Five Reasons to Like the Canes Win Over Florida State

Miami destroyed Florida State 52-10 on Saturday night. And while it was challenging to find just 5 things to like, unlike FSU, I chose to rise to the challenge:

  1. 52-10. Remember when this used to be a rivalry? I do, we all do. And it still is! The Canes beat their biggest rival by 42 points. Frankly, I try not to just put the score in here, but FSU’s obvious deficiencies are obfuscating how big of a deal this is. The series since the 90s has been categorized by periods of dominance oscillating back-and-forth, with each school going on long win streaks multiple times. But even in those streaks, the games tend to be competitive. And even less rare is consecutive blowouts. Last year’s 17-point win in Tallahassee resulted in Willie Taggart’s firing. The Canes won this game by TWENTY FIVE more points than that. This performance was legendary and we shouldn’t lose sight of that in the aftermath of the dumpster fire in Tallahassee.
  2. Offensive Physical Domination. We’ve heard a lot about Rhett Lashlee’s offensive pace. We’ve heard a lot about “spread” being used as a generic term, often used to imply this team is just going to wing the ball all over the place. And Lashlee is playing faster, although he is changing pace a lot to keep defenses off balance versus just running hurry up on every play. And yes, D’Eriq King is spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, with 8 WRs catching passes in the 1st quarter alone. But a less talked about change is the change up front. I personally have lambasted the lackluster offensive line play for years. And the unquestioned strength of this FSU team is their defensive line, touted by some as one of the best in college football. If FSU was going to compete, it would be by dominating this matchup.

    The Miami offensive line destroyed FSU. 200 yards, 5.4 YPC, 4 rushing TDs, no sacks allowed, and no QB hurries for the  Seminoles. Complete domination. Incredible performance from the Canes’ front line, the much maligned front line. Garin Justice has worked wonders with this group.
  3. Bubba Bolden. I have to talk about the Canes’ safety for the second week in a row. Once again, he showed himself to be one of the best safeties in the country. There were 2 highlight plays, a deflection leading to an Al Blades, Jr. interception and an interception of his own later, but on every play Bolden is quick to diagnose the play and rally to the tackle, quick to diagnose a pass and break on the ball. On a field full of athletes, Bolden seems to be playing at a different speed. The physical ability is there, but the mental aspects of his game are eye popping. Last year, he was injured celebrating a late interception against FSU, which cost him the rest of the season and possibly facilitated the Canes’ late season implosion. This year, his performance guaranteed that no such drama was necessary, and as he grabbed a much deserved 4th quarter interception, the game was so out of hand he didn’t need to celebrate.
  4. The Defense Hit. Both defenses started the game slow, with the game commencing with back-to-back long drives. FSU’s defense folded from there. Miami’s flexed. Yes, there is a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball. The Canes gave up over 300 yards to one of the worst teams in the country. And there were some mental lapses, missed gaps, and plenty that will need to be cleaned up. But the big positive here is the Canes responded to giving up a long FG drive by getting enraged, almost offended that the Seminoles were on the same field as them. When the Seminoles offense took the field again, this time trailing 14-3, the game reached it’s first (and ultimately last) inflection point. This was either going to turn into a shootout or the Canes were going to win in a blowout, with FSU’s defense looking clueless. That drive? Run for 4 yard loss, Run for 5 yard loss. False Start. Give up play for 15 yards on 3rd and 29. Punt. Game over.

    And then they started to eat. And eat. And eat. The Canes ended the night with 3 interceptions, 6 sacks, and 13 Tackles For Loss, physically toying with the Seminoles. On the rare occasions FSU did manage to move the ball, it ended poorly. It wasn’t a perfect defensive performance, but it was a physically imposing one.
  5. Offensive Perfection. While the defense wasn’t perfect, the offense was as close to perfection as you can get. There were 4 possessions where the Canes did not score a TD: (1) The end of the half where they ran out of time and kicked a FG, (2) A fumble while driving in the 3rd quarter, (3) A punt on the first possession with all the backups in, and (4) Kneeling the ball at the end of the game. All 7 other possessions were TDs, and 3 of the 4 that weren’t had extenuating circumstances or there was a reasonable chance those also end in TDs.

    As impressive as the top line was, it only gets more impressive when you dig deeper. This was a masterclass from Rhett Lashlee, who through 3 games has shown a keen ability to quickly to adjust to whatever a defense is doing and counter it. Lashlee has all the tools in his toolbelt, play fast, play slow, run, pass, misdirection…he seems to not have a preference for any one thing, settling for whatever is working at that point in time. But in this game, everything worked. Miami put up 517 yards, with 200 on the ground and 317 through the air, an amazing level of balance. They actually won the time of possession battle. This game was a symphony, and Lashlee was conducting a masterpiece of his own writing with D’Eriq King as first chair. It’s really rare that everything clicks like this, and Saturday was one of those nights. And what a night it was.

Vishnu Parasuraman is a contributor for @FiveReasonsSports and generally covers the Miami Hurricanes. You can follow him on twitter @vrp2003

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