Cancer survivor Jim Kelly to return to UM as honorary captain at homecoming

KELLY TO SERVE AS GRAND MARSHAL OF HOMECOMING

#KellyTough Green Out for game against North Carolina

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Cancer-free and #KellyTough, Hurricanes football great Jim Kelly will serve as Grand Marshal for the 2014 Alumni Weekend and Homecoming festivities on the University of Miami campus.

 Kelly will serve as Honorary Captain for the Homecoming football game against North Carolina, which will kick off on Nov. 1.

 “The University of Miami was and remains an important part of my life,” Kelly said. “My family and I are honored and we look forward to being Grand Marshal of the Homecoming Parade and Honorary Captain for the Homecoming game.”

 In conjunction with Kelly’s successful fight against cancer, the Homecoming game against the Tar Heels has been declared a “#KellyTough Green Out.” All Canes fans are encouraged to wear green to the game to show their support in the fight against cancer.

 “We are thrilled and thankful to welcome a Hurricane great home!” said Donna Arbide, Associate Vice President of the UM Alumni Association. “We expect a packed house of people eager to honor Jim and his family.”

Kelly, his wife Jill and their daughters Erin and Camryn will all be taking part in the exciting weekend of festivities, set for Oct. 31 – Nov. 1.

"We are thrilled and honored to welcome Jim, Jill, Erin and Camryn back to Miami, and we are so grateful that they can join us for Homecoming weekend,” Athletics Director Blake James said. “Jim represents everything that we strive to achieve at UM: excellence, character, compassion and strength. His remarkable life's journey is an inspiration for all of us."

A four-year letterman from 1979-1982, Kelly is widely credited with beginning a tradition at Miami that led the school to be known as “Quarterback U.” Kelly led Miami to its first bowl appearance in 14 years in 1981, guiding the Hurricanes to a Peach Bowl victory over Virginia Tech and earning Offensive MVP honors in the win.

 Kelly later led the NFL's Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

  

October 01, 2014

Gall, Linder and Wells competing for starting job at left guard; Duke Johnson "100 percent" Golden said

The battle to become UM’s starting left guard has become a three-horse race between freshman Nick Linder (6-3, 285), sophomore Alex Gall (6-5, 306) and junior Hunter Wells (6-6, 312), and coach Al Golden said Wednesday he's going to let it play out over the next 24-48 hours.

Last Saturday against Duke, it was Linder who replaced fifth-year senior Jonathan Feliciano at left guard when he was moved over to right tackle to fill-in for injured starter Taylor Gadbois in the fourth quarter.

Gall, who hasn't played since the Arkansas State game because of a back injury, finally practiced as a full participant on Wednesday, Golden said. Wells, meanwhile, is back with the team this week after serving a one-game suspension against Duke for a failed drug test. 

"Obviously, Alex was kind of the front-runner before the injury," Golden said. "I'm interested to see as I go in and watch [practice film] how he did  and how his conditioning is and all that. We'll see how it shakes out in the next 48 hours."

Golden said Linder, the younger brother of former Hurricane longtime starter Brandon Linder, is big enough and strong enough to physically handle the starting job even though he's the youngest of the three fighting for it. 

"He's gained weight since he's gotten here," said Golden, who estimates Linder weighs between 298 and 300 pounds now -- significantly more than his listed weight. "His 225-pound [bench press] test [score] is really good. His lower back and hip flexability is really good, his knee bend, and he's smart. He's on the right guys.

"I'm going to let it play out. You guys have known me long enough. I want to see it on the field. Whoever practices the best starts the game. Whoever plays the best finishes the game. We're going to look at that pretty intently here the next two hours."

For most of the season, UM's starting offensive line has taken the bulk of the snaps -- especially in big games. When backups have come in, it usually has been as part of the second unit in Miami's lopsided wins over Florida A&M and Arkansas State. Golden said Wednesday that will probably begin to change as the team starts to rotate backups with the first team more often. The left guard spot will probably see a high volume of rotation in particular Saturday at Georgia Tech, Golden said.

"I think I said to you before the last game we were getting ready for the rotation," Golden said. "I felt that way with [Anothny] Moten, Chad [Thomas] and [Michael] Wyche too and  I felt that way about Kc [McDermott on the offensive line]. Obviously, Gall would have been in the rotation the whole time. Same then with Nick and [Wells].

"We're ready. [The backups have taken] a lot of reps. [Against] Florida A&M and Arkansas State they took a lot of reps there. I've rotated them with the ones for the last two months. It is what it is. We need some guys to rally and step up. It's a part of football."

> After "protecting" Duke Johnson's sprained right ankle in Tuesday's practice, Golden said his star tailback "was great [Wednesday], 100 percent, ready to go."

> Who is the best receiver at creating yards after catch for the Hurricanes?

"I don't know. That's a good question," Golden said. "Obviously Duke would be in there. I think Herb [Waters] has done a good job with his yards after catch to be honest with you. And Stacy [Coley] should be. We need Stacy to do that for us. That's one of the challenges to him this week, getting back to doing that, having the confidence to do that -- all of those guys. I think Clive [Walford] has been pretty good at it too because he's so big. Joe Yearby has been good so far."

> Senior Phillip Dorsett was held without a catch against Duke, but Golden is hoping he'll bounce back this week with a big game against the Yellow Jackets. Dorsett has a history of scorching Georgia Tech. He had his best game last year (four catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) against them and exploded against the Yellow Jackets (nine catches, 184 yards, 1 TD) the last time Miami was in Atlanta.

"We didn't get him the ball enough last week, but he impacted the game by taking the top off and really being unselfish and blocking," Golden said. "But yes, we'd like to get him the ball more this week. Phillip is just one of a number of guys we have to get the ball to. Brad [Kaaya] is doing a great job distributing it, which we have to continue to do that. Hopefully, Phillip will be a big part of that."

> Golden said we can expect senior safety Nantambu Fentress to once again play an important role against Georgia Tech's triple option attack. Last year, Fentress had three tackles against the Yellow Jackets. "He plays linebacker for us in those situations and he does a really good job," Golden said. 

> It might feel like to the rest of us senior safety Dallas Crawford (17 tackles, 1 pass breakup) has been quiet this year, but Golden disagrees. 

"I think he's doing pretty darn good," Golden said. "Dallas has been playing a lot of football for us and has been physical. He's made a lot of big plays, certainly in the first two games. He's in the rotation right now. Deon [Bush] is a little bit ahead of him. [Dallas is] rotating with Jamal [Carter] and Fentress at the other spot. But no, he practices hard, he brings it on gameday. He's doing a good job on special. He's exactly what we want."

> Golden said the Hurricanes "are right around" 77 scholarships for the year, but "still working through it." Miami was docked nine scholarships over three years by the NCAA for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. It's likely Miami will opt to take its penalty as seven scholarships this year and one more each in 2015 and 2016.

September 30, 2014

Is the Hurricanes' success on defense simply a matter of trust? Players, coaches think so

Here is the longer version of my story running in Wednesday's paper

A week after playing so bad defensively at Nebraska that everyone in Mark D'Onofrio's meeting room probably deserved to be punished with push-ups, Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman was doing them for fun last Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Perryman dropped an interception in the fourth quarter and then dropped to the ground and gave his team 10. Refs flagged Perryman for unsportsmanlike conduct, but afterward he laughed about it.

"I've never seen a flag thrown for that," he said with a smile. "But it's alright."

Perryman and the Miami Hurricanes have been in a much better mood since redeeming themselves with a defensive-led 22-10 victory over defending Coastal Division champion Duke.

But is it safe to trust UM (3-2) has put its defensive mishaps permanently in the rear-view-mirror?

Can the Canes be trusted to avoid a relapse as they head to Atlanta Saturday night to take on unbeaten Georgia Tech (4-0)?

"You hope," D'Onofrio said Monday when asked if the 343 rushing yards 19th-ranked Nebraska (5-0) scorched the Hurricanes for was more of an aberration than the true identity of his defense (UM is ranked 14th in total defense, 19th in opposing passer efficiency and 46th in scoring defense).

"When we looked at the [Nebraska] tape we said, 'We're not far off. We just didn’t have a guy doing his job on every play,’” D’Onofrio continued. “You play a great back like that and you're not where you're supposed to be you can get exposed. So, I think the guys learned from that a lot. They focused in. I think the combination of that and the fact we didn't play very well last year against Duke -- I think the combination of the two -- got our focus where it needed to be, and the guys were locked in to execute and do their job. Hopefully it is a turning point and they'll see what we can do when we execute."

Although it was clear to many observers who watched Saturday's game that UM played more aggressively than it did at Nebraska (bringing safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, having cornerbacks play more press on Duke's receivers and setting the edge), both D'Onofrio and coach Al Golden said the only difference with UM's defense versus Duke was execution and energy, not scheme.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe and several of his players remarked after Saturday's game how physical the Hurricanes were on defense, how they played with a lot energy and did a great job tackling and making plays on the ball (UM had 10 pass breakups). 

Saturday marked only the seventh time in 38 games under D'Onofrio the Hurricanes defense held an FBS opponent to under 300 yards of offense and fewer than 100 rushing yards. 

Golden said UM’s defense was better, but said they've still got a long way to go. "I thought we played together," Golden said. "We executed. We communicated well. Our [mental errors] were down. Our explosives were down. I think the guys are starting to understand: it’s all or nothing. 

"It’s all-in, everybody executing the correct technique, trusting their training, nobody on their own, and be a band of brothers. They saw in that game on Saturday night. When they weren’t, when they had a defect, we got exploited. That’s what college football is about. You can get exploited quickly. They’re just going to come after you with yards and [explosive] plays if you’re not all together."

Players like Perryman and linebacker Tyriq McCord say maintaining trust – where each player on UM’s defense sticks to their assignments and gaps, and doesn't come off them to try and make a play – is ultimately the key to the Hurricanes' defensive success in this scheme.

Of course, building that trust is what has been the hard part for Golden and D'Onofrio. Most of the players they recruit don't play with that approach growing up. Each of them is asked to be a playmaker, whether its Pop Warner or high school.

"Honestly, the way I played in high school I saw a gap and I shot it," Perryman said. "It really wasn't like you had a responsibility. You really just get to the ball. In high school, I could say I was pretty much playing off the d-lineman and stuff like that. As far as pass coverage wise, I just used to drop straight back.

"Here, it’s more organized. You've got to be accountable to your teammates, and your teammates have to trust you, and you have to trust your teammates to do their job. Just do your job and plays will come to you. That's hard for some guys until they learn it, trust it. Against Nebraska, all guys were doing was running around and trying to make plays."

McCord agreed.

"For the average person who goes into our meeting room, you'll think Coach D is talking French," McCord said. "But there's so much that goes on behind it you just have to understand it. Being in this defense three years, he does a real good job. A lot of the times he puts us in the right position, puts us in the right play. If he doesn't, he'll tell us, he'll own it."

Having trust will once again prove critical this week against the Yellow Jackets, whose triple option offense is averaging 36.3 points and 292 yards rushing a game behind speedy quarterback Justin Thomas.

The Hurricanes have won five in a row against Georgia Tech, but each of the past three years the Hurricanes have been giving up more and more yards on the ground to the Yellow Jackets. The last two games were shootouts.

“It’s a tricky offense,” Perryman said. “Guys have just got to be disciplined and be gap-sound. That’s what it all comes down to.”

