The Daily Nole

FSU Football: A First Look at Miami

Jeremy Esbrandt/FSU athletics

No. 10 Miami will be in front of its home crowd at a revamped Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday as it looks to improve its record to 5-0 on the season and snap a 6-game losing streak to rival Florida State. Though the Hurricanes are perfect through September, the competition has not been the greatest.

While Miami will be looking to make a statement on Saturday against FSU, there is a renewed sense of confidence in the direction of the program under first-year head coach Mark Richt. Since joining the ACC in 2004, the Hurricanes have yet to win the conference or even the Coastal division, but there is the sense that will change and perhaps as soon as this season.

On Miami

Record: 4-0 (1-0 ACC)
Offensive Ranks: 36th in yards per game (474), 61st in passing yards per game (241.8), 25th in rushing yards per game (232.5), fourth in points per game (47).
Defensive Ranks: Seventh in yards per game allowed (253), third in passing yards per game allowed (137.8), 27th in rushing yards per game allowed (115.5), second in points per game allowed (11).
Late Game: Won at Georgia Tech on Saturday, 35-21.

On Offense

For Miami, there’s no question that the guy to watch on offense is junior quarterback Brad Kaaya. Kaaya has passed for more than 300 yards in each of his first two meetings against the Seminoles, including 405 in last season’s 29-24 loss. Now on pace for a career-year, Kaaya is averaging nearly 10 yards per pass attempt while completing nearly two-thirds of his passes for 935 yards early on.

Kaaya has a very good duo of backs standing behind him in junior Joseph Yearby and sophomore Mark Walton. The two have combined for 767 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns so far this season while each is averaging better than seven yards per carry.

Ahmmon Richards has been a big play threat as a freshman at wide receiver while Stacy Coley, a senior, leads the team in receptions and touchdown grabs. Tight end David Njoku has also been a reliable target. The offensive line comprised of juniors and seniors led by Danny Isidora has yielded just two sacks so far.

On Defense

While Miami hasn’t allowed many opponents to get to its quarterback, the Hurricanes themselves have had no problem doing it. Five different Miami players have at least two sacks through four games with freshman Joseph Jackson leading the team with three. Junior Trent Harris is the heart and soul of a talented defensive front for the Hurricanes while Chad Thomas, a junior, and sophomore Demetrius Jackson are tied for the team-lead with five tackles for loss each.

At linebacker, Miami is extremely young with three freshmen typically on the field at once. Freshmen Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are among four Miami players with 20 total tackles so far this season.

In the secondary is where Miami is most seasoned with four seniors back deep. Corn Elder is a speedster at cornerback who can really break on the football while safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter are adept at defending both the pass and the run. Opponents are only completing 51 percent of their passes against Miami this season for just 5.2 yards per attempt.

On Special Teams

When it comes to special teams, Miami is undoubtedly one of the best in the ACC. Senior Justin Vogel is averaging better than 43 yards per punt while Braxton Berrios has already returned one punt for a touchdown. If there has been one disappointment for Miami this season on special teams, it’s been kicker Michael Badgley, who is just 2-for-4 on field goal attempts with both of his misses coming from under 40 yards.

Summary

Through one month of the season, Miami has the look of a well-coached football team with very few weaknesses. The Hurricanes did feel some resistance last week from Georgia Tech, but persevered in their first real test.

The Yellow Jackets were the first team to score more than 10 points against Miami this season, but the FSU offense is by far better than any it has seen. Miami is among the best defenses in the country so far, but in recent years, has had no answer for Florida State’s Dalvin Cook. Cook enters the contest leading the nation in yards from scrimmage.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson