Miami / Florida State : The 2010 Version

Another October means another Miami / Florida State showdown. There have been a few Labor Day kickoffs this past decade, but true enthusiasts know this one is perfectly scheduled a few weeks in, when both teams have a handful of games beneath their belts. Who are the Canes? Who are the Noles? How will both respond as one-loss teams, looking to make a run this season, both in the ACC as well as nationally? We’ll soon find out.

As expected, both sides are already jawing. Seminole faithful believe their squad is rejuvenated under first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher, while Hurricanes nationwide expect a mighty step forward year four of the Randy Shannon era. UM has faced a tougher road thus far – losing at Ohio State, but rebounding with wins at both Pittsburgh and Clemson. FSU got rocked at Oklahoma and won three straight, albeit against much lesser competition – BYU, Wake Forest and Virginia.

From everyone I’ve spoken with and heard from this week, Miami fans go in expecting a win this Saturday night at Sun Life. Cane enthusiasts feel they have the better team, that the Noles are unproven and that only Miami can beat Miami, through turnovers, sloppy play and mental mistakes. I tend to agree, but am quick to remember that when Florida State is on the other sideline, anything can happen. There are no gimmies in this rivalry.

I was all but sure of a Canes win back in 2002, predicting a 33-20 margin in my weekly column. Miami entered as defending national champs, riding a double-digit win-streak with two Heisman contenders in Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee, while Florida State had fallen to Louisville the previous week and simply didn’t look like they could hang against a loaded Canes squad.

UM was a semi-heavy favorite in this one and when McGahee scored halfway through the first quarter, it felt like a rout might be on. Mistakes and sloppy play killed that notion and FSU responded with 17 second quarter points, taking a 17-14 lead into the locker room, after Dorsey found Kellen Winslow II in the half’s final minute.

The rest is history. Florida State held the early fourth quarter lead at 27-14 and Miami answered with two late touchdowns; the game winner sparked by a little screen pass to McGahee which went for 68 yards, setting up Jason Geathers for the go-ahead score. The Noles had one final drive, a game clock that worked in their favor and in the end added a new chapter to the missed field goal legacy when Xavier Beitia sent his attempt Wide Left.

The Canes escaped, won out and made it back to the national championship game, while the Noles experienced a four-loss regular season, ending the year 9-5. Still, on that sweltering day in October, Florida State played as good as the defending champs and went toe-to-toe all day long, proving that you truly must throw everything out the window in a rivalry game.

This rivalry has seen it all. Missed kicks. Crazy turnovers. Sloppy rainy conditions. Sweltering heat. Daytime. Nighttime. Monstrous comebacks or collapses, depending which side you were on. A national championship may not hang in the balance, as it has in the past, but you can bet both sides will “bring it” like a BCS game in January.

I can’t speak as a Seminole (nor would I want to), but as a long-time Cane it truly feels like Miami is oh-so-close to being “back”, much closer than Florida State. Four games into this season, as mentioned before, Miami has been its own worst enemy. Stats-wise, the Canes hung tough at the Horseshoe. Ohio State fans cited the bowl loss to Wisconsin as their reason the Buckeyes would ‘own’ Miami in the trenches. Instead, the Canes came to play on both lines – especially defensively, where they held OSU to five field goals, shutting down Terrelle Pryor and crew in the red zone.

Pittsburgh started the season ranked in the middle of the Top 25, just like Miami. When the two met a few weeks back, the Canes throttled the Panthers, 31-3 at Heinz. A few weeks later at Clemson, Miami went toe-to-toe with a solid Tigers squad, forced six turnovers and rolled home with a 30-21 win, a 3-1 record and No. 13 ranking.

Interceptions. Penalties. The occasional missed opportunity – be it a dropped pass, muffed interception or whiff on a tackle. Those are the little things keeping a ‘good’ Miami squad from elevating its status to ‘great’.

Jacory Harris still threw two picks at Clemson, but got away with the flubs due to four touchdowns and stellar defense by his counterparts. The turnovers need to go away, but Harris should enter this week with some breathing room – knowing that he has both a stable of running backs and a slew of capable defenders who are ready to bail him out.

