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2 posts from August 8, 2014

August 08, 2014

5 p.m. Saturday UM report; Postscripts from Dolphins' preseason opener; Pat Riley delivers firm message

A 5 p.m. Saturday UM update:

### I spoke to a bunch of Hurricanes recruits at today's annual high school football media day at Sun Life Stadium. We'll share their comments in the coming weeks, but here are a few news items:

As many of you know, UM has oral commitments from two four-star running backs name Jordan: St. Thomas Aquinas' Jordan Scarlett (rated 13th among all backs by rivals.com) and Westminster Christian's Jordan Cronkrite (ranked 20th).

Scarlett said today that he is definitely going to UM. But Cronkrite said that while he most likely will go to UM, he isn't sure and also is considering West Virginia, South Carolina, UF and Ohio State....

Westminster Christian four-star safety Tim Irvin said he's considering UM, UF, FSU, Clemson and Alabama and he has no favorite...

Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson said Ohio State is his front-runner but he's still considering UM, Tennessee, Auburn, UCF and Arizona. He wants to play quarterback and Miami has offered him as a quarterback, which is why the Canes are still in the mix. Gibson is rated the fourth-best "athlete" by rivals.com....

Gibson's teammate, five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, disputed reports that FSU is his leader and is considering Georgia, LSU, FSU, Ohio State and UCF....

Five-star Coconut Creek Monarch stars Shawn Burgess Becker and Calvin Ridley reiterated that they are firmly committed to Alabama. But Becker wouldn't rule out Miami. He said both of them are determined to go to the same school...

St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver Devante Peete said he's strongly considering UM, FSU, Ohio State and Louisville and they're all equal in his mind....

Aquinas four-star cornerback Rashard Causey Jr. remains an FAU commit but said that's "iffy" and UM has a good chance of landing him....

Booker T. Washington running back Mark Walton, a highly-regarded UM oral commitment, said he will know soon whether he will graduate in June 2015 or June 2016. He said it's 50/50.

### No surprise here: Jake Heaps and Brad Kaaya are leading the UM quarterback battle. Heaps remains the front-runner because of experience, but Kaaya is at least giving UM something to think about.

On Saturday, Heaps threw an 80-yard touchdown to Malcolm Lewis, and Kaaya threw a 10-yard TD to Walter Tucker.

"A guy like Jake, he's very game polished," offensive coordinator James Coley said. "He comes in with a lot of experience. He's very fundamentally sound. He's a little older than the other guys. He's been fairly accurate, making great checks on the line of scrimmage. I've been very pleased with him.

"Brad Kaaya, I have no idea if he's a freshman or not --- he acts like he's a senior. Just very sharp. We threw the playbook at these guys and they've responded. ... Brad's been accurate. Throwing the ball really well. As the week's gone on both of those guys have got into a groove and got into a little zone right now. Those guys are competing extremely hard against each other."

Coley said Malik Rosier "has used his athleticism and he just has to get going with the other stuff that the other guys are ahead of him with right now --- just grasping everything with regard to the offense. ... Kevin Olsen has been consistent. He's getting better."

Al Golden said the quarterback competition would be cut to two after Wednesday's scrimmage.

### Golden, on tight end Clive Walford: "Clive's working harder right now than he ever has. He's finishing his routes, he's more detail-oriented. He's paying attention to the little things now and that comes with maturity, of course. It's a talented position, and it was made more talented by Chris Herndon's arrival."

### Receiver Darrell Langham, the final piece to arrive from UM's 2014 recruiting class, practiced for the first time Saturday.

### Golden said defensive end Demetrius Jackson has been a pleasant surprise; Jackson and fellow freshman d-end Chad Thomas had sacks on Saturday.

### Golden, on Anthony Chickillo: "The kid made a commitment back in February and really hasn't been the same guy. Just got his spirit back, got his focus back. We asked him to do a lot in his career, too much before he was ready to do it, and now he has an opportunity. His body is caught up with his experience and technique. His leadership has been phenomenal."


Notes, quotes and thoughts from the Dolphins’ 16-10 loss at Atlanta in their preseason opener:

Well, there were five inspiring minutes. The rest? Not so much.

The good news:

### Ryan Tannehill was terrific on the 10-play, 73-yard opening drive, completing 6 of 6 passes for 61 yards, including an 8-yard TD to Brandon Gibson and a 36-yard pass to Rishard Matthews. His line gave him ample time. Bill Lazor used a mix of formations and was creative in his play-calling, including an 8-yard pass to Gibson off a read option earlier in that possession.

