Golden reviews Virginia Tech blowout win, talks injuries, more

Here is everything coach Al Golden talked about Friday during his teleconference the day after UM's 30-6 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg:

Q: How did you come out injury wise?

"I think Joe Yearby will be fine. I think Juwon Young will be fine. Both of those guys. Obviously Joe didn't play. Juwon got hurt in the first half. Everybody else is good to go."

Q: You've talked about wanting to play the complete game. Was this as close as you've gotten to one since coming to Miami?

"It was the most complete game we've played this year. I thought Cincinnati we played really well in all three units for three quarters and this one I thought we played really well. We could have done a couple things better late in the game, but again your mindset changes a little bit when you're up 24 or 31 late in the game. I thought it was a good performance."

Q: What happened to Juwon Young?

"Juwon actually got a hamstring too."

Q: How much did having the bye week off help?

"I think we needed the rest. I opted to only practice once last week. So we really didn't get a tactical advantage on Virginia Tech. Again, I just thought the rest was more important based on how the season was going with the three night road games away not getting back until 5 a.m. three times and I just thought the rest was better and I think it showed up last night for sure."

Q: Is there anything going on with Herb Waters who didn't play?

"Is there anything going on with Herb Waters? No. We ran the ball for close to 400 yards and that's just the way the game played out. We didn't anticipate Virginia Tech playing us the way they did play us. And then obviously when they continued to play us that we continued to run the ball. It just was a function of personnel groups. I don't want to start any rumors or whatever your question is coming from it's unfounded. I don't understand it. We just won the game 30-6 on the road in Lane Stadium. I think the guys gave an incredible effort and the receivers especially -- Malcolm and Phillip and all those guys were so unselfish blocking all night. I really appreciated it."

Q: What did you like most about the way you played on defense?

"We didn't miss many tackles. Our tackling percentage, we're still working through it in terms of our quality control and making sure we don't miss anything. If there's anything we need to correct we're going to do that. But we didn't miss many tackles. We fit them pretty good. We were very unselfish up front. Everybody was spilling the ball and directing the ball where it needed to be -- either to the linebacker or the safety. And I think when the defensive lineman had opportunities they made plays. I thought the pass rush was good. I wish we could have finished it with a couple more sacks. But we certainly made the quarterback uncomfortable, made him move his feet and alter a lot of his throws especially when we had them backed up with the field position."

Q: Does this feel like the biggest win or most impressive win you guys have had since coming to Miami?

"I don't get into all that, respectfully. You guys analyze that. We're pretty much putting a bow on this thing by 6:30 tonight and then moving on to North Carolina. So, I'll leave that analysis up to you. But a year ago we needed a two-minute drive to win at Chapel Hill and it seems like the last two years we've won big games on Thursday night in really tough environments. So I think from that standpoint our team had a good look, a lot of confidence and again there's a lot of teams that go into that place and fall victim. So I was glad glad that we didn't."

Q: What was it like having 8-year-old Make-A-Wish kid Carter Hucks around again for the game? 

"It's been awesome. We have an opportunity to bring joy and fulfillment, Carter's dream to and he and his family. At the same time we think he's doing the same to us. He's been a lot of fun, a lot of joy to be around. Great attitude, great personality. Obviously we're blessed to have him around. Hopefully we'll see him again soon.

Q: Why has the running game been so explosive and productive (699 yards on 88 attempts) over the last two games? 

"Like I said earlier I think we have a lot of unselfish guys right now. If you look at Duke's first long run against Cincinnati, Malcolm Lewis is on the right side and he gets a great block on the safety. Phillip is on the front side and he gets a great block. Otherwise it's a seven-yard gain. The offensive line has been doing a good job. Danny [Isidora] is making a lot of progress. And Nick Linder is making a lot of progress. Alex Gall. I think those guys are making progress. But we're getting a lot of unselfish play. We really asked the receivers, both tight ends Clive and Stan and Tucker, to simply go out there and block for three hours and they all did it pridefully and willfully and did it really well. I think that is a characteristic that's really hard to come by. I'm glad we're starting to see that."

Q: You had fewer penalties (4 penalties, 28 yards) against Virginia Tech. Did that come from coaching, guys understanding the line better?

"I think there is a line and we want them to walk that line and we want them to be aggressive. One of the things about being disciplined is self governance and the last couple games we got into a couple selfish penalties whether it was a retaliation penalty or celebration. So we can't have any selfish penalties. Last night, again, I go back to being unselfish. We were unselfish last night in a lot of the ways we played the game and I think penalties was one of them. I just think we were very unselfish. There were a number of opportunities to retaliate and we did not. I think if we got on the perimeter and we were blocking and starting to hold them we let them go. I just think from that standpoint we were smart and disciplined and unselfish and that's what corrected the penalties. But we've got to keep going."

Q: How big a jump has Raphael Kirby made over the last month?

"I can't believe you said that because we were just talking this morning. This last four weeks -- I don't even know how to describe it. We were just talking this morning. This last four weeks I don't even know how to describe it. He's so process-oriented right now. His preparation is through the roof. He's practicing really hard. He's playing mike and will for us. So again, it goes back to him being mature, being unselfish, saying you know what I'll play whatever spot you want us to play. His production over the last month has been really, really good and I just can't say enough about the direction he's going, leadership and really consistency is the word I would describe." 

Q: How about Jermaine Grace's improvements?

"Jermaine Grace is a talented young man who is really working harder and harder each week on the mental aspects of the game, on his preparation, on his film study. And he has to continue to do that. When he marries those two he has a chance to be a formidable presence for us. I hope that he sees know, he understands and he accepts that challenge. That's going to be the challenge week in and week out. The offense we're going to see this week is a lot different in many ways than the offense we just saw. He's going to have to invest again mentally and from a preparation standpoint and back it up physically, which he has been doing. His effort has been really good. We just have to get that mental aspect down, I really believe if he can marry those two he's going to be tough."

Q: What's the schedule moving forward?

"We actually have a team meeting in about 10 minutes. So we're going to knock out this film, get that cleaned up, make sure any mistakes we made last night we don't let them sit or forget about them. Let's clean that up, be honest about it. Whenever you get a big win, some guys want to sweep stuff under the rug. We don't want to do that. If we made mistakes whether its technique or mental errors or whatever the case may be depending on your positions we get it cleaned up. We're going to do that and then I'll give them off [Saturday] and then normally they have Sunday off. So we'll stay with that schedule and return on Monday."

October 24, 2014

Canes right in the middle of a wild, wacky Coastal Division race

The Hurricanes' 30-6 blowout in Blacksburg Thursday night keeps them very much in the race to win the Coastal Division with four games left to play. 

Here's a look at how the division stacks up the rest of the way from a Canes perspective:

Duke (6-1, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: at Georgia Tech 31-25, Virginia 20-13
> Losses: at Miami 22-10
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh (4-3), Noon (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at Syracuse (3-4)
- Nov. 15 vs. Virginia Tech (4-4)
- Nov. 20 vs. North Carolina (3-4), 7:30 p.m.
- Nov. 29 vs. Wake Forest (2-5)
> The Breakdown: The Blue Devils rebounded from their loss at Miami on Sept. 27 with a pair of back-to-back wins in Atlanta and at home over the Cavaliers to take control of their own destiny in the Coastal. At this point, the two toughest games left on the schedule for Duke appear to be at Pitt, which they'll have two weeks to prepare for, and a Thursday night showdown with rival North Carolina just five days after facing Virginia Tech. The good news for UM is they own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Duke. The bad news: it's unlikely the Blue Devils will lose more than two ACC games the rest of the way, if that. Duke's ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 ppg) and the only offensive juggernaut still on the slate is Carolina.

Pitt (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: at Boston College 30-20, Virginia Tech 21-16
> Losses: at Virginia 24-19
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 vs. Georgia Tech (5-2), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 1 vs. Duke (6-1), Noon (ESPNU)
- Nov. 15 at North Carolina (3-4)
- Nov. 22 vs. Syracuse (3-4)
- Nov. 29 at Miami (5-3)
> The Breakdown: Behind running back James Conner (172 carries, 959 yards, 11 TDs) and a decent defense (14th in scoring, 18.6 ppg) the Panthers will be a formidable final hurdle for the Hurricanes to close out the regular season. Pitt can do Miami's dirty work over the next eight days by beating the Yellow Jackets (who own the head-to-head tiebreaker with UM) and bringing Duke back to the pack.

Virginia (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: Louisville 23-21, Pitt 24-19
> Losses: at Duke 20-13
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 vs. North Carolina (3-4), noon (ESPN3)
- Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech (5-2), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at Florida State (7-0)
- Nov. 22 vs. Miami (5-3)
- Nov. 28 at Virginia Tech (4-4)
> The Breakdown: The Cavaliers weren't supposed to be in this race, but are very much players in it after an impressive start to the season. Their losses are at home to a ranked UCLA team by eight points and on the road at a ranked BYU team by eight points. The Hurricanes are just 2-3 all-time in Charlottesville and have lost two in a row there.

Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-2 ACC)
> Wins: at Virginia Tech 27-24, Miami 28-17
> Losses: Duke 31-25, at North Carolina 48-43
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh (4-3), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 1 vs. Virginia (4-3), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at N.C. State (4-4)
- Nov. 15 vs. Clemson (5-2)
- Nov. 29 at Georgia (6-1)
> The Breakdown: The Yellow Jackets have been on a slippery slope since beating the Canes in Atlanta. They've given up 79 points and 952 yards over their last eight quarters in back-to-back losses. With a head-to-head win over the Canes in their pocket, the Yellow Jackets would win the tiebreaker if they finish in a two-way tie with the Hurricanes. But at this point that doesn't look like that will happen. They've got a tough road game this Saturday and still have to host a good Clemson team.

Miami (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
> Wins: Duke 22-10, at Virginia Tech 30-6
> Losses: at Georgia Tech 28-17, at Louisville 31-13
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 vs. North Carolina (3-4), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 vs. Florida State (7-0)
- Nov. 22 at Virginia (4-3)
- Nov. 29 vs. Pittsburgh (4-3)
> The breakdown: The Hurricanes have dropped four in a row and seven of their last nine to the Seminoles and haven't beaten FSU at home since 2004. Beating the defending national champions and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at home will be a tall order, which means winning the other three ACC games are musts. The only game UM probably won't be favored in aside from FSU is at Virginia. If the schedule plays out with UM winning three of its final four except FSU the Canes will finish 5-1 in the division and the only team they'll lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with is Georgia Tech.

