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:
SOTU ROUNDTABLE: Miami Hurricanes vs Florida State Seminoles, part 1https://t.co/41hpOsoHth— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) November 10, 2023
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 soon.
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: Nothing recently. Well, let me be fair: there have been pieces of performances here and there, but nothing comprehensive. The defense against Clemson? check. The running game in a few games? Check. The OL play overall? Super check. But Tyler Van Dyke hasn’t had a performance that gives me hope since North Carolina....and he turned the ball over multiple times in that game even. IDK man, there are some bright points but not enough to light up the sky, yanno?
Justin Dottavio: Sadly, not much. Miami’s offense isn’t good enough to rack up points against FSU’s defense; compared to how much firepower the FSU offense has shown. It would take a horrible game from Travis and a next level game from the Miami offense to make this as close as the Clemson game.
Craig T. Smith: Miami’s offensive line has come alive this year, looking like a unit we’ve dreamed about for years. Rueben Bain, Jr. also already looks like a dude, and Miami has the horses up front on defense to make life challenging for FSU’s offense. If the Canes’ secondary can cover whichever of FSU’s crazy-good WRs that are healthy enough to play, then perhaps they have a puncher’s chance. Big if though.
Mike Schiffman: The defense can be dominant at times. There are playmakers on all three levels in Bain, Mauigoa, and Kinchens. Lance Guidry’s unit is the reason Miami beat Clemson and Virginia. They can keep the game close if they are on top of their games. On offense, the line and running game have taken a huge step forward in 2023. Ball control offense is the way to go for the Canes to have a chance in Tallahassee.
Rob Weaver: The defense is vastly improved. The offensive line is vastly improved. The running backs are talented and healthy. I feel like Miami is almost ready to take that next step towards playing meaningful November football again. Quarterback, and in particular quarterback caused turnovers, is the glaring omission. The talent that I saw against Texas A&M gives me hope. The perseverance and grit that I saw against Clemson and Virginia gives me hope. I have hope!
Jake Marcus: The only hope I have really stems from being able to harness some of the talent they exhibited in the first month. A rivalry game always adds a funny element for the underdog to play spoiler. The fact that the Noles have struggled against inferior opponents in Boston College (snuck by 31-29), Duke (were losing heading into the fourth quarter), and Clemson (needed overtime to win) makes it clear that this team currently slated for a College Football Playoff does not come without flaws. Unfortunately, Miami comes with far more flaws and needs some combination of all three of these factors to pull off the upset.
QUESTION 7: What have you seen from Miami that makes you think the Canes will lose against FSU?
Underwood: I mean, where to start? Game mismanagement (Georgia Tech). Stupid penalties (although not as many as last year). And All. The. Turnovers. 11 in the last 4 games. And not only that, Miami is 122nd out of 133 FBS teams with 19 giveaways to this point of the season. And that’s not even counting the turnovers on downs!!!! We’ve seen opposing teams find explosive plays when they have the ball, so they’re taking our turnovers and making Miami pay. That, and the injuries — starting DEs from the opener Nyjalik Kelly and Akheem Mesidor are out for the year and “haven’t played in 7 weeks so not counting on him returning this year”, respectively. Kam Kinchens missed a game after a scary hit. The RBs have been rotating which one is injured. And who knows if Miami’s best corner, Darryl Porter Jr., will even play on Saturday. And I didn’t even mention the regression of the offense as a whole! So....a lot of things.
Dottavio: Turnovers, stupid penalties, and there’s always some coaching blunder every week. The program doesn’t look well coached, again. Little things were picking up, like tackling, but then you can see how so much of the improvements were an influx of talent-coached-by-someone-else (LB Mauigoa, Davis, Matt Lee, Javion Cohen) and not the deployment or development on site.
Smith: Everything except what I listed in the above question. I can’t remember the last time a team in this series won with poor QB play, and that’s all Miami has had lately. Is any reason beyond that even needed?
Schiffman: I’ve watched Miami play offense for the last month. There’s no passing game to be scared of if you’re a Canes opponent. Defenses are daring Tyler Van Dyke to beat them through the air, and he can’t do it. Based on what I’ve seen in conference play, I don’t see how Miami goes 75 yards for a touchdown drive in what will be an extremely loud Doak Campbell Stadium.
