FSU-Miami Preview: FSU Rushing VS UM's Front Seven

While FSU's quarterback situation has been – and will continue to be – the focal point of discussion leading up to the Sept. 5 showdown between Florida State and Miami, make no mistake about it; the Seminoles are going to be a run oriented team on opening night.

With proven veterans Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker carrying the ball for the Noles and several talented defensive stars holding positions for the Hurricanes, the game's key match-up will certainly be the Seminole rushing attack vs. the Miami front seven.

Coming off a true junior campaign that saw Washington lead the Seminoles in rushing yards (951), lead the conference in yards per game (95.1) and finish second in the NCAA in yards per carry with 6.9, the Jacksonville seems poised to step his game up a notch.

With a new offensive philosophy and a new offensive line coach directing a unit full of healthy players, Washington could see his production sky rocket this year.

"Our offense has definitely picked up compared to last year with a lot of new things we are doing," senior center and co-offensive captain David Castillo said. "We have guys that we did not have in the spring and not even last year. If guys are going to take us lightly, then we are going to go out there and show them we are still Florida State."

Against Miami, Florida State will rely on that offensive line to create holes against a defensive line that features talented tackles Orien Harris and Baraka Atkins. If the line can create any movement upfront, expect Washington to do as he has done throughout his entire career and exploit even the smallest of defensive holes.

If the Canes manage to stuff the run up the middle behind the play of Atkins and Harris, the Tribe may have to rely on running outside of the tackles to gain positive yardage. Booker has excelled in that department since arriving in Tallahassee from his native California. The shifty tailback will have to combat the presence of the Hurricanes' defensive ends, however, as Bryan Pata and Thomas Carroll comprise the rest of a very experienced unit.

Miami also happens to have a stable of talented linebackers that many consider to be close to the level of the Garnet and Gold's trio of all-star caliber players. Jon Beason and Romeo Davis are penciled in as starters at the moment while Tavares Gooden has been working on the first team in front of veteran strong side linebacker Rocky McIntosh, who has been hampered with an injury. Talented reserves Leon Williams and Willie Williams should see significant minutes against FSU.

While either Drew Weatherford or Xavier Lee will have an enormous amount of pressure placed upon their shoulders Monday night, the Seminole tailbacks along with the revamped offensive line will have to have very big game. Expect whoever wins this battle to be the victor when the fourth period comes to an end.

"I just want to go out there and win every game," Washington said. "If we win every game we'll be in the national championship. That's how I look at it."

That opportunity begins Labor Day.

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