09/21/2014

Marlins will look to add hitter and more on looming offseason moves; Heat, Beckham, UM/Nebraska thoughts

Architects Michael Hill and Dan Jennings have transformed the Marlins from dreadful to decent. Taking the next step from decent to dynamic will be more difficult within payroll constraints.

With the season ending a week from today, some chatter on looming offseason issues:

### The Marlins have not set a firm payroll, but it will rise from $48 million, and they want to add another quality hitter who’s a run producer. Because the list of free agent second basemen is weak, they will primarily consider corner infielders to fill that need, knowing that arbitration-eligible Casey McGehee – who will be retained – can also play first base.

The Marlins are interested in Giants impending free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval (.284, 16, 69) but it’s too early to tell how high they would be willing to bid. Landing Sandoval assuredly would impress Giancarlo Stanton, who will be offered a long-term contract.

Among first basemen, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, San Francisco’s Michael Morse (.280, 16, 61) and Washington’s Adam LaRoche (.257, 24, 86; $15 million team option) are among potential targets. Cuddyer has been limited to 42 games by injury (he’s hitting .327) but hit .330 with 20 homers and 84 RBI in 2013. He and Morse could be within Miami’s price range.

If the Marlins cannot land Sandoval or any of the first basemen they like, they would – as a last resort - consider signing a free-agent left fielder and moving Christian Yelich to first. Delmon Young, hitting .289 for Baltimore, is a reasonably priced option. But they prefer to leave Yelich in left field.

Regardless, there’s a decent chance first baseman Garrett Jones --– due $5 million in 2015 –-- will be traded or moved to the bench. If the Marlins can't find a full-time first baseman, they could find someone to platoon with the left-handed hitting Jones.

### The options at second base aren’t great: Sign a mediocre stopgap from a weak free agent list (Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Ellis, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Rickie Weeks, Nick Punto, Ramon Santiago); trade for one; or have Derek Dietrich (.228, five homers in 49 games), Donovan Solano (.254) and Kike Hernandez compete for the job.

The Marlins are optimistic Dietrich has overcome his defensive problems earlier this season. “It’s an offensive performer we’ll make room for,” Hill said.

Hernandez hit .319 in Double and Triple A in 2014 and .265 in 93 at-bats for Houston and the Marlins. “I played every day for a month in Houston [and hit .284],” he said. “If I did it for a month, why can’t I do it for a year?”

### The offer for Stanton – terms aren’t determined yet --- would buy out the last two years of arbitration and first three or four years of free agency. But the Marlins probably would need to top the six-year, $144 million deal the Angels gave Mike Trout, because that bought out only three free agent years. A six-year Stanton deal would buy out four free agent years.

It’s possible Stanton –-- who could become a free agent in November 2016 --- might delay a decision on a multiyear offer until after 2015, giving him another year to gauge whether Jeffrey Loria is serious about fielding a winner, which is very important to the Marlins slugger. The Marlins want to keep Stanton to start 2015 even if he rejects their offer.

### With Jose Fernandez not expected back until early next summer, the Marlins likely will look for a cheap veteran starter who could fill a spot in the back of the rotation if the team’s top pitching prospects (Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino) don’t win a job next spring.

Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler likely will be the top three starters and the Marlins aren’t ready to give up on Nathan Eovaldi, even though opponents are hitting .315 off his fastball this season and .281 overall.

### Other stuff: The Marlins are leaning toward keeping closer Steve Cishek, who could make $6 million in arbitration… Catcher Jarrod Saltalamaccia (due $7 million and $8 million the next two seasons) was a disappointment but figures to return barring an unexpected trade.

“We expected some adjustments coming over from the American League and dealing with a new staff,” Hill said. “As he gets more comfortable we’ll see his offensive numbers get back to what we felt we could get.” J.T. Realmuto (.299 in Double A) has emerged as a top catching prospect....

The Marlins will consider a multiyear deal with McGehee….  Reed Johnson, Brad Penny, Kevin Gregg and Rafael Furcal will be free agents. There’s a $2.1 million team option on catcher Jeff Mathis.

CHATTER

### A big unknown when Heat camp begins next weekend: whether third-string point guard Shabazz Napier proves worthy of playing time.

The Heat thought Napier took too many forced shots during summer league; he shot 27.5 percent (28 for 102) and 19.6 percent on threes (9 for 46), with 4.2 turnovers per game.

“Most disappointing guy in summer league,” one veteran NBA scout said. “But he’s not as bad as he looked. He has great dribbling skills, can see the floor, tough competitor.” The Heat thought Napier was worrying so much about running the team’s system that it took him out of his game.

Because of Norris Cole's presence, Pat Riley said starting point guard Mario Chalmers will play some backup shooting guard, regardless of whether Napier plays much or not.

### Some Heat fans will wonder why Miami didn’t make an aggressive attempt to sign Andray Blatche or Jordan Crawford, two skilled rotation-caliber players who signed in China over the past two days.

The Heat tossed around the idea of signing both, but there were off-court concerns. With Crawford, the red flag was that he has played for three teams in the past two years, and that teams don’t seem to want to keep him longterm. With Blatche, there are questions about whether he would be a team player and why the Nets had no interest in keeping him despite solid numbers last season.

Maturity matters to this organization, which is one of several reasons why Michael Beasley wasn’t offered a new contract.

### A prominent former UM player asked a lawyer to investigate the chances of that player and several others winning a lawsuit against UM for the damage caused to them during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. But the suit has no merit and likely won’t materialize.

### David Beckham’s group has looked at potential MLS stadium sites just outside downtown Miami, in West Edgewater, Wynwood and between Marlins Park and Miami International Airport, among others. The site closest to Marlins Park and at least one in Doral haven’t been ruled out but are not Beckham’s preference.

Please see the last post for notes, quotes and thoughts from UM’s loss to Nebraska, and a few Dolphins notes heading into the Kansas City game…

Please follow us on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz), where I immediately link to everything I post.    

09/20/2014

Postscripts, quotes, thoughts from UM's loss at Nebraska; Dolphins notes

Postscripts from UM’s 41-31 loss Saturday night at Nebraska:               

### Gouged. Gutted. Gashed.

Pick whatever word you like. All of them will do to describe a UM defense that was dissected for 458 yards, including 345 on the ground. Of course, we’ve seen this nauseating story before, time and again, over the past three years.

As colleague Manny Navarro noted, UM has relinquished at least 200 yards rushing 15 --- 15! --- times since 2011. And four times since then, Miami has allowed 300-plus yards on the ground. Unacceptable.

Freshman Brad Kaaya’s splendid work again offered real hope for the future. But if you’re about the bottom line, these are the numbing numbers:

Of the last 10 games UM has played, the Hurricanes have lost six of them --- all by double figures. Braxton Berrios’ four-yard TD reception cut the margin to 10 with 18 seconds left, thus avoiding a sixth loss of 17 points or more since last November.

UM is now 1-16 in its last 17 road games against ranked teams.

Against schools from major conferences (even including the Big East), UM is 18-17 under Al Golden.

UM entered eighth in total defense, fourth in yards allowed per rush (2.0) and 35th in scoring defense, at 19.3 per game. But those stats --- built up against Louisville, Florida A&M and Arkansas State --- were obviously not reflective of this defense’s quality.

Yes, 24th-ranked Nebraska entered averaging the second-most yards per rushing attempt in the nation, behind Arkansas. But UM was simply overwhelmed by a physical offensive line, an elite running back (Ameer Abdullah) and a nimble quarterback (Tommy Armstrong).

