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34 posts from October 2007

October 31, 2007

Wednesday Practice Report

Good news regarding QB Kyle Wright's injured ankle could be on the horizon.  Coach Randy Shannon said  that Wright was able to complete three-fourths of Wednesday's practice work and could have a chance to play this Saturday if his health continues to improve.  Wright said he is still experiencing pain at times on his ankle and on his knee, but he will try his best to be ready for N.C. State.

- Freshman DB Doug Wiggins has not been with the team for almost a week, Coach Shannon said Wednesday.  Wiggins, who has been rumored to be interested in transferring, has been dealing with personal issues according to Shannon.  I'm still trying to reach Doug's high school coach, and hope to have more info later this evening.  Shannon said Wiggins is still on the team at Miami.

- I spoke with Freshman LB Allen Bailey about his role on the team this season.  Bailey, who was recruited as a linebacker, said he wants to continue to play at the linebacker spot, and is not yet ready or willing to move to the defensive line.

- I'll have audio interviews with Shannon, Wright, Bailey, Defensive Line Coach Clint Hurt, and Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke up on our site later this evening.

Now Hear This

One of the most frustrating things for a reporter to do is cut his or her story or sound bite or video clip for time and space. It is an unfortunate part of the business. But here on the internet, whe space is unlimited for the most part (video can take up a lot of space), we can do so much more. As one of the few sports writers in the country who also does multimedia audio recordings, I feel I have the advantage of bringing you closer than most other journalists do -- right to the scene of the interview.

Every time I go out to UM or other assignments, I collect audio clips from my interviews and post them online. And for the past year, I've shared all of what I've gathered during my interviews when my audio recorder was on (the off the record stuff has to stay off the record). Unfortunately, I think most of you haven't been aware of the extra work I've been doing. Why? There's only a tiny little logo on our Hurricanes home page that says "AUDIO." I know a lot of you have missed it. My wife has. She had no clue it existed. Neither did my mother. So, in order to direct you to what I've been doing for over a year now, I'll provide you with the link here. But, please bookmark it and check it out if you are in to listening to interviews yourself. I know it can be time consuming. But it may answer some of your questions. After all, that's the goal here.

OK. Among the highlights from this Tuesday's interviews, which includes Randy Shannon's Tuesday weekly press conference (I post it every week)...

- Left tackle Jason Fox talks about how Chris Rutledge has become a key contributor to UM's offensive line as well as how some of the young guys are doing. He also talks on another audio take about how the Canes have gained confidence now that they control their destiny again in the ACC.

- Quarterback Kyle Wright talks about the way his injured ankle and knee are being treated, how his practice went Tuesday and how it compared to his normal practices.

- Freshman Damien Berry talks about his frustrations sitting on the bench, what he's learned in his first season and how other freshman -- including defensive back Doug Wiggins (who was not at practice Tuesday) -- has dealt with that frustration of having to sit on the bench.

- Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, who was once believed to be lost for the season, talks about his knee injury and when he plans to return (likely the Virginia game).

- Receiver Lance Leggett talks about his return from his foot injury that kept him out of the FSU game and what he would like to accomplish in his final four regular season games as a Hurricane.

- Guard Derrick Morse talks about the differences at quarterback when Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman are under center, defensive tackle Teraz McCray and how the bye week came in handy for the Canes.

- Safety Lovon Ponder talks about the way there's a different feeling at UM than there was last year, how renewed hope has energized the team and his thoughts on fellow safety Randy Phillips and quarterback Kirby Freeman.

- Safety Randy Phillips talks about the matchup with N.C. State and how the Hurricanes need to start experiencing "some joy" and get to a big bowl game this year.

Other football interviews include: Safety Kenny Phillips, cornerback Glenn Sharpe and linebacker Colin McCarthy. I've also got a lot of interviews from the UM men's and women's basketball media day last week. Stuff I haven't even been able to blog about yet. It's all there though for you to listen to.

October 30, 2007

Tuesday's live Q&A transcript

OK, the transcript from the Oct. 30 live Q&A forum between the Eye on The U crew and yours truly is below. We covered a lot of topics. Enjoy.

Tuesday press conference

Coach Randy Shannon just walked out of the room after meeting with the media for 15 minutes. Here are the biggest tid-bits I gathered from his short press conference.

