity, such as coming back against teams like UNC and Virginia Tech, as well as winning games against UVA and Pitt, even when they didn’t play particularly well. I’ve seen the defense carry the team (UVA, Pitt), as well as good enough QB play at times, to make me think the Canes can beat FSU.
Kevin Fielder: The defense is coming off a dominant performance on the road, creating three turnovers and sacking Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett four times. When the defense is on their game, it’s hard to get past them. While the offense have had their struggles, and there’s no debating that, there have been times where the offense have shown flashes.
Candis McLean: The Canes have not been blown out all year. The largest margin of defeat has been a TD. We’re a team that knows how to hang with anybody. This fact makes gives me confidence that we’ll be in this matchup until the end. These games are always tight. The Canes have proven that they can win and stay in close games.
Dylan Sherry: The defense. When Miami’s defense gels and tackles well, they truly are one of the best units in the nation. Miami bent at points against Virginia and Pitt, but they never broke. If we get that version of the ‘Canes defense, we’ll be in good shape. We might as well turn it off at halftime though if the same group from the Georgia Tech game shows up.
Drew Maglio: Miami has shown a quality defense at times this year, along with a clutch offense that has been able to score when needed. Miami’s offense, for all its pitfalls, was able to take a fourth quarter lead against Florida, UNC, VT, UVA, and Pitt. The problem has been that when the offense has proven clutch, the defense has folded like a cheap tent. If Miami can combine its opportunistic offense along with a good defensive effort (under 20 points allowed, ~350 yards given up), they will win.
QUESTION 7: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Underwood: Inconsistent performance. Missed tackles by the boatload. A repeated lack of preparation and early-game miscues. Turnovers. Terrible 3rd down efficiency. Putrid kicking. I mean, just to name a few things....
Thomas: Offensive line, the inability to protect their quarterback and open up the necessary holes for the running game. Also the kicking game scares me…..a lot. Miami and FSU has come down to a kick many, many times.
Dottavio: It’s what I haven’t seen: control of the controllables. Miami has cut down on the penalties at times, and even the turnover, but they still feel like they could implode at any moment.
Urrutia: I’m worried about the defensive back play against a group of very talented wide receivers. If their offensive line protects well and keeps Hornibrook upright then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a solid day through the air. I’m also concerned about missed tackles against one of the best backs in the nation.
Camera: Have you seen this offensive line? FSU doesn’t have a very good defense, allowing 29 points per game, but it hasn’t been easy for Miami to score points this season. Their offense also has some big-play potential and has had great showings against NC State, Louisville and Syracuse.
Michaels: Pathetic effort at times against Georgia Tech, UNC, and Virginia Tech. Miami also struggles for long stretches on offense which means them scoring enough to keep up with FSU a huge challenge. We all know the struggles on the offensive line, and FSU will send pressure from everywhere.
Kappa: We’ve won the games we shouldn’t have and lost the games we should’ve won.
Bleich: Miami has not consistently performed on offense, so who knows if the Hurricanes will be able to move the ball on Florida State’s subpar defense. If Miami struggles to move the ball on offense, it has very little shot to win in Doak Campbell Stadium.
Goldman: I’ve seen the defense be inconsistent at times, including against Georgia Tech (where they had 29 missed tackles), which doesn’t bode well against a dynamic running back like Cam Akers. I’ve seen the offensive line, albeit very solid last week, be porous and give the QB very little time to throw. I’ve also seen coaching deficiencies (slow starts, penalties), as well as inconsistent QB play, which make me think the Canes could lose on Saturday.
Fielder: The Hurricanes haven’t been great on special teams (besides the punter Louis Hedley) and the defense still has issues with depth and stopping third-downs. The inconsistent play can’t happen in a rivalry game because FSU will punish them. The offense has to also be better and there’s no way around that.
McLean: We don’t know how to start fast. The offense goes through lulls and grows stagnant often in games. If FSU attempts to play the time-of-possession game by feeding Akers, it will make each offensive series much more critical. We have to find a way to string together back-to-back drives.