Abdullah buffaloed for 229 yards on 35 carries and scored three touchdowns. Armstrong ran for 96 yards on 13 carries. He threw just 13 times, completing nine for 113 yards.

Defensive issues? Where do we start?

Calvin Heurtelou couldn’t shed blocks on at least a half dozen sizable gains and committed an offsides penalty on a third and five. Olsen Pierre and Courtel Jenkins were pushed aside on a number of plays. On several plays, the defensive ends couldn’t set the edge on runs to the perimeter. The linebackers and safeties weren’t helpful enough in run support.

Though Nebraska threw for only 113 yards, there was confusion between Ladarius Gunter and Jamal Carter on Kenny Bell’s 40-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Artie Burns was later beaten by Bell on a key 3rd and 11.

UM badly needed a stop when Nebraska got the ball with 13:30 left and the Cornhuskers leading by seven. Instead, this happened:

Armstrong faked out Darrion Owens for a 13-yard gain on an option play. Owens and Pierre, among others, were obliterated on a 26-yard run by Abdullah, and according to WQAM, Denzel Perryman wasn’t in the game on that play. Anthony Chickillo then chased Armstrong fruitlessly on a 15-yard gain, setting up a 39-yard Drew Brown field goal that padded the lead to 10.

### Nebraska averaged 6.4 yards per rush and was 7 of 10 on third down. There were only a few high-impact defensive plays by Miami, most notably Tracy Howard’s interception and a Deon Bush-forced fumble against Armstrong, with Chickillo recovering.

### Interesting that McNeese State allowed fewer points (31), fewer yards (437) and fewer rushing yards (195) against Nebraska than UM did.

### It’s regrettable that defensive tackle Michael Wyche, who this staff privately hoped would be an immediate starter, isn’t even playing because of conditioning issues.

### Al Golden's thoughts, on WQAM: "We turned it over too many times. [We allowed] too many yards on the ground. We gave up four big plays to Bell. The first one was an unforced error. No excuse. We didn't tackle well enough, didn't get off the field well enough on third down. We needed to play better on defense.

"[But] I didn't think it was too big for them. We are growing up. There are a lot of teams not playing these games. We played it and we came out of it healthy and have a chance to learn a lot and ignore everything else."

### The best news of the night? Kaaya again showed why UM made the right move in starting him, why he has the potential to be UM’s best quarterback in a decade. Yes, he threw two interceptions (a third was negated by a late hit), but he was generally very good: 28 for 42 for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

"I thought we could attack the linebackers, attack the secondary," Kaaya told WQAM. "I thought we did that pretty well. Duke helped on play action, being a good decoy."

"Tough kid," Duke Johnson said. "He makes all the right reads."

Said Golden: "I thought Brad grew up a lot. There's no question Brad is going to be a heck of a football player. The environment is not too big for him. We did a really good job protecting him, giving him time. I can only imagine what kind of night he would have had if we didn't turn it over three times."

Kaaya stares down receivers at times (that should change as he gets more experience) and shoulders at least part of the blame for two delay of game penalties. But for a freshman, Kaaya has been everything UM could have hoped for and more. For the second week in a row, Kaaya set a UM record for passing yards by a true freshman.

James Coley smartly called a lot of screen passes, seized on a matchup advantage with Clive Walford (seven catches for 80 yards) and capitalized on Johnson’s athleticism in the passing game.

Johnson, who caught four passes all of last year, caught five for 84 yards on Saturday. He ran for 93 yards on 18 carries but assuredly will bemoan his third quarter fumble that was returned 47 yards by Josh Mitchell for a touchdown, pushing Nebraska’s lead to 31-21.

"We have to work on ball security," Johnson told WQAM. "The main thing was the turnover that went for a touchdown. That was a game changer."

### Phillip Dorsett, off a 202-yard receiving game against Arkansas State, was targeted only once in the first three quarters but made an extraordinary 32-yard catch in the fourth quarter, snatching a ball out of the air despite very tight coverage.

### UM was outgained only narrowly, 458-435 but ran for just 76 yards... Other numbers: Gus Edwards ran for eight yards on three carries. Joe Yearby didn’t get a carry… Receiving numbers, besides Johnson and Walford: Dorsett 2 for 38; Berrios 4 for 43; Malcolm Lewis 5 for 40; Stacy Coley 3 for 22; Yearby 1 for 22; Standish Dobard 1 for 20.

### UM fell to 13-1 in games in which Duke Johnson has rushed for a touchdown…. Freshman defensive end Chad Thomas didn’t make the trip because of muscle spasms on Friday.... Raphael Kirby led UM with seven tackles.

### UM's game against Duke next Saturday at Sun Life Stadium will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and be televised by ESPN2.

DOLPHINS ITEMS

### The Dolphins’ depth at receiver has caused some unhappiness. A team source said Rishard Matthews asked for a trade before the regular season started, but the Dolphins declined. Matthews has now accepted his situation and is no longer asking for a trade.

The Dolphins’ desire to play Matthews some, and rookie Jarvis Landry a lot, has resulted in Brandon Gibson’s snaps sliding from 41 per game last season to 31, and he has been targeted only five times. Gibson acknowledged he would get more playing time elsewhere but said he won’t complain.

Landry, who said his fumbled punt last Sunday was the first fumble of his life on a return, played more than Gibson last week, surprising some.

### The Dolphins need to give Chris McCain some defensive snaps Sunday and at some point need to figure out the best longterm position for the promising rookie. He had a sack in the opener, missed two practices after getting sick and didn't play any defensive snaps last Sunday, which surprised him. McCain believes he would be best long-term as an outside linebacker, but the Dolphins are using him as a defensive end half the time.

### The Dolphins promoted defensive back Brandian Ross from their practice squad today and released defensive lineman Bruce Gaston.

### Please bookmark this blog or follow me on twitter (@flasportsbuzz), where I link to everything after posting... Please check back Sunday afternoon for the Sunday buzz column.

 

09/19/2014

6 p.m.: Details on odd case involving Al Quadin Muhammad and woman he says he didn't know was prostitute

UM defensive end Al Quadin Muhammad, already suspended for a semester for punching a student and breaking his nose in the Sun Life Stadium parking lot on April 12, was involved in another incident this week.

South Miami police said Muhammad will NOT be charged. But the details of the incident are, well, rather peculiar.

The story involves a woman who is a prostitute, but Muhammad said he had no knowledge she was a prostitute.

Here's what the police "case supplemental" report said:

"We responded to the listed location reference a call out to further investigate the incident and process the scene. Muhammad was already at SMPD headquarters and the alleged female victim (25-year-old Delajurea Brookens) was at South Miami Hospital being treated for her injuries.

Photos and DNA samples were taken at the scene. Photos of blood, broken windows and interior of the apartment were taken.

We then responded to SMPD to interview Muhammad who was detained regarding the incident. Muhammad advised he was not truthful with responding officers and was going to provide me with a statement of what truly happen.

Muhammad signed a Miranda waiver and agreed to speak to me.

Muhammad stated that he met Brookens at Club Story in Miami Beach. Muhammad stated Brookens approached him as he was leaving the club and stated she wanted to go back to his apartment to party. When they arrived at his apartment, Muhammad stated they went into his bedroom. Once in his bedroom, Brookens stated she needed to be paid $800.00 first. Muhammad advised her that he would not be paying for anything and asked her to leave.

