Jarren Williams has, for now, proven why he’s the starting quarterback at Miami. Williams stepped up and came alive in a big time game on the road against arch-rival Florida State. Williams threw for 8.5 yards per passing attempt with two touchdowns and no interceptions (although he did fumble, again) on Saturday.
Over the course of history this game was typically determined by who scored first and who ran the football better. Miami scored first with a 39-yard pass from Williams to Jeff Thomas and the ‘Canes ran for 40 yards (sacks included) while the ‘Noles ran for 31 (sacks included).
Defense was always paramount in the ‘Canes versus ‘Noles history, too. Michael Barrow’s big hit on Tamarick Vanover, Bubba McDowell’s batted down 2-point conversion or Darren Krein stepping in for an injured Rusty Medearis and he and the defensive line sacked Charlie Ward seven times that afternoon.
In 2019, it was Gregory Rousseau and the ‘Canes with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Havoc stats are the key for Manny Diaz’s defense and add that to two interceptions and four passes defensed and you have a victory. A big passing play was usually a key moment in an FSU-Miami game as well and this game had its fair share. In 1991 it was Horace Copeland’s circus catch, in 1992 and 1987 a big catch one by Lamar Thomas as Gino Torretta was blasted an in ‘87 it was Michael Irvin from Steve Walsh. In 2019 it was Williams to Thomas and later Williams to Dee Wiggins.
As a coach every week you hear opposing coaches yell, “Watch the screen!” and I don’t think we’ve ever called it on the same play when someone has yelled it. However, it is a great way to get the opponent to slow down their pass rush even by just hearing their coaches make that stupid testimony.
Against the ‘Noles Miami had to know Jim Leavitt would bring pressure and want to focus on sacks against a weak Miami offensive line. To counter that rush, Miami called a screen to Deejay Dallas. There’s no better ‘Canes to loft a screen to than Dallas who has all of the physical tools you want in a running back.
Dallas has speed, cut, and power and flashes them all on this highlight tape run after catch. There’s straight line speed, a spin move and leg drive all on display. Also- a great block on the perimeter by the wide receiver on that side.
I know I talked an awful lot about Dallas, but it’s runs like this later in the game that get you excited for Miami football. Dallas is a true Hurricane and has been willing to do whatever it takes to win football games. On this run alone there are around five broken tackles in a six yard window.
Jeff Thomas’ TD
In the Pitt film review, I showed the breakdown in Zion Nelson’s form on a pass rush. Against FSU you can see his technique being cleaned up and he dominates the FSU defensive tackle trying to bring pressure on his side. Williams is much headier than he was against the Florida Gators in Week 0 and steps up into the pocket avoiding the rush from the other side as DJ Scaife ran his linebacker up field.
Zion’s pass protection and Williams pocket presence improving allows for Jeff Thomas to get open and score a big touchdown to go up on the ‘Noles early. One of the coaching points I give my linemen is to not go out reaching for contact, sit back in your hips with a little space and wait for him to come to you. Where as in the clip from Pitt Nelson leans out and lunges for the rusher, against FSU he stays balanced and waits for him to come to him.
Rousseau had four sacks
Gregory Rousseau is a guy fans wanted on the field from the jump but the coaches kept him on the sideline for less skilled players. I’ve done that before, too. Sometimes to reward the other guy and sometimes because the young player needed a little more seasoning from things like the habits of watching film, attending study hall or just their weight room and practice habits.
I have no idea why Rousseau wasn’t on the field as much early in the season, but you can see why he’ll be hard to take off the field from now on. In the GIF below you can see the FSU guard try to cut him, Rousseau jams him down and goes around, slaps the hands of the next lineman to get them off him and makes the play on Alex Hornibrook.
Just give the man the game ball.
There are still plenty of areas to clean up heading into a game against the Louisville Cardinals at Hard Rock. After Week 9 the SP+ has Louisville ranked 61st and their offense ranked 38th. If Rousseau and the ‘Canes defense can pick up sacks and tackles for loss at the same rate against the Cards Miami should win the game.
Miami still struggled on 3rd down going 3-for-15 and they did commit six penalties for 65 yards. Those are areas that have to be cleaned up heading into the end of the season. Nelson and Scaife did a much better job and the line only gave up two sacks and five hurries. However, FSU’s pass rush is non-existent so we’ll see how the ‘Canes pass protectors hold up against Louisville, FIU, Duke and maybe even Clemson in the ACC Championship Game (big maybe, but maybe).
Miami beat Florida State for the third straight year, go enjoy it.