- Shannon didn't sound very optimistic about having Kyle Wright under center Saturday against N.C. State despite his return from his ankle injury. Shannon said Wright was back out "practicing a little" on Sunday when the team regrouped after three days off. He said Wright "moved around" and will do some indoor drill work this week. Shannon said Wright "needed to complete a practice" if he was going to play Saturday. My sources told me last week Wright would be out this week and would not return until the Virginia game. I don't expect him to play this week. Look for Kirby Freeman to be the starter.

- Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon will be back out at practice this week as will receiver Lance Leggett, who practiced some last week. Both missed the FSU game. Dixon's return is a pleasant surprise considering he was expected to be out a long time. I've been told by sources Dixon won't be back on the field until Miami goes back out on the road. But maybe this is a sign he'll be back even earlier.

- Shannon was asked about the fact the Canes now control their own ACC championship destiny following the losses by Virginia and Virginia Tech last week. His response: "We don't even worry about it. All we're worried about is N.C. State. WE got to take care of them first."

- Shannon said his team will not take the Wolfpack (3-5) lightly. He said he asked his team Sunday why they had two losses. Their response according to Shannon: "We took them [Ga. Tech and North Carolina] too lightly."

- Shannon said the improved play by punter Matt Bosher is a direct result of how he is "dropping the ball" on punts. Shannon said Miami coaches have worked with Bosher to correct it. Bosher of course had his best game against FSU averaging 45.6 yards a punt.

- I spoke to offensive tackle Jason Fox who says he and teammates were exchanging text messages and celebrating this weekend after Virginia and Virginia Tech lost. The results opened the door for the Canes if they win out to reach the ACC title game.

- Safety Lovon Ponder told me the extended time off -- along with the losses by Virginia and Virginia Tech -- has really brought life back to the team. "You could tell just by the way guys were running yesterday," Ponder said. "It was like the summer time. New blood, new life."

I'll be back later with more from football practice. Don't forget about our live Q&A here from 8 to 9 p.m. See ya.

October 29, 2007

OB finale will be a night game

Hurricanes fans can rejoice. The final game played by the University of Miami at the Orange Bowl Nov. 10 against Virginia will be a 7:15 p.m. kickoff carried on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

I know Canes fans have to be thrilled. There is nothing like a night game at the OB. It's definitely the best way to go out in my mind.

What are your thoughts?

October 26, 2007

Canes lose out on Sabino, Howard

Our Barry Jackson is reporting that the two top Miami Dr. Krop High prospects, linebacker Etienne Sabino and cornerback Travis Howard, have decided to cross the University of Miami off their list.

Howard, considered one of the top defensive backs in the state, said he orally committed this afternoon to Ohio State. "The atmosphere, the fan support, everything at Ohio State was awesome," he said. "I considered Miami very hard. But I did not want to be in Florida. I wanted to accomplish new things and meet new people."

Sabino informed UM that he is no longer considering the Hurricanes according to his mentor, Brett Goetz. Sabino, rated the 17th best player in the country by ESPN.com, has now narrowed his choices to Ohio State and USC.

October 24, 2007

Wednesday's practice report

Back out here at Greentree Practice field where the Canes were having some fun today with what pretty much amounted to Oklahoma drills -- where a running back takes a pitch and tries to run downfield behind a few lineman and against a few defensive players.

There was definitely a lot of hard-hitting. With most of his assistants gone and out recruiting around the state, Randy Shannon, Patrick Nix and Tim Walton were the only coaches -- aside from grad assistants -- running things today. We got to see the first 25 minutes of practice. Shannon had a classic line today during the Oklahoma drills when he ripped into Derron Thomas with "You run that [bleeping] guy over god damn. Run that [bleeping bleep] over."

* Freshman Shawnbrey McNeal had a huge run, bowling over two UM defensive players that drew some big "Oooohs!" from his teammates.
* Safety Tervaris Johnson, who hasn't been on the field much, had a big hit on Derron Thomas on another carry.

The guys definitely looked like they were having fun. Unfortunately, we couldn't stick around to watch it all.

As for injury news, Kyle Wright was not out there again. I spoke to several people who told me Wright will miss the N.C. State game. Shannon said Tuesday he expects Wright will be back for Sunday's practice after his cast is removed. My sources tell me UM is realistically hoping Kyle will be back for the Virginia game. I guess we'll see what happens.

