As the Miami Hurricanes travel to Doak Campbell Stadium for this season’s installment of the Miami-Florida State Seminoles rivalry, there’s no better time to take a step back and look at the game that started the Hurricanes' current winning streak against Seminoles.
In 2017, the Hurricanes entered Tallahassee with an undefeated 3-0 record and ranked No. 13 in the country. The Seminoles, on the other hand, entered 1-2 with freshman quarterback James Blackman leading the way.
The Hurricanes offense was led by quarterback Malik Rosier. A redshirt junior, Rosier earned the starting job after serving as the team’s backup in 2016. The FSU game was his first appearance in the rivalry game.
“I mean, it was definitely intense,” Rosier told State of the U’s Kevin Fielder in a phone interview. “You know, everyone kind of knew that for the last seven years, FSU has beaten us. So it was kind of like, we wanted to kind of get over that hump and finally be able to beat them because it’s only a rivalry, whatever both teams are going back and forth between winning and losing.”
For Rosier, who was born in Tallahassee, it seemed almost fitting that the game was on the road in one of the country’s better atmospheres.
“I mean, it was crazy, it was loud. Third downs are sometimes hard to communicate,” Rosier said. “But I love road games. Personally, I felt like, you know, that’s when you get to like, embrace the hate. And you get to see how many people yell and scream at you. And then at the end of the game, they got to walk home quietly, because they just lost.”
Rosier continued: “So I, I personally loved road games. Some people get nervous just because you’re playing in front of a different crowd. But I say the best way to win on the road is just to embrace the hate. And then your goal at the end of the day is to win and then send those same people home that are talking trash to you home silently.”
Late in the fourth quarter, the Hurricanes needed Malik Rosier to make a play.
Following an Auden Tate score from Blackman, the Canes were down three points with 1:24 remaining. While a field goal would have tied it, the Hurricanes wanted more.
“I mean, our mindset was to score. Obviously, we didn’t want to really leave it up to the field goal,” Rosier explained. “I was like, We love [Michael] Bagley and I think, as he obviously would have made the field goal. But I think for us, we were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to take a shot, like, we’re going to try to score.’ Like, let’s go for a field goal if we can, but that’s at worst. Let’s try to win this game. Let’s try to knock him out. I don’t want to go on overtime, especially on the road.”
Although the Hurricanes faced two third-down plays on the drive, it was wide receiver Braxton Berrios who came up big and made two big-time conversions for the Hurricanes, keeping the drive alive.
“I think the guy that really set that mindset was really Braxton,” said Rosier. “You know, he had two really big third-down conversions for me.”
“I remember the second one that he had, it was third-and-10. It was around like the 40-yard line. ... He ran like a little whip route. And prior to that, I remember him telling me, me, and Coach Richt, we talked about plays, and we want to call them plays that we liked ... and he was like ‘give me the ball. I want the ball. I don’t care’ like it because we knew they were gonna play two-man or cover one man. So, there was gonna be some type of man. So, whatever our best man beater where Braxton is, we’re running it. And it was Braxton saying I want to run a whip. So he ran the width. He called it broken tackle, got the first.”
Those two big conversions, along with a timely run by Travis Homer, set up the play that every Hurricane fan knows - the touchdown to Darrell Langham.
“I remember seeing Langham out there but I threw the ball and I was like God, I hope he was in bounds because I knew he caught it,” said Rosier.
“And then I knew they called it a touchdown. And when I ran towards him, I realized that the student section was like right there. So I ran over and all I remember was like honestly, I was cussing out the student section. I was like ‘y’all get to go home now, get out my face, like f--- y’all,’ ... just talking, I run off, and I remember just like, turning around after cussing out the student section, and then just seeing like the entire football team running towards us. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much like just pure excitement and happiness.”
How Miami can win this season
The 2017 win has since set off a domino effect that, frankly, seems hard to explain.
Since winning that game, three different Hurricane quarterbacks - N’Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams, and D’Eriq King - have started and defeated the Seminoles.
Now, Tyler Van Dyke will have the same chance to do so. Van Dyke will be making his sixth straight start after taking over for the injured D’Eriq King, who is out for the season.
The Hurricanes have gone 3-2 in those starts, and Van Dyke has gotten better throughout each of those games. On the season, Van Dyke has completed 63.6% of his passes for 1,877 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
None of those starts though will compete with the Seminoles, on the road, in what is expected to be a packed Doak Campbell Stadium.
“Very positive,” Rosier said of Van Dyke’s attitude heading into this game. “I think his biggest thing is he wants to get better each and every week. And I feel like that’s the positive thing is that like, obviously, he takes them seriously. He’s not overlooking them as an opponent, which is good. But I mean, he’s just more focused on himself and his offense. And I think a good quarterback does that because most of the time from a quarterback and offensive standpoint, defenses don’t stop you, you stop yourself. ... I feel like he’s done a great job and just stay focused on what he stayed focused on for last three or four weeks and I think that he’ll have another successful week.”
As for handling the crowd noise, Rosier has a simple tip.
“I say embrace it,” Rosier said “I don’t know if you watched the fourth quarter [of the 2017 game], but I walk out and I’m literally telling them to get louder, you know, you got to embrace it. I feel like if you run from it, then you’re never going to get comfortable with it with the crowds being loud, you know what I mean? So it’s just like, you gotta love you got to be in the moment, you got to enjoy it.”
And for the game itself, Rosier is hoping to see how Van Dyke bounces back from a play not going his way, whether that be an interception or a bad drive.
“I know people don’t want to hear this, but I’d say to see him bounce back from either interception or having a bad outing,” Rosier explained. “I feel like Tyler for the most part of his last couple games he has played well.”
“Obviously, at the beginning of NC State, we struggled but pretty much after that, like Tyler has balled out. And I feel like the biggest sign of leadership to me is if you have a bad half, you have a bad drive. How do you bounce back? How do you respond to the next drive? And so I feel like Tyler has done a great job and actually amazing job of not turning the ball over, giving his receivers a chance to make plays.”
Van Dyke, however, is not the only young player on the team. The Hurricanes have seen multiple young players - especially on the defensive side - play a lot of snaps and make big-time impacts.
“I think it’s gonna be big because it’s a rivalry week,” Rosier explained. “And I think that you’re gonna see who your true leaders are, especially we get tested, because I feel like flow states are gonna play harder, they’re going to play faster, they’re going to try to find ways, whether it’s trick plays, or new coverages to try to either confuse Tyler or try to create some openings on offense, you know. So I think it’s, I think it’s going to be a very interesting game, obviously, I want to be a blowout. But if it’s not, I think that you really see which young guys, one can’t control their emotions because the later it gets, the more your emotions get into it. And secondly, which young guys are true leaders.”
The reality is that regardless if it’s a young guy - like Kam Kinchens’ big tackle against NC State - or a veteran who’s been there - like the Darrell Langham catch in 2017 - someone is going to have to make a play for the team on the away sideline.
“College football is definitely a game built on emotion. When you watch us play in 2017, we played off a lot of the turnovers, that’s when the turnover chain came out,” Rosier said.
“So I feel like in a crowd like this and an environment like this, if you get touchdowns early, it definitely takes the crowd out of it or you get big plays. I feel like the faster you get the crowd out over the more it feels like a non-rivalry game you know. The more you let the crowd stay into it and keep the game close, the harder it is to get over those away day humps.”