Q & A With State Of The U

Mike Ehrmann

This week our Q & A series takes place with Jerry Steinberg of SB Nation's Miami Hurricanes' blog, State Of The U (formerly The 7th Floor). In this Q & A session, we discuss the game, Al Golden's sweating problem, our favorite memories of the series and the Hurricanes' daunting schedule from earlier this year. Jerry also made his prediction for this weekend's game. You can also find my answers to their questions here. So if you want the outlook from a Hurricane perspective, look no further. Plenty of Hurricane coverage this week (and no, not Sandy) here on Gobbler Country.

During the Q & A I refer to myself as GC (GobblerCountry) and Jerry as SOTU (State Of The U). You can also find my answers to their questions here. Enjoy, and GO HOKIES!


GC: Looking back at the Hurricanes schedule, it's a murderers row of sorts that no one knew would be so difficult back in September. Is there anything more to the 'Canes losses to Florida State and North Carolina, and blowouts against Notre Dame and Kansas St. than they are really good football teams?

SOTU: The losses to the Fighting Irish and Wildcats respectively, look a lot less brutal, considering that they are now arguably 2 of the 3 best teams in the country. I'd say those losses accurately portray what happens when a very young and talented team goes against more experienced talented squads, The 'Canes have given 21 major freshman playing time this year, and that is a tough formula when you go against the big boys. The Carolina game was very winnable. In fact a lot of 'Canes fans would argue if QB Stephen Morris doesn't roll his ankle and miss the last 2 minutes of the game, UM rallies for the win. FSU was clearly the better team, but Miami hung in with them for 3 quarters. And Morris was not 100% for that game. Miami's losses like their wins, are fair indicators of what the team is, a very young and inconsistent team with a lot of talent and a bright future.

GC: Having said that, the Hurricanes have some signature wins (at least as far as ACC competition is concerned), beating Georgia Tech and N.C. State. What have they done differently in those games? Or is it again just a case of the quality of the teams they played?

SOTU: The biggest difference in Miami's wins and losses are the explosive plays on offense. In Miami's wins, Mike James and Duke Johnson have been able to produce big plays in the running game, and Stephen Morris has connected with Rayshawn Scott, Phillip Dorsett, and Allen Hurns for long passes. The 'Canes have sort of lived and died by the big plays. Additionally in the wins, they have been able to force turnovers which has covered the defense's inability to consistently stop anyone.

GC: Looking at the Hurricanes' remaining ACC schedule, if they should beat Virginia Tech, is there any way they won't end up representing the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game?

SOTU: Depending on what Duke does from here on out, the match-up with the Blue Devils 11/24 could still decide things. But clearly a win on Thursday and Miami will be in the driver's seat.

GC: Tell us about this Duke Johnson character. Is he the real deal and why should Hokies be worried?

SOTU: Duke is the real deal and then some. He did sprain his ankle pretty bad against FSU and has been limited in practice, so maybe the Hokies catch a little bit of a break this week if he isn't 100%. But Johnson is a rare talent. He is stronger then you'd expect for a 5'9 180 pound back, and his quickness, vision, and cutting ability are special. He can make plays running, receiving, and on special teams. He's only a true freshman, so VT should be worried about having to see him not only on Thursday but at least for the next two years as well.

GC: Why does Al Golden sweat like he's in a sauna? Don't say it's just a Miami thing, I've seen it on the road in more temperate climates too.

SOTU: HAHA!!!! Well for one thing, he wears a shirt and tie to every game. More then that though, I think he is just a very intense guy come gameday. Notice, however, that no matter how much perspiration slows, the hair is almost always perfect. He must have gotten Jimmy Johnson's secret!

GC: Okay, so we gotta talk about this Bethune-Cookman game. I didn't believe my girlfriend when she told me the attendance until I saw the pictures. So what happened? Was the Kansas St. loss that demoralizing to the fan base? Was it some kind of protest? Was it because Bethune-Cookman was in town (hey, we packed the Lane for Austin Peay!)? Or does this team just lack the flair or swagger of previous versions of Miami football? Because I'm really baffled by it.

SOTU: Very good question. Well for one, early September games at noon in Miami are very bad ideas. Some of the fans who went to that game told me the next day they were literally blistered. For a more detailed response, I'd like to defer to an article by State of the U's very own Lt. Phillip Nolan. It gives far more in depth reasoning then I can.

GC: For Virginia Tech fans who are traveling to Miami for the first time (doubtful based on how many times the Hokies have been to the Orange Bowl), what are some places they should check out. Miami is known for its lavish nightlife, so give us a taste.

SOTU: Where to start? Miami has no shortage of things to do (partly why the attendance problem). Head to South Beach for sure and grab a few drinks at Wet Willie's on Ocean Drive. There are a number of world class restaurants on Lincoln Road. Hit the beach for sure during the day. If your looking for the college crowd, head on over to Coconut Grove. Thursday night in the Grove is college night and there are tons of bars to check out.

GC: In your questions you asked me my favorite/least favorite moment in the series. Now it's time I afford you the same opportunity. Go for it.

SOTU: I am a huge Willis McGahee fan, so the 2002 game, where he scored 6 TDs in a wild game, is probably my favorite. That game clinched a birth in the Fiesta Bowl (where I might add the refs robbed Miami against Ohio State), and was just fun to watch.

A close second would be the 2005 game where Miami's defense obliterated Marcus Vick and the Hokies. It is rare to see anyone go into Lane Stadium and flat out dominate VT like that, which made it very satisfying.

My least favorite is easily the 2003 game where Deangelo Hall essentially stole the game and ruined Miami's season all in one shot. If I remember correct Miami was ranked #2 in the nation, and it was a scoreless tie in the 2nd quarter, when it happened. Hall pulled the ball away from Roscoe Parrish and scampered like 40 yards for the score. You could feel the wind come out of Miami's sails, and the season wasn't quite the same from the on out.

GC: Who are some of the players (other than Johnson obviously) that the Hokies should be looking out for?

SOTU: On offense, Stephen Morris has some real nice weapons to throw to in Scott and Dorsett. In addition, senior RB Mike James has had a real nice season so far. The defense has had a real tough year, but freshman S Deon Bush makes a few real nice plays every game. Freshman DE Tyriq McCord has also been coming on of late.

GC: Likewise, who are some of the Virginia Tech players you're most afraid of making a big play?

SOTU: Based on last year's game winning TD, and Miami's troubles with guys like Everett Golson and Colin Klein, I am most concerned with Logan Thomas running the ball. Miami has severe trouble stopping the run, so although Va Tech seems to go RB by committee i'll add J.C. Coleman to the mix. Additionally, 6'4 Marcus Davis seems like a match-up issue for nearly anyone with his size.

GC: Prediction time: Who do you have, by how much and why?

SOTU: Playing at home in primetime, I expect the young 'Canes to put forth their best effort. If there was one positive against FSU, the defense started to make a few more plays. Look for that to continue. Stephen Morris should be healthy, and with Duke Johnson banged up and 3rd RB Eduardo Clements out for the season, Morris will air it out often. A few big plays to Allen Hurns, and Rayshawn Scott will give Miami an early lead. The Hokies will close the gap behind Thomas, but in the end, the 'Canes will hold on 31-27.

Thanks again to Jerry for joining us for the Q & A. You can also find my answers to their questions here. For all the news and coverage from a Miami perspective this weekend, make sure to check out State Of The U. For all the Hokie stuff, don't move a muscle. YOU'RE ON IT here at Gobbler Country.
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