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October 31, 2012
Know Your Enemy: Miami
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Each game, we'll get the inside look at Virginia Tech's opponent by talking with the opposing team's beat writer. This week, we spoke with CaneSport.com publisher Gary Ferman to get the inside look at Miami.
1) What's the status of quarterback Stephen Morris and his ankle?
Ferman: Morris fought through the ankle injury the last game and didn't appear severely hampered. He was hurt more by a fierce Florida State defense and some dropped balls. His mobility is back and he says the injury is no longer an issue.
2) What's the biggest thing you can point to that's resulted in a 4-4 season so far?
Ferman: Youth. This is one of the youngest teams in the nation, with the majority of starters and second-teamers first through third year players. And the defensive issues have also contributed along with facing three of the nation's best teams (Kansas State, Notre Dame and Florida State).
3) Miami gave up some big points to the three ranked teams its faced, but otherwise the numbers look good. Is there still any worry on defense?
Ferman: The defense really hasn't had any solid game other than Georgia Tech and it gave up a lot of yards in that game. There are issues with the front line being not as strong as opposing offensive lines and lacking the speed to get after the quarterback.
While the safety play has been good, the defensive backs haven't shined either. So yes, there is still plenty of worry about this Hurricane defense.
4) Do Duke Johnson and Mike James do well splitting carries or is it because one isn't clearly the better featured guy?
Ferman: Duke isn't really built to be in a featured back role, and he's been bothered by turf toe the first couple of games. James is more of a physical workhorse.
The Canes try to get Duke free in space and let James fight for tough yards between the tackles with the occasional outside run. Both are also excellent receivers, so it isn't like one or the other has to come off the field in passing situations. They complement each other well, but this team hasn't really run the ball consistently well.
5) With Virginia Tech's struggles overall, but particularly on the road, does Miami feel like it has the Hokies in a favorable spot?
Ferman: Miami has lost two games in a row at home, so I don't think the Canes are thinking that simply being home makes it a favorable matchup. The Hurricanes are entering this game treating Virginia Tech like the same old Hokies, and all week coaches have been preaching that the road to the Coastal Division goes through Virginia Tech which has been where Miami wants to be in six of the last eight years.
Prediction: Hurricane fans don't want to think about what this season will become after a promising start if Miami loses this game. The lone carrot remaining for this team is a chance to win the Coastal Division and go to the ACC title game.
The Canes looked better on defense against Florida State and will need that kind of intensity for any kind of chance to win this game. We think UM gets some bounces in its favor and pulls out a close one, 27-24.