North Carolina (3-4, 1-2 ACC)
> Wins: Georgia Tech 48-43
> Losses: at Clemson 50-35, Virginia Tech 34-17
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 at Virginia (4-3), noon (ESPN3)
- Nov. 1 at Miami (5-3), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 vs. Pittsburgh (4-3)
- Nov. 20 at Duke (6-1), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
- Nov. 29 vs. N.C. State (4-4)
> The Breakdown: The Tar Heels haven't been able to stop anybody on defense (rank 127th out of 128 FBS teams in scoring defense with 43.3 ppg). And nobody has really stopped them from scoring either (38.7 ppg, 17th nationally). Quarterback Marquis Williams has been a one-man wrecking crew. He's completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 1,776 yards, 15 touchdowns and six picks and leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 448 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Carolina lost 50-43 at Notre Dame scored plenty on Clemson. It's unlikely the Tar Heels will remain in contention for the division with the schedule they've got left, but you never know.

Virginia Tech (4-4, 1-3 ACC)
> Wins: at North Carolina 34-17
> Losses: Georgia Tech 27-24, at Pittsburgh 21-16, Miami 30-6
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 vs. Boston College (4-3), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 at Duke (6-1)
- Nov. 22 at Wake Forest (2-5)
- Nov. 28 vs. Virginia (4-3)
> The Breakdown: As bad as the Hokies looked Thursday night against the Hurricanes it's not out of the realm of possibility they turn things around and win out -- especially with two weeks to prepare for a trip to Duke. After all, this is still a team that won on the road at Ohio State back on Sept. 6 and has won the Coastal four times. At least the Canes own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Hokies.

WHAT ARE THE ACC'S TIEBREAKERS?

Two-way tie: 
1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.

Three-way tie (Note: Once a team is eliminated from the tie, the tie-breaking procedures restart for the remaining teams. If the three or more team tie can only be reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaking procedure will then be applied): 
1. Combined head-to-head winning percentage among the tied teams.
2. Winning percentage of the tied teams within the division.
3. Head-to-head competition versus the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference winning percentage, and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last, using the league’s tie-breaking procedures.
4. Combined winning percentage versus all common non-divisional opponents.
5. Combined winning percentage versus all non-divisional opponents.
6. Winning percentage versus common non-divisional opponents based upon their order of finish (overall conference winning percentage) and proceeding through other common non-divisional opponents based upon their divisional order of finish.

Rapid reaction: Canes beat Hokies 30-6, put together most complete win in Golden era

Forget the win over the Florida Gators last season.

This was the Canes' most impressive, most complete victory of the Al Golden era. 

Until Hokies backup quarterback Mark Leal connected with Isaiah Ford for a 14-yard touchdown pass with a minute and 30 seconds left to play, the Hurricanes were on the verge of putting together their first shutout over an FBS opponent since they beat FIU 35-0 back in 2006.

Instead, they'll head home with a 30-6 beat down of Frank Beamer's Hokies in Blacksburg that breathes life back into their Coastal Division title hopes and puts them 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.

That's much more than anyone expected. Vegas favored Miami by just 2 1/2 points coming in. And why not? UM was 0-3 on the road this season and there was nothing they had to done recently to give you faith they would play as well as they did Thursday.

Some of the highlights:

> Led by Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards the Hurricanes ran for a season-high 364 yards against a Hokies run defense that ranked 29th nationally coming in (123.29). Last year, the Hokies held UM to 28 yards on 24 carries with Johnson hurt and lost for the season. Consider this: UM has run for 699 yards over its last eight quarters. The Canes had 800 total over their first six games.

"It was great man freaking running the ball like that," right tackle Jon Feliciano told WQAM after the game. "Duke had a great game. Gus had a great game. It felt like whoever would get the ball would make a play for us.

"I was kind of mad we were taking knees at the end of the game. I wanted go back out there and get 400. That's what we were talking about on the sidelines."

> As noted by many Johnson ran for a career-high 249 yards on 29 carries (one shy of his career mark) and also had two catches for 37 yards including a 22-yard TD catch seconds before the half. Johnson's 249 yards are tied for the third most in UM history with Lorenzo Roan. Only Edgerrin James' 299 yards vs. UCLA in 1998 and 271 yards at Boston College in 1997 rank higher.

The only thing that could stop Johnson Thursday was the Hokies bench (the actual metal sitting area). Johnson crashed into it as he ran out of bounds early in the fourth quarter. He later tweaked his right ankle late in the game (I'm not sure why he was still in there). But WQAM's sideline reporter Josh Darrow said Johnson was treated with "pain gel" and was fine. 

Johnson by the way has run for 1,036 yards this season and has 11 100-yard rushing games under in his belt now including four 100-yard games in a row. "I think this is what the team needed -- a big performance," Johnson told ESPN afterward. "I just did what the coaches told me to do all week in practice -- to trust my o-line."

> Gus Edwards, getting the most action he's seen all season because Joe Yearby was hurt (ESPN reported a hamstring), ran for 115 yards on 15 carries. He scored on a 38-yard TD run to put UM ahead 30-0 in the fourth quarter.

> Coach Al Golden said the game plan coming in was to stay out of third and long situations at all costs. Miami ran the ball 53 times and threw it only 16 (Brad Kaaya finished 7-of-16 for 92 yards and a touchdown). It turned out to be the perfect formula to dominate the Hokies. Miami held the ball for 37 minutes and 52 seconds, easily their season-high. 

> Virginia Tech ranked second nationally in sacks coming in with 28 total. The Hokies had none against the Hurricanes and just three quarterback hurries and three tackles for loss.

> Miami, ranked 127th in third down conversions coming in, finished 7-of-15 on third down. The Hokies had the fourth-ranked third down defense in the country (26.26 percent).

"That first third and long, [offensive James Coley] puts the draw in there and we get it against a blitz," Golden said. "That was our M.O. coming in. We were not going to get in a bad percentage third down and let them turn the game on that play. I thought James executed the game plan perfectly."

> Defensively, the Canes forced three consecutive turnovers to start the second half and are now 13-0 under Golden when creating at least three turnovers in a game.

The turnovers: safety Deon Bush simply took the ball away from running back Marshawn Williams near the goalline to prevent a Hokies touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter. Tracy Howard then stripped a Hokies receiver of the ball and Jermaine Grace pounced on it at the UM 32. Denzel Perryman then crushed a Hokies running back and Grace pounced on that one as well at the UM 17.

> Virginia Tech finished with 262 yards of total offense (77 came on the final scoring drive of the game). That's the fewest yards Virginia Tech has put up since Alabama held them 212 in the 2013 season opener.

> Perryman led the Canes with 11 tackles. WQAM reported Perryman was hit hard in the ribs during the game, but fought through the pain. Safety Nantambu Fentress was next with nine tackles.

> UM had six tackles for loss including a pair of sacks (Anthony Chickillo, Grace each had one). Chickillo also batted a ball at the line of scrimmage. 

"Takeaways, red zone stops and third down stops -- that's the difference," Golden said of his defense. "That's what we hadn't been doing altogether... You see how powerful it can be when we can do that.

""They got a little mojo there in the third quarter to open it up. I could see our guys were going for the ball. We tackled pretty well. For the most part the first guy on the scene was getting the tackle. We leveraged the screens really well. We put that to bed so it wouldn't become a problem. And then we pursued really well. Again, great effort, very active, very aggressive up front. I don't think we got many sacks, but we were around the quarterback a lot and altered a lot of throws."

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio called several blitzes with his linebackers early including the first two linebacker blitz I had seen from the Canes all season. It turned into a Jermaine Grace sack.

> On special teams, UM gave up a 58-yard kickoff return to open the second half (the seventh return of 30 yards or more this season). Golden said it was too low of a line-drive kick. But overall, the special teams units were very good. No bad snaps from the new long snapper Frank Gabriel and punter Justin Vogel was an unsung hero. He had three punts pinned inside the 20 including one on the one-yard line.

"We didn't want special teams to be a factor in this game," Golden told WQAM "We did a good job with that and obviously we won the other two phases."

> Miami was flagged only four times for 28 yards. They were flagged a season-high 13 times for 155 yards against Cincinnati two Saturdays ago.

> Carter Hucks, the 8-year-old Make-A-Wish kid from South Carolina who spent a week with the team before the Cincinnati game, was on the sidelines with the Hurricanes again Thursday. He's set to have a bone marrow transplant in the coming days.

"I asked him what he was doing next weekend," Golden told WQAM afterward. "He sat in here, he was on the field with us, came in our huddle. He's just tremendous. He's fun to be around."

October 23, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech Hokies

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech: Oct. 23, 2014
 

MIAMI (4-3, 1-2 ACC) AT VIRGINIA TECH (4-3, 1-2 ACC)

> Kickoff, TV: 8 p.m., Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va., ESPN

> History: Miami leads the all-time series 18-13, but is 5-7 all-time in Blacksburg and lost last year's meeting at Sun Life Stadium 42-24.

> Spread: Miami favored by 2 1/2

> 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 - Virginia Tech: Hokies have one five-star recruit (cornerback Kendall Fuller), 14 four-star recruits (seven on each side), 24 three-star recruits (12 on each side) and 2 two-star recruits (one on each side) and 6 no-star recruits (three on each side) on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are DT Luther Maddy (3rd-4th RD), S Kyshoen Jarrett (4th-5th RD) and S Detrick Bonner 6th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive lineman Kc McDermott (knee) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) as out. Virginia Tech gets RB Marshawn Williams (ankle) back this week and lists receivers Isaiah Ford (ankle) and Cam Phillips (toe) as probable. LB Chase Williams (knee) is not expected to play. 

> Hokies offense versus Canes defense: The return of freshman running back Marshawn Williams (5-11, 229) should be a big boost for Virginia Tech's offense, which mustered only 26 yards rushing in the 21-16 loss to Pittsburgh last Thursday night. While quarterback Michael Brewer completes 61.1 percent of his passes (53rd nationally) and ranks 46th in yards per game (239.1) he's thrown as many interceptions (11) as he has touchdowns this season and he ranks 90th nationally in QB rating (119.59). He has four receivers with at least 20 catches this season, but freshman receiver Isaiah Ford (32 catches, 424 yards, 4 TDs) seems to be his favorite target when he needs a play. Ford has produced 27 first downs and four scores. Virginia Tech will be starting a new left guard in converted four-star defensive end Wyatt Teller (6-6, 301). Right guard Augie Conte (6-6, 295) is also in his first season as a starter. UM's defense, which has given up 193.8 yards per game and 10 touchdowns combined against five FBS-winning teams this season, can take solace in this -- Virginia Tech is actually better at throwing the football than running it statistically. 

