Welcome back to rivalry week! The Miami Hurricanes face off against the rival Florida State Seminoles for the 2021 installment of the series between the teams. And, with Miami-FSU on deck, we convened the SOTU crew for our annual roundtable discussion about, well, pretty much everything heading into the game.
Here starts part 1 of our 3 part look at Miami-FSU. Part 2 runs tomorrow, with part 3, our game predictions, up for Friday.
QUESTION 1: Miami is 5-4 (3-2 ACC) so far this season and enter on a 3 game winning streak. How are you feeling heading into the showdown against FSU on Saturday?
Cam Underwood: Honestly, and despite that nagging feeling that I shouldn’t, I feel good. The offense is exploding at the right time, and the Canes are finding ways to get that one play to win a game that evaded them early in the season. That coupled with FSU not looking great in the last few weeks, and I feel good. And I know that I shouldn’t. But I do.
Justin Dottavio: Feelin’ good. The ‘Noles are terrible. They have a good pass rush and a strong run game but I can’t see Miami losing the game if UM can load up against the run and protect the QB.
Jake Marcus: Pretty confident. Not only is Miami and Tyler Van Dyke on a three-game winning streak, but they’ve won the last four contests against FSU - the last two by a combined score of 79-20. It’s unclear who will be QB1 for FSU on Saturday and the secondary (namely, the young safeties) is finding their own.
Craig T. Smith: Given how well the offense is playing, I feel pretty good. Even if this team falls into a hole, I know they have the horses to get out of it quickly. Miami’s passing attack is a major problem for FSU’s defense, and as long as the line can protect TVD, look out.
John Michaels: For the game against FSU, confident. The Seminoles are not a good team, and while we will get their best shot, Miami also will play an A game. TVD presents problems that the Noles aren’t ready for, so expect Miami to score early and often.
Carl Bleich: Cautiously confident. Miami has better players at nearly every position and has beaten Florida State four times in a row. So long as Miami isn’t horribly out-coached and doesn’t fall victim to the turnover bug again, the Hurricanes should win with ease on Saturday.
QUESTION 2: Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke is on a serious role. 72% completions, 1124 yards, and a 10-1 TD-INT ratio over the last 3 weeks. What are you expecting from him on Saturday night?
Cam Underwood: I’m expecting another huge game from TVD this weekend. He’s proving himself to be highly talented, and his ability to push the ball down the field, particularly to Charleston Rambo and Key’Shawn Smith, has paid huge dividends for the Canes. Couple the resurgent Canes passing attack with the fact that FSU’s secondary has been struggling mightily as of late and yeah, I expect another 350+ yard, 3+ TD performance from the Canes burgeoning Star at QB.
Justin Dottavio: I think Van Dyke has the testicular fortitude that ‘pressure’ doesn’t phase him. Maybe if FSU was a 1-2 loss team, but at 3-5 or whatever they are is this really pressure? Protect him with TE’s and RB’s and let him sling it. Keep the trick plays going. Go to the ‘old faithful’ plays like the naked split zone slide route to the TE.
Jake Marcus: As the pressure mounts, TVD steps up. He is making plays as a second-year freshman that most quarterbacks do not make until they are a seasoned veteran. The young buck from Connecticut has backed up his chatter with play on the field and will be unfazed at the Doak. His rapport with Charleston Rambo, Mike Harley, Will Mallory, and Keyshawn Smith is exactly what fans envisioned when offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, deployed the spread scheme. Van Dyke is gonna have a day against an FSU defense that has allowed 235.1 passing yards a game (ranked 72nd in NCAA).
Craig T. Smith: For the good times to keep rolling. He’s been nothing but money in all situations. Late game drives, scoring on the opening possession. Things that Miami hasn’t been good at doing the last few years. I feel fully confident on the offensive side of the ball thanks largely to his productivity and poise. Again, that’s all provided that the offensive line can continue to pass block as well as it has during this winning streak. It deserves a lot of credit for his success as well.
John Michaels: Another stellar performance. As i mentioned in the 1st question, TVD presents problems that FSU doesn’t have answers for. He’s accurate and very decisive with his passes, so another 300 plus 3 TD games will be in the cards.
Carl Bleich: Van Dyke’s success will depend on Miami’s offensive line. If the offensive line protects as it has the past three weeks, Van Dyke will pass for 350+ yards yet again. But if Miami struggles to block Jermaine Johnson and company, I am concerned about Van Dyke becoming uncomfortable in the pocket and the passing game not being as effective as it should be.
QUESTION 3: Florida State is 3-5 on the year, and just lost to NC State 28-14 last weekend. What are your early thoughts about the Noles?
Cam Underwood: I think the same thing I’ve thought about FSU a lot recently: they’re not that good. They have a couple standout players, sure. They have a couple offensive players who can make explosive plays happen, sure. But, overall, I remain of the clear thought that this team just isn’t that good. And I think the performance we’ve seen from them this season supports that thought.
Justin Dottavio: FSU is two years away from being ‘good’ again. If I’m FSU I stick with Jordan Travis against Miami. Mobile QB that can give UM similar issues to Sam Howell re the ground game. On defense, the ‘Noles are really bad in the back seven. They do have a couple of strong pass rushers.