Update: UM Hurricanes OTs Gadbois & Kc McDermott definitely out for GT -- and more notes

 Hurricanes Coach Al Golden had his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Here's the injury update on offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois and his backup Kc McDermott, who each injured his left knee against Duke: 

Golden: "Right now we’re moving forward without Taylor and Kc. [Alex] Gall was better today, so he has an outside chance. But Trevor Darling, [Nick] Linder, [Hunter] Wells and Sunny Odogwu, those are our nine guys right now rotating in [along with usual starters Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers, Shane McDermott and Danny Isidora] –- [with] a little bit of Joe Brown. Those are the guys we’re getting ready to go in the game. We’ve already moved on in terms of practice and as we get information from the medical staff we’ll update that."

Golden said he doesn't know how long the linemen will be out, and still hasn't divulged the diagnosis for each.

 Status of running back Duke Johnson, who sprained his right ankle against Duke: "I think he’ll be fine. We’re just protecting it right now but I think he’ll be good to go by tomorrow."

  Will Yearby get more touches? "I don’t know,'' Golden said. "Joe did a great job last week and certainly warrants consideration for more but I think it’s going to depend on Duke and it’s going to be those three just as it has been, Gus [Edwards], Duke and Joe."

 Mark D'Onofrio has been really good at defending this offense, all the way back to Temple. The key?

"...Obviously facing it all the time No. 1. We faced it every year [at Temple and now Miami]. But you’ve got to make a lot of things happen. You need tackles for loss, you need some takeaways. He works hard at it and believes in what we’re doing. He also knows that we’re going to see some things this week that we didn’t see or have not seen, given the time off in the preparation and where it is in the season. It’s early in the season so they probably worked on it in the preseason a little bit plus the bye week. We’re going to have to be ready to improvise and adjust."

 On the return game, how can you improve?

"We’re working on it very hard. We have to coach it better, we have to execute it better, we have to give them a little bit more room to run and then the returners have to hit it. I would say all four of those are in play this week."

On freshman Trayone Gray:

"He’s doing great. He’s continuing to make progress with special teams. I think his conditioning is starting to really improve and he’s starting to get into a little bit of a groove. We just have got to keep pushing him along."

 On if Artie Burns will be involved more in the return game:

 "We’re thinking about all that. I got to coach it better, we’ve got to execute it better, we’ve got to hit it better and we’ve got to give them more room. Part of that is the coaching part of it. I gotta make sure that we give all the right guys an opportunity to do it."

 On punter Justin Vogel: 

 "Vogel has worked very hard. He’s very poised. It hasn’t all been perfect, but he’s always answered. When he’s had a punt that maybe isn’t as good as he wants it to be, he’s always answered. So from that standpoint, he’s given us a little mental toughness that maybe I didn’t know about him in the beginning. That’s great to see. Him and [Mike] Badgley are going to fight it out for the kickoffs this week. We’ve got to get more production from our kickoff.

"I thought our coverage was better. Maybe our coverage was the best it’s been last week. We just gotta get more hang and more depth on our kicks."

On kicker Matt Goudis: 

"Goudis is making progress but he was really behind when he was out medically. We’ve got to get him caught up. He’s still in the rehab phase right now." 

 On running back Joseph Yearby:

"He’s gotten better every week. The long pass he [caught] because he finished the play. That tells you a little something about his practice habits and really how hard Duke is pushing him in practice. With Joe, he runs very good tracks as a running back, as a zone runner. And he’s able to stay in there on the same track as the O-linemen and then split it. Joe is continuing to get better, his conditioning is really good. We’ve got to continue to get him stronger and gain weight but I’m really excited about Joe right now."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

 

September 29, 2014

D'Onofrio talks defensive improvements; Coley on third down struggles; injury updates and more

The Hurricanes returned to the practice field Monday following their important Coastal Division win over Duke last Saturday in jerseys and baseball caps, a relatively light workday as they begin preparing to face Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Here are some news, notes and observations:

> Coach Al Golden said he still had no updates on the injury status of starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois and backup Kc McDermott, but neither player was at practice Monday. 

> Fifth-year senior Jon Feliciano, who has made 38 career starts at UM (23 at left guard), was once again working with the first team at right tackle. Freshman Nick Linder was with the first team at left guard.

> Golden said the injuries to Gadbois and McDermott has created "a great opportunity" for Hunter Wells (back from suspension),  Linder, Trevor Darling and Sunny Odogwu to compete for playing time. He said Darling and Odogwu would backup Feliciano at right tackle.

> Golden said the reason  Linder replaced Feliciano at left guard when he moved over to right tackle in the fourth quarter Saturday was because Linder had a great week of practice last week.

"[In the game] I think nine out of 10 reps he scored nine plusses," Golden said. "That's not dissimilar to what we see in practice everyday. He brings a poise and a familiarity in there with those guys and it's good."

> Freshman defensive end Chad Thomas, who missed the Nebraska game because of back pain, got in for three plays Saturday against Duke, Golden said. Thomas said he was jumping up and down on the sideline against the Blue Devils and feels a lot better now. "I feel good," he said. "I'm ready to play."

> Running back Duke Johnson had his right foot heavily taped and was limping Monday after spraining his ankle against the Blue Devils. "Just precautionary," Golden said of the tape. "He'll be okay."

> Kicker Matt Goudis, who hasn't played since the Florida A&M game with a bad back, was at practice Monday. "I don't know where he's at yet," Golden said. "Today was just kind of a loose up day, get loose. We'll know more by [Tuesday] for sure."

> Golden said freshman walk-on kicker Michael Badgley, who has missed two extra points in two games, has to continue to improve. 

> Golden said punter Justin Vogel will compete with Badgley this week to handle kickoffs. UM ranks 101st in kickoff return defense (23.19 yard average) and has already allowed one return for a score for the first time in six years. "We've got to get the ball a little bit deeper on kickoffs so we can cover," Golden said.  

> Duke coach David Cutcliffe and several of his players remarked after Saturday's game about how physical the Hurricanes were on defense, how played with a lot energy and did a great job tackling and making plays on the ball. 

Quarterback Anthony Boone said Miami "had a great game plan and they came out executed very highly, made a lot of plays."

> Saturday marked only the seventh time in 38 games under Mark D'Onofrio the Hurricanes defense held an FBS opponent to under 300 yards total offense and fewer than 100 yards rushing. 

Golden said Miami's defense was better, but said they've still got a long way to go. "I thought we played together," Golden said. "We executed. We communicated well. Our [mental errors] were down. Our explosives were down. I think the guys are starting to understand: it’s all or nothing. 

"It really is. It’s all-in, everybody executing the correct technique, trusting their training, nobody on their own and be a band of brothers. They saw in that game on Saturday night, when they weren’t, when they had a defect, we got exploited. That’s what college football is anymore. I mean, it really is. You can get exploited quickly. They’re just going to come after you with yards and [explosive] plays if you’re not all together. I think we did a good job of settling down after that scoring drive that they had. And I think where we need help is protecting the ball on offense. The offense has got to help us with that, and then third-down conversions. Those two things are putting the defense in bad spots and we’ve got to help them."

> Receiver Stacy Coley's sophomore slump continued against Duke with a huge drop on what would have been an easy touchdown, but coaches aren't giving up on him yet. 

"I wish that didn’t happen the other night," Golden said. "[But] last time that happened [the FAU game last year] he came back with a vengeance. I expect him to come back with a vengeance."

After rolling up 1,468 all-purpose yards and scoring 10 touchdown last season on 67 touchdes (33 catches, 2 carries, 10 punt returns and 22 kick returns), has 257 all-purpose yards on 24 touches this season. Coley missed the Arkansas State game with a shoulder injury, but Golden said "he's healthy now, so let's throw that out."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley, who said last week his receiver was having trouble getting open, said he sat down with Stacy and showed him his drop was simply a matter of taking his eyes off the ball. 

"I know he feels bad about it," James Coley said. "It's a long season. There's a lot of plays to be made. We're not going to hesitate to dial him up on it [again]."

> The Hurricanes rank 124th out of 126 FBS teams on third down conversions (24.14 percent). Miami went 2-for-13 on third down against Duke. Coley said the key to improvement will be having more success on first and second down and not getting into third and long situations. 

Coley said in practice the last two weeks -- when the team does third down drills -- if somebody doesn't convert "they're off the field."

"We're putting an emphasis on it," Coley said. "It's important obviously because it sustains drives. We have goals we want to get to. The last two weeks [before Duke] were pretty good. We were above 50 percent. For us, if we get 10 third down opportunities and we're five out of 10 that's championship football across the country."

> Miami had 11 players on defense wearing black starter jerseys Monday: cornerbacks Ladarius Gunter and Corn Elder; safeties Nantambu Fentress and Deon Bush; linebackers Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Tyriq McCord and defensive linemen Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre and Ufomba Kamalu.

How good did it feel to see his bounce back from Nebraska?

"It felt great," defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "I was very happy for our players, coaches, everybody. Like I said whenever I talked to you guys last week after the last game 'There's no finger pointing, everybody take accountability for their part, let's just go back to work.'

"At the end of the day defensive football -- and I know I sound like a broken record -- it's about execution. When you don't execute, they make you pay. When you do execute, you look pretty good. We just did a better job. We executed a lot more this week. It wasn't really anything different other than better execution."

D'Onofrio said the one series UM's defense didn't execute Duke went right down the field and scored it's only touchdown. "We had about four or five freelance plays, and that happens," D'Onofrio said. "Today's [defensive] meeting [room] was no different than the one after Nebraska. It was just about teaching and presenting the facts. Here's what we gave up, here's what we gave them... when you give people free yards they move the ball. That one particular series [versus Duke] we did. Other than that, I thought we played pretty solid."

Was Nebraska a wake up call? Are we not going to see freelancing again? Do D'Onofrio's guys have it figured out now?

"You hope," D'Onofrio said. "I hope it was a turning point. I really do. That's what we said. When we got done with the game, when we looked at the [Nebraska] tape we said 'We're not far off.' We just don't have a guy doing his job on every play. We all see what kind of football team they are. They're continuing to move along and they're very good. You play a great back like that [in Ameer Abdullah] and you're not where you're supposed to be you can get exposed. 

"So, I think the guys learned from that a lot. They focused in. I think the combination of that and the fact we didn't play very well last year against Duke, I think the combination of the two, got our focus where it needed to be and the guys were locked in to execute and do their job. Hopefully it is a turning point and they'll see what we can do when we execute."

UM Canes' OTs Taylor Gadbois (injured), Kc McDermott (injured) not at practice -- and more

As expected, Hurricanes offensive right tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois were not at practice this morning in Coral Gables -- at least not in the 15 minutes we viewed.

UM coach Al Golden already told us yesterday evening that McDermott will miss the Georgia Tech game this Saturday in Atlanta. He said he wasn't sure about Gadbois.

Both sustained what appeared to be left-knee injuries during the Duke game Saturday.

Today during practice, usual left guard Jon Feliciano moved over to the right tackle spot, with freshman Nick Linder playing first-team left guard. Danny Isidora was still at starting right guard, with Ereck Flowers at starting left tackle.

 In practice this morning, offensive line coach Art Kehoe was mixing and matching linemen as the backups, though 6-8, 324-pound redshirt freshman Sunny Odogwu was in the second-team right tackle spot, with 6-6, 312-pound junior Hunter Wells (he was suspended this past game) playing backup left guard and backup center, The backup left tackle today was 6-5, 320-pound freshman Trevor Darling, who has played in two games this season.

  Joe Brown, a freshman from Paramount, Calif., was also practicing as a reserve right guard at times, when Isidora would shift to left guard.

