Earlier today, 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 this morning 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: Intermittent flashes of excellence. A Kam Kinchens interception here. An Akheem Mesidor or Leonard Taylor TFL/sack there. A Colbie Young catch. A Henry Parrish run. A Tyler Van Dyke throw. A Jacurri Brown run in the #UPSExpress package. A — literally one — Jake Garcia pass (to Colbie Young, no less). But those blips on the radar of Miami’s performance have not been sustained, which explains our 4-4 record at present. I will say that, despite the rampant offensive issues currently plaguing the team, the defense has been great recently. And that’ll need to be the case on Saturday for Miami to have a chance to win.
Justin Dottavio: Not a damn thing. However, I have to hope Miami wins obviously or what the hell am I doing here every year?! Maybe Gattis will free-up the offense and someone like Jacurri Brown will have a 60 yard touchdown. I can hope that Tyrique Stevenson can be a shutdown cornerback on J Wilson and the safeties can step up and help DJ Ivey on the other side.
The LB’s scare me but Caleb Johnson should be able to at least kind of run with Travis (much better than Ragone, Flagg, or the others that are still healthy). Jahfari Harvey is quick enough to stay with Travis, too. Leonard Taylor has that big play TFL ability to stuff some run plays and force a fumble. Colbie Young should be hard for the shorter FSU DB’s to defend.
KappaCane: I hope that if this team rises to the occasion for ANY game this season, it'll be this one. I like our Defensive line play and think it bodes well against their strength, the qB run game. Aside from that, there really isn't much to look forward to. Offensively, we just seem to regress week to week so I don’t expect this to be a high scoring game.
Craig T. Smith: I’ve harped on it before, but Miami’s defensive line is actually pretty darned good. As mentioned in part I, it’s gonna take a herculean effort from this group to win on Saturday, but they are capable of delivering one. I also liked what the running game did last week, and Henry Parrish, Jr. is a very, very good back. And it’s a rivalry game, so maybe the effort that was unquestionably absent against Duke (sorry, I will not be convinced that there wasn’t an effort problem, especially later in the game) will be there on Saturday. Yeah...that’s about all I’ve got.
Jake Marcus: Miami’s front seven has been coming into its own which will be key as far as keeping Jordan Travis and the two-headed backfield in front of them. On the offensive side of the ball, having a healthy Xavier Restrepo back can really help hone in on a nice rhythm for once this season. FSU’s defense has some stars (Verse, Jammie Robinson, Bethune, Cooper) but they have had some injury issues which may benefit the Canes.
John Michaels: This rivalry rarely disappoints. and usually, the underdog plays their best game of the season. FSU had no business winning last year but jumped up early and then was able to come back to win. Mario Cristobal will get his best crowd of the year, and the team should feed off of it. Miami can win if they combine the defensive effort of last week.....and the offense of last year.
Chris Picaro: There isn’t much that stands out to make me think they can win this game other than the fact it is a rivalry game. If the defense plays like last week and the offense makes a few big plays, there is no reason to think they couldn’t be in this game. I am putting a lot of hope into the defense. And then after that, I am just hoping Colbie Young can make a few awesome plays, Parrish can consistently find some holes, and penalties go our way.
Mike Schiffman: To be completely honest, nothing. More importantly, this is a rivalry game. Even the most apathetic players and fans get up for Miami vs FSU. The Canes have the talent to beat a slightly above average Seminoles team. Do they have the discipline to execute and finish? I doubt it, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.
Rob Weaver: Miami’s strength, its defensive line, can neutralize FSU’s strength, its rushing and QB scrambling. Miami is also slowly getting healthier as the season progresses. Saturday will also be the first time the Canes play at a sold-out Hard Rock Stadium. While the Canes are deservedly the home underdogs, there are plenty of examples in this rivalry series where the underdog produces an unexpected result especially at home. FSU used this home game last year to begin their turnaround into this season. Miami can do the same.
