Saturday, August 23, 2014

12th and Final Part of 2014 Miami Hurricanes Opponent Video Series: Pitt 11/29

2014 Pitt Panthers Football Preview
In the 12th and final part of the 2014 opponent video series, I’m going to talk a little about the Pitt Panthers, our opponent on Nov 29th in our regular season finale at Sun Life Stadium.   

Lets first look at their Talent:
Tom Savage is gone, but the offense gets eight other starters back in 2014. Some are very young here, with loads of potential. In 2013, Sophomore QB Chad Voytik (6-1, 210) was forced to play in the bowl game after Savage got hurt, and actually led the Panthers to victory. Now, he’s the man in the Steel City.

Head Coach Paul Chryst is excited about what Voytik’s potential here.
From Chryst: "I like how Chad has been approaching it a lot. Every day you're getting some stuff that you've got to clean up, but I've loved his approach to it. If he keeps doing that, then he'll maximize his opportunity."

Also back are  sophomore James Conner, who had a very good freshman campaign that saw the 6-2, 230-pounder rush for a team-best 799 yards and 8 TDs on 5.5 yards per carry, senior Isaac Bennett (5-11, 205) who had 797 yards on the ground and 7 TDs in 2013. When you add highly touted incoming freshman Chris James (5-11, 210) and you have a running game that can be very dangerous.

In the WR corp, they did lose Devin Street to the NFL, but they have someone just as good returning in 2014 in Tyler Boyd. This guy, who’s 6-2 was the team leader last year in with 85 receptions, for 1,174 yards and seven TDs. Oh, he only ended up as an All-American for a Freshman. .

Chryst can’t stop gushing about Boyd’s potential here.
"Tyler is one of many young guys that need to be able to step up into a leadership role, as well as -- the best way he can lead is continue to be productive. I love the way that he approaches the game and the type of teammate that he is."
As for the O-Line, they get back four of last year's five starters and that will put at ease for Chryst and Voytik that the Line will do their job with Pass protection and opening holes for those big backs.  

While the offense is going to be fine, the same cannot be said for the defense, You just don’t replace someone of Donald’s caliber with just anyone. It’s going to be very tough to replace someone that put the numbers up that Donald did (led the nation in TFL last year with 28.5, and had 11 sacks). They only have five starters back on D in 2014. .

Besides Donald, they have to fill the voids left by the two other starters from 2013 that have graduated. The ones to likely fill those voids are Junior Darryl Render (6-2, 285) and Senior Khaynin Mosely-Smith (6-0, 305) inside and have Sophomore Shakir Sota (6-3, 255) be on the outside.

The LB corp does have some experience returning in Seniors Anthony Gonzalez (79 tackles) and Todd Thomas (72 72 tackles), while in the secondary, they have back Senior safety Ray Vinopal (83 tackles, three interceptions) does the same for the secondary.

On Special Teams, Chris Blewitt had a solid rookie year last year handling the PK duties. converting 14-18 on FG attempts, with a long of 47 yards. They do have to replace last year’s Punter Matt Yoklic, who graduated. Look for RS freshman Ryan Winslow (6-5, 2-5) to get that job there.

Next, I want to talk about the Coaching:

This will be Chryst’s 3rd year in the Steel City. He’s a .500 coach at 13-13. The offense is young this year and has a lot of potential. Everything is in place for Chryst to be the darkhorse and get to Charlotte. His Panthers schedule is very favorable, one of the most favorable in college football, the pressure for the Panthers to make noise this year is pretty high.  

Now, to their 2014 Schedule:

They went 7-6 last year, which included a win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesars Bowl. If things break right, it’s a 10 win team we’re looking at here. Here’s how I see the schedule play out in 2014:
In their opener, 8/30 vs. Delaware: W

Look for a big game out of Conner in this one. Delaware doesn’t have the Defense to stop him. Pitt wins BIG in this one.  

In Week 2, 9/5 at Boston College: L

With most games at Heinz Field this season, this will be a good road for the Panthers up in Chestnut Hill to open ACC play. While Voytik is still young and will make some mistakes, on the other side for BC, quarterback Tyler Murphy has plenty of experience (Florida transfer). Expect it to be close, but in the end, I think Voytik will make a key mistake and BC survives to drop the Panthers to a projected 1-1.