And Miami did it all without Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay and of course, Knowshon Moreno and Mike Pouncey.

### No kidding: The Dolphins began preseason with a TD on their first drive for the first time since 1988. Lorenzo Hampton scored that one.

### Also encouraging: The Dolphins’ run defense was generally stout, allowing 2.6 yards per carry on 32 attempts.

### Will Davis capably defended at least four passes.

### The return game was promising. Jarvis Landry broke two tackles on a 48-yard punt return and Marcus Thigpen had a 28-yard punt return. The return job looms as one of the most interesting in camp. Having Landry handle all returns saves a roster spot, but the staff also likes Thigpen.

### The offensive line allowed only one sack, when Billy Turner was victimized in the fourth quarter.

### Several players competing for roster spots made impressive plays, including tackles for loss from Anthony Johnson and Garrison Smith.... Tight end Brett Brackett was reliable as a receiver… Terence Fede made a tackle for a loss and Jordan Tripp was active and seems to have a nose for the ball (cliche alert!).

Here’s what’s discouraging:

### The Dolphins were outgained 372-229 and allowed the Falcons to march down the field for a touchdown on their first possession, with Matt Ryan finishing 7 for 8 for 53 yards on the 15 play, 77-yard drive that chewed up 9:16 of the clock.

### The Dolphins still can’t run the ball, certainly not with any consistency. Miami finished with 52 yards on 21 carries, equaling 2.5 per carry. Lamar Miller ran four times for 11 yards, Mike Gillislee 8 for 30,  Orleans Darkwa 2 for 9, and Damian Williams 6 times for just 2 yards.

### Williams, the undrafted Oklahoma running back who the Dolphins really like, had to be carted off with a foot injury late in the game. He was in a walking boot after the game.

### The Dolphins still do Dolphins-like things at inopportune times. With the Dolphins at the Falcons’ five yard line and just under three minutes left, Seth Lobato couldn’t handle Kyle Larsen’s snap, and the Falcons recovered.

“There are some things that have happened in practice that reared their ugly head at a bad time in the game,” Joe Philbin said. “When we had the ball at the 5, I would have bet my ranch we would win the game. Balls are on the ground too much in practice and on the ground again today at a bad time.”

### Lobato (14 for 28, 128 yards) quarterbacked the Dolphins for their final 10 drives but the Dolphins scored just three points during that time, and he committed the key late fumble. But he didn’t throw any interceptions and if Pat Devlin fails to impress when he returns from a hamstring injury, the Dolphins could keep just two quarterbacks (Tannehill and Matt Moore) and place Lobato or someone else on the practice squad.

Moore sat out to rest a sore shoulder and Brock Jensen didn’t play.

### Jason Fox, battling for a roster spot as a backup tackle, was beaten on a running play that resulted in a five-yard loss for Damien Williams.

### The defensive line failed to get any consistent pass rush. The Dolphins had no sacks. Miami’s only sack – on a blitz by linebacker Koa Misi – was negated by a holding penalty against Jimmy Wilson.

### As usual with this team, the linebacker play was spotty. Misi, adjusting to middle linebacker, was faked out on one play, leaving him shaking his head. Undrafted rookie Chris McCain, impressive early, missed a tackle and made a costly mistake in pass coverage on a pick, leading to a long gain. Philip Wheeler did nothing to disrupt the Falcons’ opening drive. Jelani Jenkins was beaten on a third-down catch.

### The Dolphins allowed the Falcons to convert 8 of 17 third downs. Lowlights included Jamar Taylor permitting a 15-yard completion to Courtney Roby on 3rd and 10 late in the first half, and Davis allowed a 12-yard pass on third and long.

### The worst news of the day: Reshad Jones was suspended four games for taking a performance enhancing substance.

“The NFL has stiff policies,” Philbin said. “If you don’t adhere to the policies, you have to pay the consequences. We’ve addressed it multiple times a year, that everyone is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”

Wilson, who figures to take over for Jones for the first four games of the season, wasn’t at his best. Michael Thomas, the star of last December’s Patriots win, also struggled. Don Jones limped off late. And rookie Walt Aikens, moving from cornerback to safety, allowed a 35-yard pass completion.

A few other random notes:

### Jared Odrick started at defensive end in place of Olivier Vernon, whose back locked up on him on Monday. Vernon had practiced on Wednesday.

