Florida State Seminoles: Miami (FL) Hurricanes

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 21, 2014
Stanford this fall (again). Harvard this spring (again). Brains and brawn.

Five things: FSU vs. Miami

November, 2, 2013
It's the second top-10 matchup in three weeks for Florida State, and while the 22-point spread suggests it might not be that close of a contest, history suggests these rivalry games usually include a good bit of drama. In the 57 previous meetings between Florida State and Miami, just 35 total points separate the two sides. With that in mind, here are five areas to watch when the Seminoles and Hurricanes kick off tonight.

1. Florida State's defensive line: The last time the Seminoles played a true power-running team, Boston College jumped out to an early lead, ran for 200 yards in the game and scored 34 points (or roughly 40 percent of the points FSU has allowed all season). That performance gives Miami some hope, but the Seminoles' line has improved since then. Christian Jones is at defensive end full time, Mario Edwards Jr., who sat out against BC, is fully healthy, and the rest of the personnel are far more comfortable in Jeremy Pruitt's scheme. Timmy Jernigan said Miami's will be the best offensive line FSU has faced this year, though, and the Hurricanes will ask tailback Duke Johnson to carry a big chunk of the offensive load. If FSU can win the line of scrimmage on defense, it's going to be tough going for Miami.

2. Stephen Morris' mobility: It was just a month ago that Morris was considered one of the top NFL quarterback prospects in college football, and for good reason. He capped a strong 2012 season by averaging 10.3 yards per attempt with 11 TDs and no interceptions in his final four games. But Miami fans haven't seen the same Morris in recent weeks. An ankle injury has limited his mobility, and defenses have taken advantage. He has not moved well in the pocket, has been reluctant to run, and at times Morris hasn't delivered the ball with the same zip he used to. He insists the ankle feels as good as it has all year now, but FSU's aggressive defense will test that notion this week. If Morris can't avoid the blitz -- and the big hits -- Miami will be in trouble. So far this year, Morris has accounted for nine first-half TDs and just three turnovers, but as he -- and the O line -- wear down in games, he has struggled, with just one second-half TD to go with five turnovers.

3. Takeaways set the tone: Florida State leads the ACC in turnover margin. Miami is fourth. Both teams have used takeaways to secure big wins this year, too. Each of FSU's last two opponents turned over the ball on their first drive, and the Seminoles dominated from there. Miami's big win over Florida in September was predicated on the five takeaways the defense mustered. But in a battle of playmaking defenses, it might be the Florida State offense that proves to be the difference. FSU has coughed up the football only six times all year, less than half Miami's total (13) and the second fewest overall in the country.

4. Eliminate the clutter: Jimbo Fisher's mantra looms larger every week for Florida State, which is enjoying national attention after a 7-0 start. Normally, getting up for Miami -- particularly a No. 7-ranked Miami team -- wouldn't be tough, but it has been a full month of praise for the Seminoles, and the sizable point spread only underscores what a mismatch the general public thinks this week's game might be. So far, Fisher's crew has done a good job of shrugging off the attention and hype and keeping each game in perspective. But as the platitudes and point spreads get bigger, focusing on the details only becomes tougher.

5. Win on special teams: This goes without saying in a Miami-Florida State game, but special teams can make a big difference. And while it's entirely possible this game won't come down to another field goal try, it's also likely that if Miami is going to have a chance, it's because FSU allowed a big play or two on special teams. FSU ranks 12th in the conference in punting and 14th in punt coverage, which could open the door for the Hurricanes. Of course, Miami will need to slow Jameis Winston enough to force a few punts, and that hasn't happened often this season.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden was peppered with questions about the old days when he made his long-awaited return to Doak Campbell Stadium last week, and he was happy to indulge. But when asked for any advice he might pass along to Florida State's current coach, Bowden was reticent.

It's Jimbo Fisher's team now, Bowden said, and the new coach knows what he's doing. If pressed though, there were some words of wisdom Bowden said he might impart in advance of this week's meeting with Miami.