> Canes offense versus Hokies defense: The Hurricanes are coming off their best offensive performance of the season (55 points, 621 yards) against Cincinnati, who has one of the worst defenses in the country. The Hokies are an entirely different animal. They rank 19th in scoring defense (20.0 points per game), 20th in total defense (326.0), fourth in third down defense (26.26 percent) and tied for second nationally with 28 sacks. They've forced 14 turnovers (tied for 30th nationally) and rank 23rd in passing efficiency defense (109.90). Cornerback Kendall Fuller is one of the best cover men in the country and the secondary overall is pretty good. It's going to be a struggle to get points on the board for Miami, which is used to getting them via the big play. Where can UMwin this game? On the ground with Duke Johnson, who has run for over 100 yards in three consecutive games and missed last year's game against the Hokies. He had 100 yards on just 11 carries against Virginia Tech as a freshman in 2012. I expect his biggest workload yet as a Hurricane tonight.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes have a new long-snapper tonight in Frank Gabriel. The Hokies have a pretty good punt return man in freshman Greg Stroman and have a history of making big plays on special teams. 

> Prediction: Miami 26, Virginia Tech 24. I wasn't ready to trust this team to win a big game on the road before the season and now at 0-3 to start this season I can't see them beating a Hokies team that is getting their top running back to return this week. But I picked UM to win the Coastal Division and so they have to win this one to have any shot at it.  

ESPN chart: The Hurricanes are decisively victorious on Thursday-night telecasts

  For proof of the Hurricanes' success on Thursday-night ESPN games, go no further than here. 

  According to ESPN, coming into Thursday’s game, the Hurricanes were 16-3 in Thursday-night telecasts, 10-1 at home on Thursday-night ESPN telecasts and 6-2 on the road. Their losses: 28-21 to Virginia at Sun Life Stadium on Oct. 27, 2011; 41-23 at Georgia Tech on Nov. 20, 2008; and 21-17 at Pitt on Sept. 19, 1997.

  The first box shows Miami's games at home on Thursday-night ESPN telecasts. The second box shows road games. Note that Al Golden is 2-1 in ESPN Thursday-night games while the Miami coach. He beat Virginia Tech in 2012 and at North Carolina in 2013 and lost to Virginia in 2011. 

 

9/12/1991

Houston 10 @ Miami (Fla.) 40

11/19/1998

Pittsburgh 10 @ Miami 38

11/21/2002

Pittsburgh 21 @ Miami 28

10/2/2003

West Virginia 20 @ Miami (Fla.) 22

10/14/2004

Louisville 38 @  Miami (Fla.) 41

11/23/2006

Boston College 14 @ Miami, Fl 17

9/20/2007

Texas A&M 17 @ Miami (Fla.) 34

11/13/08

Virginia Tech 14 @ Miami (Fla) 16

9/17/2009

Georgia Tech 17  @ Miami (Fla.) 33

10/27/2011

Virginia 28 @ Miami 21

11/1/2012

Virginia Tech 12 @ Miami (Fla.) 30 

 

9/12/1996

Miami (Fla.) 33 @ Rutgers 0

9/18/1997

Miami (Fla.)  17 @ Pittsburgh 21

9/27/2001

Miami 43 @ Pittsburgh 21

8/28/2003

Miami (Fla.) 48 @ Louisiana Tech 9 (at Shreveport)

9/23/2004

Miami (Fla.) 38 @ Houston 13 (at Reliant Stadium)

11/20/08

Miami (Fla) 23 @ Georgia Tech 41

9/23/2010

Miami (Fla.) 31 @ Pittsburgh 3

10/17/2013

Miami (Fla.) 37 @ North Carolina 23

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 22, 2014

Ask an opposing team's beat writer: Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times talks Hokies

Thank you once again to Andy Bitter, who does a great job covering Virginia Tech for the Roanoke Times. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBitterVT.

SMD:  It seems that Virginia Tech has been hit with its share of injuries lately, including three tailbacks who missed last week at Pitt and at least one major defensive player who will miss the Miami game. Could you elaborate on the injuries and who is expected back for Thursday's game?


AB: The Hokies’ top three tailbacks have been hit by injuries. Shai McKenzie is out for the year with a torn ACL, Trey Edmunds probably won't’ be back in the regular season with a broken clavicle and Marshawn Williams had a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the Pitt game last week. Williams, a true freshman who is the team’s leading rusher with 337 yards, is probable this week, a boost to a running back group that floundered against the Panthers, gaining only 26 yards on the ground. He’s 229 pounds and the bruising back that Tech would like to give the ball 20 times a game. Getting him back won’t necessarily ail all of the Hokies’ offensive issues, but it’ll help.

The D has been hit with injuries too, though. The word on linebacker and leading tackler Chase Williams’ knee was a little bit better than expected. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he was out on Monday, although Tuesday’s injury report had him as doubtful. Either way, he’s unlikely to start or play much, meaning redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka, who has only played about 30 defensive snaps in his career, will be in charge of getting the defense lined up. Tech has some other injuries that aren’t new. Knee surgery will end defensive tackle Luther Maddy’s season (he’ll seek a medical redshirt to come back next year) and a shin injury will likely lead cornerback Brandon Facyson down the same path. All in all, that’s three defensive starters from the beginning of the year that Virginia Tech will be without.

 SMD: Junior quarterback Michael Brewer played better earlier in the season. At times he's very erratic. Which player do you expect to show upThursday and how much passing do you foresee him doing?



AB: It’s really hard to tell. At times, Brewer has been just what this offense has needed, a gutsy passer who, when he gets in a rhythm, looks a lot like a guy who started his career at Texas Tech. At others, he takes unnecessary risks with the ball, loses his accuracy and doesn’t feel comfortable in the pocket. He’s both much more accurate than what Logan Thomas ever was, with a 61.1 completion percentage, but at the same time more turnover prone, if that is can be believed, with 11 picks through seven games. He didn’t have any interceptions for the first time last week at Pitt, although he was bailed out on a bad pick in the end zone by a roughing the passer penalty.

The thing is: he hasn’t had much help, at least not all the time on the ground. And when that happens, Tech becomes very one-dimensional and even easier to stop on offense. I don’t think the Hokies will all of a sudden get their ground game producing 180 yards a game overnight, and even Brewer this week said Tech will likely have to use its short passing game, with lots of screens, to offset that lack of a ground game. If that’s the case, I’d expect quite a few passes Thursday night. The Hokies want to be balanced between the pass and run, but they see that short passing game as an extension of the ground game. I think Brewer will throw it quite a bit. Just how effective he is? That’s a flip of the coin at this point.


SMD: The Hokies rushed for 26 yards at Pitt last week, but made some subsequent changes on the offensive line. How do you think that will help this week against a Hurricanes defense that has struggled against the run in its losses?


AB: I think Tech had to do something. That something was inserting 6-foot-6, 301-pound redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller, a former defensive lineman, into the starting lineup at left guard. He’s one of the strongest players on the team, part of a younger group that has been trying to get the mental side of things to catch up to its physical traits. He had his best game at Pitt, and the Hokies moved the ball better when he was in the game, but he’s still very raw. He’s far from a finished product.

That kind of goes for all of Virginia Tech’s ground game. Williams and the injured McKenzie are both true freshmen. Two linemen are sophomores and Teller a redshirt freshman. It was a rushing attack that averaged under 120 yards a game last year, among the worst figures in Frank Beamer’s time in Blacksburg. That number is better this year, up around 153 yards per game this year, but it still hasn’t been consistent. During the Ohio State-East Carolina-Georgia Tech stretch, the Hokies didn’t finish with more than 127 rushing yards in a game. Even in their 171-yard effort against North Carolina, they averaged only 3.0 yards per carry. So it’s been the No. 1 issue for Virginia Tech since offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler took the reins before the 2013 season. I think that group’s better, and certainly so with Williams healthy and Teller in the lineup, but it’s still not something the Hokies can rely on to win them games like they did even as recently as 2011.


SMD: Virginia Tech has been prone to allowing long passing plays this season. How will the Hokies' defense match up against a UM offense that has hit quite a few home runs?


That’s a concern. As I mentioned before, Facyson isn’t playing right now, and he was a big part of the team’s success at defending the pass last year. Kendall Fuller is a legit corner on the other side, as good as the Hokies have had in years, and Chuck Clark is emerging on the other side, but Tech has been bad against the deep ball. The Hokies have given up 24 passes of 20 yards or more, ranking 78th nationally. They’ve allowed 15 passing plays of 30 or more yards, which ranks 115th nationally. The big plays have really been the one thing holding this defense back. Safeties Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner are seniors, but they too have been victimized this year. Given Miami’s speed, that’s certainly a concern.

Even in last year’s 42-24 Hokies win, Virginia Tech gave up passing touchdowns of 81 and 84 yards to the ‘Canes. And that was when Miami didn’t have Duke Johnson to occupy the defenders’ minds. The key might be the pass rush. The Hokies’ 28 sacks are tied for second nationally. Even without Maddy, they’ve been able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Brad Kaaya’s young, so I’d imagine Foster will try to rattle him and stop those big passing plays before they have a chance to develop.


SMD: This is the second time since 1993 that Virginia Tech has three or more losses before November. Is this just a temporary blip or has the program genuinely declined?


AB: That’s that multi-million dollar question at Virginia Tech right now. Beamer turned the Hokies into what they are today. Nobody denies that. But with each loss, I think there’s more and more of the distinct minority that starts to wonder whether at 68 years old if he can turn things around. Tech won 10 games or more from 2004-11, a mainstay in the ACC championship game, but the Hokies have gone 19-14 since then, with no Coastal Division titles to their credit. So obviously there’s been a decline, and even Beamer has admitted that the Hokies perhaps got complacent during their run of 10-win seasons. But he did go about making major changes to the offense before the start of the 2013 season, demoting offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, firing two coaches and bringing in Loeffler and two others. It’s not a radical change in terms of offensive philosophy -- if anything, Tech wants to return to its roots of running the ball -- but it’s been a significant undertaking to turn things around, especially on an offensive line that had its share of issues that aren’t a quick fix.

I think the changes, if given enough time, will take root and produce a better offense than what the Hokies had for a long time in the mid- to late-2000’s. It's a very young group, with most of the starting lineup underclassmen and a good percentage of the roster freshmen or sophomores. The question is if new athletic director Whit Babcock will have the kind of patience that will allow a slow turnaround to happen. There’s been no indication that he wants to change anything, but another 7-5 or 6-6 season can change peoples’ opinions very quick. Beamer just signed an extension through the 2018 season, although I think that was largely ceremonial as an aid to recruiting. I think Tech will need to start showing some headway in turning things around either this year or the next or the questions about whether Beamer should be able to dictate his own exit will only intensify.

