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Miami Hurricanes 2020 Game Preview: Florida State Seminoles

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Can Miami make it four in a row against their rivals from Tallahassee?

Miami v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

There are games, there are rivalry games, and then....there’s Miami vs the Florida State Seminoles, and on September 26th at Hard Rock Stadium, these two programs will do battle for the 65th time.

Last year, the Hurricanes defense led the charge, and came away with a 27-10 win against the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium.

For Miami, they’re looking to defeat their rivals from Tallahassee for the fourth consecutive year, which would be the longest win-streak over FSU since they won six in a row from 2000 to 2004.

Willie Taggart is gone, and Florida State will be led by new head coach Mike Norvell, who spent the last four years as HC for the Memphis Tigers, and in 2019, he led his team to an 11-1 regular season. Known for his high-scoring offense, Norvell went 38-15 at Memphis.

Prior to facing Miami, FSU will play Georgia Tech, and was supposed to play Samford in week-two, until Samford announced it won't be facing any nonleague teams.

FSU OFFENSE

One of his offseason moves, Norvell hired Kenny Dillingham as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dillingham spent 2019 as OC for Auburn, and worked with Norvell at Memphis prior to that, serving as the Tigers offensive coordinator in 2018, and QB/TE coach in 2017.

Looking at the Seminoles offense, junior quarterback James Blackman is still in Tally, and appears to be the front-runner for the starting job. In 2019, Blackman threw for 2,339 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Now under his third head coach and fourth OC while at FSU, Blackman’s career has been up and down, unable to find real consistency.

The biggest news for the FSU offense, is that running back Cam Akers is no longer there, as he declared early for the NFL Draft. The favorite to replace Akers is redshirt sophomore Jashaun Corbin, who transferred to the Seminoles from Texas A&M earlier this year. In two years, Corbin rushed for 483 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Aggies, racking up 1,025 all-purpose yards in 14 games. Corbin started at RB for the first two games in 2019 at Texas A&M, before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.

Another running back who will get snaps is La’Damian Webb.

Wide receiver is the biggest strength for the Noles on offense, headlined by redshirt junior Tamorrion Terry, who enters 2020 as one of the best WR’s in college football. Even though he’s on FSU, I must admit, I'm a big fan of Terry, and think his skill-set is off the charts. In 2019, Terry had 60 receptions, for 1,188 yards and 9 touchdowns, and was second-team All-ACC.

Other receivers for FSU who’ll make an impact in 2020 is senior D.J. Matthews, junior Keyshawn Helton and redshirt junior Ontaria Wilson. Matthews had 36 catches, 355 yards and 3 touchdowns, and has been somewhat inconsistent during his time at FSU. Helton is an exciting player to watch, but went down against Clemson last season with an injury, ending his year. In Norvell’s quick offense, Helton can be a dynamic player. Wilson doesn’t have eye-popping stats, but has been reliable in the past.

Other WR’s to look out for is Warren Thompson and Jordan Young.

At tight end, expect to see Camren McDonald starting, a big body player with good athleticism. Similar to Rhett Lashlee, Norvell is very big on using tight ends in his offense.

Without question, the biggest weakness for FSU heading into 2020 is their offensive line. Last season, the Hurricanes manhandled the Noles front, collecting a season-high 9 sacks and also 16 TFLs.

Projected to be starting on the line is LT Darius Washington, LG Dontae Lucas, center Baveon Johnson, RG Brady Scott and RT Devontay Love-Taylor. Lucas is considered to be the top OL for FSU, Love-Taylor transferred over from FIU and has 16 career starts, but overall, it’s definitely a rebuilding position group for the Noles, and one that fans don’t have much confidence in. With Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche at defensive end for Miami, I'd say that battle will likely go to the Canes.

FSU DEFENSE

Luckily for the Seminoles, their defense is a lot deeper, and more proven than their offense. Norvell brought over defensive coordinator Adam Fuller from Memphis, who was the Tigers DC in 2019.

Much like Terry is the big name at receiver, DT Marvin Wilson leads the way up front on defense. One of the best defensive tackles in the nation, Wilson had 44 tackles and 5 sacks, earning All-American honors and first-team All-ACC in 2019.

Aside from Wilson, fellow DT Cory Durden is another impact player, as the two form one of the best duos at tackle in college football. Durden finished 2019 with 39 tackles, 5 sacks and 6.5 TFLs.

At defensive end, it looks like Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson will be the two starters. Kaindoh played in only 3 games last year because of injuries, but is a very talented pass-rusher, while Robinson led FSU with 9 TFLs, and is solid against the run.

Fuller plays 2 traditional linebackers in his scheme, and it’ll most likely be Emmett Rice and Leonard Warner lining up at the Mike and Will spots. Rice averaged 8 tackles over the final 7 games in 2019, and Warner, while he is solid against the run, he’s struggled in pass coverage.

Fuller also uses the “stud” position, which is described as a big nickel, someone who has the build of a linebacker, but can play in space like a safety. Amari Gainer should start there.

Looking at the secondary, the Seminoles have great depth. At cornerback, Florida State brings back junior Asante Samuel Jr., who broke up 14 passes last season while starting 12 games. Behind him at safety is Hamsah Nasirildeen, who can become one of the premiere DB’s in the nation if he can stay healthy. Nasirildeen made an incredible 101 tackles last year.

Rounding out the secondary, I expect to see Akeem Dent at boundary cornerback, and Jaiden Lars-Woodbey at boundary safety.

PREDICTION

Just 3 years removed from being ranked #3 preseason in 2017, FSU has been humbled the past few seasons, experiencing mediocrity for the first time in many years. The Seminoles, like Miami, will always have talented players, though, and this isn’t because they’re our rivals, I see them struggling in 2020.

When it comes to Miami-FSU, it’s almost certain that it’ll be a close game, that’s just how this rivalry is. In 2020, I see a defensive struggle for most of the matchup, with both defensive lines playing well. Though, the Hurricanes have more weapons on offense, plus a consistent quarterback like D’Eriq King. I’m very confident that the Canes will make 4-in-a-row against the Noles.