In week 3, 9/13 at Florida International: W

In the first of two trips to Miami this year, they visit FIU to take on the Golden Panthers. After the projected loss at BC, look for Voytik to be much more prepared for this game and look for a monster game out of Boyd. While it will be close for a half, Florida International doesn’t have the weapons to hang with Pitt for 4 quarters. Pitt wins this one.

In week 4, 9/20 vs. Iowa: W

They are not afraid of the big boys from out of conference. This is going to be a game where its very physical, and brutal. If you love smash mouth football, this is the game for you.  Pitt needs a big game out of Conner here. If they get it, Pitt wins. I think they get that big game from Conner and Pitt wins a close vs Iowa.

In week 5, 9/27 vs. Akron: W

The Zips nearly won in the Big House last year. After a projected big win over Iowa, there’s no way Chryst will allow a letdown from his team, especially after what Akron nearly did last year in Ann Arbor.  Pitt wins comfortably in this one.

In Week 6,  10/4 at Virginia: W

A road trip to Charlottesville for the Panthers and UVa is in disarray at this point, and their coach’s seat is very warm and Pitt will only make Mike London’s seat warmer after this one. Pitt gets on the board in ACC play.

In Week 7 BYE

In Week 8, 10/16 vs. Virginia Tech: L

This game will be tough. Both teams coming off BYE weeks, this should be a good one here.  Look for Conner and Boyd to have good games here. However, in big time games like this, never underestimate Beamer and Foster. So, look for the VT Defense to feast on Voytik and make some plays. Also, look for VT’s Special Teams to come up big and their O does just enough to win. The Panthers just lost too much on D, and in the end, I see VT getting a big win over Pitt on the road.

In Week 9, 10/25 vs. Georgia Tech: L

Against a team like GT, which loves the Triple option, with DT Aaron Donald now gone, the Panthers will have to come up big in this one. If GT is going to start getting off the mat and get back in the win column, this would be the game to do it here. The Panthers D-Line is weak depth wise. Look for Johnson’s triple option offense to have a field day against that weakened Pitt D up front. Look for a good game out of QB Justin Thomas, especially when he doesn’t have to throw the ball too much in this one. GT gets the win to drop the Panthers to a projected 5-3 and 1-3 in the ACC.

In Week 10, 11/1 vs. Duke: L

Up next for the Panthers: A home date with the Duke Blue Devils, in a rematch of a classic shootout the Panthers won 58-55 last year in Durham. Make no mistake, the Blue Devils are the real deal. With Tom Savage now in the NFL, Duke has the better quarterback in this matchup, not to mention, the more experienced one as well in Anthony Boone.  When you add David Cutcliffe’s leadership, and the Blue Devils wanting payback for last year’s loss to the Panthers in Durham, with Duke’s D a lot better this year, give this one to the Blue Devils and Pitt drops to a projected 5-4 and 1-4 in the ACC.

In Week 11 BYE Week

In Week 12, 11/15 at North Carolina: L

Coming off a BYE, and Carolina coming off a projected close game loss in Miami, look for the Tar Heels to be very upset and take it out on the Panthers. Look for Williams to make some big plays early and often in this one and Conner will be no factor here. The way Carolina played in the 2nd half of the season last year, and QB Marquise Williams coming into his own, Pitt’s D will have a very long day. Heels in this one to drop the Panthers to a projected 5-5 and 1-5 in the ACC.

In Week 13, 11/22 vs. Syracuse: W

In their home finale, the Orange come calling. People will say, fast start, and bad finish. Yes, the Orange have a dual-threat quarterback in Terrel Hunt, which I’m sure Pitt will be tired of seeing at this point. The talent level is equal in this matchup, but I just think Pitt’s running game and Boyd at WR will do just enough to make plays to pull this one out.  I just have a feeling that the Panthers win this one to improve to a projected 6-5 and 2-5 in the ACC.

 In the season finale, 11/29 at Miami (Fla.): L

Miami had their way with the Panthers last year and with the Hurricanes having a lot to play for in this game and it being Senior Day and possibly star RB Duke Johnson’s final home game, and WR Stacy Coley having three touchdowns in the first half of this game last season last year in Heinz Field, look for the CANES to win big in this one and end the Panthers season at a projected 6-6 and 2-6 in the ACC.

My prediction on the Game vs. CANES:

We had our way with the Panthers last year. The only reason we didn’t win by a bigger margin was because of the Defense. Pitt has no chance to win this game against us. There’s a lot at stake for us here. We’re playing for bigger things down the line, and with a projected trip to Charlotte the following week in a rematch with FSU, the key is not to get anyone hurt. Its senior day, and possibly Duke’s final regular season game at home. We have too many weapons for the Panthers in this one and this is a game we win easily.