October 21, 2014

Just released by Miami Hurricanes: UM baseball schedule for 2015. Here it is.

MORRIS UNVEILS 2015 BASEBALL SCHEDULE 
Canes have 35 games at The Light this spring


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (courtesy of Hurricanes) – 
One day after his team officially opened fall practice, University of Miami head baseball coach Jim Morris unveiled the Hurricanes’ 2015 baseball schedule Tuesday.

Miami, the reigning ACC Regular Season Champions, will embark on a 55-game schedule that includes 35 home games inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Hurricanes finished the 2014 season with a 44-19 overall record and ranked as the top team with a 24-6 mark in conference play.

Miami earned one of 16 NCAA Tournament Regional host sites, extending the longest active postseason streak in college athletics to 42 consecutive years. Miami has not missed the postseason since 1972.

The Hurricanes will open the season with their annual preseason festivities: the First Pitch Banquet (Feb. 5) as well as FanFest and the Alumni Game (Feb. 7).

In addition to a challenging 30-game ACC slate, Miami has a nonconference schedule which features Sunshine State foes Florida (Feb. 20-22), FAU (Feb 18, April 8 & April 22), FGCU (March 4 & March 18), and UCF (April 15), among others.

“Baseball in general is very good in this state – it’s a good state with great players,” Morris said. “Add those midweek games in with our ACC games, and it’s a tough schedule…one of the tougher ones in the country.”

Miami opens conference play with a trip to ACC newcomer Louisville (March 6-8). After hosting Pittsburgh last season in their first year in the conference, Miami will travel to Pittsburgh for the first time to play the Panthers May 2-3.

Other ACC series include home sets with NC State (March 13-15), Duke (April 3-5), Virginia Tech (April 10-12), Florida State (April 24-26) and Georgia Tech (May 14-16). Away conference series include Wake Forest (March 20-22), North Carolina (March 27-29) and Virginia (April 17-19).

“The conference was already very, very good, before we added programs like Louisville, Pitt and Notre Dame,” Morris said. “All three programs are very good. Just having the ACC games on your schedule will make it one of the tougher schedules in the country.”

The ACC Baseball Championship is scheduled for May 20-24 in Durham, N.C.

To view the entire 2015 Miami Hurricanes Baseball schedule, click HERE.

For more from Miami Hurricanes Baseball, follow @CanesBaseball on Twitter or @TheUBaseball on Instagram.

Miami Hurricane Duke Johnson, all eyes on Virginia Tech, likely pretty amped for road trip to Blacksburg

Duke Johnson (and his fellow offensive skill-position teammates) must be licking his chops right now for Thursday's game at Virginia Tech (4-3, 1-2 ACC), though he'd never admit it. He's pure business, and pure focus.

But if he keeps up with his football surroundings (and the Twitter world), he'd have realized by now that Virginia Tech middle linebacker and leading tackler Chase Williams "has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered at Pitt Last week,'' according to our friend and Roanoke Times Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter

Chase  Williams has 54 tackles this season (8.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks, two pass breakups, 15 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

His replacement, redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka, will get his first career start against the Hurricanes. Motuapuaka has six tackles in six games, one quarterback hurry and a recovered fumble.

 Motuapuaka (pronounced mo-TOO-uh-poo-WAH-kuh) is listed as 6-0 and 231 pounds. He sustained a fractured right scapula (shoulder blade) in late spring practice that required surgery.

  He was listed by Rivals.com as the No. 20 inside linebacker in the country (from Salem High in Virginia Beach) when he signed with the Hokies.

 The Hokies also will be without All-ACC defensive tackle Luther Maddy, who has a knee injury -- though Maddy had only played in four games this season, his last game Sept. 20 against Georgia Tech. Maddy, a senior, graduated from Atlantic HIgh in Delray Beach.

  Virginia Tech's defense is ranked 20th in the nation. Its rushing defense, 30th (allowing an average of 123.3 ground yards per game).

  Johnson rushed for a season-high 162 yards in his last game against Cincinnati. HIs next 100-yard game will tie him for fourth all-time with former Hurricane James Jackson.

   Johnson's freshman protégé Joseph Yearby is averaging 7.4 yards a carry, with 325 yards on 43 carries. 

    "Probably going to be the most explosive offense we've seen today, right now,'' well-respected VT defensive coordinator Bud Foster told VT reporters Monday after practice. "You've got two dynamic tailbacks in Johnson and Yearby. You've got [WR Phillip] Dorsett -- he's like a track champion.

    "...They've got a young quarterback, but he's improving and growing each week and has got a live arm, throws a nice deep ball.''

*** On the other side of the ball...

     UM's rushing-challenged defense will go up against a Virginia Tech offense that rushed for 26 yards last Thursday night in a loss at Pittsburgh and converted 2 of 14 third downs.

   "This is the first time in a long time you kind of felt the similarities of what we we did last year,'' VT offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler told Newport News, Va., Daily Press beat writer Norm Wood (Aside: Thanks for warning me via Twitter to bring a warm coat) and the other Hokies reporters. "You didn't run it, you weren't good on third down and you stumbled in the red [zone].''

    However, Virginia Tech running back Marshawn Williams, who missed last game with a sprained ankle, told VT reporters Monday that he expects to play against MIami.

   The Hokies were without their top three running backs last Thursday, including Shai McKenzie (torn ACL) and Trey Edmunds (broken clavicle). 

    Williams has 362 rushing yards and three touchdowns in six games this season.

    I'm sure the Hokies will be pumped to be back playing in front of their fans at Lane Stadium, a very loud and intimidating place to play (and projected to be in the low 40s temperature-wise during the game), and that they are determined not to repeat their regrettable performance on national television.

    UM, on the other hand, still hasn't won a road game. And no matter how down the Hokies are this season, this game would constitute a big win for UM (also 4-3, 1-2), given the venue and tenuous situation with the Coastal Divison and how UM is still in the hunt for a division title.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 18, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' RT Gadbois out for season, Goudis & Regula to undergo surgery Monday

 

***The UM football team returned to the practice field on Saturday as the bye week reached its conclusion.

Ray Lewis III was not at practice Saturday after he wasn’t present for the Cincinnati game last Saturday.

“He didn’t practice, but his status on this team has not changed,” coach Al Golden said. “There’s nothing wrong. His status hasn’t changed, and that’s it.”

Lewis, a redshirt freshman cornerback, has not played in a college game. 

***The Hurricanes' offensive line is still undermanned going into a Thursday-night game at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois, who hurt his knee (along with his backup Kc McDermott) against Duke, was seen participating in warm-up drills at Saturday’s practice with a brace on his left knee. But that wasn’t indicative of the state of his recovery.

“Looks like it’s going to be season-ending,” Golden said of Gadbois. “That’s the way it looks right now.”

The news on McDermott was slightly better.

“He’s not ready for this week, but it’s not season-ending at this point, so hopefully he’ll continue to make progress,” Golden said.

Kicker Matt Goudis (back) will have surgery on Monday. He hadn’t played since the second game of the season against Florida A&M. Goudis has already used one medical redshirt with UM, but Golden will pursue a second one and thinks he would qualify.

Also having season-ending surgery on Monday will be long snapper Ronald Regula (knee). The surgery finalizes the career for the senior.

Frank Gabriel will take over long-snapping duties.

“He’s been doing it all along. He does it for us all the time,” Golden said of Gabriel. “He’ll just step into that role.”

Golden also says he has Dallas Crawford and Corn Elder ready to take care of long snaps behind Gabriel, with Nick Linder, Shane McDermott and Joe Brown at short snapper.

On what the bye week did for his team, Golden said, “I think the guys got rested up. We needed that. Guys got caught up on their schoolwork and everything and came out and had a good practice.”

 DAVID FURONES

October 17, 2014

University of Miami Hurricane Club surpasses $100 million in donations toward Momentum2 campaign

 

The University of Miami Athletics Department announced earlier this week that the Hurricane Club, which raises money for UM athletics, has surpassed the $100 million mark "as part of the institution-wide Momentum2 (M2) Campaign."

The M2 campaign began in 2008, after UM athletics raised $83 million in the original Momentum campaign from 2000-2007, according to UM.

The M2 has a goal of raising $1.6 billion for the entire university. The athletic department's portion of the M2 campaign, dubbed Building Champions, has a goal of $125 million --behind only the Miller School of Medicine, UM's medical school.

"Hurricane Club members have made a major statement in their support of Miami Athletics,'' UM athletic director Blake James said. 

During the newest M2 campaign, the Hurricanes have received five gifts of at least $1 million and 80 gifts of at least $100,000, UM associate athletic director for development Jesse Marks said Friday.

"We received a $100,000 gift Thursday toward the Football Victory Fund -- the $7 million campaign that paid for the UM practice fields and new student-athlete dining hall. Our next step in the Victory Fund process is adding lights to the practice field.''

The Hurricane Club annual membership has grown from 4,400 to just under 8,000 since  2010, when Marks arrived back at UM for his second stint and James arrived for his third stint.

"Our success is a testament to our strong brand and all of our great supporters investing their philanthropic dollars in support of our dedicated student-athletes,'' Marks said.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

October 15, 2014

News: kicker Matt Goudis, snapper/fb Ronnie Regula "out for season'' -- will require surgery

It's official, per Al Golden.

I just asked Golden on the Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference the status of injured long snapper/reserve fullback Ronnie Regula.

He said Regula "is out for the season,'' and former starting kicker Matt Goudis "is out for the season,'' and that "both of them will require surgery.''

Regula's injury has not been disclosed, but Golden said on Monday that it was "significant.'' Regula was helped off the field Saturday in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati with what appeared to be a right-leg (knee? Haven't been told) injury.

Regula is a 6-2, 240-pound senior walk-on out of Miami Palmetto High. Not sure if this means his career is over. Will check. 

Goudis, a redshirt junior, has been plagued by a back injury since the offseason. Last season he connected on 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and all 57 of his extra points.

This season, apparently kicking in pain, Goudis was 4 of 6 on field-goal attempts and made all six of his extra points. He has not played since FAMU.

I'm pretty sure UM coaches will apply for a medical waiver for Goudis, to see if he can come back as a junior next season.

Right tackle Taylor Gadbois (knee) "appears to be making progress -- we won't know until Saturday or Sunday,'' the coach said.

Golden said "practice went really well'' Wednesday. "Guys had a good attitude. It was some good on good, meaning Miami on Miami and then a little bit of an introduction to Virginia Tech as well.'' 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 13, 2014

Canes healing up, but not fast enough for kicker Matt Goudis and recently hurt Ronnie Regula

At first Al Golden wanted to redshirt Mike Badgley. Now it appears that junior kicker Matt Goudis, instead, will be the one who might be sitting out this year.

