Mark Richt and the No. 17-ranked Miami Hurricanes have plenty of momentum riding into their annual matchup with rival Florida State. The Hurricanes (4-1) are winners of four straight games and are coming off a 47-10 victory over North Carolina.
FSU (3-2), led by Willie Taggart in his first season at the helm of the Seminoles, are poised to upset the Hurricanes after some early season struggles.
The Miami Hurricane sat down with FSView and NoleGameDay sports writer Haylee Blitch to preview the showdown.
The Miami Hurricane: Five games into the season, how would you describe the feelings and morale among the Florida State students and fanbase?
Haylee Blitch: Coming into the season, students and fans were beyond excited. The way coach Taggart handled the offseason, it felt like this was going to be an amazing year where nothing could get in FSU’s way.
The 20 minutes before the opening game against Virginia Tech was the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of. The dancing, the hype music, the atmosphere, the fireworks and everything else was unexplainable.
Then all of a sudden, FSU wasn’t doing great and people got mad. Really fast. The students and the fanbase were upset because they had such high expectations, which is unfair for a coach who has never coached or played in the ACC.
Things have calmed down after winning a few games, but people were not thrilled with the coaching at first. There are high expectations for FSU football every year, but fans need to give the coaching staff and team time to figure out what will work in the ACC.
TMH: Why do you think the Seminoles have struggled? What has been the biggest weakness for Florida State?
HB: The biggest weakness is obviously the offensive line. Letting up big tackles and hits on Deondre Francois won’t get you anywhere, especially not in the end zone.
FSU has significantly improved in just five games, but it’s going to be a while before they’re “great”.
This offensive scheme is also completely different. Last year, Florida State scored a majority of touchdowns due to the run game, and now it seems like it’s all passing.
TMH: What are your thoughts on the Turnover Chain and the Turnover Backpack?
HB: I’ve always loved the Turnover Chain. It’s great to motivate the players after a turnover. Maybe a little too expensive for my taste, but whatever works.
The backpack is cool. I don’t like that it’s copying the Turnover Chain, but motivation is important. FSU could’ve done a “Turnover Spear” or something cooler, but if it “gets them in their bag” and gets them to make big plays, the backpack works.
TMH: Miami snapped a seven-game losing streak to Florida State with a 24-20 win in Tallahassee last season. How do you think this year’s contest shakes out and why?
HB: The attitude going in for FSU students and fans is a sense of anxiousness. Knowing Miami hasn’t won at home against Florida State since 2004 is a big plus, but really anything can happen.
When it comes down to it, you can throw the rankings out because it’s a huge rivalry game and it’s going to be the best game on all week no matter what the rankings are. Florida State will play harder than ever knowing they have the chance to take down a ranked opponent and rival.
Miami has a strong defense coming off a six-turnover game. Florida State will have a great game where they learn a lot, but come up just short. It’ll be a nail-biter, but Miami’s defense is too talented.
Miami 31 — FSU 21.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Hard Rock Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on ABC.