Press Conference: Randy Shannon

Miami football coach Randy Shannon talks with the media on Tuesday. Miami (5-2, 3-1 ACC) takes on Virginia (3-4, 0-3 ACC) on Saturday.

Opening Comments

Another ACC opponent in the Coastal Division, we’ve got Virginia this week. Good football team. Watching them early in the season they played USC tough at USC. They play tough on defense. Coach London has done a great job of getting those guys to play hard the entire football game. When you watch them on tape, you can’t look at their record. They can run the football well. I watched them the week before playing North Carolina; they were moving the ball up and down the field but turnovers got them. They play nine men in the box trying to stuff the run game. They have two really good corners who do a great job in what they are trying to do. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, especially our offensive line and our running game.

Offensively, we are probably going to see the same offense we saw last week. It’s a pro style offense with misdirection plays. Also, they will try to take a shot throwing the ball deep. It’s going to be a big challenge for us like always since its on the road. Our mind set has to be that we are on the road this week. This is going to be a different game.

They’ve been doing a great job on special teams. Every game that I’ve watched they have a great kickoff

return. They may lead the ACC as far as average starting position after kickoffs. They have a running back who can run the ball well on their kickoff return. He does a great job of getting the ball up field and into good field position. I think the kickoff team is going to a big time challenge for us.

It’s going to be one of those games that I’ll tell the players you can’t slack off or do anything different. I always remind them looking at Iowa State beating Texas after Texas had beaten Nebraska the week before. Anytime that you have an opportunity to get better as a football team you have to capitalize on it. You can’t always dwell on the past. There are people saying things and making you feel good, but it really doesn’t make a difference now. We have to focus on Virginia and keep working in the Coastal Division and keep going week by week.

Reason for caution?

There’s reason for caution because they won a game [last week]. They have back to back home games and it will be special for them. They will have a good crowd with the fans at Virginia. They will be rooting for Virginia. We are going to have to play hard for four quarters. We have to show it in practice.

On guarding against a letdown

Just keep reminding them and if guys aren’t practicing well we’ll put somebody else in. A letdown is not going to be by the team, it would be from an individual. The guy that is not giving enough effort, we’ll just put on the bench at this time. Like anything, you can’t just rant and rave to get the players motivated to play on game day. It has to be all week.

On the running game

I think what has happened is that the offensive line and the fullbacks are doing a great job. Pat Hill is doing a great job. We are running the football to set-up the pass. Everyone’s been looking at Hankerson with his amazing catches, but you forget about our run game and Damien Berry. And you look at the emergence of Mike James and Lamar Miller is back. Those guys are doing a great job of running the football. When you look at the balance we have on this football team, we are an offense that can move the ball and score points. And there’s the emergence of Asante Cleveland and what he has done. The running backs have been getting involved with short passes when North Carolina was playing deep. You take what you can get from the defense and they have to react to you.

On offensive balance

If you go into a game set on stopping the run and if we are able to still run the ball, it makes it difficult for them to cover our pass game. Then it’s a play action pass and a deep ball to score points. It’s not what they are giving us, but what we can attack. We are doing no huddle with all our personnel groups. It puts pressure on the defensive coordinator and what call they are going to make. There are a lot of different things we are doing to do to move the chains and capitalize on some situations.

On Damien Berry

Damien came in out of high school as a tailback and defensive back, highly recruited as a defensive back. He played some defensive back his first year with the scout team and on kickoffs. Watching him on practice he was not the same guy as in high school. Then I said I would move him to running back. It was my decision and I took a lot of heat for it, but it was for the future. It was best for the team and the University of Miami. That’s what I saw in Damien.

On the impact of freshmen

On the offensive line you got Jermaine Johnson, Seantrel Henderson, and Brandon Linder. They all have been getting time. It shows you how much recruiting plays a part as well as Coach Stoutland, Pannunzio, and Whipple who have done a great job in orchestrating the situation. Then there’s the emergence of Allen Hurns who has done a great job on our kickoff team. If you noticed last week, he ran some pass routes and blocked some safeties too. A lot of the success of the running game had to do with Allen Hurns getting down the field and blocking the safety. And Tyrone Cornelius had a big hit last week. Lamar Miller is doing some great things. Kevin Cain and Asante Cleveland were guys you never heard of, but we took them because they were best for the University of Miami and our football team. Cain came in and started against Duke and did a great job. Cleveland came in as an emergency and caught some balls against Duke. Two big catches against North Carolina on third and fourth down. As I always say, if you’re mentally and physically can handle it, you can play at the University of Miami. Its not always athletic ability to be successful.

On the play of the defensive backs

They really get on each other in practice on being physical and they carry it over to the game. It makes it easier on the coaches. They really have a lot of confidence in the way they are playing. They also take a lot of pride in working with the defensive line to stop the run.

On team identity this year

I think every team is different. A totally different team from last year’s with a different identity. They were having fun the other night jumping up and down. The rules say that you can celebrate with your teammates. When you see the guys carry over enthusiasm from practice to the game that is a good thing.

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