 Golden indicated in a teleconference Monday that he'll make a decision very soon about whether Goudis will play at all this season. Goudis is a redshirt junior, but UM can still apply for a medical waiver.

Goudis had an offseason back injury that put him in too much pain when he kicked. Coming into the FAMU game Sept. 6 -- the second game of the season -- Goudis had made nine straight field goals. He then missed two of four attempts against the Rattlers.

Last season, Goudis hit 13 of 17 field goals and all 57 of his extra points.

“I wish I had more on Matt right now,” Golden said Monday, indicating that his physical ailment “is just absolutely hindering his return.

“It’s slower than we thought. We’re entering that realm where redshirting is a possibility … Unless he can get cleared here this week, it’s something that we’re going to have to examine.”


As for long snapper/backup fullback Ronnie Regula, a senior walk-on, his undisclosed injury (right leg) is "significant,'' Golden said Monday. “I don’t know what it all entails yet. Once we figure that out we’ll release that.”

Regula is a 6-2, 240-pounder out of Miami Palmetto High. He has played in six games and will be replaced by junior snapper Frank Gabriel.


Golden still hopes former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois (knee) will return to practice before Virginia Tech. That game, in Blacksburg, kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, and will be televised by ESPN.
 
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Canes hit ACC trifecta with these three Players of the Week...

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today its Players of the Week, and three Hurricanes are included.

  Phillip Dorsett is the ACC Receiver of the Week, Tyriq McCord is the ACC Co-Linebacker of the Week and quarterback Brad Kaaya is the ACC Rookie of the Week.

   Duke Johnson, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries Saturday, was not named to the list. Instead, Offensive Back of the Week honors went to Marquise Williams of UNC. Quarterback Williams became the first ACC player since 2000 to throw a touchdown pass and record touchdowns running and receiving in the same game twice in a career. He was 24 of 41 for 303 yards passing and rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 18 carries at Notre Dame.

   For UM, Dorsett, a senior, caught three passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns vs. Cincinnati. His 79-yard touchdown catch was the longest of his career. He now leads UM with 550 receving yards.

   Linebacker McCord had two tackles, one sack, a tackle-for-loss, a pass breakup and one cool, wacky interception returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

  And Rookie of the Week Kaaya surpassed 200 yards for the fifth consecutive game. He threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for his first career touchdown. Kaaya has now thrown multiple TDs in every home game. He completed passes to seven different receivers in the victory.

  Also, congratulations to tight end Clive Walford, who is on the John Mackey Award Mid-Season Watch List announced Monday by the Mackey Award Selection Committee. 

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

     

October 11, 2014

Post-game Canes audio from Saturday's 55-34 win over Cincinnati

Here is the post-game audio from Saturday's 55-34 win over Cincinnati:

Coach Al Golden

Running back Duke Johnson

Cornerback Ladarius Gunter

Linebacker Tyriq McCord

Quarterback Brad Kaaya

Receiver Phillip Dorsett

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

The Hurricanes (3-3) host Cincinnati (2-2) at noon today at Sun Life Stadium. As usual, feel free to participate in our live chat below.

PRE-GAME NOTES

> Shortly after 10 a.m. this morning a plane flying a banner that read: "Fire Al Golden Save The U" flew twice around the stadium.

> Kc McDermott update: Hurricanes freshman right tackle Kc McDermott was on crutches with his teammates on the field during pregame warmups, his left knee wrapped with what appeared to be an elasticized brace.

McDermott’s dad, Randy, said before the game that Kc was doing well and did not sustain any type of ACL injury when he was hurt against Duke two weeks ago.

Doctors are determining over time whether McDermott will need surgery. Randy McDermott did not specify the injury, but said if he does have surgery, the recovery time is expected to be three months. He said he just wishes that his two sons – including senior center Shane McDermott – could play at least one more game together.

COVER IT LIVE

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Cincinnati: Oct. 11, 2014
 

October 10, 2014

Breaking it down: Cincinnati Bearcats at Miami Hurricanes

CINCINNATI (2-2) AT MIAMI (3-3)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: Noon, Sun Life Stadium, FoxSports Florida, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami leads 10-1.

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (RB Duke Johnson, CB Tracy Howard, DE Chad Thomas), 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 - Cincinnati: Bearcats have one five-star recruit (QB Gunner Kiel), one four-star recruits (MLB Jeff Luc), 27 three-star recruits (14 on defens), 14 two-star recruits (8 on offense) and 2 no-star recruits (offense) on their depth chart. Among that group, two are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: LT Eric Lefeld (5th-6th RD) and Luc (7th RD-FA).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois (left leg) and Kc McDermott (left leg), kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Cincinnati star quarterback Gunner Kiel (bruised ribs) threw some passes late in the week and will travel with the team, but it's not expected that he'll play a heavy role or at all. Coach Tommy Tuberville told ESPN his quarterback is at about "60 to 70 percent arm strength... can't throw out routes, and right now he's a pretty good ways away from being the same Gunner for him to be successful." He said it would be a game-time decision. RB Hosey Williams (knee) is out.

> Background: The Bearcats lost 50-28 at Ohio State and 41-14 last week at home versus Memphis and enter Saturday's game on a two-game skid. Their defense ranks 114th in points allowed (37.3 average), 123rd versus the run (255.25 yards per game), 121st against the pass (306.5) and 127th in total defense (561.8). Miami is 3-0 at home this season.  

> Cincinnati offense versus Miami defense: If Kiel is healthy and plays it changes the complexion of the game because he's one of the nation's best passers. He ranks 8th nationally in passer efficiency with 15 touchdowns and three interception, 60.7 completion percentage and 1,257 yards. He's spread the ball around to 13 different receivers with 6-1, 190-pound junior Chris Moore (11 catches, 340 yards, 5 TDs), 6-6, 195-pound junior MeKale McKay (15 catches, 315 yards, 4 TDs) and 5-9, 174-pound junior Shaq Washington (18 catches, 168 yards, 1 TD) serving as primary targets. Despite shuffling starters due to injury through three games, the Cincinnati offensive line has allowed just five sacks all season. Third-string running back Rod Moore (16 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD) will anchor the nation's 113th-best running game (103.5 yards). Backup quarterback Munchie Legaux (6-5, 200, Sr.) has plenty of experience and will handle the passing duties if Kiel isn't able to go as expected. Junior Jarred Evans (6-2, 190) will enter to run the ball in wildcat formations. 

For Miami, this will be the first time all season they'll face a pass-oriented, pass-first attack. Two weeks ago against Duke, the Hurricanes did a fine job shutting down Anthony Boone (22 of 51, 179 yards, 2 INTs). Kiel, though, is a lot better than Boone and any other quarterback the Hurricanes have faced. To date, UM has produced 13 sacks with linebacker Thurston Armbrister leading the way with five.

> Miami offense versus Cincinnati defense: As mentioned above, the Bearcats defense has been horrendous but starting cornerback Adrian Witty (Deerfield Beach High) is expected back this week after missing the last three games. Senior defensive end Terrell Hartsfield (6-3, 246) leads the team with three sacks. 

Miami's offense is the worst in the country at converting on third down and Cincinnati is the worst at stopping teams. A healthy running game might do the Hurricanes good this week considering Cincinnati has given up 679 yards and five touchdowns on the ground over their last eight quarters. Then again, attacking the Bearcats through the air isn't a bad idea either. Cincinnati has given up 11 passing touchdowns and produced just one interception and is yielding a 65.4 percent completion percentage. 

> Special teams: Cincinnati freshman kicker Andrew Gantz is 2-for-3 on attempts with a long of 34 yards. Punter Sam Geraci is averging only 36.4 yards per punt, but has a long of 55. The Bearcats have allowed just two kickoff returns longer than 30 yards (UM has just one longer than 30 yards). They've only allowed opponents to attempt a return 3 of the 23 times they've punted. The return game isn't very good either. Kick returner Johnny Holton is averaging only 20.4 yards a return and has a long of 36. Washington has returned two punts for a total of 11 yards. UM, the most explosive kick return team in the nation last year with 13 returns of 30 yards or more, is looking to break out this week.

> Prediction: Miami 48, Cincinnati 24. If Kiel plays and is healthy the score will be a lot closer, but I don't expect that to happen. Duke Johnson (2,492 career rushing yards) should pass Clinton Portis (2,523 career rushing yards) for fourth on the all-time list quickly and have a very productive day against a Bearcats defense that simply can't stop the run.

October 08, 2014

Canes receiver Rashawn Scott could seek medical redshirt for this season

Coach Al Golden said injured receiver Rashawn Scott is entertaining the thought of seeking a medical redshirt for this season. The 6-3, 205-pound senior injured his shoulder/clavicle during a scrimmage in fall camp and has yet to play a down this season.

"Starting with him, we're all disappointed in the progress of it," Golden said of the injury. "But again, it was, as I said, an exotic injury. It was unique. It was an injury we just don't really see. So we didn't know. The doctors have been very -- I don't want to say conservative, but prudent in terms of hey before we put you out there you've got to be ready to go. He hasn't been ready to go. So, I don't foresee him being ready to go this week. We'll reevaluate next week."

Golden said because of the depth Miami has at receiver -- and the fact several young players have stepped up -- it would make sense for Scott to sit out.

"We're going to do what's best for Rashawn," Golden said. "But make no mistake he's been working hard. He's been trying to get back. We're just being very cautious with it. It's a tricky little deal up here in this area that we generally only see in automobile accidents. That's all I can share with you."

Scott finished the 2012 second on the team in receiving with 35 catches for 512 yards and three scores before missing the final three games of the year. He played in just four games last year.

> Kicker Matt Goudis, who hasn't played since the second game of the season, is coming along slower with his back injury than the team thought he would. "I can't diagnose it other than it doesn't look like he's going to require surgery," Golden said. "It's just about him getting it stronger and him getting comfortable to go in the game."

> Even though Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday he doesn't expect his star quarterback Gunner Kiel (bruised ribs) to play this week against the Hurricanes, Golden said UM is still preparing like he's going to play. Redshirt sophomore Gray Crow has been emulating Kiel for Miami's scout team offense this week.

"Our job is to handle our team and get ready for all three possibilities that we can see at quarterback and the looks that accompany them," Golden said. "Sometimes you go out there pregame and they’re there, sometimes they’re not. But we’re gonna have to be ready well before pregame to be able to handle whatever they’re gonna throw at us.”

Hurricanes entertain Make-A-Wish third grader from South Carolina

The Miami Hurricanes had a special guest at Wednesday's practice.

