Miami's achilles heel since the beginning of the Shannon era has been execution in all four quarters. There hasn't been a complete game to speak of and now coming off a loss where there was a clear and distinct break down and lack of execution will put the focus once again on the Hurricanes personnel to execute. Last week versus the Tar Heels, Miami allowed two fourth quarter scores and couldn't stay on the field on offense when time was against North Carolina. Despite that, the Hurricanes still had a chance for the win late in the fourth quarter, but it was halted with a Robert Marve interception. It is all about executing and the Hurricanes need to prove they can do it for four quarters.
Why you need to watch? It is Miami v. Florida State...when hasn't a game come down to the final frame in recent years? Despite the records, despite the talent on the team, FSU v. Miami ALWAYS delivers a tough played game. It is always akin to two heavyweights trading blows deep into the final rounds of a fight.
2. Miami's Defensive Backs
After last week's loss to the Tar Heels, the Hurricane defensive backs received the bulk of the scrutiny. Miami currently has the 78th best passing defense in college football and just allowed a career game for a third string quarterback in Cam Sexton. Things can't get much worse...can they? Florida State will roll out Christian Ponder at quarterback with his foil, D'Vontrey Richardson. Ponder is the pro style quarterback and Richardson the dual threat. With the likes of WR Preston Parker back in the lineup after a suspension, the Hurricanes will be tested on deep routes, which they've struggled against this season. Why you need to watch? Miami's weakest personnel grouping will be testest vertically. The big strike is only a play away unless the Miami DBs step up their game.
3. Third Downs
Despite an 8-for-16 effort on third downs last week versus North Carolina, the Hurricanes still came up short in the 28-24 loss. They'll need another performance like that to have a chance to win. Miami has improved on third down offense from last season. Last year's 33% efficiency on third downs is inexcusable and is the mark of a bad football team, but this years 40% effort on third downs shows improvement in all facets of the game. Still, to win, the magic number is 50%. Also, Miami's defense has struggled on third downs allowing an unacceptable 46% on third downs. Against the Tar Heels, the Hurricanes allowed three touchdowns on 3rd and long situations.
Why you need to watch? Coupled with the fourth quarter, Miami needs to convert third downs to win, period.
4.> Robert Marve and Miami's Pass Protection.
When can't Florida State rush the passer? The Seminoles average four sacks per game this year and Miami is missing their starting right tackle in Reggie Youngblood who is out of the game with an injury. Miami's offensive line has been a disappointment this season, but all is not lost as they have flashed great play. Early in the game they've been able to move the football running the football and protect the quarterback. But as the game has worn on, the offensive line has fallen apart. Holes closed quickly and sacks were allowed, late. Robert Marve will be the featured player for the Hurricanes as they are expected to test the Florida State defense deep. However, it hasn't been a wrinkle Hurricanes offensive coordinator Patrick Nix has shown thus far.
Why you need to watch?
You are watching the development of the future of Miami football in Robert Marve who has shown legit moxie as the Hurricanes starting quarterbacks. For Florida State, forcing Marve to turn the football over will be key. That'll start up front with the pass rush.
5. Antone Smith.
Hurricane fans remember him vividly. The former Pahokee HS star is in his senior season with the Seminoles and comes into the game with 306 yards on 53 carries and has 6 total touchdowns. Last season, he had a big game versus the Hurricanes he had 114 yards on 22 carries in a 37-29 loss. He is a fast, dynamic playmaker, but the Miami Hurricane defensive line could have the advantage as they sport the 7th rated rushing defense in college football and Florida State has three true freshmen that play significant time on the offensive line.
Why you have to watch? There may not be a more hated former recruit prospect in the land then former Pahokee HS running back Antone Smith who spurned the Hurricanes for Florida State on Signing Day four years ago. Miami recruitniks would like nothing more then the last laugh.