Questions from the other side: Miami of Ohio reporter Chris Vinel

Miami comes to Minnesota for the third home game for the Gophers.

Jack Warrick

The Minnesota Daily called up Chris Vinel, a staff writer in his second year covering Miami of Ohio football at the Miami Student, to preview the upcoming game Saturday against Miami at TCF Bank Stadium.

What is the key for Miami this week to get its first win of the season?

Miami’s kind of been shooting themselves in the foot the first two weeks. I mean, they’ve stressed all preseason and all summer long about mental toughness and discipline, and so far they haven’t really showed that. Head coach Chuck Martin – after the game [against Cincinnati] – said [they] actually had more opportunities than they did. [They] just didn’t take advantage of it, so I think they need to stay disciplined and … avoid shooting themselves in the foot both from a penalties stand point and just taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. 

Miami had under 100 yards rushing in the first two games. What does Miami need to do this week to get things going against the Gophers?

Last season, they weren’t world beaters on the ground. But what they would do is they’d run the ball, especially early on in the game and really start to establish that run game. [They would] get the offensive line going and then — once they had the running game going a little bit — they’d take shots down the field in the passing game with wide receiver James Gardner, who’s arguably [their] best player on offense, he’s fantastic. He is on the Biletnikoff Watch list for the season, it’s for the best wide receiver in college football. And he’s 6 feet 4 inches, 220 [pounds] so he’s got an NFL frame. Often, he’s bringing down 50-50 balls, in traffic. So what they really want to do is establish the running game and get it to him. They’re not a team that’s built to come from behind and so I think getting that run game going is really critical. They have a two-headed monster in Kenny Young and Alonzo Smith. …  Gus Ragland, the quarterback, he’ll get in on the running game every once in awhile. He’s not too much of a threat from there, but they like to attempt it every once in awhile just to keep the defense honest.

What does Miami’s pass offense look like and who are their main wide receivers?

It just seems like the first two weeks they’ve gotten physically man-handled up front, and that’s just really impeding their progress as an offense because, like I said, they want to establish that run and then open up the passing game. But they haven’t been able to establish the run so the passing game suffered as a result.

They really are trying to get it to Gardner very often, downfield especially. He didn’t have any big-chunk plays yesterday. I think he had one catch for 24 yards, but he had seven catches for 80 yards. He’s the number one option. Then there’s a couple other guys they’ll rotate opposite of him. Jack Sorenson, who only had one catch, they threw him a bubble screen yesterday … that was his only catch of the day, and it went for minus a yard. So I mean he didn’t have a big day, but he had a big day in the opener, he went for over 100 yards.

Who are some players to watch on both sides of the ball who could make a difference this Saturday?

One of those guys … now a starting corner, [is] Zedrick Raymond. So he’s a guy who was an off-season transfer, came into the program and he’s really smooth athletically. … You can just tell he was meant to play the position. He’s just really smooth and fun to watch out there, and he’s done a really good job the first two weeks. To my knowledge and to my memory, he hasn’t given up any chunk plays at all, they’ve barely been throwing at him because he’s been blanketing his receiver. So he’s another guy to really watch and he’s been stepping up and … trying to fill that role in the secondary replacing guys from last season. 

Speed Round:

What is the most effective position group on the offensive side?

Wide Receivers

What is the most effective position group on the defensive side?

Linebackers

Best offensive player?

Wide receiver James Gardner

Best defensive player?

Line backer Brad Koenig

Under-the-radar player?

Cornerback Zedrick Raymond

End of season record prediction?

5-7

Score prediction against Minnesota?

28-14, Minnesota