Muhammad stated he had absolutely no knowledge that Brookens was a prostitute and once he discovered it, he asked her to leave. Because of this, Brookens became enraged and started throwing objects throughout his bedroom. Brookens also removed one of her high heels and threw it at Muhammad. Muhammad stated he offered her money for a cab ride and gave her two (2) five dollar bills and a few singles which she put it in her bra but still refused to leave. The dispute carried into the living room/kitchen. Brookens then exited the apartment out the front door.

At this time, using her high heel, she broke out the two front windows of the apartment. She then threw one of her heels through the broken window of the apartment and into his bedroom. Muhammad then called police. Brookens continued to yell outside the apartment causing the neighbors to come outside (see neighbor`s statements). Brookens began to bang on the front door of the apartment. Muhammad then opened the front door and she attempted to push her way into the apartment but slipped and fell to the floor inside the doorway. Muhammad then pushed her out and closed the door.

Muhammad, hearing the police sirens, exited out the back door of the apartment and met officers in the street. Muhammad stated to responding officers he had no knowledge of who Brookens was and that she was never in his apartment which he later stated was false.

We met with Brookens at South Miami Hospital where she was being treated for the cut to her wrist. She as well completed a written statement. Her statement basically reads as the report reads, although, she denies re-entering or attempting to re-enter the apartment after breaking the windows.

The blood inside the apartment does not confirm her story due to the fact she was the only party with a bleeding injury. She states she broke the windows while struggling with Muhammad outside the apartment. Brookens also denied any talk of money for sex.

I asked Brookens if she had any money at which time she removed two (2) 5 dollar bills and 4 singles from her bra which is what Muhammad states he gave her in an attempt to make her leave. I questioned Brookens about her criminal history and she advised she had been arrested for prostitution.

I asked Brookens how she wanted this case handled and she advised she did not wish to pursue charges against Muhammad. Brookens signed a non-pros form. After completing the written statement and signing the non-prosecution, Brookens agreed that the dispute did start over money for a possible sexual act. Muhammad denies any knowledge of her being a prostitute.

We then responded back to SMPD and re-interviewed Muhammad and advised him of Brookens decision not to pursue charges. He as well agreed to do the same. Muhammad signed a non-prosecution form.

After concluding my investigation, I have determined there is no physical evidence that would support the arrest of Muhammad, and without the cooperation of Brookens (non-prosecution signed), Muhammad should be released from custody. Muhammad was driven home by this detective at approx 1040 hrs.

For these reason, this case will be considered ex-cleared."

### UM had no comment and he is expected to re-enroll at UM in January, unless he or the university has a change of heart. 

### Please find my blog by either bookmarking me or following me on Twitter, where I link to everything (@flasportsbuzz)... Please see my story on the sports home page for details on Dion Jordan's newest suspension.

Noon Friday Al-Quadin incident; Updating UM's 2015 recruiting class and local targets; Dolphins, RB talk; Heat

Noon update: South Miami police last night investigated a domestic disturbance at the apartment of Al-Quadin Muhammad, the UM defensive lineman who is suspended from school this semester after punching a student three times -- and breaking his nose --- in an April incident at Sun Life Stadium.

Sgt. Henry Guzman said Muhammad was detained and eventually released and no charges will be filed.

"He was not at fault in any way," Guzman said."We got a call last night regarding a disturbance at his apartment building. He was not at fault.  We are trying to finish up the investigation and prepare our reports, but he was not at fault in any way."

He thus would seem on track to return to UM in January, unless the school decides otherwise. UM declined to comment.

Note: Because this and other blogs are now very difficult to find on The Herald' new web site, we recommend you bookmark this blog to see new posts.

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FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The direct Twitter messages from UM coaches, James Coley in particular, light up Alabama oral commitment Shawn Burgess Becker’s phone five or six times a day, by his estimate. Some tell the four-star Coconut Creek Monarch safety how much UM coaches want him. Others include a picture of his face superimposed atop a Miami jersey.

The Hurricanes have claimed several significant victories in this consuming, competitive, cut-throat battle for the top recruits in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

But a lot more work needs to be done locally on this UM class, and FSU, Alabama and Louisville, among others, are trying to seize on UM’s primary vulnerabilities: crowd size and several blowout losses since last November.

Former UM star Lamar Thomas, now a Louisville assistant, recently posted a picture of a half-empty Sun Life Stadium on his Facebook page to try to damage UM in recruiting. (We would expect more from you, Lamar.)

Miramar four-star cornerback Tyrek Cole, who recently was dropped by FSU (according to rivals.com) and now may end up at West Virginia, mentioned last month how FSU has so many advantages over UM now: “The winning part. FSU is at an NFL level. They have an indoor practice facility. Miami doesn’t. And the atmosphere favors FSU.”

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told Seminoles fans in Coral Gables in May: “This area to me is critical. We are always going to get these kids.”

Fisher has landed several, including Matthew Thomas and LaMarcus Joyner; Hallandale four-star linebacker Shmar Kilby-Lane is orally committed for 2015. But UM has beaten out FSU and many others for several other elite local recruits, including Duke Johnson, Stacy Coley and Chad Thomas.

Miami Central High coach Roland Smith believes “Miami has to beat FSU [Nov. 15] to let kids know they’re back.”

That will be difficult, but UM still has a lot going for it: a marquee brand, a chance for some recruits to play immediately and often in their hometown, a university that’s well-regarded academically, and a staff that connects well with recruits.

“Al Golden writes to me every day, asking how my mom is,” Cole said. “Most head coaches don’t do that.”

UM so far has 21 oral commitments for its 2015 class, including six from Dade or Broward. Two of the six local recruits are high-end four-star prospects: St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jordan Scarlett (averaging 7.0 yards per carry this season) and four-star Killian safety Jaquan Johnson.

Another UM oral commitment, Booker T. Washington four-star running back Mark Walton, says he will graduate a year early, in 2015, if he gets the needed test scores.

Because of their running back depth, the Hurricanes didn’t sweat Westminster Christian four-star running back Jordan Cronkrite’s de-commitment this week.

UM’s class, ranked 12th by rivals.com, also has four four-star players from outside South Florida: Bradenton-based defensive end Scott Patchan and offensive lineman Tyree St. Louis, Orlando running back Dexter Williams (said he is “90 percent” committed to UM), and California-based offensive tackle Bar Milo (Brad Kaaya’s friend and former teammate).

Among the local players UM is still pursuing:

### Coconut Creek Monarch’s Calvin Ridley (the nation’s No. 1-rated receiver) and teammate Burgess-Becker (rivals.com’s No. 83 overall prospect) say their Alabama commitments are solid.

Burgess Becker said “the SEC is a better fit because there are a lot of good players. I have a really good connection with [Alabama assistant] Mario Cristobal.”

Ridley said: “I really want to get away from home. Nothing against Miami.”

### Plantation American Heritage five-star Tarvarus McFadden, rivals.com’s fourth-best cornerback, said the Hurricanes offered him but said they aren’t in his top five, which includes Georgia, LSU, FSU, Ohio State and Central Florida.

### His teammate, quarterback Torrance Gibson --- rated 49th among all prospects --- said Ohio State is his front-runner “because Urban Meyer puts people in the league and works with left-handed quarterbacks” but said “Al Golden and James Coley reach out to me every day on Twitter” and he’s considering the Hurricanes because they offered him as a quarterback.

### Miami Central’s four-star Da’Vante Phillips, rated the nation’s No. 6 receiver, has said FSU has the edge because close friend Dalvin Cook is there but hasn’t ruled out UM.

