The Miami Hurricane had a chance to talk with Blake DeVine from FSView, the student newspaper at Florida State University. The senior staff writer answered a few questions on what he thinks Saturday’s game will entail.
The Miami Hurricane: What has been the main source of FSU’s struggles this year, specifically on defense?
Blake DeVine: Physicality, tackling and communication. Seminoles linebacker Matthew Thomas alluded to it after playing North Carolina, mentioning that some calls from the sideline were hard to set up and run efficiently when facing a fast offense. Despite possessing immense talent on paper, this unit is being heavily criticized as a result of its lackadaisical effort on the field. Obviously, the absence of star safety Derwin James has not helped, but there’s a lot of loafing from several players on defense. The linebacking crew hasn’t played up to par, the secondary has been pedestrian at best and highly acclaimed players such as defensive end Josh Sweat haven’t made their presence felt. By and large, issues are all over the board for this unit, but the fundamentals are lacking right now.
TMH: What is going to be the priority for Florida State’s defense, stopping the one-two punch in the run game in Mark Walton and Joseph Yearby, or containing quarterback Brad Kaaya?
D: A little bit of both, as UM’s offensive success will be dependent on whether or not it can establish the run game by creating gaps in the Noles front seven. If it can, it will enable the play action for Kaaya and allow its passing game to be even more dangerous. He can also dissect Florida State’s defense by keeping plays alive with his feet and allowing his receivers to get open down the field. In recent memory, the Canes have lacked a star player with the ability to make a big play late in the game. This year, Kaaya possesses this ability, and if Miami is going to come up victorious, it may very well come down to a game winning score.
TMH: According to Seminoles’ coaches, what is the game plan going into Saturday?
D: Offensively, FSU is looking to establish its dominance at the line of scrimmage by handing the ball off to [Dalvin] Cook and Jacques Patrick. As a result of UM’s focus on run defense, Noles quarterback Deondre Francois should have plenty of opportunities to make play-action throws. On the other side of the ball, Florida State must limit the big plays and keep the Hurricanes’ speedy wideouts from breaking loose down the field. If the Seminoles’ defensive line can apply significant pressure to Kaaya, it will help FSU’s young secondary. The weather may also play a significant role, as forceful winds could hamper the passing game.
TMH: How do you expect redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois to handle the pressure of this game?
D: Heading into this contest, I believe that Francois already feels relatively comfortable in a hostile road environment. Just five games into his young career, he’s already performed fairly well in two pressure-packed road matchups against Louisville and South Florida. Throw in the fact that he completed 33 of 52 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns during a 45-34 comeback victory over Ole Miss, and it’s safe to say that the dual-threat quarterback has what it takes to win big games.
TMH: Score Prediction and Keys to Game?
D: Prediction: Miami 31, Florida State 28
If the Hurricanes are able to jump out to a quick lead, it will be difficult for the Seminoles to dig themselves out of a significant deficit on the road. However, if FSU’s offense is able to get rolling early, it will be able to trade blows with UM. This being said, I believe that this rivalry matchup will stay tight throughout and come down to the final moments, where Brad Kaaya will eventually march the Canes down the field and seal the Noles fate.
Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah5740.