The first of two Q&As to get to know Boston College's week 1 opponent the Miami Hurricanes. First up is the aptly named Miami blog Category Six. You can follow Category Six on Twitter @Category6UM.
Our question and C6's responses below.
BC Interruption: How has Stephen Morris progressed this year? Should BC fans be feeling good about this matchup considering Jacory Harris beat out Morris for the starting job last season and Harris couldn't get out of his own way against BC?
Category Six: Morris missed the spring with a back injury, but watched/helped the other QBs run the offense. Word around Miami camp is this was a blessing in disguise as Morris' mastery and understanding of the offense improved significantly. Time will tell. As far as the comparison to Harris, Morris is a huge upgrade in arm strength but certainly a step down in experience. Our guess is that Morris plays better then Harris, atleast against BC.
BCI: Miami may have suffered from a lack of motivation considering the team was told the week before that they wouldn't be bowling and there are plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball. Can last season's regular season finale tell us anything about this week's matchup?
C6: There is far too much turnover on Miami's roster to use last year's game against BC as a measuring stick. The one stabilizing factor -- and its an important one -- is the offensive line, where UM returns nearly everyone. One new face in particular who should certainly impact this game is true freshman RB Randy "Duke" Johnson. Johnson has earned raves for his explosive play in practice, and will see the field early and often against BC. He will not be the only true freshman who will impact this game for the 'Canes, as Coach Al Golden has promised as many as 15-18 true freshman could play right away.
BCI: The Canes will be without two key contributors this week in Seantrel Henderson and Ray-Ray Armstrong. Which player will prove more difficult to replace? Based on your answer to the previous question, who are the playmakers that we should look out for on that side of the ball?
C6: Another true freshman in Ereck Flowers has replaced Henderson at RT. The coaching staff has expressed supreme confidence in Flowers, but as with any true freshman, butterflies will be a concern. Armstrong has been replaced at safety by Kacy Rodgers, another unproven commodity. We're going to say Miami's depth at O Line makes up for Henderson's loss, so the absence of Armstrong is the bigger loss. As far as playmakers, RBs Mike James, Duke Johnson, and WR Allen Hurns should be watched on offense. On Defense, DE Anthony Chickillo, LB Denzel Perryman, and CB Brandon McGee look to be Miami's best playmakers.
BCI: This meeting between the Eagles and Hurricanes will mark the 4th straight in the all-time series that the Hurricanes go into the game as an unranked team. The four before that? Nos. 2, 1, 1 and 2. Goes without saying that this game has lost a bit of its luster. When BC next faces Miami in, like, 6 years or something, will the Hurricanes be nationally ranked at the time of the game?
C6: Absolutely. Al Golden has brought in a winning attitude, as well as a Top 10 recruiting class. The 5+ year slump Miami has been in is an aberration. If you can recruit in South Florida, you typically can win against anyone. Golden has made locking down "The State of Miami" an emphasis. We expect that to be the building block toward returning the program to past glory.
BCI: The NCAA recently came down hard on Penn State football for the program's role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. However, the NCAA still hasn't ruled on the punishment for the Hurricanes program for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. How much of a distraction is the scandal which you hardly hear about these days? Any thoughts on what the NCAA's punishment will be for the program?
C6: It hasn't been much of a distraction, as the story has been on the back-burner of late. The players on last year's team who were involved were punished last year. It is our understanding that the players from year's past have been tight-lipped with the NCAA. Part of Shapiro's allegations (see the DeQuan Jones story) have already been debunked. Our thought here is UM loses a few scholarships and gets probation, and that's it.
We feel it's unfair to mention the Miami scandal in the same breathe as the Sandusky scandal.
BCI: Last one. How's this go down? Who wins and a final score prediction, please.
C6: Miami's offensive line is going to manhandle BC's front 7. Mike James, Eduardo Clements and Duke Johnson will have success running the ball, setting up Morris for some play action passes to Allen Hurns and Rayshawn Scott. On the other side of the ball BC will also move the ball well, but the 'Canes young athletic defense will take the ball away a few times. In the 4th quarter the Eagles run out of gas, and Miami's backs break a few long runs. Miami cruises 34-17.
For more on the Miami Hurricanes, check out Category Six.