Keys For The 'Canes

Winning on the road at Florida state hasn't happened in a decade for the Hurricanes.

Start Strong
This is easily Miami's toughest game on the road this year. It is a rivalry game. Doak Campbell will be rocking from the start and there is no bigger key for Miami than to start strong both offensively and defensively. If Miami can put points on the board early and hold Florida State and accumulate a lead things will be much easier for them the rest of the afternoon.

The Penn State game was somewhat similar to this weekend's game. No one knew at the time how good Penn State was (most of us do now - not very) and with all of the hype surrounding the game Miami played a near perfect first half to go in at the half 30-0 and the game was over. I certainly do not think Miami will be able to build a half time lead like that on the ‘Noles, but if we can play with the same intensity we did in that first half in Happy Valley, Miami could be in good shape.

If Miami is unable to get the lead early it could be a long day as the Florida State team and the crowd will both gain intensity and momentum. Miami has started well this year by scoring at least 17 points in the first half of each game. If they can be in that range Saturday they should be set up for the second half well.

Protect The Middle On Defense
Jonathan Vilma and company must step up big this Saturday.
Jonathan Vilma and company must step up big this Saturday.
Chris Rix is an excellent athlete and is a young QB. Sometimes that can be ominous for a defense as a QB like this can just tuck the ball and take off and get big yardage consistently. Miami not only needs to pressure Rix, and try to rattle him, they also need to keep him under wraps and not allow him to run into the open field and pick up valuable yardage.

Miami has been susceptible to a lot of underneath runs this year as the linebackers are inexperienced for the most part. Miami must do a much better job keeping a spy on Rix and not allowing him to hurt us by scrambling. If Miami can make him a pocket passer and maintain excellent coverage we have a good chance of having him try to do too much and forcing throws resulting in turnovers and incompletions.

Miami has also shown vulnerability on defense when the opposing offense has spread the field. The linebacker play from Miami must improve dramatically in this game as Florida State has the athletes to make big plays if Miami does not play smart, disciplined defense. D.J. Williams is back from a high ankle sprain he sustained in the Pittsburgh game and he must play well in this game for Miami to be successful.

Offensive Line Must Dominate
OL has to give Dorsey time to spread the ball around.
OL has to give Dorsey time to spread the ball around.
Miami has not allowed a sack this year and only allowed eight all of last year. Miami is as good as they have ever been on the offensive line and Florida State is both young and injured on the defensive line. This should add up to a no-brainer correct? Not in my mind. This combination leads many to believe Miami will try to attack with the running game and wear down the Seminole's defense as they do not have the depth they would like. Mickey Andrews has had two weeks to prepare and I can see him stacking the line of scrimmage with enough people to shut down the running game, forcing Miami to beat them with "unproven" receivers.

Ken Dorsey is as good as it gets as far as composure in the pocket. He will not be rattled into throwing balls up for grabs or making bad decisions. Nonetheless Florida State will try to get to him and play very aggressive on defense. If Florida State stays back and plays zone there is no way the defensive line alone can get consistent pressure on Dorsey and he will pick apart the Seminoles all day.

Miami's offensive line must play the game of the year to give Dorsey time and to also open up lanes for the running game. Center Brett Romberg said just the other day, after watching last year's Miami-FSU game, that he couldn't believe how "nasty" Miami looked. If he and the other offensive linemen play that way again this Saturday, Miami will be very tough to stop on offense.

Play A "Tight" Game
By this I mean play sound football and take advantage of opportunities and eliminate mistakes. In the four blow out wins so far this year Miami has seemed almost bored at times and has lost concentration. Receivers need to eliminate dropped balls. Running backs need to avoid costly fumbles. Dorsey and the receivers need to be on the same page at all times.

Also, Miami needs to avoid costly penalties. Miami has accumulated almost 11 penalties per game this year and many of them are avoidable. A penalty for playing aggressive such as jumping off-sides is understandable but if Miami is going to win this game on the road in a hostile environment there can be no ridiculous personal fouls, etc.

If Miami can do these things and be clicking on all cylinders they will control their destiny in this game. If they do not and they do things to help the ‘Noles gain momentum it will be a long day for ‘Cane fans.

Play With Passion
There is not one more key factor to this game for Miami. Miami needs to play with fire in their bellies and take it to the ‘Noles. If Miami plays with supreme confidence and is flying around to the ball they will win this game. If they are flat and unemotional (extremely doubtful) the ‘Noles will sense this as will the crowd and all momentum could be lost.

Many players for both schools came to play in games like this. Whoever is hungrier will win and that is where Miami needs to step up and be the nastiest team on the field Saturday.

I think this is going to be a very tough game for Miami. Much of the media has written off the Seminoles and, though they are very depleted across the roster, it is still Florida State and it is still in Doak Campbell. I think Miami has enough leaders on the team to get the job done, but only if they play a full game and at 110%.

Miami 34 FSU 24

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