QUESTION 7: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Underwood: Unfortunately, a lot. Critical offensive line issues which can (and have....and I fear will) turn any play into a nightmare scenario, if not a turnover. Injuries all across the field, most notably and importantly to Tyler Van Dyke, who I still don’t think will play on Saturday. Drops. Blown defensive assignments leading to explosive plays and touchdowns. Questionable game management decisions from the coach. And 4 games that have been losses, with 2 others — Virginia and Virginia Tech — that very surely could have been, as well. Short story long, I’ve seen a lot of performances from a lot of people that have not been up to the standard. And more than a little bad luck as well.
Dottavio: Turnovers, penalties, 4.3 yards per attempt from Garcia against UVA... then there’s just the ‘which hole will pop up and sink the canoe next’ sort of vibe. One week it’s eight turnovers, one week it’s over a dozen penalties, one week it’s kicking game issues, the next week what’ll it be now? Also- cooler heads need to prevail. FSU could try to bait Miami and the ‘Canes are a Taylor or Young away from having no star power.
KappaCane: Undisciplined play. We have shown a tendency to play sloppy as the game wears on, and in a rivalry game any advantage is exploited. As I noted above, our inability to score on offense is problematic.
Smith: A broken passing game. An inconsistent offensive line. Too many penalties and turnovers. A knack for giving up LOOOOOOONG plays on defense. Knowing FSU will stack the box, stop the run, and force Garcia to make tight, accurate throws to move the sticks. Knowing they’ve got the bodies to stop the run. Knowing Miami’s WRs, as a group, aren’t good enough to win those one-on-one battles often enough, and Garcia probably won’t make the throws he needs to often enough. Travis being a general problem for Miami’s defense, just as Duke’s Riley Leonard was. Too many cons, and not enough pros this year.
Marcus: Pretty much everything that has happened over the past few weeks. They’ve been playing incredibly uninspired football and it’s showing with lack of momentum on the field. They’ve lost to inferior opponents in MTSU and Duke, and barely edged out Virginia. The Noles have been over performing and will be ready to rise up against their rival.
Michaels: Everything. Miami hasn’t done anything consistently well this year. The offensive struggles are well documented, and the defense has been gashed a lot during the season. Miami has been blown out by 2 bad teams, lost a close game to an equally bad Texas A&M team, and blew a chance to beat UNC. Miami turns the ball over too much, misses too many blocks, can’t run the ball, gives up too many chunk plays, and is generally just a bad team.
Picaro: Lack of offense for much of the season gives me worries against a pretty solid FSU defense. Also Jordan Travis is exactly the type of quarterback that will carve up the Miami defense. All season, the defense has struggled against scrambling quarterbacks. If the Hurricanes were going to win this game, it is because they need to do something they have yet to do all season: corral a scrambling quarterback on third down. I am not hopeful about that since they couldn’t do it against Brennan Armstrong of Virginia, who is much less athletic.
Schiffman: Offensive play calling. Pass catchers dropping balls. Defensive play calling and execution. Jake Garcia’s decision making. Jaylon Knighton’s fumbling. The offensive line’s inability to block. The secondary’s concentration lapses. Third down play calling. Fourth down play calling. Should I keep going?
Weaver: Pretty much the whole season. Miami has yet to beat a likely bowl-bound team. The signs are there that Miami can breakthrough and finally beat a quality opponent, but the odds are not in their favor.
QUESTION 8: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Underwood: Honestly, everyone. This has always been the case against FSU. It’s not on one person, player or coach. There needs to be full-scale focus and elite performance from everyone to win.
But, specifically, this comes downs to Jake Garcia, the Offensive Line, and the Linebackers. Those players/units have a lot to prove in this game. And they will need to step up in ways both big and small for Miami to win. Lastly, Mario Cristobal. This is a big game spot not because both teams are undefeated like Tennessee-Georgia, but because this is a rivalry game and a prime time, National TV showcase. Cristobal is focused on building the program for the future, and a good showing in this spot from him, which will hopefully show through the team as well, would be massive.
Dottavio: The head damn coach! Mario Cristobal. Excuses are like butts, everyone’s got ‘em and they all stink. He’s gone Half Manny blaming the media and it’s still year one. If he blames the fans soon I’ll crack up how quickly he’s gone Full Manny. His “how you do anything...” cliche (which Norvell also loves) needs to come through already. Penalties, turnovers, kicking issues, unprepared QB’s, injuries, etc.
You preach discipline, accountability, so on and so forth. Let’s friggin’ see it on a Saturday for once! No pre-game midfield crap, no fights or dumb penalties, and a big fat W.
KappaCane: I think our offensive line needs to step up. If we can establish a run game that will open up passing opportunities. Our QB play has been erratic this season, and TVD may be returning after missing a week due to injury, so the run game is ever important against a conference foe.
Smith: There’s two groups that stick out to me. If by a miracle he plays, Tyler Van Dyke, as he’s good enough to throw guys open a little better than Garcia at this point. (And yes, I was calling for Garcia to get a chance to see what he could do earlier this year, but to be fair, Van Dyke wasn’t playing at a level that merited Garcia NOT getting a look. So miss me with the flip/flop comments.) Also, Miami’s offensive line really needs to be able to run the ball some. If they can establish a physicality like they did towards the end of the Virginia game, that will make things much easier on TVD and/or Garcia. A day of 3rd and 9s and 3rd and 11s is going to equate to a day of punts.
Marcus: Cornerbacks and quarterback. The front seven has been rising but the secondary has left a lot to be desired. Ideally, the front seven can keep Travis and RBs in front of them but the Canes last layer of defense has been susceptible to allowing the big plays all season. With the likes of WRs Johnny Wilson, who is averaging over 20 yards a catch, and Mycah Pittman, the corners need to play disciplined in eliminating the explosive plays.
Michaels: Tyler Van Dyke. If he is healthy, he is the best player on the field for both teams. TVD has to be last year TVD, or UNC TVD for Miami to win. Simply put, Miami needs 300 plus yards and probably 3 touchdowns for Miami to win.
Picaro: One of the linebackers. The defense can be successful if Travis isn’t able to scramble all game. Miami will likely have a spy on him and whoever that is will be vital to their chances in this game. I would also say Henry Parrish Jr. is another player who needs to step up. He has been fine this season, rushing for 554 yards and four touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. But there have been no explosive plays in the run game. In the last seven games, Parrish’s longest run was 20 yards. His season-long came in the opener against Bethune-Cookman for 24 yards. Picking up some chunk plays on the ground could really energize the rest of the offense and open up some space downfield for Garcia and the receivers.
Schiffman: Dottavio and Weaver hit it on the head: the coaches. To differentiate myself, I will say Jake Garcia. If he looks nervous and indecisive to start the game, all hope is lost. If Garcia can gain confidence early in the game through some easy completions and positive plays, I truly believe he can keep the Canes competitive on offense.
Weaver: Josh Gattis. Miami can only win with a stellar game plan, particularly on offense. The Duke debacle was so bad that many were calling for Gattis’ job before the season even finished. The quickest way to redeem yourself amongst Miami fans is to beat FSU. So go beat FSU.
QUESTION 9: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Underwood: FSU’s run game. Miami has been better at tackling, but if they take even a small step back in this area, there could be huge yards available for the Noles on the ground. Johnny Wilson is a massive target outside and he plays to his 6’7” 235lb measurables. Jared Verse is a star on the edge of the Noles defense. And, even though they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch of late — lost 3 of their last 4, all to ranked teams — they’ve had better performances against better competition than Miami has to this point of the season.
Dottavio: It’s the fact that they can and will score quickly. But they also have a running game that can eat up first downs and control the middle eight. They have a pass rush that could really hurt Garcia and Brown.
KappaCane: Nothing. Having watched all of their games this season, there is nothing concerning about them. I think both teams are a shadow of what they used to be, but if I were to point out an advantage, FSU has shown the ability to keep drives alive with Travis’ feet, and that leads to them scoring more than Miami. Force him to throw and live with the results.
Smith: Travis. I watched enough of Duke-Miami. Riley Leonard was a pain, and Travis is better. Ugh. And Miami’s offensive line ceding pressure to FSU’s pass rush.
Marcus: Playmakers on both sides of the ball. Jordan Travis has a 91.3 PFF grade while wide receiver Johnny Wilson has been electric all year. The two-headed backfield of Treshaun Ward and Trey Benson has been extremely balanced (72 attempts apiece, at 488 and 483 yards, respectively). FSU has some of the best players in the nation on defense as well led by CB Jammie Robinson and DE Jared Verse, who both could be selected in the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. LB Tatum Bethune is a tackling machine, while CB Akeem Dent and DT Robert Cooper round out a tough-to-beat group.
