TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Willie Taggart remains hopeful that he’ll have his full complement of offensive linemen come Saturday at Miami.
Taggart said during Wednesday’s ACC teleconference that he’s optimistic to have both Landon Dickerson and Derrick Kelly available when the Seminoles meet the No. 17 Hurricanes (3:30 p.m., ABC).
Dickerson started at left tackle last week at Louisville after missing three games with an ankle injury, while Kelly hasn’t played since suffering an apparent lower body injury in the fourth quarter at Syracuse.
Kelly, however, was seen during the open portion of Wednesday morning’s practice, while Dickerson has yet to be observed.
“Both guys are working,” Taggart said. “Landon came back and played last week and, again, (was) a lot sorer than what we anticipated him to be after that game.
“Derrick Kelly is getting back a lot quicker … and he’s getting closer.”
Having Dickerson and Kelly would provide a big boost for an offensive line that, while coming off perhaps its best performance of the season, is also due to face what might be its toughest test of the season so far.
Miami ranks second nationally in total defense (244.8 yards per game), first in pass defense (138.8) and 23rd in rush defense (106.0). Senior defensive lineman Gerald Willis III is tied for the national lead with 10.5 tackles for loss, and sophomore teammate Jonathan Garvin is right behind him with 9.5.
“You always want to have your best players with you,” Taggart said. “To be able to get them back and play would be helpful, especially for us, where we’re trying to go with our offense.
“But if they’re not, then the guys behind them have go to be ready to play.”
Noles prepping for Miami QB Perry: Having made just one career start, there’s not a wealth of film on Miami quarterback N’Kosi Perry.
But Florida State defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett has seen enough to know what he and the Seminoles are in for this week.
“He’s very athletic, he throws a good ball,” Barnett said. “A lot of times people are tagged as (if) he’s a runner, he can’t throw. But he can do both.”
Indeed, the Ocala native has used equal parts arm and legs to be productive this season – he’s got 442 yards and seven touchdowns through the air, and broken free for lengthy gains in each of Miami’s last two games.
A former four-star prospect, Perry started the season splitting snaps with veteran Malik Rosier, but Perry’s hot start to the season prompted coach Mark Richt to make a permanent change prior to last week’s home game against North Carolina.
And although Miami’s defense made it easy on Perry – the Hurricanes scored three defensive touchdowns and Perry was asked to throw just 12 times – he still did enough to prevent Richt from having any second thoughts.
“He made some beautiful throws,” Richt said. “He made some down-the-middle throws. The first pass of the game was a beauty, went right down the middle and hit the receiver on a dead run.”
And when there’s no throw to be made, Perry isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run. With sack yardage removed, Perry averaged more than eight yards per carry against UNC.
“To be so young, he’s good,” sophomore defensive tackle Marvin Wilson said. “He makes good, routine throws. He’s very good with his feet. You know he’s going to extend some plays.”
Richt shares FSU-Miami memories: While he attended Miami and coaches there now, Richt, of course, came to prominence as an assistant with Florida State in the 1980s and 90s.
With Richt at the helm, Florida State won two national titles and saw a pair of his charges – Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke – earn Heisman Trophies.
Richt also took part in some memorable FSU-Miami matchups during that time. From Richt’s first year at FSU, in 1985, until his departure following the 2000 season (not including a one-year stint at East Carolina in 1989), the Seminoles and Hurricanes met eight times while each ranked in the top 10.
The two combined to win six national titles during that span.
“I think both programs do push each other, for sure,” Richt told reporters earlier this week. “The competition does that in football by position, but it also does that by teams. …
“In order for us to be great, both teams to be great, we’ve got to create this adversity or create this competition and this rivalry.”
As for which games stand out the most, well, those aren’t such happy memories for Florida State fans.
They certainly aren’t for Richt, who despite coaching in Coral Gables now, still remembers the way he felt after some of FSU’s tougher losses to UM.
“I guess the first ‘Wide Right’ (in 1991). That hurt,” Richt said. “And then, the year after the Seminole Rap (in 1988), that was painful. … Those stick out.”