"I'd say, Jimbo, have a talk with your kicker, and tell him where that goalpost is," Bowden joked. "Tell him to stay away from that bar on the right."

That right goalpost, the bane of Bowden's coaching career.

[+] EnlargeRoberto Aguayo
Fred Kfoury III/Icon SMIRedshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo hasn't missed a kick in his young career ... but this is Miami week.
The mythology of missed kicks in this series has been told again and again -- each named for the direction they wandered and punctuated with a Roman numeral. It's Florida State's version of horror movie sequels, the villain that won't die.

Fans have been happy to remind Roberto Aguayo of the stories this week, too, but honestly, he didn't need the history lesson. The first three kicks predated his birth, of course, but he's well aware of what happened. The last wide right, in 2004, still stings.

Aguayo was at a friend's house. The rest of the crowd was comprised of Miami fans, Aguayo and his brother the lone Seminoles supporters. Xavier Beitia missed a potential game-winner, Florida State fell in devastating fashion, and Aguayo left the house in tears.

"It broke my heart," Aguayo said.

This week, he has done his best to ignore that lingering memory, along with the slew of reminders from fans still wounded from all the misses that came before. Misses, after all, aren't really part of Aguayo's vocabulary.

Through seven games, the redshirt freshman hasn't exactly been tested. He has lined up for just 10 field goals, none longer than 45 yards. He has worn out his leg booting extra points, 48 of them in all. It has been a bit frustrating, he said, because Jameis Winston and the offense simply haven't provided him with many chances for big kicks.

"I'll be getting ready, all warmed up kicking them into the net," Aguayo said. "Then he gets the first down, and I go back and sit down."

Still, Aguayo's debut season hasn't been without accolades. So far, he has lined up for 58 kicks in his career, and he has made every one of them.

Turns out, that's a school record for consecutive kicks made, though Aguayo wasn't exactly celebrating his place in history. He wasn't aware of the record at all until a fan approached him after last week's game with the news.

"I was like, 'OK, that's pretty cool,' " Aguayo said.

But for Aguayo, that record actually might be the most appropriate marker of his success. He is not interested in the pressure of a big moment or the length of a booming kick. His goal, he said, is to treat each kick the same -- whether it's one of those 48 PATs or a potential game-winner at the end of another close game against an in-state rival.

Yes, Aguayo knows the history. It's Miami week, which means the kicker will be a talking point for everyone from casual fans to a legendary former coach. But for Aguayo, the key to his success is that it's just another day at work.

"Every kick's a game-winning kick," he said. "That's how you've got to think about it. So when you get into that position, you've already kicked it a million times."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It's Rankings Week at Nole Nation, and each day we'll be counting down the top teams, players and matchups of the 2013 season. First up, a look at FSU's schedule.

1. Clemson Tigers (Oct. 19 in Clemson, S.C.): There are 11 other games on the schedule, and Florida State can't afford to overlook anyone. But for most fans and prognosticators, the 2013 season comes down to this one. FSU and Clemson figure to be playing for the division title, and Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and an improved Tigers defense will offer plenty of concerns for Jimbo Fisher's crew. The winner of this game has won the Atlantic Division in each of the last four seasons.

2. Florida Gators (Nov. 30 in Gainesville, Fla.): Last year's debacle in Tallahassee might have been FSU's ugliest game of the year, and the task won't get any easier this time around when the Seminoles close out the season on the road in Gainesville. If FSU can protect the football better than it did a year ago it has a chance, but that tough Gators defense might be the biggest test Jameis Winston will face all year.

Davis ready for spring ball 

April, 25, 2013
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Ryan Davis (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast) came to the IMG Academy with a purpose. He was out to prove he belonged.

It didn't take too long. Weaving in and out of would-be tacklers, Davis drew some appreciation from teammates and bystanders alike.

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James Coley's departure to Miami has already made an impact. Joseph Yearby (Miami/Central), a former Florida State commitment, switched to the Hurricanes since the change was made.