Its been great to do this series each year. I look forward to the season ahead. Thank you for watching and here’s to a great season

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Part 11 of the 12 part 2014 Miami Hurricane Opponent Video Series - @UVa 11/22

2014 Virginia Cavaliers Football Preview

In Part 11 of the 2014 12 part opponent video series, I’m going to talk a little about the Virginia Cavaliers, our opponent on Nov 22nd up in Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA.   

Lets first look at their Talent:
Well, I’ll start by saying that there are many questions at the quarterback position for starters, among other vital spots. They have back seven starters on offense, which believe it or not, will be better for them in comparison to last year stat wise. They have back TB Kevin Parks, who was their team leader in Offense,  rushing for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns, and earning second-team All-ACC honors in 2013. They do have some depth at QB coming back Junior David Watford (6-2, 205) and sophomore Greyson Lambert (6-5, 225). Think about this, in Watford’s first season as a starter, he completed just over 57 percent of his passes in 2013, for 2,202 yards and eight TDs. On the other hand, Lambert didn’t play that much, but he had a very  strong spring and is now in the driver’s seat for the starting job.
The WR core is led by Senior Darius Jennings (5-11, 175), who led the team in receiving  catching 38 passes, for 340 yards and three TDs in 2013. They also have Parks back. He had 38 receptions, for 329 yards, and one TD out of the backfield.
On the OL, they get back three starters, which includes both guards Connor Davis (6-5, 300) and Jay Whitmire (6-6, 310), however look for Whitmire to move to LT this season. Also back is sophomore Eric Smith (6-5, 295), who got eight starts at right tackle as a freshman.

Defensively, they have back with nine starters. That defense is led by All-American safety Anthony Harris (6-1, 190). He’s one of the best Safeties in the country. In 2013, he had 80 tackles and was tied for the national lead in interceptions with eight. Joining him are fellow seniors Brandon Phelps (44 tackles) and Demetrious Nicholson. who missed half of last year due to injury. They have experience back there.
The line backing corps returns their two top tacklers from a year ago in seniors Henry Coley (91 tackles, 9.0 TFL, one sack) and Daquan Romero (89 tackles, 6.5 TFL).
On the D-Line, the mainstay there is junior DE Eli Harold. As a sophomore last year, the 6-4, 235-pounder had 15 TFLs and 8.5 sacks, both numbers led the team.

On Special Teams, They have Alec Vozenilek back to take care of the kicking duties. Last season took care of both the Kicking and Punting duties. His punts averaged 41.2 yards per attempt on school-record 85 punts and on Kicking, he was 12-of-15 on FG’s, with a long of 40 yards. He was forced to do both because Ian Frye was hurt. With the 6-6, Frye back, it’ll take the pressure off of Vozenilek.

Next, I want to talk about the Coaching:

Let’s make no mistake, Mike London is on the hot seat going into this season. Two straight losing seasons doesn’t help either. He can only go up from there. This guy won a National Championship at Richmond on the FCS level, but it hasn’t translated into much success in Charlottesville. The guy is a very good recruiter, but expect another long season in Charlottesville for London and his crew.

Now, to their 2014 Schedule:

They went 2-10 last year and the schedule in 2014 for the Cavaliers will be brutal from the start, so here’s how I see the schedule play out in 2014:

In their opener, 8/30 vs. UCLA: L

Ouch, this one is one of the tamer teams on their schedule. Many people think the Bruins would win the Pac-12 title in 2014.  And the Cavs will be a huge underdog in this one and correctly so. This one will not be close at all as Brett Hundley should put up monster numbers in this one. UCLA big over the Cavs in this one.

In Week 2, 9/6 vs. Richmond: W

This is a game the Cavs will have their best shot to win all year. Now, London knows the Spiders, very well, as Richmond is his alma mater and he was the head coach there, winning an FCS title, before coming to Charlottesville to run the Cavs. They couldn’t even beat a terrible N.C. State team last year (the Pack went winless in the ACC), so now the Spiders will get another crack at another terrible ACC team in the Cavs. I think the Cavs win this one, However if they were to lose, that seat of London’s which is hot right now, gets even hotter.
In week 3, 9/13 vs. Louisville: W

Louisville comes calling. This is a big game early for London and his crew, knowing he’s on the hot seat up there I’ll go with the Cavs over the Cardinals in this one, even though the Cardinals had only one loss last season and seem to be on the rise, but that was in the AAC. The ACC is a different beast. Yes, Petrino brings a high-powered offense to Charlottesville, in the end, you have to think the Cavs find a way to win that one and cool London’s seat temporarily.