October 23, 2007

Tuesday practice report

Just got back in from the end of football practice and have some news to share. As Susan Miller Degnan reported her in story, quarterback Kyle Wright did not practice today. Kirby Freeman took most of the snaps under center.

Freeman told Susan in a prepractice interview that Wright was wearing a cast. Not good news for Canes fans considering Freeman is the only scholarship quarterback avaialable if Wright is seriously injured. According to Susan who spoke to Freeman, the third string quarterback is now Jake Byrne, a walk-on from Gulliver Prep who played safety in high school.

When coach Randy Shannon was asked about the QB situation, he said: “Kyle I don’t know when he’ll come back,” Shannon said before pausing. “He’ll be back next week. It’s an ankle. So, that’s about it. Don’t make no more about it.” When asked if Wright would play against North Carolina State, Shannon simply said: “He’ll be back next week.”

When asked if Wright would be the starting quarterback against N.C. State, Shannon said: "If Kyle's fine, he'll play. Right now it's just an ankle sprain, it's just isolated, secured. He should be ready by Sunday. He'll have what, four, five days off. He should be ready."

Byrne currently signals the offensive plays to the quarterback. When asked if Byrne might actually get into a game, Shannon said: "I'd have to think about it."

Freeman, who said his ribs are still sore, did practice Tuesday. He said it hurts him "a little" when he lifts his right arm. He did, however, say, he was able to make some crisp passes including the same one he said he completed to Darnell Jenkins before his game-winning touchdown pass to Dedrick Epps Saturday against FSU.

Some good news: Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon no longer has a huge cast on his injured left knee and was off to the side practicing on his own early Tuesday. I asked big Dix, who was wearing a small black brace, if he might be back in two weeks. His response: "I hope so." He was in much better spirits obviously. Shannon said Dixon is not ready to return yet. Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt told me it would be "a couple weeks," before Dixon is back.

As for other injured players...
* Eric Moncur was practicing on the side with the injured players. Moncur suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Saturday's win over FSU.
* Receiver Lance Leggett, who didn't fly to FSU was back out at practice. Shannon said Leggett is healthy enough to play but would have to compete for playing time.

The Canes will practice today and Wednesday before having the rest of the week off. Coaches are expected to travel around the state this weekend and visit potential recruits. Two guys Miami could be taking a serious look at: JUCO linebacker Kion Wilson and Jacksonville Trinity Christian running back Jamie Harper.

* According to Rivals.com, local Hialeah defensive end Corey Liuget committed to Illinois this weekend. He was a Canes target.
* Ely cornerback Patrick Johnson disspelled the rumors he's no longer committed to UM after an LSU recruiting website said he had opened things back up. "I'm telling some people what they want to hear – it's just they keep ragging me about it and they keep asking me the same old questions,"  Johnson told Canesport's Matt Shodell. "I'm starting not to like (the recruiting process)."
* As for Columbus High offensive tackle Mike Goodman, I spoke to him last Thursday and he told me he expects to pick a college soon. I just don't expect him to pick The U even though he said every school has a chance. Goodman has family in the Boston area and likes Boston College a lot.

I'll have more after practice.

* REMINDER: Our live Q&A tonight will be over at Canespace.com from 8 to 9 p.m. Please start leaving some questions here below.

October 21, 2007

A remedy for non-believers

Kirby Freeman's ribs are sure to still be sore this morning. Kyle Wright's ankle probably looks like a balloon. And Eric Moncur might not remember much following his third quarter concussion. But be assured the Hurricanes are all collectively feeling -- and U too -- a lot better today after UM's little miracle last night.

Because that's what it was, honestly, a miraculous finish. I know I wasn't the only person on the field last night who thought Miami's chances died about 40-inches short of the goalline with 5:39 to play. I know I wasn't the only one who didn't think Freeman (1 of 8 for 7 yards and 2 INTs before the final drive) could move Miami 83-yards downfield for a game-winning touchdown. I know I wasn't the only person whose jaw-dropped a little when Colin McCarthy scooped up that fumble and scored and sent UM's sideline and about 10,000 Canes fans at Doak Campbell into a tizzy.

But that's where these Canes had us after seven games -- believing they just couldn't do what they did Saturday night. Then, in what was once-typical UM fashion, they pulled a fast one on the 'Noles AND us. The funny thing is there honestly wasn't much surprise in UM's locker room.

