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Film Review: FSU 27 - Miami 20

Miami battled, and even had a lead, but the undefeated Seminoles held on at home to stay in the College Football Playoff race.

Miami v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Florida State Seminoles held on to move to 10-0 after beating the Miami Hurricanes 27-20 on Saturday night. The game featured multiple referee goofs on the field and in the review booth, as well as a gruesome injury to Miami’s new starting quarterback Emory Williams.

The Canyonero keys to victory were:

1- Protect Tyler Van Dyke Emory Williams. FSU’s elite defensive line and pass rush only came away with two sacks against the Miami O-Line. You can’t blame a lack of protection on the passing struggles of Tyler Van Dyke or Emory Williams.

2- Don’t quit. After quitting in the 2022 edition of the UM-FSU game, the ‘Canes did not quit in 2023. The team fought until the end through Williams and Van Dyke’s accuracy struggles. It was a hard fought game and I came away impressed with the job Alex Mirabal has done with the O-Line and that Lance Guidry has done with the defense.

3- Tak’L. James Williams, my dude, you can’t tackle. Trey Benson is a load but he wasn’t the only ‘Nole shaking Williams or just completely freezing him in pursuit. He who talketh the most, tackleth the least.

Prediction: My summer prediction was 10, my fall prediction was 14. The final difference was FSU by seven.

The Doppler

The data that matters in a win is often penalties, turnovers, and kicking. I’ve told you that how many times now over the past eight seasons? It still holds true. Miami had the lone turnover on the final drive of the game. Miami had seven penalties for 40 yards compared to FSU’s three for 35 yards.

Miami also missed a field goal with a bad hold, let multiple punts roll that needed to be caught which was costly for field position, and allowed a 57-yard punt return from Keon Coleman. But an impressive onside kick recovery from Frank Ladson- hat’s off!

The art of winning or losing a close game is a devil in the details type of thing, and Mario lacks those details. The lack of urgency from Van Dyke on the final drive, misusing a timeout early in the 3rd quarter... the list goes on.

Miami’s offense finished 4-of-16 on 3rd down, and 1-of-2 on 4th down. FSU’s offense finished 3-of-12 on 3rd down.

The FSU red zone play calling was extremely questionable for three weeks in a row. But that was a serious benefit for the ‘Canes. FSU won the Josh Gattis Time of Possession Award 30 to 29.

Miami Offense

Freshman QB Emory Williams got the nod from Shannon Dawson and played a tough but flawed game of football before his gruesome injury. I hope that Williams can recover fully but the air cast and cart for an upper body injury is never a good sign.

Williams finished with 7.6 yards per attempt essentially on two throws: a 43-yard fin route (3-yard in) and an 85-yard touchdown throw that was a circus act. Williams finished with two touchdowns and ZERO turnovers on the night, plus one gutsy first down run to keep the game alive.

The run game faltered in the second half after catching FSU in some bad safety rotations in the C and D gaps in the second quarter. Don Chaney rushed for 7.1 yards per carry while Mark Fletcher averaged only 2.9 per carry. Under Dennis Erickson Miami always went ‘hot hand’ with their RB’s and that could be the play here moving forward.

Jacolby George averaged 30.6 yards per catch with two scores on five receptions. Colbie Young had a beautiful throw by when Van Dyke came in on the final drive. Young caught two balls for 29 yards. Xavier Restrepo was shut out of the ball game.

As I previously mentioned, the OL only allowed two sacks, both to LB Kalen DeLoach. The ‘Canes did allow seven TFL’s and eight PBU’s on the afternoon.

Above- George has turned into a star. The yards after catch here, making multiple guys miss. Good to see a WR really making big plays.

Above- Javion Cohen and OL Mauigoa had a rough go. Maui was guilty of three false starts, Cohen blew a couple of pressures.

Above- we teach this to high schoolers. You can’t turn your shoulders to help your teammate with his guy, especially with the back going to help the other side. Stay square, eyes on the interior LB, and jab with the near hand while keeping your inside hand free.

