Warchant – Miami’s Cristobal, players discuss FSU rivalry, last year’s game

CHARLOTTE — It has been more than 15 years since Mario Cristobal last coached in a Florida State-Miami game, and 30 years since he played in one.

But when the topic turned to FSU on Thursday during the UM head coach’s conversation with reporters here at ACC Kickoff, the passion and intensity seemed as fresh as ever.

“To me, personally, that was always the greatest rivalry in sports. Always was,” said Cristobal, who was a star offensive lineman for the Hurricanes and later returned as an assistant coach. “The intensity. The caliber of player. The caliber of play. The physicality. And, of course, the dramatic turns of those games were incredible.”

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UM leads the all-time series 35-31, but the Seminoles got bragging rights last time out.

After dropping four straight in the series, FSU jumped out to a 20-7 lead in last year’s battle and then rallied late for a 31-28 victory.

Hurricanes tight end Will Mallory, who played in three of those prior UM victories, said he still hasn’t gotten over the disappointment of last year’s loss to the ‘Noles.

“That one stings, and it still stings,” Mallory said Thursday. “You say, ‘Move on from it.’ But you don’t forget that. You don’t forget that feeling, because you don’t ever want to feel that feeling again.”

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Unlike most of the players who take part in this rivalry, Mallory didn’t grow up in the Sunshine State. With his father, Mike Mallory, being a longtime college and NFL assistant coach, he moved around a good bit in his youth before landing in Jacksonville in high school.

But once he arrived at UM, he said, it didn’t take long to understand the significance of Florida State-Miami.

“You can feel it every year when it’s FSU week,” Mallory said, adding that most of his friends from Jacksonville actually attend Florida State. “It’s different. It’s personal. It’s different … and everyone feels it. That’s the reason you’re excited to come to Miami. And probably a reason why they’re excited to go to Florida State. You get to play in this big game. It is a lot of fun. There’s nothing like it.

“Last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but that atmosphere … you can’t beat that. It’s crazy. Well, I guess you can beat it at Miami. That’s better (laughing).”

Mallory and quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who also represented the Hurricanes at ACC Kickoff, both said Doak Campbell Stadium was among the best college atmospheres they’ve ever experienced.

But that only made the loss more painful, especially the way it ended. Van Dyke had just completed a 19-yard pass to near midfield, but he spiked the ball with only two seconds remaining, which ended the game by rule.

“It was their Senior Night, and they had this big fireworks show after,” Mallory said. “I remember the last play I got hit in the ribs, and I was just sitting there on the ground, and I was just like, ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’ Never want to feel that feeling again, that’s for sure.”

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Unlike Mallory, Van Dyke said he hasn’t reflected much on the way that game ended. He called it a “disappointing loss” but said it’s not something on which he dwells.

“You’ve got to move on,” Van Dyke said. “Especially in college football, you’ve got to move on to the next game. Because if you keep thinking about a bad play or a bad loss, that’s just going to keep haunting you and make you play even worse.”

One similarity between the quarterback and tight end is that neither really grew up with a rooting interest in the rivalry. Van Dyke is a Connecticut product and said he didn’t know much about the Seminoles and Hurricanes until he started getting recruited by UM.

But it didn’t take long for him to get acclimated.

“Definitely it’s a big deal,” Van Dyke said. “Last year, Coach [Manny] Diaz really emphasized that rivalry. We watched a lot of videos on it. It will always be a rivalry no matter how down the teams are. But I feel like both teams are trending in the right direction.”

Said Mallory: “I don’t think that will ever change.”


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