Weather could affect Miami-Florida State contest
Not many expected Miami to be in the position it is as the Hurricanes prepare to play host to Florida State Saturday. That is, ranked ahead of the Seminoles (No. 10 to No. 23) and with a better record.
The Hurricanes are 4-0 and 1-0 in ACC play to Florida State's 3-2, 0-2 ledger as they look to the prime time meeting in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET with ABC's cameras catching the action.
Asked what he might have said if had been told before the season that his team would be 4-0 and ranked No. 10, Miami coach Mark Richt downplayed its significance.
"I probably would have been that it doesn't mean a whole lot at that time of year," he said. "I'd be happy and thankful to be 4-and-0 -- that's what you want, you want to win every game and all.
"But you coach 33 years, it's not that big of a deal, Game 5."
No, he is not saying playing Florida State is not a big deal.
"I didn't say the game wasn't a big deal," he quickly added. "I said being ranked ahead of them was not big, if everybody can clarify that. All games to me are a big deal, period."
Of more import than rankings are what weather conditions might be when the two intrastate rivals clash. It could be a rainy night in South Florida depending on what Hurricane Matthew might leave in its wake. So far there is no indication that the date or site of the game will be changed, but it may be difficult for the teams to navigate through the conditions.
How that might affect Miami's offense with quarterback Brad Kaaya at the helm is a bit of an unknown factor.
"It does affect the game if there's rain, if it's nasty," Richt said. "I don't even know for sure how well Brad throws a wet ball 'cause we haven't really practiced a lot in the wet. There's been a couple times and he seems to throw it pretty good.
"Better than most. Some guys it is heart attack time if it rains. I'm serious. If that ball's slick and they don't have a big enough hand or they just don't throw a wet ball well, it can really affect what you do.
"I think Brad can throw a wet ball pretty good."
He certainly has shown he can throw a dry one. The junior starter is completing his passes at a 66.3 percent clip with eight touchdowns against three interceptions (two in one game). In last week's 35-21 win over Georgia Tech, he passed for 241 yards with 13 completions in just 19 attempts.
"We didn't have that many plays," Richt said. "But he graded extremely high in decision-making, his accuracy super high."
Florida State is coming into the clash with more concerns than simply the weather. After starting out ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll with four first-place votes, the Seminoles have lost two of their last three games, including a 63-20 thumping at Louisville and a 37-35 heartbreaker on the game's final play (a 54-yard field goal) to North Carolina last week.
Defense has become a real issue for the 'Noles. They have given up an average of over 35 points and 438 yards a game in total offense. Their last three opponents -- Louisville, South Florida, and North Carolina -- have combined to score 135 points.
Though Jimbo Fisher expressed confidence in third-year defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, the head coach also said he likely will get more involved in the game planning on that side of the ball.
"I will," Fisher said. "We'll have to look and evaluate and make sure all the schemes and everything we do and the players understand what we want. We'll be involved and support those guys and make sure they're doing the right things."
Offensively, the Seminoles are clicking with running back Dalvin Cook having rushed for 407 yards and five touchdowns the last two games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois has got his collegiate career off to a great start with a pair of 300-yard passing games already.
"Oh my gosh," Richt said when asked his opinion of Francois. "He's a great athlete who can throw the ball well, pass the ball well. I've seen him throw some balls that were super impressive -- on the run, in the pocket, quick-gain screens, QB run stuff, and creating stuff on his own.
"You can have a defense that does everything right in the passing game and then there he goes."