Florida State—Miami: Breaking Down the ACC Slugfest in Miami

Danny DolphinAnalyst IOctober 7, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 07:  The Miami Hurricanes defense lines up against the offense of the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 7, 2009 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images




Kickoff: 8:00 PM EST Saturday October 7, 2010

Location: Sun Life Stadium (Miami, FL)


Overall Records (ACC): Miami 3-1 (1-0), Florida State 3-1 (2-0)

Line: Miami by 6

Last Year: Miami came away victorious in a 38-34 thriller in Tallahassee in which the Canes’ Jacory Harris threw for 386 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami Injuries: RB Graig Cooper (Probable), WR Allen Hurns (Probable), RB Storm Johnson (Probable), RB Lamar Miller (Questionable), CB Corey Nelms (Questionable), DT Curtis Porter (Out)

Florida State Injuries: CB Lamarcus Joyner (Probable) OT Andrew Datko (Probable), RB Ty Jones (Questionable), LB Mister Alexander (Doubtfull)

Miami Offense vs. Florida State Defense

The FSU defense is excellent against the run, giving up just 2.04 yards per carry, and weak against the pass (71st in the nation). They do get the quarterback, however, and lead the nation in sacks.

To counter FSU’s defensive strengths, Miami needs to move the ball via a quick passing attack based on three-step drops and short crossing patterns. The Seminoles will get to Harris frequently if he’s facing a bunch of third and longs, making it critical the Canes gain quality yardage on first and second down.

I would rather Miami not run the ball initially. Why not use screens and passes out of the backfield instead? The best way to run efficiently on FSU is to open up that aggressive defense with the passing game. Miami halfbacks Damien Berry and Mike James can pound a defense that’s on its heels.

Florida State Offense vs. Miami Defense

Miami has been vulnerable to running quarterbacks in the past and FSU’s Christian Ponder has some wheels. He’s also got a good arm, making him Miami’s top priority. It’s the same with every good quarterback, as pressure is the best counter. Oklahoma got to him often and he completed just 39% of his passes while tossing two picks.

The Miami defensive line needs to continue to make plays. The skill players might make the headlines, but games are consistently won in the trenches. The Canes defense needs to swarm like a bunch of gnats and get a strong push up front to disrupt Florida State’s rhythm.

The Seminoles also boast a talented stable of running backs in Jermaine Thomas (6.3 YPC), Ty Jones (7.9 YPC), and Chris Thompson (8.0 YPC).

Miami Keys

  • Take care of the ball – It’s the same story every game. Jacory needs to play smart.
  • Consistently gain yardage on first down – Third and longs can be disastrous against a potent defense.
  • Swarm defensively – FSU has just as many athletes as Miami. Sometimes it will take more than one guy to bring them down.

Florida State Keys

  • Running game - You’re not going to best the Miami defense unless you can gain yardage on the ground.
  • Force turnovers - The defense needs to confuse Harris with many different looks.
  • Special Teams – It’s tough to win on the road without consistent good field position.



Running Back


Receiver/ Tight End

Offensive Line

Defensive Line



Special Teams


This war between in-state rivals should be a good one. Whichever quarterback makes more plays is going to be victorious, with both defenses out to shut down the opposition’s running game. Miami has the edge on their home field.

Miami 30 Florida State 23