1. Who impressed you the most with their Week 1 performance?
On offense, it was the Harris-Hankerson connection. On a team with a lot of good receivers, Hankerson is still the first option on most plays. Hankerson can line up anywhere, which is part of the reason FAMU couldn't account for his whereabouts at times.
Defensively, there was a reason Oliver Vernon was not accounted for as part of my preseason preview. But there's a reason he's being mentioned here. In a half against the Rattlers, he had 2.5 sacks and five tackles. Which is after having 1.5 sacks in all of 2009. Ray Ray Armstrong and Sean Spence made big plays out there and Allan Bailey spent most of his playing time fighting off double-teams. But Vernon was the Miami defense on Thursday.
2. Based on their Week 1 performance, what area(s) does the team need to improve on the most?
These are probably going to be recurring themes throughout 2010, but I would like to see them run more effectively between the tackles and I'd like to see the defense stop overpursuing on misdirection plays. The words "stay at home" sometimes escapes the Hurricane defense's vocabulary.
3. Which back-up or newcomer earned more playing time with their performance in last weeks game?
Lamar Miller is going to get more touches as the year goes on whether I lobby for it or not. Randy Shannon knows what he has in Miller, and that's a C.J. Spiller-type who can potentially find the end zone from anywhere on the field. Miller isn't just fast, he's fast in pads.
4. What are the major question marks that still surround the team headed into Week 2?
While the offensive line kept Harris' jersey clean in his limited duty Thursday, Miami's blocking schemes involved a lot of short-count passes and off-tackle running plays. They really didn't get an effective push agaisnt the FAMU defensive line. Given that Ohio State's front seven might be the strongest part of their team, that could be a problem if they
5. Are you more or less confident in your teams ultimate success this year after Week 1?
In that Miami looked good against a team that they should have and did give 40 lashes to? Yes. But all they proved in Week 1 is that they're worlds better than Florida A&M. While there were a lot of things I saw that I liked, there's no way to know that they'll work against the big boys until UM goes out and proves it.
6. What needs to happen in order to secure a victory in Week 2?
Let's start with the hyena in the corner first.
Yes, the 2003 Fiesta Bowl was a bad night and yes, I wish the back judge had pulled out his flag a little faster and yes, I threw up in my mouth a little for even thinking about it. But other than the coaches, no one who played in Tempe, Ariz. is playing on Saturday. Yes, UM's football alums can live vicariously through the 2010 roster...that's always been the way at Miami anyway. But it has nothing to do with the game this coming week for either team. What Saturday's game actually is about is simple: Ohio State is looking to prove they belong in the National Title conversation and Miami wants to get there.
The Hurricanes came out of the gate against FAMU in a spread no-huddle offense and zipped it down the field in seven fast-paced plays, which put the Rattlers on their heels immediately and they stayed there for the rest of the night. They gave FAMU (and by extension, the Ohio State film room) a small taste of what that formation is capable of. In order to win on Saturday, they need to wheel out the whole buffet cart. Miami needs to hit them early, jump out to a lead early, and don't let them speed up the game by allowing them to pound the ball.
On defense, the game plan needs to be to contain QB Terrelle Pryor in the pocket and make him win the game by throwing. Let six of the front seven worry about the Bucks' running backs and have one Hurricane --most likely Spence-- to know what flavor of chewing gum Pryor is by the end of the game.
This is a classic boxer v. puncher matchup, and it's really a question of whether Miami can land enough haymakers in order to win. I'm just concerned that Ohio State has plenty of sting of its own and can win this game without constantly having to swing for the fence like UM has to.