Diaz doesn't reveal quarterback plan for Florida State game

Will it be Williams or Perry for Miami, Blackman or Hornibrook for Seminoles?

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Manny Diaz has a good idea which of his quarterbacks will start Saturday's game against Florida State. He's just not ready to say who yet.

The first-year Miami head coach said Monday he and offensive coordinator Dan Enos have a plan.

"Dan and I have sort of sat down and sort of mapped out what we are going to do this week and what's going to happen," Diaz told reporters. "We'll do what we've done the last few weeks. We'll announce our starter probably Wednesday after practice and let everybody know. We have an idea of what we're going to do."

Redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who started the first five games of the season, relieved redshirt sophomore N'Kosi Perry in the third quarter last Saturday at Pittsburgh, rallying the Hurricanes (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a 16-12 victory.

Similarly, Florida State second-year head coach Willie Taggart is being coy about the quarterback situation. Redshirt sophomore James Blackman started the season for the Seminoles (4-4, 3-3 ACC), but graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook started last Saturday's 35-17 win against Syracuse.

"We felt like (he) was going to give us the best chance to win the ballgame," Taggart told reporters Monday.

Both have experience playing against Miami. Blackman was the starter in 2017 when the Hurricanes won 24-20 to snap a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry. Hornibrook was the MVP of the 2017 Orange Bowl, when Wisconsin defeated Miami 34-24. The former Badgers quarterback completed 23 of 34 pass attempts for four touchdowns during the game.

Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook throws in the first half against North Carolina State in Tallahassee, Florida, Sept. 28, 2019. The Seminoles beat the Wolfpack 31-13.
Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook throws in the first half against North Carolina State in Tallahassee, Florida, Sept. 28, 2019. The Seminoles beat the Wolfpack 31-13.

The Seminoles nearly pulled off a victory in last year's game at Hard Rock Stadium, but Miami rallied from a 27-7 deficit in the third quarter to win 28-27.

Florida State is 4-1 in Tallahassee this season and has won four consecutive games at home for the first time since 2015.

The Hurricanes come into the game with the nation's No. 15 total defense, posing a challenge for an offense that has improved from last season but still sputtered at times.

"Miami won the last two," Taggart said of Florida State's recent losing streak. "I think that's how it's changed, and we need to see if we can stop that."

Diaz, who was raised in Miami (and is the son of the former mayor) but graduated from Florida State, knows the importance of this game.

"It's one of those games that you come to Miami to play in, to coach in," he said. "It's a legacy game. It's a game that you'll remember. You'll always be asked what your record is against Florida State while you're here at Miami."

That's not lost on Taggart, who has yet to notch a signature win in his two seasons on campus. Taggart is just 9-11 since coming to Florida State, which finished with a losing record last season for the first time in 41 years. The pressure is on for Taggart to show frustrated fans some sign of improvement.

A win against Miami would be a good start.

"The rivalry is the rivalry," Taggart said. "It's going to always be big time. It's going to always be where we don't like each other, and that's just the way it is."

This year's meeting is somewhat of an anomaly for a rivalry that frequently has championship implications. However, Saturday's game will be the first since 1975 that neither team has a record above .500.

"I think we're both kind of waiting for that kick-start to get things going," Diaz said. "But I know this -- I know they've got outstanding personnel. I know they have game-winning type players that can beat you alone. They'll have our full attention, and we don't really pay attention to what their record is, and it certainly shouldn't affect us and our record."