"I knew Kirby could do it," Derrick Morse told me. "We just needed the ball one more time."

Really? We didn't know you could do it.

"We just kept believing," a happy Calais Campbell told me. "Those games we lost, those close calls, we knew we just needed a break. We never stop fighting. We don't quit."

Unfortunately, Calais, many of your fans had quit on you. Before Kirby turned things around and found Dedrick Epps in the corner of the end zone, most Canes fans had lost hope. The bashing on this blog and on many other UM-related message boards had commenced. Canes fans had traded in their green and orange pride for more vile and fury. Even the ones in the stands in Tallahassee were being critical, sounding a lot like the guy in the OB who chastised coach Randy Shannon with the "Why don't your put the names back on the jerseys so we can see who stinks!" following last week's loss to Georgia Tech.

But then, when the comeback was realized, everyone was a Cane again. When UM ran off the field toward its locker room, even Freeman was getting some love. The players no one wanted anything to do with we're suddenly beloved heroes again. The hypocrisy was in full swing. I was happy for UM's players. It had been a while since any of them felt good. It had been a while since any of them had been cheered and not jeered. But I was disappointed with the Cane hypocrites.

I'm not going to tell you how to behave as a fan. It's not my job. Even Randy Shannon said last week fans we're entitled to rip his team when they lose. But I feel obligated to remind U that this team hasn't quit on you. 5-3 isn't the season U wanted. 5-3 isn't the season the guys wearing the U wanted. But it's what their lack of talent has allowed them to achieve. Instead of hating on what Randy Shannon and his players are not achieving, how about praising them for what they have? How about not quitting on them? How about sticking around for the climb back to prominence instead of just being there when they get back on top?

Look at yourself at the mirror today Canes fans and ask yourself if you are a REAL FAN. Then, ask yourself if this team has quit on you. I'll tell you -- they haven't. Should you?

* I wrote this earlier this morning in the Tallahassee airport. Now that I've gotten back home and read some of your comments, I realized some of what I wanted to say might have been misinterpreted. For starters, I'm not criticizing all Canes fans. There are the die-hards who show up to the OB or watch every week on TV. Everyone always has a right to complain and I'm not knocking you for wanting more for your team. But I guess what has really bugged me is the fashion in which some of you have done it. Some of the comments have been crude, unwarranted and just flat out mean. These are young guys who are trying their best. I could understand if the players had totally given up on you. If they were deliberately losing. But being up close to these guys on a weekly basis, I can tell you I don't get that sense at all. If they were quitters, they wouldn't have battled back against North Carolina. Guys like Kenny Phillips wouldn't spend 10 to 15 minutes after the Georgia Tech loss dispondent. All I'm saying is have a little more respect for your team.

October 20, 2007

Game day blog: UM 37, FSU 29 (F)

I'm at Doak Campbell Stadium. Let's watch the game together and share our thoughts.

With 8:43 left, the Hurricanes trailed 29-24. FSU has the ball and is trying to run out the clock. The Hurricanes have four turnovers, three in the second half, and need some one to do something -- NOW!

*I'll be heading down to the field at the 6-minute mark. Feel free to pour in your thoughts after this one is over.

FSU's 10th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 31)
- On first down, Calais Campbell sacks Xavier Lee back at the 41. FSU is also flagged for holding on the play. UM declines the penalty. On 2nd and 20, Lee takes a direct snap and run forward for about 7 yards. On 3rd and 12, Lee pitches the ball and is nearly picked off by Campbell. Smith runs for 6 yards bringing up a 4th and 6 at the UM 27.
- Gary Cismesia connects on his fifth field goal of the game, a 44-yarder. Drive: 4 plays, 4 yards, 1:08. FSU 29, UM 24.

UM's 11th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 35, 14:04)
- Freeman scrambles right and throws a bad pass to Graig Cooper, incomplete. UM is flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield. On 1st and 15 from the 30, Cooper runs for 2 yards. On second down, Cooper gets tackled for no gain. On third and long, Kirby Freeman scrambles for four yards. Miami will punt. Matt Bosher gets a good, 48-yard punt off that gets down at the FSU 16 with 11:57 left.

