Behind Enemy Lines: Miami ’12

duke johnson
Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) runs for his fourth touchdown of the game against Bethune Cookman Wildcats in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium. (Photo – Robert Mayer / US PRESSWIRE)

This week’s opponent scouting report comes to us from the guys over at SB Nation’s Miami blog, The 7th Floor Blog.

Miami’s Offense

This Hurricanes offense is slowly becoming a powerhouse. At that start of camp, there were basically two sure things: 1) Stephen Morris was going to be the QB and 2) Mike James was going to be the running back. Outside of those two, the rest was more or less unknown. Duke Johnson was heralded, but his conditioning and ability to play in every game was worrisome. The wide receiving corps was decimated by graduation and Tommy Streeter leaving early. The offensive line was solid, but at the same time still a bit of an unknown. Our tight ends were expected to be consistent, and were promised to have more pronounced roles in the playbook. In short, people were worried.

We had zero clue what the product would look like once it got on the field. So far, each game has peeled back a layer on this offense and shown what it is capable of doing. Against Boston College, Duke Johnson announced himself to the CFB world, and hasn’t stopped since. Against Kansas State, Morris was steady and the tight ends were productive. In the 3 games since, Bethune-Cookman, Georgia Tech, and most recently North Carolina State, the wide receivers have been taking shape.

The play calling is still a bit suspect at times, but over all this machine is starting to run as it is supposed to. Philip Dorsett is emerging as a top threat out of nowhere, Allen Hurns has been steady, Mike James is running like a man possessed, and if you don’t have the defense keyed in on Duke Johnson when he’s out there, that’s your problem, not ours.

It’s no secret that the strength of this Notre Dame team is the defense. Manti Te’o scares the bajeezus out of me, but then again, Harrison Smith is gone (so is Jacory Harris). This Canes offense will be in for a tough assignment, but if they can stick to the game plan, they will be able to move the ball against this D. They have as of late been running a steady mix of WR screens, running the ball both to the outside as well as inside, all setting up for the deep ball to Dorsett. It’s hard for any defense to cross all of those things off the chart at once, so something is bound to give.

Miami’s Defense

This is where things get infuriatingly weird. This defense is a sieve for rushing yards, and at time, can’t cover the pass. The defensive line more often than not gets almost no push up the middle, which allows for the offensive line to keep Shayon Green and Anthony Chickillo tied up on the outsides. Yet, as of late, they have been making key plays when needed to prevent the opponents from scoring. Whether it is allowing Georgia Tech to drive in overtime only to stop them on 4th and 1, or stopping NCSt after each missed red zone opportunity to even out missing out on points.

Their last game was a turnover festival, with fumbles and interceptions repeatedly ending productive Wolfpack drives. The old cliche “bend but don’t break” seems to apply here, but yet that doesn’t even feel like it covers everything. The one saving grace coming into this game is that the Notre Dame offense doesn’t seem like it is all the way there yet. Granted, I haven’t watched their games myself save for a portion of the game in Ireland, but I get the feeling that they show up in spurts, but most of the time it isn’t quite right.

There are a few players that worry me, namely George Atkinson III. Our defense hates tackling running backs apparently, so he may be primed for a big day. The QB, Golson, worries me a bit as well, as we have a tendency to make decent quarterbacks look like Vinny Testaverde.

Our defense is certainly helped out by the fact that we have Denzel Perryman back in the MLB spot after missing the past few weeks. He is our Te’o, and we need him back there for a game like this one. This also frees up our other stud linebacker, Eddie Johnson, to not worry so much about compensating for the loss of Perryman. It” either be an interesting game to watch, or it will turn into a one-sided shoot out. Obviously I am hoping that our defense shows up ready to play.

Miami’s Special Teams

Dalton Botts, our punter, was by far our best player on special teams coming into this year. He has since proved that by not only being extremely effective kicking the ball, but also in dragging 4 Wolfpack defenders on a fake punt run for a first down. The major worry on special teams is Jake Wieclaw, our field goal specialist. He was horrible against NCSt, whether it was a 20 yard chip shot or a 40 yard pressure kick. He is normally automatic, but something has gotten into his head, and I am really hoping he has it figured out. I have a feeling that we will need his services come Saturday night. As far as returns go, those are handled by Duke Johnson and Philip Dorsett, and if even 1 Irish player leaves his lane on kick offs or punts, those guys will make you pay.