 *** Wide receiver Rashawn Scott, who has yet to play this season as he recuperates from a clavicle injury, is still in a red, no-contact jersey.

*** The ACC announced this morning that the Cincinnati at UM game on Oct. 11 will kick off at noon -- UM's first noon game this season.

 

September 28, 2014

Al Golden speaks the day after UM Hurricanes' victory over Duke

Al Golden Sunday evening...

On UM defense:

"We still have got a long way to go. We made progress last night on defense, no question about it. I thought we tackled better. We clearly fit the quarterback runs better than we did the previous week. We got a number of pbu’s, so we were active around the football.''

On linebacker Jermaine Grace looking comfortable and having what appeared to be his best game as a Hurricane:

"You’re exactly right, he did. I think Jermaine really prepared hard. He answered the challenge last week which was awesome for him. He was very mature. He ended up playing 40 plays before special teams which was a good number and he graded out over 90 percent. And he had 7 ½ tackles and he didn’t miss any tackles. So Jermaine Grace prepared better, studied better, had a good look, was ready to go and then brought it to game day. Hopefully this will just be his floor and not his ceiling. Hopefully he’ll really respond this week and continue to grow and mature."

On the injuries of right offensive tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois: 

"It’s really just those two and we will not have an answer for another two hours on those two. That’s all I have right now to be honest with you. Everybody else is good. We’ll be healthy. We’re just waiting for those two. But it does not look like Kc is going to make it this week irrespective of whatever the results are here in the next two hours."

On the plan going forward with the uncertainty of offensive linemen being injured: 

"Jon [Feliciano] can play tackle, Trevor Darling can play tackle. Nick Linder went into the game the other night and graded out 89 percent. So he did really well when he went in. And the irony there is Isidora played his best game so that was great to see, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Gadbois played well. Hopefully he’s not too serious and then we’ll see where Alex Gall is and obviously Hunter Wells will be available to us so we’ll go from there."

 On Brad Kaaya throwing no interception: 

"I think that was really important. One of the things we said to Brad after the game was that he never forced the ball. As it turned out he threw two touchdown passes. We had two others that were dropped if you will. And we had a third one that was an arguable call or questionable call or whatever. He did manage the game better and he didn’t turn it over, which is a great lesson to learn, not only to play against that team who obviously they weren’t letting up touchdown passes or they weren’t turning it over, but it’s a great lesson to learn before you have to go to play Georgia Tech because you can’t have that happen. So, real growth there and I thought the O-line did a good job protecting him. We’ve got to improve this week and clearly if we have some guys down we’re going to have to rally at the O-line."

 On a scout-team quarterback to prepare the Canes for the option of Georgia Tech:

"Malik Rosier is a tremendous athlete and somebody that is very good with the ball – handling the ball, his fakes, his ability to run. Can you ever duplicate it at the rate that Georgia Tech does? I don’t think anybody can. But that is the challenge that is this week. Certainly we don’t have time to relax or really think about last night’s win. It’s time to move on, especially on defense, because this is a great test for us."

On kickers Matt Goudis and Michael Badgley:

"[Goudis] had mentioned to us yesterday that he was going to try to kick tomorrow, so we’ll see what direction that goes. The extra-point [miss by Badgley] was a combination of penetration and a low kick.''  

So last week you have this incredibly pressure packed week and your kids rise to the occasion. How do you maintain that intensity this week?

 "It’s a tournament now. You have to maintain that. Part of that is the buildup. I don’t need them to be like that tomorrow. I need them to be focused tomorrow. I need them to be receptive. We need everybody, starting with me, we all need to check our egos. Look at everything, be accountable, don’t gloss anything over. Learn, prepare and as the week gets less physical on Wednesday night and Thursday and turns more to mental we need to start to play faster, play with more energy. There’s no letup for a long time right now. We’ve got to be mature right now and know that Georgia Tech is an excellent team and obvioulsy undefeated and we’re playing them there and we’ve got to get ready to go."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

AUDIO: Golden, players react to Canes 22-10 win over Duke

Here is what the Canes were talking about after Saturday night's 22-10 win over the Blue Devils.

Click on the link to listen to the audio

> Coach Al Golden

> Receiver Herb Waters

> Running back Duke Johnson

> Running back Joe Yearby

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya

> Linebacker Denzel Perryman

September 27, 2014

UM Canes offensive guard Hunter Wells suspended for Duke game

    Hurricanes’ backup offensive guard Hunter Wells has been suspended for the Duke game for failing a drug test, two sources familiar with the situation told the Miami Herald on Saturday.

   UM confirmed the suspension Saturday, saying Wells was suspended for "violating team rules.''

    Wells, a 6-6, 312-pound junior from Canton, Illinois, has been playing behind left guard Jon Feliciano – though Wells did not play last week at Nebraska.

    Wells is the second Hurricanes player to miss at least one game this season after a failed drug test. Quarterback Kevin Olsen, who is no longer on the team, missed the first two games of the season due to suspension.

    Wells played in the first three UM games.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Duke Blue Devils

The Hurricanes (2-2) will take on the Duke Blue Devils (4-0) in vital Coastal Division game at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The game can be seen on ESPN2. Feel free to tune in and participate in our chat.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Duke: Sept. 27, 2014
 

September 26, 2014

Breaking it down: Canes-Blue Devils

DUKE (4-0) AT MIAMI (2-2)

> Kickoff, TV: 7:30 p.m., Sun Life Stadium, ESPN2 

> History: Miami leads the all-time series 9-2, but lost last year’s game in Durham, N.C. 48-30 after being outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

> Spread: Miami favored by 7

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (two on defense), 18 four-star recruits (nine on each side), 27 three-star recruits (14 on offense), 1 two-star recruit (defense) and 2 no-star recruits (defense) on their depth chart. Among that group, nine of those players are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: RB Duke Johnson (2nd RD), MLB Denzel Perryman (2nd RD), LT Ereck Flowers (2nd RD), CB Ladarius Gunter (4th RD), WR Phillip Dorsett (4th-5th RD), DE Anthony Chickillo (4th-5th RD), TE Clive Walford (5th RD), LG Jon Feliciano (6th-7th RD), DL Olsen Pierre (6th-7th). 

> Counting stars - Duke: Cornhuskers have no five-star recruits, 1 four-star recruits (RB Shaquille Powell), 30 three-star recruits (18 on offense) and 21 two-star recruits (13 on defense) on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are WR Jamison Crowder (4th rounder) and OG Laken Tomlinson (3rd-4th rounder).

> Injuries: Miami listed backup guard Alex Gall, kicker Matt Goudis(back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Duke backup quarterback Thomas Sirk (leg) was reportedly held out of practice this week with a muscle strain in his leg. Sirk is a big part of Duke’s running game as he comes off the bench and run read-option well. Starting defensive end Dezmond Johnson (leg) is out for the second straight week. The Blue Devils will get starting left guard Lucas Patrick back this week, which means Duke will have a completely healthy, veteran offensive line.

> Background: Duke has won 12 regular season games in a row. The Blue Devils’ only losses since in the last 12 months have come against eventual national champion Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A bowl. 

> Duke offense versus Miami defense: The Blue Devils, who own one of the most balanced offenses in the country (they’re averaging 230 yards passing and 260 rushing) have scored 30 or more points in five straight games and are looking to tie the school record of six 30-point games in a row this weekend. Duke is 27-9 under coach David Cutcliffe when it scores at least 30 points. Anthony Boone, a 6-foot, 225-pound redshirt senior, is 14-2 as a starter for the Blue Devils and a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Although Sirk may be out or limited in this game, Boone is more than capable of carving up the Canes defense and protecting the football (Duke has turned it over only twice this year). The Blue Devils also love to go for it on fourth down and are 8-of-12 this season. Receiver Jamison Crowder has 13 career 100-yard receiving games including an 8-catch, 203-yard, 2-TD performance versus UM back in 2012. True freshman running back Shaun Wilson ran for a school-record 245 yards in a win over Kansas this season and is averaging 14.43 yards a carry. Duke’s veteran offensive line, led by right guard Laken Tomlinson (43 starts) and left tackle Takoby Cofield (33 consecutive starts), has given up just four sacks and 11 negative plays all season.

The key for Miami will be trying to slow down Duke’s read-option attack. With last week’s embarrassing 343-yard outburst by Nebraska on the minds of the Hurricanes – and last year’s 358-yard breakout performance by Duke also there – UM doesn’t need much in the way of motivation. What the Canes need is better execution by its safeties in the alley ways (Deon Bush, Jamal Carter, Dallas Crawford), more of a push by its ends (Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre) and defensive tackles (Calvin Heurtelou vs. Tomlinson will be a battle to watch) and a lot fewer missed tackles by linebacker Denzel Perryman and company, who often times were guilty of trying to get a big hit instead of wrapping up. UM had no tackles for loss last week. That has to change this week. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio makes this week, if any. He and coach Al Golden said the Hurricanes brought blitzing safeties and corners on 60 percent of the snaps on first and second down to try and disrupt Nebraska. It obviously didn’t work. Safeties and corners were too deep. Will they be this week?

> Miami offense versus Duke defense: Quarterback Brad Kaaya continued to improve and grow last week at Nebraska, completing 28-of-42 attempt for 359 yards and three touchdown passes. Nebraska took away the deep ball and speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett for the most part, but Kaaya smartly took what the Cornhuskers gave him, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers including tight end Clive Walford plenty. What killed Miami in the end last week were three turnovers including an uncharacteristic and game-changing fumble by Duke Johnson that directly led to seven points for Nebraska. Like last week, UM can’t afford to turn the ball over. The offense basically has to play a near-perfect game to beat Duke and the offensive line has to continue to give Kaaya time to throw. They also need to do a better job running the football.

Duke, which returns five starters from last year’s defense including safety Jeremy Cash (Plantation High), ranks 92nd in run defense and has been more willing to give up yards on the ground than through the air. In fact, the Blue Devils have yet to give up a passing touchdown (only one of six teams in the country to do so). They’ve given up just 10 plays of 20 yards or more and have forced seven turnovers in the last eight quarters. Duke’s first four opponents were hardly tough, but they still did what they had to, holding them to a mere 11.5 points per game including just 16 second half points total, which shows you they make the right adjustments. Defensive tackle Jamal Bruce (6-1, 285), defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (6-4, 240) and middle linebacker David Helton (6-4, 240) are the backbone of the front six in the 4-2-5 formation.

> Special teams: Miami, awful on kickoff coverage through its first three games, played much better at Nebraska with more veterans involved in that unit. Walk-on freshman Michael Badgley booted an important 34-yard field goal against Nebraska and did a better job handling kickoffs for Miami. Justin Vogel's punting average of 44.7 ranks 18th nationally. Where the Hurricanes still haven’t had much of an impact is in the return game, something Golden acknowledged this week. Sophomore Stacy Coley, slowed by a shoulder injury, hasn’t returned a kick or a punt longer than 29 yards.

Duke, on the other hand, is one of only three FBS teams with two or more kickoff returns of 60 yards or more. Redshirt sophomore safety DeVon Edwards had a 61-yard return versus Troy and sophomore receiver Johnell Barnes brought one back 60 yards versus Elon. Duke blocked a field goal against Kansas and both its punter Will Monday and kicker Ross Martin are considered two of the best in the country at their position. Martin is the school’s all-time leading scorer, a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals with a career long of 53 yards and he’s made 82 consecutive extra points. Monday is averaging 42.1 yards a punt. He’s had three go longer than 50 yards and six pinned inside the 20.

