Marquardt and Alexander Interview Darrell Marquardt looks uses his arm and his legs for another big improvement in 2016 and a National Title Miami heads into the 2016 season with very high expectations and a lot of talent. Today, we are sitting down with star junior quarterback Darrell Marquardt and Coach Jeff Alexander, known around â€œThe Cream of the Cropâ€ as JCA. Entering the 3rd season since winning the National Title, Alexander is starting to hear rumblings about the program falling off after back-to-back 9-4 seasons. In the past 2 years, all 8 of Miamiâ€™s losses have come against Top-10 teams, losing twice each to LSU, Florida State, and Georgia Tech, along with Michigan and Ohio State. We talked with Marquardt and Alexander about the program, the upcoming season, and expectations. Darrell, you came in as an unheralded 3-star athlete, did it bother you that more schools didnâ€™t think you could play at this level? Darrell Marquardt: I think everything happens for a reason. I knew I could play quarterback and I knew I could compete with the best of the best. Miami was one of the first schools to recruit me, they were coming off a National Championship, I liked their style of play, and I liked the coaching staff. From the start, they were the school to beat, so I didnâ€™t really focus on who wasnâ€™t recruiting me and â€œbeing disrespectedâ€ or whatever. At the end of the day, you just want to find the best fit and I always thought Miami was a great fit for me. Youâ€™ve taken some lumps, losing 8 games in 2 years, why should Miami be considered a National Championship Contender? Darrell, weâ€™ll start with you then weâ€™ll hear what your coachâ€™s thoughts are on the subject. DM: We have lost more games than we wouldâ€™ve liked in the last 2 years, but 6 of those games were really tight deep into the 4th quarter and all of those teams were among the best in the country. Ohio State put it on us, but that was my first college game and I really cost us. I think I threw 4 picks and never really got comfortable. Last year, we only had 5 seniors and I think that really hurt us. The upside of that is that a lot of us got a lot of good experience and hopefully we can draw on that in the big games this year and put together another special season. The team is really fired up about this year; several of us hung around this summer and put in work to get our program back where it belongs. As far as the program falling off, I hope people think that and take us lightly. We are hungry and the 17 seniors want another ring before they leave. Coach, what are your aspirations for the season? Can you guys compete for a National Championship? Coach Alexander: That is the goal every year. It is very easy to look at something from the outside and say, well, they just won a couple years ago, how are they losing 4 games a season. Those 8 games were battles! Like Darrell said, I know that in at least 6 of those games, the other team had to work hard to earn those victories. If we are completely honest, we just werenâ€™t good enough at a few crucial positions. Darrell talked about that Ohio State game; can you imagine starting your first college game against the #1 team in the nation and one of the most storied programs in all of college football? It was an impossible situation to put a young kid in right off the bat. Darrell had only been here for a month and a half, learning a new offense, and he has to go out and perform on the biggest stage of his life. I thought he did extremely well, considering. As far as this season goes, I think that we will be right there in the thick of the National Title picture. If I didnâ€™t, I shouldnâ€™t be the coach of this program. We have a lot of talented guys that have gotten a lot of game experience in the past couple of years. We did lose some key pieces of last yearâ€™s team, (leading rusher Garrett Kirby, leading receiver Art Felder, and defensive leader Danny Nicholson) but we brought a lot of guys back. We feel very comfortable with Darrell after his amazing season last year and we are ready to open up the playbook and give him more control of our offense. Youâ€™re going to see a lot more of him this year; it will be fun to watch. There are rumors that you guys are unveiling a new offense, any truth in that? DM: (Smirks) Iâ€™m gonna let Coach take that one. CA: Nothing revolutionary, we are still running a spread offense, youâ€™re just going to see a wider variety of plays. We feel that Darrell is one of the best players in all of college football and we want to take advantage of some of the mismatches he creates. I can promise you that it is going to be an exciting brand of football and we are hoping that it gives all the Defensive Coordinators on our schedule major headaches. Darrell, you appear to be on the verge of writing your name in the record books, is that important to you? DM: Iâ€™m not focused on breaking records I just want to win. I have a lot of good players around me on offense and one of the best lines in the country. I think we can be a pretty special unit and if I get lucky and put up some numbers, then I put up numbers. Iâ€™m not going into the games saying I need to throw for this many yards and throw that many touchdown passes. If we can win a championship, my name will be added to the conversation of great Hurricane quarterbacks. Ken Dorsey won one; Jacory Harris put up crazy numbers, but couldnâ€™t quite reach the mountaintop. Iâ€™d rather have the ring and not the records, if I had to choose. Weâ€™ll just have to see what happens. Coach, where do you rate Darrell as a quarterback, both in the country and in Miami football history? CA: If you look at his numbers, heâ€™s one of the best in the country right now. As good as his numbers are and as good as his season was last year, I think he is going to have an even more spectacular season this year. I expect him to be in New York for the Heisman Trophy Presentation and I expect us to be getting ready for a National Championship Game. As far as the history of Miami, he is one of the best to wear the uniform, but if we donâ€™t win a championship with him under center, he wonâ€™t be the best. Thatâ€™s the standard that has been set by the guys that came before him. Watching him work and grow over the last 2 years, I expect him to be in that conversation though. There you have it. Expectations are very high once again in South Florida and we will get a good idea on whether or not this team can live up to it right out of the gate when the Hurricanes travel to Happy Valley and take on the #6 Penn State Nittany Lions led by their Heisman Trophy Candidate Jeff Watkins. Following 2 more road games at unranked Kansas State and Virginia, Miami will play their home opener on September 17th against their biggest rivals and top ranked Florida State Seminoles. After that, they will have tough road tests at Preseason #2 Georgia Tech and #18 Notre Dame. The climb will be steep, can they do it, or will this be another disappointing season for the Hurricanes. Stayed tuned and find out!