Florida State football first look: Miami Hurricanes

Joe Raedle - Getty Images

Here is my take on the Miami Hurricanes as a team (not as a program).

Miami games I've watched this season: BC (parts), Kansas State (full), Georgia Tech (parts), NCSU (some), UNC (most).

The overriding thing you'll notice in this is that FSU has taken Miami out back in recruiting over the last few years. Florida State did not recruit the vast majority of Miami's starters. The talent disparity between these two schools has not been this large since 1997 (47-0 Seminoles win).


Miami's offense is a multiple pro-style. I like their OC Jed Fisch. He's done a good job with some average personnel. They do a decent bit of shifting, have played at a very fast tempo for much of the season, and use a lot of short routes. QB Morris is very mobile and has a big arm. He also lacks touch. Fisher noted today that Miami has done a great job of using his mobility to move the pocket, change launch points, and hit big plays on scrambles. But he hurt his ankle in the loss to North Carolina (see video of him being helped off here) and did not practice Monday. If he goes he'll be limited, and that will hurt his effectiveness.

His backup is Ryan Williams. Williams is accurate, tall, immobile and has poor arm strength. He is not going to escape the rush much and he does not have the arm to drive the ball deep into tight areas.

Miami has been running less no huddle stuff later in the year. I think they realized that pace was hurting their defense because that side of the ball has really poor depth. Paper thin.

I mentioned that they throw a lot of short routes. That's because their receivers aren't anything special. They do not create separation deep and I don't think a single one would sniff a starting job at Florida State.

The Hurricanes are averaging almost 17 incompletions a game. That's a lot of stopped clock. It's not that Morris can be erratic (he can) as much as it is that they drop a good number of balls (Dorsett, who has very good speed, is a big culprit here). Of course, that's is not guaranteed to continue against Florida State. They'll probably be fired up like crazy and catch every last one.

Still, on the year, their completion percentage is 58.3, with a team QB rating of less than 130. Awful. Florida State leads the conference in all of those categories. EJ Manuel is far from a bad quarterback. Far. He's very good, and all-world compared to what Miami has done. (I'm trying to point this out more. When we criticize EJ, it's often relative to the expectations based on his experience level and physical skills).

Miami's offensive line is pretty good. They're big and talented (one of the few areas on this team with upper tier talent). They run both man and zone blocking, and have done a good job of protecting Morris (though Morris has also done a good job of scrambling and Miami has done a good job of moving the pocket to protect him with scheme, which is something Fisher should do more with EJ Manuel...). They also do a good job of selling play action, and that's something Miami has done well this season.

Miami's top back is Mike James.

I actually think Mike James is a good back, and root hard for him to succeed since his mother was killed two years ago. I've liked him since high school. He gets the yards he should, isn't stopped for loss too often, etc. But he's not C.J. Spiller, Lamar Miller, etc. (backs who put the fear of God in a defense).

Duke Johnson is that as a freshman, and I'm sure Miami will use him a lot on this game if he is healthy. He is electric.

If Ryan Williams plays, Florida State has a chance to completely shut this group down.


While Miami's offense is sort of "decent" and less so without Morris, its defense is terrible. Miami is on pace to allow more than 3,000 rushing yards this year! Now, that won't happen because that number is inflated by virtue of playing two option teams in Georgia Tech and Bethune. But it is still terrible.

Miami's fans complain that their scheme up front is too complicated, particularly that its defensive linemen are asked to do too much two-gapping as opposed to attacking.

There may be something to that. There's also something to say about Miami's defensive linemen being physically whipped. Miami is stuck playing guys who were questionable offers as recruits (aka, they weren't any good as recruits), and doing so as young guys instead of redshirting them is not a recipe for success. The result of that is that offensive linemen quickly reach the second level and its backers are swallowed up and cannot get to the ballcarrier, and he is quickly downfield.

Oh, and their pass rush is really poor, too.

Miami does not press much (personnel not conducive for it) and does not blitz a whole lot either. But while they don't press all that much, they have covered pretty well. They play a very Big Ten style, waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. Except they really don't tackle all that well, which is something you absolutely must do if you play that style. Yards after the catch can be had, and runs of 10+ can turn into home runs.

Expect Miami's defense to play more aggressively this weekend. It has to take chances at turnovers, realizing its only chance to win or keep it close is to force short fields for its offense that will probably have a tough time.

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