Defensive end Joseph Jackson has never been to Tallahassee.
But like any young athlete who grew up in Miami, he knows all about the University of Miami-Florida State rivalry.
Somehow in this rivalry, every hit means more and every word is a little more amplified.
When the 6-5, 258-pound Jackson, a Miami Gulliver Prep graduate, was asked Tuesday how he felt about FSU true freshman James Blackman being sacked five times Saturday against Wake Forest, and what he thought about the Demon Deacons recording 17 tackles for loss, Jackson’s confidence emerged.
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“My thoughts are that if we play the way we always play — aggressive and violent and fast — that we can match that or even pass the amount of tackles for loss they had on the front seven. We get good penetration, we’re going to do good.”
The No. 13 Hurricanes (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) travel to Tallahassee to take on the unranked Seminoles (1-2, 1-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
Miami now ranks second nationally in tackles for loss, averaging nine a game, and is 10th in sacks, averaging more than three a game and totaling 11.
“I feel like we’ve got a pretty good front seven,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. “But you have to prove it every week.’’
FSU is 126th of 129 FBS teams, per the NCAA, in sacks allowed — four a game and 12 total.
“Gotta stop the penetration. ... The offensive line’s got to clean that up and do a better job,’’ FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters Monday, per Warchant.com.
Keep in mind that FSU starting left tackle Derrick Kelly sustained a leg injury in the first quarter of the Wake Forest game, and that the Seminoles “later lost sophomore guards Cole Minshew and Landon Dickerson for stretches with undisclosed ailments,’’ Warchant.com reported, citing Fisher as saying he was “very optimistic’’ all three would return to practice.
Jackson, who led the Canes with 8 1/2 sacks as a true freshman last season and tied with linebacker Shaq Quarterman and tackle R.J. McIntosh with the team lead of 13 tackles for loss, has one sack and two tackles for loss in three games. Like his teammates, he insists that, despite the outside world saying FSU isn’t the same after losing its first two games and defeating Wake Forest in the last minute, the Hurricanes know what they’re about to face — and savor the opportunity to do a little damage.
“We don’t underestimate any opponent,’’ Jackson said. “That’s the first thing that’s going to help you lose. We’re just focused. It’s still FSU to us. It’s still this game that we haven’t won in seven, eight years, and our mentality is to kick their behind — so we don’t listen to all the talk outside.
“We just do our own thing.’’
Quarterman, who leads UM with 21 tackles and two quarterback hurries, said FSU week is “always an exciting one, so everybody is even more locked in than they usually are.’’
“The energy is there,’’ he said, “and we’ll just put in our time for the preparations to make this week into one that we want it to be.’’
Asked about Blackman, forced to play when star quarterback Deondre Francois sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Alabama, Quarterman acknowledged that “he’s a young guy’’ and “had to step into the limelight. But other than that we’re just going to get after him.”
“We’re going to get after every team the way that we usually do.’’
So, what’s different about this year’s UM-FSU matchup, given that the Canes are favored by three points and have lost seven in a row to the Seminoles?
“I see it as it’s the U vs. Florida State,’’ Quarterman said. “And it’s our duty as a team to win. That’s the only way I see it.’’
▪ Richt said that tailback Mark Walton (ankle) practiced fully Tuesday, as did receiver Ahmmon Richards, who returned last week from a pulled hamstring. Both are expected to play Saturday.