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.

October 21, 2014

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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

September 28, 2014

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

Al Golden Sunday evening...

On UM defense:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 On Brad Kaaya throwing no interception: 

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

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

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

On kickers Matt Goudis and Michael Badgley:

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

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

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

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

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

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

Click on the link to listen to the audio

> Coach Al Golden

> Receiver Herb Waters

> Running back Duke Johnson

> Running back Joe Yearby

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya

> Linebacker Denzel Perryman

September 27, 2014

UM Canes offensive guard Hunter Wells suspended for Duke game

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

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

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

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

    Wells played in the first three UM games.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Duke Blue Devils

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

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

September 26, 2014

Breaking it down: Canes-Blue Devils

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

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

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

> Spread: Miami favored by 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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