After a semi-scare Saturday against Missouri State, Kansas State's home opener against Miami suddenly has taken on a new level of importance. With an extremely young team that outscored BC 41-18 after giving up two early touchdowns, this team seems quite unpredictable.
Even those of us who watched that game can't claim to know even close to everything about the 'Canes, so it's time to turn to our colleagues over at the Miami SB Nation blog The Seventh Floor, where they've got you covered for all things Miami.
Since this is a non-conference opponent most of don't know a lot about, we've got double the Q&A for your pleasure.
Our first guest is John, better known on these here Interwebs as Lt. Phillip Noland. Note that we have our typical five questions about the game, but at the end I've also included an excellent questions from Anon about that whole Yahoo! investigation mess, which I believe Lt. Noland answered quite well.
Check the jump for the full Q&A. Be sure to come back tomorrow for Version II and take a look at TB's answers now up over at The Seventh Floor.
AA: I watched the Miami-BC game and much like us, it seemed the ‘Canes had some serious issues getting a pass rush and defending receivers. How much of a concern is that going forward?
LPN: It both is and it isn't, if that makes sense. Getting a push from the D-Line has been a big concern all throughout camp. The guys there are talented, large, and strong, but only (defensive end Anthony) Chickillo really seems to step up as a leader. Like Chick, (defensive end) Shayon Green has had a lock on his starting job more or less all camp.
It's the inside of the line that lacks real leadership, and that's something that is going to have to show up if this line wants to be a great as they can be. As far as the performance against BC, one can't forget that they have become an offensive line NFL pipeline, so they may not be the best measuring stick for our defensive line in a lot of respects.
Sure, it may show our line is not "elite", but it also shows that game number 1 against an elite offensive line ended up just about as bad as you would expect. I think it gets better the more they move guys around and figure out what works best, hopefully sooner rather than later.
AA: Freshman running back Duke Johnson looked pretty spectacular as he racked up 135 yards on seven carries and took two 50+ yard runs to the house. Is he for real and does he get more carries this week?
LPN: A lot of fans, including myself, really want to say that he is the real deal after that performance, but you have to temper that a bit with the fact that while his running was pretty damn good, the BC tackling was just as bad.
The first run admittedly shouldn't have gotten past the linebackers, but it did because of the poor tackling. The second run he was nearly untouched, so that was legit. If he shows up at KSU and has a similar performance, then I think it would be time to declare him the real deal.
He reminds me of a much faster Clinton Portis with his combo of size, balance, and low running style. His speed is ridiculous though. He hasn't been caught from behind on a run since his freshman year of high school.
AA: Do you think Miami's passing game is going to be mostly short, quick hitters like it was last week or are there some deep threats capable of emerging? Can Stephen Morris make those throws?
LPN: Morris can absolutely make those throws. If you watch the deep ball he heaved against BC, the ball was on target, but the receiver did him no favors by waiting for the ball instead of going up to get it.
His arm strength is pro-caliber, and he has the decision making to prevent Jacory-ing all over the field. I think the offensive play calling against BC was mainly to get the passing game working and to get guys comfortable.
With Fisch at the helm, those types of plays will for sure be part of the repertoire, but once things get settled it, he will definitely let Morris sling it. Fisch knows the strengths and weaknesses of his offense, and is very good about building his game plan around the opponent's defensive schemes.
AA: Is Kansas State lucky to get this young team early in the season, and is it going to be significantly different from what we saw a year ago?
LPN: By definition it's a completely different team. With all the seniors that we lost, and the guys that left early, this is not Golden's team of Shannon's guys; this is his squad. The offense is more or less rebuilt, the defense is as well.
As far as getting them early, it's going to end up being a cliché answer, but yes and no. Yes because of the sheer inexperience a lot of the guys have in real game action, but no because somehow Golden seems to have found a group of guys that are mature enough football-wise that they can come in and play like an upperclassman from day 1.
Case in point, watch Ereck Flowers at left tackle against BC. He is a true freshman who was thrust into the starting role because of Seantrel Henderson's off season. You didn't hear his name called once all game long, which for an offensive end is exactly what you want. He dominated.
The youth is going to be a double-edged sword for us, and you guys will be a great growing moment. They will play as well as they should, but they will also have hiccups. It's just a matter of maximizing the former and restricting the latter.
AA: What has it been like for Miami fans to watch Arthur Brown establish himself as one of the best linebackers in the Big 12, if not the country?
LPN: Bittersweet. Absolutely. More than that, though, it just gave us more of a reason to be so unbelievably happy that Randy Shannon is gone. Brown could have been the same guy for us had Shannon not had the ridiculous habit of playing seniors and favorites instead of guys that could play and help the team.
He could recruit, but once they got there a lot of what Shannon would tell them during recruitment would turn out to be untrue. Put Arthur in a class last year or this year and let him be recruited by Al Golden, I guarantee he is a Cane and he is starting from day one.
It's also a bit funny to see how Arthur has blossomed, because his brother was supposed to be the best in the family, and he is a complete and utter headcase. As far as the game, I'm not too worried about him. Our offense is dynamic enough to not allow one line backer to shut everything down.
It's your quarterback that scares the crap out of me when he is put up against our defense. My only hope is that our defensive line can get some push, and at the very least force him outside where our speed at linebacker is going to be a big help.
We've also got a pretty damn good counterpart to Arthur Brown in our corps by the name of Denzel Perryman. You may want to watch the BC tape to see :) (Editor's note: He's not bluffing.)
Anon: What is the perception towards the current investigation and if there will be penalties?
LPN: Oh man. This thing has been a ridiculous ride. It began with the knee-jerk reaction from a lot of fans (and continues with a lot of talking heads and people who just dislike Miami) that football at the school was done.
Then after the dust settled and people actually looked at the report, it shifted towards a mood of tentative optimism as far as what the NCAA could actually do. For myself, it still sort of remains at that point.
I fully realize the NCAA will do and has done basically anything it wants to on a case to case basis, but if you look at Miami's situation from a logical standpoint, there isn't actually a lot there. The majority of what Shapiro gave Yahoo! was well outside of the NCAA's 4 year statute of limitations.
They do have a clause that allows them to override that statute if the situation calls for it, but then again, they can't actually prove the majority of what was stated in the report.
Former players named in the report are under zero obligation to talk, and none of them have. The only way the NCAA would have gotten information from them is from testimony in the trustee hearing to recover money Shapiro stole.
However, the school stepped in and paid the trustee an agreed upon amount of money to help repay what Shapiro did, but also to ensure that no former players would be subpoenaed in the proceedings.
This of course means that the NCAA has nothing in the way of help in trying to validate the claims of a convicted felon who made his millions by deceit.
Add that to the fact that Miami has already forfeited one bowl game voluntarily, suspended and current players who were named on their own, and made sure that they paid their money back, and things begin to look like they will be bad, but not as bad as everyone thinks/hopes/wants.
Miami and the administration has done everything to cooperate and placate the NCAA every step of the way, and what testimony has come from former aides and coaches has done nothing but say that the Yahoo! report was baseless.
Personal opinion? Miami forfeits a second bowl game this season, and they are hit with one more year of bowl ineligibility and scholarship hits (5-10) a season. I honestly don't see how it could be much more than that with how they have handled things.