Led by Williams, Hurricanes look to regain offensive rhythm against rival Florida State

Jarren Williams (15) will be the starting quarterback against Florida State. Photo credit: Josh Halper

Coming off a close win in the final moments a week ago at Pittsburgh, the Miami Hurricanes look to continue their momentum into Saturday’s game against rival Florida State in Tallahassee.

Both teams are 4-4 and a win for either team could be the difference in whether or not they play in a bowl game this year.

Diaz and Enos chose to stick with quarterback Jarren Williams after the redshirt freshman led a nine-play, 61-yard game winning drive a week ago at Pitt. Incumbent starter N’Kosi Perry went 10-24 last week and was pulled from the game in the fourth quarter. Williams completed over 70% of his passes in the first four games of the season that he started in. He will be the fourth passer to start for the Hurricanes against FSU in as many years.

“I’m far from perfect,” Williams said Wednesday after practice. “I definitely had a lot of things that I can learn from throughout the last games, in terms of just getting the ball out of my hands and being able to use my feet a little more, just have to keep learning day to day.”

Williams stressed that he is ready for the test of facing FSU for the first time.

“I think it will really hit once I step on the field,” Williams said Wednesday. “I think about it all the time. It’s constantly on my mind.”

On the injury front, Miami expects to get both running back DeeJay Dallas and linebacker Michael Pinckney back after the pair missed last week’s matchup.

Dallas has rushed for almost 500 yards on the season and scored six touchdowns this year, and will no doubt take some of the pressure off Williams, who hasn’t started a game since being benched against Virginia Tech.

The Hurricanes will also welcome back receiver Jeff Thomas, who missed the last two games due to a violation of team rules.

The key to the game will be slowing down the Seminoles offense, led by running back Cam Akers and first year offensive coordinator Kendall Biles. The ‘Noles have improved their offensive output from 360 yards per game in 2018 to 417 this season, and have increased their points per game total from just below 22 to more than 29.

Much off their offense goes through Akers, who is 10th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total rushing yards with 917 and yards per game with over 114.

“Akers is without a doubt the best back we’ve seen and probably will see all year,” defensive coordinator Blake Baker said. “[He is] as good as I’ve seen on tape. He does a great job with his pad level, explodes through the hole, is able to bounce runs, he is a complete, every down back.”

Miami will look to counter this rushing attack as they boast maybe the best linebacker core in the ACC, led by senior linebacker Shaq Quarterman, who has 63 tackles this season.

Florida State graduate transfer quarterback Alex Hornibrook is expected to be the starter for the third straight week.

As one of the best rivalries not just in the Atlantic Coast Conference but in the nation, each of the five last games between Miami and the Seminoles have been decided by five points or fewer. A 41-yard touchdown grab by Brevin Jordan from Perry was the difference a year ago for the Canes in a 28-27 win, after being down 27-7 in the second half at Hard Rock Stadium.

Rosier’s touchdown pass to Darrell Langham in the waning seconds at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2017 sealed a 24-20 win for the Hurricanes and ended a seven-year losing streak.

There is little doubt how much this game means to Miami’s players and coaches.

“It’s one of those games you come to Miami to play in,” said head coach Manny Diaz. “It’s a legacy game, a game that you’ll remember. You’ll always be asked what you record is against Florida State.”

“Going up [to FSU] is crazy. It’s packed with however many people they hold,” said linebacker Shaq Quarterman. “It’s just that type of environment that college football really excels.”

Miami will face Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium at 3:30 pm Saturday. The game will be televised on ABC.