No one needs to be Superman this weekend. Miami needs a team effort to beat Florida State. The coaches preach it and the players know it. It’s simply a matter of doing it.

The Canes are without second-leading rusher Lamar Miller this weekend but that’s about it on the injury-front. Miami has enough depth both at running back and across the board to handle this meeting with their arch-rival.

Mark Whipple will attempt to match wits with Mark Stoops, the Noles first-year defensive coordinator. Stoops did a few minutes as defensive backs coach for the Canes a few years back and came to Tallahassee via Tucson this off-season. Gone is long-time staple Mickey Andrews, who always came aggressively at Miami, running his man-to-man but quick to blitz the quarterback and rattle some cages.

Stoops is living up to his namesake as Florida State has been sacking quarterbacks and shutting down the run, again albeit against lesser competition. (The Noles held the Sooners to less than 100 rushing yards, but when you’re passing for almost 400 yards, you don’t need to run much.)

On the other side, Jimbo Fisher is no longer just the offensive coordinator, but has taken Bobby Bowden’s place as ‘the guy’ in Tallahassee. Fisher called a good game against the Canes the last two years, but how does he handle the pressure of playcalling and head coach? Especially against a veteran defensive coordinator like John Lovett, who has really put his fingerprints on Miami’s defense (as has the addition of defensive line coach Rick Petri).

The Canes defensive scheme has always been relatively simple, reliant on the personnel. With the athletes and playmakers finally back in place, you’re seeing gang tackling, forced turnovers, strips and some bounce in the step of the entire unit. This collectively will be the best Miami defense the Noles have seen since 2003 … but again, anything can happen in this rivalry.

Some talking heads have picked Florida State with the upset, citing the fact that Fisher and the Noles “need” this signature win more than the Canes. The talk has been that FSU will be out to prove the OU loss was an aberration and not the norm. Maybe, but maybe not.

What if Florida State really isn’t “all that” this season? Year one for Fisher. Year one with Stoops calling the defense. The Noles have some playmakers in place, but across the board the talent doesn’t completely appear to be in tact.

Christian Ponder is a playmaker under center, but the big time wideouts and running backs aren’t what they once were in Tallahassee – proven when facing the lone good team Florida State has seen this year; Oklahoma. Ponder threw for 113 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. On the ground he rushed for 23 yards.

Based on what Miami has shown defensively the past few weeks, keeping Florida State’s offense in check should be doable – again, if the Canes come to play. Clemson featured as solid a quarterback and better running backs / wideouts and UM’s defense rose to the challenge. Same for Ohio State. The Canes turned the ball over all day long, but when it came time to tighten up in the red zone, it did just that.

Can Miami tighten up against Florida State this Saturday night? It’s the million dollar question in Coral Gables this week. Both teams know what’s at stake besides ACC positioning. Bragging rights. Recruits. Pride. There’s little margin for error when playing your brothers from another mother.

In many ways the Canes and Noles have mirrored each other for decades. Both dominated the landscape on and off the past thirty years, with seven championships between the two – and possibly more if the two schools didn’t play annually, often knocking each other from a top the rankings.

Both programs have been rebuilding, both due to coaching, a lack of recruiting / developing players and weathering the cyclical nature of this game. Miami started its comeback in 2007, having fired Larry Coker in late 2006, while Florida State let Bowden hang around a few years too many, leaving Fisher a little behind the eight ball entering this season.

This may not be the ‘game of the century’ it once was, but this is the most relevant Miami v. Florida State has truly felt since meeting in the BCS after the 2003 season.

The Canes have the upper hand, but the Noles will bring some heart and desire. This truly is anybody’s game, but you have to like Miami’s chances if the Canes can simply stay out of their own way.

Four games in, it’s time. J12 will limit the turnovers (one interception), receivers will catch catchable balls (can Travis Benjamin keep going off against FSU?), running backs will find holes (Berry, Mike James and Graig Cooper good to go), lines will take care of the trenches (Seantrel Henderson locked down the right side and there’s more depth) and the defense will continue to rise up (how many turnovers can be created?)

