Takeaways from Miami’s gutsy loss against FSU

Wide receiver Jacolby George catches his first of two touchdown passes in Miami’s 27-20 loss to No. 4 Florida State on Nov. 11, 2023 Photo credit: Miami Athletics

The result of the Miami Hurricanes showdown in Tallahassee was closer than most pundits thought, as the ‘Canes fell 27-20 to the Florida State Seminoles. The ‘Canes were able to create some big plays on offense behind junior receiver Jacolby George and freshman quarterback Emory Williams. The defense held its own as young corners defended the pass well, and the front seven made things more challenging for the high-powered Seminole offense. While the result is not what Miami wanted, they can take pride in this loss. Let’s jump into some takeaways from this rivalry game loss.

The Defense Showed Some Backbone

While Florida State ran over the defense during the first quarter, Miami could settle in and play tight as the game went along. Florida State’s screen game is deadly, burning Miami early and often. Even throughout the game, FSU was able to use their screen game to pick up critical first downs and convert in big situations. Even with all of this, Miami could hold an offense averaging 40 points per game to 27 points.

Next year, Keon Coleman will likely be a first-round pick in the NFL draft. Coleman is one of the best receivers in the country and has been a monster for the Seminoles this season. Miami could hold him to four catches for 24 yards and one touchdown. Miami’s young corners did an excellent job covering a top flite of Florida State receivers.

“I thought they did really well,” said coach Mario Cristobal. “Both guys, Damari and Jadais very talented young guys, long, big guys matched up better with their big receivers… Those young corners played with a lot of resiliency in that atmosphere against some NFL-caliber players.

The Miami defense also did an excellent job of containing Jordan Travis. The veteran signal-caller for FSU could have been more efficient and could only rack up a few yards. Travis was held to just 19/31 for 265 yards and a single score. The ‘Canes were able to frustrate the West Palm native frequently as he was sacked three times, twice by Francisco Mauigoa. The transfer linebacker tied for the team lead in tackles and led in tackles for loss with 2.5.

“Defense played their butts off all night,” said coach Cristobal. “All night those guys found a way to hit the quarterback and harass the quarterback. Minus the run that popped on GT counter that got us the one time.”

Emory Williams has Heart

Emory Williams showed something on the Doak Campbell grass last Saturday afternoon. While the freshman was almost certainly outmatched by the potential Heisman winner from Florida State, Williams held his own.

“Gutsy, tough. He was a little bit nervous early but then settled in, and made some big throws and some gutsy runs as well. Particularly the one where he got hurt,” said Cristobal post-game. “All in all, I know statistically it’s not exactly what you’re looking for but he made a spectacular throw to Jacolby and made some other key throws, some others you’d like to have back.”

The stat line for Willaims was almost laughable. Williams was 8-23 with 175 yards and two touchdowns. While the two scores are good, completing 34% of your passes could be better. Not good at all. The Florida State defense was tough, and Willaims made the most of the passes that he did complete.

Williams found George in the back of the end zone for a beautiful over-the-shoulder completion. That was just one of the two touchdowns that Willaims could find George on. In the fourth quarter, Williams delivered a risky pass that probably should have been intercepted but was hauled in by George and taken 85 yards to the crib. That brought Miami within seven and a chance to tie the game.

George had a massive day with Williams at the helm. George got tons of yardage on screens and a few long passes from Willaims. George put up 153 yards on five receptions, including the 85-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. All of the other Miami receivers combined had 51 yards on the day. Xavier Restrepo did not record a catch. On Saturday, George was the only bright spot for the Canes receiving core.

Williams did leave the game early as he was injured on a fourth-down scramble. While Williams picked up the first down, the injury to his arm is considered severe, and he’s being treated at the local hospital. Williams had been ruled out for the rest of the season but will be ready for spring ball.

Piece of Mind

This performance from Miami was a far cry from the embarrassing performance last season when the Seminoles came to town and rolled the ‘Canes 45-3 on homecoming. This loss from the ‘Canes left a lot better feeling than last season. Miami showed some grit and guts to stay in the game and fight.

Regardless of how it ended, Miami had a chance to tie the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. I bet every Miami fan would have been thrilled if you told them before the game that’s where the ‘Canes would be. Miami was double-digit underdogs, and this game was not supposed to be close. The ‘Canes were able to punch back and stick with one of the best teams in the country.

While this loss stings, Miami should hold its head high after a tough loss. The ‘Canes played well and must carry this momentum to next week when they close out their home slate. Another formidable ACC opponent comes to town in the Louisville Cardinals, ranked ninth in the nation. The kickoff for that matchup is at noon at Hard Rock Stadium.