It was another efficient performance for Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel on Saturday. Manuel was 17 of 23 for 196 yards and a touchdown in the 23-19 win.
The offense struggled to get much of anything going early, not getting a first down until the second quarter. But after Miami took a 7-3 lead the offense finally got going with a momentum swinging drive.
Manuel led FSU on a six-play 66-yard touchdown drive as they took the lead back and never relinquished it. FSU ran the ball just one on the drive as Manuel completed passes to Christian Green (twice) and Devonta Freeman before connecting with Rodney Smith for a 21-yard touchdown.
Bert Reed had a solid day with three caches for 45 yards, including a big 33-yard catch in to start things off for FSU in the second half.
Overall passing game grade: B
Manuel did a good job taking what the defense gave him on Saturday completing close to 74% of his pass attempts. The Hurricanes were able to do a good job getting pressure on Manuel as he was sacked three times (all in the first half). Still a solid day for the passing game though as it engineered the only offensive touchdown of the day for Seminoles and didn't turn the ball over.
Top Performer: Christian Green
Once Miami took the lead Green got things going for FSU with a 24-yard catch to pick up the team's first new set of downs all day. He finished the game with a team-high four catches for 55 yards.
The Seminoles' running game struggles reemerged on Saturday as the ran for just 63 yards on 19 attempts. It would have been 90 yards, but college counts yards lost on sacks against teams' rushing totals.
True freshman Devonta Freeman carried the load with 76 yards on 16 carries. Lonnie Pryor was the only other back to get a carry on Saturday (one yard on two carries).
Once again the area FSU struggled most on the ground was short yardage situations. Seven times FSU needed just three yards or less to pick up a first, they only got a new set of downs three times, and just once by running the ball. FSU actually lost yards on three short-yardage attempts, including a loss of two on an option run by Manuel at the Miami one-yard line.
Overall running game grade: D
63 yards on 29 attempts isn't going to win many ball games for FSU. The team averaged an abysmal 2.2 yards per carry against Miami on Saturday. If FSU is going to continue its hot streak it has to find ways to keep drives alive by picking up yards on the ground in short-yardage situations.
Top performer: Devonta Freeman
The Miami native had solid day, especially for a true freshman in a game of such high emotions. Freeman finished with 76 yards on 16 carries with a long of 18 yards. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
For the most part FSU did a good job of keeping the Hurricanes' explosive rushing game in check. Miami ran for 140 yards on 36 carries, but the longest run of the day came from quarterback Jacory Harris as he scrambled for 28 yards.
Lamar Miller ran for 92 yards on 22 carries and fumbled once. The fumble was caused by defensive tackle Everett Dawkins and recovered by Nigel Bradham.
The defensive line came away with just one sack from Brandon Jenkins, but did a good job putting pressure on Harris picking up two official quarterback hurries.
Bjoern Werner, Timmy Jernigan, Christian Jones and Bradham all recorded tackles for loss.
Jones had five tackles, three solo, and 0.5 for loss in the game
Overall front seven grade: B-
FSU did a good job not letting Miller and the Miami rushing attack break any big runs on them, but late in the game the inability to get to Harris and a roughing the quarterback penalty on Jernigan kept the Hurricanes in the game. Still keeping the Miami run game in check is no easy task as FSU did a good job of it.
Top performer: Nigel Bradham
During the five-game win streak for FSU Bradham has consistently played extremely well. Against Miami he lead the team with 10 tackles, seven solo. He was ejected late in the game for launching himself at a defenseless receiver, but upon review the hit looks to be pretty clean. Luckily ACC officials have confirmed that Bradham won't be suspended for senior day.
Harris finished the game 20 of 31 for 225 yards a touchdown and an interception. Stephen Morris, who also saw time under center was 2 of 3 for 18 yards.
Like the run defense the secondary had a bend but don't break mentality on Saturday, giving up 243 yards through the air but no more than 25 yards on one play.
Hurricane receivers Tommy Streeter and Clive Walford were able to make some plays over Mike Harris due to their size. Xavier Rhodes had to leave the game with a thigh contusion.
Lamrcus Joyner came away with a big first quarter interception in his own endzone, he also looked to score on a fumble recovery on the game's first play but it was overturned.
Greg Reid had five tackles, four solo. Harris finished the game with just one tackle but had two pass breakups.
Overall secondary grade: B
Coming into the game FSU said they just wanted to avoid giving up the big play to Harris and Miami and that's exactly what they did. Without the usually dominated FSU pass rush the secondary did a good job keeping UM in check.
Top performer: Lamarcus Joyner
There is no telling how the game would have played out if Joyner didn't intercept Harris in the endzone. Miami was on the verge of taking a 7-0 lead thanks to a 99-yard scoring drive before the pick. He finished the game four tackles, three solo, and an interception.
Special Teams Grades
No segment had a more up and down day than the special teams unit for FSU. Greg Reid averaged 35.3 yards per punt return, thanks to an 83-yard return for a touchdown.
He also helped set up a Miami touchdown by inexplicably electing to field a punt at his own goal line.
Dustin Hopkins was 3 of 4 on field goal attempts, connecting from 38, 37 and 21 yards. He missed wide right from 37 yards out as time expired in the first half.
The punt team came up with big turnover as Telvin Smith recovered a Travis Benjamin fumble to set up a Hopkins field goal.
Shawn Powell had a phenomenal day averaging 47.4 net yard per punt on four attempts.
Overall Special Teams grade: B+
It was a big day for the special teams but it could have been bigger if Reid hadn't made an early mistake in the return game. Karlos Williams also returned a kickoff for a touchdown to start the second half, but it was negated by a hold fromJames Wilder Jr.. Still Powell was terrific and late in the game Nick O'Leary came up with a great recovery on an onsides kick attempt to seal the deal.
Top performer: Shawn Powell
On Friday Powell was inexplicably left on the Ray Guy Award semifinalist list for the nation's top punter. On Saturday he showed how big an oversight that was. All four of his punts were over 50 yards, two landed inside the Miami 10-yard line, including his first attempt, which was marked out at the 1-yard line. He now has an ACC-best 9 punts inside opponents 10-yard lines. His 47.1 yards per punt this season would rank best in the nation if he had enough attempts, and the team's 47.09 net yards per punt is second best in the country.
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