And now Coley is hoping it can happen again with wide receiver C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla./South Dade). Miami recently offered the Florida State commitment and gave him something new to think about.

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LB Kain Daub has two out in front 

February, 23, 2013

ESPN Watch List linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) is zeroing in on two programs.

A former commitment to LSU, the 6-foot-2, 243-pound linebacker is still looking at the SEC West, but also an ACC program.

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Watch List safety ready to reveal decision 

February, 20, 2013
ESPN Watch List safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) is ready to make his decision.

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ATH Chris Lammons adds two big offers 

February, 13, 2013
The offers keep rolling in for Chris Lammons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation).

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Wilson understanding of Coley's move 

January, 25, 2013
Four-star wide receiver Jesus Wilson (Miami/Columbus) was just one of the many Florida State commitments with a great relationship with former assistant James Coley.

Having camped at FSU over the summer and proven his ability to Coley and the staff, Wilson committed back in June. This coaching change, he said, doesn't affect that.

"I was really surprised he left," Wilson said. "We had a great relationship, but I'm not mad at him. He made a good decision for him and his family. He's a Miami guy and I know it feels good to be home."

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Coley departure doesn't affect Bower 

January, 24, 2013
Two weekends ago, Tashawn Bower (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata) was on campus visiting Florida State and assistant coach James Coley.

Fast forward to Thursday, and Coley is no longer a member of the Seminoles coaching staff. He's Miami's new offensive coordinator.

The ESPN 150 defensive end was clear and concise when asked whether the Seminoles would be eliminated from his list because of the coaching turnover.

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Worton unsure after Coley departure 

January, 24, 2013
As far as favorite coaches go, James Coley was at the top of the list for FSU commit C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla./South Dade). The 2014 wide receiver wasn't expecting him to leave for in-state rival Miami, though.

"Coach Coley was one of the closest coaches to me," Worton said.

Worton expressed some uncertainty about his commitment status. It'll be something that both FSU and Worton will likely visit over the coming weeks.

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5-star LB Thomas reconsiders visit plans 

January, 15, 2013
Five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) is fresh off of a visit to Alabama, but questions linger about whether the nation’s sixth-rated prospect will head to Miami (Fla.) or USC next.

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ACC's best moments of 2012

January, 14, 2013
It was a rough year for the ACC, but in retrospect, there were too many highlights to narrow it down to 10. From Blair Holliday’s return, to the ACC’s impressive performances during bowl season, to individual performances and games, the conference had plenty of memorable moments in 2012.

The following is a list of 10 moments and memories that best captured the 2012 ACC season, according to ESPN.com. ACC fans are bound to have more, and we’d love to hear them. What did we miss? Feel free to drop us a note in the mailbag, and we’ll highlight the best nominations in a separate mailblog. Until then, here are your top 10 moments from 2012, starting with the best:

1. Chandler Catanzaro's game-winning field goal versus LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl: It was the ACC’s biggest win of the season, and the highest-ranked team Clemson has beaten in a bowl game since the 2004 (2003 season) Chick-fil-A Bowl, when the Tigers defeated sixth-ranked Tennessee 27-14. Catanzaro’s 37-yard field goal as time expired gave No. 14 Clemson a wild 25-24 win against No. 8 LSU, and it was the highest-ranked SEC team an ACC team has beaten in the past nine years.

2. Duke becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 1994: Sean Renfree's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down with 13 seconds left lifted Duke past North Carolina 33-30 and made the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Renfree converted three third-and-longs during the game-winning, 87-yard drive.

[+] EnlargeGiovani Bernard
Bob Donnan/US PresswireGiovani Bernard's 74-yard game-winning punt return to lift UNC past rival NCSU was a play to remember.
3. Giovani Bernard versus NC State: Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left, helping North Carolina stun rival NC State 43-35 to end a five-year losing streak in the series. That day, Bernard also ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and had eight catches for 95 yards.