FSU's 11th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 16, 11:57)
- FSU gets nine yards on first down from Antone Smith and a 7-yard run and first down from their fullback on the next. On first and 10 at the FSU 32, Lee throws an incomplete pass downfield. On seocnd down, Smith gets tackled by Sharpton for a 1-yard loss. On 3rd and 11, Lee throws the ball to Preston and it is dropped. Likely would have been a first down. Miami will get the ball back with 10:03 left to play.

UM's 12th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 16, 9:49 left)
- Ryan Hill gets flagged for a block in the back, nullifying a 7-yard return by Graig Cooper.
- On first down, Javarris James runs up the middle for 6 yards. On second down, James gets one yard on a run to the right. On third and four, Freeman throws the ball behind Sam Shields and incomplete. FSU will take over at its own 30 following a 48-yard punt by Bosher.

FSU's 12th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 30 with 8:43 left)
- On first down, Lee gets hit at the line of scrimmage and his pass is hauled in at midfield by Greg Carr. It was ball that could very much could have been intercepted.
- On the next play, Randy Phillips makes his second interception of the game with 7:16 left and returns it to the FSU 11.

UM's 13th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 11, 7:16 left)
- On first down, Javarris James runs for 6 yards. On second down, James runs up the middle for 2 yards about to the 2 yard line. It brings up a third and 1 at the FSU 2. James bulls his way ahead for what looks like a first down. After the measurement, UM is short by inches.
- On fourth and 1 from the 2, Freeman sneaks forward and the Canes fall short by less than 6 inches.

FSU's 7th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 20, 15:00)
- On first down, Antone Smith takes a pitch and runs wild for a 36-yard gain to the UM 44.
- On the next play, Lee hits De'Cody Fagg for a 29-yard gain to the UM 15.
- On the next play, Preston Parker takes an end-around and gets stripped by Daryl Sharpton. But the play is under review. The play, which resulted in a Carlos Armour 60-yard fumble return, is overturned. FSU retains possession at the UM 17.
- On 2nd and 12, Lee runs out of bounds for a 2-yard gain. On third down, Lee's pass to De'Cody Fagg is thrown out of bounds. FSU will attempt another field goal. It's good. FSU 23, UM 17.

UM's 8th Drive (1st and 10 at UM 39)
- On first down, Javarris James runs for 3 yards. On second down, James runs hard up the middle for 9 yards and a first down.
- On first down at the FSU 48, James runs right for a 9-yard gain. James picks up another first down with a five-yard run. On the next play, Shawnbrey McNeal fumbles the handoff and FSU's Letroy Guion recovers at the FSU 34.

FSU's 8th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 34)
- On first down, Smith runs for 1-yard. On second down, Smith runs for 8. On third and inches, Seddrick Holloway bulldozes his way for a 10-yard run, knocking over Canes defenders on his way up the middle.
- On first down at the UM 47, Xavier Lee runs the playaction but overthrows Greg Carr incomplete. On second down, Colin McCarthy is helped off the field. Looks like his right knee again. On third down, Lee tries to scramble, but is brought down for no gain by Teraz McCray. FSU gets a 37-yard punt.

UM's 9th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 13, 9:32 left)
- On first down, Graig Cooper explodes on a 42-yard run to the left, reaching the FSU 44. Guard Orlando Franklin goes out with an apparent left shoulder injury.
- Two plays later and on third and 5, Kayne Farquharson comes through with a clutch first down catch at the FSU 30.
- Miami eventually gets itself into a fouth down situation. The Canes line up for a field goal, but instead of a kick, kicker Francesco Zampogna takes an over the shoulder flip from UM's holder and throws a pass to a wide open Dajleon Farr that results into a 26-yard touchdown catch. More shock and awe for the Canes. UM 24, FSU 23.

FSU's 9th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 39)
- Michael Ray Garvin gives FSU tremendous field position with a 59-yard kickoff return.
- After a holding penalty moves the ball back a few yards, Antone Smith runs left for a 16 yards to the UM 27.
- Another holding penalty on FSU moves the ball back again to the UM 37 and brings up a 1st and 20. FSU decides to run some trickery of its own with a wide receiver Greg Carr. Chavez Grant gets a hand in late to help knock away a potential touchdown pass. On the next play, Grant makes a nice play to tackle in the open field bringing up a 3rd and 17. On the next play, Lee scrambles for a 7-yard gain. Gary Cismesia comes on and connects on a 45-yard field goal. The drive: 7 plays, 12 yards, 3:21. FSU 26, UM 24.