Final Thoughts

I really have no clue which direction this game will go. I gave up giving predictions about this team after week 2, because even though they may look like one product going into a game, they usually end up coming out looking like another. Take their last game, they went in figuring to run the ball a lot more than they passed, and by the game’s end, Morris had thrown for 566 yards and 5 touchdowns. If I had to guess, this game will hinge on what our defense can do against Notre Dame’s offense. We all know that our offense will have to work hard, that’s not a surprise, but if our defense decides not to show up or make the right adjustments, we will be in for a long day on the Orange and Green side.

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  1. Kirk,
    I think Cierra Wood is still running. I am looking forward to your response to the ass whipping your team received.

  2. Did you guys see mark may picked Miami to win? What a surprise. Also miami best lineman, starting safety and off. Tackle are out.

  3. Hey Rob,

    Remember old Robert T. Gilleren (not sure on last name spelling but close)with his 100 point list and love for CW. I thought his conniption fit over CW getting fired was going to put him six feet under, and it may have. For a guy who claimed to be such a devoted ND supporter, he certainly vaporized from here once CW was gone. He definately had a knack for terrorizing blog sites by threating to sue anyone who disagreed with him, and his redundant ND conspiracy 100 point list. However, no doubt he is taking credit for some of USC’s demise who made his bad list.

    Interestingly enough, Billy Buckeye was angel compared to old Bob the tyrant. Already seen enough double and triple handle agitators here (with writing styles that don’t change) as well as fans who just want to kick their imaginary dog here in a bad economy. Generally, all in good fun though with the right attitude.

    Here come the Irish!

  4. Professor Irish 94,

    What’s with the “Mother may I act?” We are just having a normal rivalry discussion. By the way, we will play the game on Saturday. In the meantime turn off your computer if we are upsetting you. This is America, all are entitled to their opinion without a litmus test prescribed by you. Hey, if it will make you feel better, go ahead and turn on your widescreen and watch the tube until the game comes on. But stop with the lecture. Kirk is entitled to be a misdirected Miami fan for sport here.

    What about it Sad Warrior! Kirk is only a lost Miami fan and who wants to be noticed on our site? Are we having fun now Kirk? Hahahahaha! I know I am!

    Here come the Irish!

    1. JC

      I’m on your side, focus negative energy towards the U!

      Now leave Jimmy Johnson’s ass for me!

      Go IRISH!

  5. I’d say all true fans come across as somewhat obnoxious to fans of other teams. That’s the risk we run for being passionate about our teams.

    I have no problems talking with rival fans so long as they try to remain objective and don’t resort to name-calling and the like. Not like Dan Sileo.

    What has irked me most this week is the hyperbole and vitriol on both sides. This isn’t the 1980s. These 2 teams haven’t been rivals for a long time. In fact, this “rivalry” was only about 5 years old when it died. Before the early to mid 80s there was no ND-Miami rivalry. This so-called rivalry only picked up in after the mid 1980s and the series ended in 1990. That’s it. Sure there were about 2 or 3 intense games in the late 80s but no more than that.

    I want ND to beat Miami as much as the next guy on this site. But I’m not going to compare ND-Miami to ND-BC, ND-Michigan, or ND-USC. We’ve had longer series with Stanford and Pitt than with Miami. (I’m not even counting Navy as a rival, since with the exception of 3 recent games there really hasn’t been much of a rivalry.)

    1. Your right about the nature of the Miami – ND rivalry. It wasn’t very long but I will say this by the end of the 80’s it was as intense as Miami’s rivalry with FSU or Florida’s rivalry with Georgia. It probably was not healthy but there was literal hatred between the programs. I wouldn’t want to see it rise to that level again, but I will be looking for some serious intensity tomorrow night.

  6. Guys, can we please stop with the back and forth with Kirk. He’s here for one week to stir up trouble and you guys have fallen for it. This Internet trash talk is pointless. Lets play the game already.