In week 4, 9/20 at BYU: L

Yes, the Cavs beat BYU at home last year, however, with this one being in Provo, look for the Cougars to pummel the Cavs, and London’s seat warms up again. BYU wins comfortably here.

In week 5, 9/27 vs. Kent State: W

I think the Cavs win this one, but after that, OUCH!

In Week 6, 10/4 vs. Pittsburgh: L

They are home again, this time for Pitt, and once again, I can see London’s seat become even warmer after this loss.

In Week 7 BYE

In Week 8, 10/18 at Duke: L

The Cavs head down to Durham to take on the Blue Devils. If London’s seat isn’t blistering hot at this point, it will be after this one. When you consider the fact that Duke went to the ACC Championship Game last season, and the Cavaliers didn’t win a game in the league, and add to the fact that Duke’s head coach David Cutcliffe is moving things in the upward direction is very telling how far the Cavs have fallen. Duke wins BIG here.

In Week 9, 10/25 vs. North Carolina: L

This will be an easy win for the Tar Heels, when you add the fact that the Cavaliers will be such disarray, and Mike London’s seat on five-alarm fire, there’s no way the Heels lose this one. UNC’s offense, led by QB Marquise Williams should have things rolling at this point in the season. Add that Carolina was one of the hottest teams in the country in the 2nd half of the season. Look for Carolina to come to Charlottesville and win BIG here.  

In Week 10, 11/1 at Georgia Tech: L

The Jackets are back home to take on a dreadful Cavalier team, whose coach has a hot seat that will be on 5 alarm fire at this point. It won’t cool after this one either. This game will be closer than the experts think. While thedefense will stuff the option offense for a little while, look for Paul Johnson to adjust and start running that triple-option, down the Cavs throats. The Yellow Jackets should find a rhythm in the second half and defend their home turf. This is going to be the easiest win of the season for GT here.

In Week 11, 11/8 at Florida State: L

My god, if it hasn’t gotten any worse for the Cavs, they get to face the monster that is FSU in FSU’s house. Mike London’s seat is blistering at this point, and it only gets hotter after this one. The Cavs are going to get slaughtered here. It would be a huge shock if they stay within 30 points. It’s not going to happen though. Look for Jameis and the rest of the FSU starters to be out of the game by halftime.  Noles BIG in this one.

In Week 12, BYE 

In Week 13, 11/22 vs. Miami (Fla.): L

Way too many weapons for the Cavs to try and stop here. They will have a difficult time, keeping up with the speed of the CANES. Look for a big game out of Duke Johnson in this one. CANES big over Cavs.

In the season finale, 11/28 at Virginia Tech: L

Here we go, yes, it’s a rivalry game in Blacksburg vs the Hokies. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a defensive battle in this one, considering there was only 22 combined points in this game last season. That said, this will be no contest here, and likely Mike London will be canned a few days after this game is over. VT is still king in that state. VT wins handily here to end the Cavs season at a projected 3-9. 

My prediction on the Game vs. CANES:
We just have way too many weapons for the Cavs in this one and with a projected loss to FSU still in our mouths, this is the game to get healthy and well and we will do just that. I believe Duke will have a huge game and we win easily in Charlottesville.

In the 12th and final part of the 2014 series, I will talk about the Pittsburgh Panthers, our opponent on November 29th at Sun Life Stadium in the regular season finale.

Part 10 of the 12 part 2014 Miami Hurricane Opponent Video Series - FSU 11/15

2014 Florida State Football Preview

In Part 10 of the 2014 12 part opponent video series, I’m going to talk a little about the defending National Champion Florida State Seminoles, our opponent on Nov 15th at Sun Life Stadium   
Lets first look at their Talent:

Where do you begin? I’ll make no bones about it. The Seminoles are very good. They are reloading again. The talent is there to win it again. The only thing that they have to guard against is being satisified and complacent. They lost a lot to graduation/early entry into the NFL Draft. They could lose guys like Lamarcus Joyner, Devonta Freeman, Timmy Jernigan and Kelvin Benjamin and still reload with top level talent. This is Jameis Winston’s team and they’ll be dangerous again.

