STL: Welcome to the 2013 football death spiral, home of the Cavaliers! What has been the biggest difference you've seen between the Miami team that romped into the FSU game and the one that's sputtered ever since?
SotU: The death march can be traced back to the Wake and UNC games. Man coverage was a painfully pathetic joke, as Eric Ebron showed on Thurs night. Zone hasn't been much better, as VTech exposed with a drop 8, rush 3 coverage that was warm butter for Logan Thomas' hot knife. Simply, there's no pass rush, no creativity defensively, and the offense isn't doing enough without Dorsett, Johnson, and an effective Morris to offset the defensive debacles.
STL: Semi-serious question: Can we have Al Golden back?
SotU: No. D'Onofrio can be had for a bag of peanuts. Or maybe a pack of gum? That we give to you as well?
STL: Losing a player of Duke Johnson's caliber is going to derail pretty much any offense. But Dallas Crawford has seemed to step up and perform at about replacement level. Is there a major schematic change the Canes have had to make to account for the difference in playing style between Johnson and Crawford?
SotU: You lose the effectiveness of the outside screen game/plays to get Duke in space; outside stretch runs. The offensive line is athletic enough to spring those big plays. Dallas has good hands and will run you over, but that big play outside is gone, and teams have somehow adjusted.
STL: Stephen Morris. I don't know what to think of this guy. Love his form and technique when he gets set, but sometimes seems to rely too much on arm strength if he's flustered and make some really questionable decisions. What's the Miami verdict on him? What's Virginia's best bet to get the bad Morris involved on Saturday?
SotU: Stephen Morris: International Man of Mystery. The ankle injury early in the year clearly hobbled him, but his mechanics, and decision-making, have not been up to par. Throwing off his back foot instead of planting/throwing- if I had a nickel for every time he's done that. Usually resulting in an overthrow. So it really comes down to pressure, if UVa creates some, I see turnovers.
STL: Holy crap where's the defense gone? That side of the ball kept the Canes in games against UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest, keeping the game within reach until the offensive playmakers could make plays. There's no shame in getting punched in the mouth by this year's Florida State squad, but 42 to VPISU? 48 to Duke? What's gone wrong the last few weeks?
SotU: Everything. Scheme, execution, tackling, gap responsibilities/run fits (see Duke game) and a general funk that's tough to explain. Miami has too much talent to play this badly on defense, so in my mind that comes down to coaches getting them prepared, or an ineffective scheme.
STL: It's Senior Day for Miami. But last time UVa and Miami squared off on Miami's Senior Day, we closed out the Orange Bowl 48-0. I don't expect that to happen again, but I do enjoy bringing it up. Miami is a 20-plus point favorite. What's your prediction for the game? More simply: Who ya got?
SotU: Senior Day. Probably a sparse crowd. UVa whipped our ass in awful ways the past few years. But I think UM finds enough plays to win a tight game. UVa plus points is lock of the year (said same thing about Wake game).