After three straight road games, it’s time for Miami to benefit from the sold out hometown crowd and to shine under the lights on ABC as the nation is watching. The Canes are ready and the Noles remain one small step behind.

The just-a-hunch-as-UM-is-due-to-finally-jell call:

Miami 31

Florida State 20



29 thoughts on “Miami / Florida State : The 2010 Version

  1. To elaborate on your comment about the "sweltering heat" at the OB in 2002. I had driven from St.Louis to watch the game and to this day tell people I've never felt anything so hot as that day in October!
    This is a great blog and is mucho appreciated-your posts have never been better!!
    Just read, Perfect Rivals-again. If there aren't any Canes fans who haven't gotten it yet—I highly recommend
    running out to Borders.

  2. One more thought-how bout a post that lists the U-FLST moments that stood out the most-besides the obvious like fouuurty seven to nuttin- by Reed.
    Or the multiple wide right and lefts.
    Or Dorsey to Shockey to break the losing streak in 00.
    How bout some others like…
    The drive by Gino in 91 capped off by the 4th down grab by Horace down at Doak when FLST was #1 led by Weldon and Johnson at QB.

    Which set up the classic image of Bowden looking around confused as if he couldn't find his car in the lot after Mowry shanked it.

    Or the Saturday night show put on by Sapp in 94 in the OB.
    One of the highlights of the Erickson era–actually about the last one.

    I always remember the image of Sean Taylor with his darkened face mask in a sideways rain storm in 03 at Doak–absolutly one of the most dominant players on defense the U has had–ever.

    The nervous feeling whenever we had to kick off to Tamarick Vanover in the 90's–he had to of been one of the quickest players ever in this rivalry.

  3. i hate that i have to work alll day. but i will be getting calls at work and watching the game on my phone! i am praying that the Canes have this one. let the pieces fall together and manage the game Jacory! and even if he has a game like last week. the D will keep us in it. anything can happen playing FSU..but! we have to win this. Go Canes!!

  4. Perhaps now the sycophantic Randy Shannon love fest that allCanes has been espousing will finally end. Face it, this is a team that cannot mentally prepare itself for the big games.

    We can't win bowl games. We can't beat big teams. We gain momentum and national recognition, then we let it go to our heads and don't show up for the big games, FSU this year, Va Tech last year.

    Ohio State game was close, but we were still out classed. FSU is running roughshod over us. Does anyone think we can actually beat Virginia Tech?

  5. Why can't this coaching staff have these players ready to play for the BIG GAMES. One person from the college game day crew (Mr. H. Buckeye) stated the canes would run the table? After watching "THE beat Down" by FSU, how can anyone in their right mind think so! THE excuses for this team and so-call coaching staff are yesterday's news (like 2007). Will this team ever compete for an ACC title? I think CANE NATION is very, very, tired of seening this team show signs of improvement, then become a extremely average team!!! The coaching staff has not shown consistant signs of IMPROVEMENT!!!!!!

  6. This was really pathetic…absolutely no passion whatsoever…I will be interested in your analysis of this one…it was evident that they were not prepared to play FSU.

  7. I was at the game tonight…

    Here are some of my random thoughs on it…

    * Our QB isn't very good.

    * Hankerson had a few very nice catches, including a georgous one-hander early in the game (1st quarter I think)

    * Hankerson had some killer drops towards the end of the game

    * Berry's fumble that almost got taken back for a TD and evenually ended up on the 1 really killed things early and helped put us in a whole we couldn't climb out of.

    * Our special teams play was horrible and let FSU start drives close to the 50 for way to much of the game. JUST EMBARRASING.

    * You have to make that kick to start things off Bosher. 32-yards? You have to make that kick against Florida State.

    *Traffic coming into the game was horrible, and trying to find a decent parking spot in an reasonable amount of time was impossible.

    * Jerky UM fan almost broke our SUV mirror after the game after he pulled a Robert Marve and punched it because we got too close to him. Proved that we has a complete reject because we were always a safe distance away from him. Serves as a reminder that the lowest common denominator of the Human Race always makes it to prime-time football games.

    * Overall, lousy night of football.

    * And since everything starts and ends with the QB… Our QB isn't any good.