> Prediction: Miami 45, Duke 41. Somehow, some way Miami is going to find a way to win this in wild fashion behind Kaaya and Johnson. 

September 24, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' injury update: Goudis, Gall, Scott are out for Duke -- and more.

    Hurricanes coach Al Golden indicated Wednesday during his pre-game news conference that receiver Rashawn Scott, backup offensive guard Alex Gall and kicker Matt Goudis are “not ready’’ to play Saturday against Duke (4-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).

   Scott, recovering from a clavicle (collarbone) injury, was expected to play sooner, the coach said.

    “I thought he’d be ready last week, so I’m disappointed he’s not ready this week,’’ Golden said. “We’re getting to that point of the season where we have to figure it out. We have a lot of football left, though, obviously. We haven’t kicked the ball off in the Coastal. We’ll see where that plays out this week.’’

   A source said Gall has issues with his back.

   Freshman defensive end Chad Thomas also had a back-related situation – severe spasms – that  kept him from traveling to Nebraska last week.

   Thomas has two tackles in three games.

   “He did a little more [Wednesday] and I’m hopeful that he’ll do even more tomorrow,’’ Golden said of Thomas. “Right now, we’re hopeful that he’ll be ready to go for Saturday. We need him. We need depth. He’s at a position where we don’t have a lot of depth and obviously, he was just starting to play really well for us when he got dinged up.

   “We’re still unsure of what event caused that – the spasms. We may never know. It might have been the gradual result of something. But he’s definitely doing better, he’s running better, good attitude [Wednesday], and he’s very smart.

    “I don’t think he’s going to get too far behind mentally, but we’re hopeful Chad will help us this week.’’

    The Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1) will go with freshman kicker Michael Badgley for the third consecutive game on Saturday.

     Goudis, a junior, has been in too much pain to kick. His injury is believed to be back-related.

   Badgley, 5-10 and 180 pounds, is a walk-on from Summit, N.J. He hit his only field-goal attempt – a 34-yarder – last Saturday at Nebraska. He has missed one extra point in 10 attempts.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

      

Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball team dealt more bad news

 
The season is less than two months away, and the University of Miami men's basketball team was dealt another dose of bad news.
 
Ivan Cruz Uceda, a native of Spain and junior college transfer, will be ineligible for the first half of the season, Coach Jim Larrañaga announced Wednesday. His suspension, coupled with the loss of sophomore guard Davon Reed for four to six months following leg surgery, leaves the Canes with just nine scholarship players to start the season. Seven of them are newcomers to the roster.
 
Cruz Uceda is suspended due to an obscure NCAA rule that requires a student-athlete to enroll in college one year after high school graduation. Uceda turns 23 on Oct. 24, and played at Harcum (Pa.) College before signing with the Hurricanes.

"We feel very bad for Ivan,” said Larrañaga. “Sitting out half of the season is very tough on him and us. Ivan is working very hard to prepare himself for when he does become eligible.  He is an excellent rebounder and skilled big man.  It is unfortunate that he is being impacted in such a way. We will miss him greatly during the first half of the year." 

Cruz Uceda will be able to practice with the team, but will not be available to play until the game against Duke on Jan. 13 in Durham, N.C. At 6-10 and 240 pounds, he was expected to be a key rebounder for the Canes, and showed great promise during the team's exhibition tour in Spain -- averaging 11 rebounds per game.

At Harcum College, he averaged 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds last season. He was named to the All-National Tournament Team as he led his team to the NJCAA Division I National Semifinals. Cruz Uceda set school records for rebounds in a game (29) and career (635), and left the school as the fourth-highest scorer in Harcum history with 957 points.

Miami opens the 2014-15 season Nov. 6 with a home exhibition against Eckerd College. The regular season opens Nov. 14 against Howard.
 
MICHELLE KAUFMAN

September 23, 2014

Canes return to practice field, try to find answers on defense

The Miami Hurricanes were back out at Greentree Field Tuesday morning for their first practice since Saturday night's deflating 41-31 loss at Nebraska as they began preparing for this weekend's important showdown with defending Coastal Division champion Duke (4-0).

Coach Al Golden, who gave the team a day off on Monday to rest and recover, didn't speak with reporters but was there to coach his team in the morning. He left the school shortly after practice to be with his family. Golden has been dealing with a family emergency since the team returned from Lincoln in the wee hours Sunday morning.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Golden has been at UM everyday since the team returned from Lincoln. Golden will have his weekly press conference, usually scheduled for Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"Al’s a professional and he’s going through something right now, but he does a great job of being able to continue to get the message across to the team," D'Onofrio said. "At the end of the day, this is our job and there’s a lot of people that depend on us. We have to continue to do everything that we’re doing. So, you know, we got back off the plane and went right back to work and we’ve been working ever since to get ready for this game.”

TALKING DEFENSE

Most of the questions Tuesday naturally revolved around Miami's defense, which gave up 343 rushing yards in Saturday's loss. Considering Duke scorched Miami for 358 yards on the ground in last year's 48-30 romp in Durham, fixing what went wrong in Lincoln is Miami's top focus this week.

Much like Golden said during his teleconference with the media on Monday, D'Onofrio said Miami's breakdowns were a lack of execution, not scheme.

Despite fans and former players complaining about Miami playing too far off the ball, D'Onofrio, like Golden before him, said coaches called run blitzes and pressures about 60 percent of the time. In the end, Miami netted no tackles for loss against Nebraska. D'Onofrio said there were too many missed tackles to count and "yards after contact were a big issue."

"It comes down to execution and trust in your training," D'Onofrio said. "I can promise you that every call that we make is designed to have somebody make a tackle, behind or at the line of scrimmage. I can promise you everyone of them is designed to do that. We wouldn’t want to change that if that was the design. We've got to get the players to execute better.

"As far as philosophically, we go into a game knowing what we want to stop, and you have to have a free player to stop the guy who has the ball. That’s not going to change. So, as long as that’s sound -- we've got to continue to work through the execution."

Asked why the team can't win big games with the talent it has, D'Onofrio responded: "At the end of the day, talent is not enough. Execution is what you need to have," he said. "I’ve been talking about that here for a long time. You have to execute. If you don’t have a guy in his gap, it doesn’t matter how talented he is. The gap’s open and somebody runs through it. That has nothing to do with talent. Defensive football is about execution. And if a talented player is not in his gap and not doing his job, you get exposed. If a talented player is in his gap and makes the tackle then you don't get exposed. At the end of the day that's what defensive football is about.”

Linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive end Anthony Chickillo both defended D'Onofrio's play-calling saying it's up to the players to execute what he calls.

"Coach D is one of the best football minds I’ve been around," Chickillo said. "He probably is the best football mind. His football IQ is unbelievable and he puts us in the right position to make plays. People just have to make them."

Said Perryman: "Yeah. It's not coach man. I ain't going to lie. I try to ignore the outside noise, but when I hear stuff like that it bothers me a lot. It's not coach, you know. Coach D'Onofrio does a great job putting us in the best [positions] and the best situations where we need to be. It's just us up to execute. Like I said, we had a lot of freelancing going on."

Freelancing was a problem last year against Duke and the Blue Devils, who also run a read option offense, return most of the same players who shredded Miami last season. 

"Last year is last year, but at the same time we can't forget about last year," Perryman said. "For me, I know it serves as motivation and I know for a lot of other guys it's the same thing."

D'Onofrio said he believes his players understand the scheme, and are getting coached hard and with great detail. 

"I think if you talk to our players right now and you said, 'Hey do you know what you need to do in the scheme? Are you seeing what you need to see?' I think they would tell you 'Yes,'" D'Onofrio said. "But again, at the end of the day, I have to get them to execute that."

NO SUSPENSIONS

Although offensive coordinator James Coley said Tuesday the team is still awaiting word on whether or not players who came off the bench and participated in an on-field skirmish Saturday might be suspended by the ACC, a source told The Miami Herald the matter has already been resolved.

There will be no suspensions because there was no fight on the field, the source said. Miami was penalized with two personal fouls. The ACC reviewed the issue over the weekend.

> Receiver Rashawn Scott was back in a limited yellow practice jersey Tuesday for the first time since injuring his shoulder.

“I’m waiting for him to come back,” Coley told InsideTheU.com. “He’s got to feel comfortable. It wasn’t just that he had it dislocated, it was that they had to surgically go in there, cut, and when you do that it’s always complicated.”

> According to InsideTheU.com, quarterback Brad Kaaya took 87 percent of his snaps in the shotgun at Nebraska. Coley explained why. 

"We figured that we could use our speed in the perimeter and we got pretty good at our runs out of the shotgun," he said. "At the time we felt pretty confident we could get ourselves into two or three play checks on the field in the shotgun and it would be fast for the quarterback to see it. Plus, Duke runs the ball really well in the gun as well. He runs the ball pretty well in the i-formation too. He's dual-threat with that. It timed up with where we're at right now."

Coley said Kaaya has been asking him to give him more and more from the playbook week-to-week. 

"I think you can't force your hands on players and force them to do things they can't do," Coley said. "I think as guys are able to do things you expand and you're able to throw more at them. It's kind of like how big is your bucket? I think 15 has done a great job. He's part of all this. To this point, he's like I want more. And he can handle it. He really can."

> Coley said Duke Johnson will continue to get the same workload he's been receiving -- even after his costly fumble at Nebraska. "He made a lot of big plays in that game as well," Coley said. "He had over 170 yards or something and made tons of plays. I told him to keep his head up. He's going to have those same opportunities every week because he's a great player. He's very conscious of ball security."

> Miami's offensive coordinator said receiver Stacy Coley's shoulder is better, but what has to improve is his ability to get open. "He came out here today and he was flying around. He looked really good today," James Coley said. "He's just got to get uncovered."

> Defensive tackle Michael Wyche didn't play at Nebraska. "We are trying to continue to get him ready and develop him," D'Onofrio said. "We are getting him reps during the week. I think he is in better shape and he has improved every week. Now it is about has he improved enough to go into a game like that? He is moving in the right direction with his conditioning. He just has to continue to improve."

> I made an appearance on the Marc Hochman show with Zack Krantz on WQAM this afternoon to talk Canes football. Here is the link to the audio from it.

September 22, 2014

UM ranked among Top 20 baseball recruiting classes for 2014-15, per Collegiate Baseball

This just in from UM...

 

RECRUITING CLASS RANKED TOP 20 BY COLLEGIATE BASEBALL 
Three MLB draftees among 14-member group joining for 2015


TUSCON, Ariz. –
 The Miami Hurricanes baseball recruiting class for the 2014-15 season was ranked among the top 20 in the country by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the publication announced Monday.

The Hurricanes’ 14-member class, comprised of 13 freshmen and one junior college transfer, was tied for No. 20 nationwide. The class continues a long stretch of recruiting success for Miami, which featured a top 10-rated class in each of the last two seasons by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.

Three players from the class were selected in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft: junior infielder George Iskenderian (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Indian River State College), freshman outfielder Carl Chester (Longwood, Fla., Lake Brantley HS) and freshman pitcher Michael Mediavilla (Hialeah, Fla., Mater Academy).

Miami’s class was tied with Florida State for the third-best class in the Atlantic Coast Conference, trailing only Virginia (No. 9) and North Carolina (No. 11). The class will be joining a group of returners who helped lead the Hurricanes to the 2014 ACC Regular Season Championship – the second in program history.

