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What went right, wrong on defense for FSU vs. Miami

Florida State dominates Miami on the road

The Florida State Seminoles were in Miami, Florida this weekend, set to face their first in-state opponent of the season. Hard Rock Stadium featured a sold-out crowd that welcomed the Noles into a “hostile” environment. The Hurricanes have had a disappointing season, despite it being head coach Mario Cristobal’s first year. FSU was favored in the matchup, and a win on the road was vital for the Noles to keep improving. This was Florida State’s chance to secure their first bowl appearance since 2019, and they didn’t disappoint.

FSU went into enemy territory, securing a dominant win against the Hurricanes. The Seminoles were hitting on all cylinders, having to play three different quarterbacks throughout the game. This was a game that featured multiple sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception, resulting in one of the worst losses in series history.

First half

The Noles scored a touchdown on the first drive, putting the Hurricanes in early chasing mode. FSU’s defense entered the game with 13:22 left in the first quarter. They were tasked with playing starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, which mainly started the game with screen passes and short runs. Van Dyke’s first big gain led the Hurricanes to their second first down of the drive. The Seminoles seemed to play Miami’s scheme fairly well, but a holding call from cornerback Jarrian Jones put the Canes in FSU territory.

Florida State put their entire second unit from the defensive line on the field in the first drive. After a couple of stops from defensive lineman Patrick Payton, the Noles forced Miami to attempt a 49-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good, and FSU led 7-3 with 9:16 left in the first. FSU’s offense had a lengthy drive with key flags from Miami’s defense and the Noles were up 14-3. The defense was back on the gridiron with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter.

Backup defensive ends Patrick Payton and Leonard Warner started the drive for the Seminoles, dragging Miami to a three-and-out. At the end of the first quarter, Florida State led 14-3. They concluded the quarter with one pass breakup and 10 total tackles. FSU held UM to a 1-3 third down conversion rate, with 4.5 yards per play.

Miami secured an interception off Florida State early in the second quarter, leading to a new opportunity for the Hurricanes' offense. UM had the ball at the 2-yard line, so a run play ensued to get out of the end zone line. Van Dyke left the pocket on the drive, throwing a pass that hit the ground, quickly holding his shoulder and leaving to get checked on the sideline.

Despite leaving the game with an aching shoulder, Van Dyke entered the game on the following drive. It was just for a few seconds though; backup quarterback Jake Garcia was plugged in soon after. The Noles forced Miami to punt the ball after an ugly offensive drive. Florida State had their first punt of the game midway through the second quarter, placing Miami at the 1-yard line.

FSU cornerback Greedy Vance snagged a pick from Garcia on the drive, putting the Seminoles' offense in prime scoring position. Florida State led 28-3 after a rushing touchdown from running back Trey Benson. Once Miami got back on the field, it looked like Garcia’s time to shine with the ball in his hands and Van Dyke on the sideline. The problem was, Garcia was sharing snaps with quarterback Jacurri Brown.

It looked like the energy was sucked out of the Hurricanes, with Miami fans booing toward the team, but Brown connected for a 15-yard completion. It wasn’t enough to result in a score, so the Seminoles' offense was back on the field. They notched a quick field to put the score at 31-3 heading into halftime.

Second half

Brown couldn’t lead the Hurricanes to a first down to open the second half, resulting in a punt from Miami on a three-and-out. After an empty play from Florida State’s offense, the Canes were back on the field in search of life. Miami running back Jaylan Knighton ran all over the Seminoles on the possession, including a 45-yard gain and a 13-yard gain to get the Canes within scoring distance. With the ball at the 5-yard line on third and three, the Hurricanes pushed themselves in for a first down.

Miami looked like they were going to score a quick touchdown with two yards remaining, but a blitz package caused a sack. That looked like UM’s worst nightmare, but it was far from it. Defensive end Jared Verse had a fumble recovery after a bad snap that gave Florida State a chance to close the game out safely. The fumble resulted in a touchdown for the Noles, extending the lead to 38-3.

The Hurricanes' offense was having fun behind screen plays and run options, but a false start stopped their momentum. Miami grabbed the first down on a third and two attempt, and Miami was finally in Seminoles territory. Garcia was put in the next play on first down and gave up a fumble for the Noles. FSU had backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker in the game with just under 11 minutes remaining.

Florida State’s three-and-out on offense gave the Canes an opportunity to put any sort of points on the board. There was a treacherous offensive drive from the Seminoles that plugged in a touchdown for FSU and gave them a 45-3 lead. On the final drive from Miami, Noles cornerback Azareye’h Thomas secured an interception to close it out.

Standout players from FSU vs. Miami

Defensive back Jammie Robinson

There’s nothing that Robinson can’t do on the field. He’s constantly asked to play all over the green and delivers. Robinson recorded one tackle for loss and seven total tackles. He was phenomenal in keeping plays in front of him and blitzing the quarterback when he had the chance.

Defensive tackle Fabien Lovett

Fabien Lovett is back, and he made sure that Hurricane offensive line was aware of that. The upperclassman notched one pass breakup, one tackle for loss, one sack, and three tackles. This was Lovett’s second game back from injury, and the impact he makes on the Noles defensive line is vital for the full attack.

Defensive end Jared Verse

Verse celebrated his birthday in Miami, Florida, and it was definitely one he’ll never forget. He had fun with the first quarter crowd and rivalry state of the game, saying he fed off the atmosphere. Verse finished the game with one tackle for loss, one sack, and one fumble recovery.