Wisconsin Football: Pinstripe Bowl Q&A with Miami Hurricanes expert

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24: Travis Homer #24 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates with Tyler Gauthier #74 after a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24: Travis Homer #24 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrates with Tyler Gauthier #74 after a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In anticipation of Wisconsin Football’s matchup with Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday, we reached out to a Miami expert to learn more about the Hurricanes.

Canes Warning is FanSided’s Miami Hurricanes fan site. The site expert, Alan Rubenstein, was kind enough to give Badger of Honor some insight on his team heading into the Pinstripe Bowl showdown between the Badgers and Hurricanes.

Like Wisconsin, Miami has taken a step back this year after a relatively successful 2017 season. What have been the biggest contributing factors to the Hurricanes’ struggles? 

Part of this should be something Badger fans can relate to, the passing game. Like Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook, Miami’s Malik Rosier was not able to elevate his game from last season. Rosier’s inconsistencies and cost him his job early in the season.

Rosier and Redshirt Freshman N’Kosi Perry alternated as the season went on. Perry eventually started the final three games of the regular season. The erratic play from both of them led the Miami passing game to be one of the worst in the nation across the board.

Part of the reason the passing game struggled so much was that the offensive had troubles pass protecting. Miami was 62nd in sacks allowed and 41st in tackles for loss allowed nationally this season.

Another big issue this season was field position. Untimely turnovers and abysmal punting hindered the Hurricanes all season. Zach Feagles who is the son of former NFL punter Jeff Feagles has not lived up to his potential during his first two college seasons. Feagles and Senior walk-on Jack Spicer have alternated as the punter this season.

Feagles has averaged 38.9 yards per punt this season and Spicer 37.1. As a team, Miami’s 38.2-yard average is 116th nationally. They’ve been so bad that Miami signed a Junior College punter to come in and compete for next season. It would not be at all surprising to see Feagles transfer after the season or Spring Practice.

Can you shed some light on Miami’s current quarterback situation? Between Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry, who can Wisconsin fans expect to see the majority of the snaps under center? Do you anticipate that both will play against the Badgers?

Loaded question right now. Presented with the question before Friday Perry would have assuredly played the entire game. Now its completely dependent on if Perry gets suspended or not. The Miami Hurricane, the school’s student newspaper, uncovered a story that Perry had posted a sexually explicit video on Snapchat. Perry did make the trip to New York. Under Richt players that have been suspended in the past have not made road trips. That included the seven players who were suspended for Miami’s Camping World Bowl victory in 2016.

If Perry is not suspended he will likely start. Anticipating what Richt will do with the quarterbacks is senseless. His decisions with when Perry and Rosier will play have been unpredictable. Perry and Rosier both started six games against FBS opponents this season.

Rosier played the entire game three times and Perry four. There are too many factors and no pattern as to what or why Richt decided to go with each quarterback this season.

Like the Badgers, the Hurricanes have not had great quarterback play this season, but have been pretty successful on the ground. What makes Miami’s running back duo of Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas so dangerous, and how do foresee them faring against this Wisconsin defense?

Homer’s strength is his toughness. He runs with a lot of power and determination. He can occasionally break off a big run but doesn’t have elite speed. Dallas is the more shifty of the two players. His runs have taken on a Barry Sanders style at times this season. Dallas has also been used under center in the wildcat the last two seasons. He was a high school quarterback

The most dangerous of the Miami running backs has been Freshman Cam’ron Davis. Davis came on late in the season. He finished with 167 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Davis added another downtown on a reception. Davis’s touchdown runs were from 42 and 22 yards. He has the best breakaway speed of the Hurricanes three primary running backs.

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Miami should be able to run the ball against what has for the most part been a mediocre Wisconsin run defense this season. The Badgers were 57th nationally stopping the run. Wisconsin allows 157.92 rushing yards per game. Miami is 42nd running the football averaging 192.33 yards per game. Mark Richt is going to have to try and establish the run first. That’s always his M.O. When Miami has struggled in his three year tenure, opponents have been able to stop the run.

Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor has been nothing short of brilliant this season for the Badgers behind a powerful offensive line led by All-Americans Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel. Miami’s defense has been stout once again this season, but how do you feel it matches up with Wisconsin’s formidable ground attack?

Miami is going to do everything they can defensively to force Jack Coan to try and defeat them. Miami’s run defense is easier to move the ball against than their pass defense. The Hurricanes led the nation in pass defense, but were 25th against the run. Boston College and North Carolina both ran for over 200 yards against Miami. Running the ball is essential to beating the Hurricanes.

Miami’s defense will be fired up. They want to avenge last season’s loss on their home field in the Orange Bowl to Wisconsin. It will also be the last game for Hurricanes Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz who will assume the Head Coaching job at Temple after the Hurricanes conclude the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Hurricanes will be without one of their top players, All-American defensive tackle Gerald Willis, against the Badgers due to injury. Who will need to step up for Miami on defense in his absence? Who have been the Hurricanes’ best players on defense this season?

Willis has been without question Miami’s best player this season. He was a consensus All-American and led the Hurricanes and the ACC with 18 tackles for loss. He added 4.5 sacks and led the Miami defensive linemen with 59 tackles. Willis is their most irreplaceable player left on the roster.

It’s going to take a team effort to replace Willis. The player most likely to replace Willis as the starter is former Illinois defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo. Odenigbo came to Miami as a Graduate Transfer from Illinois this season. He has done a good job with 20 tackles and three TFLs this season.

Are you worried about how the Hurricanes will fare in what is sure to be cold weather conditions at Yankee Stadium? Miami doesn’t play in environments like this too often.

The cold weather is one of the most overblown things. Miami played in Boston, Blacksburg and Charlottesville Virginia this season. Miami’s team is realistically built better for the cold with a good (albeit inconsistent) run offense and great defense overall

Prediction time. Who wins on Thursday, and what do you think the final score will be?

The game could go either way. There are many variables. With the inconsistent offenses and tough defenses, it should be a low scoring game. Whichever team gets better quarterback play and can win the turnover battle is likely to win.

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Stats courtesy of cfbstats.com