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: I’ve seen a resurgent offense, led by QB Tyler Van Dyke. I’ve seen big plays from WRs Key’Shawn Smith, Charleston Rambo, RB Jaylan Knighton, and TEs Will Mallory and Elijah Arroyo. I’ve seen very steady Offensive Line play. I’ve seen a defense that’s been opportunistic and lockdown in the 4th quarter. I’ve seen the young kids playing on both sides of the ball stepping up to make enough plays to cover their freshmen mistakes. And, most importantly, I’ve seen a team that actually gives a damn for once, which is a very welcomed change from earlier in the season.
Justin Dottavio: Van Dyke being on fire plus pass protection finally getting figured out. Some of that could have been in-game calls that Clark and Van Dyke make that Gaynor and King struggled with. Harris was definitely better in pass pro than Knighton but Knighton in the flat has helped cut down on issues.
Jake Marcus: Tyler Van Dyke’s emergence. The spread scheme is finally working according to plan. Despite some blips late in the game, they have also found ways to win the last three contests. This contrasts the UVA and UNC games, where the Canes found ways to lose by a combined five points.
Craig T. Smith: When you have the best quarterback on the field and the most explosive athletes on the field (Rambo, Jaylan Knighton), it’s hard not to feel confident going in. The offensive line is protecting well, and the offense as a whole is clicking. The short yardage failures worry me a bit, but the overall playcalling and execution in the passing game has me feeling pretty good. Linebackers are my biggest worry on Miami’s defense (obvi) and need to play gap sound and keep FSU’s backs from going by them.
John Michaels: Miami has the better and more consistent offense by a long stretch. TVD, Rooster and Rambo have turned into one of the best set of triplets in the country, and since the UVA game Miami has looked explosive on offense again. How can FSU keep up with a team that should score 30 points with relative ease.
Carl Bleich: Miami’s explosive passing game has been nearly unstoppable over the past few weeks. This does not bode well for a Florida State team that has been subpar in the secondary all season.
QUESTION 7: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Cam Underwood: All the penalties. All the stupid mistakes. All the turnovers (last week especially). And no fewer than 5 games that were close that shouldn’t have been. Miami lets other teams hang around, including Appalachian State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech, none of whom should have been within a touchdown of Miami. You let teas hang around enough, and some of them are going to find a way to beat you. That’s what happened with Virginia, and if Miami’s not careful, that could happen this week against FSU in a rivalry game. And that would be very, VERY bad.
Justin Dottavio: You have to worry about the kicking game and fundamentals. If FSU can motion and shift to get Miami to misalign and have to change assignment, added to Miami’s poor “finish” aka pursuit and tackling and things could get ugly. Also with Miami’s youth movement you have to worry about mental toughness lacking in this type of game, ie. stupid late hits / taunting / targeting fouls.
Jake Marcus: The tackling and fumbling are really concerning. The Canes have been rising to the occasion as of late, overall, but the more mistakes they continue to make the uglier it could get.
Craig T. Smith: Mostly the defense. When you have linebackers that are out of position and defenders that are missing tackles, resulting in long plays, that’s concerning. Miami played SLOPPY football against Georgia Tech on both sides of the ball, and that kind of overall performance can get you beat, especially on the road. Tighten things up, or this could be a very disappointing weekend.
John Michaels: Have you seen Manny Diaz’s defense? Mark Donofrio’s groups weren’t this bad, and the thought of tackling a mobile QB scares me. The middle of the field due to lackluster LB play is always wide open, so FSU will have a punchers chance.
Carl Bleich: If Jordan Travis plays for Florida State, I am very concerned about tackling him in space and the matchup of Miami’s linebackers against him. Travis is an elite athlete who will make Miami pay for missing tackles on him and the Hurricane linebackers just haven’t been good enough this season.
QUESTION 8: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Cam Underwood: The short answer is “everyone”. This is Miami-FSU. This game is different. And in a rivalry game, everything matters, and everyone has to step up for a win.
But, if I have to give you a name, or a couple names, here you go: Manny Diaz (as HC and DC), Rhett Lashlee, Tyler Van Dyke, Zion Nelson and Jarrid Williams, (insert linebacker here), James Williams, Kamren Kinchens, Avantae Williams, and Jaylan Knighton. That good for y’all?
Justin Dottavio: Manny Diaz. Miami needs to play a complete game free of one of the common plagues- ie. poor tackling, fumbles/drops, or kicking game woes.
