Hello again, Canes fam! We’re back for another opponent Q&A, this time for rivalry week!
I returned the favor and answered some of Jon’s
tolling questions about Miami and you can see that conversation here:
It’s time for some frenemy talk with @TheStateOfTheU.— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) September 25, 2020
Discussing who #FSU needs to watch for on Miami’s defense, predictions for the game and the everlasting question of, “why is the University of Miami not actually in Miami?” https://t.co/5aitJwl2CL
But don’t you worry, I got mine jabs in as well. You’ll be able to tell when you read our side of the Q&A, which starts right now.
QUESTION 1: James Blackman is still FSU’s QB. Good idea or bad idea?
Tomahawk Nation (TN): Not so much that it’s a good idea or bad idea, it’s just the only idea FSU has at the moment. Sophomore Jordan Travis can run but his arm doesn’t look healthy enough to keep defenses honest for a whole game, and true freshmen Tate Rodemaker and Chubba Purdy aren’t ready. Rodemaker is a statue, not a good idea behind this offensive line, and Purdy is coming off of a broken collarbone from camp and just returned to practice on Wednesday of this week. There’s a non-zero chance Purdy might take over at some point this year, but it won’t be this week.
QUESTION 2: After seeing the opener against GT, is it a negative or positive that Mike Norvell won’t be coaching this game after testing positive for COVID-19?
TN: Haha I would say positive, because at least FSU would have another excuse were they to get blown out by a rival. But seriously, it’s always a negative to not have your head coach and offensive playcaller. A few of us are hoping the game gets postponed to give them more time to get their issues ironed out, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get that lucky. Every Seminole fan should still have all the faith in Mike Norvell and company. They’re good coaches; they’ve just inherited a mess.
QUESTION 3: The top-line star power on the roster — Tamorrion Terry, Marvin Wilson, Joshua Kaindoh — is ELITE. After that, things fall off. FAST. What’s up with that?
TN: Poor recruiting and coaching/development, ever since Jimbo Fisher. There’s still 20 or so kids on this team that were recruited by Fisher. Fisher infamously stopped recruiting his last season at FSU, and the culture rot he cultivated carried over to Willie Taggart’s two years. Taggart didn’t really do anything to change any of that, which in effect set the program back several years. In fact, you could argue he made a lot of things worse. But to be fair, he was limited in what he could do as Fisher left him with the country’s worst APR, meaning Taggart couldn’t make changes to the roster that he wanted/needed to. There’s some young talent on this team now, but Norvell has his work cut out for him on the same problems. We’ve seen four or five players enter the transfer portal in recent weeks so hopefully that roster/culture movement is underway. This will free up scholarships to do something like what Manny Diaz has done - get a bunch of impact transfers to quickly raise the ceiling of the team.
QUESTION 4: What’s going on with the Offensive Line and run game?
TN: Finally not having legendary Cane-killer Dalvin Cook or stud Cam Akers. Both guys were elite and for years covered up deficiencies along the offensive line. Don’t get me wrong, I like the running backs FSU has now, but it’s not the same. The OL is better now than it was when Akers was doing the heavy lifting, but the starting five are still below-average to average and there’s almost zero quality depth behind them. They don’t get any push in the run game, so they’re more likely to get rolled up on. Four of the starting five went out one by one in the Georgia Tech game, which threw the offense out of sync for most of the game. This position group has to be rebuilt from the ground up, which will be a multi-year project. Norvell’s Memphis teams were terrors on the ground and consistently well-coached. He just needs time.
QUESTION 5: Miami fans have been telling FSU that a fall was coming for YEARS. With the Noles in the midst of that predicted decline, are you ready to admit we were right?
TN: Well, to be honest, I don’t spend my time listening to Miami fans hahaha. But if that’s what you guys have been saying I think you’ve already been proven right, so yes. This probably ties into the running backs covering up the issues on offense that you guys (and us at TN) picked up on. As bad as the teams that Taggart inherited, they still should have made bowl games. Now it’s so bad that I don’t think this team will make a bowl either even with a detail-oriented coach like Norvell. We used to call the 2004-2010 period the Lost Decade, but FSU made bowls all of those years, and even won the ACC. It’s pretty clear this decline is much worse than that one. College football is nothing if not cyclical, so y’all were bound to be right eventually. Gon’ head and pat yourselves on the back.
QUESTION 6: What kind of trick plays is FSU going to employ this year? Because, let’s be honest, you’ll need them to realistically compete in this game.
TN: Hmm, good question. A running back pass? Flea flicker? Statue of liberty? Hook n’ ladder? Puntrooskie? Blocking an extra point? I’m just naming them at this point, cause it can’t hurt to try them all. The FSU receivers in the Georgia Tech game were 10-23 for something like 80 yards. They probably dropped 150 yards of offense, including several shot plays that were wide open that would have scored or put Florida State in position to score and sealed the game away. If FSU is able to hit them against Miami, it could keep the game close for a while.
QUESTION 7: Are y’all ever going to beat Clemson? I know, pot, kettle. But you play them every year, so it’s worth asking.
TN: Man, have y’all seen D.J. Uiagalelei?? [author’s note: I have. And he’s GOOD; and his last name is pronounced oo-ee-unga-le-le] He’s a former composite five-star QB who will take over for Trevor Lawrence next season. FSU should be at worst an average ACC team, but right now the ‘Noles still look like they’re 5-6 years away from Clemson’s level, and a lot of things would have to go right to make it in that time frame. It’s probably more likely that Clemson falls back to earth a little bit to give FSU a chance anytime soon, but again - have y’all seen Uiagalelei? At least y’all have to play Clemson too this year, so we have that pain in common. Is Miami ever going to show up to the ACC title game?
QUESTION 8: Prediction time is here: who wins this game, and why is it Miami by 3+ scores?
TN: Miami has steadily been favored by 11 but the line dropped a bit to 10.5. That’s not three scores. Unfortunately, I don’t quite understand that spread because it won’t be that close in my opinion. Maybe FSU scores late in garbage time to get close to the spread, but I don’t think FSU can contain D’Eriq King on the ground. Florida State has some good young talent at linebacker, but it’s easy to exploit freshmen linebackers at this level. It might hinge on whether the spy FSU puts on King is successful or not. We shall see. I’m gonna go with Miami over FSU, 35-17. A solid easy win for the Canes, but not a 50-17 blowout.
Thanks to Jon for joining us for the Q&A this week. You can check out his work, and the work of other talented writers covering FSU athletics, over at Tomahawk Nation.