Next, I want to talk about the Coaching:

You know that Jimbo Fisher will make sure the Noles realize that they are now the hunted, and they will get their opponents best effort (See Auburn in the BCS title game). The guy is one hellva a recruiter and another top class this year proved that.

Now, to their 2014 Schedule:

These guys won it all last year, and let me predict their schedule for 2014:

In their opener, 8/30 vs. Oklahoma State (neutral – Jerry’s House in Arlington, TX): W 34-10

It’ll be a game for about a half, but in the 2nd half, look for FSU to show why many people have them winning it all again. The D makes big plays, the O will make big plays in this one. Noles win going away here.

In Week 2, 9/6 vs. The Citadel: 77-0

No contest. You can name the score on this one. They’ll be looking ahead to the big one with Clemson by halftime. Jameis plays just a half in this one and the 2nd and 3rd units will play the rest of this one.

In week 3 they have a BYE

In week 4, 9/20 vs. Clemson: 30-17

Off the BYE week, Clemson comes to Tallahassee, and while Clemson will be out to avenge the beatdown last year in their own house, look for Jameis and Co., to get it going and neutralize Beasley and the rest of the Clemson D come midway through the 3rd, and the Noles win going away, the Tigers will score late to make it more respectable, but the Noles will have this one in hand.

In week 5, 9/27 at North Carolina State: 59-10

Uh oh, Mr Brissett, you only get to fact an old rival. You can bet Jimbo will remind his team about the last visit to Raleigh, which ended in an upset loss. That will not happen here. Another big game from Winston and Co here. FSU wins easily here.  

In Week 6 , 10/4 vs. Wake Forest: 70-3

Guess what Wake Forest, you get to be the sacrificial lamb for the FSU machine. Look for the starters to be out by halftime and the 2nd and 3rd units playing the 2nd half.

In Week 7, 10/11 at Syracuse: 42-17

It’ll be a fight here, for maybe a 1 ½ quarters, but by halftime, this one will be well in hand, and the Noles will be looking to the showdown with the Irish.

In Week 8, 10/18 vs. Notre Dame: 48-14

On paper, this is a marquee matchup. However, given the troubles in South Bend, and the game being in Tallahassee, the Noles will have their way with the Irish here.

In Week 9, they have a BYE

In Week 10, 10/30 at Louisville: 41-21

The Cardinals will be jacked up to play this one on a Thursday Night at home. This will be close for a half, but in the 2nd half, look for a Noles to start getting it together and pull away from Louisville and win comfortably. 

In Week 11, 11/8 vs. Virginia: 45-3

My god, if it hasn’t gotten any worse for the Cavs, they get to face the monster that is FSU. Mike London’s seat is blistering at this point, and it only gets hotter after this one. Noles BIG in this one.

In Week 12, 11/15 at Miami (FL): 38-28

The CANES gave FSU a game last year for a half, in the end, just too much talent and depth for UM to overcome.  This rivalry is getting close to what it used to be, however Miami still has a little ways to go, but not too much though. Jameis makes enough plays for the Noles to escape Miami Gardens with the victory.

In Week 13, 11/22 vs. Boston College: 49-7

BC gave the Noles all it could handle up in Chestnut Hill last year. This year, this game being in Tallahassee, you can be sure, Jimbo will not allow a repeat of what BC did to that Defense last year. Noles BIG in this one.

In the season finale, 11/29 vs. Florida: 34-21

This is a rivalry game, so you never know. You can be sure of this, Florida will come ready to play this one, especially A) after the stinker of a season they had last year, and B) they’ll be healthy, much more so than last year. Jameis had better be ready to take on a very aggressive UF defense. This game will be close for 3 quarters, but come the 4th quarter, Jameis and Co will make the plays needed to be made to win this one. What I do know is that the Gators better throw out every offensive play they had in 2013, because it was god awful. But you can expect the Florida defense to show up for this one. Winston struggled a bit last year in this matchup, he’ll be better prepared during his second go around.

My prediction on the Game vs. CANES:
We gave them a game for a half, and we had the ball to start the 3rd quarter. In the end, FSU had too much depth and firepower for us to overcome in that one up there. We’ll be ready to play this game, and we’ll be close for a while, but in the 4th quarter, as painful as it is for me to say, I think Jameis will make plays for them and they’ll leave our place with a victory. I think we’ll give them the toughest game they play all year.
In Part 11 of the 2014 series, I will talk about the Virginia Cavaliers, our opponent on November 22nd at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA in the regular season road finale.