    When the BYU, Stanford etc. fans show up in the coming weeks, please just ignore.

    Go Irish!

    1. But Irish ’94, that’s the fun part of posting! Good natured banter; no threats, no profanity. You’re right, you guys won’t here from me for the rest of the year, except maybe during USC week I might show up to show support; USC is the only college team I dislike more than ND for the record and that week I will be as big an Irish fan as you guys. This week, not so much!

  7. I have to say that I’m not sure if Kirk is really a Miami fan. He seems way too polite and reasonable to me.

    The more I think about this game the more I think it will come down to which team can handle the spotlight pressure. In ND and Miami you have 2 programs that at one time were prime-time players (to quote Dickie V.). Of late, however, both programs have struggled, especially against other top teams, and especially in prime-time. ND’s advantage is that it has played half of its games so far this season on prime-time. This is Miami’s first prime-time match up. Let’s see who handles their nerves better. Whomever does that will win.

    1. SteelFanRob,

      Trust me, I am a real Miami fan who married into a very large southern California Irish Catholic Family. The family used to have huge parties in the late 80’s for the game and I was frequently outnumbered 40+ to 1. I was in my twenties then and far more obnoxious than I am now. I’ve learned to mellow, afterall it’s just a game. That said, Go Canes!

  8. Kirk-Did not score? Who won those games? Talk about did not score, try Bethune Cookman. You did not score with your distorted observation. Just sit back and watch the game. I wish no ill for qb Morris; only that he faces the same defense that Denard faced. After all, that is only fair.

    Go Irish! Hooah!

    1. Amen Sad Warrior,

      I shorted him a win for his blindness, do think he will notice? Hahahaha!

      Here come the Irish!

      1. JC-Nice shot! That Bethune Cookman game really gets me. Can you imagine the outcry if ND was to play say a Brown, Columbia, or some directional school like East Jesus State U? You can bet the howling would begin with the Big Oneonta Oaf Mark May (bigot) and the Crawler Brent ‘Mush’burger.

        Yeah, Marko saw it immediately. He’s probably putting a pin in the voodoo doll he has of you and Coach Kelly!

        Go Irish! Expect a great game! Hooah!

    2. Your right. There was one game where ND was able to score. Good job against Navy! Now we’ll see how you do Saturday night.

    3. Maybe Miami should have scheduled Navy. And Alabama showed what a world beater Michigan is on a neutral field and you guys scored 10 points at home against them. Score another 10 this weekend and I’ll gurantee you won’t be posting Sunday morning or thereafter.

  9. Kirk M:

    “Incompetance?” That’s an awful big word for a Miami fan. Especially when it’s spelled ‘incompetence.’ Not to mention, can anyone on the Miami football team spell it for that matter?

    Furthermore, I suspect Mr. Morris will be spending his day rubbing the turf with his new helmet vs ND’s defense. Good Luck!

    Here come the Irish!

    1. JC,

      Results are the only thing that matter. ND did not score against MSU or Michigan, now you may wish to play a game of semantics but the word I would use to describe those results on offense is “incompetence.” If you have another word or an excuse, please edify me with your response.

      1. OK, Mr. “Results are the only thing that matter.”

        Don’t need an excuse for
        4-0 blind eyes, what’s your excuse for 3-1? Must be the superabundance of ranked teams you just played. Welcome to the dance!

        Here come the Irish!

      2. JC,

        “Thou protest too much.” I did not denigrate your team, I merely pointed out they seem to have a challenge scoring. Am I wrong?

      3. Now you’re going to get it ‘Mr Results”.

        The Celtic Lion is on the way and HUNGRY!

        Go Irish! Hooah!

      4. Okay! Since they’re so hungry I’m sure Miami will be obliged to feed them from some of the cans of “Whoop Ass” they are bringing to Chicago from South Florida.