Carter Hucks, a third-grader from Charleston, S.C. who is fighting a life-threatening disease, was granted his wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is getting to spend a few days with the Hurricanes and his favorite player Duke Johnson.

Wearing a No. 8 jersey just like Johnson but with his own last name across the back of it, Hucks ran out onto Greentree Practice Field Wednesday morning alongside UM's players and got to experience what the players do on game days. 

UM made Wednesday's practice extra special for Hucks. They brought out the inflatable helmet the team uses at Sun Life Stadium, cheerleaders and the school band, and had Hucks run out through a tunnel of smoke.

Hucks later played catch with receiver Phillip Dorsett, caught passes from backup quarterback Jake Heaps, and he even got to tackle cornerback Tracy Howard. Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu (6-8, 324) ended practice by carrying Hucks off the field on his shoulders.

"Just a great day and hopefully a great three days coming up for he and his family," coach Al Golden said. "We're excited to welcome him. He went to meetings. He got taped up, put pads on. We're excited for Carter and he's having a great day right now.

"He's entering a stage or a battle in his life where he needs this. He needs happy moments. He needs people supporting him and everything. I hope our kids get as much out of it as they are giving to him, in terms of appreciation and understanding where we are and keep perspective. I'm happy that he's with us this week for his sake. But I also think our guys are getting a lot from it as well."

Carter's father Derrick grew up a Hurricanes fan in the 1990s and early 2000s and called it a thrill to be out on the same practice field where Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee and many other greats practiced. His son played football growing up, but hasn't this year because he's battling Fanconi Anemia (a genetic defect in a cluster of proteins responsible for DNA repair. As a result, the majority of FA patients develop cancer, most often acute myelogenous leukemia, and 90 percent develop bone marrow failure).

Derrick, accompanied by his wife Jesse, told local TV station CBS-4 the experience at UM has been great for the entire family.

"Because of things with his health, I think being out here, seeing the guys running around, moving around it reminds him of the things he used to do," Derrick said. "I think that's a big spirit booster for [Carter]. I think it reminds him after this procedure is done he'll be able to get back to being who he is. 

"I was making a joke that hopefully by the time this whole procedure is over the next time he's in Coach Golden's office he's here to commit to playing his next four, five years at the University of Miami. This is a stepping stone in that direction with the whole procedure he's going to go through. I would love to see him out here. It's good to see him out here running around and what he could possibly be."

The Hurricanes have entertained other children with special needs in the past, but Golden said this is the first time they've had a kid from the Make-A-Wish foundation. 

"Our players do a great job with that," Golden said. "Duke and Denzel [Perryman] have been with him most of the morning. Duke took him to meetings. We got him fitted for equipment. It's been pretty cool. Again, they're Canes fans from South Carolina and this is what the young man wanted to do. So I'm glad we can do it. He's not going to shake us yet. We got two more days and then game day. He'll be a Hurricane by the end of the week."

October 07, 2014

Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel expected to miss Saturday's game against Canes, plus other notes from Tuesday

Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, the nation's top-rated pro-style quarterback recruit in 2012 who threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns in a loss at Ohio State on Sept. 27, is expected to miss Saturday's game against the Hurricanes with bruised ribs.

"I don't see him playing," Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville told Cincinnati.com on Tuesday. "He's not much better than he was [when he was hurt in last Saturday's 41-14 loss to Memphis]. I'm not going to put him out there if he's not close to 100 percent."

Cincinnati (2-2) will instead turn to fifth-year senior Munchie Legaux (6-5, 200), who has played in 33 games over parts of five seasons. Legaux has a career completion percentage of 51.6 and has thrown for 2,904 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Junior college transfer Jarred Evans (6-2, 190) is used often in Wildcat formations, UM coach Al Golden said.

Kiel isn't the only offensive leader hurt. Tuberville said senior tailback Hosey Williams (Miami Southridge) will be out a month with a knee injury. Senior Rod Moore (5-10, 176) had 65 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries at Memphis last week and will now carry the load in the backfield.

Defensively, the Bearcats are a mess. They rank dead last in third down defense (55 percent conversion rate), are giving up 37.3 points per game (114th out of 128 FBS programs), 255.2 rushing yards per game (134rd), 306.5 passing yards (121st) and rank 127th in total defense (561.8).

Starting cornerback Adrian Witty (Deerfield Beach) has missed three straight games.

> As for the Hurricanes, Golden said it looks like starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois, who injured his left knee in the win over Duke two weeks ago, could be back in time for the Virginia Tech game on Oct. 23.

"[Backup right tackle] Kc [McDermott] would probably be a little bit after that," Golden said. "That’s the way we’re proceeding right now. Hopefully Taylor will back at the end of next week."

> Freshman Nick Linder made the start at left guard at Georgia Tech and was in on all 44 plays snaps for UM. Golden said the plan was to move fifth-year senior Jonathan Feliciano back over to left guard and give freshman Trevor Darling some snaps at right tackle but the opportunity never presented itself because Georgia Tech possessed the ball for over 40 minutes.

"Nick is a leverage guy, he’s very strong," Golden said. "He played strong the other night. He’s scrappy. He’ll find a way to get to the second level. He did a really good job there, but it’s tough to compare him to [older brother and former Hurricane] Brandon [Linder]. Brandon is so much longer, a little bit different player."

> What is Golden's assessment of freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya (the nation's 36th rated passer) at the midway point of the season?

"I think he’s doing really well," Golden said. "I know he would like to have a couple throws back, I don’t think there’s any question about it. I think he’s doing really well. He’s poised, he’s distributing the football really well, and he’s gone into some big time environments and answered the ball. I’ve been around first-year starters in my career that couldn’t do what he’s doing right now, even though they’re maybe starting later in their career. He knows what he needs to fix and we can’t…you’ve never heard me say he’s a freshman quarterback, because that can’t be part of our thinking, that it’s okay to throw interceptions. It’s not okay. He’s our starting quarterback, so it’s not okay to throw interceptions. Find your outlet, or find a way to protect the ball, but we can’t throw interceptions."

> Why does former freshman All-American receiver Stacy Coley continue to be invisible in Miami's offense?

"I'll answer your question without comparing him to anybody else," Golden said. "We have to get [Coley] going. We have to do a better job as a staff getting him going. He has to do a better job on the details everyday. Obviously, the [drop against] Duke could have sparked it for him, could have got it going for him. We didn't come through there. But we need his explosiveness. We need it. Having said that, Malcolm [Lewis], Herb [Waters], Phillip [Dorsett] have all picked up for him. But we would love to get him going. We're going to have to find ways to get him the ball, to get his rhythm. I don't want to say confidence because I think he's a confident kid. I think he's working hard again. I think he's focused. I don't want him to press. He's just got to relax. We got to find ways to get him the ball and then get him going. But, coaches have to do a better job. Stacy's got to do a better job everyday in practice. And Stacy's got to do a better job just focusing on the little details and I think collectively we can get this fixed."

> Golden passed on the question when asked if fifth-year senior Ryan Williams is seeking a medical redshirt. "That's going to be above me," Golden said. "[Ryan is] doing good. He's working with the twos with Jake [Heaps] back and forth. Is he 100 percent yet? No, he's not. But he' doing good and he's getting better, no question."

LATEST DEPTH CHART

Offense

QB: Brad Kaaya, 6-4, 209, Fr. | Jake Heaps, 6-1, 208, Gr. | Ryan Williams, 6-5, 222, R-Sr.
RB: Duke Johnson, 5-9, 206, Sr. | Joe Yearby, 5-9, 192, Fr. OR Gus Edwards, 6-2, 230, So.
FB: Walter Tucker, 6-0, 226, So. | Ronald Regula, 6-2, 240, Sr. 
WR: Phillip Dorsett, 5-10 ,187, Sr. | Malcolm Lewis, 6-0, 189, R-So.
WR: Herb Waters, 6-2, 198, So. | Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So.
Slot: Braxton Berrios, 5-9, 183, Fr. | Malcolm Lewis, 6-0 ,189, R-So.
TE: Clive Walford, 6-4, 258, R-Sr. | Standish Dobard, 6-4, 255, So.
LT: Ereck Flowers, 6-6, 324, Jr. | Trevor Darling, 6-5, 310, Fr.
LG: Nick Linder, 6-3, 290, Fr. OR Hunter Wells, 6-6, 312, R-So.
C: Shane McDermott, 6-4, 300, R-Sr. | Nick Linder, 6-3, 290, Fr.
RG: Daniel Isidora, 6-4, 318, R-So. | Alex Gall 6-5, 305, So.
RT: Jon Feliciano, 6-5, 316, Sr. | Sunny Odogwu 6-8, 312, R-Fr.

Defense

DE: Anthony Chickillo, 6-4, 282, Sr. | Chad Thomas 6-5, 265, Fr.
DT: Calvin Heurtelou, 6-3, 315, Jr. | Courtel Jenkins 6-1, 315, Fr.
DT: Olsen Pierre, 6-5, 300, Sr. | Ufomba Kamalu 6-6, 295, Jr. | Anthony Moten, 6-4, 295, Fr.
DE: Tyriq McCord, 6-3, 248, Jr. | Trent Harris 6-2, 238, Fr.
SLB: Thurston Armbrister 6-3, 241, Sr. | Darrion Owens, 6-3, 235, Fr.
MLB: Denzel Perryman 6-0 ,242, Sr. | Juwon Young, 6-2, 240, Fr.
WLB: Raphael Kirby 6-1, 238, Jr. | Jermaine Grace, 6-1, 212, So.
CB: Artie Burns, 6-0, 196, So. | Tracy Howard, 5-11, 188, Jr.
CB: Ladarius Gunter, 6-2, 192, Sr. | Corn Elder 5-10, 188, So.
S: Deon Bush 6-1, 198, Jr. | Jamal Carter, 6-1, 213, So.
S: Nantambu Akil-Fentress 5-9, 200, Sr. | Dallas Crawford, 5-10, 196, R-Jr.

Special teams

K: Michael Badgley, 5-10, 180, Fr. | Matt Goudis, 6-0, 170, Jr.
P: Justin Vogel, 6-4, 210, So. | Ricky Carroll, 6-3, 198, R-Sr.
KO: Michael Badgley, 5-10, 180, Fr. | Justin Vogel 6-4, 210, So.
H: Dallas Crawford 5-10, 196, R-Jr. | Justin Vogel 6-4, 210, So.
LS: Ronnie Regula 6-2, 240, Sr. | Frank Gabriel 6-3, 215, Jr.
PR: Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So. | Braxton Berrios 5-9, 183, Fr. | Phillip Dorsett 5-10, 187, Sr.
KR: Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So. | Phillip Dorsett 5-10, 185, Sr.

