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Busy Tuesday at The U

The usual Tuesday routine of football practice and weekly media day got a shakeup this morning when The Rock, former Hurricane defensive lineman Dwayne Johnson donated $1 million to UM's athletic program.

The Canes locker room will now be known as the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Locker Room. The money will be used to enhance and update the technology around UM's athletic facilities and renovate a wide range of football Donation_photo practice facilities at the discretion of coach Randy Shannon. President Donna Shalala called it the largest sum of money donated to the athletic department by a former Hurricane (Alex Rodriguez of course donated over $3 million to help the baseball program a few years back, but he's not a Cane). Last year, Johnson and Dany Garcia Johnson, who was on the rowing team at Miami and is a member of the UM Board of Trustees, donated $2 million to UM's alumni association. Both said more donations could be on the way in the future. Shannon told us he was going to use some of this money for the training room and had already ordered a collection Cybex weight machines.

Johnson spoke to the team in a surprise meeting right before practice at 2 p.m. A surprised Derrick Morse told me he had no idea The Rock was at UM and said he was a big fan of his. I'm interested to see what the players say he told them after today's workouts.

As for news, Shannon didn't have a ton of new stuff to tell us, but did address several issues including receiver Sam Shields, Jermaine McKenzie and the team's two biggest unsung heroes -- defensive lineman Vegas Franklin and center John Rochford. Read Barry Jackson's column tomorrow for what he said on Franklin and Rochford. As for Shields, he basically reiterated that Shields was not suspended last week and that he was benched for not practicing hard enough.

Jermaine_mckenzie- As for McKenzie, Shannon told reporters Tuesday not to pay attention to that "blob stuff, that internet stuff you're reading." What he meant of course was what people read on blogs or hear from parents regarding his players (somebody else apparently reported McKenzie would be back this week on another blog). As he said last week, Shannon reiterated Tuesday that McKenzie, who injured his neck in a car accident this summer, cannot participate in contact drills and that he will not put him into contact drills until he has been cleared. "He can go out there and run around, but he cannot do practice," Shannon said. "He will not get touched. I cannot afford to as person... not as... as a person to put somebody's son who does not have the muscle strength [in his neck] to go out and play football."

- Shannon said he doesn't pay attention to statistics -- especially the fact the Hurricanes pass defense has already given up 10 passing touchdowns this year compared to the nine UM gave up all of last season combined. The most important stat to Randy -- aside from wins and losses -- third down conversions. The Canes are not doing so hot there. Last week, Duke was 8 of 15 on third down and UM was 3 of 9. This season, UM's third conversion percentage is 30 percent. Opponents are doing better, converting 38 percent. In '06, the Canes converted 35 percent of their third downs and opponents were at 32 percent.

- As for the players, I spoke with linemen Jason Fox, Derrick Morse, Rochford, running back Graig Cooper, safety Randy Phillips and receiver Kayne Farquharson -- who was this week's media star after his big game. I'll have audio from all those interviews as well Shannon's press conference and the Rock announcement up later tonight on Herald.com.

** Aside from everything happening on the football team, I took a walk over to the baseball field where coach Jim Morris and his team are preparing for the start of fall ball on Thursday. This year, the Canes will have 37 days of fall practice, up from the usual 14. It's all part of the NCAA's recent move to help create more of a competitive balance for teams in the northern part of the country during the winter months. In turn, the real season will now begin three weeks later on February 22nd. Morris said the extra practices in the fall will help him determine all of his starting spots, including the ones he considers up for grabs in left field, third base and designated hitter.

I also spoke with Cape Cod baseball league MVP Dennis Raben. You can tune into all of it later tonight... which reminds me. Please leave your questions below for tonight's live Q&A from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. I'll be back later with updates after practice.

*TV: The Canes and North Carolina game at noon Saturday will be televised on ESPN2. The next home game against Georgia Tech, also scheduled for a noon start, will be on ESPN.

Comments

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Will the Canes vs. UNC be televised this week??

1st.....