  8. I think the honeymoon with Shannon is just about over. I think it should be ACC Championship or bust this year. He's a mediocre head coach with an average college football program. The worst part is that many UM fans, specifically this blogger, seem to be accepting this as the new norm in Miami. This is Randy's team, these are Randy's players. Larry Coker can no longer be blamed for this program's dismal performance. I think UM needs to turn up the heat on Randy, or face another mediocre 9-4 season.

  9. We choked and we lost badly. No emotion, no fire from the players. Randy Shannon is not the right coach for UM.

  10. It's time to force Shannon to resign. We all know Donna won't fire him, so we must run this clown out of town any way we can. He is WORSE than Coker, if that is humanly possible. Also, Jacpicky Harris is injured in someway and they're trying to hide it. Bad for the kid, the team, and this awful program.

  11. I don't know how the players were just out there going through the motions in a rivalry game. No emotion, no determinaton, no pride – no tackling, no winning one-on-one battles. Pathetic perfomance by every single player and coach who took the field last night. We showed nothing, and put up little resistence against a team we should have mopped the floor with. I would be emabarassed to perform that way in a practice, much less a game.

    Columbus Cane

  12. Why did our special teams and defense play so poorly {no adjustments in the second half}. The blogger for this web site has a right to remain upbeat and positive about this team and it's coaching staff, but after the performance last night, most "CANES FANS" wonder whether this team and coaching staff will ever turn the corner (becomimg an elite PROGRAM, Bama, Ducks, Buckeyes, TCU, and Blue turf BOYS). These teams have the personnel and players in place to compete on an annual basis. If "THE U" doesn't make it to the ACC Title game, does the AD need to make any changes or does this coaching staff remain intact. 24-19 is nothing to brag about!!!!

  13. Wow…unranked! Great job Randy, you really know how to get your entire staff–players and coaches–ready for big games. You choked against Cal, you choked against Wisconsin, you choked against VaTech after a win against a mediocre Oklahoma team (no Bradford), and you choked again agains Florida State after a win against a mediocre Clemson team (who lost to a depleted North Carolina squad). Miami is a mirage. The bubble has officially burst!

  14. I feel sick and out of excuses. Miami is not very good. Man it hurts to say that. Was this our biggest rival, or just some team we were scrimmaging in August? What took place on the field last night was disgusting and shameful.
    Right now it is not about the U and won't be for some time.

  15. We're not even ranked anymore. I can't believe that.

    While I'm watching this game, all I kept thinking is, "The Hurricanes really suck!"

    It's like, who are these guys?

    I don't think they even care.

  16. Ditto to just about ever other comment. How can RS and Jacory continue to be given passes? I might grant that Jacory is hurt, but if so, he shouldn't be out there. Because he has looked awful the past couple games. Guy has no pocket awareness. How do you pass the line of scrimmage by 3-4 yards TWICE!!? Whipple either won't or can't make adjustments. Unbelievable how so many of the WR's on this team REGRESS over time.
    Anyhow, RS does not get this team up for games on a regular basis. I read something earlier in the week that gave me chills. Bailey was yelling at his teammates on a saturday or sunday practice, because they weren't focused. He likened it to the mood that the team had before facing Va Tech last year. That is on RS and the rest of the coaches.
    Are some of us reeling from the loss? Sure. But please, there was just nothing positive to take away from that game. Now I wonder what other game(s) RS will not have them prepared for down the stretch? NC for sure. Probably Virgina too. Awesome

  17. There are two things that I have learned about Miami last year and so far this year : 1) Jacory Harris is NOT an accurate enough passer to run Whipple's offense . 2) Until Whipple learns that he MUST run the ball , good defensive coordinators know how to stop him . I also would like to know when the "great" recruiting class of '08 ( mainly the WR's ) are going to STEP UP !!! I have not seen ANY improvement from that group , as a matter of fact , I think they were better as Freshman ! The loss to FSU was unacceptable from top to bottom . Beaten in ALL facets of the game . Loses do happen & I did not think this team would go unbeaten , but to " lay an egg " against an in-state & conference rival is unacceptable . Shannon has done some good things , but if this team ends up 5-3 ( or worse ) in the ACC , something must be done .