Trying to decipher coach Al Golden's explanation of the Canes' defensive struggles, adjustments

Fans want answers.

Reporters want to provide them.

Coaches -- well, they are coaches. And so the process doesn't always work out.

Tuesday, I tossed a question Al Golden's way that I thought was pretty direct and to the point regarding how easy it's become over the years to run on his defense -- even when the opponent makes it clear that's the intention.

**************

Me: Al, your last two losses -- on the road at Nebraska and Georgia Tech -- were against teams that, let's face it, are one-dimensional. Everyone knows Nebraska and Georgia Tech run the ball. Why weren't you guys able to stop it?

Golden: "Okay, so, where Georgia Tech beats you is they beat you on the perimeter, they beat you with the toss play, they beat you when you're not paying attention to the quarterback on the alley and then they beat you on the X play to Smelter, who has three games of 100 yards. That's where they beat you. Now, we have to do a better job stopping the dive. The dive is five times to get 25 yards. Those other plays are one shots. So, there's a lot of little nuances in there we didn't do a good job on there. That they obviously utilized against us. I think the Georgia Tech deal is a lot different than the Nebraska deal. May look the same to you. Completely different. Georgia Tech, whatever calls we make, whatever front, coverage, pressure we use is gone now. It's gone. We use it once a year. Where we lost the game against Georgia Tech is we didn't get off the field on third down. We didn't take the ball away. It's as simple as that. We didn't get off the field on third down when we pushed them into those downs and distances. We didn't take the ball away. If they ran for 285 yards -- and again it's different than Nebraska. Nobody wanted Nebraska to run for that many yards. Trust me. But as you're playing Georgia Tech it's a little bit different. Does that make sense to you?"

Me: Well, not really, but I nodded so you can continue your train of thought.

"Again, I look at those two different things completely different in terms of how you go into the game. There's absolutely no excuse for what happened in Nebraska. Again, I'm responsible for it at the end of the day. Me. But in terms of Georgia Tech, we just didn't do a good enough job and we let some [explosive] runs occur, which we hadn't been letting. The year before we let one big one happen. It hadn't been as big an issue as it was last year."

**************

I'd like to tell you there's an answer to my question. But it doesn't feel like it.

What did I decipher from that?

1. Golden thinks it's unfair to cluster Georgia Tech and Nebraska into the same one-dimensional category because the Yellow Jackets run the triple option and the Cornhuskers run a spread, read option. Never mind the fact Georgia Tech threw it just seven times and ran it 65 times against Miami; and Nebraska ran it 54 times and threw it 13 times.

2. Maybe it's just me, but Golden made it seem like he prefers his defense be chopped up slowly rather than in one big chunk. Thus the reason we see safeties and linebackers playing so far off the ball.

3. Al wants me to trust him.

**************

Veteran Hurricanes reporter and Canesport editor Gary Ferman followed my lead two questions later and directed a more specific question regarding the photos floating around on Twitter of Miami's linebackers and safeties playing well off the ball in certain situations like 3rd and goal from the 2 and 3rd-and-2 at midfield at Georgia Tech.

Ferman: You guys have obviously been struggling and that puts just an incredible microscope on everything you’re doing. Play by play people are looking at it, they’re stopping screens, they’re taking pictures of screens and posting them. In the world of social media now it’s going viral. They’ll look and say, like third and 2 play in both games, in Nebraska and GT, they’ll take a snap screen and they’ll show Denzel Perryman, for example, lined up 7 yards off the ball on third-and-1 or third-and-2 and the play will get converted and obviously that just opens up a snowstorm of critique and criticism and everything else. What would be the explanation for things like that that might be contributing to the struggles that you guys are having in situations like that in getting off the ball on third down. When you loaded up the line of scrimmage in that game the other night you were pretty successful from what I remember in most cases? 

Golden: "So, Denzel’s depth is a function of the defense. So, depending on what we’re doing with our defensive tackles, [Perryman's] first gap may be outside of those guys. So he’s got to get to six yards. He should have never been seven [yards back] in the game, Gary. He was. And we tried to get him to move up during the game. We want him at six yards so he can scrape into the C gap. Any tighter than that and you’re getting cut by the guards constantly all game. If we want to play without a Mike, we can move him up to three yards and he’ll be on the ground the whole game – and I’ve seen teams do that. In terms of the Georgia Tech game, that was designed. He’s designed to be there. And you know the tackles and perhaps one of the OLBs who was blitzing is responsible for the dive. Many times he’s responsible for the dive but there are many times when we’re asking him to scrape fast because one of the OLBs are coming. Gary, I have no idea living in your world what picture [surfing Twitter] that was, but if he was back... I guess what I’m saying to you is we move him back in certain instances because we’re bringing one of the OLBs and that his first gap would be outside the OLB. I don’t know which play you’re talking about, but the last two years we beat that team, whatever, the last three years, running the same stuff. We got takeaways, we got third down stops, we got a fourth-down stop. And the offense in both years was I think 50-percent last year on third down, 60-something the year before out in Atlanta. That makes it a markedly different game, makes it markedly different. You’ve got to beat that team as a team. We didn’t play well enough on defense, we didn’t get off the field on defense and then the offense and special teams didn’t help the defense."

**************

What did I decipher from that response?

1. Miami opted to not make middle linebacker Denzel Perryman primarily responsible for stopping the dive. Their approach was letting outside linebackers try and bring down Georgia Tech B-Back Zack Laskey. Golden felt if they brought Perryman closer to the line of scrimmage he would have been devoured by the Yellow Jackets' center (which he was anyway).

2. Until last Saturday, Golden believes his defensive philosophy against Georgia Tech had worked because UM got turnovers and more third down stops and his offense played better than it did. So basically, he went to war in Atlanta with the same plan he had used in previous years (nevermind the fact Paul Johnson had two weeks to prepare and create new wrinkles) and the Canes were beaten. 

**************

I went on the Joe Rose show Tuesday morning to talk Canes. Here's the link to the interview with Joe.

October 06, 2014

UM to honor school's 2015 Hall of Fame Class at Saturday's game against Cincinnati

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2015 class of inductees.

Headlining the group are two-time Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams as well as football stars Jonathan Vilma, Kevin Patrick, Rusty Medearis, Winston Moss and the late Sean Taylor. Rounding out the class are College Baseball Hall of Fame member Alex Fernandez, NCAA Champion diver Chris Mantilla, basketball star Kym Hope and former football assistant coach Rob Chudzinski.

This year's class will be formally introduced at halftime of the Miami-Cincinnati game on Saturday as part of the "Hall of Fame Game" ceremonies. Inductees will enter the UMSHoF following the 47th Annual Induction Banquet, which will be held in April 2015.

“This is an impressive class that reflects the highest level of athletic talent representative of The U,” said K.C. Jones, president of the UMSHoF and member of the 2008 class. “We look forward to introducing the class at the upcoming Cincinnati game and hosting our induction ceremony at the banquet in the spring.”

The UMSHoF was founded in 1966 by eight Dade County Circuit Court judges, all Miami alumni, who wanted to establish an organization that would recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who excelled at their sport and brought acclaim to the university through their achievements and championships.

Duke Johnson, Denzel Perryman still trying to lead UM out of mediocrity

Everybody wants to leave behind something -- a fingerprint, a path, a tradition.

Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman, Miami's offensive and defensive leaders, committed themselves to doing that for the Hurricanes four years ago when Randy Shannon was still the head coach. They stuck with that idea even when Shannon was fired. Why? Because they loved their city and they loved The U.

Much like Lamar Miller and Sean Spence, Johnson and Perryman bought into a new coach when things weren't going well, and vowed to be the spark plugs to help turn UM around. 

And yet, now, at the midway point of Perryman's fourth and final season (probably Johnson's last year here too), Johnson and Perryman sit in the same spot the guys before them once did: stuck in neutral and with a frustrated fan base (former players included) demanding the head coach's head.

NCAA mess or not, it's hard for anyone to stomach what's happened here since Miami's last BCS Bowl appearance in 2003. Whether the man leading the charge for UM on Saturdays has been dressed in a green polo shirt or wears a spiffy orange tie, mediocrity's reign in Coral Gables has continued.

The records make it crystal clear how little progress has been made on the field since Larry Coker was fired: Shannon was 24-19 (13-14 in the ACC) after 3 1/2 seasons at UM (he finished 3-3 before being fired); Al Golden is 25-18 (14-13 in the ACC) through his first 3 1/2 years. He's one win better. That's it. 

You can make a strong argument Golden had it harder when he inherited UM from Shannon. After all, he was blind sided by an NCAA mess his first day on the job -- one that happened right under Shannon's nose. Golden had to deal with it his first three years on the job.

But the truth is nobody cares about that anymore. Not when you look at the level of talent both have had under their control. Both men inherited and brought in enough talent to be better than average in a very mediocre power conference. 

And thus that brings me back to Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman -- the latest versions of Miller and Spence. They are two home-grown kids who signed with Miami with the idea they would do big things. They've done so individually, but haven't been able to put an end to the team's run of mediocrity.

On Monday, there was no practice at UM. Much like Golden did after the Nebraska loss, he gave his team a day off to rest and recover from the latest disappointment. Johnson and Perryman were made available to us (the media) to discuss what's next for the 3-3 Hurricanes as the second half of the season looms. 

At this point, all I really wanted to ask Perryman and Johnson is what is motivating this team (it's on field leaders at least) when they know they face an uphill battle at winning the Coastal Division and playing in a BCS Bowl game. Do they still feel like they can change the culture at The U and pull the program out of mediocrity? Or have they accepted it?

“When you plan on changing a university you don't do it in one year," Johnson responded. "It's something that takes time. Yeah, we're 3-3 right now, but I still think we still have a lot we can accomplish, there are still things out there that we still can reach. Just at least get us back to our winning ways and get us to the Coastal [Division] championship. So there are still things out there we can reach, still goals we can reach. I wouldn't say that our season is over."

"Like Duke said, there's still a lot out things we can accomplish whether we've lost three games or not," Perryman said. "Last year, in the regular season, we lost three games. Like he said, there's disappointment with the guys, but I'm going to talk the team today and [Tuesday], see where their minds at and stuff like that so we can turn this thing around."

Johnson, who won a state championship at Miami Norland, hates losing. I know he, Perryman and the rest of Miami's junior and senior leaders are not going to allow anyone to quit. They have too much pride -- and NFL scouts to try and impress.

The real question now is if UM's recruits will start seeing this program for what it is, and stop believing they can be the ones to turn things around under Golden. After all, how many times can kids in South Florida see talents like Miller, Spence, Perryman and Johnson walk through Miami's doors and see a team that is average? Sooner or later, the sales pitch stops working.