Can you smell-l-l-l-l-l what the rock is cookin'?

Manny,

We haven't heard about Robert Marve lately. An update on him would be great.

A couple of questions:

1) How far along do you think DVD has progressed and why do you think teams are having success throwing the ball on us, despite ranking #4 in sacks?

2) With Kyle Wright coming back in the game with a fat lip, just how far did that go with the rest of the offensive players?

Manny I would like to thank you for the great information that you provide cane fans.

Manny what's going on with Jordan Futch do you think it's a good idea to keep recruiting this kid? I don't know the full story on him and I don't want to pass judgement on this kid but to get kicked out of a game and have an argument with your coaches is not good. RS won't stand for that kind of attitude.

Hey green if you can be so kind as to pass on the television info for sat. game i would greatly appreciate it. Need to get the tivo in order in case i miss the beginning.

Manny,

thanks for all the hard work! Can you tell me your opinion on Kayne Farquharson becoming a major-impact player for the canes this year? Aside from seeing his videos on you tube and hearing about his catches last week, do you think he has what it takes to become a game-breaker at the U?

Hey Manny, great work so far this season. My questions:

1. How can Randy coach the Canes up to learn how to finish? 450 yards of offense against Duke and FIU and only 23 and 24 points respectively? That's not the result parity either, as other not elite teams have run up big scores on both FIU and Duke

2. Is Randy at all focused on getting more non-offensive scores? What is the progress on improving special teams, a big factor in those quick points?

3. Are all these noon starts good or bad for the Canes or does it not matter? They came out looking great in their only night game, and have failed to impress in any of their noon games thus far.

Lastly, I just read an article on how people overrate the impact of specific stud recruits, and how all the upsets this past weekend are indicative of how misleading that can be (Florida relying excessively on Tebow and Harvin and not having a stud RB recruit). Are people getting too worked up over the recruiting class Randy is putting together now? How many immediate impact players do you expect? How many do we need? Do you anticipate the typical last minute gains and losses that always accompany recruiting?

Lots of long questions, sorry if that's unfair, but thanks again for everything.

Manny,

Can you give us a quick scouting report on UNC? What are their biggest strengths? Weaknesses? What kind of offensive and defensive sets are they running?

Thanks in advance.


Hey manny, i got some questions for you.


1. When do you think some fans will stop comparing every single UM team to 2001???

2.How's everything looking on the recruiting front??? and dark horses we should know about??

3. What are your expectations now of this team??

4. How happy were you when you saw the gators lose???

Thanks Manny. Waiting for those interviews. The audio is a great feature. It's great to hear the personalities behind the helmets. You rarely get to hear more than "Hi Mom" or some recent variation of that theme.

Those 3rd down conversions are why we aren't putting teams away early on offense and why we're not shutting them down totally on defense.

It would be interesting to see at what point during the games that these teams are converting 3rd downs.

But Shannon's point is clear. Tighten Up!

MM01, teams are having success passing because of blown coverages by our young LBs, and a few by our DBs. The DL can't do everything all the time.

Any comments on recruiting Manny? Also, what's the mood like around UM? Does no one beleive they oughta be ranked? Interesting.

Manny...see you tonight at 8 PM for LIVE chat. Two questions:

Will we see Coop and JJ in the backfield at the same time this year?

Which game left on the Canes schedule do you think will be toughest to win?

Cav,

I know that a DL can wreak havoc on a team's passing game. But I also know that not every play one of our ends is going to get to the QB. But, it seems like on almost every other play the DL is pressuring the QB.

So, Cav, are you telling me that just a few busted coverages per game leads to passing success for the other team? And that's if the opposing QB and players see it and take advantage of it, which not every single time they will.

manny navarro (10/2): "Alex Rodriguez of course donated over $3 million to help the baseball program a few years back, but he's not a Cane" Alex may not be an alum but he's a C-A-N-E through & through ...

I hear the locker room now has a scent of cinnamon...

Green i agree with you 100% A-rod is more of a cane then some of those who have competed at the U.

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