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NFL evaluators assess state of UM program; Dolphins, UM, Heat, Marlins notes

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With Thursday's critical game against Virginia Tech looming, we solicited input from three NFL evaluators and others on the state of the Hurricanes program:

### Among the points raised by NFL scouts, who asked that their names not be used: This is the worst defensive line they’ve seen from the Hurricanes in many years; the defensive play-calling should be more aggressive; but Al Golden is doing about as well as can be expected with this roster.

“Look - you lost your senior class, then you lose five of your better juniors, then you lose Ray-Ray Armstrong,” one longtime scout said, also acknowledging tackle Curtis Porter’s absence due to an appendectomy. “Has any school ever lost five juniors the same year? Who the hell is left? They have young athletes, but you need some experience to win.”

### The consensus is UM must find better defensive linemen to become a big winner again. “Worst I’ve seen from a Miami team,” one longtime NFL scout said. “What they miss most is those strong, athletic, really good 6-4, 290 pounds defensive tackles. LSU and Alabama have three or four of those guys. The irony is the last couple years, Temple had a better defensive line than Miami does now. That’s how far Miami has fallen.”

Said another scout: “They just don’t have the size and strength up front. When was the last No. 1 pick they had on the defensive line?” That would be Vince Wilfork in 2004.

The scout, who observed a closed Hurricanes practice this season, said if you take the UM jersey off the back, you could not distinguish most of Miami’s front-seven defensive players from, say, Central Florida or any other FBS program not in one of the major conferences.

"I’ve never seen the upper class talent so thin there,” the scout said. “UCF might be able to beat them if they played. The overall talent is mediocre. I said at the start of the year, if Al Golden won six games, it would be a great coaching job.”

### One scout said sophomore Anthony Chickillo is getting more attention from opponents because there’s no pass-rush threat opposite him. “And Chickillo is not dynamic,” he said. “If you’re going to be his size, you need to be an explosive pass rusher.”

### One scout, asked to assess some of the others as college players (not as pro prospects): “Eddie Johnson is going to be a stud. Deon Bush is going to be a very good player but since the safeties don’t get much support up front, they are always running downhill to make tackles. That’s a lot of banging for a freshman like Bush. He’s going to be beat up.”

### An AFC scout, on defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s approach: “They could play a little more aggressive. If you can’t rush the passer, why sit back? Why are you seven yards off a receiver? I would be sending people left and right, playing pressure coverage. They’re giving up yards anyway.”

### Another scout questioned offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch for throwing to Robert Lockhart instead of running the ball on a third and two deep in FSU territory last week, and said Mike James – not Duke Johnson – should be used on short yardage. “Duke is not going to be a Clinton Portis or Edgerrin James, where you hand him the ball 25 times a game.”

By the way, Fisch said Saturday that UM burned Lockhart's redshirt because he "has made some amazing one-on-one playts in practice" which reminded the staff of Tommy Streeter last year.

### The scouts were optimistic about Stephen Morris improving, but one expressed concern with his accuracy issues and “lack of touch at times. He’ll be better next year. One problem is his receivers don’t catch the ball.”

### One scout said of the receivers, “I like Rashawn Scott the best, with his size. He has the most upside.” He likes Phillip Dorsett’s talent, but “it looks like the bigger the game, he’s not ready for that.” And the offensive line “is disappointing. Physically, they look as a good as any in the nation.”

### Recruiting analyst Larry Blustein said “if UM expects to keep the train rolling with the 2012 class, they need to get [Oakland Park Northeast] receiver Stacey Coley and [Booker T. Washington offensive tackle] Denver Kirkland.” (They are rated by rivals.com as ninth-best in the nation at their positions.)

He said they also must keep oral commitments Alex Collins (running back) and Kevin Olsen (quarterback).

But Collins is also considering FSU and Wisconsin and sent a tweet last week saying he has “been doing a lot of thinking” and is “close to decision time.”

Delray Beach Atlantic's Keith Bryant, rated 17th among all defensive tackles and Miami’s only oral commitment among defensive linemen, visited Purdue and has told rivals.com he’s also still considering FSU, South Carolina and won’t announce until signing day – putting UM in a bind.

Miami is in the mix for other defensive tackles, including Toby Johnson, a four-star prospect at Hutchinson (Ks.) Community College. Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, rated the nation’s 15th best player by rivals.com, says he has Miami even with six other schools.

### Among draft-eligible players, the scouts see Brandon McGee and James as potential mid-or-later round prospects. “James has power, can catch the ball, runs hard, some shiftiness,” one scout said. “McGee has size (6-0), speed and long arms.” One scout said he wouldn’t draft junior Seantrel Henderson until late because he “can’t be counted on.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay said he entered the year with draftable grades only on Vaughn Telemaque (who lost his starting job) and McGee; he had Ramon Buchanan as a seventh-rounder before his knee injury. He said Miami’s talent “has been dwindling for the last several years and 2013 stacks up as one of the worst classes from an NFL draft standpoint since I’ve been involved.”

Remember, from 2001 to 2004, the Canes had 19 first-rounders and 35 drafted overall. From 2008 to 2012, UM had one first rounder and 22 overall.