Sherry: If Miami’s offense struggles to run the ball. If we can’t get anything going on the ground, I don’t see us winning. Our pass protection has improved, but Florida State will know where to attack us. Fill the box, pressure Williams/Perry. The running game could be our best friend, also allowing our defense to rest. I don’t see more than 13 points for the ‘Canes if we can’t at least break the 100-yard mark.
Maglio: Miami has been a terrible road team in recent years, with the exception of the 2017 game against FSU and last week’s win over a decent Pitt team. The problems with this team however, are inconsistent energy and focus resulting in inconsistent play. While FSU’s Willie Taggart is no sage, Manny Diaz and his coordinators have been schooled many times this season (4th and 17, 28-0 first half vs. VT). Miami should bring energy and focus to the rivalry game, but will Blake Baker be able to anticipate Kendall Briles’s move beforehand, or will he react too late? Will Dan Enos be able to score at least three touchdowns against what will be an amped up Noles’ defense?
QUESTION 8: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Underwood: This may seem trite, but the answer is everyone.
Every coach, player, grad assistant, strength staffer, equipment manager, water boy/girl, administrative assistant....EVERYONE in the organization must step their game up this week with the singular focus of beating FSU. This game is not like the others. We know it. They know it. And EVERYONE needs to act like it.
Thomas: Jarren Williams or N’Kosi Perry, whoever starts at quarterback, for obvious reasons. Other than that, Jeff Thomas at receiver needs to make big plays being the explosive threat that he is. Also Greg Rousseau, he’s been a tear lately at defensive end, and we’re gonna need him to continue that.
Dottavio: The coaching staff. Enos and his play calling, Baker and his adjustments, and whoever is the terrible STC getting his guys to cover fake punts and make field goals.
Urrutia: I think the clear answer is whoever plays quarterback. The Florida State defense doesn’t press very much so I believe the short to intermediate passing game will be there, especially on crosses and shorter routes which is something Williams excels at and Perry can be good at. The opportunity to get the offense going will be there but I haven’t seen anything that tells me it actually will.
Camera: The offensive line as a whole. If Miami can run the ball effectively and wear down the Seminoles’ defense, which FSU will help them with because of their super high-tempo offense, the Hurricanes could win this by a sizeable margin.
Michaels: Dan Enos. His offense has gotten worse throughout the year instead of better and I need him to scheme the best game of the year. This is not a typical FSU defense in terms of dominance, so there will be plays to be made. Dan has to put Miami in position to score and stop with the BS reverse passes and slow developing jet sweeps.
Kappa: Miami has a knack for playing down to its competition, and if we do it this weekend, Miami stands the risk of losing to FSU.
Bleich: Whoever is kicking the field goals and extra points must make all kicks 30 yards and in. Is that really asking so much? Also, after the disappointing season he has had thus far and coming off a suspension, I would love to see Jeff Thomas have a game like he did against LSU last year.
Goldman: I think Deejay Dallas and Jeff Thomas, who are they key playmakers on offense, need to step up in a big way. Running the ball will open up the passing attack, and big plays will be needed to win this game. So, Thomas, who hasn’t really produced too many big plays this year, needs to be the playmaker he is on Saturday.
Fielder: Miami needs to get consistency from the offensive line to keep the quarterback (whoever that is) standing and need to get players like DJ Ivey to step up. Coming off his best game of the season, Ivey had two interceptions against Pitt. His struggles have been clear but if Ivey can step up, that defensive backfield can become feared.
McLean: I’m a firm believer that in big games, the quarterback always has to step up. But, from what I’ve seen this year, I don’t know how much volume can truly come from that position. I’m going to go with Gregory Rousseau here. A dominant pass rush can win this game for us.
Sherry: Dan Enos. Miami has lost games due to poor playcalling. Enos needs to pull out all the ‘A’ plays against the ‘Noles. Whether that means spreading it out or creating packages that confuse Florida State’s defense -- Miami needs to air it out while also creating running lanes to control clock/possession.