### UM is in the mix for several other local 2015 prospects, including --- among others --- Booker T. Washington tight end Devonaire Clarington (UM in his top seven), St. Thomas Aquinas four-star receiver D’Vante Peete (“Playing in Miami with Brad Kaaya would be great”), St. Thomas three-star cornerback Rashard Causey (a very soft FAU oral commitment who says he likes UM and South Carolina in particular),four-star Westminster Christian safety/running back Tim Irvin (more than 30 offers) and three-star Booker T. Washington receiver Antonio Callaway, who has UF, Georgia and LSU as his top three.

CHATTER

### There remains mutual interest between the Dolphins and former Oregon star running back LaMichael James, a 2012 second-round pick who requested his release from the 49ers last week because he wants a more substantial role. James is expected to take the weekend to consider his options. He worked out for the Dolphins on Tuesday.

James has averaged 4.5 yards per attempt on just 41 NFL carries and ranked 10th in the NFL in punt return average in 2013, at 10.9.

### Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno, out with a dislocated elbow, has told teammates he’s aiming to return immediately after Miami’s bye, Oct. 12 against Green Bay.

### One thing that has to change: The Dolphins need to get back to maximizing the downfield receiving skills of Charles Clay, who is averaging 6.4 yards per reception (among the worst among starting tight ends) after averaging 14.6, 11.8 and 11 the past three seasons. Clay, in a contract year, said teams aren’t paying any more attention to him than last year. He has been bothered by a knee injury but doesn't use that as an excuse.

### Udonis Haslem said the four days that five Heat players spent bonding and working on their games at IndianaUniversity was eye-opening with regard to new addition Josh McRoberts.

“Everybody knows he’s an excellent passer,” Haslem said. “But people are going to be really surprised by his toughness. Underrated athlete. Can shoot it from range.” 

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz   

 

09/18/2014

Dolphins, Marlins, Heat, UM

This is a test for the new Herald web site.

Please see the last post and come back in a couple hours for a new one.

09/17/2014

7:15 p.m. Wednesday report: Dolphins, Hurricanes, Marlins, Heat, broadcast chatter

A few quick hits:

### Though Mike Pouncey practiced some today (he was limited) and has said he believes he could play in a game, he conceded this afternoon that a return Sept. 28 against Oakland, in London, is the most realistic timetable.

### There will be flux in the Dolphins' offensive line this week, however, with Dallas Thomas taking over at right guard, replacing Shelley Smith, who's out with a grade two knee sprain.

Thomas played half the game last week and graded out well.

“I’m excited --- it's another day to show I have improved since the last time,” Thomas said.

He’ll be working against a Chiefs defense that has lost two key players (linebacker Derrick Johnson and tackle Mike DeVito) to season-ending Achilles’ injuries in the opener but ranked sixth in the league in sacks last season. Among the players Thomas expects to match up with: Dontari Poe.

Thomas lost the right guard job after he was overwhelmed by Tampa All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in the second game of preseason.

“I took that as a lesson to learn,” he said. “This is a second opportunity and I will take full advantage of it.”

Joe Philbin said Thomas’ performance was “good, solid,” when he replaced Smith midway through the Buffalo game.

His best skills? Dolphins rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James, Thomas’ former roommate at Tennessee, points to his power and athleticism.

“Hopes are still high for Dallas,” offensive line coach John Benton stressed to me before Smith’s injury.

### Left tackle Brandon Albert has completely downplayed playing his former team this week, swearing it means absolutely nothing to him beyond any other regular-season game. OK then.

Daryn Colledge amused us today by noting that Albert's knowledge of the Chiefs would be of no help, since he has enough trouble remembering what happened yesterday.

### Second-year Dolphins cornerback Will Davis has played 70 defensive snaps, Jamar Taylor just 19 so far.

“I want to be on the field more,” Taylor said, not intending that as a complaint.

### Cam Wake said Dion Jordan, who will remain suspended through the Oakland game, has called him to check in. “He’s working hard, staying in shape as much as possible,” Wake said. “The real important thing is getting back in football shape.”

Jordan has been working out in Los Angeles, where he does martial arts training in the offseason.

### Besides Smith and Knowshon Moreno, Koa Misi and Terrence Fede also didn't practice today for the Dolphins.

### UM figures to look for a second quarterback in its 2015 class after Kevin Olsen's departure.

UM's one 2015 oral commitment at the position, Tampa-based three star prospect Dwayne Lawson, so far this season is 36 for 62 for 349 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also has run 27 times for 179 yards (6.6 average) and two TDs. His team is 1-1 after a 26-0 loss to Seffner last week.

Lawson and freshman Malik Rosier are considered dual-threat quarterbacks, though UM coaches have emphasized that Rosier is more than just a running quarterback. Brad Kaaya is UM's only natural pro style quarterback with eligibility remaining beyond this season.    

UM is very, very high on Jack Allison, a 2016 oral commitment from upstate (Palmetto).

Allison is considered among the top 100 prospects overall in the 2016 class.

### Al Golden reiterated today that he expects Stacy Coley to return from a shoulder injury and play against Nebraska this weekend.

### As expected, the Marlins announced Giancarlo Stanton's season is over after he sustained facial injuries when he was hit in the face with a pitch last week.

His final numbers: .288, 37 homers, 105 RBI, 31 doubles and 94 walks. He had seven homers of 450 feet or more, by far the most in baseball.

Stanton's home run total still leads the National League. Baltimore's Nelson Cruz leads baseball with 39. His 105 RBI are currently third, two behind the Angels' Mike Trout and one behind the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez.

### CBS is sending Dolphins-Chiefs to only nine percent of the nation, with most of the country instead getting the Denver-Seattle Super Bowl rematch. CBS assigned Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon to the Dolphins game. A CBS spokesperson said today that all markets in Florida have been assigned the Dolphins game except Tampa and Panama City.... ESPN2 assigned Joe Tessitore and Brock Huard to UM-Nebraska on Saturday night....

Besides the much-anticipated sequel to ESPN's documentary on the UM football program (airing Dec. 13), ESPN's other films this winter include fixing of basketball games at Boston College in 1978-79; a look at the lives of former Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez and his brother Orlando; the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, which disrupted the World Series; the Knicks championship teams from the early 1970s; and a documentary on former star receiver Randy Moss. 

### The Heat hired former Warriors and ex-Kings coach Keith Smart as an assistant coach. Former Heat point guard Chris Quinn was named an assistant coach/player development. David Fizdale will become Erik Spoelstra's lead assistant, as expected, with the title of assistant head coach.

Juwan Howard is expected to join Smart and Fizdale on the bench with Spoelstra. Quinn and Dan Craig likely would sit behind the bench.

09/16/2014

Rose leaving NBC-6; Is UM defensive improvement real?; UM, Dolphins, Marlins chatter

BUZZ COLUMN

Former Dolphins tight end Joe Rose, one of South Florida’s most recognizable sportscasters, is leaving his job as NBC-6’s lead sportscaster at the end of the year but will remain in radio, as a morning host on WQAM-560 and the Dolphins’ radio analyst on WINZ-940.

NBC 6 said Rose is retiring after nearly 20 years at the station.

But according to a station source, Rose, 57, has told people that NBC 6 is inexplicably buying out the last year of his contract, and he’s perfectly fine with that.

Station management has made decisions that have angered the sports staff in the past year, including dramatically cutting the length of the evening sportscasts. Though Rose is comfortable with the decision, NBC 6 looks foolish for buying him out.

