There's no doubt that this Saturday is going to be a little different. It's not just another football game, it's Florida State vs. Miami, a heated rivalry that's filled with plenty of passion and intensity. There's a genuine level of hate and respect between these two programs that has gone on for decades.
Ahead of the matchup in Tallahassee, Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz addressed the media on Monday. He started off the presser by offering some preliminary comments on Florida State.
“It is FSU week," Diaz said. "We are excited. It’s always a big, big moment in our season and I think this is a huge moment in our season. Really, really important game for us. Always know it’s going to be a battle when you go up to Tallahassee. Florida State is a really, really improved football team. The way they’re playing defense jumps off the tape. Very, very disruptive up front, challenge everything on the back end. Extremely multiple. The ball distribution chart goes out to multiple guys - eight guys that are all within six or seven catches of each other in the top eight of their receiving.
“Backs run extremely hard, and obviously with [Jordan] Travis and what he’s been able to do as runner or a passer creates problems for a defense" Diaz continued. "It’s going to be a big-time game and we wouldn’t expect it any other way when these two teams get together. We know how motivated they will be on Saturday and our guys will be motivated just the same.”
Diaz understands the implications that this game can bring. It can be the difference between keeping your job and being fired. In fact, he was at the helm of a 27-10 Miami victory at Florida State in 2019 that resulted in Willie Taggart losing his job after just 21 games.
While speaking to the media, Diaz went into detail on the growth of Florida State and Miami throughout the years. The rivalry has produced some of the top games in college football history.
“I’ve always felt like there has been a competitive respect between the programs," Diaz said. "Not just because of the nature of the game and the great games through the years and how somebody winning a game or losing a game or a field goal just going six inches to the right determined who won the national championship that year. Where both programs were in the ’80s in the relation to the University of Florida, whether it was Florida not playing Miami or Florida would look down at Florida State just historically if you look at the history of the state when Florida State was first a school in the middle part of last century.
"I think the fact that both programs came of age at the same time and you couldn’t help but grow up under the shadow of the University of Florida and Florida being on probation in the mid-’80s had a lot to do with recruiting success that Coach Bowden’s first class, was hauled on the fact that Florida had just gone on probation and Miami was doing those things with Schnellenberger and the State of Miami and Coach Johnson coming in here," Diaz continued. "I think the fact that they rose up together and played such amazing games and continued no matter what league they were in to be committed to playing each other. Coach Bowden and how many national championships he may have had if he either A. did not play Miami or a kick gone on one side of the post instead of the other. I think that respect has always been there. But I think when the ball kicks off it’s going to be as intensely fought game as we’ve played all year.”
Diaz was also asked about what he learned from legendary Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. He began his coaching career with the Seminoles in 1998 as a graduate assistant. Diaz picked the brains of Bowden and defensive coordinator, Mickey Andrews, daily. He still has his ring from the national championship in 1999.
“The biggest thing we do is we start off every staff meeting with a devotional," Diaz said. "We did that with Mark Richt was here because Mark did it with coaching with Coach Bowden and every coach in the staff takes a turn and it can be religious, it doesn’t have to be religious. It can be inspirational. We have a lot of great men on our staff and it gives them a chance to share something on their heart. It gives them a chance, like Coach Bowden, to put something. Miami football is big, but God is bigger and to put Him in charge of our program first and seek wisdom in God because that’s what Coach Bowden did. Coach Bowden was a guy who won so much but kept his ego in check because he knew who was really in charge of his life and we try to do that the same way here.”
The Seminoles and Hurricanes are set to face off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Florida State is looking to snap a four-game losing streak in the series and keep its bowl hopes alive.
Stay tuned to NoleGameday.com throughout the week and on gameday for full coverage.
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