  18. You know what really sucks? It's the first week of the BCS Rankings, and we're already not a factor. I know technically we can still win the ACC, but right now what makes me think we could do that? The last few years we've been in the same situation, control our own destiny, only to spit the bit. I have no reason to believe we won't do the same this year. So the BCS Countdown Show is on and I have nothing to look forward to, after we laid an egg last night. That hurts.

    We need to be at a stage where ALL positions are up for competition. It's not Jacory's fault we had 3 QB's transfer, but at the same time…why does this not happen at other schools as often? I think if all positions had someone pushing them for playing time, we'd be in a better spot.

    Recruiting needs to step up starting right now. We definately need a second QB in this class -with some real size.

    I am disgusted and pissed off.

    -Columbus Cane

  19. Call me CrAzY , but if that team shows up again we are looking at a6-6 season ! Let's look at the schedule : Duke-W , UNC-L? , UVa- L? ( This is the game that might REALLY get Shannon in trouble . UVa should be an easy win . Not so fast my friend ! Even though the Cavaliers have been losing games , they are playing with pride and passion . Believe me , other than VA Tech there is no team that they would rather beat . They WILL come to play on 10/30 ! ) Maryland -W , GT – L? , VT – L? , USF – W . Looks like 6-6 , 7-5 to me . That would be a big step back for this program . Harris , as well as many of the other " stellar " '08 recruits , are just not panning out . I really want to believe in Shannon and my Canes , but there are far too many questions than answers in year 4 of the Shannon era . AllCanes Blogger , I enjoy your blogs , and sometimes you do make me rethink some of my knee-jerk reactions , but other coaches have done more with less and in a shorter period of time than Shannon has done in 3 1/2 years ( Brian Kelley @ Cinn comes to mind & look @ what O'Brien is starting to do @ NCST (5-1) ) . Something that you have brought up many times is the mess Coker left and his bad recruiting / developement of players . Well , let's start to look at what Shannon has done with " his guys " . Harris is as erratic as they come . Which receiver has improved in the last 3 years ? I will give you Hankerson , but he got a lot of help from Mark Duper or Clayton on his own . Is Aldarius Johnson even on the team any more ??? Byrd looks like he can play , but is NEVER thrown to . Benjamin looks " lost " this year and I never see any of the others even in the game ! My point is that , as of 10/10/10 , has Randy Shannon REALLY done any better ?

  20. So I am curious what excuses you have this week for our awful performance. Is it the usual that we need another year. I cant wait to hear what you have to say.

  21. LOL. I love all the idiot Shannon haters. Seriously, just go root for someone else, your effing annoying. This team just got beat by a better football team. Period. Thats on the 11 guys on offense and the 11 guys on defense. Shannon and Co are not the ones out there making, or not making the tackles and catches. They arent the ones getting blown up in the trenches, thats on the players. These guys just didnt come to play. There really isnt anything more to it than that. You can hate on Shannon all you want, but all it does is make you look foolish. He's not going anywhere nor could this team even lure any major head coach to come here. UM doesn't have the money and doesn't have the facilities, so honestly, its just better if you just shut up.

  22. Done supporting Randy. Will never jump off the wagon though. Let's fix this AD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. wrote:

    "Miami / Florida State recap coming Sunday afternoon"…

    It's already Monday night and still no recap???

  24. III 47 III:

    It's ridiculous to suggest that our money/facilities will hinder us in any way from being all we can be…

    Didn't stop us from building the greatest DYNASTY of all time in the 80s and early 90s, and from building the GREATEST TEAM of all time in the first year of the 21st century.

    If time and time again the players don't step up, it does fall on the coach who recruits them and trains them.

  25. To: IIII 47 IIII & All Canes

    First off I'm a big fan of this blog and have been a Randy supporter since he took over. But I believe the remainder of this season should determine if he keeps his job. I'm not one of the fools who says FIRE HIM NOW! No, wait until the end of THIS season, then evaluate the situation. I have respect for your opinions and your loyalty to Randy, and this program. Nobody should question your desire to not want to see UM back at the top. However, After ANOTHER display like this past one. Shannon seat should at least be getting a little warm.

