Greg Jones and more Greg Jones. The big 250-pound tailback is the source of Seminole running success thus far in 2002. But in games where FSU has struggled, so has Jones, particularly at Louisville in the mud. Opponents bent on stuffing FSU’s running attack at the line of scrimmage have had more success against Jones. While Greg isn’t going to blow past linebackers with acceleration, he does have the size and power to get numerous 4-5 yard gains. The alternate tailback is senior Nick Maddox, who is quite the opposite of big and bruising. Maddox is a quicker, shiftier runner, the kind the Noles have become accustomed to over the years. He came in against Clemson in the second half with fresh legs. Maddox then signaled the beginning of the end for the Tigers. FSU needs to get Maddox in this week’s game before the second half. The huge offensive line at FSU is senior-laden with tons of pressure to perform this week after such lofty preseason expectations. This will be a huge key to this game. The Miami defensive front seven is the best in the nation, bar none. As you run down the Canes roster, it’s easy to see how every single starter should someday play in the NFL. Boston College demonstrated that you could run the ball against Miami (as they focused totally on that one aspect). Florida State should be able to move the ball on the ground since Miami isn’t likely to be so bent on stuffing just the run, but don’t look for any long gainers. The Seminoles need to run the football, and Greg Jones needs to rush for over 100 yards for the Noles to have even a remote chance of winning. The battle up front will separate truth from hype.


Much like the Garnet & Gold, the Green & Orange bring their single star tailback to the table in Willis McGahee. Unlike his counter part (Jones), McGahee does have that breakaway ability to kill defenses with the huge play (see the Florida game). The fact that Miami can go the distance in one play by just handing the ball off has to be a big concern for FSU coaches, since the big play can make and break a game of this magnitude. Luckily for FSU, quarterback Ken Dorsey is not a guy who hurts you when he takes off with the ball. This type of running quarterback (Seneca Wallace, Dave Ragone, and Willie Simmons) has torched the Seminoles. The Seminoles front four is talented, but has yet to live up to any of the expectations. They have proven their ability to stop the run, even going back to last fall. That is how guys like DT Darnell Dockett can be listed in some All-American guides without getting one sack all year. The Miami offensive line is not quite as good as last year, how could it be after losing guys like Bryant McKinnie, Bibla, and Gonzales? But anyone that sells this unit short is in for a rude awakening. The Nole linebackers will need to move much quicker this week in order to stay free of the Miami OL and keep McGahee from running wild in the process. The Seminoles have done well against the run so far this year, but they also have not faced anyone close to the likes of Miami.



The Seminole passing game has gotten progressively worse since the middle of last year. In 2001, young Chris Rix was on the road to a brilliant career. He now has hit a stumbling block and taken major heat (from both coaches and fans) about his inability to see the field, be patient in the pocket, and keep from running out of the pocket for little or no gain (when receivers have been open). His recent replacement, Adrian McPherson, is an athlete with a bright future. Adrian just does not possess the passing tools or experience for games such as Miami yet. Don’t look for McPherson this Saturday unless the game gets out of control. At the same time, FSU has been trying to become a running team since their debacle in the 2001 Orange Bowl (where the Noles threw the ball most every down, even with a 3-man rush). The transition has hurt Bobby Bowden in the short term. He has become accustomed to winging it every down from shotgun passing formations. A big key here will be any pass protection FSU’s offensive line will attempt to provide. This is such a huge match up when it’s FSU’s ball. Rex Grossman found out quickly how stellar Miami’s front seven is at putting pressure on the QB. They rattled and pounded him for nearly the entire game. When you talk about guys like McDougle, Wilfork, and both Green’s (Cornelius and Jamaal) coming at you, even the best-laid plans will go astray. Miami’s defensive line is made up of practically all seniors. But FSU does have a slight advantage this week. The Nole receivers clearly have an edge over the inexperienced Miami DB’s. This will be the best set of receivers the Canes see all year. There is no doubt the Seminole’s leading receivers (Anquan Boldin and Talman Gardner) will need to make big plays. You should see a ton of deep balls by the Noles this week (where all Rix has to do is put it up for grabs). The entirely new Miami secondary has passed the early season test, now they will be forced to do so against the best. The question is can Rix get the ball there?