Weaver: Everything about this offense since the second half of the UNC game. Miami has had some success running the ball, but this team has become extremely one dimensional. You have to hold your breath if the ball is thrown more than 5 yards. Colbie Young, Xavier Restrepo, and Jacolby George are not winning their routes often enough, and even when they do TVD can’t reliably hit more than a bubble screen or a short crossing route. Or just flat out doesn’t see them. OK - that’s a lot of TVD bashing. I’m answering these last three questions without mentioning Miami’s quarterback play.
Marcus: The worst part about this team is it seemed like they finally worked out a lot of the undisciplined play that has plagued them for years (i.e. missed tackles, dumb penalties, poor coverage assignments, dropped passes, and... poor clock management). However, the Georgia Tech collapse was an embodiment of all of those areas and may have completely broken Cristobal and this program for the foreseeable future. They still controlled their destiny if they were able to take care of business but the losses UNC and NC State quickly threw that out the window. The problems are aplenty in Coral Gables and a rivalry win may be the only thing that salvages this mess.
QUESTION 8: Who needs to step up for Miami to win?
Underwood: In short, everyone. In specific, Tyler Van Dyke. If he’s gonna start (my guess is that he will), he needs to shake off the funk he’s in, dial in, and bring the form that saw him earn ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 2021. 350+ yards, 3+ TDs, NO TURNOVERS, and some BIG THROWS when they count. Anything short of that performance — which we’ve seen from TVD multiple times in the past, by the way — and this is a sure loss for the Canes.
Dottavio: Mario Cristobal. Mario needs to turn the corner as a head coach in all facets. How he manages coordinators, his strength and conditioning program, the depth chart and roster, and his own game day coaching. Too much deer in the headlights, platitudes, and coachspeak; not enough growth in him personally as a coach. It’s trickling down on the program and then back up to him again.
Smith: It’s going to take a player like Bain wreaking havoc on the FSU backfield. Offensively, it’s got to be whoever starts at QB. If that’s Van Dyke, then he needs to play like he has previously in this series. Even his showing from the 2021 loss could give the Canes a chance, as he had some moments. Heck, even moments would be big progress right now.
Schiffman: The easy answer is Tyler Van Dyke. So, I’m going with Rueben Bain Jr. This Saturday would be the perfect time for Bain to play the greatest game he has ever played in a football uniform. Canes fans have seen him have great performances already this season, so we know it’s possible. Bain playing like a mix of Myles Garrett and prime Aaron Donald would be ideal. No pressure Rueben!
Weaver: Oh man, I vowed not to mention Miami’s quarterback in answering the last three questions. Ok. Ok. Well, this is going to have to be a defense-led victory, so I’m looking to Kam Kinchens and Reuben Bain. Kinchens is back to All-American form after that terrifying injury at the end of the Texas A&M game, and Bain is steaming towards Freshmen All-American honors. I’m looking to Kinchens and Bain to make the big plays that fuels the defensive fire that keeps Miami battling.
Marcus: Secondary. Blown coverage basically ruined the game for Miami against UNC as Tez Walker went from straight off the couch to straight to the end zone against the Canes. Miami has a lot trickier of an assignment this week with Keon Coleman, Johnny Wilson, and Jaheim Bell. Eliminating chunk plays would be a big component in pulling off an upset.
QUESTION 9: What about Florida State concerns you heading into this game?
Underwood: The run game. While FSU isn’t that efficient running the ball, they’re EXPLOSIVE. And that worries me. After giving up a million yards and 3 TD’s to Discount Keon Coleman — Tez Walker from UNC — I shudder to think what will happen to the Canes secondary facing the name brand version of that player. And, lastly, the escapability of Jordan Travis. He’s super quick and shifty, and will likely step out of a sack or 3. When that happens, big plays usually ensue, because no team can cover receivers for 7 seconds on a scramble drill. We saw it in each of the last 2 years, and I’m sure (unfortunately for Miami), that we’ll see it again on Saturday.
