1. How is offense under Fisch different from the Whipple days? What happened last week against USF?
VP: I think the main difference between the two offenses is the focus of the offense. Fisch is more dedicated to running the football (although that has been done inconsistently effective this year), while Whipple seemed to force the pass. By doing this, Fisch has taken pressure off of Jacory Harris to be the play maker on the offense, instead shifting focus to getting the ball to the WRs and RBs and letting them make plays. Jacory Harris is an intelligent, accurate QB. His one pitfall is his arm strength. Whipple's offense required deep, downfield, power throws that are more suited to an NFL arm. This resulted in a lot of interceptions. In Fisch's offense, Harris has been able to utilize his strengths and thrive, making the whole offense much more effective.
The difference between the offense against USF versus the rest of the season was the offensive line. USF's defensive line dominated, which shut down the entire offense. Jacory Harris was sacked 7 times, and the 'Canes totaled 40 carries for only 57 yards. Jacory Harris still managed to be effective and efficient, going 27/35, 259 yards with no interceptions, but the sacks and negative run plays constantly put the team behind the chains. Also, a drive ended with a fumble and another with a blocked FG, so there were some points left on the field.
2. The defense seems to be much more consistent. How should BC attack the scheme?
VP:I think the key to the defense's resurgence has been moving LB Sean Spence to MLB. He had been playing outside most of the year, with the exception of the Georgia Tech game where the 'Canes defense also thrived. He was moved back inside against FSU and remained there against USF. It has made all the difference in the world, as the defense was the weakness of the team most of the year.
Truth be told, for most of the year, whatever the opposition did, run or pass, it was effective. Obviously, this defensive resurgence the last few weeks has changed that. I think the way to attack this defense the way it is currently playing is to go with an intermediate passing game and mix in some runs. Mark D'Onofrio tends to play his CBs off the WRs, and there is room to complete passes in the 5-10 yard range. If BC is effective doing that, it should loosen up the run defense as well, and the 'Canes are susceptible to being run over. Also, play action passes to the TEs and FBs seem to be really effective. But in general, I would use the intermediate passing game to set up the run.
3. Given all that has happened, what is your opinion of Golden's first year? Do you think his name constantly being mentioned for other jobs will significantly impact the program he is trying to build?
VP: I would give him a passing grade, but barely. He certainly has had to deal with a lot of issues, and that does and should give him a lot of leeway. On the flip side, I think there is more talent on this team than the 6-5 record indicates. This senior class was the #1 recruiting class in the country, and while many of the big name players have not panned out as expected, enough of them have to warrant a better record. Every Miami loss has been close and decided in the last minute of the game, so there was certainly potential for a much better season. Golden's handling of the scandal off the field has been excellent, but I feel the team left a few wins out there.
The Miami program has never been about the coach, so I don't think Golden's name being mentioned will really hurt, especially since he has pretty emphatically said he is not going anywhere. The main concerns going forward are the on field play and obviously any sanctions that might come from the NCAA. The sanctions speak for themselves, but it has now been a decade since the 'Canes have won a championship and 8 years since they have been in a BCS bowl. The school is a small private school with limited resources competing in a pro sports town(something BC fans can sympathize with), so the main draw has always been the reputation of the school as a football powerhouse. Now, people like myself that are older remember the glory days, but the kids being recruited now were 8 years old the last time Miami was dominant. I think Miami needs to be relevant next year on a national level (at least ranked by year's end) to take a step forward in the building of the program.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
VP: I was concerned before the game that the 'Canes would come out flat on senior day after becoming bowl eligible. With the decision to not play in a bowl game, this game became a lot more interesting because it is essentially the bowl game for both teams now. I think it will be close for the first half, but that Miami, which is a second half team, will pull away in the second half and win 27-14.