    TO IIII 47 IIII I will not jump off the bandwagon b/c I'm a Cane for life. I've also supported Randy but I'm at the point where if he doesn't get us to the ACCCG something must change. No, Shannon can't go out on the field and play but it's up to him to rally the team, since it's apparent there are no on-field leaders (Reed, Morgan, or Dorsey) playing. But at least the team DID rally around Coker in his final weeks. The win over BC to become bowl eligible and the win in the bowl. That was right after the Pata murder! That team had every reason to quit but Coker rallied them. We'll see with Randy on the hot-seat if this team will rally around him. I hope so with all my heart but if not, a change must be made. I would rather have average talent and a bunch of busts – who play hard (with Coker), than good talent, fewer busts but quit and show no emotion, desire, or on-field leadership. If we're gonna go 8-4 every year at least give me a group of guys who bust their ass every week! Let's face it Coker was a poor recruiter but a decent gameday coach. Shannon a slightly better recruiter (considering all the busts and the drop in recr classes rankings every year)and a lousy motivator and gameday coach. Shannon ran off two possible( but not great)starters in Freeman & Marve. Then two quality backups in Cook & Smith. So I dont understabd the blogger continuing to blame Coker for Jacory picks due to no depth at QB. We had depth but RS ran them off when he crowned J12 king of Miami the day he stepped on campus. Besides RS has had four years to recruit QB's and he hasn't. Almost trying not to offend J12. Not to mention he has burned recruiting bridges at several south Fla schools due to the fact that any recruit knows that RS favors his MNW boys and those kids run the show at UM.

  26. cont…

    As for the #1 recruiting class…those rankings included the 2 QB's that transferred but mainly Arthur Brown & Thearon Collier. Two guys that rubbed Randy the wrong way and are now gone. C'mon Collier getting kicked off the team for missing a few classes after a tragic death in his family. Yet Marve gets arrested and sits one game. WHY? We had plenty of depth at WR but none at QB so look who got the second chance. Why didn't Collier get a suspension like Marve? He was booted right off and wasn't even arrested?

    And Arthur Brown a 5* recruit, #1 MLB in HS but never saw the playing field. You mean he was that much worse than a Glen Sharpton or a converted Collin McCarthy. All CM is good for these days is weekly 15yd personal foul or Unsportsmanlike Con, throw in a handful of missed tackles (going for the decleater too much) or taking bad angles and his one or two TFL's. Don't think Brown could have been so bad that he never saw the field behing Sharpton. Sharpton? OMG! Or so bad we'd rather convert CM to MLB. Just another guys who RS didn't like for whatever reason.

    While I'm on this rant I'm sick of hearing Shannon blame T3 for Harris' picks. RS has destroyed the kids confidence just like Arthur Brown.

    And with all the criticism of Coker we forget that Shannon was part of that staff that wrecked the program. When Coker cleaned house after the LSU debacle, Shannon was one guy who was kept around. That proves RS was the #2 man in the Coker heirarchy and deserves some of the blame for the decline. If we brought in an outside guy instead of Shannon then he should have 4-5 years. But RS was there and played a huge factor during the fall and for some reason he escaped all criticism. Shannon appears to be no different Coker, the man who gave RS the DC job. That proves RS was part of the Coker inner-circle and even his #2. If a president is voted out after ruining the country do you think his vice-president should become president and be pardoned from everything that happened under their admin's watch? HELL NO!

    I mean I've seen this team digress in ways we did under Coker. Remember in 2008 when our late game clock management was horrible but we used youth and Nix as scapegoats? Now, I saw the same thing at the end of the first half vs FSU. Granted the refs missed a PI but to run 10 sec off between each play then leave a TO in your pocket going into halftime. That drive alone set us back two years.

  27. LifelongCaneFan , U are right about Shannon . The fact that he , for what ever reason , ( I guess because he played for the Canes ) always avoided any blame during the Coker years makes absolutly no sense ! Do you really think all recruiting decisions were made by Coker ! Come on !!! I hope Shannon can turn this around , but 6-6 or 7-5 is NOT getting the job done .

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