Barry Jackson

How FSU’s South Florida invasion could affect Saturday’s game. And Gore’s slice of UM history

Miami Dolphins Frank Gore comments on this weekend’s UM-FSU rivalry game.

Miami Dolphins Frank Gore comments on this weekends UM vs FSU rivalry game.
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Miami Dolphins Frank Gore comments on this weekends UM vs FSU rivalry game.

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Thursday:

Because South Florida is a recruiting hotbed and Tallahassee is not, it’s natural that FSU would snag a lot more players from UM’s neighborhood than vice versa.

UM’s best players who attended high school in Tallahassee, at least this century, probably were defensive backs Ryan Hill and Greg Threat.

Conversely, FSU has lured tons of elite talent from South Florida — Marvin Jones, Lamarcus Joyner, Dalvin Cook, Andrew Wadsworth, Samari Rolle, Corey Simon, Devonta Freeman, Devin Bush, Xavier Rhodes, Danny McManus and many others.

So what kind of Dade/Broward presence will FSU bring to Saturday’s game?

The Seminoles have 10 players from those two counties, with five in particular worth noting:

1. Defensive end Brian Burns. The former Plantation American Heritage standout has 19 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble in five games this season. Rivals.com said UM never offered the four-star player. “Very athletic guy,” UM coach Mark Richt said.

The junior could go on the second day of next year’s NFL Draft if he turns pro.

2. Defensive tackle Frederick Jones. He had 15 tackles and a sack this season, and the Miami Central star has been a surprising success story. Rivals.com said his only offers were from FSU and Fordham. His uncle is FSU great Marvin Jones, so it was natural for Jones to attend FSU.

3. Defensive back Stanford Samuels III. The four-star sophomore from Pembroke Pines Flanagan High chose FSU over UM (among others) and has three interceptions in his first year and a half as a Seminole, including one on a fourth down late in last Saturday’s comeback win at Louisville.

4. Defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. The Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas four-star freshman has five tackles and one pass defended in his first four games with FSU. He had 30 offers, including one from Miami.

5. Running back Amir Rasul. The Coral Gables grad has contributed modestly this year (seven carries for 30 yards). The junior has had modest stats at FSU, including 33 carries for 152 yards last season. He had 14 offers, including one from UM.

Richt warns not to underestimate FSU’s talent, despite the lopsided losses against Virginia Tech and Syracuse and the narrow win against Samford.

“Make no mistake: They are a very, very talented team,” Richt told WQAM. “Offensively a little different from what they’ve been doing [with the hiring of coach Willie Taggert and a new staff]. They have big comeback victory [against Louisville] and they’re saying, ‘Hey this is how it could work.’

“It’s hard the first year [for a new coach] to get everything implemented and done the way you want it. [Quarterback Deondre Francois] was the main reason they won that [Louisville] game. The guy is deadly accurate, very athletic.”

Though FSU’s offensive line has been maligned and has allowed 12 sacks (31st most in the country), the Seminoles didn’t relinquish a sack in the win against Louisville last Saturday.

“Well, if you really look at how they played against Louisville, Francois was pretty clean in that game. So I feel like they’re improving,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said.

UM’s run defense still ranks among the top one-sixth in the country statistically — 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game at 106 and 13th best in yards per carry allowed at 2.8. But UNC ran for 215 yards on 40 carries against UM, a 5.4 average, causing concern about just how stout this run defense is.

“It’s a huge focus,” Diaz said. “What the guys understand is it’s everybody doing their job. I mean, the first play the defensive end couldn’t play it any better. Textbook. We don’t set an edge as a secondary guy. They run the next play on the next drive and we set a perfect edge on the secondary, but now the defensive end is worried about what happened last time and he doesn’t do his job. Those are the things that kind of occurred. It’s everybody recognizing it’s not a physicality standpoint. It’s really people reporting to their appropriate station of duty. When everyone does that we’re pretty hard to move the ball against.”

The good news from a UM standpoint: FSU is averaging only 2.8 rushing yards per attempt, which is 126th of 130 major college football teams. And FSU’s average of 97.4 rushing yards per game ranks 121st.

How long has it been since UM beat FSU at home? So long ago that the victory was at the Orange Bowl. So long ago that Brock Berlin was UM’s quarterback. So long ago that Frank Gore, 35, scored the winning touchdown in that 2004 game, on an 18-yarder in overtime.

Gore, who ran 18 times for 89 yards that day, said Thursday he still remembers that play. “The right side opened up and my eyes got [expletive] big,” he said.

UM has lost seven consecutive home games against FSU since that game.

He said becoming dominant is more challenging for UM now because “now kids want you to promise them stuff” and care about newness of facilities. “We didn’t care about facilities.”

On UM’s move to N’Kosi Perry, he said: “Why not go with the younger guy that has more time?”

He was disappointed that “we didn’t put up a fight against LSU.”

Beyond Gerald Willis — who plays the most and should — UM has been distributing comparable snaps among the other defensive tackles. Pat Bethel had 30 against UNC, Jon Ford 27 and Tito Odenigbo 24. Freshman Nesta Silvera played 12 and Jordan Miller none. Miller, we’re told, remains raw and needs a year to develop.

We get one of the better network announcing teams assigned to a UM game on ABC this weekend — New York Jets radio voice Bob Wischusen, former Washington Huskies quarterback Brock Huard and former Fox Sports Florida reporter Allison Williams.

The preference here remains turning down the volume and listening to the WQAM broadcast of Joe Zagacki, Don Bailey Jr and Josh Darrow because of Zagacki’s alert, detailed call, Bailey’s and Zagacki’s keen knowledge of Canes personnel and the game plan, and Darrow’s quick injury reports.

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