Notes and observations from UM’s football scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium on Saturday morning:
### Phillip Dorsett (shaken up after dropping a pass in the end zone), Rayshawn Jenkins (ankle) and Clive Walford (shoulder) needed assistance, but Al Golden said the only injury he is “worried about” is Dyron Dye, who suffered a leg injury (reportedly an ankle), couldn’t put any pressure on it and needed assistance to get off the field. Dye was beginning to feel comfortable at defensive end again after switching over from tight end.
### Among Saturday’s standouts: Early enrollee Alex Figueroa – He was outstanding in goal line work, including a big hit on Duke Johnson, and then bottled up Phillip Dorsett on an end-around. (We’ll have more on Figueroa in our Sunday column)…
Other standouts: Herb Waters (several nifty catches); Olsen Pierre (snuffed the run on several plays) and Anthony Chickillo (deflected and then intercepted a Stephen Morris pass), and of course, Johnson, who showed his usual burst and quickness (including on a 30-yard run) and will be incorporated selectively in the passing game in James Coley’s offense, much like Jedd Fisch utilized him.
### Coley’s offense looked a lot like Fisch’s, though Johnson said there are some subtle differences. Coley ran a lot of rollouts for the quarterbacks and made ample use of slants and screens. He smartly has adjusted to his players’ strengths, rather than making them to adjust to him.
### Throwing at times against a stiff wind, Morris was erratic with his accuracy, but that’s no big cause for concern considering how good he looked last November. “He rushed a couple throws, not as crisp as we want to be,” Golden said. “We’re just a little bit off. But he was right on in terms of [knowing] where the ball should go.”
Morris had three passes batted down, overthrew Waters down the sideline on what could have been a potential touchdown, overthrew Waters again when he was wide open in the end zone, misfired on several other throws, and threw a pick to Antonio Crawford to end the scrimmage – Morris’ second pick of the day.
But Morris also made several sharp throws (including a dart to Allen Hurns) and was victimized by drops, from Hurns and Rashawn Scott, among others.
### Ryan Williams, clearly the front-runner for the backup QB job, had some good moments and appears improved on intermediate routes. Williams threw a 20-yarder to receiver Garrett Kidd, who is replacing graduated Kendal Thompkins as Mr. March, apparently.
### UM played five quarterbacks, including walk-on Garrison Lassiter. Gray Crow, No. 3 at the moment, badly overthrew his first pass before completing two short throws.
Preston Dewey, during limited work, appeared sharper than at the start of last spring, when he seemed overwhelmed after arriving from high school.
### UM didn't release stats, but Canesport.com listed these final numbers for the QBs: Morris: 16 for 29, 166 yards, one TD and two picks; Williams: 6 for 11, 67 yards; Dewey 2 for 2, 16 yards; Crow 2 for 4, 16 yards.
### Ladarius Gunter, Tracy Howard and Crawford shared first team cornerback snaps. Howard made a couple of nice plays in coverage but also was beaten badly by Dorsett on a 32-yard gain.
### Jenkins and Deon Bush opened at safety, but AJ Highsmith got a lot of work with the ones.
### Jimmy Gaines opened with the first group at middle linebacker, flanked by Figueroa and Denzel Perryman, but Raphael Kirby has a real shot to win the middle linebacker job. Olsen Pierre and Curtis Porter opened at defensive tackle, but Luther Robinson got a chunk of first-team snaps. Chickillo and Shayon Green remain the starting ends.
### UM generated a strong pass rush at times, but Morris escaped on several of those occasions. Of the seven sacks, Dwayne Hoilett had 2, Kelvin Cain 1.5; Jelani Hamilton, Jalen Grimble and Corey King 1 each, and DeQuan Ivery had half a sack.
### Dallas Crawford – the No. 2 tailback behind Johnson – was bottled up on a handful of carries before showing his dynamic speed on two plays: a screen from Morris, which he took for 22 yards, and a 29-yard run in which he turned the corner and scampered down the sideline against mostly second- and third-team defenders.
### Beside Johnson and Crawford, other carries were shared among Danny Dillard and Brandon Yosha, who ran well against reserves. Dillard turned the corner for a five-yard TD run during the red zone portion of the scrimmage.
Canesport.com had these final stats for the running backs: Johnson - 6 for 52; Dillard 5 for 12; Crawford 10 for 51. Johnson left the field before the scrimmage to take medication for a headache.
Two more backs – Gus Edwards and Corn Elder – arrive this summer. Eduardo Clements’ football future remains very much in question because of a neck injury.
### Dorsett (before he left), Hurns and Waters often were used in three-receiver sets, with Scott also getting a lot of playing time. Jontavious Carter and D’Mauri Jones played behind them.
But Waters was the best of the group Saturday, including one play where he caught a short slant and exploded for 20 yards of YAC. He also caught a TD from Morris on third and goal from the 8. (That was Morris' only TD throw of the day.)
The safeties played too deep on the play; Waters could plant his feet just past the goal line for an easy catch.
Waters finished with 4 catches for 43 yards, Hurns 4 for 35 and Dorsett 4 for 43.
### Not a great day for UM’s new tight ends. Standish Dobard couldn’t fight off Howard for a pass at the goal line and dropped another pass. And Beau Sandland dropped an easy pass from Williams.
But Jake O’Donnell, who redshirted as a defensive lineman last year, made a couple catches and seems to be making a smooth transition to tight end.
Asante Cleveland, battling Sandland for the No. 2 job behind Walford, also dropped a catchable pass.
### Several defenders missed tackles, including Perryman whiffing on Johnson (OK, that could happen to anyone), resulting in a long gain.
### The offensive line remained without key starters Brandon Linder and Shane McDermott. Taylor Gadbois had a couple of penalties.
### Matt Goudis made three field goals from 36, 25 and 49 yards. His underdog competition, Ricky Perez, missed from 50 and 49.
UM HOOPS COMMIT
According to several recruiting web sites, UM received a basketball commitment from James Kelly, a three-star junior college power forward from Toledo, Ohio. He averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds this season. He had several other offers, including Lousiana Tech and Marshall.
UM still needs to add three or four more players, in addition to Kelly and previous commitments DeAndre Burnett and Davon Reed. Football recruits Corn Elder and Derrick Griffin will walk on with the basketball team and could end up as rotation players, especially Griffin if he qualifies academically.
### Check back later for the Sunday buzz, with lots of Dolphins and more Canes, Heat and Marlins... In case you missed it, the UM-Illinois NCAA Tournament game has been set for 8:40 p.m. Sunday on TNT.