Nothing like game day.
I chatted on Thursday with ESPNU college football analyst John Congemi.
John, a former star quarterback who finished second all-time in passing yards at Pittsburgh behind Dan Marino, played at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. He will be part of the broadcast team today that calls the UM at USF game.
Q: Miami is No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin and USF is 114th. How does that translate?
Congemi: “Problems for South Florida, that’s what those numbers tells you. If the Miami Hurricanes can continue to generate turnovers and protect the football and South Florida doesn’t get better play from their quarterbacks, because you don’t know who’s going to play in that position, it lends to the Hurricanes getting easy points or field position that leads to easy points.”
Q: USF announced that Steven Bench will start at QB vs. UM. What have you seen from the USF quarterbacks?
Congemi: “I did the South Florida game when they played against Michigan State (Note: Michigan State won 21-6.) Bobby Eveld (now 17 of 47 for 205 yards and two TDs, with one interception) didn’t get a whole lot of help in that game -- but he struggled. Steven Bench (now 8 of 24 for 128 yards and a TD, with one interception) came in and played pretty well. But it’s their pass percentage (37.4 percent combined) that has to come up. Whatever quarterback combination has to complete a better percentage of passes than they have. That position needs to improve to give the other guys around them a chance to make plays.”
Q: What do you think is most important, besides winning, for UM to accomplish in this game -- knowing that Georgia Tech is next?
Congemi: “I think it’s another game that they can continue to build their craft. They’re starting their ACC schedule soon and that’s the most important thing. I know in the bye week (after Florida) and week of practice, Al Golden has been harping on these guys to drill down, resist experimentation and get better at what they do best. That has been his motto the last couple weeks, just to get better at what they do because they’re on the verge of getting to the meat of their schedule and their goal is to win the ACC and get to a BCS game. They have talent, but they have to get better at what they do best, focus in and execute and minimize penalties and mistakes. That should be enough to win this football game.
Q: Stephen Morris has a bruised ankle. Should Al Golden let him sit more than he plays?
Congemi: “In my opinion, if Stephen Morris is healthy enough to play, he should probably play until the game is in hand just to continue to get him some reps. But what is that marker? Is it a three-touchdown lead? Is it the third quarter when you feel like the game is in hand? The best thing about football is you never know what’s going to happen. South Florida, on the defensive side of ball, has athletes. I’ve seen them in person. If you took their colors off and put them in another uniform they run as well as Miami. They’re just not as deep and maybe not quite as talented but the defensive coordinator does an excellent job with that side of the football. They do a good job of getting to the quarterback, have two quality ends and a heck of a linebacker in DeDe Lattimore. If you were going to attack them, you’d attack them with balance. If Stephen feels 100 percent or close to it, you let him play.”
Q: Your prediction?
Congemi: “I won’t give you a score, but I can tell you that the huge matchup will be Miami’s offense against South Florida’s defense. If they can continue to score points and move the football it’s going to be tough for South Florida to keep that pace. A low scoring game will favor South Florida, but if you get it into the high 20s I’m not so sure South Florida can keep pace.’’
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN