Keir Thomas will enjoy his first taste of the Florida State-Miami rivalry firsthand on Saturday. The Miami native and South Carolina transfer has 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Seminoles this fall.
“This is why you come to Florida State, to play games like this,” said Thomas, a defensive tackle who has 3.5 sacks the last two weeks. “This was one of those games I had circled this year, being from down there. Got a chance to come to Florida State, to play against those guys, this is a game we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives, talk about forever.”
Thomas said he has memories of watching the games growing up, including Miami native and FSU tailback Dalvin Cook flashing the “305” to the crowd in South Florida. It’s well understood that there are bragging rights among fans, but it’s also long been a point of pride or contention with players on both sides of the rivalry.
“To this day, if I talk to an older Florida State player, they always talk about that Miami game,” Thomas said. “No matter if they beat them bad or if it was a close game. That game will still be brought up.”
FSU has about 20 players who grew up or played their high school football in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Glades County. The group includes starters like Thomas, quarterback Jordan Travis, center Maurice Smith and cornerback Jarvis Brownlee Jr.
Thomas and defensive tackle Malcom Ray have friends or high school teammates on the Hurricanes but neither said there were will be discussions with old friends this week.
Travis has a different view of the rivalry, growing up and watching his older brother, Devon, play baseball for the Seminoles from 2010-12. He couldn’t recall going to an FSU-Miami football game but smiled at the memory of taking in a baseball game in Coral Gables in 2011.
“All I remember is going down to Miami for my brother’s baseball game against them,” Travis said. “It was pretty rowdy. I remember that for sure.”
Travis, who grew up in Palm Beach County, was often diplomatic and said he tries not to get too caught up in the opponent on Saturdays.
“I used to dream (about) this as a little boy,” Travis said. “But I try to stay calm no matter who it is. We play Clemson, we play Florida, we have played pretty big games this year.”
A week after battling a stomach bug that hit the team and the FSU campus, the Seminoles are healthier and getting their conditioning back for Saturday’s game.
“It’s usually that first day back (on the practice field) where it jumped on guys,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “Guys like Travis Jay. It really jumped on him. The DB position, just all that they have to do. I thought they looked better today. It didn’t jump on them. I thought Jordan, Travis, Dillan Gibbons has gotten some more work. It’s good to see those guys out and getting better acclimated to conditioning.”
Leading the way
Jermaine Johnson leads the ACC in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (11). He also leads Power 5 defensive linemen in tackles (54). Johnson’s sacks are the most for a Seminole since Brian Burns had 10 in 2018.
FSU has an interception in five consecutive games, the Noles longest streak since a six-game stretch in 2014. For the season, FSU has 13 takeaways, with safety Jammie Robinson having a hand in four (two interceptions, two fumbles).
The Seminoles were flagged for two penalties vs. NC State, the fewest in a game for the Seminoles since 2014 and tied for the 2nd-lowest single-game total by an ACC team this season.