CHATTER

### With the trade deadline looming Tuesday, a Dolphins official said the team hasn’t pursued a deal for Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe as of last week, but wouldn’t rule out eventual interest, potentially as a free agent in March. Bowe, a Miami native, reportedly has interest in playing here.

Owner Stephen Ross has told people the Dolphins want to add a quality receiver this offseason. But the front office is pleased with how the current group is playing and would be fine riding out the year with these receivers, barring injuries.

### CBS reported Arizona has interest in Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore, but it would be risky for Miami to move him in case of an injury to Ryan Tannehill. What about trading Moore, an impending free agent, for a draft pick and re-signing David Garrard?

Garrard’s agent said the Dolphins haven’t called and Garrard still isn’t ready to play after preseason knee surgery that was supposed to sideline him only until mid-September. The Dolphins like how Moore has supported and mentored Tannehill and weren’t sure how Garrard would embrace that role.

"I've heard rumors," Moore said of a potential trade. "But everything I know is that I'll be here."

### Mike Redmond impressed the Marlins in his interview and is still considered the favorite for the managerial job, though not a sure thing, with Reds pitching coach Bryan Price also having some support. The odds are against Larry Bowa, who interviewed Friday. Ex-Marlin Luis Gonzalez, mentioned elsewhere as a possibility, had not been contacted as of Saturday. More interviews remain.... Candidates have been meeting with multiple Marlins officials and also spending some alone time with Jeffrey Loria... “We need more pieces that fit – not just fit on paper,” Giancarlo Stanton said of the roster. “We need help everywhere: lineup, bullpen, rotation.”

### TNT’s Chris Webber, on LeBron James: “With all that he has been through, he can [now] play with the freedom he hasn’t had in a while. Last year, they didn’t play with the mentality of, ‘It’s OK, we’re been through it.’ That’s why the rest of the league should fear them.’”

NBA TV analyst (and ex-Heat guard) Steve Smith concurs: “He’s at peace. It’s scary what the Heat can do in the next two or three years.”… ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy, who picked the Heat the past two years, said: “It’s going to be a Miami-Oklahoma City final and I just think this year OKC is going to figure out a way how to win it.” Van Gundy made the comment last week, before the James Harden trade late Saturday night.

### Kudos to former UM forward DeQuan Jones, who beat out veteran Quentin Richardson for a spot on Orlando's 15-man roster. 

Comments

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Georgia Cane

Fisch is to fancy with the Offense. Golden needs to get more D-lineman, one is not enough. With sanctions looming I guess we have to get JUCO's. My eyes are on the Coaching staff. If the players develop, then they are doing their job. If they don't, then Coaches must go. Time will tell.


Brian

They won't be good again until they can stop the run.

SJMPARMAN

8-10 that is Golden's record against D-1 competition. He is just not the right man for the job.

CANETILLIDIE....DH

What was said about Coach NO D's defense is exactly what I have been saying all along. Why play so far off? Play up more and with more aggression. At least with that style of defense there would be an interruption in the opposing offense's timing routes etc... Man I'm just repeating myself but what do I know? I've just been a season ticket holder for the Canes for the past 21 seasons.

GO CANES!!!!

Metropolis75

### An AFC scout, on defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s approach: “They could play a little more aggressive. If you can’t rush the passer, why sit back? Why are you seven yards off a receiver? I would be sending people left and right, playing pressure coverage. They’re giving up yards anyway.”

Either we all could be AFC scouts or some things are just so obvious it's not even funny.

Eddie

When will Loria realize that the manager makes no difference? All the time and money wasted on a guy who might impact four games a year.

Xavier Shannon

My dad really WAS the worst coach of all time! Turns out he couldn't recruit better than UCF.

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Barry Jackson: Was that prediction from JVG before the Thunder jettisoned their third best player?

Barry Jackson

Yes, Lois. Van Gundy made the comment Wednesday, and the blog was posted Saturday night before the Harden deal came down after 11 p.m. Kevin Martin obviously isn't on the level of Harden, but Martin does give them a very good scorer off the bench (18.4 ppg).

green

http://twitpic.com/b7z7ih/full

Football pregame crowd picture, this week from WKU at FIU. Kickoff in three minutes. Seriously.
-- michael casagrande

who investigates the miami herald for bribery ...
how else do you explain splashing f-i-u-don't-matter on the front page day after day ...
front & center ...
the paper tells us they matter most when they matter least ...
U see ...
these undeserving cockroaches have done nothing to deserve disproportionate coverage besides e-bomb the rag's brain trust & pick a fight with the schoolyard bully ...
something's rotten at 1 herald plaza ...

BIGGER FISH TO FRY

Penguin

Matt Moore has "stay[ed] classy, San Diego." It would be a mistake to trade him right now.

