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Thursday night update: Tidbits on Dolphins visitor Knowshon Moreno; UM notes

A half dozen tidbits on running back Knowshon Moreno, who will visit the Dolphins on Friday:

### Moreno is a productive back coming off his best season (1038 yards rushing, 4.3 per carry, 10 rushing touchdowns, 3 receiving touchdowns and 548 receiving yards playing behind a good offensive line and with a Hall of Fame quarterback).

But the metrics suggest he’s not clearly better than Miami’s other backs in breaking tackles.

Last season, Moreno averaged 2.0 yards after contact, which was tied for 39th among 55 backs, according to Pro Football Focus.  Who was he tied with? Daniel Thomas, whom Moreno presumably would replace. Lamar Miller was 31st at 2.1.

### Moreno broke or avoided 21 tackles --- the same number as Thomas and one more than Miller, despite having considerably more carries than both. Those 21 were 29th most among running backs. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, conversely, had 75 broken or avoided tackles.

### Moreno doesn’t break a lot of long runs, either. He had five carries of 20 yards or more, which tied for 17th, but needed 241 carries to do it. Miller and Thomas each had four such runs in substantially fewer carries --- 177 for Miller, 109 for Thomas.

### Moreno’s 4.3 per carry averaged tied for 21st among 55 backs. By comparison, Miller averaged 4.0, Thomas 3.7.

### PFF ranked Moreno eighth among all running backs as a pass blocker. For perspective, Miller was 33rd, Thomas 34th.

### Moreno had only one fumble in 241 rushing attempts last season. He’s young (26) and coming off his best season, albeit in an offense loaded with talent. He’s a more proven back than Thomas and a Miller/Moreno tandem would be serviceable at the very least and potentially much better than that, depending on blocking and other issues.

Keep in mind that Miami has signed every player who has visited since the official start of free agent. (D'Qwell Jackson visited here before free agency and got an offer but signed with Cleveland instead.)

Please check last night's post on Dolphins' cap issues if you haven't yet.

UM TIDBITS

### UM got a good oral commitment today, from Dade City Pasco High’s three-star prospect Bowman Archibald, who is ranked 14th among all tight ends by rivals.com. Alabama, FSU and UF were among his other offers. He was used mostly as a blocker last season but also caught eight passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. He’s big (6-6) and physical.

### Kevin Olsen has looked sharper than Ryan Williams at times in spring practice, but Al Golden made this very clear after the fifth session of the spring on Thursday: "Obviously, it's Ryan right now. Ryan is ahead right now. Ryan is experienced and smart and doing a good job with the football." But he added that Olsen "is having a good spring."

### Olsen throws with more zip, but it was encouraging to see Williams complete a 50-yard pass to Stacy Coley late in today's session. "It feels good to stretch the defense," Williams said. "I've played good."

### Alex Figueroa, back healthy, is being disruptive from his outside linebacker position. "We missed that last year," Golden said. "He made three or four plays today. Played with a lot of energy."

Figueroa, whose two parents have military backgrounds, said his playmaking results from "the trained killer in me." OK then.

### The first-team linebacker group has remained consistent: Denzel Perryman in the middle, flanked by Raphael Kirby and Figueroa. Thurston Armbrister, Jermaine Grace, Darrion Owens and Juwon Young are behind them, with defensive ends Al Quadin Muhammad, Tyriq McCord and Trent Harris also able to play outside linebacker when Miami uses a 3-4.

### With Clive Walford missing the spring, Standish Dobard got first team reps at tight end. "Standish is fast, can make plays after the catch," Williams said.

Golden said his linebackers "can run and we're explosive and we're bigger than we have been."

### Much improved receiver D'Mauri Jones also got some first team reps with Rashawn Scott and Coley.

### Because UM has been kind enough to allow reporters and fans to watch practice, we've heard some interesting on-field exchanges this spring.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, trying to encourage his unit, told them Thursday: "The young linebackers are the weak link right now."

Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow later told his group: "We're supposed to be the strength of the unit, not the weak link."

D'Onofrio encouraged players to "over-exaggerate your communication."

Coaches implore players to focus. Barrow said Thursday: "Think you are on vacation out here like we're still on spring break. Wake up!"

Earlier this spring, defensive line coach Jethro Frankin told players he wants them to "pay attention" and not be "looking at the damn birds in the damn sky."

Check out Manny Navarro's blog later for more UM notes today. He'll have good stuff, as always.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

Comments

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Roger Podacter

Mr. Jackson, do you get the impression that UM's quarterback competition is unweighted or that the coaching staff prefers the senior or the redshirt freshman to win the job this season?

Barry Jackson

Roger, I believe they will play who they think gives them the best chance to win, and at the moment, they believe that's Williams, though that obviously could change by late August. They trust him, like his accuracy and knowledge of the offense, believe he has improved. But Olsen is making it interesting.

rboud

The fact that Olsen is starting to live up to his potential is great news for UM. If nothing else, he can at least be a competent back up this year. The kid was highly rated for a reason.

No ' must go

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, trying to encourage his unit, told them Thursday: "The young linebackers are the weak link right now."

Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow later told his group: "We're supposed to be the strength of the unit, not the weak link."

D'Onofrio encouraged players to "over-exaggerate your communication."

hence telling the opposing QB exactly what you're doing.

Cual?

I mean, no one likes D'Onofrio but that post is pretty dumb.

D'Onofrio and Barrow were saying the exact same thing.

And defenses adjust to offensive formations and plays, not the other way around. That's just a huge misunderstanding of how pre-snap football works.

old  # 1 cane

these early 80's Penn. St. boys are nice guys, but they've no clue of real 80's U Football.

when will we be # 1 again ?

TheSergeantMajor

Unrelated to your nice Fins-Canes updates Barry, I don't understand why the Dolphins haven't signed Bryant McKinnie up for another year or two. Even with Branden Albert on board as the designated LT, it's been mentioned that Bryant McKinnie can play on the other side at RT. Seems like a formidable group right there.

With the Fins' troubles on the OL, this seems like a no-brainer, if in the least to have some experience, maturity, depth, and a proven winner in McKinnie on this team.

Harleyray

TSM, I have to agree with you on McKinnie. I read that he has lost weight and is working on keeping himself in playing shape. A veteran minimum might just do it?

Wicky Rilliams

Give me Blount. A big physical runner. Draft tre mason in rd 2. Win win.

wyatt

Fins whiffed on McKinnie last year when he was released and then the Fins brainless trust had to give Baltimore a 7th out of desperation after Baltimore signed him back.

Niet.

There's a reason no other team in the league has wanted McKinnie the past three off seasons.

He's washed up, toast. Just looking to cash another check.

Robert

I was never an Ireland hater or fan, but in hindsight he did make too many poor moves. What about Winston at RT- has he signed yet?

MJZ

Moreno may or may not be a better runner than Miller but he can pass block which is a very underrated attribute - unless your QB is on the ground 58 times in a season.

Fins want Moreno to pass block for Tannehill. And I can't blame them.

They also want Moreno cause he can be the dump off guy for Tannehill, which will also reduce sacks. Moreno has very good hands.

Of course, he's a serviceable runner too.

Roger Podacter

Thanks Mr. Jackson, I know some coaches have an inclination for younger or more senior quarterbacks. I certainly hope you're right about Golden going with the best player.

green

What about Winston at RT- has he signed yet?

Posted by: Robert | 03/21/2014 at 11:01 AM

https://twitter.com/MiamiHurricanes/status/446335150268223488/photo/1

Right tackle Eric Winston is still a free agent, but found a different kind of job ... was elected president of the NFL Players Association Wednesday
-- revengeofthebirds.com

CANE MUTINY

Matthew Pimentel

I don't understand why we are getting excited over three star prospect. At Alabama, three star prospects have to walk-on. We'll never be what we once were.

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