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Florida State vs. Miami: Defensive recap, breakdown, analysis

Jermaine Johnson and an unreal 1st quarter gave FSU the room they needed to win

NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State Seminoles defense stood tough against the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night, holding rising signal caller Tyler Van Dyke and the ‘Canes to under 30 points. The ’Noles defense was led by who else but stud edge rusher Jermaine Johnson. Johnson terrorized Van Dyke all night, finishing with a final stat line of seven tackles, including five for a loss with three sacks and one forced fumble.

Johnson’s motor is also incredible and he’s led by example on the field this season. That kind of leadership has been invaluable to a rebuilding program trying to re-establish championship standards and Johnson is quickly entering Seminole legend territory.

Let’s break it down.


  • The defense dominated Miami early, forcing three turnovers and allowing FSU to race out to a 14-0 lead (which arguably should have been much larger).
  • Miami’s first five drives: three and out, interception, interception, strip sack fumble, three and out.
  • 1.6: Miami’s yards per play in the first quarter, on 20 plays. Incredible.
  • Freshman defensive back Omarion Cooper played very well, especially considering Miami went after him early and often and believed they could take advantage of his youth and inexperience.


  • Miami rebounded from their awful start, recording 6.3 yards per play on 15 plays and were rewarded with a touchdown.
  • Miami also went after Jarvis Brownlee, and their lone score in the 2nd quarter was aided by an explosive play of 45 yards. Brownlee had a bad game.
  • Miami was also much better on third downs this quarter, going 3/4.


  • Miami dominated the third quarter, but it wasn’t so much because of FSU’s offense falling flat. They still gave up a similar 6.1 yards per play on 20 plays, but FSU’s offense could only manage 2.2ypp, so it seemed worse than it was. Still, Miami tacked on another score and was much more consistent in executing explosive plays.
  • The fumble by Jashaun Corbin on the handoff set up Miami’s lone TD of the quarter, as the ‘Canes started in excellent field position at the FSU 38-yard line. Tough spot for a defense to be, and all it took was one 18-yard pass from Van Dyke to get them in position to punch it in.
  • On Miami’s next drive they had plays of 33 and 29 yards. FSU eventually forced them into a field goal but a bad penalty on Brownlee erased a missed try and gave Miami life. On the very next play on 4th down Van Dyke promptly hit Charleston Rambo over Brownlee for a 19-yard gain. Miami would complete the comeback and punch it into the end zone at the beginning of the 4th quarter, finally taking the lead 21-20.


  • Miami’s offense hit its peak per-play efficiency in the 4th, racking up 7.5 ypp on 15 plays. However, they were 0/2 on third downs. Unfortunately, they were also 2/2 on 4th downs.
  • On Miami’s next drive after the TD to open the final quarter, Van Dyke hit Rambo for 15, scrambled for 19, got sacked by Johnson for 9, and then connected with Jaylan Knighton for 35 and a score to put Miami up 8 with 11 minutes left. However, Miami wouldn’t score again.
  • Miami’s next drives: four and out, and the final drive with just 26 seconds left where Van Dyke mistakenly spiked the ball and ended the game. It’s cool, I didn’t know the rule either. FSU’s offense did a good job keeping Miami’s offense off the field this quarter, chewing up over 9 minutes of the clock.

End of game

  • Average yards per play allowed: 5.1 on 70 plays, which is a very good performance by FSU’s defense against a good offense in a rivalry game. 359 total yards of offense.
  • Van Dyke finished 25/47 for 316 yards 4 TDs and 2 INTs. He’s probably gonna be a good one.
  • FSU’s defense held Miami’s rushing attack to 43 yards on 23 attempts, just 1.9 per carry.
  • Third down conversions: 6/16 on third downs, but allowed Miami to go 4/4 on fourth downs.
  • Defensive MVP: Undoubtedly Jermaine Johnson, who broke the rock after the game. This impact on this team on and off the field cannot be overstated. However, I must also mention Omarion Cooper, who played very well against a good receiver corp. Robert Cooper also played well. Akeem Dent has played better of late.