4. Karlos Williams' tip and interception in the ACC title game: In what turned out to be the final game for FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, FSU's D came up big against Georgia Tech, and no play was bigger than Williams'. The game wasn't decided until Williams intercepted Tevin Washington with less than a minute remaining. It was FSU's first ACC title since 2005.

5. The ACC posting its first winning bowl record since 2005: With marquee wins over LSU and USC and a victory in the Discover Orange Bowl, the ACC finally came out on the right end of bowl season, and will enter 2013 will some much-needed positive momentum. The Noles took another step toward national relevance with a 31-10 win against No. 15 Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl -- their first BCS bowl win since they beat Virginia Tech in 2000.

6. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel’s performance versus Clemson: It was Manuel’s one true Heisman moment of the season, as he completed 27 of 35 passes for a career-high 380 yards while rushing for another 102 to become the first Seminoles quarterback since Charlie Ward in 1992 to pass for more than 300 yards and run for more than 100 in a game.

7. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd accounts for eight touchdowns: The ACC Player of the Year set school and ACC records when he scored five passing and three rushing touchdowns in a 62-48 win over NC State. The Tigers gained 754 yards and ran 102 plays, the most in school history. Boyd was responsible for every Clemson touchdown. Boyd was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards -- the combined 531 yards set another school record.

8. Johnson leads Canes to Coastal title: In the regular-season finale against Duke, Miami freshman Duke Johnson rushed for season highs of 176 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 18, 6 and 65 yards. He finished his freshman year with 947 yards rushing, easily surpassing Clinton Portis' 13-year-old school freshman rushing record of 838 yards.

9. NC State’s game-winning TD in its upset of No. 3-ranked FSU. This isn’t a “best moment” for FSU fans, but it was by far one of the most memorable plays in the ACC and a highlight for the Wolfpack. Quarterback Mike Glennon found Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left, helping the Wolfpack beat the Seminoles 17-16 on Oct. 6.

10. Duke receiver Conner Vernon rewrites the record books: In a 42-17 win against Virginia, Vernon surpassed Clemson's Aaron Kelly as the ACC's all-time leader in career receptions when he made a catch for minus-2 yards in the first quarter. In the 42-24 loss to Georgia Tech, Vernon became the ACC's all-time leader in yards receiving, passing former Florida State star Peter Warrick's record of 3,517 yards.


[+] EnlargeBlair Holliday
Courtesy of Duke Sports InformationBlair Holliday (No. 8) walks with his Duke teammates in his return to the field following a terrible jet ski accident that sidelined the wide receiver.
So as not to trivialize these moments by tossing them in with touchdowns, here are three more memories you won't want to forget:

1. Blair Holliday joins his Duke captains for the coin toss against NC Central: It was a miraculous recovery, and the most inspirational story in the conference. Holliday, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a jet ski accident on July 4 that left him in critical condition, led the team on the Devil Walk in what was an emotional comeback for the entire team.

2. Clemson receiver Daniel Rodriguez leads the Tigers on Military Appreciation Day: The Army veteran led the team down the hill carrying the American flag prior to the Virginia Tech game on Military Appreciation Day at Clemson on Oct. 20.

3. The ACC adds Louisville: The ACC's presidents and chancellors voted to add Louisville to replace Maryland, a move that looked better and better as the Cardinals' football season ended with a win against Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. ACC officials conceded the move was an athletics-first, academics-second decision, but it was one the conference should eventually benefit from.

No. 1 OLB gears up for decision 

January, 9, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There might have been more explosive plays that resulted in points during the Under Armour All-America Game, but Matthew Thomas' (Miami/Booker T. Washington) hit on Michigan commitment Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle Collegiate) made the biggest impact.

Morris took off with the ball under his arm looking for space.

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Top Position Battles Heading In To Spring
While a good portion of the country is buried in snow, spring football is underway. Adam Rittenberg looks at some of the top position battles heading in to spring practice.