UM's 10th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 26)
- After two runs by Javarris James net one yard, Miami gets called for delay of game bringing up 3rd and 14. Kirby Freeman falls just short of the first down, rushing for 13 yards. Miami will punt. But on fourth down, FSU gets flagged for offsides. The Canes hustled up the line and try to snap and FSU's Geno Hayes comes and kicks the ball, drawing the flag. Smart, smart play.
- Miami gets a first down and a false start almost right away, making it 1st and 15. On the very next play, Kirby thinks he has a free play and floats the ball up in the air and it gets picked off by Anthony Houllis and returnd to the UM 31.

My first half thoughts...
- UM couldn't have asked for a better first quarter, grabbing an early 14-10 lead and taking advantage of an FSU mistake and scoring on it. But the Canes gave up 136 yards on defense in the first quarter and couldn't stop FSU's short range passing game.
- Xavier Lee looks too comfortable for UM's taste. FSU's quarterback has thrown an interception, fumbled and had an exchange problem with Antone Smith which led to a fumble, but all in all, I'm pretty sure Canes fans would take Lee's ability to work the short and medium passing game over what the Canes currently have.
- Miami has had a few big plays in the first half. But the big plays won't happen all the time. UM needs to start making the small ones.
- The Hurricanes have 8 yards rushing at the half. That's not going to beat FSU.
- Have to give UM's defense credit. They've produced three turnovers in the first half. They might need to do the same to keep the Canes in it in the second half.
- The Canes have lost two players to injuries: OL Jason Fox left in the first quarter and quarterback Kyle Wright. Chris Rutledge was dinged up on the Kirby Freeman interception return. Cornerback Glenn Sharpe and receiver Lance Leggett did not make the trip to Tallahassee.

* PREGAME: FSU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.

UM's 1st Drive (1st and 10 at UM 20, 15:00 left)
- Kyle Wright opens the game with a swing pass out to Javarris James for a 5-yard gain. On second down, James runs up the middle for 4 yards. On third down, the Canes look like they blow the assignment and Wright nearly gets picked off. It was supposted to be a handoff. Instead, Miami punts the ball 46 yards and Preston Parker gains one yard.

FSU's 1st Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 26, 14:02 left)
- On first down, Antone Smith gets dropped by Colin McCarthy for no gain. On second down, Xavier Lee runs up the middle for 1 yard. On third and 9, Preston Parker takes a short pass up field for 22 yard gain and a first down.
- After an incomplete pass and four-yard run by Antone Smith, Lee completes another short pass, this time to his tight end Caz Piurowski for a 17-yard gain and another first down.
- UM's defense is not covering up well.
- After another short run on first down, Preston Park picks up 14 yards on another short pass turned up field for a big first down. FSU is at the UM 19.
- On first down, Parker gets the reverse and picks up 13 yards to the UM 6. This looks like North Carolina all over again.
- After a first and goal run goes nowhere, Greg Carr catches a ball in the back of the end zone. But his foot lands out of bounds. On third and goal, Xavier Lee looks for tailback Jamaal Edwards, but over throws him. FSU is going to kick a field goal.
- With 8:44 left, Gary Cismesia connects on a 23-yard field goal to put FSU up 3-0. The drive: 13 plays, 69 yards, 5:18. FSU 3, UM 0.

UM's 2nd Drive (1st and 10 UM 33, 8:44 left)
- On first down, Kyle Wright holds onto the ball too long and Paul Griffin sacks him back at the UM 25. And the War Chant begins. On second and long, Javarris James runs up the middle about a 4-yard gain. FSU cornerback Michael Ray Garvin is helped off the field. On 3rd and 14, Kyle Wright gets some time and finds Darnell Jenkins for a 64-yard gain down to the FSU 7. Wow. Where did that come from?
- On first and goal, Javarris James battles his way up the middle for a 5-yard gain to the FSU 2. On second down, Javarris James gets hit at the line by Derek Nicholson for no gain. On third and goal, FSU juumps off sides, moving the ball to the 1. On third and goal, Kyle Wright tries the sneak and gets stopped short.
- On fourth and goal from the FSU 1, Kyle Wright breaks the plain of the goal line according to officials for a touchdown. But the play is getting reviewed. It's ruled a touchdown. Daren Daly kicks the extra point to make it 7-3 UM with 5:08 left in the first quarter.

