Shannon: We need a game like this

Coach Randy Shannon believes his program needs a game like the one that's taking place this Saturday night in Gainesville against the fifth-ranked Florida Gators. Read on to see what Shannon means by that, how he plans to utilize the freshmen, ways to beat the Gators, what a win would mean, and much more.

Can the 2008 signing class be considered a backbone to the program?
That is the backbone with what we're trying to build our program with. It's just a start. For us to get a lot of guys in for January, that takes a great deal of coaching those young guys. They'll play limited roles. We just gotta bring those guys around and hopefully they'll help us win games.

Several players in your last class won state championships in high school. How important is that?
It brings that feeling that you can win at all times, no matter what the circumstances are. We got those kids from Booker T. that won a state championship, a defensive lineman from Pahokee that won a state championship, those guys from Northwestern. That's part of creating that new atmosphere and what we're all about at Miami -- getting that new attitude back.

Talk about getting kids enrolled early.
What I do is let the kids do whatever they want. I'm not gonna tell a kid he's got to enroll early. Lots of guys playing basketball, run track, still wanna be in high school. But if they have the opportunity to and wanna enroll early we'll help them enroll early.

What is the key to going into Gainesville Saturday and winning?
The emotions are gonna be high at the beginning of the game. The opening kickoff, the first offensive series. You just gotta get through that and don't worry about the crowd, the noise, and play the game on the field.

What's the best way to contain a player like Tim Tebow?
They're a running team. They line up in the spread offense. They do it well, always have. Urban Meyer does a great job running the football, even back when he had Alex Smith (at Utah). If you can shut down the run and get them to throw, you have a shot to beat them. One thing you gotta understand about Florida is that Urban Meyer has done a great job of recruiting there. They have the Heisman Trophy winner, another Heisman candidate (Percy Harvin), and four years in a row they've had a Top 5 recruiting class. They have a 4x1 relay team there that's probably as fast as anyone in the country. (Jeff) Demps went to the Olympic trials. They got a lot of speed and talent and you get to see where you're at as a football team when facing a national powerhouse like Florida.

Is this considered a big rivalry game?
I don't think it's a rivalry right now. The two teams played six years ago and after this game they'll play again six years from now. The rivalry is more with the kids on the team. Look at Major Wright, Leonard Hankerson, and Anthony Reddick -- they all know each other. A lot of guys from this team played with a lot of guys from that team. As far as playing Florida every year I don't think that'll happen. You look at Florida, they got nine SEC games a year, an SEC title game, and you add an opponent like Miami now the 10th game is tough every year. FSU makes it 11. That's hard to do, even for us that's hard to do. It is what it is and you just have to look at the future and keep going.

How do you beat Florida?
We're gonna do what they give us. If we see something we can capitlize on, if it's the short passing game, the deep passing game, running the football...whatever they give is, we'll do those things.

Talk about defensive coordinator Bill Young's philosophy.
His philosophy is doing what he's doing. He's been great at USC, Ohio State, Kansas, everyone is excited to have him on staff. He may call a blitz, a zone package. It's all about the game and momentum and that's how he calls his games.

How big a test is this for your program?
We need a game like this. It's a big time game, a big time atmosphere, on the road, national tv, ESPN, against the No. 5 team in the country. We need to know where we're at as a football team and we have a lot of young guys. Our defensive line is young, our receivers are young, quarterbacks are young. From that standpoint, playing Florida is a good opportunity to put our standards and measures and see where they're at right now.

Despite playing a lot of young players in the opener, you seemed to execute pretty well.
We're gonna do the same thing. We're gonna play a lot of guys. The only way you get young guys playing (well) is experience. But you don't get them lots of reps. We're gonna play the young guys 20-25 plays a game, spread it out, and have those guys fresh and with that, they'll play with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm the whole game.

How big would a win be for the ACC, especially after the first week in college football?
It would be a great start for us as a program and also for our conference. Those are things you look forward to but you don't talk about. To be able to beat a great team like Florida would be good for the ACC conference.


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