“It’s time for me to slow down and get a decent night’s sleep,” Rose said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

The station also is still searching for a replacement for No. 2 sportscaster Courtney Fallon, who took a job with CBS Sports Net. Stefano Fusaro, a Univision sportscaster in Houston, has spoken to NBC 6 about that job.

UM CHATTER

On Saturday night, when UM visits a potent Nebraska team, we’ll know whether the apparent improvement in this Hurricanes defense --- which ranks eighth overall nationally --- is a mirage or real and legitimate and sustainable. Remember, the 2013 Hurricanes defense surged in September against FAU and UF and Savannah State, rising into the top 25 in several statistical categories, then unraveled as the season progressed.

UM doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt here, not after the past two years, and not after a less-than-grueling early season schedule featuring Louisville (which lost at Virginia), Florida A&M and Arkansas State.

That said, there are promising signs that should leave Canes fans guardedly optimistic: Miami ranks sixth in yards allowed per play, 15th in rushing defense, fourth in yards allowed per carry (just over 2.0), 13th in sacks and 35th in scoring defense, at 19.3.

The reasons for the improvement? Anthony Chickillo is playing the best of his career; “he’s more sound in his technique,” defensive tackle Olsen Pierre said… Calvin Heurtelou and Courtel Jenkins have been a clear upgrade at defensive tackle. One reason, Pierre said, is those two “listen and stay in their gaps” and do not freelance like others did “in the past.”….

Thurston Armbrister has blossomed into an impact player; his four sacks are tied for fifth nationally. Denzel Perryman is playing at a level worthy of Todd McShay ranking him the 25th-best prospect in next year’s draft…. Safety Deon Bush has given UM range and physicality it lacked last year, when he wasn’t completely healthy… And though Tracy Howard has struggled, UM has five legitimate, experienced cornerbacks --- its best depth in years.

What else has changed? “Our safeties are tackling a lot better in the alleys,” Al Golden said. “Guys know where they need to be. Guys know where the ball needs to be directed to the free hitters.”

Aside from FSU, Nebraska could be this defense’s biggest test; the Cornhuskers have an elite tailback (Ameer Abdullah), are 10th in scoring offense (47 points per game) and have allowed only one sack. Only Arkansas averages more yards per carry than Nebraska’s 7.4. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong had seven touchdown passes and 158 yards rushing in three games.

“If there’s any silver lining, we’ve seen running quarterbacks the past two weeks,” Golden said of Florida A&M and Arkansas State.

### Though some fans have questioned UM defensive backs for giving too much cushion to opposing receivers at times, one UM official said Mark D’Onofrio told at least one of his prominent defensive backs to give his receiver less space and it hasn’t consistently been executed. “You can’t blame that on Mark,” the UM person said.

And why has UM several times put a linebacker on a slot receiver, which some have second-guessed? UM likes having the extra linebacker in the game to protect itself against the run, and a safety is supposed to give the linebacker help in coverage.

### With Kevin Olsen departing, the total number of players who signed with UM under Golden, but either never made it to campus, transferred, quit football or were bounced prematurely has reached an astounding 30, according to the records of myself and my esteemed colleague, Manny Navarro.

Of those 30, 10 have had disciplinary problems, including five arrested and one (Al Quadin-Muhammad) who was dismissed from school for one semester but plans to return in January. Six were four-star prospects and six couldn’t qualify academically.

Three others had injuries that ended their football careers. Heck, a whole starting-caliber linebacker group has departed: Alex Figueroa (charged with sexual assault), Gionni Paul (at Utah) and Eddie Johnson.

Golden and his staff can’t be blamed for most of this; nobody knows when a player will be arrested, when a prospect will need to return home for family medical reasons (four-star safety Kiy Hester) and nobody would have predicted Olsen’s life would careen off track like this.

Some players who left were over-estimated by UM, including Beau Sandland (Mario Cristobal’s Jeremy Shockey comparisons were laughable in retrospect); four-star tackle Jalen Grimble (now at Oregon State) and the Jedd Fisch-recruited quarterbacks: Olsen, Preston Dewey (no longer playing football because of an injury) and Gray Crow (now a seldom-used H-back).

Crow, incidentally, is being moved back to quarterback because of Olsen's departure, according to our Susan Miller Degnan.

Golden indicated he and his coaches speak to high school coaches and counselors to try to get a feel for players’ character.

“But it is a challenge,” he said Tuesday. “Everybody is going through it now. Maybe...in their high school or living at home, they [make] certain choices. Given the freedom of college, they make another decision.”

In the case of UM’s behavior-or arrest-related dismissals, “there is really no excuse,” Golden said. “We discuss it all the time, talking about choices and hanging around with the right people. It’s disappointing.”

### Though some UM football people believe the semester suspension of Muhammad was too harsh, a neutral party who has seen the evidence said it was deserved, that punching a student three times (and breaking his nose, in this case) in the Sun Life Stadium parking lot April 12 should warrant a one semester suspension at the very least.

### ESPN has given the marquee post-Heisman Trophy show time slot (9 p.m. Dec. 13) to the documentary sequel on the UM football program, which will focus on the 2001 team and address the Nevin Shapiro scandal and other issues.

CHATTER

### With the Marlins prepared to offer Giancarlo Stanton a longterm contract this winter, it’s worth noting that Stanton and his agent, Joel Wolfe, have been very impressed by how the Marlins have handled the aftermath of his injuries from being hit in the face with a pitch --– from owner Jeffrey Loria sending a private plane to transport Stanton and his family from Milwaukee to Miami, to Loria calling Bud Selig to line up the best medical specialists, to Loria calling or texting Stanton a bunch of times, to team president David Samson spending hours with Stanton’s father in the hospital last Friday.

“The Marlins have been great --– spared no expense, opened up every possible door,” Wolfe said. “We couldn’t ask for more. David had other commitments that day and he spent hours with [Stanton's] father, making him feel comfortable. It was a very decent thing to do.”

Could this make Stanton more likely to consider staying longterm? Wolfe said he doesn’t know yet, saying that decision is “not on his radar.”

Stanton is eligible for free agency after 2016.

### The Dolphins this week auditioned running back LaMichael James, the 49ers' second-round pick out of Oregon in 2012, and though he didn't sign immediately afterward, it's still a possibility at some point.

James and the Dolphins had discussions after the workout and James is contemplating his options.

### The Dolphins do not expect Dion Jordan or Reshad Jones to be reinstated early from their drug suspensions, according to a league official. NFL.com reported last week that both would be reinstated. Colleague Armando Salguero said Jordan won't be, and the Dolphins hadn't been given any reason to believe Jones will be, either. 

### One of the criticisms of this Dolphins team, under this staff, is that they take on the unemotional personality of their coach. And though Mike Wallace has never said that, he reiterated Tuesday that he was bothered Sunday that “I didn’t see anybody playing with emotion out there. We needed to be more into it.”

### Joe Philbin said Jarvis Landry will keep his punt return job despite his fumble Sunday… Michael Thomas said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told him he started ahead of Louis Delmas Sunday because “they wanted to see how I fit in as a starter.” Delmas played nearly four times as many snaps, but Thomas said he received high marks.

  

09/15/2014

Monday afternoon report: More Dolphins injuries; Philbin, Lazor unhappy with passing game

Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor pointed to one ugly statistic to sum up the state of the Dolphins offense:

Through two weeks, Miami is last in the league in passing yards per attempt.

“There is no doubt the blame rests 100 percent on me,” Lazor said.