Above- Dawson loves to call a boundary screen. I get that the OL has a shorter distance to go, typically less players (and slower players) on defense to the boundary vs the field. But you can’t call the same screen again and again. Later it’s almost an INT (was it? I dunno what a catch is anymore). Space creates time and the boundary is less space, so less time to make it work.

Above- Chaney ripped off a few good runs, especially on split zone. Miami’s issue is that Chaney and Fletcher aren’t ‘home run’ backs. Every drive will have to be methodical which requires no TFL’s or penalties.

Above- I’ve complained about non-1st down red zone fade calls for years on here. When it works I admit it worked. I’d rather see the middle of the field picked apart with the amount of LB blitzes in the +10 zone but still, it worked!

Above- This was a sloppy mess and I’m not even sure if the entire offense knew the play or were set and ready. Just a bad play call that kept Miami from a possible 1st down or TD.

Above- And THE offensive play of the game, Williams to George for an 85-yard TD. Can’t recall the last Miami explosive passing TD and might not recall one again until 2024.

Miami Defense

The Hurricanes defense gave up a few big plays but they played really tough all game with a lil bend but rarely break. Jordan Travis averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt with one touchdown and no interceptions. He had a carry or two that looked good but his run game was mostly shutdown.

Trey Benson ‘got his’ for five yards per carry against his former head coach at Oregon. Benson scored two touchdowns for FSU on the ground as a tornado of knees and shoulders coming at unwilling defenders. Lawrance Toafili was held to 1.5 yards per carry.

Miami effectively shut Keon Coleman out minus his red zone touchdown. Coleman averaged only six yards per catch. Johnny Wilson and Ja’Khi Douglas had big games. Wilson averaged 16.4 yards per catch while Douglass averaged 23ypc. Five different FSU skills had a reception of 15 or more yards.

Miami got to Travis on both pressures and sacks. The ‘Canes sacked Travis three times, logged nine TFL’s, but didn’t have a single recorded pass breakup! NOT ONE PBU all game.

Above- Benson is a tough SOB. I get why Mario wanted him at Oregon, and I don’t think he didn’t want him at Miami because “guys might get their feelings hurt.” Williams needs to stop running his jaw, he’s all bark at this point. Very Bubba Bolden’esque.

Above- I have no clue what constitutes a safety, targeting, or a catch. The rules are broken. Review is broken. That’s all.

Above- This is the freewheelin’ stuff that results in explosives. Guessing vs. playing assignment football. Kam Kinchens should go to the NFL with his injury issues this year, and he’ll be greatly missed, but some of these boners are “Diaz’ings”

Above- I thought Mike Norvell’s play calling was suspect in the red zone, it was really bad in clutch situations, like being down three. Miami’s defensive play of the game (since the safety didn’t count).

Above- James Williams hasn’t learned. A six-foot-five safety might’ve been a bad idea. Imagine him as a WR. But he’s a safety at Miami and not a very good one. He’s 17 yards deep well after the handoff, he runs over Kinchen’s gap then gets beat back the other way.

Above- LB Mauigoa has some faults (coverage, mobile QB’s) but he was a huge pickup. He’s a solid pass rush guy, good at reading pullers and getting TFL’s.

Above- It’s hard to cover a guy like Coleman in the red zone. A big, strong WR that Miami should’ve given a house and Tesla to.

The Wrap

I thought this could be a 14-21 point loss but Miami held it together and even had the lead. Sadly, the ‘Canes will have to turn back to Van Dyke with Williams being out for the season. It’s Van Dyke or Jacurri Brown and Brown looks like he’s on the fast track to a transfer. If I’m Brown, I want some film of me doing athletic things versus a good Louisville defense.

Miami is on the quest for 8-4, the record most of us predicted before the season. It’s been frustrating to lose to NC State and Georgia Tech but beating Clemson and Texas A&M, and hanging in with FSU shows this is a weird season of college football.

The Louisville game will be a noon kick off and a barn-burner. Miami better be ready for an aggressive defense and a bruising but also fast running back.