The biggest mismatch of them all. Miami will destroy Florida State if this area continues to be a blatant display of Nole ineptitude. Poor secondary play has been witnessed in every Seminole game thus far. Miami QB Ken Dorsey doesn’t need to take off running. He will have all day to throw the football - the OL that has protected his backside for years still remains a solid wall. To make life easier for Dorsey, the FSU pass rush has virtually disappeared. Established FSU defensive end sack production has dropped off the map. Kellen Winslow continues Miami’s tight end tradition while leading the team in receiving, and the staple of Hurricane receivers (including big Andre Johnson, Ethenic Sands, and Kevin Beard) will be found wide open all day, from mid-range to the deep thirds. When you take a look at the FSU roster, how many of those current starting defensive backs would have been starting on the great Seminole teams of the last 15 years? The answer: none. The safeties are brand new, but more importantly have been playing like they have never seen a football. The ripple effect of FSU’s DB weaknesses has forced this team into their current situation. Miami will throw and throw successfully, opening up the run and other options in the playbook. If this game gets ugly early, the results will surely have come from this match up.



Believe it or not, FSU may have the ability to surprise in this category. At the beginning of the season, most prognosticators didn’t think this way, with such proven Miami special teamers as Todd Sievers and Freddie Capshaw highlighting solid units. But Florida State has the X-man in sophomore kicker Xavier Beitia, who is 11-13 this fall in FGs after racking up All-ACC honors last year by going 13-14. Lately, he has been kicking the ball out of the end zone for touchbacks. Everyone knows Todd Sievers is an excellent kicker (4 of 8 in FG). Still, don’t expect a wide right to be this year’s difference as the kicking game is set for awhile in Tallahassee.

What was an FSU concern heading into 2002 (the punting department) has proved to be more consistent than expected. Chance Gwaltney has earned a 40.5 average on kicks. Miami’s Freddie Capshaw has a 40.6 average. Both punters are efficient, though Capshaw has proved his worth over the long haul. FSU may have found that long lost punt/kick returner finally, as true freshman Leon Washington (Mr. Florida Football 2001) has stepped in and elevated this position to where it needs to be. Miami has yet to score a touchdown by returning a kick. The Seminoles have got to win this intangible or it could be a long day.



An in-state rivalry of this magnitude can go many ways. The most likely course is a sure Miami win in the old Orange Bowl. The point spread reflects this, with the Seminole defense too ‘gawd’ awful to predict a Seminole upset. Obviously, the Noles need breaks, any breaks, in the form of turnovers, favorable bounces, field position, and special teams. Miami just needs to stick with what got them there and 27 straight wins. If Bobby Bowden has been saving his trick playbook and staple of reverses for a big game, now would be a good time. The “just-line-up-and-beat-the-man-in-front-of-you” mentality resides largely in the home team. It would not be shocking if the game has less than a 10-point differential heading into the fourth quarter, when anything can happen - these types of important games tend to be exciting. If the temperature is high for this noon game, Miami can use it to their advantage, knowing FSU will exhaust their fuel supply trying to make up for a lagging defense. Florida State has got to dig and scratch to keep this one close late into the second half, a job that may prove very difficult against the nation’s premier team. The Hurricanes have so many weapons - they run, they throw, and they have an incredible defensive front seven. Miami wins with pure talent, less weaknesses, and better coaching.




  1. Can the young FSU safeties complete a turnaround and help cover the receivers Johnson, Beard, and Sands this week?
  2. Can Kellen Winslow continue to make key catches at tight end while being covered by the Seminole linebackers?
  3. Can Jackson, Emanuel, and Moore find a pass rush for FSU against the Miami tackles?
  4. Will Willis McGahee continue to break the backs of the defense with big plays against a sturdy FSU run defense?
  5. How much damage will Ken Dorsey deliver while throwing strikes that take advantage of the FSU pass coverage problems?




  1. Will the highly touted FSU offensive line be able to pass block and run block against the best defensive front seven in America?
  2. Will Chris Rix snap out of his happy feet problems and start airing it out more consistently to the open receivers?
  3. Can huge Greg Jones rush for over 100 yards this week?
  4. How much pressure will the Miami front put on Rix and will it rattle him enough to force turnovers just like last year in Tallahassee?
  5. Can the experienced FSU receivers take advantage of the very young Hurricane defensive backs and make big plays?