Dottavio: Mike Norvell as a play caller. People forget how good of an X and O guy Norvell really is. It was a rough go with the horrible OL Jimbo Fisher left and no true QB. But he’s done a great job of adding in transfers to a few recruited players, and convincing guys to stay another year. Landing Coleman was a huge benefit to them, and now you can see the Norvell offense in full swing.
Smith: Jordan Travis and Florida State’s WRs. As I mentioned before, Drake Maye to Tez Walker has done a number on my psyche. Any kind of similar defensive effort is going to lead to FSU also breaking 40 on the scoreboard, which Miami in no way will be able to match. Last week against NC State gave me a little bit more confidence in the Canes’ defense, but FSU is a next level offense from the Wolfpack.
Schiffman: They have a ton of talent, objectively more than Miami this season. FSU is loaded on both sides of the ball, with playmakers at multiple positions. The abundance of talent allows for some mistakes to be made. The Noles they will eventually complete a big pass on offense or get a big sack on defense. It’s a nice problem to have. Further, FSU can score in bunches. They’ve played some close games in the first half, but have always been able to pull away in the second half thanks to their high-powered offense and opportunistic defense.
Weaver: They’ve played no bad games and I doubt that’ll start against their rival. Escaping Boston College with a two point win was a head scratcher, but the Eagles have rattled of 5 straight victories and proven themselves to be a respectable opponent. And FSU was leading that game 31-16 heading into the 4th quarter, they just learned their lesson not to let opponents back into the game.
Marcus: This team is full of playmakers on both sides of the ball (add in special teams if you want to include Ray Guy semifinalist and Aussie punter Alex Mastromanno). QB Jordan Travis has plenty of options led by Keon Coleman at WR and Trey Benson at RB but he also has 6’7” target Johnny Wilson and top tier TE Jaheim Bell. Jared Verse could be a top five pick this year after returning for another season and may be the best pass rusher in the nation but is supplanted by tackling machine, LB Tatum Bethune, and secondary weapons Akeem Dent and Jarrian Jones. There isn’t necessarily a talent gap, but Mike Norvell has clearly been able to lead a more cohesive unit in Tallahassee.
QUESTION 10: Which Florida State player(s) are you concerned about heading into Saturday’s game?
Underwood: I’ve mentioned them plenty in the above answers so I’ll just give the names: Jordan Travis. Trey Benson. Keon Coleman. Jared Verse.
Dottavio: Last year it was Jared Verse, and if I’m FSU I’m putting him outside against whoever they think is Miami’s weakest link at OT. Clearly Coleman is going to be an issue because he’s a better version of Tez Walker from UNC. Add in Trey Benson and if you take away one thing, something else will pop up.
Smith: Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson. I don’t know who plays among the duo, but whoever does play scares the snot out of me. Daryl Porter, Jr. and Jaden Davis are reportedly expected to be back on Saturday, and they’ll need them, as FSU’s passing game is my biggest worry by a country mile in this game.
Schiffman: I could go with several players, but I’ll say Trey Benson. Every week it seems like he has a 70-plus yard touchdown run. I know Miami has to limit big pass plays on defense, but a long Benson run would be especially backbreaking. He has been a momentum killer for opponents so far this season. The Canes have to keep him contained.
Weaver: Jared Verse has largely been held in check and seems poised for a breakout game. Verse has only half a sack against opponents not named Virginia Tech or Wake Forest. Verse has still played well this season, but he’s well off pace from his 9 sack performance last year that landed him on every preseason watch list imaginable. If Verse has a breakout, multi-sack performance, I’d be really concerned about Van Dyke breaking out of his slump. Dang-it, I almost got through the last question without mentioning TVD.
Marcus: Keon Coleman is the best WR in the nation not named Marvin, but they also have a 6’7” second WR threat in Johnny Wilson, along with future NFL TE Jaheim Bell. Jordan Travis and Trey Benson have mastered the RPO. Oh, that’s just offense... Their best player might be on defense as Jared Verse is maybe the best pass rusher in the country. As mentioned above, they can beat you in all three sections of the defense as Tatum Bethune, Akeem Dent, and Jarrian Jones lead the back seven. Wait, theres more... Aussie punter Alex Mastromanno is a Ray Guy seminfinalist so automatically helps the hidden yardage battle.
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 in couple hours.