Dom

People. U is playing a ton of fresh and sophomores. butch davis's teams from 95-98 were getting crushed, even losing 60 something to 13 to syracuse. It takes 3 years to build the roster back up, its just a fact. U cant win in college with 18 year olds. if we win out, and its an if, U goes to ACC title game....so hang in there

rboud

NFL scouts and others just outline how much talent and experience UM lacks and people still point their fingers at UM's coaching staff. What is it you people don't understand about LACK of TALENT!!!! Wake Up!!!!!

canewest

@rboud

We are not placing 100% of the blame on the coaches. We as fans are frustrated with the obvious, that our defense should play more agreessive (bring the CB's up to challenge the WR's and try to throw off the offense timing, just a little bit) and secondly Fisch gets too fancy and outsmarts even himself when we get inside the 30 yard line. For example, the scout just called the pass to Lockhart against FSU instead of the running the ball. Also against NCST, inside the 35 yard line, Fisch calls a play with three WR lined up in a row and then we throw the pick trying to get it to the Dukester on a slant route. The run was working, use that to play-action to pass across the middle or in the seam. We never really challenge safeties or LB's down the seam. Just saying Canes. We are young but we have talent to be 5-3 right now and we should finish 7-5 this year (I dont see us winning four in a row, but should be better or equal to USF, Virginia and Duke).

Ba

Davon Johnson has proven all season he is a clutch receiver who moves the chains. What has Robert Lockhart done??

rhardy

the scout hit the nail right smack on the hit about the coordinator they are not ready for prime d-1 football.ps never hire your friend you just may have to fire him.

Jo jo

Nothing surprising came from the 3 NFL guys.It s sad days in Miami with the Coaches and team the Canes have fallen to become.Only good thing left is to FINALLY get the NCAA to render their sanctions.THAT will be the bottom point.Miami can then hopefully rise from the ashes.

Q

NFL scouts claiming UCF can beat UM.

How the mighty have fallen. Problem is, UM won't ever get up, again. Today's economics of college football simply doesn't benefit UM - Small school, private, and no on campus stadium. UCF, on the other hand, is why they are know a better team than UM... Large school, public, and an on campus stadium. FAU and FIU are next, moreso FIU since they more closely resemble UCF.

In ten years, UCF has grown from being a, young, but Lou's FCS division one football team to being a top 40 program. In the same timeframe, UM has gone from being amongst the best, to a solid mediocre team. FIU didn't even have a Div1 team.

Q

Lou's = Lousy

Rabblerouser

Now that was a really good blog post Jackson, but I must tell you---it had everything I've been screaming for quite some time. The critique of D'Onofrio is spot on and so is the decline in talent at UM. I have been consistent with my criticism of both UM Coordinators. UM will beat Va Tech Thursday because they don't have much this year and the game is at home. All this talk about what a great recruiter Golden is I really need to see it this year despite our looming sanctions.

redsky

On NYC fans! Think about it! Jets fans are Mets fans and Nets fans....why? Because they cant spell! Jets, Nets, Mets, only one letter off. Yankees, Giants, Knicks, too confusing for illitirates!

CANETILLIDIE....DH

""### An AFC scout, on defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio’s approach: “They could play a little more aggressive. If you can’t rush the passer, why sit back? Why are you seven yards off a receiver? I would be sending people left and right, playing pressure coverage. They’re giving up yards anyway.”"""

Preaching to the choir my friend, preaching to the choir.

C'mon Golden have a sit down with Coach No D and lets get this defense going already.

GO CANES!!!!

loneoutcast

Hey "Q" for Quiote, Fiwho will NEVER be anything but the bottom feeding cellar dwelling losers that they are now!
...did you even see the post above concerning Fiwho's pathetic football attendance?...I mean, beyond laughable! High school's actually ARE generating more attendance than you bums! smh
And for the general information of the ignorant (typical calle ochian), UCF has been playing football since 1979 and have a single Liberty bowl win as it's biggest accomplishment! They may have a better SEASON than UM, but that doesn't make them a better PROGRAM, Einstein!
As to your asinine comment about UM going from "the best to a solid mediocre team"...yes, "team", because we're still considered one of the top 10 programs of the last decade! But don't take my word for it, take a look:
http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/rankings/decade_team_rankings.php?period=2001-2010

...couldn't find UCF anywhere on the list, genius!
Let alone that joke of a school from 8th street that despite having a senior team can only manage a single win over some girl scout troop from Akron. smh

BTW, we're also the 2nd best college football program of the last quarter century:
http://cfbdatawarehouse.com/data/rankings/quarter_century_team_rankings.php?period=1976-2000

...are you starting to get the picture? It takes decades of success to build a traditional winner (program), anyone can have a winning season (team)!

Q

UCF wasn't relevant in 1979, or 1999, because they had much smaller enrollment similar to UM numbers. Additionally, their on campus stadium was opened only a few years ago. Let me say that again, because I know much that hurts you... ON CAMPUS STADIUM.

Concerning your "last quarter century" comment, LOL. My thoughts exactly. How's it like to live I the past, outcast?

I'm done here.

green

Hey "Q" for Quijote
Posted by: loneoutcast | 10/29/2012 at 08:53 AM

a cowardly, oxyMORONic f-i-u-don't-matter fan assumes various aliases to conceal obsession ...

LOOK WHO'S (S)TALKING

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