### The Dolphins played without four tight ends: Clay, Arthur Lynch, Michael Egnew and Gator Hoskins.

### The Dolphins opened with Dallas Thomas at right guard and Samson Satele at center. Those two and starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James played the entire first half.

### With Daniel Thomas sidelined, Gillislee played the second series at running back and Williams the third.

### Oddest moment of the broadcast: Analyst Bob Griese not knowing Dennis Hickey's job title. Oy!

### Six players caught more than a single pass: Brackett (3 for 51), Matthews (2 for 40), Kevin Cone (for 19), the running back Williams (3 for 18), Brandon Gibson (2 for 14) and Miller (2 for 8).

### Caleb Sturgis sat out to rest a groin injury. Danny Hrapmann (with the always popular silent H) kicked a 42-yard field goal.

### Shelley Smith played backup left guard. This makes you shake your head: The Dolphins thought so much of Smith that he was the second offensive lineman they added in free agency in March, after Branden Albert. The Dolphins never made an offer to Daryn Colledge until June 30. And yet Colledge is starting and Smith isn’t.

Please see the last post for Pat Riley's Friday message and other Heat stuff.

Friday 5 p.m.: On day of LeBron rally in Akron, Riley and Heat go on PR campaign

On the day LeBron James attended a “Welcome Home, LeBron” rally in Akron, his first public event in Ohio since returning to the Cavaliers, the Heat showered fans with optimism, including the release of a Pat Riley video and the tweeting of a old photo showing Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem holding the Larry O’Brien trophy.

In a three minute, ten second video released on the Heat's Twitter account and web site, Riley said: “I’m really excited about the team we’ve put together. I am not going to make any guarantees. But I will guarantee you this: You will see one of the most competitive, one of most entertaining teams you’ve seen in a long time.

“I am as excited as I've ever been to let you know we are a contender. You cannot ever look at the Miami Heat and not think of us as being a contender. I’ve always been someone who believes in the big picture.... We have an owner who thinks big. We are not going to be satisfied with anything that doesn’t come close to winning a championship. That’s what we’re about.”

Riley acknowledged James in the video, saying: “We had a player here who we will never forget, LeBron James. He for four years, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, created an incredible frenzy in the city of Miami…. While we enjoyed those four years, we can also expect there might be another four or five more of those years in front of us, also. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“With Chris Bosh at center or power forward and Chris Andersen… and the addition of Luol Deng and Josh McRobert and Danny Granger. New additions we feel are going to help us…. With Dwyane Wade, our franchise player for the past 12 years,… at the two guard, Mario Chalmers, a player we feel very confident about, back at starting point guard. Along with… the backbone of team, Udonis Haslem, we’re ready to move on into the future….

“I’ve been one for 19 years proud to say this is my home. I’m going on my 20th year. One message I want to communicate to you, as Micky Arison has stated in his letter,… is we have something very unique and very special for you in the future.

“We’ve had a great four years. It was an historic run. It was a fun run. Two championships, four finals, a lot of great highlights, a lot of great moments, a lot of great feelings. I want to let you know there is a lot more of that ahead of us.”

A Heat spokesperson said the Riley video was the first of several Heat videos that will be released this summer but said he did not know whether it was designed to coincidence with James’ event at the University of Akron, which was being held as part of his annual Wheelers for Education family event. Nearly 30,000 were expected to attend the event tonight.

The Heat said that its aggressive public relations approach should not be taken as any indication that ticket sales have fallen off. The Heat said that is not the case and that the deadline to renew Heat season tickets came before James left in free agency and the renewal rate was very high. Individual tickets are not on sale yet. The regular season schedule will be released next Wednesday at 6 p.m.

### If the Heat wants to add a veteran shooting guard to back up Dwyane Wade, free agent options are now extremely limited.

Jordan Crawford, Shannon Brown, Leandro Barbosa, Toney Douglas and swingmen Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jordan Hamilton are perhaps the only ones available who would have a chance to crack the Heat’s rotation. Most are hoping for more than the minimum deals Miami can offer. (Same with free agent small forward Shawn Marion, who reportedly is considering Cleveland and Indiana.)

Though a late-September addition from that group (or another player) remains quite possible, the Heat could end up playing Danny Granger and starting point guard Mario Chalmers at backup shooting guard.

Please check back later for Heat-Falcons chatter... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz