Miami Gardens, FL (Sports Network) - Sunshine State rivals square off in ACC
action this weekend, as the 12th-ranked Florida State Seminoles make the short
trip south to take on the Miami-Florida Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles had their perfect season come to an end with a
humbling 17-16 loss at NC State two weeks ago. FSU got back to its winning
ways this past weekend though, moving to 6-0 overall and 3-1 in ACC play with
a dominant 51-7 drubbing of Boston College.
Al Golden's Hurricanes have played to mixed reviews in 2012. The team sits at
4-3 overall, but holds a 3-1 mark in-conference, good for the top spot in the
ACC's Coastal Division. Miami however, comes into this contest with a two-game
slide in tow, falling to Notre Dame (41-30) and most recently, North Carolina
Still, Golden expressed his desire for his team to keep pressing forward after
the UNC loss.
"There's a lot to learn from this game, there's no question. We made too many
critical errors to win the game, some of them I mentioned already. We have to
continue to learn and grow, said Golden following the loss. "We're playing a
lot of guys that are learning. They have to continue to grow. Sometimes when
you play guys before they're ready, they can have negative reinforcement and
we can't have that right now. We have to keep pushing them forward and be
positive. They're playing a tough schedule, and it's not getting any easier
this week. We have a rival coming in here, we have to get rested up tomorrow,
shake it off and get ready to go. We just have to keep going."
This marks the 57th all-time meeting between these two rivals. The Hurricanes
hold a 31-25 series advantage, but Florida State has won two straight and five
of the last seven meetings, overall.
Florida State's offense doesn't get the credit that the defense does, but the
unit has far exceeded expectations this year. The key has been success in the
running game. The Seminoles are averaging 46.0 ppg, on 530.6 yards of total
offense, with the rushing attack responsible for 233.1 yards of that.
Tailback Chris Thompson has been the top performer on the ground, amassing 640
yards and five TDs on 7.6 yards per carry. James Wilder Jr. is also a integral
part of the backfield, netting 6.0 yards per carry and scoring six times.
Quarterback EJ Manuel has gone a little under the radar in terms of national
notoriety, but has played impressively thus far, completing 72.1 percent of
his passes, for 1,804 yards, with 14 touchdown and just four interceptions.
Not many teams are getting it done defensively like Florida State. The
Seminoles rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (11.6 ppg), third in total
defense (222.0 ypg), while placing fifth against the run (74.9 ypg) and sixth
against the pass (147.11 ypg).
The loss of All-ACC defensive end Brandon Jenkins has been assuaged by the
play of rush ends Cornellius Carradine (41 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 7.0 sacks) and
Bjoern Werner (21 tackles, 10.0 TFLs, 6.5 sacks). Linebacker Christian Jones
(39 tackles) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (22 tackles, two interceptions)
headline the play in the back seven.
The Hurricanes have been plagued with offensive inconsistency this season,
showing flashes of big play ability coupled with long stretches of stagnant
play. The team is fueled by the passing game this season, which is netting
just under 300 yards per game (296.9).
Quarterback Stephen Morris has been a big part of the success, but has also
been the primary reason for the offensive failures, completing just 57.5
percent of his passes, for 1,991 yards, with nine TDs against six INTs. Morris
injured his ankle against the Tar Heels and was unable to return to the game.
He is listed as doubtful for this week and if he can't go, redshirt sophomore
Ryan Williams is likely to get the start.
Tailbacks Duke Johnson (428 yards and five TDs) and Mike James (402 yards,
four TDs) give the team a solid one-two punch in the backfield, while Phillip
Dorsett (32 receptions, 503 yards, three TDs) and Rashawn Scott (27
receptions, 431 yards, two TDs) do the same in the receiving corps.
The Miami defense has struggled this season, especially against the run, where
foes are netting 253.7 yards per game on a hefty 5.1 yards per carry. The team
on the year is allowing a generous 32.3 ppg, on 506.6 yards of total offense.
Big plays have also been hard to comes by, with Miami recording just seven
sacks over the first six games.
Defensive end Shayon Green leads the defensive unit in stops with 42 tackles.
Linebackers Eddie Johnson (39 tackles) and Denzel Perryman (35 tackles, team-
high 6.0 TFLs) follow.
Fisher knows the importance of this rivalry for the team and fan base.
"That's one of the big games you're here at Florida State for," said Fisher on
the team's website this week. "That's always one of the great rivalries in
college football. A lot of history, a lot of tradition. It means a lot to us,
I know that. That's one you have to be aware of. It's a battle and it's a lot
of history in it, tradition in it. It's always a battle when FSU and Miami
play. It means a lot to the people here; it means a lot to the players that
played here and it's always a great game."
The Sports Network