Hey all! Before we start our VT conversation I wanted to get all your thoughts on the first half of the season. Give me one thing you're happy about, one question you're still waiting to see answered and one thing you're disappointed in when it comes to Canes football.
I'm happy with the overall development of the team when it comes to players getting better from year one to two and so forth. Besides it being noted that players have gained considerable weight during the "U Tough" program it seems that players have started to get better on the field as well. A player I'm sure we'll note in the discussion as a guy that will need to take a prominent role in the offense due to injury is a perfect example, Dallas Crawford. When he first came to UM he was noted as an athlete in High School and did a little bit of everything in the offense (QB,RB and WR). He came to UM and Golden believed he'd be a good slot receiver/scat back but he also thought if Crawford developed he could gain meaningful carries over the course of any season. During his last few years on campus he's grown from simply a gimmick player (see last year's VT game) to a special teams ace to eventually being forced into starting running back duty due to injury. Many Canes fans wondered who our "Goal Line Back" coming into the season would be due to not having the true "bruising" Running Back but Crawford has fit the bill and is now inline to take on a larger role as this season has progressed.
The guy I'm still waiting on is Stephen Morris. He shows flashes of brilliance at times with laser throws for touchdowns and then he throws into double coverage off his back foot for an interception. I really believe it's a mental game with him. He finished with crazy good numbers the last 4 game of last season and we're still waiting on that golden arm. Can "Morris Magic" come back? Possibly. But as of right now, it doesn't look too good.
Lastly, the thing I'm most disappointed in this season is the defensive pass rush. I actually don't blame the players on this but the defensive philosophy in general. Guys, I'm going to tell you in on a secret, when AQM and McCord come onto the field all they do when they pass rush is one of two things. 1) They "stunt" which means they try to jump inside the "A gaps" to pass rush. 2) They try and edge rush (beating the Offensive table outside to the QB)... THAT'S IT. There is no other creativity to it. No Swim moves, bull rushes, nothing. IT'S. THE. SAME. THING. EVERY. TIME. I don't care that AQM is a freshman, he can learn to do more than 2 things in one year. Overall i'm happy with the run defense but the pass rushing creativity, in my opinion, is horrendous.
To counter your disappointment on the defense, I am acrually very happy with the overall progress of the defense. Of course coming of last season's debacle there was nowhere to go but up. And I still feel there is room for a whole lot of improvement. Especially tackling.
But seeing young guys like Tyriq McCord and Tracy Howard become impact players has me optimistic that the D will take the next step, in the near future.
The thing I am still waiting to see is the team to put together a complete game where all aspects (offense, defense, and special teams) click. Despite the 7-1 record, I still do not feel Miami has played a complete game.
My only disappointment would be the the couple of times the team started the game flat (Wake/UNC). If they give full effort all of the time, good things will happen.
I am extremely pleased with the running game. Despite the loss of Duke, he has shown great promise this year and has started to become a complete back. I am very happy with the growth that Dallas Crawford has made. People forget that he was a quarterback in high school and was a scout team defensive back when he got to UM. He is a big back and I have confidence that he can carry the rock while Duke is out.
Matt Goudis is a disappointment. He played with Dallas in high school and was an original Michigan commit. I just feel like every time he attempts a field goal, I have to say a prayer. I lack confidence in his ability. He has choked on national television twice. He also missed a gimme field goal against Wake at home. I, unfortunately, compare all UM kickers to Greg Cox and Carlos Huerta, who were automatic.
I have two points and I'll lay them out quickly and nicely J :
Happy - I've been very excited that Miami has learned how to win close games and finish in the 4th quarter. In years past, we probably go 1-2 against GT, UNC, and Wake given our slow starts. This season, the team has triumphed over adversity and played well in crunch time. Coaching has a lot to do with this improvement. Give credit to Al Golden and his staff. The offensive line has been solid all season and has been the difference late in games.
Question to be answered - Can Stephen Morris play to his full potential? With Duke out, more pressure is on Morris to lead this team to the ACC Championship Game. The ankle injury can't be an excuse anymore. It's time for Morris to play like a senior and rise to the occasion. His first half against FSU showed how well the Canes offense can play if Morris is accurate with the football.
I'll try and be succinct like John too:
Happy - Learning how to win tight games. Last year, we would have surely lost the UNC and Wake Forest games. Probably would have lost the UF game. Hell, even the GT game, which was a hard fought battle that saw the Canes go down by double digits early, may have ended with a loss. A sign of maturity on a team is finding ways to win games like those. For me, that's a big step in the right direction.
Question to be answered: When is Deon Bush going to get back to beingDEON BUSH. You know, the 4-star recruit, U.S. Army All-American High School player, Freshman All-American, UM NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR, Most highly decorated player from the 2012 class (to this point) not named Duke Johnson? That guy. That is guy we desperately need back in our Secondary. You've seen me, and others, lament AJ Highsmith's play at Safety. A healthy/full-speed Deon Bush eliminates that. And, not to brag, but I'm not the only one wanting to see this. Al Golden himself singled out Deon for "needing to step up". So, basically, we all see that, for whatever reason, he hasn't been the player he was last year. I want to see if he can return to being that impact guy. Or, if this level of performance is his ceiling.
Disappointed - Honestly, the transfers have let me down, for the most part. We know Pat O'Donnell (aka Drago) is arguably the best punter in America. His 46.5 yard per punt average speaks to that. Justin Renfrow played so well in the GT-UNC-Wake stretch of the schedule he was promoted to starter for the FSU game. I'm sorry to report that those are the highlights from the transfer players. Yes, David Gilbert provided pressure in the UF game, but beyond that, he's really provided little impact. And Ufomba Kamalu has done little more than model his jersey. I just...for guys coming in who had mature bodies and purportedly advanced understanding of the game, I expected so much more.
