Preview: Miami at Florida State

Monday, September 7th will mark the first time since the 2006 season that the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes will lock up for a Labor Day show down.  The 2006 match up was less than stellar, as the two teams combined for 310 total yards as the ‘Noles edged out the ‘Canes 13-10.

This year’s contest is much more likely to resemble last year’s game in Land Shark Stadium, in which the ‘Noles defeated Miami 41-39 in a monsoon in south Florida.  That is because, despite the dominant defenses that both programs have boasted in the past, it is the offenses of each team that seem ready to shine this season.  In this edition of College Footblog, we will break down the two teams and make a prediction for the game.


Florida State had the youngest offensive line in the nation last year, starting three freshmen and two sophomores. 

Ponder will try to lead the 'Noles to a second-straight victory over the 'Canes on Monday

Ponder will try to lead the 'Noles to a second-straight victory over the 'Canes on Monday

Despite their youth, the fiesty O-line paved the way for the ACC’s second ranked offense, only eight yards shy of Georgia Tech’s league-leading 4,842 total yards in 2008 (

This year, that same offensive line will be the strength of the Seminole football team and should only boast improved numbers in 2009.  Redshirt junior quarterback, Christian Ponder also returns, and FSU will have much more depth at running back this season, highlighted by sophomore Jermaine Thomas, who was second on the team in rushing in 2008 with 482 yards and 7.0 yards per carry.

Miami’s offense will should see more production from sophomore Jacory Harris, who will no longer be splitting time with Robert Marve, who, last spring, transferred to Purdue.  Harris’ success, however, will depend largely on an offensive line that features three seniors and two juniors.  Other than four year starter, Jason Fox, however, the overall production is a bit of a question mark.  Accompanying Harris in the backfield will be a nice one-two punch of Graig Cooper and Javarris James.

Big Edge:  FSU 


Senior DE Eric Moncur will look to silence FSU's running attack

Senior DE Eric Moncur will unfortunately miss this year's match up due to injury

Defensively, the ‘Canes appear to have more depth and experience than FSU.  Senior DE, Eric Moncur will likely miss Monday’s showdown due to injury, putting more pressure on senior linebacker Daryll Sharpton and super sophomore linebacker, Sean Spence.  Despite this, UM should still be a smarter, more disciplined defense this season.  Their secondary, however, has a lot to prove after last season.  The ‘Canes spent the spring trying to find the right combination in the defensive backfield, at one time even switching a wide receiver to CB.

FSU has a couple major holes to fill as well with the departures of CB Tony Carter and SS Myron Rolle.  Through spring and summer practices, no one has stepped up and established himself as the unquestioned starter at either of those positions.  Also, Everette Brown, who was selected in the second round of the NFL draft last spring is no longer lining up at DE.  This could be somewhat offset, though, because there is much more experience and depth at defensive tackle and all three linebacker positions this season.

Slight Edge:  Miami



Special Teams

Miami returns place kicker Matt Bosher who was good for 18 field goals last year, and Florida State has the daunting task of not only replacing Lou Groza Award winning kicker, Graham Gano, they will likely do so with true freshman Dustin Hopkins.

Travis Benjamin was a huge homerun threat as a kick returner last year, and he should provide some big plays again in 2009.  FSU, on the other hand, must replace one of the top returners in all of college football last year,  in Michael Ray Garvin, who averaged just over 30 yards per kick return in 2008.  FSU does have a few young players who could fill that void in redshirt freshman, AJ Alexander and true freshmen, Greg Reid and Chris Thompson.

Slight Edge:  Miami

Prediction:  Each team has some question marks on defense, particularly in the secondary, and based on the history of this rivalry, Florida State does not want this game to come down to a field goal, especially with a freshman kicker.  The ‘Noles do have a significant advantage on offense, and if they can establish a running game early, Miami could be in trouble.  In the end, I see this one close, but not by a field goal, and I give a slight advantage to FSU due to the running game and the fact that this game is in Tallahassee.

FSU  over Miami, 31-24


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