Check out my responses over at SotU!!
FTRS: In his first two seasons, Al Golden has compiled a 6-6 and 7-5 record, respectively, but the Hurricanes are 4-0 coming into this game. What is the general consensus on Golden amongst the fan base? How is he different as a coach than Randy Shannon?
SotU: Golden is, well, golden right now. He's doing all the little - and big - things right. He relates so well to fans and media. He's polite, energetic, and likable. Most importantly, and one of the biggest things that separates him from Shannon, is how he strengthened relationships with local high school coaches, some of which had been damaged. That was huge, and the recruiting has paid off nicely so far. And it's hard not to pull for and respect a guy who has stood by the U through this shitstorm known as the NCAA. Beating our biggest in-state foe helped a hell of a lot too.
FTRS: Miami is not unlike Georgia Tech in having documented issues with filling the stadium. However, the Florida game in Week 2 (?) brought a full house with it. What is your assessment of the crowd issues faced by The U, and what was different about the Florida game?
SotU: It's Florida. It's Miami. It's the oldest and nastiest rivalry among the state's Big 3. And it also happens to be the last time they're scheduled to play, barring UF's administration getting their head out of the sand (I know firsthand that Blake James wants to keep playing the game). Florida travels as well as any school in the country. Combine all that, and you've got a party, which it was. However, try to fuel that same party for students/alums to make a trek literally across Dade county to the stadium for, say, Wake Forest? Therein lies the problem, especially with a 74,000+ seat stadium and 9-ish thousand student body we have. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out our problems.
FTRS: We learned the hard way last year that Duke Johnson is an absolute force as a running back AND kick returner. Where would you say he ranks nationally as a back and an all-around player? Where you he rank in Miami history at those two spots?
SotU: Well, he came close as a freshman to breaking Willis McGahee's ridiculous 2002 record for all purpose yards, so that speaks for itself. He's always a play away from taking it to the house. He has speed with second-level vision you want as both a ball carrier and returner. My concern is injury. He's smaller and gets dinged up here and there. We've seen a nice balance in the run game with Dallas Crawford and the human dump truck Gus "Bus" Edwards. Miami doesn't need to give Duke 20 carries/game between the tackles, but figure out a healthy mix of inside carries with touches in space.
FTRS: QB Stephen Morris has seemed marginally better in his career than was Jacory Harris. How do the two compare, and would you agree that Morris is slightly better?
SotU: Well, Morris shattered records last year for single-game passing yards and gave Miami its best QB performance in countless years. Jacory put up numbers, but also lobbed up way, way too many 50/50 balls and ensuing turnovers. Morris is significantly higher on my totem pole, especially if he can lead this team to some postseason success.
FTRS: A lot of people claimed that Miami's win against Florida was more of a Gator loss than a Cane win, given that Florida turned the ball over 6 times. However, I see it more as Miami's defense being extremely opportunistic, and taking absolutely everything that the opponent is willing to give them...to the point that carelessly carrying the ball WILL result in a fumble, and throwing into traffic WILL result in an interception. Do you think that Miami got lucky in winning that game, or did they truly deserve it?
SotU: I think Miami certainly deserved to win the game (you don't stay on the field defensively for 38-plus minutes and show no sign of slowing/tiring late without good conditioning and strength, which deserves massive praise for UM's coaching and training staff), but were both good and fortunate to some degree. The first forced fumble? Hat on the ball. Great play. First INT? Pressure, which led to a Driskel making a bad throw. A miscommunication from Driskel and a WR leads to a later pick. A sack-fumble where the LT was abused by DE Tyriq McCord. Miami had plenty to do with the result. And I say that too because Miami actually CAUGHT those interceptions. How many games have you seen a team lose because they dropped a potential game-winning pick, only to allow the winning score on the next play? Miami didn't, but no one seems to care enough to give credit to that.
FTRS: By nature, Miami has a ton of talent all across the field on both sides of the ball, and this year they're looking far better than the last two years. I actually expect that this is the first year that the Coastal is represented in Charlotte by someone without the word "Tech" in the name. However, every team has a chink in the armor. If someone is to beat Miami this year, how will it be done?
SotU: Probably force Miami to be one dimensional and have the athletes in the secondary to stay with Dorsett, Waters, Hurns, etc, which is a tall task. That would require an athletic, meat-grinding front seven that could stuff the run and get Morris out of the pocket. UF game was Exhibit A. Or...Miami could just lay an egg one game. No team is free of missed assignments, penalties, and bad decisions/turnovers, especially on the road.
FTRS: I gotta ask, what is the difference between Coral Gables and Miami, both geographically and culturally? I have certain media-provoked ideas about what Miami would look like...is Coral Gables similar, or wildly different?
SotU: For my first year of law school, I lived right on the edge between Miami and Coral Gables. CG is lined with beautiful streets, with gorgeous landscaping and a country club feel for the most part. If you drive off UM's gorgeous campus, you'll likely wind up on a scenic residential street owned by university professors and local professionals. Miami is such a mix it's hard to describe in few words. Brickell/Coconut Grove has beautiful high rise waterfront condos. So to the beaches. There are certainly bad parts. And they are all a few minutes from each other. The culture of the City of Miami is strongly Cuban, but the city really is a melting pot of a number of different people and cultures. So.....if you haven't made the trip to experience it for yourself, it's a trip you should make at some point!
FTRS: What are your thoughts and expectations for this game? Who wins? Is it close? More or less emotionally taxing than last year?
SotU: Miami wins 27-13. I think we're seeing a more physical and athletic Miami front seven, with the emergence of Denzel Perryman as a true superstar, Alex Figueroa and Tyriq McCord as rising stars, Curtis Porter as a plug in the middle, and plenty of athletes behind them. And as mentioned before, this defense is well-conditioned. And after blasting two weak opponents the past two weeks, they are pretty well-rested. Offensively, Miami is just too hot to slow right now, with a three-headed rushing attack, setting up the threat of play action to a set of fast WRs.
A big thanks to Craig Smith and his crew over at State of the U for taking the time to answer our questions! Check them out for more perspective from behind enemy lines, and follow them on Twitter!.