FSU's 2nd Drive (1st and 10 at FSU 20, 5:08)
- On first down, Antone Smith fumbles in the FSU backfield and Miami recovers at the FSU 17 by Tavares Gooden.

UM's 3rd Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 17)
- On first down, Wright attempts to connect with Graig Cooper in the end zone, but the pass falls incomplete. FSU gets flagged for defensive pass interference. On the next play, Cooper follows his blockers to the left for a touchdown with 4:48 left in the first quarter. UM 14, FSU 3.

FSU's 3rd Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 30, 4:43 left)
- On first down, UM's run defense smacks Antone Smith down for a 1-yard loss. Canes are feeling it! On second down, Preston Parker catches a quick slant and picks up 14 yards before Kenny Phillips brings him down. Parker is injured on the play.
- INJURY UPDATE: FSU cornerback Michael Ray Garvin has a mild concussion and may return later in the game.
- On first down at the FSU 44, Antone Smith picks up a yard. On second down, Lee looks like he's going to take off. But he stops and finds Parker open in the middle of the field for a 21-yard gain to the UM 34.
- On first down, Smith runs for 2 yards. On second down, Lee finds Greg Carr open for a 13-yard gain. Carr got licked by Teraz McCray on the pass. FSU is making quick short passes to make sure Miami's defense doesn't have time to get to him.
- Following a couple of runs by Antone Smith that gives FSU a first and goal at the UM 8, Wallace runs for 2 yards up the middle. On second down, Xavier Lee runs the bootleg and scores on a 6-yard run to make it 14-9 with :05 left. Cismesia makes the extra point to make it 14-10. Drive: 10 plays, 70 yards, 4:38. UM 14, FSU 10.

UM's 4th Drive (1st and 10 at UM 12, 15:00)
- Randy Phillips gets flagged for an illegal block, nullifyingf a nice return by Ryan Hill and moving the ball back to the UM 12.
- On first down, Wright tosses a screen pass to Graig Cooper that picks up 12 yards and a first down.
- On first down at the UM 24, Wright escapes the pocket and finds Cooper for a 6-yard gain. On second down, Cooper picks up three yards on a sweep. UM will have a third and one from its own 33 when play resumes with 14:03 left. On third down, Darnell Jenkins catches a short 5-yard pass for a first down to keep the drive alive.
- On first and 10 at the UM 38, Cooper gets hit in the backfield by Alex Boston for a 5-yard loss. On the next play, Kyle Wright gets everyone in South Florida to hate him again. Wright gets picked off by linebacker Toddrick Verdell and returned for a 45-yard touchdown return with 13:07 left in the second quarter. Wright was throwing the ball into triple coverage. FSU 17, UM 14.
- Wright has 26 career INTs in 27 career starts.

UM's 5th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 22, 13:01 left)
- On first down, Javarris James runs for 2 yards. On second down, Javarris James runs for 8 yards and a first down.
- On the next play, UM tries to get fancy with a reverse to Darnell Jenkins. He slips down in the backfield for a loss and UM's Jerrell Mabry gets flagged for a block in the back. FSU declines it.
- On second down and 14, Wright tries a QB keeper up the middle and loses a yard. On third and long, UM runs the screen pass to Javarris James, but Miami's blockers miss Varnell on the block and hits James for a loss. Matt Bosher gets off a 43-yard punt. FSU will take over at its 34 with 9:52 left in the half.

FSU's 4th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 34)
- On first down Antone Smith gets hit for a 1-yard loss. On second down, Lee overthrows Preston Parker on a slant pattern. On third down, Parker catches another short pass for a 12-yard gain and first down. FSU is exposing Miami's lack of pass defenders.
- On second down, Xavier Lee scrambles forward for three yards, bringing up at 3rd and 7. On the next play, Xavier Lee bobbles the snap and Tavares Gooden recovered the fumble at the FSU 41.

UM's 6th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 41)
- After back-to-back Kyle Wright incompletions Wright gets sacked at the FSU 47. Wright is hurt on the play with 6:38 left. LaTroy Guion gets flagged for a personal foul giving UM a first down.
- Kirby Freeman comes in.
- After two short runs, UM is faced with a 3rd and 6 at the FSU 28, Freeman falls forward for a 2-yard gain. UM is setting up for a field goal. Daren Daly connects on a 44-yard field goal with 4:43 left in the second quarter. The Drive: 7 plays, 14 yards, 2:14. UM 17, FSU 17.

