With the Canes ready to launch their 2013 campagin against FAU on Friday, it’s time to break down the season a bit differently with Josh Baumgard, Jonathan Magolnick, and Vishnu Parasuraman (also known as NCAA Slayer).
1. Stephen Morris or Duke Johnson: Who has the better chance at the Heisman?
Josh Baumgard: A few weeks back I explained in theoretical detail how Duke’s 2013 numbers should be Heisman-esque, but that doesn’t change the fact a quarterback has won the award 10 of the last 11 times. Morris has a versatile, explosive set of young receivers led by Phillip Dorsett (Speed), Allen Hurns (Consistency), and Herb Waters (Playmaker). His line has experience and depth. Everything is in place for Morris to have one of the best quarterbacking seasons in program history. Yet the biggest hurdle of all will be breaking into a BCS Bowl for the first time since 2004 to have any player worthy of such an award.
Jonathan Magolnick: I would say Johnson for the simple fact that the Canes only have seven scholarship receivers currently on the team for Morris to throw to. Duke rushed for 947 and 10 touchdowns as a freshman while averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Duke has also put on some weight as he looks to carry a heavier load for the Canes this year.
Vishnu Parasuraman: I’ll go with Morris here. While Duke does actually have the ability to win the award from the running back position, since he will also feature in the return game and out of the backfield as a receiver, this team and this season will ultimately be defined by Stephen Morris. He came in as a raw, physically gifted quarterback and has grown into one of the best in the country. For the Canes to be good enough to contend, he has to reach his full potential. And if he does that, he will insert himself into the Heisman discussion. If he fails to do so, then the Canes won’t be good enough for any player to get Heisman hype. So ultimately, if the Canes are good enough to warrant a Heisman contender, Morris will steal the headlines.
2. When will the NCAA wrap up their “Investigation?”
JB: When does Gigli 2 come out?
JM: The NCAA will wrap up the investigation during the season and Miami will not receive any serious sanctions having already served two postseason bans which include an ACC Championship Game berth. I do see a possible reduction of scholarships.
VP: I think this really depends on how well the Canes’ season is going. If Miami falters early, the NCAA will go ahead and come down with some scholarship sanctions. But, if Miami seizes control of the ACC Coastal, and looks like they could be headed to a BCS bowl, then the NCAA might try and block that with a bowl ban. I expect this to come down at the beginning of halftime of a critical must-win game. Mark Emmert will probably hold the press conference during the third quarter, and say all questions must be submitted in quadruplicate prior to the start of the third quarter. That way they can continue to avoid any sort of accountability. The Florida game seems like a fine time to drop this on the Canes.
3. Who is the biggest Hurricane “sleeper?”
JB: Miami’s 13 sacks last year ranked 113th in FBS. They need to get pressure from somewhere and I think freshman Al-Quadin Muhammad is going to be the source at some point. Golden described the young athlete as “twitchy” this summer. That defense is going to need some twitch this year or every ounce of pressure is going to be on the offense.
JM: Sophomore linebacker Raphael Kirby did not make much of an impact during his freshman season, but I see him being up there with Miami’s tackle leaders and helping bring the defense back to form.
VP: Denzel Perryman. It’s hard to call someone who is arguably the Canes’ best defensive player a sleeper, but the defense has been so bad that anyone on that side of the ball could technically be called a sleeper if they end up performing well. And I think Perryman has the ability to really take the next step and become a dominant linebacker, anchoring a much-improved defense. Most of the offensive players are known commodities, so this almost has to come from the defense, and I could see Perryman blossoming into an All-ACC player by the end of the year.
4. Which of Al Golden’s ties tops the rest?
JB: We’ve seen the solid orange and the diagonally striped green and orange. I love the solid orange, but I think it’s time for some versatility in the wardrobe department. It’s time for Al to drop the green bow tie.
JM: How can you go wrong with the orange?
VP: After careful analysis, I am going to go with multicolored tie as the winner. Golden traditionally has had a preference for orange ties. But he might try to mix in more color this year. I also think there is a level of a superstition here. If the Canes win a big game with one style of tie, he must continue that forward. And against Florida, surely he can’t go with just orange. There must be some green. If that’s the case, and the Canes win that game, then he should continue to wear that tie, tipping the balance in that direction.
5. Who is Miami’s top NFL prospect for 2014?
JB: In the draft it’s all about potential and measurables for NFL scouts. Although I see Morris going early, Dorsett will be the first Cane off the board if he takes the early leap to the NFL. Many forget the type of season he had last year, with 842 yards and 14.5 yards per catch. Throw in that 4.3 40-time and scouts will be drooling by spring. He is Miami’s best deep threat and has the type of jets to rattle a defense.
JM: The Hurricanes best NFL prospect will be Morris. While he did not start his career off as a star, he threw for 21 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions as a junior in 2012, including 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over the last four games of the season. Blessed with a rocket arm and solid size, look for Morris to be one of the top five quarterbacks drafted.
VP: Morris. He has a rocket launcher for an arm, with the ability to make all the throws. Quarterbacks are usually a hot commodity in the draft. After he has a big senior year, I find it hard to believe he will slip out of the first round. And the Canes probably don’t have another first-rounder on this team. Even if Morris somehow falls into the second, he will likely still be the highest Hurricane drafted. He could even be the highest drafted quarterback.