Michaels: FSU pass rush. Miami has been horrendous picking up pressure packages and you can bet your life that FSU will send the house. If Miami can’t protect the QB, then this game will get ugly in a hurry.
Schiffman: Their offense. Watching Miami’s defense this season makes me think FSU QB Jordan Travis could have a big day, both on the ground and through the air. The Canes struggle against mobile quarterbacks. Travis excels when he is on the run. Miami better contain and spy the elusive QB, or else it is going to be a long night for Kevin Steele’s defense.
Picaro: Two things that have killed Miami all season. A scrambling quarterback and a defensive line that could get after the quarterback. They have played a much more difficult schedule thus far and have still looked better than the Hurricanes. With a staff that has been there, that shouldn’t be shocking. But it can make a big difference in games like this. But it is tough that two of the major issues that have plagued this team all season are two of the strengths for the Seminoles.
Weaver: That FSU is playing some of its best football right now. Last week the Seminoles dismantled a Georgia Tech team that was gaining confidence after beating Pittsburgh and Duke (a task that Miami is halfway to failing) and dropping a close contest to Virginia. The Seminoles absolutely buried the Yellow Jackets behind Jordan Travis’ career high 394 passing yards. Nothing this season suggested Travis could throw for 400 yards against D1 competition, and yet that’s exactly what happened.
QUESTION 10: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday’s game?
Underwood: Jordan Travis, for his playmaking ability. Johnny Wilson for his explosive passing game performance. Jared Verse because he’s a dominating EDGE rusher. And Jammie Robinson, their do-it-all DB. Basically, the star players for the Noles. Now, they’re not on Dalvin Cook take the game over by themselves level status, but those are the players that have my attention this week.
Dottavio: Verse, J Wilson, Travis, Robinson- they have guys that can make big plays when needed.
KappaCane: Jordan Travis. The kid is a gamer, and is tough. I think he has singlehandedly kept FSU in games, both this season and last. His ability to pass has improved and his scrambling ability is worthy of a spy all game long. I think as Travis goes, so goes the Noles.
Smith: Travis to Wilson massively concerns me, as previously mentioned. I think Miami can do a decent job of slowing the FSU run game, but Travis going backyard football hero on third downs and improvising worries me, as do big plays deep to Wilson.
Marcus: FSU has names to watch across the board: Offensively, QB Jordan Travis, WR Johnny Wilson, RB Treshaun Ward, RB Trey Benson; and defensively, CB Jammie Robinson, DE Jared Verse, LB Tatum Bethune, CB Akeem Dent, and DT Robert Cooper. Noles have players on both sides of the ball.
Michaels: Not to sound like a parrot to everyone else, but it is Jordan Travis. Miami has struggled horribly against mobile QBs. and Travis can kill the Canes with his legs. He also has become much more adept in throwing the ball, Miami cannot allow him to get hot. If the Canes stand any chance to win, they have to shut down Travis.
Picaro: Jordan Travis is all I think about when worrying about this game. Not only can he torch a defense with his legs, but a 71-yard run against NC State is also a prime example of that. But the big-play ability of the receivers with Travis getting to the outside like quarterbacks have done all season long against this defense is not good.
Schiffman: QB Jordan Travis. The running baks don’t scare me. The wide receivers are okay. The defense is flawed outside of Verse on the edge. Travis is the key to it all. If he feels comfortable both in the pocket and on the move, Miami is in trouble. If the Canes can disrupt Travis’ rhythm and force him into quick decisions, they have a great chance.
Weaver: Considering last week’s performance, I expect most will say Jordan Travis. But the FSU offensive gears are most oiled when the two-headed backfield monster of Trey Benson and Lawrence Toafili are churning through defenses. Last week they combined for 275 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Keeping this pair in check will be as, if not more, important than containing Jordan Travis.
Alright guys. You know the drill: share your thoughts (or thoughts about our thoughts) in the comments section.
And don’t you worry: game predictions are coming tomorrow.