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Virginia Tech vs. Miami 2014: Q&A preview w/ State of The U

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Jerry Steinberg from State of the U drops by to answer questions on the Miami Hurricanes.

Mike Ehrmann

This week I had a chance to ask Jerry Steinberg of SB Nation's State of the U about this Miami team's season so far and get an insider look at their prospects Thursday in Blacksburg.

GC: Brad Kaaya has been quite a pleasant surprise at quarterback. What are his strengths and weaknesses?

SOTU: Kaaya is a cool customer. It is rare to find a true freshman who is so collected and even keeled in pressure situations. Physically he stands tall in the pocket, and has perfect foot work on his drops and deliveries. I wrote an article illustrating what he does well with actual photo/video evidence. He is incredibly advanced at finding second and third reads for this stage of his career as well. When I asked him who he modeled his game after (shortly after he verbally committed) he did not hesitate to say "Peyton Manning." While he clearly still has a long way to go, you can see in his skill set and mannerisms that his game is patterned after Manning. That's never a bad thing. As far as weaknesses he has made a few bad throws when under heavy pressure that have led to INTs. In addition he is not going to beat anyone with his legs.

GC: The pass distribution among the receivers is impressively even. Is there anyone you're still waiting to see have a break out performance?

SOTU: Again credit Kaaya. He is not staring down any one receiver and looks to hit the open man. Phillip Dorsett is the main deep threat (ridiculous 16 catches, 550 yards, 6 touchdowns, 34.4 yards per catch), and TE Clive Walford has been the best option over the middle. Herb Waters and freshman Braxton Berrios have had nice seasons from the slot position. And Duke Johnson is more involved in the passing game out of the back field then ever. The guy who has been disappointing in the passing game is Stacy Coley. After a freshman All-American season last year, he has just not found a rhythm this year in the passing game. At some point though, with his abilities, a big play and/or a big game, is inevitable. 

GC: Denzel Perryman is a monster. Where does he rank in Miami's pantheon of great linebackers?

SOTU: Wow, excellent Q. He has had a very nice individual career, but I think his all-time UM ranking will be hurt by lack of team and unit success. Ray Lewis has to be right at the top, with players like Ted Hendricks, Jesse Armstead, Michael Barrow, Jonathan Vilma, Dan Morgan, Nate Webster, and DJ Williams right behind him. If I had to rank Perryman he is definitely top 10, but not quite top 5.

GC: Do Miami fans consider this a rivalry as much as Tech fans do?

SOTU: I'm not sure. Depends on where Tech fans rank it.  Certainly the Hokies and 'Canes have a long history going back the Big East days.  In terms of pure disdain, VT is no where near where FSU is on UM fan's radars.  And while Miami and Florida rarely play, that match-up would probably be a close second.  I do know that in talking with many 'Canes fans there is a healthy respect for what Frank Beamer and Co. have accomplished in both success and consistency.  There's probably a lot more pure animosity from that end, if I had to guess.

GC: Who are some slightly off the radar players for us to keep an eye on?

SOTU: On the offensive line, true freshman LG Nick Linder, who has been forced into action by injuries, has been a rock.  While the defense has been disappointing overall, CB Corn Elder has been a spark with his coverage and solid tackling of late. In addition, while Miami rotates a lot of players in on their front seven, I have liked what I have seen from true freshman DE/OLBTrent Harris, in limited doses. 

GC: What's you prediction for the game?

SOTU: Both teams are so up and down it is hard to say. But I do think Miami has the better talent player for player, especially at the QB position right now.  So although playing in Blacksburg at night scares the heck out of me, I think the 'Canes pull it out behind a few key forced turnovers 31-27.