Here's what Lazor, Joe Philbin and Kevin Coyle said today, and a quick injury update:

### We broke the story about Daniel Thomas re-signing with the Dolphins in our last blog. But Knowshon Moreno's dislocated elbow is not Miami’s only worrisome injury.

Starting guard Shelley Smith has a grade two knee sprain and was told he likely will miss two to four weeks.

Dallas Thomas played half the game after Smith left Sunday and did “a solid job,” Philbin said. He figures to be the starter next week, with Nate Garner also available. Billy Turner missed Sunday’s game with a bone bruise on his foot.

### The Dolphins made room for Thomas by cutting defensive back Sammy Seamster.

PHILBIN’S MUSINGS

### Among the things Philbin had to say: After watching the game three times, he blamed the passing game’s problems on multiple factors.

“The film says we’re not detailed enough in any one area,” he said. He said the depth and angles of some routes weren’t correct and pass protection was a problem in the interior of the line.

“There were times location of ball wasn’t where it needs to be. Our passing game is not at the level where it needs to be.”...

Why did he call six straight running plays when the Dolphins got the ball with 2:21 left in the first half, at their own 12 yard line, with all three timeouts?

“We had 45 yards of offense, three sacks, the last thing I wanted to do was go into halftime down 16-0,” he said. “I told Bill I want to run the ball every single time and go into the locker-room and make some adjustments and get it to a one-possession game, which we did twice in the third quarter. I think it was the right thing to do.

“My job is to put the team in position to win the game.  I had no thoughts we were going to throw an interception but if we didn’t get a first down, we would be punting the ball, giving them great field position. Somebody else could have a different opinion. That’s OK.”…

Philbin refused to discuss Moreno’s injury beyond saying he’s being evaluated. He said Miami resigned Thomas because “we think he can help us.”…

He said Damien Williams “stepped up and had a couple good runs. We thought he ran the ball pretty hard.”…

On CJ Spiller’s 102-yard kickoff return: “It wasn’t just one player or another; we didn’t compress the field right the way we should have, not as physical as we need to be at the point of attack. We didn’t take the right pursuit ankles.”

### He said the team is not doing any game planning that involves Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones. NFL.com has reported both players will be reinstated when the drug policy is finalized, but Philbin said the team hasn’t been told that.

“We’re operating under the premise the suspension will stand until told differently,” he said. …

Philbin said he made the decision to start Michael Thomas over Louis Delmas at safety, though Delmas played substantially more than Thomas.

Asked if it was a decision based on practice performance, Philbin said “everything” but that neither player was injured…

Philbin, on the offensive line: “Has to be better. Our tackles in pass protection held up well. Our interior in protection didn’t hold up. It has to be better.”

BILL LAZOR’S VIEWS

### Lazor said the fact Miami ranks last in passing yards per attempt “rests on the coordinator to get everyone on the same page. I am very discouraged by the job I’ve done in the passing game.”…

He added: “At this point,… we’re the same team we were last week. Have some of the same issues. Some we didn’t get fixed.”…

Lazor said of Ryan Tannehill’s ball placement: “There’s no doubt Ryan would tell you it needs to improve.” He said last Thursday was the best he has ever seen Tannehill throw. But that was in a practice, not a game, as Allen Iverson might say.

Without speaking specifically of Tannehill, Lazor said ball placement is “what separates the great ones and the good ones from the barely there ones. No one is perfect. We grade it every day in practice.”…

Lazor, asked if Tannehill's confidence has been damaged: “That’s up to Ryan. These are big guys here. These are grownups. These are guys who have had a lot of success. I do believe that confidence is a part in how they play. I also believe that they better learn how to get their own confidence going. I think confidence comes from working and perfecting. You can’t make it up. I can give him a pep talk, but that's not going to be real confidence.”

Lazor said the loss of Moreno “hurts because he’s a productive player. I think anyone that watches can see what emotion Knowshon plays with. He brings something to our team. There is no doubt losing him at the point we did in the game hurt.”…

Lazor, asked if he second-guessed any of his play-calling, said: “When I say responsibility is on me, [it’s] how we practice --- everyone doing it exactly right. That’s much more important than one or two decisions made on the game day. That’s what I believe in. It’s my responsibility to make sure it’s done right. Afterward, [there are always] things I wish I could have back.”…

He said he couldn’t comment on Philbin’s decision not to be aggressive at the end of the first half. “Has nothing to do with my wishes,” he said.

He said Mike Wallace “played well. After two regular season games, Mike has backed it up with his play.”...

Jarvis Landry played the most snaps among Landry, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews. “No one is sitting there counting,” Lazor said. “We felt all five could help us.”   

COYLE’S THOUGHTS

He said “we gave up some explosive plays in the game, which concern me. We’ve got to get that fixed. We did a very good job [in the run game], with the exception of one play that broke out. We limited a good rushing team to 3.4 yards per carry. They were third in the league in rushing last year...

"They hit on a couple of crossing routes. They hit on an over route [that was a] miscommunication. Sammy Watkins is one of the most impressive receivers I’ve seen in a long time….We’ll do a better job against him next time we play.”…

On the Dolphins having no sacks, he said Buffalo ran “some quick screens and quick outs. There weren’t opportunities for any of the rushers to have multiple opportunities to rush the passer. We didn’t create as many third and longs as we would like to. You’ve got to be concerned with them running the ball.”…

He said Jelani Jenkins “did a good job.”…

And on Jordan and Reshad Jones, he said he will spend not one iota of time working them into the game plan unless or until he knows for sure they will be back.

“We won’t have anything ready [for them in the game plan],” he said. “We can’t waste practice time on what ifs. We have to [go with] guys ready to play.”

READER NOTE

Beginning Tuesday, The Herald is changing its blog comment policy, requiring everyone who posts a comment to sign in through Facebook. This was a decision made by management, not by any writers.

For those who read this blog but can no longer comment beginning Tuesday, we appreciate your continued readership. For those who wish to comment through Facebook, we welcome your contributions. 

           

 

09/13/2014

Daniel Thomas signs; 5 p.m. Moreno update; Heat players planning changes; Dolphins chatter; Stanton's future; UM postscripts

10:45 a.m. update: Facing the loss of Knowshon Moreno for an extended period, the Dolphins today re-signed running back Daniel Thomas, according to his agent, Tony Fleming.

Thomas, a second-round pick in 2011, averaged 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 yards in his three seasons with the Dolphins but lost his job in preseason to Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa.

Thomas missed Miami's first three preseason games because of injury.

The Dolphins saved $815,565 against the cap by releasing Thomas in the last round of cuts. He signed for the remainder of the season, but veterans who sign after the first week of the season do not need to have their contracts guaranteed.

Thomas worked out for the Patriots last week.

Moreno is expected to miss four to eight weeks with a dislocated elbow. Lamar Miller sustained an ankle injury during the game but could have returned if the Dolphins had chosen to put him back in the game, according to a team official. But the Dolphins will monitor his situation closely.

If Dion Jordan and Reshad Jones are reinstated this week after the finalizing of a new drug policy (the NFL's web site says they definitely will be reinstated), the Dolphins will need to remove three players from the 53-man roster to make room for Thomas, Jordan and Jones.

####################################################################################

5 p.m. update on the injury to Dolphins running Knowshon Moreno: The diagnosis was a dislocated elbow and he is expected to miss at least four weeks, according to Pro Football Talk. (PFT added the words "at least" after its initial report.) Fox reports "the hope" is that he will miss no more than a month.

If he misses four weeks, he could miss only three games because the Dolphins have a bye after playing Oakland Sept. 28.

Running back LaMichael James, cut recently by San Francisco, missed a month with that injury during preseason. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert suffered that injury last week and was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He cannot return until Week 10.

Houston Texans defensive star J.J. Watt missed about a month with a dislocated elbow during preseason in 2012, then played in all 16 games and had 20.5 sacks that season.

Damien Williams likely will become Lamar Miller's primary backup during Moreno's absence.

Miller ran for 46 yards on 11 carries today, with a 4.2 average, but dropped an easy catch on a third-down throw in the second half. Williams ran for 19 yards on five carries (3.8 per carry).

Moreno had one carry for four yards today before the injury. He led all NFL running backs with 134 yards rushing in Week 1.

Orleans Darkwa, the team's No. 4 running back, had three catches for 31 yards on Miami's final drive today.

Among unemployed running backs available: Daniel Thomas, cut by the Dolphins at the end of preseason. Thomas --- who averaged 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 yards per carry in his three seasons here --- worked out for the Patriots last week.

############################################################################### 

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Heat, Dolphins and Giancarlo Stanton chatter:

### Life After LeBron, the on-court version, officially begins in two weeks --- Heat training camp opens on Sept. 27 --- and expect to see some of the same names but with somewhat different games.

For Dwyane Wade, there will be a slimmer star, one entrusted with more ball-handling responsibilities and a greater offensive load.

For Chris Bosh, there will be more offensive assertiveness after spending weeks in the shadows of the Pacific Ocean polishing the low-post skills he displayed in Toronto but weren’t consistently needed here.

For Mario Chalmers, there will be a renewed offensive bent.

And for Udonis Haslem, there will be less need to pass up the open mid-range shot.

“Hopefully,” Haslem said, “I can be a little bit more of who I was in the past instead of just trying to stay out of the way all the time.”

Naturally, all would have preferred LeBron James stay.

But what awaits without him “got me excited for the next chapter, to rise up to the challenge,” Bosh told 790/104.3 The Ticket this summer. “It gives us an opportunity to play with a chip on our shoulder. It’s revitalized my attitude toward basketball. We have a very good team.”

So what will we see more of from Bosh?

“C.B. is going to get back down in the post” some, Haslem said.

In workouts at UCLA this summer with respected trainer Ed Downs and former Arizona and ex-NBA guard Miles Simon, Bosh has been working on operating with the ball in his hands more often and also polishing post moves that were often sacrificed to accommodate the Heat’s system.

“On the offensive end, he’s planning on more touches and being more of a focal point of the offense,” Simon said by phone. “The feeling I get from him is he can go back to his days as a Toronto Raptor putting up 20 and 10. He’s looking forward to meeting that challenge.

“He seems very focused. He has really expanded his game with the threes [the past two years] and he will be around the basket more this season. This summer, he has worked a lot on back-to-the-basket moves and a lot on footwork. You will see his game evolve. You will see him command double teams. He will come to camp in really good shape.”

Bosh said: “It’s cool to be in that situation again” of assuming a bigger role offensively. “I’m a much better player than I was the last time in that position.”

Wade, 32, said he will not get a complete feel for his new role until training camp and cautions: “I can’t go back five years.”

But Haslem said: “We’re going to need more from him not just offensively, but defensively as well, getting back to being that first-, second-team All Defensive player he was, leading our defense.

“He’s definitely going to have to be more aggressive. In the fourth quarter, there are going to be times for him to take over the game like he did in the past. Last four years, it was a little bit of everybody, but the offense was dictated going through LeBron. We’re going to have to go through Dwyane down the stretch now. He’s going to be the playmaker and decision maker on who takes the shots.”

Meanwhile, Chalmers will “go back to his natural position as a point guard and facilitate the team,” his father, Ronnie Chalmers, said.

“As sad we all are to see LeBron go, Mario’s excited to go back to his natural position. He loves being a playmaker. And there will be more opportunities to score.”

A Heat official said even beyond Erik Spoelstra’s staff changes, “you will see some tweaks in how we play.” The team’s gambling defense, which left open too many three-point shooters, needs addressing.

“We can’t just show up and expect to win it in the fourth quarter any more,” the Heat official said.

Haslem said he, Chalmers, Wade, Norris Cole and Josh McRoberts had a productive recent bonding session, over several days, in Bloomington, Ind., doing on-court work with Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, Wade's friend and former coach at Marquette.

 “I’m sure there are a lot of people counting us out, a lot of people not expecting much from us,” Haslem said. “We still think we can be highly competitive. We still think we have a chance to compete for the Eastern Conference title.

“I’ve spoken to D-Wade and CB. We’re excited about the challenge. We are highly motivated. But we are motivated in a good way. It’s not being bitter. It’s about ‘LeBron’s gone’ and we’ve got to pick up the slack.”

CHATTER

### Even after a 33-point eruption against New England, it was telling that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor began Monday’s film session by detailing a bunch of things the Dolphins did wrong. And that is exactly what this franchise needs, Mike Wallace said.

“He kind of tricked us,” Wallace said light-heartedly. “He buttered us up in the meetings [this summer], then we get on the field, he’s like a whole different person. He’s a madman. ‘You need to be here, you need to be there, you need to do this!’

“It’s great for our team. We need that. We don’t need anybody out there patting you on the back, trying to make you feel better. We need to get better. Coach [Mike] Sherman was demanding, but coach Lazor is a little bit more critical about every single little detail.

“If you take it in a negative way, you’ve got a soft skin. We can’t have that. This drives us. If it makes you down, you don’t need to be here; you’re not the guy for our team.”

### Meanwhile, Dolphins defensive linemen love how Kevin Coyle has added a package with five of them playing together, with two linebackers.

“It caught New England off guard,” Olivier Vernon said. “We added it this year, and it’s like the old school Bears defense.” Both Vernon and Cam Wake stand up in that 5-2 defense, with Randy Starks, Earl Mitchell and Jared Odrick playing with their hand in the ground. That lineup, when used, should be good against the run and effective rushing the quarterback.

### Ex-Hurricane Jonathan Vilma, 32, would have loved a call from the Dolphins amid their linebacker injuries last week, but Miami wasn’t interested.

But the Dolphins have four Hurricanes under contract (tied with UF for the most on the team), including practice squad receiver Tommy Streeter.

“I’m in a position I always hoped I would be, being on the Dolphins; I wore a Dolphins shirt on draft day [in 2012],” said Streeter, the former Miami Northwestern star, who averaged an impressive 18.5 yards per reception at UM.

“Every wide receiver coach I’ve had said I can play in this league. I’m a deep ball guy and still need to work on that. Vincent Jackson is the one guy who has the same stature as me [6-5] and he took me under his wing in Tampa last year.”

### It was notable that Knowshon Moreno did his most damage last Sunday (nine carries, 6.3 per attempt) when he ran behind left guard Daryn Colledge and center Samson Satele, who graded out second highest as a run-blocker of any NFL center last week, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Dolphins are paying Satele $46,875 for every game he’s active, and he hopes he’s retained after Mike Pouncey returns. Satele could also play guard but hasn’t done so since May practices before his rookie season for the Dolphins (2007).

### Moreno, who led the league in rushing through Week 1, is only 23rd in average salary among running backs at $3 million.

“That doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’m glad the Dolphins were interested because that’s the one I wanted.” At least one other team showed interest, but Miami's offer was clearly the best.

