FSU sports writer Ryan Clark talks Seminoles’ strengths, weaknesses

With the Hurricane’s game against No. 12 Florida State University (FSU) less than a week away, The Miami Hurricane reached out to an expert on the Seminoles – Ryan Clark. As a lead writer at Warchant.com, Clark answered a few questions about what the Hurricanes should expect in Tallahassee Saturday night.

The Miami Hurricane: What do you make of the Seminoles this year? Are they a national championship caliber team in your eyes?

Ryan Clark: Deciphering Florida State is really hard in some ways. There hasn’t been one game where FSU has looked consistent throughout. Against Texas State in the season-opener, there were mistakes in areas where the Seminoles could have been sharper. The running game and defense basically carried them against South Florida. Defense and special teams were the difference in Boston College. Even against Wake Forest, the offense was good for three quarters while the defense was good in some areas but bad in others.

TMH: What’s the strength of the team? Weakness?

Clark: Strengths would be depth, talent and the understanding they’re far from perfect. That’s not players admitting that. It’s both players and coaches admitting it. They know they’re not good enough to take anyone lightly. Depth is a big one. Third-string running back Johnathan Vickers was key in pass protection when Dalvin Cook got hurt and missed the rest of the game against Wake. Second-choice running back Mario Pender is out with a collapsed lung so it’s not like FSU could turn to him. As for weaknesses, the most glaring is the inability for this team to play a complete game in all phases. The offensive line had a solid game against Wake Forest. Prior to that, the unit may have been FSU’s most problematic.

TMH: Who are the players to look out for on Saturday?

Clark: Any conversation about “Players to Watch” has to start with Jalen Ramsey. He’s the team’s best player and arguably the best defensive back in the nation. He reads quarterbacks extremely well. He can shadow a receiver, regardless of size, and above all else, he doesn’t back down. There’s a relentless quality to his performances. Then there’s Dalvin Cook, a player everyone in South Florida is extremely familiar with. Beyond that, there’s a couple of players who are on the verge.

TMH: If Dalvin Cook isn’t able to play or is limited, how will the team replace his production?

Clark: His health, from what we’ve been told, is day-to-day. That’s all FSU said Saturday.

TMH: How do you see the game playing out?

Clark: Whoever has the stronger offensive line wins that game. FSU’s defensive line has been really good this year. They’re getting pressure from the outside and internally. Any quarterback who doesn’t get protection is going to be eaten alive either by the line or by the secondary. Say if Miami’s defensive line can get to Everett Golson. That’s going to force rushed throws to receivers who are still learning their role within this year’s offense.

The Hurricanes face the Seminoles at 8 p.m. Saturday in Tallahassee.