FSU’s Defense Has to be Great to Make it Eight Straight

The long awaited match up between state rivals Florida State and Miami is finally happening this Saturday. The match up features an undefeated Miami team and a seemingly struggling Florida State team. Last year’s FSU vs. Miami game went down in history as one of the most exciting games in all of the meetings between the two teams. The wild, late comeback victory ended with a blocked extra point to seal the win for the Noles. Coined as the “Block at the Rock”, the game and that play will live on in FSU vs. Miami history forever. The victory stretched the win streak for FSU to seven straight wins against Miami, and they are looking to make it eight straight this weekend in Tallahassee.

The only thing I can think of that could keep Florida State from making it eight straight wins is all of the adversity they have had to face this season. With the changed schedule, loss of quarterback Deondre Francois, and all of the unavoidable injuries, a lot has happened already. But I still believe we have yet to see this Florida State team play to their full potential.

Stopping Miami’s Offense

One way the Noles will be able to win this game is if the defense steps up big time. In their first three games, FSU has allowed about 125 rushing yards per game and over 200 passing yards per game. These definitely are not the worst stats, but they do not match up to the expectation of how great FSU’s defense should be this year.

Although the Noles’ defense is doing well against the running game, the main concern comes from stopping their opponents’ ability to pass as much. FSU held Alabama to under 100 passing yards but allowed over 250 passing yards against both NC State and Wake Forest. This needs to be changed immediately if they want to earn the win this weekend.

Miami’s starting running back, Mark Walton, has been successful so far this year averaging 9.2 yards per play with 403 total rushing yards. Florida State will have to shut him down and not allow him to make the big plays. Keeping him to less than his average yards per play will significantly help FSU stay in the game and ultimately pull out the win.

Along with keeping Walton to a minimal amount of yards, the Noles’ defense needs to be creative and make explosive plays to decrease Miami’s chances of scoring. Florida State over the past three games has been pretty efficient holding back the run game, but the pass defense is what I am most nervous about. The defense will definitely be able to keep FSU in the game. But it could go downhill fast if they do not force turnovers and make some 3rd down stops throughout the game. Earning a few more interceptions would help out tremendously, especially since Kyle Meyers had FSU’s first and only interception of the season against Wake Forest last Saturday. Players like Meyers, Derwin James, and Tarvarus McFadden should be consistently making those explosive plays to force interceptions and turnovers every game. Doing so on Saturday against Miami and slowing their offense down will help FSU keep the winning streak alive.

The Effect of the Rivalry

Both Florida State and Miami are allowing over 300 total yards per game so I would expect this game to be high scoring for each team. But that will only end in Florida State’s favor if they are more capable of finishing when in the red zone and not relying on the defense to keep them in the game. Also not allowing another opponent, especially Miami, to have over 250 passing yards like in the last two games will help their chances out a lot. We need to see more out of the receivers and running backs doing their best to step up and help the new freshman quarterback, James Blackman. Doing so will create more scoring chances and allow FSU to make it eight straight wins against Miami.

The FSU-Miami game always makes the players perform to the highest of their abilities because of the rivalry. I do expect this will be a tough fought match between the two with all of the bragging rights as the reward. Will Florida State get out of this funk and at least make their way towards a winning season record? Or will they end up 1-3 and drop in the ACC Standings once again? Because we have not seen this team play to their full ability just yet, I believe a lot of questions will be answered this weekend as the Noles take on Miami in the annual rivalry matchup.

Haylee Blitch
Writer at NoleGameday covering Football and Baseball. Media and Communications Studies major at Florida State University.

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