### The Marlins’ current mindset is to offer a deal longer than four years to Giancarlo Stanton, but plans are still being formulated.

ESPN analyst and former Nationals GM Jim Bowden told me Miami should offer an eight-year, $240 million contract with a no-trade clause.

“That starts the ball rolling,” Bowden said. “It’s pretty hard as a human being, with two years left [before free agency], to turn down $240 million to $300 million.”

Bowden said Thursday’s facial injuries should be “a reminder to Stanton [of] the importance of security and the risks of waiting until free agency” after 2016. Stanton wants assurances from Jeffrey Loria that the team is committed to winning before even considering an offer.

### Please see the last post for UM-Arkansas State notes, postscripts and thoughts.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Postscripts, notes, quotes, thoughts from UM's win against Arkansas State

Postscripts from UM’s 41-20 win against Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium:

### If this was a harbinger of what we’re going to see from Brad Kaaya over the next few years, this is going to be a fun ride.

Aside from the one late interception, Kaaya was brilliant in his third college start: 16 for 24 for 342 yards and four touchdowns. The 342 yards is a UM record for a true freshman, according to the school.

His first two deep passes to Phillip Dorsett couldn’t have been better thrown, with the first going for a 63 yard touchdown and next covering 51 yards. He barely overthrew Dorsett on another deep ball later in the game.

Dorsett helped pad Kaaya’s passing yardage by taking a short pass for another 63 yard score in the third quarter.

But Kaaya was also sharp on intermediate routes, including a strike to Clive Walford for a 21-yard gain in the second quarter. James Coley smartly called several bubble screens (to Malcolm Lewis, in particular) and a nifty wheel route to Walford for a 19-yard touchdown. And Kaaya was very good executing play fakes.

“It felt good to start fast,” Kaaya told WQAM afterward. “All week long we talked about the shots we were going to take downfield. We came out of the gate full speed…. Going into the game, we had a few play actions set for Clive Walford. They left him wide open a few times…. Having a guy like Duke Johnson going into the game, the opposing defense is always thinking run. That helped on the second play, where we called play action (on the 63-yard TD pass to Dorsett)….

“Louisville week was a weird week," Kaaya added. "We had just finished camp. Other guys were out on sync that week, Monday game. We didn’t get back from Louisville until 6 a.m. and we couldn’t practice the next day. Having a full week of practice helped get our timing down. Just sticking to a routine is really essential. Teams that constantly practice properly --– those things win.”

Said Al Golden: “I thought he ripped it today. Some of the things that may not be noticeable to the casual viewer --- the line of scrimmage presence, the check to get us into the long run, the throw to Phillip down the sideline was an adjust. Freshmen don’t do that. Last week, he was almost trying to push it, aiming it. He was ripping it all day.”

UM entered the game just 3 for 23 on third downs --- worst in major college football --- but Kaaya completed four of his first five third-down passes for 45 yards. UM finished 5 for 12 on third downs.

Kaaya exited in the third quarter but returned for a series in the fourth after Arkansas State closed UM’s lead to 41-20. Kaaya threw his only interception to end that one series that he played in the fourth quarter, and Coley told him it was Coley's fault.

Kaaya became the seventh quarterback in UM history to throw at least four touchdown passes in a game. UM said that has happened on 15 occasions in school history.

If Kaaya had stayed in the game throughout, he could have approached 400 yards passing --- something that has been done only 11 times by UM quarterbacks.

### Dorsett had 138 receiving yards in the first quarter and closed with 201 (on four catches) --- the third highest total in UM history behind Eddie Brown’s 220 in 1984 against Boston College and Wesley Carroll’s 208 in 1990 versus California.

“It’s exciting,” Dorsett said of his day. “Have to keep doing what I’m doing. Can’t get complacent. Every time I have games like this, I have to make sure I work harder. We’re a real unselfish group.”

Dorsett has eight catches this season, four for touchdowns.

“It’s a trust in Brad a lot more,” Dorsett told WQAM. “Brad is more comfortable with us back there. He’s a lot more poised. He knows we have his back.”

### Other Canes receiving numbers: Walford 3 for 57, Braxton Berrios 3 for 44 (including a six-yard touchdown), Malcolm Lewis 3 for 11; and Duke Johnson 2 for 20.

UM did this without Stacy Coley, who missed the game with a shoulder injury.

### More from Golden, on WQAM: “Coaches did a good job of identifying what we’re going to see from this group. I felt confident all week. [The four practice] days were good for Brad. We executed really well. I thought we played physical on defense. We were running to the ball and striking. The safeties were physical.”

### UM’s running game was solid, with 146 yards on 35 carries. Johnson had 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 33-yard TD run, and Gus Edwards broke tackles on both his carries, with one going for a 27-yard touchdown and other gaining 11 yards. Joe Yearby’s numbers were modest (10 for 32), and Trayone Gray got two late carries for nine yards.

### Arkansas State finished with 28 more plays than UM (89 to 61) but was outgained by the Hurricanes, 488 to 321.

“The defense got so much better –-- light years [ahead],” Dorsett said.

### UM held A-State to 120 yards in the second half and Miami's pass rush was terrific after intermission, including one scintillating sequence featuring three straight sacks (two by Ufomba Kamalu and one by Deon Bush on a blitz). Thurston Armbrister collected his fourth sack of the season, Miami’s fourth and final sack of the game.

“We’re at the point now where it’s not how long is he going to continue to do this,” Golden said of Armbrister. “He is what he is. He’s long, strong, 240 pounds, has better stamina than he has ever had.”

Anthony Chickillo deflected a pass. Raphael Kirby had an interception on a fake punt. And besides the sack, Bush also had six tackles and a forced fumble.

"It was a good day overall," Bush said on WQAM. "Still made mistakes we have to correct on Monday. At the end of the day, it was a W against a good team. It took a lot of studying and conditioning" against that high tempo.

"I don't think there's any coach in America that works harder than [Mark] D'Onofrio," Bush said. He's a whiz at the game, has us in all the right plays all the time."

### A-State averaged just 3.6 yards on its 89 plays. “It’s yards per play and red zone stops,” Golden said. “[A-State] has good talent, they’re quick. Our guys responded really well. We had to play a lot of guys because of the pace of that first quarter.”

### Concerns? UM’s third-down defense had some very good moments Saturday but wasn’t good enough overall, allowing conversions on 9 of 21 attempts. A-State quarterback Fredi Knighten was 7 for 10 for 89 yards on third downs, closing 22 for 40 for 217 yards overall.

UM missed too many tackles, with Jamal Carter whiffing on at least two. Tracy Howard’s coverage remains shaky at times and he had a pass interference call.

And UM committed too many penalties (11 for 93). “The selfish penalties will kill you,” Golden said of Kamalu slamming down the Arkansas State quarterback.

### Golden said: "I wish we had gotten a little more from the twos… Chad Thomas, Darrion Owens, the twos played a lot of football for us."

### Al Golden said in the postgame news conference that he expects suspended Al-Quadin Muhammad to return to UM next semester.

### Four-star running back Jordan Cronkrite de-committed from UM, telling a Gator web site that UM coaches haven't called him recently. But UM still has oral commitments from two other four-star backs: Jordan Scarlett and Dexter Williams. And another highly-regarded back, Booker T. Washington's Mark Walton, said he hopes to graduate a year early, next June, and enroll at UM next summer.

 ### Please check back later for the Sunday buzz, including lots of Heat, Dolphins and Giancarlo Stanton chatter… Twitter: @flasportsbuzz