Joining Miami’s three selections from the June MLB Draft in the signing class are: Ryan Alvarez (Miami, Fla., Christopher Columbus HS), Rafa Manau (Weston, Fla., St. Thomas Aquinas), Nick Bottari (Wading River, N.Y., Montverde Academy), Peter Crotcitto (Palm City, Fla., South Fork HS), Daniel Epstein (Weston Fla., University School), Andy Honiotes (Geneva, Ill., Geneva Community HS), Jesse Lepore (Beverly Hills, Fla., Trinity Catholic), Devin Meyer (Coral Springs, Fla., Coral Springs Christian Academy), Keven Pimentel (Wading River, N.Y., Montverde Academy), Justin Smith (St. John’s, Fla., Bartram Trail HS) and Luke Spangler (Cape Coral, Fla., Cape Coral HS).

Miami opens fall practice on Oct. 20. All practices will take place at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field and are open to the public. For more information, follow @CanesBaseball on Twitter, @TheUBaseball on Instagram, or LIKE Miami Baseball on Facebook.

Golden stands firm on complaints from fans, talks specifics on defensive woes

Al Golden spoke with reporters for roughly 20 minutes this morning about a lot of different topics in the aftermath of Miami's 41-31 loss at Nebraska that dropped the Canes to 2-2.

He was asked plenty about Miami's porous defense, which gave up 343 yards rushing to the Cornhuskers. But it was the last question from our Susan Miller Degnan that brought out maybe one of the more interesting responses from the coach, who continues to defend the scheme Miami is running. 

Q: I know this has happened before during your tenure but regarding the defense, fans are being very vocal and open and upset regarding [defensive coordinator] Mark D’Onofrio and the job they think he doesn’t do, or does do. How do you deal with that and keep that out? It’s obviously out there. How do you keep that pressure from getting to everyone?

"We don’t read it. We don’t listen to it. We don’t look at it. I think the biggest thing for us is to just move forward. We’ve got a great opportunity here. We haven’t played a Coastal game yet. If we’re really honest, from what I understand there were a lot of the same people that wanted [offensive coordinator] James [Coley] fired after the first game.

    Again, I think for us, we’ve got to block all of that out. I’m sure there were people that didn’t believe in Brad Kaaya the way that we believed in him. I can go down the line of those decisions that we have to make. Obviously, you can’t please everybody. It’s really not about that. It’s about doing whatever is best for your ball club. Our guys right now, we have to move forward. We can’t sit around and complain. It’s not going to help execute. It’s not going to help us win the game against Duke.

    Really, right now what we need to do is just stick together and everybody, starting with me, take accountability for what didn’t go right.

   But let’s also take a deep breath and say, ‘Alright, man, how close were we to winning that game in that environment?’ And be proud of the guys that played the way we want them to play, and get those guys to grow, because a lot of guys did grow up in that game. So, make sure we don’t throw that out with all the negativity.

   Get those guys to grow, take accountability for our errors, fix them, improve them and then let’s move forward on a unified front going into Duke week. That make sense?”

Q: Saturday night was it scheme or execution on the defensive side or was it case that Ameer Abdullah was that good? 

"[Ameer] Abdullah is good. It's an offense that was averaging 600 yards coming into the game per game and 47 points. So we knew exactly what we were looking at. The kid was good. Did we help them by making some unforced errors? Yeah. The first touchdown that they threw to [Kenny] Bell was an error. So we got them off to a fast start through the air. So now you're trying to defend the air, plus the running quarterback. Again, there's no excuses. It starts and ends with me in terms of that. We didn't make them. It's as simple as that. We pressured close to 60 percent on first and second down. We didn't make them pay with tackles for loss. That 17-play drive they had I think we only forced two third downs and they converted both of them. We did not get them off track enough. We did not create more third and long, which would have been advantageous for anybody against what amounts to an option team. You can't put that much time into those aspects of the game and the running game like they are. We didn't force that. At the end of the day, we have to do a better job -- that's everybody. That's tackling, play calling, personnel, whatever it is. We have to look at everything and learn from that and then move forward and get ready for Duke tomorrow."

Q: Were DBs, safeties playing too far off the ball? 

"No. I don't think we were too far [off the ball]. There weren't too many passes. We allocated a lot of people down [in the box]. We were zone pressuring 60 percent of the time on first and second down. You're in eight-man fronts the whole time. So we missed a lot of tackles. We did not make them pay by getting [a tackle for loss]. The quarterback ran proficiently, which we were worried about. Him in conjunction with an All-American tailback they both get going and it causes you problems. Again, we have to look all that take responsibility for it and move forward."

> Golden said the family emergency he had to deal with Sunday will not affect the team's preparation for Duke.

Golden didn't want to get into the specifics of what he was dealing with, but said: "We have a good staff around us. We're still working through something, but again we have a good staff. I'm trying to work as much as I can between deals here."

> Golden said players came in for treatment Monday and that he asked them to spend 90 minutes with their position coaches. But he wanted them to take the day off and rest for the most part. The team will resume practice and preparation for Duke on Tuesday morning.

> This was my take this morning on the Big O Show on WQAM

Hurricanes Coach Al Golden talks about Chad Thomas, negativity and UM's (lack of) defense

Al Golden spoke to WQAM's Joe Rose early Monday morning. We did not get him yesterday in his ususal day-after-game teleconference because of a "medical emergency'' in his family, according to a written statement by UM last night.

We will talk to Al later this morning.

Here's an update on freshman defensive end Chad Thomas, who was seen on the sidelines of the Booker T. Washington High game Friday night, and didn't travel with the team because of what UM previously said was muscle spasms.

 GOLDEN: "Chad on Thursday had acute back spasms. He couldn’t even stand up right. We took him to the doctor on Thursday and it was an issue with his back. We wanted to see if we could get him to the point where he could relax and function on Friday. So he was a late scratch at about 12 noon on Friday. Doctors didn’t think the six hours on an airplane back and forth was going to help him in the long run. They treated him through the weekend here and it sounds like he’ll be ready to go when we practice tomorrow. It’s not a long-term issue. If anybody is reading into it, that’s absolutely wrong. Chad is a leader, he’s been a model player for us. We obviously needed him. We did not have the depth we needed for as long as we were on the field the other night. Hopefully we’ll get Chad back this week."

 ROSE:...How do you learn how to win games and not make mistakes?

 "I thought we were right there. I thought we were right on the cusp. There are a lot of things we’ve got to fix. We’re not perfect and we are far from where we need to be but there are a lot of things we can learn from going into that environment and that’s what I don’t want to get lost in that negativity because we did lose, so no one likes to lose, but what I don’t want the team to lose is the preparation, the intensity, how hard they fought, the confidence they had going into the game. You as a coach, you could feel it on the sideline. Two years ago, when a lot of these guys were young and just starting off we go into Notre Dame and you could kind of feel they weren’t... the game was a little different. This one, there was no doubt we were going to win the game.

 "So, we didn’t play well enough in certain aspects. But I don’t want to throw it all out. I want to make sure the guys learn that they were right there, they loved the environment, I can honestly that, that  they relished it, they were flying around, they were excited about being in that environment. We’ve just got to play better in all three phases to win a game like that. It’s hard to win on the road in that environment with three turnovers. ..we just needed one more takeaway, one more explosive play on special teams or something like that – a sack-fumble, anything like that, or to protect the ball one more time and maybe it’s a different story."

ROSE: Is it hard, your patience, as far as how long it’s taken because, let’s face it, Canes are used to winning down here.. a lot of people are all fired up?

 GOLDEN: "That’s what makes the place great, so I appreciate that. But at the end of the day we’ve got a job to do, and our job is to get this thing… Look, we’ve never won the ACC. Now we’re entering ACC play. Forget about Coastal Play, forget about what’s transpired. Let’s learn what we can learn from it. We’ve got to turn the page quickly. From our standpoint – from our players’ standpoint; I’m not talking about the fans. The fans can say whatever they want. But from our players’ standpoint, being negative, or dwelling on the past and not learning, that’s the stuff that’s going to prevent us from playing well this week. So we’ve just got to do what we need to do this week to play well, take it one game at a time now and just settle in. It’s going to be a long road here."

 ROSE: ...You gave up 343 yards... did you think about trying to put more people up and force them to throw the ball. Did you make the adjustments?

 GOLDEN: “Nobody’s happy after that performance, and it starts with me. Obviously [RB Ameer Abdullah] is a good player. We never got them off track. [QB Tommy] Armstrong did enough passing and had some explosive plays. Armstrong is a good runner. You’ve got to treat it like the option. We did not do a good job of getting them any losses. So we didn’t have any sacks and if we had any types of a loss they were minimal.

   "In terms of our first or second-down breakdown I think we were 55-percent pressure. When you play a team like this, when they do spread you out, pressure, a lot of times they just kick the ball out and now you’re playing in space with less guys. So, there has got to be that mix, and clearly it wasn’t good enough. I’m answering your questions. I’m not making excuses. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. We did not do a good enough job on defense. Our tackling wasn’t what it needed to be. We didn’t stop the run. The money downs killed us, it left us on the field too long. And that helped Nebraska in terms of our tackling deterioration."

Rose asked about UM's D-line: 

GOLDEN: "We’ve got to do better. There’s no excuse."

   Golden talked about how the three-and-outs on offense hurt them, because Nebraska had the ball “for what seemed like for an eternity’’ in second and third quarters.” Golden talked about Nebraska’s long, extended drives. “The reality is the defense did not get off the field on third downs, which just left us on the field too long….”

   Then the coach pointed out that in one of the long drives there was only two third-down situations.

   “We didn’t get enough losses and we didn’t tackle well enough.’’  

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

 

 

 

September 21, 2014

Notes, quotes and observations after Saturday's loss at Nebraska

Notes, quotes and observations from Saturday night's 41-31 loss at Nebraska:

> It's now safe to say the improvement we saw on run defense by the Hurricanes over their first three games was simply a mirage. Nebraska became the fourth team to run for over 300 yards on the Hurricanes since Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio came to town in 2011. In all, 15 opponents have gashed the Canes for 200 yards or more since 2011. Here's a trip down memory lane.

MOST RUSHING YARDS VS. GOLDEN/D'ONOFRIO
376 - Notre Dame, 2012
358 - Duke, 2013
343 - Nebraska, 2014
335 - Georgia Tech, 2013
288 - Kansas State, 2012
287 - Georgia Tech, 2012
272 - North Carolina, 2012
265 - Kansas State, 2011
243 - Virginia, 2013
233 - Bethune-Cookman, 2012
224 - N.C. State, 2012
222 - Virginia Tech, 2012
220 - Pittsburgh, 2013
218 - Florida State, 2012
207 - Virginia, 2011

> For some perspective, Miami gave up 200 yards rushing nine times when Randy Shannon was the head coach, but only twice did a team put up more than 300: 472 by Georgia Tech in 2008 and 308 by Georgia Tech in 2010.

> The sickening part of Nebraska's 343-yard performance really is that the Hurricanes knew the Cornhuskers were going to run and still couldn't stop Ameer Abdullah and quarterback Tommy Armstrong in their zone read option attack. Nebraska only threw the ball 13 times.

That's the fewest a UM defense has seen an opponent throw in a 300-yard-plus rushing game since Georgia Tech threw it only seven times on the night they scorched Miami for a record 472 rushing yards in 2008. Nebraska by the way only threw it four times in the second half and ran it 25 times for 169 yards over the final two quarters.

> Asked after the game in Lincoln by Hurricanes reporters if it was time to change Miami's defensive scheme, Golden responded: “We didn’t tackle well enough. We came up against a good back. We turned the ball over three times.