  10. Kirk:

    It was cold (40s) and clear for the 2010 Sun Bowl also. The weather most definitely affected the Canes early on. The broadcast team reported that. The sideline reporter confirmed that the Canes players were uncomfortable. However, I give the Canes players and staffs credit that they (unlike some of their fans) didn’t use the cold weather for the beating ND put on them then. Perhaps you’ve blocked that game out of your mind. At least you can’t troll this site if you lose and use weather as an excuse. (Then again, my guess is that if you lose you won’t have the cojones to come back hear again!)

    Also, I think you over-estimate your supposed skill advantage over ND. In fact, this ND team is faster and more athletic than the team the Canes got blasted by in that Sun Bowl. Needless to say, we also heard back then that Miami was faster and more athletic than ND. How’d that athletic advantage work out for you then?

    What is it about losers from other teams coming to this site to troll, talk smack for a while, then leave with their tails between their legs?! “Angry Eagle”? “Billy Buckeye”? Now “Kirk M.” What losers trolls!

    1. SteelFanRob,

      I would argue the walking turnover machine, Jacory Harris, had much more affect on the ‘Canes that day than the weather throwing 3 interceptions in the first quarter before being benched. Not to mention Miami playing under an interim coach after Shannon was fired. I totally disagree with you regarding the “skill” advantage. Miami has so many more play makers than ND that I don’t think there is any comparison. Nevertheless, I acquiesce because I believe the ND players are much better coached than the Miami players, especially on defense. The ND defenders have a better understanding of what they are trying to do and are never out of position. Miami has a huge tendency to lose contain and blow coverage; a complete lack of discipline on defense which I believe is due to coaching. I look forward to seeing what happens.

      1. Kirk,

        Like you I saw the game on CBS. I’m reporting what was reported to us viewers by the CBS team covering the game. According to them, Miami seemed affected by the conditions at the start of the game. But who knows. At least the UM players didn’t use weather as an excuse to their credit.

        You’re right about Jacory. What a bust! You guys are definitely better off with Robert Morris.

        I still respectfully disagree about UM’s supposed advantage in speed and athleticism. If we look at the past few recruiting cycles, ND has out-recruited Miami. Now, of course, as you know, these recruiting services are far from perfect. That consensus #1 class of Harris and the other Northwestern kids was certainly over-rated. But since that’s the only “objective” measure we have as fans, I place it before you that ND’s talent in terms of recruited players is as good if not better than UM’s of late.

        I hope for a good, tough game. I hope for good sportsmanship on the field. I hope the Dan Sileo’s of the world never turn college football into South American or European soccer madness, with rabid hooligans killing each other over a game!

        Best of luck to your team….

        But Go Irish!

      2. Can’t argue with that. Here’s hoping we have a great game worthy of the prime time slot. Go Canes!

      3. That Miami team looked ridiculous the way they were all bundled up for that Sun Bowl game. Half the team was actually wearing those cold weather masks, and almost all of them were sporting long sleeves. But not a single ND player was wearing any of that kind of gear. ND was ready to roll in the cold.
        That’s history however.

  11. Shazamrock your counting on the weather? Really? Temparatures in the 40’s will be a problem for UM, but it is also expected to be clear. 40’s is not cold enough to have to roll out the heaters and I suspect young Stephen will have a good game passing. That said, our defense stinks and will have to rely on ND’s incompetance on offense to get any stops. All things considered, I have no idea what this game will look like, but I’ve watched multiple games of both teams and Miami has better athletes while ND is better coached. We will see if the coaching gap between Golden and Kelly is enough for ND to overcome a more athletic Miami team. Go Canes!!!

  12. I actually think this game is going to get ugly by the second half, as long as ND does not turn the ball over. My prediction is that ND wins by at least 17+ points. With the weather, the game’s proximity to South Bend (i.e. a pseudo-home game), and our defense, it’s going to be a long night for Miami. Again, turnovers negate my prediction entirely. GO IRISH!

  13. A high of 52 and a low of 38. (Chicago Saturday weather)

    With a 7:30pm kick off, exspect the temps to be somewhere in the 40’s.
    Great football weather!

    Just for comparision… tomorrow, in Miami, the high will be 87 and the low 76.

    There will be a day, in the not so distant future, that ND will play in 80-90 degree temps agianst Miami… but it ain’t gonna be this day!

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