We're back with another question and answer from Notre Dame's upcoming opponent. This week, Jerry Steinberg from SBNation's Miami blog The Seventh Floor took the time to answer some of my questions. My answers to his questions can be found here.
We discuss the ACC, Al Golden, Duke Johnson, and more. Let's get to it.
1. The last time Notre Dame and Miami met, the Hurricanes were without a head coach and playing in a game they wanted nothing to do with. How has the program changed since that bowl game? How would you grade the job Al Golden has done so far?
Not only does Miami have a whole new coaching staff, but the majority of the roster has turned over since the Sun Bowl meeting. The program has a whole different feel. Of course starting out 4-1 helps, but its more then that. Kids like Duke Johnson, Allen Hurns, Anthony Chickillo, and Denzel Perryman are high character young men, who love the program. You get the feeling they believe in Coach Golden and are quietly confident they can restore the program to its past glory. I give Coach Golden an A+. He recruits, he coaches them up, and the team fights hard for him. In addition he really cares about the kids, as witnessed by the touching moment when he comforting WR Malcolm Lewis when he dislocated his ankle.
2. Miami is sitting at 4-1 and is starting to pick up votes in the polls. However, the general consensus among Notre Dame fans is that it's a rather unimpressive 4-1. How good is this team? Are they better than the perception or worse than their record would indicate?
Road wins over BC and Georgia Tech are impressive considering the youth of this team. And it is a very young team. They are just as prone to a blown coverage or missed assignment as they are an explosive play. The 'Canes have impressive talent, but not so impressive experience. But that is changing week by week. This week's game will really show how far they have grown since the K State debacle. This team is good enough that the Irish better show up to play. If the defense starts to catch up with the offense, they can win the ACC. That is still a big if at this point.
3. Duke Johnson has been nothing short of electric early in his college career. How good is Johnson and how will Al Golden get him the ball on Saturday?
Johnson is as good as advertised and then some. This past week, NC State did a pretty good job bottling Mike James and him up & Stephen Morris threw for 566 yards passing. So they way Miami's O is rolling right now, it's pick your poison. Miami likes to get him on the edge, but he's pretty good running the ball inside the tackles as well. They love using him on screens, and will occasionally line him in the slot as well. In addition he returns kicks. Everytime he touches the ball he has the potential to take it to the house.
4. We're conference mates now! What are your thoughts on Notre Dame's entry into the ACC?
I really wish Notre Dame was a full member of the ACC for football. I really miss the annual Miami/ND match-ups. But it is better then nothing. It should add some excitement to the conference for football. Not sure yet for hoops. The Irish are solid, but the conference already boasts, Duke, UNC, and Syracuse and Pitt are on the way. If Miami and ND play in football with some frequency I will love the move more.
5. What's a name on each side of the ball Notre Dame fans will be hearing often on Saturday?
We have already covered Duke Johnson, so I will give you one more on offense: WR Phillip Dorsett. # 4 Dorsett runs in the 4.3-4.4 range in the 40 and has really come into his own against Ga Tech and NC State. Over the last 2 weeks Dorsett has accumulated 16 catches 375 yards and 3 scores. He's fast, can run after the catch, and has really built a chemistry with QB Stephen Morris (who should also be watched).
On defense, ILB # 52 Denzel Perryman returns after missing 2 weeks with injury. Perryman is a speedy Jonathan Vilma type. With the way Notre Dame runs the ball, he will see plenty of action on Saturday.
6. Any predictions for the game?
This should be a fun game to watch, as UM's high flying offense takes Manti Te'o and Notre Dame's very stout defense. The way the 'Canes are moving the ball of late, I have a hard time seeing the Irish shutting them down. It will be tough, however, for the Hurricanes to stop Theo Riddick and the talented stable of ND RBs. If Denzel Perryman and the defense can at the least make a few plays and force a key turnover or two, I like Miami's chances. In a close one, I see Stephen Morris connecting to Allen Hurns with the deciding score. Miami wins 28-24.
Thanks again to Jerry and the other fellas at The Seventh Floor for answer my questions! Be sure to head on over there to read more about tomorrow's game.