"Look, I don’t know what you want me to say," he continued. "There’s no excuse for not tackling. There’s no excuse for not doing better on third down. But, we are not giving up on the scheme. We’ve made a lot of progress so far this year. We didn’t play well enough tonight. That’s it. Against a good team on the road. We turned the ball over three times and had a lot of selfish penalties."

> Miami missed tackles  and didn't get enough push up field on the defensive line (Miami had no tackles for loss) but these aren't new problems. It's been this way for four years -- and not just against Nebraska. Abdullah told ESPN in the week leading up to the game Miami had a physical defense, but he liked playing against those kinds of defenses because he could bounce off tacklers. 

Scheme is one thing (UM rarely crowded the box), but there were countless instances Saturday when instead of trying to wrap up the ball carrier players were trying to deliver the big hit. Safety Deon Bush cashed in once coming up with a forced fumble on Armstrong. But that was it. Abdullah actually dropped a ball, but it was on his own on a bad exchange. UM could not recover that one.

D'Onofrio did try corner and safety run blitzes. But the biggest miscues I saw were made by linebackers and ends not sticking with their assignments or responsibilities. They also whiffed a few times.

> As for the good, quarterback Brad Kaaya is at the top of that list. For a 19-year old true freshman starting his fourth game in college he played good enough to win. Yes, he threw two interceptions (another was negated by a penalty). But he was tough as nails and not afraid to stand in there and take a hit. He's the biggest reason for hope moving forward. He finished 28 of 42 for 359 yards, three scores. 

"There's no question Brad is going to be a really good football player, a heck of a football player," Golden told WQAM. "The environment is not too big for him. I thought we did a heck of a job protecting him. We did a great job picking up their pressures, giving him time. I thought he answered the bell. I can't imagine what kind of night he would have had if we didn't turn it over three times. 

> Phillip Dorsett made a heck of a catch in the fourth quarter against the defenders helmet for a 32-yard gain. Somehow, though, the fastest guy on the team isn't the one getting bubble screens thrown his way. He had just two catches after last week's explosive 201-yard, 2 TD performance. He had just one deep ball thrown his way aside from the 32-yarder down the sideline, and he he and Kaaya weren't on the same page for it. Nebraska was smart to take the deep ball away from Miami playing its safeties deep for most of the game.

> I thought tight end Clive Walford could have fought harder on Kaaya's first interception, but he bounced back and played well the rest of the way. He finished with seven catches for 80 yards and a score.

> Braxton Berrios finally looked like a freshman -- for a moment. He dropped what would have been a first down, but still had a nice night overall with four catches for 43 yards and a score. I think he's the best one-on-one receiver on the team. He made a nice 23-yard catch on a third down. He's definitely one for the first guys Kaaya looks for when he's in trouble.

> Until the fourth quarter, Miami's offensive line kept Randy Gregory and Nebraska's pass rush quiet. Gus Edwards whiffed on the block that allowed Gregory to sack Kaaya on the opening play of the fourth quarter. UM eventually had to settle for a field goal after right guard Danny Isidora was beaten to the inside on a designed draw play for Duke Johnson.

All in all, though, I liked what I saw from the offensive line because Kaaya had plenty of time to throw and they got his back when he was hit cheaply by Nebraska's defense. Both center Shane McDermott and Jon Feliciano came to his defense on multiple occasions. That's a good sign.

> Duke Johnson had 93 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown and had some really nice runs. But we're only going to remember the fumble that changed the momentum of the game in the third quarter and led to a 57-yard touchdown return for the Cornhuskers. Afterward, Duke took the blame.

“[It was] me just thinking the play was over instead of me protecting the ball knees to the ground," he said of the fumble. "That was just mishaps on my behalf. I should have made sure I hit the ground and give the ball to the ref like I’m told. I think that was one the play that actually changed the game in a big one.” 

> Tracy Howard had an interception -- Miami's second of the season on a really bad decision by Armstrong and a heck of a diving catch. Maybe it will get Howard, who has struggled early, going. 

> Miami's secondary looked bad on the opening drive when it gave up the 40-yard touchdown pass to Armstrong. Golden told WQAM the play was "an unforced error." Artie Burns delivered a nice hit to break up a pass, but missed Abdullah on a tackle on the swing pass for a TD and also got beat on a key third down pass. With better form on the attempted tackle of Abdullah the Hurricanes might have held Nebraska to just a field goal there.

> Miami didn't have any major miscues on special teams and freshman walk-on kicker Michael Badgley made a 34-yard field goal in a tough environment. Call it a great week for that group. 

> Miami will take on Duke (4-0) at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

September 20, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Canes (2-1) will take on Nebraska Saturday night at Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2

As usual, feel free to participate in our Cover-It-Live discussion while Susan Miller Degnan and I cover the game. We'll pull in Tweets and provide you with updates throughout the game.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska: Sept. 20, 2014
Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska: Sept. 20, 2014
 

Breaking it down: Canes-Huskers

MIAMI (2-1) AT No. 24 NEBRASKA (3-0)

> Kickoff, TV: 8 p.m., Memorial Stadium, ESPN2 

> History: It's the first regular season meeting between the teams since 1976, but the Canes and Huskers have met plenty of times since including most recently in the 2002 national championship game won by Miami 37-14 in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska is 3-0 against Miami in Lincoln. The series is tied 5-5.

> Spread: Nebraska favored by 7 1/2 points

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (two on defense), 18 four-star recruits (nine on each side), 27 three-star recruits (14 on offense), 1 two-star recruit (defense) and 2 no-star recruits (defense) on their depth chart. Among that group, nine of those players are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: RB Duke Johnson (2nd RD), MLB Denzel Perryman (2nd RD), LT Ereck Flowers (2nd RD), CB Ladarius Gunter (4th RD), WR Phillip Dorsett (4th-5th RD), DE Anthony Chickillo (4th-5th RD), TE Clive Walford (5th RD), LG Jon Feliciano (6th-7th RD), DL Olsen Pierre (6th-7th). 

> Counting stars - Nebraska: Cornhuskers have no five-star recruits, 13 four-star recruits (8 on defense), 29 three-star recruits (15 on offense), three two-star recruits (2 on offense) and four no-star recruits on defense on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are DE Randy Gregory (1st RD), RB Ameer Abdullah (2nd RD), WR Kenny Bell (6th RD), and SS Cory Cooper (7th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed backup guard Alex Gall, kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. We think fullback Walter Tucker (ankle) is questionable at best and we know true freshman defensive end Chad Thomas did not make the trip. Nebraska receivers Brandon Reilly and Sam Burtch -- reserves -- have lingering injuries and are questionable. 

> Background: Nebraska is 39-5 all-time in night games at home. Of those 39 wins, 30 have been by at least 13 points. Nebraska's five home losses in night games have all come against teams that have won at least 10 games in that season (Washington, 1991; Texas, 2002; USC, 2007; Virginia Tech and Missouri, 2008). Miami's recent history in big games kind of stinks. The Hurricanes are 0-9 under Al Golden against teams that finished in the AP Top 25 or had more than eight wins in their season. This Nebraska team has won at least nine games in six consecutive seasons. 

> Nebraska offense versus Miami defense: The stats show us the Hurricanes are better on defense this season, but they were also pretty good after three relatively easy wins to start the 2013 season too. Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister and a Miami defense that has produced 11 sacks, but just one interception is going to have its hands full.

Led by star tailback Ameer Abdullah, college football’s active leader in career all-purpose yards, dual-threat quarterback Tommy Armstrong (10-1 as a starter), and senior receiver Kenny Bell (No.2 all-time in Nebraska receiving), the Cornhuskers have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Nebraska is averaging 47 points (10th), 594.3 yards (fifth), 324.3 rushing yards (eighth) and is tied for the national lead with nine plays of 40 yards or more. Last year, the Hurricanes gave up an average of 41.7 points and 538 yards in the three games they played against teams that finished in the AP Top 25. All were blowout losses.

Nebraska’s offensive line isn’t loaded with experience, but the Cornhuskers have allowed just one sack and three quarterback hurries in the first three games. The left side, anchored by junior tackle Alex Lewis (6-6, 290), a transfer from Colorado, and senior guard and captain Jake Cotton (6-6, 305), has 32 games’ worth of combined starting experience. The rest of the line has 13 combined starts. Right tackle Zach Sterup (6-8, 320) is the only starter who was tabbed higher than a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. 

The key for Miami will be containing Abdullah and Armstrong and what it does on third down. Opponents have been in third-and-long situations 15 times this season and have converted first downs seven times. Overall on third down, Miami’s defense has given up a first down half the time opponents have decided to throw (12 of 24) against it. Nebraska is coverting at 45 percent on third -- middle of the pack right now.

> Miami offense versus Nebraska defense: Quarterback Brad Kaaya had his coming out party last week against Arkansas State, throwing for a UM true-freshman record 342 yards and four touchdowns on 16-of-24 passing. The most encouring part -- he hit the deep ball. Phillip Dorsett has been one of the nation's most explosive receivers this season, averaging a little more than 35 yards per catch. That should help keep Nebraska's defense honest this week and not allow the Cornhuskers to crowd the box on Duke Johnson, who is fresh as a daisy (averaging just 14 carries a game coming in).

Golden said the reason McNeese State, ranked sixth nationally in the FCS poll, was able to hang with Nebraska until Abdullah beat them late in the game was because their quarterback did a great job executing. In order to do that Kaaya will need time. They didn't give him enough in the opener at Louisville. Golden cited poor communication at Louisville as part of the reason why the offensive line struggled against the Cardinals, who produced two sacks, six quarterback hurries and didn’t give running Johnson much in the way of running lanes as they crowded the box. One big difference since the Louisville game: Hurricanes offensive line coach Art Kehoe, who was up in the coach’s box against the Cardinals, has been down on the field alongside his players. He will be again Saturday for the third straight game. 

Nebraska is ranked 18th in total defense (294.7 yards), 19th in passing yards allowed (165.3 yards) and 20th in scoring defense (16.7 points). Randy Gregory, 6-6 and 248 pounds, led the Big Ten with 10 1/2 sacks last season and is part of a pretty formidable front line. Nebraska has created 22 tackles for loss (tied for 14th nationally). Nebraska though has just one interception.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes have been a mess in kickoff coverage. They've missed extra points, had a bad snap that led to a TD and have yet to have walk-on freshman Michael Badgley attempt a field goal. Justin Vogel's punting average of 45.8 yards has been good, but not spectacular. Nebraska has Sam Foltz who is averaging 47.3 yards per attempt. Six of his 13 punts have gone inside the opponent's 20. Nebraska is 4-of-5 on field goal attempts with a long of 44. Both teams have explosive playmakers in the return game, but only Nebraska's De'Mornay Pierson-El has taken a kick back for a score. He returned a punt 86-yards for a score last Saturday at Fresno State.

> Prediction: Nebraska 34-24. Hard to have faith in the Canes when they have yet to give us a big performance over a good team. Maybe they are due. 

September 18, 2014

Details of the first incident report that led to Kevin Olsen's arrest affidavit

   An incident report from Sunday night (Sept. 14) that led to the DUI and stolen/fictitious driver's license arrest-affidavit regarding former University of Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen, indicated that Olsen and other friends were at the apartment of walk-on receiver Greg Golden -- the nephew of UM football coach Al Golden -- but that Greg Golden said he was unaware of what happened during the episode that led to Olsen's arrest.

  According to the incident report from South Miami police, police were responding to two victims who said "that unknown subject(s) were seen urinating on their bicycles'' from the fourth floor balcony of Greg Golden's apartment.

