Once again, the Seminoles are victors over “Da U.” Dalvin Cook ran for 222 yards, despite re-aggravating his hamstring injury, and Everett Golson was one again turnover free to lead the Seminoles to a 29-24 victory in Doak Campbell Stadium. This marks the 6th straight victory over the Canes and Jimbo Fisher is still undefeated versus Miami since taking over as head coach.
This game was defined by the play of Dalvin Cook. After leaving last week’s game early with a hamstring injury, Cook was able to start this game and broke off a 72-yard touchdown run on his first carry and then scored on a 36-yard pass on his third touch of the game. Later in the game, Cook scampered free for a 35-yard gain, but pulled up at the end and grabbed his hamstring, clearly affected by it. If not for the hamstring, Cook would have easily housed that carry for another touchdown. But the trainers did a very nice job of stretching him out and Cook was able to return to the game.
Like last year, it was Cook again who saved the day, breaking free for a 23-yard touchdown run to put the ‘Noles up 29-24. Cook finished the day with 222 yards on 22 carries and 3 total touchdowns, good for a 10.1 average PER carry! It was the best performance for a Florida State running back versus the Hurricanes in the history of the rivalry. Dalvin Cook is a very special player and his performance in this game only served to solidify the fact that he is probably the most talented running back to ever play at Florida State.
Meanwhile, Everett Golson completed his fifth straight game without a turnover and had a very solid day through the air. Jimbo called a very nice game, giving Everett some rollout passes and designed quarterback runs in order to take full advantage of his athleticism. Golson finished the day with 291 yards through the air and a touchdown to Cook. Kermit Whitfield was the top receiver with 9 catches for 95 yards and should have had a touchdown as well, but didn’t manage to secure the catch in the end zone.
On the other side of the ball, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya had a career day through the air against Florida State, throwing for 405 yards and 3 touchdowns without a turnover. However, the ‘Noles were without starting linebacker Terrance Smith, safety Nate Andrews was dealing with a bone bruise, and starting star backer Trey Marshall was ejected for a targeting penalty early on in the game. Overall, you have to give credit to Kaaya for his performance tonight. The Miami run game only managed 20 total yards of rushing, so Kaaya was the majority of their offense. He made some clutch throws on third down, extended drives and took advantage of mismatches in coverage. Stacey Coley consistently bear Tyler Hunter throughout the night and Kaaya was smart enough to recognize this. Miami’s receivers also made some good plays and made some very clutch catches as well.
Florida State’s defensive secondary was exposed tonight. Jalen Ramsey might have been pushed on the long touchdown he gave up, but also gave up first down catches and missed a key opportunity for a pick on a drive Miami eventually turned into a touchdown. Marquez White also badly missed on a third down tackle. As stated before, Tyler Hunter was a major liability in coverage and was dominated by Stacey Coley throughout the night. Nate Andrews made some plays, but was limited by the bone bruise that should have kept him out of the game. Overall, it was a tough night for the secondary, but they were up against the best quarterback they might face all year in Brad Kaaya.
But it was the play of the defensive line that highlighted the night. They only registered two sacks, but consistently pressured Kaaya throughout the game. Demarcus Walker had both sacks and a forced fumble (which Miami unfortunately recovered) and had several batted balls as well. Giorgio Newberry continued his amazing year with several pressures and batted balls as well. Finally, true freshman Josh Sweat might not have blown up the stat sheet, but his presence on the field certainly affected the play. Once he gets back to full strength and gets his quickness back, he will be tough to stop.
Florida State pulls out the win and sends Miami packing with yet another loss in this rivalry. For the ‘Noles, it was a spectacular offensive performance in Tallahassee in front of a ton of major recruits. They should have some serious momentum going forward and face struggling Louisville next week in a noon game. For Miami, they drop their second game of the season and have a major buzz kill after this one. Virginia Tech is next week, but they face Clemson in two weeks in Coral Gables. Miami has had a history of underachieving after a Florida State loss, so these next two weeks will be critical for the ‘Canes.
Credit to Joe Rondone of the Tallahassee Democrat for the header image.