Maglio: Conventional wisdom will say that Miami’s awful OL will need to step up, but I have little hope for the OL to be even average this year. In order to win, Miami will need Jarren Williams and KJ Osborn to step up. Osborn is Miami’s only reliable wide receiver and will need to have a big game. Williams will need to get the ball out quickly to prevent being sacked and putting Miami behind the chains. If Dan Enos wants to prove he can be a good coordinator, he will employ some tempo and a short-passing attack--I am not holding my breath. Miami’s defense will also need a great effort in order to win.
QUESTION 9: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Underwood: Really that they’re Florida State. Miami should have blown them out the last 2 years, but squeaked by with 2 wins by a combined 5 points. FSU has talent, PLENTY OF TALENT, their offense is more explosive this year than in previous years, and they hate us. They want to destroy us. FSU is always a tough game on general principle, and that’s what concerns me more than anything else this week.
Thomas: The fact that their offensive is scoring a lot of points, 35 last week, and they’re starting to hit their stride. And it’s a rivalry, which means each team will play their hardest and make it a game.
Dottavio: Jim Leavitt. Leavitt will be able to scheme against Enos and his very bad offensive scheme. 2nd and 16 play-action pass against Leavitt- good luck.
Urrutia: Naturally their defensive line, but we could be playing a junior college and I would be concerned about their defensive line. I think Perry does a better job of evading pressure, but if Jarren starts he is more likely to sit around and hold the ball. Marvin Wilson is an NFL caliber player play on the interior defensive line that is disruptive against anybody. He leads the team with five sacks. Their running game scares me too for reasons I have already mentioned.
Camera: Cam Akers, aka Dalvin Cook 2.0. The dude can flat-out ball and for a Miami team that has been unimpressive in the tackling department, the front seven could be in for a long game.
Michaels: They have gotten off to some great starts putting teams in a hole by scoring a lot early. With the way the Canes are playing offense, I’m not sure they can withstand an early onslaught of Seminole points.
Kappa: DANIEL ENOS needs to step it up this weekend if Miami is going to have ANY chance to win. Beyond his vanilla play calling, the Offensive line needs to play well.
Bleich: Florida State’s tempo offense is concerning. Miami’s depth on defense is not good at the linebacker or cornerback positions and Florida State is going to try and gas the Hurricane defense with tempo in this game. Miami must get off the field on third down to rest the defense and convert third downs of its own on offense.
Goldman: What honestly concerns me is this is a rivalry game. Regardless of the record, these two teams almost always play each other close, and considering their both 4-4, it’ll be even tighter on Saturday. While I’m worried about FSU’s dynamic rushing attack, the margin for error in this game is very little, and I’m curious to see if Miami can play the best game they’ve played all year.
Fielder: Florida State’s offense has found it’s stride with quarterback Alex Hornibrook (who has history with Miami) and running game will always be sensational with Cam Akers. While the defense has its fair share of issues, they’ve created four turnovers in the last three games, including two against Clemson.
McLean: In the last two games, Akers had 50 attempts collectively. FSU has figured out that their offense works best through him. They barely lost to Wake as a result of this concerted effort to run and handily beat Syracuse.
Sherry: Their recent performances against middling ACC teams. We like to think that Miami is better than NC State and Syracuse, but our records aren’t much different regardless of the talent on the roster. Florida State has played pretty well against teams like us, while we’ve played down to the ACC’s worst. As wacky and inconsistent Florida State is, when their offense works, it really works.
Maglio: It is no secret that Florida State is a talented, albeit under-performing and poorly-coached, team. In a rivalry game, one can bank on FSU bringing its best effort. Miami’s defense (especially the linebackers and defensive ends) has struggled this season with playing sideline to sideline. Team after team has been able to gain the edge and break off long runs. FSU’s speed in space, led by running back Cam Akers, could be the difference against a Miami defense that lacks speed at linebacker and in the secondary. On the other side of the ball, FSU DT Marvin Wilson looks to feast against arguably the worst OL in the country.