Jake Marcus: The offensive line needs to protect Van Dyke and keep the run game momentum going, led by Jaylan Knighton. Georgia defensive end transfer, Jermaine Johnson II, is the player to watch this week as he had his way with opposing offensive lines in disrupting every quarterback he’s faced with 7.5 sacks. Van Dyke’s high pocket awareness has been reassuring to date, but Johnson will be coming through like a wrecking ball.
Craig T. Smith: On offense, without question, Miami’s line. Protect Van Dyke, and Miami’s offense will thrive. On defense, Corey Flagg, Jr. and the linebackers need to be a force against the run and help put FSU in third and long situations. No 71-yard touchdowns this week, fellas.
John Michaels: The safeties. Kamren Kinchens, James Williams and Avantae Williams are the 3 most talented players on the defensive side of the ball, but as freshmen is it too much for them to handle? I say one, if not all 3 have big games.
Carl Bleich: The offensive line. If Jarrid Williams and company keep Tyler Van Dyke upright in this game, Miami should not have any problem scoring points. There is no unit more important to the Hurricanes’ success than the offensive line on Saturday.
QUESTION 9: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Cam Underwood: The Noles’ ability to hit on explosive plays in the run game. Their passing attack isn’t anything special, and their defense is decent, but not spectacular. But every time I watch a game, I see Treyshaun Ward or Jashaun Corbin getting loose for 50+. That is the thing that concerns me most.
Justin Dottavio: I agree with CT Smith, nothing to lose mentality means watch for trick plays, fake punts, etc etc. Miami’s visual-cognitive-motor skills need to be dialed in... aka find the damn ball!
Jake Marcus: At a macro level, FSU has hung tight in other games where they were underdogs: Notre Dame, Clemson, and beating UNC outright. A lot will hinge on how well Miami can contain playmakers on both sides of the ball: dual threat quarterback, Jordan Travis, assuming he plays, and electric defensive end, Jermaine Johnson II.
Craig T. Smith: They have nothing to lose. They’re being counted out by many. A rivalry game at home under those conditions? That’s not something that can be summarily dismissed. Jordan Travis’s return is also a major boost for FSU’s offense.
John Michaels: It is still Miami/FSU and for most years the games are really close. When FSU won 7 in a row there were many years they were way more talented than Miami but the Canes played close. FSU will probably do the same Saturday.
Carl Bleich: The situation Florida State is in concerns me slightly. The Seminoles are 3-6 and need a win to avoid being ineligible for a bowl in 2021. A loss would also be their fifth straight loss to Miami. It just seems like their backs are truly against the wall and we may get their best shot, unlike last season.
QUESTION 10: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday’s game?
Cam Underwood: DE Jermaine Johnson II. He’s the best player on their roster BY FAR and his ability to create pressure off the edge could be a major factor in the game. And I mentioned 2 RBs in my previous answer, so them. And, by definition, the QB Jordan Travis because he has dual-threat ability and is a measure better than their other options at the position.
Justin Dottavio: Travis if he’s the main QB. I would worry more about a scrambler than a pocket passer vs Shoop/Diaz. Johnson the DL could be an issue if he can push around Miami’s OT’s. Corbin the RB has 6.9 yards per carry. Bruising backs like Walker III are an issue for Miami because of the bad tackling.
Jake Marcus: Georgia transfer defensive end, Jermaine Johnson II, is having a career year as he seeks to profile as a first round pick next year. He has amassed 54 tackles, and team leads at 10.5 for loss, and 7.5 sacks. A true quarterback-wrecker similar to the way transfer, Jaelan Phillips, rose up the ranks last season. If healthy, dual threat quarterback, Jordan Travis, also could be a slippery player against a Miami defense that has well-documented tackling issues.
Craig T. Smith: Jordan Travis. I’ve said that I think Miami will get theirs on offense this weekend. What Travis is capable of as a dual threat player is unmistakable. If he gets hot, and Miami’s defense can’t tackle in space, it could be a nailbiter.
John Michaels: Jermaine Johnson! He is the most NFL ready player on the FSU team, and Miami just avoid him turning into a 1 man wrecking crew. Rhett Lashlee needs to tempo him into exhaustion.
Carl Bleich: Jordan Travis. This is honestly the only Seminole player I am concerned with on offense. His running ability can totally change this game in the Seminoles’ favor if Miami can’t tackle him consistently or if he can find space in the open field. FSU doesn’t really have anybody else on offense that can hurt Miami like Travis can.
2 parts of our roundtable down. Hop in the comments and give us your takes on the questions and scenarios. And don’t you worry: it’s prediction time tomorrow.