  The report said the victims told police the "unknown subject(s) threw a can of 'Four Lokos' beer from the balcony at them and shouted a racial slur stating 'We're going to piss on your [expletive] Arabic asses.'''

      Greg Golden told police, according to the incident report, that "he was unaware of what occurred but knew his friends were in the apartment earlier that evening.''

    After police advised Greg Golden of what happened, the report states Greg Golden said "he'd call his friends back" to the apartment "for further investigation."

   According to the incident report, while police were speaking with the victims, Olsen arrived at the apartment location.

   The two victims told police they recogized Olsen, but were unable to identify if he was the person involved in the incident.

   No charges were filed. Victims were advised to take the case to the state attorney if they chose to press charges at a later time.

   Olsen, though, was arrested for the DUI and other charge.

   Olsen is no longer a student at UM.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

UM Sports Hall of Famer Bill Diaz, 89, died today.

I did not know this man, but I've heard he was really special. UM just sent this out. Married 66 years and a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame. Check out his accomplishments. This was written by Camron Ghorbi, UM assistant director of communications for athletics. Coach Diaz was 89 years old.

Susan Miller Degnan.

 

UM MOURNS LOSS OF LONGTIME COACH BILL DIAZ
Legendary figure helped establish swimming & diving programs at Miami


MIAMI –
 Bill Diaz, who served as the University of Miami swimming & diving coach for 14 illustrious seasons, passed away Thursday morning at his Palmetto Bay home.

    “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Diaz,” Athletics Director Blake James said. “Bill established our swimming & diving program as a model for others to follow, and turned the University of Miami into an epicenter for national and international swimming.”

Diaz, who was tapped into Iron Arrow – the highest honor attained at the University of Miami – in 1995, coached the Hurricanes to four top 10 NCAA Championships finishes and ended in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships 11 times. His men’s teams won three national independent championships (1974, 1977, 1982), while his 1975 women’s squad won six individual national titles – the most ever by a Hurricanes team in a single year.

Under Diaz’ direction in 1973, Miami became the first college in the United States to offer women swimming scholarships. Two years later, the Hurricanes women’s swimming & diving team won the first of back-to-back AIAW National Championships.

The UM Sports Hall of Fame inductee coached 55 collegiate All-Americans during his time with the Hurricanes. In 2007, the University of Miami and the City of Coral Gables recognized him with the installation of an electronic scoreboard at UM’s Norman Whitten Student Union Pool and named it in his honor.

Diaz’ accomplishments on the international scene were equally as impressive. He served on staff or managed five USA National swimming teams, including the USA team that took first at the World Aquatic Championships in 1982.

Prior to his years as head coach of the Hurricanes, Bill had a very successful career as a high school coach.  Between 1953 and 1970, Bill guided first Miami Jackson High and then Miami Springs High to a total of nine state titles. 

“On behalf of the University of Miami family, I extend our thought and prayers to the Diaz family.  Bill was and always will be a member of the Hurricanes family and his legacy will live on through the young men and women who represent our great institution.“

Bill is survived by Martha, his wife of 66 years, his three sons Bill, John and Rick, their wives Rosana, Tracey and Chrissy, his sister Alice Elmore, five grandchildren, five great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at Oak Lawn Memorial North, located at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn, 3344 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL.

In lieu of flowers, the family is request contributions in Coach Diaz’ honor be directed to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, in care of Executive Director John Routh:

UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

 

 



Emptying my Canes notebook: D'Onofrio, Coley see improvements; why Berrios is good; o-line

Time to empty this week's reporter's notebook: 

After three games what is defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio most proud of in terms of his unit's overall growth?

"I think they have really good leadership and unity," he said. "Those are things that we've been looking for. You can go a long way with that. They have taken ownership in the defense." 

What would he like to see his unit do better? "I would have liked to see us be better on third down," he said. "I would like to see us better on balls down the field that we didn't come up with. Those are some of the things -- and some tackling. Those are some of the things that I know if we don't improve on will cost us here moving forward. My urgency is here everyday. Let's talk about what we're doing well, but let's always keep inside what we have to improve on and let's have a plan for it."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley said something clicked for Brad Kaaya in the Thursday practice leading up to last Saturday's win over Arkansas State. The two were discussing concepts where Coley said Kaaya turned to him and said 'I've got it.'

"He just didn't miss after that," Coley said. "His feet were very calm."

Coley said Kaaya (29 of 51 passing, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs versus Louisville and Florida A&M) made faster reads and better decisions against Arkansas State. He also had more time to throw and nearly all of his throws were on the money. Only two of his incompletions were the product of being hurried and the other was a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State.

"He was just lighting it up," Coley said. "Whether it was a 70-yard throw or a 35-yard over route or seeing that corner blitz. He hits Phil [Dorsett] in stride. With a hard blitz, corner off the edge, that's tough and he spotted it, he banged it. He didn't rush it. You watch it on film. He sped up his process and it's six points instead of a first down."

> Freshman receiver Braxton Berrios has turned into Hurricanes' money man.

He's been targeted a team-leading 17 times and the ball has been thrown his way on money downs (third and fourth down) eight times. He's produced five first downs (one on a pass interference call). He's currently tied for the team lead with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Why is he so good on third down? "No. 1 the reads take the quarterback there on third down," Coley said. "He's a good player. He knows how to run his routes with the right tempo where he gets open. I learned early in this profession there's two things a receiver has to do. He has to get open and he has to catch the ball. He came in here and those are the two things he does."

Golden had more nice things to say about Berrios. "He's smart, he's nifty, has got good body control," he said. "And he knows how to sit down versus man and uncover himself. He's caught two corner routes already so he has vertical speed and he's precise with his depth. The ball is thrown on time and the quarterback can throw to the corner too -- away from coverage. He's been effective, and he's a competitor. He wants the ball, which is great, and hopefully he'll continue to improve there."

> Even though he's graded out the highest among Miami's offensive lineman over the last two games, Hurricanes right tackle Taylor Gadbois hasn't forgotten about his rough night in the opener at Louisville.

"I had a lot of good plays and I had three really bad plays that were just uncharacteristic of me," said Gadbois, a 6-3, 316-pound redshirt sophomore who will make his fourth straight start Saturday night at 24th-ranked Nebraska (3-0).

"I kind of let the game get to me a little bit. I like going out there being a warrior and setting the tone for the O-line. I think I was just trying to do too much the first game."

Among his mistakes at Louisville, Gadbois said he called a protection the wrong way and it got quarterback Brad Kaaya hit. He said he missed a block near the goal which led to a tackle for loss because of poor communication. And, Gadbois said he got "beat across [his] face" on an inside zone run because of poor footwork.

What did Gadbois do better over his last two games? "He really finished better and he's just getting more confidence," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "He is a really talented guy, really smart but he's a guy that's hard to push sometimes. And he's starting to figure it out. He had his best game [against Arkansas State] and that team was tough the guy he was working on was tough. He missed a couple, but over the long haul of 60-some plays he held up good and he graded out the best of all our linemen."

Kehoe said right guard Danny Isidora has also made strides. "Danny, you can be a good player but until you get games under your belt in live action against different looks - it takes time," Kehoe said. "Now he's starting to feel confident, because he's a smart guy. He's starting to get the reps. I think he's going to be really good. He's going to be a good player."

September 17, 2014

Al Golden talks Gray Crow, Ryan Williams, injuries

From post-practice of Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

AND this first note came from the ACC Teleconference after practice today: Golden said Justin Vogel will be doing the punting, either Vogel or Michael Badgley will be kicking off and Badgley will be doing the placekicking Saturday at Nebraska.

Here's what Coach Al Golden said this morning about Gray Crow's move back to quarterback:

"The idea behind the move [to fullback/H-back] back in July was to give him an opportunity to play, based on our depth at quarterback. We were hoping he could help us at H-back, at fullback, at long-snapper or in some way on special teams. He talked to us yesterday and we moved him back."

When Ryan Williams plays, does he become the backup?

"He was better today and he took more reps today than he has since the injury. Again, you go from rehabilitation to recovery and then ultimately to a competition because everyone else around him has been going and getting a lot of reps. He did a good job competing today and we’ll see where he goes. He’s one of the three quarterbacks going this weekend so we believe that if there was an issue this weekend, we could use him."

 Can you assess the competition between Ryan Williams and Jake Heaps?

 "It’s just too early. He’s only been out there yesterday and today. It’s too early to assess it to be honest with you. Again, we’re just trying to help Ryan everyday to improve and get better and put him in every situation. We’re no longer trying to protect him or call certain things when he’s in there or allow him to do some drills but not the other ones. He’s starting to really get integrated and he did a good job today. We’ll just evaluate day to day."

 At one point do you weigh playing him a quarter here or a quarter there vs. applying for a medical waiver?

 "That’s a discussion we’ll have with Ryan. Right now we’re just trying to get him integrated and get him back. That’s the next step."

How is Stacy Coley (shoulder)?

"Good. He’s doing good. His wind is good. He worked hard last week on his conditioning so that’s not an issue. We protected him so he’ll be ready to go."

How is OG Alex Gall (unspecified)?

 "It looks like we’re going to have to hold him. Sunny Odogwu has been taking all his reps this week. I don’t see that changes but if it does it does."

How is Walter Tucker (ankle)?

 "That’s going to be closer to game time. A little bit better today so we’ll see how it goes. The good news about practicing in the morning is we’re still 3 ½ days out. that’s a long time. That’s about as much time as we had between the first and second game so we’ll see how guys recover."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 16, 2014

Gray Crow moved back to quarterback for Miami Hurricanes

Even with Kevin Olsen having departed the University of Miami football program, the Hurricanes are still at five scholarship quarterbacks.

That's because UM coach Al Golden moved fullback Gray Crow back to quarterback Tuesday evening. Crow was recruited as a quarterback and played quarterback for the Hurricanes until this season.

Two sources close to the situation verified the information.

The scholarship quarterbacks at UM: true freshman Brad Kaaya, graduate transfer Jake Heaps, fifth-year senior Ryan Williams, true freshman Malik Rosier, and now, Crow.

Crow, a 6-3 and 224 pound redshirt sophomore, played high school ball at Countryside in Clearwater.

Last season, Crow played in two games at quarterback and completed six of eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.

 He was a three-star prospect when he was recruited, and threw for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, leading Countryside to 22 wins in two seasons, including a berth in the state title game when he was a junior.

My take is this is a positive move for everyone involved. Gray is very intelligent and hard-working and he has mastered the playbook. He can be of use to the team and younger quarterbacks/offensive players on and off the practice field much more as a fifth-string QB than he could ever help them as an H-back who was never going to see the field anyway.

Probably nothing changes as far as seeing the field or traveling, but if team is what's most important, Golden made the right decision -- not to mention Crow has done everything right and is a really good kid.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Miami Hurricanes QB Kevin Olsen "no longer a student at UM.''

That's it.

We just found out, per the university, that UM quarterback Kevin Olsen "is no longer a student at UM.''

I'll be back with more, as UM coach Al Golden is about to address the media in his weekly news conference.

UM's official statement: 

Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future.

 Here's what I wrote:

Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami.

   A day after Hurricanes quarterback Olsen was arrested and charged with possessing a stolen/fictitious driver’s license and driving under the influence, the university announced Olsen was no longer there.

       “Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami,’’ UM released in a written statement. “We wish him the very best in the future.”

    Olsen, 19, was a redshirt freshman who never got into a football game at Miami. He was suspended the first two games of this season, and dressed in uniform for the first time this season Saturday against Arkansas State.