QUESTION 10: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday’s game?
Underwood: Cam Akers, Marvin Wilson, Tamorrion Terry and Hamsah Nasrildeen. Those are the best players on FSU’s roster and they’re playing like it. Akers is a beast and has forced the most missed tackles of any player in the country, a fact which should greatly concern you if you’ve seen Miami’s struggles with missed tackles this year. Wilson is a monster and will shortly be a 1st round pick and head off to the NFL. Terry is EXPLOSIVE as a WR and can take the top off the defense and change the scoreboard on any play. And Nasrildeen has been the best player on the back end of FSU’s defense. Those are the players I’m focused on this week. Contain them and Miami wins.
Thomas: Cam Akers at running back. He wasn’t too dangerous against Miami last year, but the kid is super talented and has potential to have a big game. Plus, Miami’s run defense has been struggling lately, which concerns me.
Dottavio: Cam Akers. He’s legit. He could put on a Dalvin Cook or Warrick Dunn type performance even with their terrible OL.
Urrutia: Cam Akers, Marvin Wilson, Janarius Robinson, Stanford Samuels III and Hamsah Nasirildeen.
Camera: See above. In addition to Akers, Tamorrion “Scary” Terry is another huge weapon for the Noles and could take advantage of Miami’s mostly subpar CBs. Defensive lineman Marvin Wilson has 5 sacks this season and could wreak havoc against Miami’s weak o-line.
Michaels: Cam Akers. He has finally developed in the the game breaking talent that FSU has wanted. We saw for years Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook destroy Miami’s defense, and the Canes can’t let Akers do the same thing.
Kappa: A lil guy with big heart named Cam Akers concerns me heading into this game. He’s no Dalvin Cook, but he can, and will, make plays for his team.
Bleich: Cam Akers is arguably the best player Miami has played against all season. He can take over a game by himself and demands attention out of the backfield at all times. With Florida State introducing a package with Akers at quarterback last week, the Hurricanes will need to spend more time preparing for the Seminoles to use Akers in multiple ways out of the backfield.
Goldman: This might be obvious, but Cam Akers. He has been fantastic this season, as was mentioned before, as he’s almost at 1,000 yards just as November is beginning. Neither of FSU’s quarterbacks scare me too much, so Akers is my primary concern.
Fielder: I look at Cam Akers and I get scared. He’s a very talented running back who can beat the Hurricanes by himself. Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry has six touchdowns on 29 receptions, and at 6’4” can provide some troubles for Miami in that catalog. On defense, defensive linemen tp Marvin Wilson could prove to be trouble for the interior offensive line of Miami.
McLean: Marvin Wilson is a player to watch. FSU had 7 sacks vs Syracuse. The pass rush ability is there. Our showing against Pitt’s great defensive front was promising. Wilson has the ability to generate pressure right in the middle of our alignments. He could wreck run plays and his 5 sacks show his ability to get to the QB.
Sherry: Cam Akers. Watching Akers gives me Dalvin Cook flashbacks. He can bounce a run to outside, sneak into the second-level, etc. Florida State’s quarterbacks make mistakes, and their pass protection isn’t great. Miami can’t afford to bail them out through the ground. Akers is just the guy for the job though -- keeping him contained will probably be Miami’s toughest job on defense.
Maglio: Cam Akers around the edge and in space against Miami’s linebackers in a matchup nightmare, Tamorrion Terry also looks to be a difficult cover for a secondary that has struggled with big, physical receivers for years (Wisconsin in ‘17 and ‘18, UVA in ‘19). Marvin Wilson also looks to eliminate Miami’s already poor running game, as he will probably dominate a very poor offensive line.
Here endeth part 2 of our Miami-FSU roundtable. Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And don’t you worry: our game predictions are up tomorrow morning.