10 September 2016: University of Miami Head Coach Mark Richt talks with quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) during the game against Florida Atlantic University in Miami's 38-10 victory at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida.   (Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire)
Miami Hurricanes

Brad Kaaya pursues first win over Florida State

Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has turned in some of his best work against archrival Florida State. Despite his best efforts, however, he hasn’t come out on the winning side in two previous tries. He’s hoping to put it all together on Saturday and help the Hurricanes break the stranglehold the Seminoles have in this series. The two teams are scheduled to kick off at 8:14 p.m. ET.

In two previous games against Florida State, Kaaya has thrown for a combined 721 yards and five touchdowns while tossing just one interception. He threw for a career-high 405 yards in last season’s 29-24 loss in Tallahassee. It was Miami’s sixth consecutive loss to the Seminoles. The Canes have lost nine of the last 11 games with their most fierce rivals.

It’s not for lack of trying, especially from Kaaya.

The 6-4, 215-pounder from Los Angeles has done all he could to put Miami on top. In fact, in just two seasons, he’s become one of the most prolific passers in the storied program’s history. Kaaya is third on the Canes’ all-time list with 50 career touchdown passes. He’s fifth all-time with 7,371 career passing yards, and fifth in completions (522).

Miami head coach Mark Richt, a quarterback himself at The U, said in his weekly teleconference that he’s seen the development and maturity in his leader.

“Overall, I think he’s doing well,” Richt said.

“I think he has faith and confidence in how we’re going about our passing game, as far as reads and progressions and what he’s trying to get accomplished on those.

“He’s doing a super job getting us in the right run, and what we call ‘mike decoration’ – we kind of point out who we decide is the mike linebacker, and that sets the blocking scheme for everybody in the passing game and in the running game. He’s very instrumental in getting everybody not only in the right play, but knowing who to block.”

Kaaya has shined brightest against Florida State. In last year’s game, Kaaya completed 29 of 49 passes and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He led the Canes on a second-half rally that wiped out a 20-10 halftime deficit. Miami led 24-23 with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Seminoles scored last to win the game.

Kaaya had similar results in the 2014 matchup with FSU. Kaaya threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The Canes jumped out to a 23-10 lead at halftime on the strength of Kaaya’s two scoring passes.

The Seminoles rallied and came away with a 30-26 triumph.

Kaaya and the undefeated, No. 10 Canes are hoping to turn things around on Saturday. Miami comes into the game for the first time since 2010 as the highest-ranked team in the state of Florida.

The Canes’ signal-caller will play an instrumental role in the outcome. Individually, he needs 320 passing yards to overtake Hurricane legend and Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta for fourth place on the program’s all-time career passing yards list.

In addition, Kaaya could throw for 200-plus yards for the 22nd time in his 29-game career. He has eight career 300-plus-yard games and has thrown for a touchdown in 26 games.

Continuing to put up big numbers, coupled with what is developing into a very solid running game, could give Kaaya more resources this weekend. A more equipped Kaaya could, in turn, give Miami the edge it’s looking for on Saturday.

Brad Kaaya pursues first win over Florida State
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