Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State: Matchup Analysis


Miami-Dade and the rest of South Florida evaded the eye of category four Hurricane Matthew just in time for the most anticipated match-up of the 2016 season. The number ten Miami Hurricanes versus number 23 Florida State Seminoles.

It’s time.

The historic rivalry consists of a combined 68 consensus All-Americans, eight National Championships, and five Heisman Trophy winners. Make no mistake about it, ‘Canes vs. ‘Noles is one of the best rivalries in sports.

2016 Season So Far

After a 4-0 start to the season, Miami faces their toughest challenge of the year. Florida State kicked off the season with a second-half comeback against 11th ranked Ole Miss. Everything was looking promising for the ‘Noles this season until they faced Louisville. Heisman trophy hopeful Lamar Jackson obliterated the Florida State defense on the way to a surprising 63-20 Cardinals victory.

Miami started off conference play last week with a 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech. The ‘Noles lost to 17th ranked North Carolina on a game-ending field goal. Miami remains undefeated, and Florida State enters the Rock 3-2,  0-2 in the ACC. In this rivalry game, records can be thrown out the window.

Jimbo Fisher is 6-0 against Miami since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010. Miami leads the series all time 31-29.  In the past two years, Miami started the fourth quarter with the lead but struggled to close out and capture victories.

Florida State contained better depth across the board in these recent games, but the Hurricanes competed and showed their talent level. Miami looks greatly improved under Mark Richt as the 10th ranked team in the nation, but are they fit to play big time football?

A Look at the Stats:

Miami and Florida State look drastically different on paper in the statistical categories. Offensively, Miami wants to take advantage of some holes in the Florida State defense. Miami’s defense has not faced an offense as dynamic as Florida State all year.

:Here is how they compare

(Note – Miami has played four games, Florida State has played five.)

Total Offense

FSU – 17th – 388 plays, 508.6 yards per game, 6.56 yards per play, 25 touchdowns 

Miami – 35th – 232 plays,  474.3 yards per game, 8.18 yards per play, 23 touchdowns 

Total Defense

FSU – 94th – allowing 438.4 yards per game, 6.98 yards per play, 25 opponent touchdowns

Miami – 7th – allowing 253.3 yards per game, 3.58 yards per play, 5 opponent touchdowns

Florida State’s disparities

Miami has been highly efficient on offense. Mark Richt’s philosophy of a balanced offense could exploit the Florida State defense. The ‘Noles rush defense ranks 92nd in the nation, allowing an average of 191.2 yards per game. Miami ranks 24th in rushing offense gaining an average of 6.99 yards per carry. Mark Walton and Joe Yearby have split the majority of the carries.

In the past two games against Florida State, Miami has placed six to seven men in the box to stop the running game.

Oct 1, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports /

Last year, the FSU defense held Miami to 20 yards rushing. Brad Kaaya shredded the FSU secondary. He was 29 of 49 for 405 yards and three touchdowns.

In this game, Richt will let Kaaya off the leash in the playbook. Expect to see Richt call more passing plays due to FSU’s poor pass defense. The ‘Noles rank 83rd nationally, allowing 247.2 yards per game.

Fool’s Gold or For Real?

Manny Diaz‘s defense fit the description of a top 10 defense so far this season. Anyone who watched the defense in the Al Golden era can see a difference. This Miami defense plays fast, aggressive and physical compared to the read and react system under former Defensive Coordinator Mike D’Antonio. All things a coach wants in a defense. Florida State is the best opponent Miami has faced this year.

Florida State has an advantage having a  dual threat quarterback. Red-shirt freshman Deondre Francois has thrown for 1323 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions in five games. Miami has not faced an aerial attack that has put their secondary to the test this season. That correlates to the 3rd overall ranking in pass defense.

Miami’s run defense has been stout. After facing the Georgia Tech option, which can deplete some stats, Miami ranks 24th nationally in run defense. Led by freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney and a robust defensive line, the ‘Canes defense is only allowing only 2.6 yards per rush.

FSU running back Dalvin Cook destroyed and broke the back of the ‘Canes defense in the past several years. In 2015, Cook rushed for over 200 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. He has led Florida State to the 20th ranking in rushing offense.

Next: Florida State Arrives in Miami Safely, Sellout Expected

A point of emphasis for the Canes defense will be gang tackling and making open field tackles. Miami faces a threat in the run game with Francois. This game will be a true and the toughest challenge for the Miami Hurricanes this season.

We all will find out if The U is back.