> For those of you interested, I joined WQAM morning show host Orlando Alzugaray on the Big O Show today to talk Canes. Here is a link to the audio.

October 04, 2014

Notes, quotes and quick observations after the Canes' 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech

If Al Golden's seat wasn't hot before it's hard to imagine it isn't hot now.

Miami fans have been clamoring and complaining for a long time now about Miami's defense and the way it is coached. Players and coaches have said over and over again it's about player execution and not the scheme. But how can you honestly argue it isn't scheme related when we've seen pictures like the ones below for years and not just on Saturday night?

As I've said on the radio and here many times -- it's not just defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio who deserves blame. This is the defense Al Golden approves of. 

These are the staggering numbers the Canes are racking up when it comes to coaching:

NOTES/QUOTES FROM THE GAME

> Georgia Tech finished 11-of-16 on money downs (3rd and 4th down). The Yellow Jackets dominated Miami's defense up front beating them up the gut and with option pitches. Georgia Tech simply made the plays when it needed to. None was bigger than a 3rd-and-16 conversion in the third quarter with a pass to a wide open Tony Zenon out of the backfield for a 30-yard gain. Thurston Armbrister had the coverage. Zenon was left wide open. Georgia Tech capped that drive with a touchdown that made it 28-17.

> Freshman Nick Linder started at left guard and did a good job. The offense line as a whole gave Kaaya plenty of time to throw. Georgia Tech had two sacks and three tackles for loss, but Duke Johnson (14 carries, 100 yards) and Joe Yearby (2 carries, 16 yards) averaged 7.25 yards per carry. So this wasn't on them.

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya finished 16 of 25 for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interception. The first pick was just a bad pass that looked like it was intended for Clive Walford got away from Kaaya. The second pick game late in the game in the fourth quarter when Miami was throwing into the end zone and Georgia Tech was sitting back in coverage. It wasn't his best game, but I don't put this on Kaaya.

> Al Golden to WQAM on the loss: "It is what it is. This game is over now. We have to regroup. I got to get the guys rested up and get them healthy. We have a big home this week against Cincinnati whose playing really well. Again, there's no time for excuses. There's no time for complaining. It's just about getting back up, lacing them back up and let's go. There's a lot of football left. Duke was 0-2 in the league I believe last year and they ended up winning it."

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

MIAMI (3-2) AT GEORGIA TECH (4-0)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Bobby Dodd Stadium, ESPN2, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami has won five in a row in the series, but still trails the overall series 10-9.

> Spread: Georgia Tech favored by 1 1/2

> For my breakdown and prediction for the game check out my previous blog. Feel free to participate in the chat below. Susan is in Atlanta to cover the game. I will be here at home watching on TV and providing stats and insight as the game goes along via Twitter.

 

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Georgia Tech: Oct. 4, 2014
 

October 03, 2014

Breaking it down: Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

MIAMI (3-2) AT GEORGIA TECH (4-0)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Bobby Dodd Stadium, ESPN2, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami has won five in a row in the series, but still trails the overall series 10-9.

> Spread: Georgia Tech favored by 1 1/2

> 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 - Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets have no five-star recruits, 4 four-star recruits (two on each side), 40 three-star recruits (21 on offense), 5 two-star recruits (3 on defense) and 1 no-star recruit (offense) on their depth chart. Among that group, two are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: SS Isaiah Johnson (6th RD) and WR Darren Waller (6th-7th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois (left leg) and Kc McDermott (left leg), kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Georgia Tech has listed reserve defensive tackle Adrian Gardner (foot) as probable and walk-on redshirt freshman reserve quarterback Brady Swilling (hand) as out. Kicker Harrison Butker has been fighting through ankle pain.

> Background: The Yellow Jackets have had two weeks to prepare for the Hurricanes since winning on the road at Virginia Tech 27-24. UM coach Al Golden expects to see plenty of wrinkles from Georgia Tech's offense considering UM has won five in a row against them. Outside of the Virginia Tech win, Georgia Tech's other wins were 38-19 over Wofford, 38-21 at Tulane and 42-38 over Georgia Southern.  

> Georgia Tech offense versus Miami defense: This is going to be the fifth game in a row UM faces some form of the spread option. Of course as coach Golden pointed out this week this is the first opponent who adds a third element (the pitch) to the mix. So far, Georgia Tech has relied on 5-11, 189-pound speedy quarterback Justin Thomas (65 carries, 443 yards, 2 TDs) and 6-1, 218-pound B-Back Zach Laskey (61 carries, 316 yards, 2 TDs) to do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. Fifth-year seniors Charles Perkins (9 carries, 111 yards, 0 TDs), Tony Zenon (13 carries, 90 yards, 2 TDs) and Deon Hill (10 carries, 61 yards, 0 TDs) have been sprinkled in as big play options as A-Backs. Thomas rarely throws, but when he does it usually results in a big play with 6-3, 222-pound senior DeAndre Smelter, who leads the team with 14 catches for 339 yards and four scores. Georgia Tech's offense line, which specializes in cut blocks, has plenty of experience on the left side. Left tackle Bryan Chamberlain, a 6-4, 295-pound redshirt junior, has 12 starts under his belt. Redshirt junior Trey Braun (6-5, 294) has made 12 consecutive starts at left guard and senior right guard Shaquille Mason (6-1, 300) has made 29 career starts and is an All-American candidate.

Hurricanes defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio redeemed himself last week with a more aggressive approach and has won five games in a row against teams that run the Triple Option. But there is still reason for concern. After holding Georgia Tech to 134 yards on the ground and just seven points in 2011, Miami's defense has been giving up more and more yardage on the ground against Tech (287 yards, 5 TDs in 2012; 335 yards, 4 TDs in 2013). UM was down 17-7 after one quarter last year before turnovers helped stem the tide. With Georgia Tech driving early in the second quarter, Justin Renfrow hit quarterback Vad Lee and Jimmy Gaines recovered his fumble at the UM 21-yard line. Miami responded with 10 points to tie it at halftime. Miami then used two fourth quarter interceptions -- including a Ladarius Gunter 30-yard return for a score -- to salt away the win. Thomas has thrown just one interception on 65 attempts this season (he's completing 49.2 percent of his passes) and the Yellow Jackets have turned it over three times total on fumbles. Key stats to remember: Georgia Tech is converting on 3rd down at 56 percent (fifth-best nationally). UM ranks 55th in third down defense (36.36 percent). Denzel Perryman will have to lead the charge again for Miami. He had a team-leading 11 tackles last year as UM forced Georgia Tech into seven tackles for loss total in the win.

> Miami offense versus Georgia Tech defense: UM freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya played his first turnover free game of the season last week in the win over Duke and Golden says it will be paramount to UM's success he keeps playing turnover free. Georgia Tech has produced six interceptions already this season (tied for 20th most in FBS) and five of those picks have come inside their opponents' own 40-yard line. All seven turnovers Georgia Tech's defense has produced this season have led to 45 points. That said, the Yellow Jackets really haven't faced too many passing teams thus far (109 opposing pass attempts ranks 14th fewest) much less one as talented as UM's (263 yards, 12 TDs, 60.9 percent completion percentage). Part of that's because opponents have some pretty good success running the ball on the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech ranks 94th in rushing yards allowed per game (194.25) and the Jackets are surrendering 5.43 yards per carry (115th out of 128 FBS teams). Last year, UM ran for 227 yards and 7.3 per carry against Georgia Tech as it rolled up 551 yards of total offense on just 53 plays (10.4 average). Canes running back Duke Johnson, recovering from a sprained right ankle versus Duke, enters Saturday's game just 131 yards behind Clinton Portis for fifth on UM's all-time rushing list. He had his second-best career rushing game versus Georgia Tech last year (184 yards, 22 carries). True freshman Joseph Yearby had his best game last week against Duke and should get more work.

Of course, Miami's offensive line will look a little different this week with starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois and backup Kc McDermott out and veteran left guard Jonathan Feliciano now over at right tackle. Golden said true freshman Nick Linder, sophomore Alex Gall and junior Hunter Wells will all rotate in at the left guard spot this week and whoever plays the best will finish the game. Before the injury to Gadbois, Miami showed a tendency to run left behind left tackle Ereck Flowers and Feliciano. But this may even things out some. Golden said this week he wants to get both the struggling Stacy Coley and Phillip Dorsett (0 catches versus Duke) going. Two years ago, Dorsett lit up Georgia Tech in Atlanta (9 catches, 184 yards, 1 TD). Two of the five returning starters for Georgia Tech who faced UM last year -- linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and cornerback Chris Milton -- intercepted Stephen Morris in last year's game. The key for Miami's offense will be avoiding third-and-long situations (Hurricanes rank 124th out of 126 FBS programs) on third down conversions. Of course, Georgia Tech isn't very good on third-down defense (48.98, 118th out of 128 schools) either. So something has to give.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes are still waiting for the big return from somebody on kickoff and punts (longest for both is 29 yards). It probably won't happen this week. Georgia Tech hasn't allowed a punt return longer than 20 yards and just one kick return longer than 30. Tech's Chris Milton is one of the best kick blockers in the country. He has five blocks since the start of the 2013 season and has two blocks already this year. UM has had trouble with extra points, bad snaps and kickoff coverage (1 kick return for TD by Louisville). As far as the kicking game goes, Georgia Tech's Harrison Butker is 4-for-7 this year on field goals (1-of-4 from 30 to 39 yards; 2-for-2 from 40 to 49 yards) with a long of 46 yards. UM freshman walk-on Michael Badgley is 2-for-3 on attempts with a long of 34. Miami punter Justin Vogel (44.2 average, 10 fair catches, eight punts inside the 20 on 21 attempts) was named ACC co-special teams player of the week last week. Georgia Tech punter Ryan Rodwell is averaging 4.38 yards per punt with three fair catches, seven inside the 20 on 12 attempts.

> Prediction: Miami 41, Georgia Tech 24. There are plenty of reasons to have doubt: Is Duke Johnson's ankle really okay? Will UM's defense revert to its old ways? Georgia Tech has had two weeks to prepare. Bottomline: UM is a better team and Georgia Tech really isn't that good. This game is all about momentum. If Miami grabs it early -- as it did last week -- they should win.

October 02, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' injury report for Georgia Tech

Here's the injury report for Georgia Tech game:

 

Out For Game:

 


OT KC McDermott-Lower Extremity

 

OT Taylor Gadbois-Lower Extremity

 

K Matt Goudis –Lower Extremity

 

WR Rashawn Scott-Upper Extremity

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 01, 2014

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.

  

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."