Over the years Canespace has been fortunate enough to become friends with many of the dedicated media representatives from across the entire spectrum of Miami Hurricanes reporters.
From print media to Internet sites and radio personalities we have met most if not all of them along the way over the last six years. Fortunately we have been able to establish a positive working relationship with many of them during that time.
We met WQAM radio analyst Don Bailey Jr. after a Spring game several years ago at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. He took the time to chat with us about all things orange and green and was open and candid in his responses to us in the parking lot after the game. He answered our questions as we listened and soaked up the information while he evaluated the Hurricanes team back in 2008.
But no friendship has been stronger than the one Canespace has forged over the years with Manny Navarro and Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald. The "Mandingo", as we like to call Manny, and "Susan" as we like to call Susan, have been more than generous with their time over the years. I am proud to say that both Manny and Susan wear Canespace (notice the green Canespace T-shirt over his left shoulder).
But tonight it is all about Susan as she steps up unafraid and directly into the fray to give us her perspective on the current state of the 2012 Miami Hurricanes football team.
Here are our five questions with Susan Miller-Degnan of the Miami Herald:
Canespace: Stephen Morris won the starting QB role on this team. Do you think he is really ready to lead this team to victory in 2012 or is simply the best available player at his position at UM right now? We all know that it is only a matter of time before fan favorite Gray Crow is named the starting QB at UM but based on what you have seen or know is Morris going to have an excellent or just average 2012 season for the Hurricanes?
Susan Miller-Degnan: I definitely think Stephen is ready, and not just “the best available player at his position at UM right now.’’ I didn’t know we all knew “fan favorite” Gray Crow would be the starter, though I have to admit he’s a really super young man. (Aside: Al Golden told us today that Preston Dewey was leading in the battle for third-team quarterback, which was somewhat surprising based on what we saw in the spring). But I do believe that Stephen Morris can lead this team. Honestly, we don’t see much in practice, but he has a wonderful arm, and we’ve se en him make some dead-on accurate missile throws from many, many, many yards out. We’ve also seen him throw a good share of picks. Just think of how he was thrust into the starting role as a freshman, when most, including himself, were sure he would redshirt. I’ve talked to a lot of players this fall, and almost all to a man, when asked about the difference between Stephen and Ryan Williams, raved about Stephen – even before he was selected as the starter.
Canespace: How many Freshmen do you see getting some serious playing time as the year goes on? Name some Freshmen (True or RS) who you think will play in 2012 and maybe even start by season's end?
Susan: Oh my, the list never ends. Serious playing time: Ereck Flowers, Malcolm Lewis, Duke Johnson, Earl Moore, Gabe Terry, Eddie Johnson, Deon Bush, Rayshawn Jenkins, Tracy Howard, Jelani Hamilton, Tyriq McCord. By the way, not sure exactly what “serious’’ means, but I think all these guys will have a lot of experience by season’s end.
Canespace: The Legends of the Fall selection process is an annual ritual at Canespace. The bloggers select one player on offense and one on defense that they think will have a spectacular, break-out or legendary season each year. This year the most selected players were of course QB Stephen Morris and LB Denzel Perryman. Apart from those two obvious selections which two players do you think will show up and show out this season? In addition please also select ONE Freshman player and ONE assistant or position coach who you think will be difference makers for the 2012 UM football team?
Offense: RaShawn Scott.
Defense: Anthony Chickillo.
Freshman difference-maker: Duke Johnson.
Assistant: Jedd Fisch.
Canespace: Will the offense carry the defense or will the defense carry the offense for the 2012 Miami Hurricanes? Which is the stronger side of this team and what is the strongest position?
Susan: I thought before camp started that possibly it would be the defense, but now I don’t think so. Again, we don’t see much except for some position drills, but I can’t help but have this gnawing feeling that the run defense will be lacking – and that opposing quarterbacks will rundown the gut as if it’s the Red Sea parting (witness many games the past several years.) There have been some injuries to linebackers, and Ramon Buchanan is returning from ACL surgery. Denzel will be a major force, and he better stay healthy for the Canes’ sake. The others (except for Jimmy Gaines) are painfully inexperienced. Additionally, coaches have never seemed secure about the defensive line, and are obviously concerned about the tackle position. The defensive backs should be a lot better, you’d think, with all that young talent. But remember, the highly touted youngsters are just out of high school and those guys need a little time to get used to college play.
Offensively, I just keep thinking about ‘What can Duke do for you?’ We haven’t seen him in action, other than in high school, but he’s the one kid I’m really excited about finally being able to watch in college. The tight ends, unfortunately, have not seemed to thrill Coach Golden, who was a tight end himself. I have seen a lot of promise in Clive Walford, but he has to be able to hang on to the ball. I also thought Asante Cleveland was a real talent-in-the-making as a freshman, so let’s see how he has progressed. If the offensive line is strong (and that’s a big if, because the depth is suspect), and those young receivers can catch (blocking is also a question mark for young ones), that will open up the running game as well.
Canespace: OK, finally it is time to put you on the spot: I need your overall season record prediction for the 'Canes this season? Just give it to us straight!
Susan: I’m sorry but I can’t give you a prediction until I see the first two games, But if I’m predicting the first two games then I’m saying 1-1 with a win at Boston College and a loss at Kansas State.