    He is from Wayne, N.J., and was a four-star recruit when he arrived at UM in the summer of 2013.

   UM coach Al Golden was asked during his weekly news conference how much Olsen’s situation saddened and sickened him.

   “It’s not the end,’’ said Golden, who noted Monday night that he spoke with Olsen’s dad, Chris Olsen, and Kevin for a long time earlier Monday. “It’s not going to be the end.’’

   Chris Olsen coached Kevin at Wayne Hills High, and Golden said he first got to know Kevin when he was recruiting his older brothers Christian and Greg “in the late ’90s, when Kevin was 9 years old and 10 years old – so I watched him grow up. From that standpoint, that was tough for all of us.

   “But right now this is about Kevin and his family and we need to respect that and I have no doubt that he’ll be back. He needs this time to look at himself and move forward. I have no doubt that with the support of his family, his brothers, his mom and dad and obviously those of us that know him really well, there’s no question that he’s going to have the right ending at the end of this.’’

    Golden said Olsen won’t be back at Miami, but that “he’s going to win in the end. He’ll come out on top.”

    Golden wouldn’t talk specifically about what the next step is for Olsen. “That’s personal,’’ he said. “The next step is to look forward and get on the right track and be successful – and he will.’’ 

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 15, 2014

Olsen's indefinite suspension won't change redshirt status of Rosier because Williams continues to progress

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Now, the news...

Hurricanes coach Al Golden said the indefinite suspension of third-string quarterback Kevin Olsen following his arrest early Monday morning won't change the status of true freshman quarterback Malik Rosier, who the team intends to redshirt.

That's because fifth-year senior Ryan Williams is nearing a return from his ACL injury back in April.

"Ryan is getting ready to go," Golden said Monday after practice. "He had a good today and we're getting ready to play Nebraska. Ryan has been cleared for the last two weeks to progress as he can. He looked good out there today, took some reps with the ones and twos. That was positive."

Will Ryan play Saturday? "said “I don’t know that yet. It’s Monday and no helmets, no pads. We’ll watch the tape and see where he’s at.’’

What does he have to show the staff? "

“Just the ability to evade without premeditation – just instinctively,’’ Golden said, “and protect himself and then obviously go through all the movements.’’

  > Golden said he held out backup guard Alex Gall from practice Monday and that the sophomore will see a doctor later in the day Monday. Same with kicker Matt Goudis.

Receiver Stacy Coley was back at practice in a limited role Monday in a yellow jersey. He missed the Arkansas State game with a shoulder injury and Golden said he's hopeful Coley will "climb into the high 90s range percentage wise" come Saturday's game at Nebraska.

"[Fullback/linebacker Walter Tucker] did a little bit today," Golden said. "We're just going to be careful with him over the next 48 hours. I think I told you guys his x-rays [on his knee] were negative... [Receiver] Rashawn [Scott] I don't know if he's going to make it [for Nebraska]. But he's looking better. [Cornerback Ladarius] Gunter is good."

Golden said he could wait until later in the week than he does with other position players to decide if Goudis will play Saturday at Nebraska.

"It was just one of those deals where Matt was just in a lot of pain [last Saturday]," Golden said. "You can't foresee that until you're out there striking it. So I had to make the call then. But [Michael] Badgley is a mentally tough kid. He's a multiple sport kid. He's not just one of these guys that all he did was kick. He's a competitor. He got better today and excited about his opportunity if Matt can't make it."

DORSETT HONORED

Receiver Phillip Dorsett was recognized for his standout performance against Arkansas State Monday afternoon with ACC Receiver of the Week honors.

Dorsett, a Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas grad, hauled in four passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Miami’s 41-20 win over the Red Wolves. He became only the third receiver in UM history to have more than 200 yards receiving in a game.

Here are some of the details of the arrest of Canes QB Kevin Olsen

Here are some of the details of the Kevin Olsen arrest:

According to the arrest affidavit, South Miami Police went to investigate an incident at 6610 SW 57 Avenue late Sunday night when Olsen pulled up to the house in a black 2014 Dodge Challenger.

"[Olsen] stepped out of the driver's side of the vehicle and approached me asking what the issue was," the police report said. "While explaining to [Olsen] what was occurring, I noticed [Olsen] had blood shot watery eyes, and an odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breathe as he spoke in a slurred speech."

Police then asked Olsen to stand up and perform multiple field sobriety tests. According to police, Olsen was unable to maintain his balance. 

Olsen had multiple IDs in his possession: two from Maryland, one from North Carolina, one from Florida and one from New Jersey. He also had the ID of fullback Ronald Regula.

Olsen told police his New Jersey and North Carolina IDs were good, "but the Maryland one is a fake." Olsen took a breathalyzer test and had a .04 rating. Olsen declined to provide police with a urine sample when he was booked at around 4 a.m.

Miami athletic director Blake James said Olsen has been suspended from the team indefinitely pending further investigation.

"Disappointed from my standpoint," coach Al Golden said Monday morning when asked about the incident. "But really what's of paramount concern right now is just his well being, helping him through this. I think the AD addressed everything else. In terms of his well being as a student athlete and a member of our team, his well being.

"I want to make sure that he's getting the help that he needs and that he's safe and his well being is what we're thinking about."

Golden said it won't be a distraction for the team. "Our team is tough," he said. "Our team is mentally tough. We have a lot of kids doing it the right way everyday. It won't be a distraction."

Here's a photo of Olsen after bonding out of jail this afternoon.

Canes quarterback Kevin Olsen arrested for DUI, possession of stolen license

Welcome to Nebraska week!

Hurricanes third-string quarterback Kevin Olsen, suspended for the first two games of the season, got himself in trouble again over the weekend. And this could be the last straw.

September 14, 2014

Canes Progress Report post Arkansas State

 

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Some thoughts and observations after Miami's 41-20 win over Arkansas State Saturday:

> After playing two games in five days last week and looking mediocre at best (29 of 51, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs), quarterback Brad Kaaya and the Miami offense put up a much more encouraging effort against the Red Wolves. Kaaya set a Canes true freshman record with 342 yards and four touchdown passes on 16 of 24 passing with only one interception. Kaaya had more time to throw and nearly all of his throws were on the money. Only two of his incompletions were the product of being hurried and the other was a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State. Kaaya ranks 33rd nationally in quarterback rating (155.09). Only two other freshmen are better: Ohio State's J.T. Barrett (16th, 172.01) and Arizona's Anu Solomon (23rd, 163.59). Stephen Morris' QB rating last year was 144.67.

> Duke Johnson ranks 35th nationally in rushing with 277 yards and 68th with a 6.44 average. But that's hardly disappointing. The truth is he's hardly been put to work in 2014. He's averaging 14.33 attempts this season (tied for 62nd nationally). Last year, Johnson averaged 18 carries a game. Odds are he'll be put to work plenty against Nebraska next week. Nebraska ranks 50th against the run in yards per game and is surrendering 3.77 yards per carry (62nd out of 128 teams). The Canes are averaging 4.66 yards a carry.

> Phillip Dorsett's 201-yard day Saturday elevated his average per catch to 35.5 yards. That ranks third nationally. Nebraksa has already surrendered eight pass plays of 20 yards or more this season. Where the Cornhuskers have been good on defense is opposing quarterback rating (9th, 86.32) and they've only given up two passing touchdowns all year. They've also produced just one interception. A healthy Dorsett will help Miami stretch that defense out. If Stacy Coley can return healthy -- and Golden thinks he will -- that will also help.

> Call freshman receiver Braxton Berrios the Canes' money man. He's been targeted a team-leading 17 times and the ball has been thrown his way on money downs (third and fourth down) eight times. He's produced five first downs (one on a pass interference call). He's currently tied for the team lead with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

> FYI, here are your team leaders in targets: Berrios 17, Dorsett 14, Clive Walford 12, Herb Waters 11,  Coley 8, Duke Johnson 7, Malcolm Lewis 7.

> Sure, the Hurricanes rank eighth in total defense (259.7 yards per game) and 35th in scoring defense (19.3), but where they've really made the most improvement is against the run. They rank fourth nationally (2.02 yards per attempt) against the run. Last year Miami ranked 78th against the run (4.4) in yards per attempt. The Canes have give up just seven runs of 10 yards or more this year. Last year they gave up 70 runs of 10 yards or more (tied for 73rd).

> Of course, Nebraska will be an entirely different animal. The Cornhuskers rank third nationally with a 7.37 yard per carry average. They're also averaging 324 yards per game on the ground. Tailback Ameer Abdullah, an NFL-caliber tailback, has run for 396 yards and three touchdowns on 57 attempts.

> The Hurricanes were better on third down Saturday offensively (5 of 12), but still aren't doing a great job overall. A little research shows the team has been flat out terrible on third and long (seven yards or more) on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Canes have been in third down and seven yards or longer 18 times already this season and have produced just one first down (5 of 13 passing, two interceptions). On the flip side, the defense has been in third and long situations 15 times and has allowed seven first downs on 8-of-15 passing.

> Overall on third down, Miami's defense has given up a first down half the time opponents have decided to throw (12 of 24) against them. That's where Miami fans are frustrated with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. Defensive backs seem lost in coverage at times and receivers far too wide open. Miami has produced just one interception (Raphael Kirby picked off the punter against Arkansas State) and although the Hurricanes have produced 11 sacks they've only produced five quarterback hurries. They averaged only two QB hurries a game last year. 

> The Hurricanes have surrendered six sacks through their first three games. Miami gave up all of 17 last season. Not all of the blame should fall on the offense line. Duke Johnson whiffed on a block Saturday against Arkansas State and Kaaya was sacked. Kaaya was also called for intentional grounding (that counts as a sack) and has been guilty of holding onto the ball a little too long according to offensive coordinator James Coley.

> Miami was flagged 11 times for 93 yards Saturday against Arkansas State. The 11 flags were tied for the most in the Golden era (UM had 11 penalties for 84 yards vs. Duke back in 2012). Golden wasn't happy with Ufomba Kamalu's body slam penalty and the two pass interference penalties Miami drew against Arkansas State (Artie Burns, Tracy Howard were guilty). 

> Left tackle Ereck Flowers was flagged three times Saturday against Arkansas State. He's actually tied for the team lead in penalties with right guard Danny Isidora, who has been flagged four times including three for false starts. Flowers has been hit with two holding penalties and two false starts. 

> Miami's special teams play thus far has been horrendous and Saturday provided the latest example of continued poor play on kickoff coverage. Golden, who coaches the special team, said he played more freshmen on the coverage and return teams Saturday so his regular defensive players could better deal with the up-tempo style of Arkansas State's offense. Kickoff specialist Justin Vogel also didn't get a lot of hang time on his kicks Golden said. 

"The one they hit for us big [before the half] was 3.77 [seconds in the air]," Golden said. "That's not good enough. We had nobody inside the 30 when he caught it. That's a disaster."

> Walk-on freshman Michael Badgley missed an extra point Saturday and finished 5-of-6 on PATs. Miami didn't have to attempt a field goal against Arkansas State, but it's going to be important Matt Goudis (back) healthy and ready to go next week at Nebraska. Golden said he wasn't sure Goudis would be. Nebraska, by the way, has been mediocre on kickoff returns with a 19.78 average. Miami is averaging 19.43 yards per kick return.

> The Hurricanes continue to get stellar production from former no-star recruit Thurston Armbrister. He had a sack and a team-leading nine tackles Saturday. 

September 13, 2014

VIDEO: Kaaya, Dorsett and Perryman wrap up Miami's 41-20 win over Arkansas State