Well.. We didn't come out on top last week against the mighty Noles but who knows, maybe we'll see them again! We covered the postmortem pretty in-depth via our coverage of the Coaches Teleconference after the game as well as the overall post game breakdowns so lets get to the next opponent, Virginia Tech.
To be honest, i'm pretty scared of the Hokies. They're coming off two losses against teams they should have beat to be frank and if they lose to the Canes, their chance at an ACC Championship spot is all but dashed. Due to living in the Northern Virginia area I've got a pretty darn good feel for how their fan base has been reacting to their play the last two weeks and to say they're perturbed would be putting it kindly. I have a feeling that VT knows this and if they come out flat again for the third straight week and if Logan plays the "how many times can I throw/fumble the ball to the other team before I'm benched" game the Hokies may not want to come back to Blacksburg. Heck, they may not be ALLOWED to come back. This puts the Canes in a very precarious position due to the desperation they'll be facing, very similar to what transpired during the UNC game three weeks ago.
What do you all think?
Well, for one, I am glad the game is at home in prime time. I think those factors will help get the 'Canes fired up. I will never take a Beamer coached Va Tech team lightly but I believe Miami matches up well with the Hokies. Dallas Crawford is going to have to step up.... again. VT has been careless with the ball, especially of late, and Miami's strong suit is forcing turnovers. If its an ugly slug fest UM could be in trouble. But I think Miami comes out on top when all is said and done.
The 7pm ESPN kickoff is huge for Miami. The crowd needs to be ready and loud from the get go. Against Wake, UNC, and GT, the Canes started slowly and needed to rally late to win. Va Tech has one of the nation's best defenses and will be difficult to score on if Miami falls behind.
The key to the game is the play of VT QB Logan Thomas. His turnover issues have cost the Hokies and he probably feels personally responsible for the losses to Duke and Boston College. Thomas has far too much pressure on him because Virginia Tech doesn't have reliable weapons at RB and WR. He is being asked to make nearly every play for the offense, both on the ground and in the passing game. Miami needs to rattle him early. If Thomas has early success and gains confidence, he will be tougher to stop. Expect the Canes to be far more aggressive on defense than we saw against FSU. D'Onofrio can afford to blitz and leave his corners in one-on-one situations.
This is the new biggest game of the year for the Hurricanes. They must come out and play smash mouth football and show the Hokies who the bosses are in the Coastal Division. VT has been where we want to do and we have to show them that their days in the proverbial sun are over.
Miami needs to establish the run early. They need to convert third downs and keep their defense fresh. By keeping Logan "Turnover" Thomas in passing situations our secondary will feast on their ability to pick passes off at will. Thomas has no key receiver and has no runner that he can count on. If Miami's front seven can apply a minimal amount of pressure on him he will be throwing it up for grabs.
I like the 7 pm kickoff at Sun Life. Miami will play at night game on ESPN, coming through the smoke and showing the national audience that Miami is still a key player in the ACC title picture.
I see Stephen Morris and Allan Hurns hooking up again, but I see Stacey Coley stealing the show through the air and in the return game. Dallas will get over 100 yards, but Coley scores early and often.
When I sat in on the Al Golden phone conference with the local media on Sunday, I detected something in his voice. I sensed urgency in his voice and the fact that he wants to have his team perform better for the faithful and he wants to do it quickly. I think that if it were up to Al, he would play the game on Wednesday and get the ill-effects of the FSU game out of the players' systems.
These are two teams that are starving for a victory. Miami needs to overcome the bad taste in its mouth from the FSU loss and VTech needs to overcome losses to Duke and Boston College. I see this one going the Canes way and the Hokies scratching their heads preparing for next season.
To carry on your point Scoot, Special teams will be important on Saturday. Matt Goudis has been struggling and the Canes cannot afford any more missed field goals. I have been disappointed with Miami's kickoff return unit. Hopefully Coley or Burns can break one on Saturday and create some momentum. Punter Pat O'Donnell has been one of the Canes' best players. His ability to pin Wake Forest deep was one of the keys to that win. Virginia Tech K Cody Journell was named ACC Specialist of the Week after nailing two long field goals against BC.
What scares me, more than anything, is the fact that Duke Johnson is out for the season. He was such an integral part of our team on Special Teams and Offense. And, with VT's defense being one of the best in the country (3rd in yards per play against FBS opponents) having a player of his caliber is a necessity.
To me, this is the entire season. Right here. Right now. I, like many of you, have long held the belief that at a MINIMUM we needed to play in the ACCCG for this season to be a success. To do that, to get to that point, the first step has to be beating Virginia Tech head to head.
Whatever we've been saving, whatever we haven't shown, whatever we've been waiting for "the perfect time" to pull out, now is it. I really can't overstate how important I believe this game to be.
Okay, last two questions:
What do you think the end score will be and why?
Lastly, which car would you rather have:
Miami wins 31-20. The Canes start fast and put pressure on Logan Thomas. Miami's defense continues to be opportunistic and forces at least two turnovers. Dallas Crawford and Miami's strong offensive line finishes the game in the fourth quarter with a few sustained drives.
I think the Canes put it all together and rally around Duke Johnson's victory for a 31-13 win.
Ferrari - chicks gig em
This is a big game for the Orange and Green. Miami wins 35-17
31-28 Canes. VT plays tough, Canes look for their bearings in their first game without Duke. A classic thriller vs a tough rival.
As far as cars, I'm #TeamFerrari
Thanks guys! Always a pleasure getting together and talking Canes football!