FSU was a perfect 7-0.
Miami was an imperfect 7-0.
And there was the difference. One program can say they are back. The other one is better but still trying to find their way.
At times Miami was game. They brought a little pressure in Jameis Winston’s face and forced him into two interceptions. Stephen Morris showed his impressive accuracy on the deep ball in the first half. Duke Johnson ran as tough as ever. Still Miami was completely overmatched in a 41-14 loss to the Florida State.
One particular incident stood out. After a play Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo and FSU offensive line Bobby Hart stayed on the turf to discuss their Thanksgiving plans. Obviously the discussion was getting heated because both men started grabbing each other’s face masks. As the officials stepped in to break up the conference both teams got a little emotional and there was a little idle shoving but nothing big.
Then camera showed much of the Miami sidelines sorta kinda threatening to intervene. Nothing happened and we didn’t see a shot of the FSU sidelines and it’s a good thing because they were probably trying not to laugh. I give Miami credit for improving and gutting out some games they might have lost last year. But they aren’t the least bit intimidating.
There was no Warren Sapp. No Ray Lewis. Heck there was no Brandon Meriweather or Anthony Reddick there to swing a helmet. Nothing at all to fear. I respect Miami’s talent and athleticism. They have some good players in the program. But the intimidation factor wasn’t present last night and it hasn’t been present for a while.
With the NCAA cloud removed it’s time for Al Golden to find some “head busters” on defense. FSU has guys like Timmy Jernigan, Christian Jones, Lamarcus Joyner, Jalen Ramsey and Mario Edwards; Florida has Dante Fowler, Ronald Powell, Antonio Morrison, Vernon Hargraves…guys that make you think twice about coming in their direction.
Miami doesn’t have those guys and they won’t truly be back until they do. Last night Florida State toyed with Miami’s defense until they decided it was time to beat them into submission. Devonta Freeman, a product of the talent-rich Miami-Dade prep football region, ran up, down and through Miami’s defense all with a smile on his face.
When he needed a break, FSU had Karlos Williams and James Wilder – two guys that look as if they came straight out of a body building magazine – were more than willing to punish the Hurricanes some more. Would those FSU running backs been as eager to run on a line anchored by Sapp, Vince Wilfork, Russell Maryland or even Rusty Medaris? Probably not.
The answer will be in recruiting. The man with the orange tie will have to start convincing the top defensive players in the southeast to try out Miami. They need the next Jadeveon Clowney, the next Robert Nkemdiche or the next Dominique Easley. If not there will be more nights like Saturday when the big, bad Seminoles show up on the schedule.