FSU-Miami grades: Francois, Cook solid in Noles win

The biggest takeaways and highest-graded players in Florida State's win over the Miami Hurricanes.

| 9 months ago
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FSU-Miami grades: Francois, Cook solid in Noles win

Florida State Seminoles 20, Miami (FL) Hurricanes 19

The biggest takeaways and highest-graded players in Florida State’s win over the Miami Hurricanes.

Florida State Seminoles

Quarterback grade: Deondre Francois, 69.3

Deondre Francois flourishing

Aside from inexplicably fumbling twice on one play, Deondre Francois enjoyed a productive night against Miami. Although he only completed 20 of 31 passes, Francois was a much more respectable 20-of-26 when discounting batted passes and throw-aways. The importance of the freshman quarterback to the program is evident, even while he struggles with consistency. Francois’ growing pains are certainly preferable to Sean Maguire’s ineptitude. The backup quarterback threw two passes, including an interception right to a zone defender in the redzone. Credit Francois for hanging tough, as he took a number of big hits – including the play that forced Maguire into the game – but always managed a response.

Top offensive grades:

OT Roderick Johnson 73.3
WR Kermit Whitfield, 70.7
QB Deondre Francois, 69.3
HB Dalvin Cook, 69.1
WR Jesus Wilson, 68.8

Cook spoils Canes’ broth

Dalvin Cook has enjoyed better games this season, but FSU were able to ride their bellcow when they needed him most. Cook bookended the Seminoles comeback, starting the process with a deep receiving touchdown, and finishing it with a first-down run inside two minutes of the fourth quarter. Florida State has enjoyed plenty of success with the play-action throwback this season, generally using misdirection to their advantage. Cook was left uncovered on the play, enabling a simple, 60-yard touchdown. Otherwise, FSU’s star running back carried 27 times for 150 yards (129 after contact) and nine broken tackles. On a couple of occasions, Miami barely corralled him with arm tackles. Cook can be content with a solid performance.

Top defensive grades:

S A.J. Westbrook, 81.1
LB Matthew Thomas, 76.3
DT Derrick Nnadi, 75.9
DE Jacob Pugh, 75.4
DE DeMarcus Walker, 72.6

Front stymied, but not shut down

Miami’s offensive line kept the Seminoles’ excellent defensive front relatively quiet throughout the course of the game. DeMarcus Walker was largely anonymised by the Hurricanes’ veteran group. Despite being marginalised throughout, Walker still found a way to swing the game decisively. Miami scored the tying touchdown with a minute and a half to go, but Walker blocked the extra point, ensuring a one-point Seminoles’ win. Along with Walker, Derrick Nnadi, Demarcus Christmas and Jacob Pugh all made an impact. The trio were particularly effective against the run, combining for 11 stops.

Miami Hurricanes

Quarterback grade: Brad Kaaya, 66.6

Solving the Kaaya conundrum

Brad Kaaya fluctuates from the imperious to the absurd within games. It makes his projection to the NFL so difficult. Twice he floated perfect arcs into the endzone for touchdowns. The first, to Stacy Coley, was a beauty, lofted into the small window between the defender and the sideline. He also put great touch on his second passing touchdown, delivering a perfect strike on fourth down to, in theory, tie the game. As well as those highs, however, Kaaya made a terrible throw right to a defensive back in the redzone. The play never had a chance. Kaaya’s decision-making has to be better to ensure he gets a chance as a pro starter.

Top offensive grades:

OG Kc McDermott, 77.4
WR Stacy Coley, 73.9
OG Danny Isidora, 72.4
OT Sunny Odogwu, 70.6
QB Brad Kaaya, 66.6

Coley emerging week by week

Senior wide receiver Stacy Coley is Kaaya’s No. 1 target in the passing game. He is lethal underneath, where he can use his speed to separate from defensive backs. Coley registered seven catches from 11 targets for 69 yards and two touchdowns, giving the Seminoles’ struggling corners fits. His body control is remarkable, highlighted by the deep touchdown he snagged down the right sideline. Coley’s numbers would have been even more impressive, but for a drop deep down the right sideline from another Kaaya dime. In many ways, the Hurricanes’ offense depends on Coley’s performances.

Top defensive grades:

DT Gerald Willis, 78.3
DE Chad Thomas, 77.2
CB Corn Elder, 76.6
LB Shaquille Quarterman, 75.6
LB Darrion Owens, 73.0

Corn yield low in 2016

The Hurricanes have a long history of producing top corners. Corn Elder is next up on the conveyor belt. He allowed only one completion on two targets for ten yards with a pass deflection against FSU. The Canes’ top corner has great speed and athleticism, as well as the mental traits required of an elite corner. He was able to knock down a 20-yard corner route from a two-yard deep alignment, recognizing the concept from the flat in cover-2. Few defensive backs would even have processed the concept, let alone possessed the speed necessary to make the play. Incredibly, he also matched Dalvin Cook stride-for-stride in the open field, preventing a touchdown. Elder has the instincts and athleticism to dominate in 2016.


| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

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