Greetings everyone, Here at SB Nation we are blessed with a great network of sports blogs that we can gain insight from. This week we took advantage of that relationship to have a Q&A with The 7th Floor, the great Miami sports blog. I spoke with Jerry Steinberg about the upcoming game vs Miami (you can find my answers to his questions here) and here are his answers.
FTRS: What were your expectations for Miami coming into this season? Preseason projections for them were all over the place and, according to Football Outsiders, Miami has the biggest possible win range of any team in college football. What do you expect from Miami this season?
JS: I predicted the 'Canes would finish 8-4 if two things happened: Stephen Morris was an above average ACC QB, and the D stopped the run. So far Morris has been good but not spectacular. In their lopsided loss to K State he was not the issue. In order for Miami to finish at 8-4 or better, the defense really needs to pick it up. My expectations are tempered by the fact that UM is such a young team. If the young guys steadily improve however, it can still be a winning and successful year.
Read about the rest of our interview after the jump!
FTRS: What have been your impressions of Miami so far? After following up a nice ACC road win against BC you guys got trounced at Kansas State. Obviously the plan wasn't to get blown out at Kansas State but were there any positives from that game? Has Miami played about as well as you expected considering how young the team is?
JS: I was expecting some up and downs this year, but certainly thought despite the youth, they would be more competitive in Manhattan, KS. The only positives to that game were that RS FR LB Eddie Johnson was all over the field, and SO TE Clive Walford was solid in the passing game. The win in BC was gritty, considering their youth. I expect the team to improve as the young guys get their feet wet and the team gets more healthy (hopefully).
FTRS: Duke Johnson seems to be the real deal, lighting up the box scores so far. Has he really been a stud or has he benefitted from a couple of long runs? Can he handle the other roles expected of a running back (blocking, route running, etc..)?
JS: Duke's best run in the win over BC was probably a 2 yard run on 4th and 1, where he lowered his shoulder and pushed through two defenders. He's a total stud. Every time he touches the ball you can almost sense big things are going to happen. Like any young player he will need to improve some aspects of his game, but UM is already lining him up in the slot on some passing downs, so we suspect he has a very good understanding of the offense. Duke is the real deal. Do NOT blink this weekend when he has the ball.
FTRS: Ok so, attendance, what is up with that? It may be over blown because everyone likes to poke fun at ACC rivals but, it seems to be a serious issue this year. Is it as bad as everyone makes it out to be? As someone who has been to a game at Miami's new stadium I know its not quite what most consider a great stadium to tailgate at, is that the main issue? What can be done to fix it?
JS: Miami has had one home game this year, against a less than name worthy opponent, at noon in September in South Florida. Sick of Excuses?? Check out the much more thorough explanation/indictment by Lt Phillip Nolan here:
Author's Note: Read that article, it is very informative article about the state of the Miami fan base.
FTRS: How does Miami feel about Georgia Tech? We here at Tech consider Miami a huge game every year and our fan base always gets riled up for it, how about you guys?
JS: Miami has a very healthy respect for what Tech can do. Their triple option is never
easy to defend. Personally I am most impressed with how the defense has picked up in
Al Groh's 2nd season as DC. I watched the Va Tech game and most of the Virginia game, and GT's defense looked impressive. I know a lot of UM fans who are going to ATL this weekend for the game, which should tell you something. The Yellow Jackets will never rival FSU, but 'Canes fans see this as an important game against a very good opponent.
FTRS: How do most Miami fans feel about Coach Golden? How much of a break is
given to him considering all of the NCAA investigations that have been going on during his tenure?
JS: Most 'Canes fans absolutely LOVE him. Coach Golden was not here when all of the allegations occurred, & even after it was revealed what he had inherited, he still signed an extension. Miami fans are far from a patient bunch considering the tradition of success that program has had, but I think most UM fans realize this is a very young team. A few more years of 6-6 and things might change, but for now Miami fans feel very lucky to have Coach Golden at the helm.
FTRS: Whats the status of linebacker Denzel Perryman? How will his absence affect Miami's defensive gameplan and can you replace his impact?
JS: Perryman is out for the GT game. Gionni Paul and Jimmy Gaines are two young guys who will be asked to step in. We are sure GT will test the young LBs early and often. Perryman is arguably Miami's best defensive player, and considering this week's opponent the injury couldn't be at a worse time. Chances are Miami will blitz more often in Perryman's absence. It should be interesting.
FTRS: How do Miami fans feel about Stephen Morris? Has he been an upgrade over Jacory Harris?
JS: UM fans like Morris, but are also hopeful he can continue improving. Morris possesses well above average arm strength and athleticism. Jacory was way too hot and cold for most 'Canes fans' taste. Morris has been less turnover prone then Harris and that has been an improvement for sure. Despite having the bigger arm, he seems to take less chances then Harris. The jury is on Morris is still out though.
FTRS: How does Miami feel about Notre Dame "joining" the ACC?
JS: I have mixed emotions. The prospect of ND playing Miami more often, and rekindling the rivalry of the 80's is very appealing. But with the Golden Domers not fully joining the conference for football, and only committing to 5 ACC opponents a year, how often will that actually happen??? What affect will it have on ACC Basketball? Not sure if the Fighting Irish are exactly up there with the Dukes and Carolinas of the hoops world. I think like myself most Miami fans are happy but not thrilled, because of the terms.
FTRS: Finally, what is your prediction for this game?
JS: I very rarely pick against the 'Canes but I am really nervous about this game. Perryman being out is going to hurt. and the defense has really struggled. Miami will need to force turnovers and keep Orwin Smith from breaking too many long runs. I see Anthony Chickillo and Darius Smith having HUGE games. Keep on eye on another true freshman # 17 DE Tyriq McCord. When Miami has the ball Morris will
benefit from the return of Allen Hurns and move the ball efficiently against GT's stout defense. A long 4th quarter run by Duke Johnson will prove to be the difference. Miami wins 27-21.
Thanks to Jerry and the rest of the Seventh Floor Blog for helping put this together, again you can find my answers here. Can't wait for Saturday!