FTRS: How is Richt fitting in at Miami culturally? He's famously very conservative and a strict disciplinarian, and he's now the head coach at a program that is famously neither of those things... Has the culture changed at all with his hiring?
SOTU: Coach Richt is fitting in just fine. The City of Miami is a diverse place, and I don't think UM fans care too much about a coach's background/religion, as long he produces wins/improvement. The team is playing with a lot of swag thus far, and that is something Hurricanes fans will always appreciate. I also do believe that the notion that 'Canes teams of the past were undisciplined is something of a misnomer. Sure they may have pushed the limits when it came to bravado, and perhaps they took a few too many penalties over the years, but you don't win 5 National Championship with out discipline. As far as the culture, yes he has, but not in the way you think. Their is a culture of confidence that was missing under Al Golden. It is palpable.
FTRS: After being one of the worst rushing teams in the nation last season, Miami seems to have a formidable run threat this year in Walton and Yearby to compliment the passing game, what do you see so far that has been the cause of this? Coaching, scheme, coach, etc...?
SOTU: Well to start, the Hurricanes offense is using a lot more power sets (I formations, two TE's, etc). Additionally 280 pound FB Marquez Williams is a sledgehammer of a lead blocker, and his presence is making a huge difference in the run game this season. Richt has also changed the attitude of the entire team, but no where is it more evident than in how the 'Canes run the ball. This is no longer a finesse offense. This is now a physical team on both sides of the ball. And while QB Brad Kaaya can still light you up (ask App State), they are more of a run to set up the pass offense in 2016. It also does not hurt that Walton and Yearby are both very talented backs, who can both run for power between the tackles, and gash you for long gains on the outside.
FTRS: Miami has always had strong recruiting classes, and now has an obvious upgrade at head coach, but do you feel like their #14 ranking is warranted at this point in the season after 3 wins against vastly inferior competition? Is the team all of a sudden as good as those surrounding the program seem to think it is?
SOTU: It's tough to say. Kaaya even came out this week and flat out stated that the team has "not accomplished anything yet." So clearly they are not letting the early impressive start go to their heads. But the Appalachian State game was supposed to be competitive, and on the road, UM was up 21-0 before the fans even sat down. I think that result opened some eyes. But again, it is not like they have had a conference game yet, or beaten say FSU. I think we learn a lot more about this team, this weekend.
FTRS: As Tech fans, we know all too well of Miami and Richt's separate successes against Georgia Tech and the flexbone, but are there any matchups, offensive or defensively, that are a concern to Cane fans heading into Saturday?
SOTU: Justin Thomas is always a concern. He's very experienced, and a maestro at running that offense. Dedrick Mills is pretty athletic for a B Back as well, and from what I have seen Clifton Lynch is pretty quick on the outside. But more than anything, it is the flex bone itself that concerns me. If UM plays undisciplined football and forgets their assignment, this GT team will run all over them.
FTRS: And finally, how do you see this game playing out? What's your final score prediction?
SOTU: I like Miami 38-10. I was surprised how much trouble Tech had with Clemson's defensive front last Thursday. I think that bodes well for a similarly athletic UM front 7 anchored by DE Chad Thomas and DT Kendrick Norton. Look for plenty of tackles for loss, and big games from Kaaya, Stacy Coley, and David Njoku this weekend.
Thanks again to Jerry from State of the U for his time spent with us. Kick is at noon tomorrow. Go Jackets!