2010 Virginia Tech Football: Miami Q&A with Eye of the Hurricane

One of the newer Miami blogs, Eye of the Hurricane, is here to give us some insight on the Canes before Saturday's big matchup in Miami. My answers to their questions are here

GC: Who do you want to see at starting QB for Miami on Saturday?

EOTC: Personally, I want to see Stephen Morris. I think you have to go with the hot hand and he certainly has that. In the two games he's started (Maryland and Georgia Tech), the Miami offense has produced 500 total yards in each.

The offense has responded to Morris and he's provided a spark. Why bench him? But Randy Shannon has stated repeatedly in the media that when healthy, Jacory Harris will step back into his starting role, trying to stave off any semblance of a quarterback controversy.

According to a report by ESPN.com released Tuesday evening, Harris hasn't been cleared for contact and it looks like Morris will get the start. IF (and this is a big if), Morris leads UM to victory on Saturday, Shannon will have quite a dilemma on his hands.

That being said, I expect Bud Foster to give Morris looks he hasn't seen before, trying to confuse him. Harris might be better suited to play against the Virginia Tech defense because he's seen them twice now, and he has a better grasp of what Tech does defensively. However, Morris has better mobility, pocket presence, and arm strength, to name just a few. I really believe Morris, at this point in the season, gives Miami the best chance to win.

What do you think accounts for the difference between Jacory Harris' numbers on the road vs. his numbers at home?

Quite simply, I'm not sure Harris has the mental toughness to deal with hostile environments and the rigors of playing on the road.

Shannon has made the quarterbacks off-limits to the media, stemming from a Twitter remark by an angry fan after the Ohio St. game. It also led to the immediate cancelation of all players' Twitter accounts.

Shannon has protected both Morris and Harris, and there's nothing wrong with that to an extent. In my opinion, quarterbacks need a thick skin and should take criticism in stride, something that will follow them to the NFL if they're talented enough to play on the next level. I think you find out what your mental make-up is in college, and if your quarterback can't handle the media coverage and scrutiny, I think that's a red flag.

The Canes have been tough to stop offensively when they've run the ball effectively. What are the keys to stopping the Miami ground attack with Damien Berry, Lamar Miller and Mike James? Also, what has happened to Graig Cooper's playing time this year?

In order to stop Miami's ground game, you have to run blitz, put pressure on the line. The Hurricanes average 318 pounds across the offensive line, so you're not going to outmuscle them, but I think you can out-scheme them. Miami also plays a couple of true freshman upfront: Seantrel Henderson (6'8, 330) at right tackle and Brandon Linder (6'6, 300) at multiple positions. Confuse the freshmen with multiple looks, bring pressure, and penetration at the line of scrimmage should result, which would limit what the Hurricanes can do offensively.

As far as the backs, Berry (6'0, 215) and James (5'11, 217) are downhill runners, do not shy away from contact, and are always falling forward. Those two are your between-the-tackles runners, and if Berry can shake a tackle or two, he has the wheels to take it to the house. Probably something Hokie fans aren't aware of, but Berry started his career as a safety. Both are effective receivers, but this really hasn't been utilized very often.

Lamar Miller (5'11, 210) is the break away threat. He is the best prospect UM has had at RB since Frank Gore. Their styles don't really compare, but their potential and big-play capability do. The offense has suffered somewhat when Miller gets limited touches or has missed games.

Graig Cooper (6'0, 205) tore his ACL in the Champs Sports Bowl loss to Wisconsin. He rehabbed rather quickly and got touches in Miami's season opener against FAMU. He's been primarily the kickoff returner, but just doesn't look the same returning kicks. He has gotten some burn at RB recently and had a nice looking TD run against Georgia Tech. I'm convinced he was going to leave school early for the NFL last season, but the turf at the Citrus Bowl prevented that.

Which player on defense do you expect to step up and have a big game?

I expect OLB Sean Spence (6'0, 220) to have a big game. He's a Butkus Award Semifinalist and is enjoying a fine season. But the player who needs to have a big game is MLB Colin McCarthy (6'2, 240).

I suspect the Hokies are going to try and establish an effective ground attack, and several teams have produced good results. The Buckeyes ran for 181 yards, the Seminoles ran for 298 yards, the Cavaliers racked up 185, and the Yellow Jackets gained 309 yards on the ground. The Hurricanes have struggled at times stopping the run, and McCarthy was front and center in those struggles. If he's pushed around and allows the Hokie RBs to run free, Miami will get beat, handedly.

Are Canes fans satisfied with the job Randy Shannon has done so far or are they itching to see championships or a regime change?

This is a bitter debate that has the fanbase, former players, and members of the media split right down the middle. Everyone is reminded how Virginia Tech stuck with Frank Beamer and he eventually produced a big winner. I doubt there is that kind of time for Randy Shannon.

First of all, you can never lose to Florida St. the way Miami did, especially at home. Secondly, he can't make a habit out of losing to ACC cellar dwellers. Thirdly, Shannon needs to produce at least an ACC title, and barring a small miracle, that doesn't look likely again this year. Expectations were high this year, as he was dealing with a favorable schedule, his widely regarded Top 5 recruiting class from 2008 was entering their third year in the program, and all the prognosticators from around the country expected Miami to contend for the ACC title.

When it became clear that the program wasn't going to take a step forward, coupled with a few head scratching losses, the continued lack of discipline and consistency, not getting the most out of a very talented group, the fans naturally started to ask if Randy is the right man for the job, and I think it's a fair question.

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