This week I exchanged questions with the Miami blog State of the U. They talk about the misnomer of "the U's culture", Al Golden's rebuilding process, and the general inconsistencies that come with playing such a young lineup.
TKP: Okay, before I get into specifics I want to ask about all of the stuff that happened last summer. Miami is pretty much the poster child of the dreaded report "Charles Robinson sighted on campus". Ironically, the reported infractions didn't really surprised that many people (including myself), because it seemed to fit in with "The U"'s culture. Has there a been a noticeable change in the way this team acts and performs on and off the field under Al Golden?
SOTU: First and foremost, a portion of the allegations have been proven false (see DeQuan Jones $10K allegation). I do not agree that the allegations fit the current or recent culture of the school. The overblown swagger was more a thing of the 80s/90's. Guys like Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Ken Dorsey, and Willis MaGahee better represent the current culture. While his teams did not produce on the field, the Randy Shannon era was epitomized by outstanding graduation rates and well above average academic achievements. UM has exceeded the NCAA average GSR in each of the last eight years, improving from 77 percent to 93 percent from 2005 to 2012. Al Golden has continued the trend Student atheletes from UM have continued to represent the school in a very dignified manner. The portion of the allegations that may be true are most indicative of a larger problem that probably occurs at more major programs then not.
TKP: There seems to be an obsession in the national media to be the first to proclaim that "the U is back!", even though the Canes haven't been particularly relevant since Jacory and Co. got destroyed on a rainy Saturday in Blacksburg in 2009. Is this officially a "rebuilding" process for Golden? And if so, how long do you foresee the process taking?
SOTU: The team is playing 21 freshman. If anything expectations are a bit too high. The good news is that the freshman class is very talented and gaining invaluable experience. Chances are the U will be back by the time they are seniors.
TKP: Getting to this team now, the best word to describe them seems to be...inconsistent. Is that a sign of age? Coaching? Just the fact that their non-conference schedule held three of the best 10 teams this season? If not any of those, what seems to be the root of the problem?
SOTU: As with any young team, they are just as capable of a spectacular play as they are a mental error. All part of growing up. The non conference schedule, featuring Kansas State and Notre Dame has certainly been a challenge to say the least.
TKP: Coming from a team with secondary issues, which Stephen Morris am I most likely to see? The one that passed for over a thousand yards and seven scores in just two games? Or the one that hasn't passed for than 225 yards a game over the rest of the season? What can Tech do to force him out of his comfort zone?
SOTU: If not for a ton of dropped passes, Morris' numbers would be far better across the board. If his receivers hold on to the ball, expect big numbers. He played through a badly sprained ankle against FSU and had a so so game. Having time to heal on the bye week should help as well.
TKP: Is there any other player that I should be afraid of on the Miami offense?
SOTU: RB Duke Johnson is also banged up, but if healthy is an extremely dangerous runner, receiver, and returner. RB Mike James is not as explosive but can be a load to tackle. WRs Rayshawn Scott, Allen Hurns, and Phillip Dorsett can all make a big play as well.
TKP: Defensively, Miami has been less than stellar? What should the Hokies do to attack the Hurricanes in order to be successful?
SOTU: The teams that have had the most success have pounded the football. Teams with mobile QBs (see Colin Klein of K State & Everett Golson of Notre Dame) have also given UM a ton of trouble. I expect Logan Thomas to run some come Thursday.
TKP: On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you in the Canes' chances on Thursday and why?
SOTU: 9. Miami's defense started to show signs in the FSU game. Their offense is due for a huge game. Morris should be healthy.
TKP: Last question; what is your score prediction?
SOTU: Miami wins 31-27.