Jake Marcus: The Noles have hung tight in many games this season, including against Notre Dame, Clemson, and beating UNC. There was supposed to be a quarterback battle between Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton, but Travis has clearly won that job. Only issue is whether Travis will be ready to play. Milton’s story is fantastic and is easy to root for, but his middling play on the field pales in comparison to his strong 2018 campaign with UCF. Thus, if Milton is
Craig T. Smith: The fact they went to UNC and won - and played pretty well defensively - shocked me. They fought hard and had a great chance to beat Clemson, so we know they can play with talented teams. I just think they’ll have a hard time matching score-for-score with a high-powered offense.
John Michaels: Honestly, more competitive than I thought they would be in most games. Their defensive line can be disruptive and they run the ball extremely well especially when Jordan Travis is in at quarterback. They will give Miami everything they have, so Miami can ill afford to turn the ball over like they did last week against GT.
Carl Bleich: Florida State totally swung and missed with former UCF quarterback Mackenzie Milton in the transfer portal and has been done right awful on offense when he plays quarterback. But with Jordan Travis, the Seminoles have a serviceable running game thanks to Travis’ explosiveness. If Travis plays quarterback, Florida State’s offense can keep up with Miami’s, at least for a while.
QUESTION 4: who’s the better coach —Manny Diaz or Mike Norvell ? And why?
Cam Underwood: Even thought I’m the one who wrote these questions, this is a hard one to answer. Neither Diaz nor Norvell is doing exceedingly well at their current job, so that muddys the waters. Though Norvell had success at Memphis before getting the FSU job, I think? I have to go with Diaz here. He’s recruited alright. He’s made adjustments. And he’s kept the bottom from falling out of seasons, which is something that can’t be said about Norvell. So yeah. Gimme Diaz....slightly.
Justin Dottavio: Norvell had a good track record at Memphis but the AAC isn’t the ACC apparently. FSU was also a dumpster fire compared to what he took over after Fuente in Memphis. Miami was left in better shape and Manny was already on site which gave him an advantage. I’d take Norvell as a play caller for sure. They both say some stupid crap. It’s a push?
Jake Marcus: Diaz. For all of the issues pointed at Miami and their program, FSU has accumulated a combined 6-12 record so far in Norvell’s first two years. Despite some strong recruits staying true to the Noles, the grass is not always greener on the other side, especially in Tallahassee.
Craig T. Smith I mean....I guess Manny, but I feel like it’s a little early to tell what Norvell really is, although the early returns are stinky. This game is monumental for both coaches’ current hot seat status, regardless. Ask me again after Saturday.
John Michaels: Manny I guess. Norvell inherited a disaster but also had previous head coaching experience so it is baffling that 2 years in FSU will be out of the bowls again. Manny is not my favorite by any stretch but at least he has attempted to make changes to be a better coach. If Manny can somehow fix the defense, Miami will be back to the upper half of the ACC. Norvell may be at the point of changing staff again, and is probably saved by his buyout.
Carl Bleich: I really wish I could pick neither but that isn’t fair. I will go with Diaz by virtue of his 14-8 record in ACC play compared to Norvell’s 4-10 record against ACC opponents. A mark like 10 more ACC wins in just one additional season can’t be ignored.
QUESTION 5: With Miami the favorites (2.5pts as of Sunday evening) entering this game, what would FSU have to do to win as the underdog?
Cam Underwood: FSU would have to do what Georgia Tech did last weekend, plus a little extra. Convert tons of 3rd and 4th downs. Hit on 7+ explosive plays, with 3+ going for TDs. Win the turnover battle by 2+. Maybe block a kick. Hit on a couple trick plays. And get a call or three to go their way in key moments.
Justin Dottavio: Win in the kicking game (block a kick, get a big return, fake punt), keep pressure on Van Dyke with just a four man rush and have a UNC ‘20 type of run game performance vs. Bob Sho-oop’s I mean Manny’s defense.
Jake Marcus: Georgia defensive end transfer, Jermaine Johnson II, has the ability to singlehandedly take over a game as he has accumulated 54 tackles, and team leads at 10.5 for loss, and 7.5 sacks. If Johnson is able to tear apart the Miami offensive line and disrupt Van Dyke, then we could witness the trench battle revert back to their poor play. FSU also needs a healthy Travis, or an outcome where Milton rises to his 2018 form, in order to pull it out at home.
Craig T. Smith: Get pressure on Van Dyke. Force some errant throws and fumbles. Set up short fields. Do what Georgia Tech did (yeah, they didn’t pressure TVD much, but they did force fumbles), except finish. Get the ball to their athletes and force Miami to tackle in space. Last week showed the Canes’ defense is still susceptible to big plays.
John Michaels: Win the turnover battle and run the ball to control clock. When FSU has been at its best they run the ball, hit a few big plays on offense and control clock. FSU will be the best defensive front Miami has seen in a while, so protecting TVD will also be a huge factor. FSU can only beat Miami if, if Miami beats itself.
Carl Bleich: Florida State will need to consistently pressure Van Dyke and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. It will also need to use the quarterback run to set up the rest of its offense and win the turnover margin by at least one.
That’s it for this part of the discussion. We’ll pick this up and continue our thoughts tomorrow.