October 31, 2019 - by
Football Round-Up: Lucas ‘Ready To Roll’ As Noles Wrap Miami Prep

WATCH: Willie Taggart, Oct. 31

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The red-and-black flags that signify a hurricane warning have been hung over Florida State’s practice fields all week. And although some rain has made its way through Tallahassee over the last few days, there should be nothing but clear skies in Tallahassee when the Seminoles meet the Miami Hurricanes for the 64th time on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., ABC).

FSU head coach Willie Taggart, speaking to the media before Thursday’s practice, said that he was pleased with the way his players have prepared for a game that could be a turning point in their 2019 season.

“I really liked our focus,” Taggart said. “That was a really important part of this week, is preparing and being focused as we prepare.”

Taggart has yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday, and likely won’t until the game kicks off.

But a couple things surrounding the game have come into focus. Among them:

  • Taggart said that freshman lineman Dontae Lucas is practicing and “ready to roll” after missing most of last week’s win over Syracuse with an apparent injury. Lucas is a six-game starter for the Seminoles and began last week’s contest at left guard after previously playing right guard.
  • Linebacker Dontavious Jackson is “doing well” after missing the Syracuse game with an injury. Jackson practiced this week but Taggart did not confirm his status for Miami.
  • Miami has announced that freshman quarterback Jarren Williams will resume his starting role after giving way to veteran N’Kosi Perry for the last three games. Williams came off the bench to lead the Hurricanes to the game-winning touchdown at Pittsburgh last week. He’s thrown for 1,136 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions in seven appearances. Taggart said FSU’s defense won’t change much regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Canes, but knowing that it will be Williams will inform what they do between now and Saturday.“You go back and watch the film when he played,” Taggart said, “so that you get a good understanding of plays he likes, plays they like running when he is in there and how he goes about operating those plays and how their offense is run when he is in there at quarterback.“So you go back and watch those games that he played in and get a good understanding of what they are doing with him.”

Saturday’s game will also feature an unusual mix of FSU-Miami veterans, players who will be making their debut in the longtime rivalry, and one quarterback who has played against the Hurricanes twice – albeit in a different uniform.

That would be FSU quarterback Alex Hornibrook, whose Wisconsin Badgers saw Miami in the 2017 Orange Bowl and the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl.

Hornibrook threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns and was named MVP in a 34-24 win over the Hurricanes in that Orange Bowl. (He didn’t play in the Pinstripe Bowl due to an injury.)

The Hurricanes have changed since Hornibrook last saw them, and Hornibrook is now in an offense that’s much different than the one he ran with Wisconsin. But having experience beating guys in orange and green can’t hurt.

“Understanding the defense, I think that, for Alex, helps,” Taggart said. “Understanding what he’s going against and what they like to do. I think that will help him for sure.”

The Seminoles might have one more ace up their sleeve.

Receivers coach Ron Dugans coached that same position at Miami from 2016-18. And although the Canes have a new offensive coordinator, Dugans is still plenty familiar with their players.

“Schematically they’re different,” Taggart said, “but just understanding the personnel, that’s been good for us.”

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