CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – It’s Florida State week for the Miami Hurricanes.
The 13th ranked Hurricanes (3-0) are favored by a field goal at unranked (1-2) FSU, but it’s a matchup Miami has not won since 2009. The Hurricanes have lost seven straight in this series, a streak that has spanned over three ‘Canes head coaches.
Mark Richt, who coached at Florida State under Bobby Bowden from 1990 to 2000, will try and become the first Miami head coach since Randy Shannon to knock off the ‘Noles.
“It’s just two great teams going at each other,” Richt said of the rivalry. “The series is lopsided [recently] but the scores haven’t really been that lopsided all the time. A lot of close games as of late, but not any that Miami has won, obviously. You prepare for a team that you know that you have to battle every snap. You have to scrap for everything you get. That’s kind of how we go into most all of our games.”
To help win these battles, Miami will look for a strong performance from leading rusher Mark Walton. FSU has out-rushed Miami in four of the past five meetings, and the team who performs better on the ground typically wins this game.
Walton has dealt with soreness since rolling his left ankle in the Toledo game, but will definitely be on the field against the Seminoles.
“He did alright,” Richt said of Walton’s participation in Tuesday’s practice. “He’s going to play. Like last week, unless there’s a setback, we’ll believe he’ll play.”
And so will wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, who made his 2017 debut in the win over Duke after dealing with a hamstring injury.
“He practiced. He looked good,” said Richt.
Richards looked better than good against Duke. In Miami’s 31-6 win, Richards caught three passes for 106 yards, including a 49 yard touchdown. He had another touchdown catch called back for a penalty.
Miami’s defense will look to be disruptive and take advantage of a struggling Florida State offensive line. Wake Forest recorded seventeen tackles-for-loss and five sacks against FSU last week. While true freshman quarterback James Blackman is maturing each week, he isn’t getting any help from his pass protection.
“I just hope we can have that kind of production,” noted Richt. “It’d be nice. You have to take your hat off to Wake Forest’s defense – they did a super job. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good front seven, but we have to prove it. You have to prove it every week. I’m sure they’ll be getting better at what they do and making adjustments. We have to make sure we play as hard as we’re supposed to play, play in the gaps we’re supposed to play in and get after people.”
Miami had their best defensive performance of the year so far in their win at Duke. They didn’t surrender a single touchdown, and created five sacks with eleven tackles-for-loss.
They’ll need to be at least that good, if not better, against Florida State. Big defensive plays can help take a crowd out of the game, and the fans at Doak Campbell Stadium always come strong when Miami is in town.
“It’ll be loud,” said Richt. “There’s no doubt. But once it gets a certain amount of loudness, it doesn’t really matter. Once you have to go non-verbal communication, it doesn’t matter if there’s 20,000 [fans] or 80,000 doing it. But they definitely have a great atmosphere. The thing the noise does, or the crowd does, is usually it encourages when they do something great and accentuates if we don’t do something well.”
Kickoff for (13) Miami at Florida State is set for 3:30 PM on Saturday, October 7th from Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. You can hear the game on 560 WQAM.