Preview: Miami/FSU

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder is coming off two big games against Miami, and the damage he has done to the Hurricanes' defense hasn't all been with his arm.

Two years ago Ponder rushed for a game-high 144 yards in FSU's 41-39 victory, which was just 10 yards short of his passing total.
Last year in Tallahassee, he was held to just 28 yards on the ground, but that still was the second most among FSU ball carriers. He threw for 294 and Miami won 38-34.
The senior has rushed for 108 yards in FSU's four games this year, and the threat he presents with his legs is something the Hurricanes must be aware of as they get ready to open the ACC portion of their schedule.
"They're designed run plays," coach Randy Shannon said of Ponder's dashes. "Speed option, quarterback power, block down, kick out having someone lead in front of him, trying to get you thinking it's a pass and they run the football, just trying to get you.
"When they do those type of things you've got to be prepared for them and understand what they're trying to get done.
"We've got to prepare for those things because we had them happen to us against Ohio State."
The Buckets got 113 rushing yards from quarterback Terrelle Pryor in their 36-24 victory over the Hurricanes in the second game of the season.
"I think our guys learned from that," Shannon said, "and we've got to get better this weekend." It's not like defending an option attack when discipline is the key, Shannon said.
"You've got to get guys mind set," he said. "Yeah, it's third-down-and-eight and everybody wants to think pass, but you've got to stay focused. You can't just run out of there."
The game will be the first at home for the Hurricanes in a long while. The last time they were at Sun Life stadium was on Sept. 2, when they opened their season against Florida A&M. They have been on the road for their last three games, winning two to get to 3-1 on the season.
They will be quickly back on the road again in their next game, traveling to Duke.

--Two of Miami's top three receivers had nice games against Florida State last year. WR Leonard Hankerson, who leads the Hurricanes with 23 catches for 388 yards this year, had four receptions for 72 yards against the Semioles. WR Travis Benjamin, third on the team this season with 11 receptions for 165 yards, had four catches for a game-high 128 yards. But LaRon Byrd, who is No. 2 in receiving this year (12-118), did not have a catch against the Seminoles.
--In what would seem to be counter to conventional wisdom, the team with the most penalties has won 17 of the last 28 meetings between the Hurricanes and Seminoles. The team with the most penalty yardage has won 18 of 28 meetings since 1983 and at one time had won 13 straight in that span.
--The Hurricanes have continued to be a quick-strike scoring team. Three of their four touchdowns in the win over Clemson took a minute or less. Miami has 10 touchdown "drives" that have consumed under two minutes this season.

SERIES HISTORY: Miami leads Florida State 31-23 (last meeting, 2009, 38-34 Miami).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Miami is producing only 370.2 yards a game (ninth in the conference) but looked to be getting its running attack together in the win over Clemson. Moving Joel Figueroa to guard and starting freshman Seantrel Henderson at right tackle could pay big dividends. The problem for the Hurricanes is that they have a tendency to stop themselves. QB Jacory Harris has eight interceptions in his last three games and faces a Florida State defense that leads the nation in sacks with 5.0 per game. He had two picks against the Seminoles last year.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Miami ranks second in the country to FSU in sacks per game (4.25) and is first in the nation in tackles for loss with 10.5 per game. LB Sean Spence (8.0) and DE Olivier Vernon (6.0) are the leaders in tackles for loss. The Hurricanes rank only fourth in the conference against the run, however, giving up 130.8 yards per game to opposing rushers. The Hurricanes, who had only nine interceptions all of last year, have six already this season, including three against Clemson in their last outing.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "A lot these guys we played with in high school. A lot of these guys we know personally. Some of us are even related." -- CB Ryan Hill, on the rivalry between Miami and Florida State.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Florida State at Miami, Oct. 9 -- This game has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, but it has remained competitive and is back in the spotlight again. Since their stumble against Oklahoma (a 47-17 loss) in their second game, the Seminoles have won their last three outings and look like the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. With Miami in the Coastal, this could be the first of two meetings this year with the second in the ACC title game.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Pound the 'Noles with the running game. The Hurricanes rushed for 171 yards in their win over Clemson behind RBs Damien Berry (24 carries, 101 yards) Lamar Miller (7-53), and Mike James (5-31). The defensive front seven must keep the pressure on FSU QB Christian Ponder.

WR Leonard Hankerson -- A liability who had a reputation for big drops his first two years, Hankerson has played his way into a first-round draft pick in his senior year. He is fourth in the ACC in receptions per game (5.8) and second in receiving yardage (97.0), and he leads in touchdown catches with six after a three-TD day against Clemson.
LB Sean Spence -- Spence is the playmaker the Hurricanes have lacked on defense in recent years. He leads Miami in tackles with 38 stops, including 8.0 for losses (1.5 sacks). Spence had 34 tackles in Miami's last three games, all on the road (Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson). He also has broken up two passes and has forced a fumble.
CB Brandon Harris -- Harris made the defensive play of the game in the win over Clemson when he stopped the Tigers' Andre Ellington for no gain on a fourth-and-one deep in Miami territory with Miami up by only six points. His potential matchup with FSU WR Bert Reed (28-251) could be one of the keys to the game.

--RB Graig Cooper (ankle) is 50-50 at best, if that, to play against Florida State. He has not been in a game since the opener against Florida A&M.
--QB Jacory Harris (shoulder) is expected to be ready for the Seminoles. The injury is to his left (non-throwing) side.

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