Today at 3:30 PM on ABC the Seminoles will play host to the rival Miami Hurricanes.
Miami is 4-4 on the season with wins against Bethune-Cookman, Central Michigan, Virginia and Pittsburgh with losses to Florida, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
The Hurricanes have won the last two matchups against FSU including a 28-27 controversial victory last season in Miami. The last time FSU won a game in the series was in 2016 in Miami on Demarcus Walker’s blocked extra point.
Receiver Warren Thompson will miss the game for personal reasons. This leaves FSU with five WRs on scholarship.
Offensive lineman Dontae Lucas is questionable after sustaining a leg injury.
Linebacker Dontavious Jackson and center Baveon Johnson should be ready to go after missing the Syracuse game.
Observations from the last game
Cam Akers put on a show. Wow. He had 20 carries for 144 yards, 2 receptions, 2 completions for 26 yards and 4 TDs.
Tre’ McKitty had another good game with 4 catches for 40 yards and is becoming a safety valve for both quarterbacks.
Hornibrook played a decent game, did not have any turnovers and took what the defense gave him.
True freshman Darius Washington built off of his first game action against Wake Forest and showed that he is the best option at left tackle.
The defense was flying around making plays as they had 7 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, but gave up a few long runs in the 4th quarter, which was to be expected with the backups being in the game.
Florida State offense versus Miami defense
This side of the ball will feature both teams best units. The biggest matchup to watch will be the battle of the freshman as FSU lineman Darius Washington will have to deal with Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau. Rousseau leads the FBS in sacks by a freshman at 8.
Hornibrook will be making his second career start against UM on Saturday. In his first start while at Wisconsin he torched Miami going 23/34 for 258 yards and 4 TDs in the Orange Bowl. Yes, the Badgers have a great offensive line, but UM doesn’t have the same defense and the Seminoles may have better skill positions players. (He was on the team when Wisconsin beat Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl, but did not participate in the game.)
Hornibrook’s calm demeanor, accuracy on the short passes and quick decision-making makes him a good option at QB against Manny Diaz’s aggressive style of defense. To counter this, UM will try to make him beat them deep because of his lack of superior arm strength.
Shaquille Quarterman (63 tackles), Michael Pinckney (38) and Romeo Finley (39) make up one of the college football’s best linebacking corps. Quarterman is the most talented with Pinckney not too far behind. Other impact players are cornerback Al Blades, defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin and safety Trajan Bandy.
Given Miami’s prowess against the run, I expect Briles and Taggart to use passing plays on first and second down to try to set up Akers and Khalan Laborn later in the game. In short yardage I would not be surprised to see the two talented running backs in the backfield at the same time like we saw last week.
Florida State defense versus Miami offense
Miami coach Manny Diaz is confident that skill position players, Jeff Thomas, DeeJay Dallas and Tate Martell will be back in action this weekend. Thomas has struggled with injuries this year but remains a big play receiver that made a huge play in Hard Rock Stadium last season.
Dallas is their leading rusher with 486 yards on 73 carries this year. It is still up in the air on who will start under center. It will either be N’Kosi Perry or Jarren Williams and I do not think we will know until game time.
Cam’Ron Harris has done a nice job filling in for Dallas as he has rushed for 196 yards in the last two games. KJ Osborn and Mike Harley are productive receivers as well. But perhaps the most talented player on Miami’s offense is tight end Brevin Jordan. He is a matchup nightmare that has 29 catches for 447 yards and 2 TDs on the season.
When FSU is not in zone coverage safety Hamsah Nasirildeen will most likely be the matched up with Jordan. All of this talent at the skill position can get lost due to the up-and-down play of the quarterbacks and growing pains of the young O-Line that has surrendered 33 sacks, which is 126th in the FBS. (The FSU line is not much better having given up 26 sacks on the year.)
UM is at their best when they are able to run the ball with Dallas and Harris. With this in mind the FSU middle linebacker rotation of Jackson, Leonard Warner and Emmitt Rice will need to continue their improved play to keep their rivals one-dimensional.
The place kickers have been a weak spot for both teams in 2019. Ricky Agauyo is 4/9 this year and has not made a field goal since the NC State game. The hurricanes have tried 3 different kickers and they have combined to go 5/11 from inside 40 yards. I think UM has decided on Camden Price to handle the duties as he made his only attempt on the season Saturday against Pittsburgh.
FSU’s Tommy Martin continued his solid play last week and has now dropped 12 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. However, Miami’s punter Lou Headiey has been phenomenal with 21 of his 32 months going over 50 yards or placed inside the 20.
We know both teams possess great athletes so the returners are capable of running one back. DJ Mathews knows all about taking one back against Miami as he returned a punt 74 yards to the end zone in last year’s game.
This game is of monumental importance to Willie Taggart’s tenure at Florida State. Not only would a victory mean a win over a big time rival, but it would also be huge for recruiting for a class that has taken a couple steps back recently and it also would mean an almost guaranteed trip to a bowl game. I know wins have been hard to come by but a loss to Alabama State would be one of the biggest upsets in history.
With all that being said, it will come down to which quarterback and O-lines make the least amount of mistakes. Both team’s lines have been under fire this season so I think that matchup is a push, but FSU will have the advantage at quarterback.
Hornibrook has shown that he is capable of just taking a bad play instead of trying to force his way into a disastrous one. Miami’s QBs Perry and Williams have shown flashes of brilliance, but they’re also capable of committing lots of turnovers or just being ineffective.
I think the Seminoles squeak out a close one to give Taggart his biggest win at FSU. Florida State 27 Miami 24.