FSU's 5th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 30)
- On first down, Xavier Lee hits his tight end for a 1-yard gain. Colin McCarthy had a nice tackle on the play. On the next play, Antone Smith runs for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
- On first down, Lee tries to go deep, but his receiver turns in instead of out. On second down, Greg Carr catches a 9-yard pass, setting up a third and one at the UM 49. On the next play, fullback Seddrick Holloway runs up the middle for a first down.
- On first down at the UM 45, FSU loses two yards on the run. UM's run defense is doing a much better job wrapping up this week. On second down, Lee throws an incomplete pass to Antone Smith. On 3rd and 12, Randy Phillips makes a nice one-handed interception and returns it to the FSU 39. The pass was intended for Preston Parker, who partially deflected it.
- Have to give UM's defense credit. They've produced three turnovers in the first half. They might need to do the same to keep the Canes in it in the second half.

UM's 7th Drive (1st and 10 at the FSU 39, 1:39 left)
- Kirby Freeman's designed screen to Graig Cooper is short and falls incomplete. On second down, Freeman overthrows Cooper. FSU calls time out.
- On third and 10, UM gets flagged for an illegal substitution, moving ball back to the FSU 44. On 3rd and 15, Freeman telegrafs a pass that is intercepted by Patrick Robinson -- formerly of Gulliver Prep and who wanted to go to the U -- and he returns it ot the UM 33 with 1:21 left.

FSU's 6th Drive (1st and 10 at the UM 33, 1:21 left)
- After an incompletion, Greg Carr gets open at the UM 19 for a first down and 14-yard gain. On first down, Kenny Phillips blitzes from the safety spot and forces an incompletion. On second down, Lee goes for the end zone, but throws an incomplete pass. On third down, UM brings the blitz again and there is a flag on the play. UM's Vegas Franklin was offsides.
- On third and five, Lee scrambles for two yards. With :33 left, FSU will attempt a field goal. Cismesia makes it to make it 20-17 with :15 left. FSU 20, UM 17.

Thoughts before FSU

What's up Eye on The U crew? I'm up here in Tallahassee three hours-plus before kickoff. It's a beautiful day today. But it was pretty ugly and nasty all week in the state capitol. Lots of rain yesterday should make the field a little slick for today's game, which as usual, I'll be blogging live about and sharing my thoughts with you throughout the game in just a few hours.

Before that, though, I just wanted to share my keys to the game for the Canes. I spent some time breaking down the numbers and talking with our FSU beat writer Jeff Shain about the 'Noles yesterday at Ted Turner's restaurant Montana Grill up here in Tally. Shain likes the 'Noles 9-6 in the game. I predict a Canes' 17-16 victory.

But in order for the Canes to pull off what has become a rare road victory these are my five keys to the game.
- 1. Put pressure on Xavier Lee: FSU's receivers are going to be a tough assignment for the Canes' secondary. The 'Noles have been able to create lots of big plays in its passing game since Lee took over at quarterback -- averaging at least one pass that goes 50 yards or more since he took over. Lee creates that with his legs and by scrambling and by forcing defense to vacate their assignments. Miami needs its front four to take advantage of some switches on FSU's line this week due to injury and create the kind of pressure it did on Duke's Thaddeus Lewis three weeks ago. If Eric Moncur, Calais Campbell and Teraz McCray are busy "eating" (that's what Clint Hurtt calls getting to the quarterback) than Miami can force Lee, making his third start, into turnovers, which leads me to...
- 2. Create turnovers that lead to easy points: In Miami's wins this season, the Canes have forced 11 turnovers that have led to 41 points. In the three losses, UM has produced only three takeaways resulting in 17 points. Scoring has been hard to come by in this series over the years. Considering Miami is on the road, they'll need emotional lifts. Nothing delivers that more than an interception or fumble recovery.
- 3. Control the clock and the ground: There's no doubt UM's defense will carry the burden in this game. But UM's offense will have to do something too -- control the clock and move the chains. In FSU's two losses this season, the common factor was that their opponent controlled time of possession and ran the ball well. FSU's run defense is still one of the best in the country. But the 'Noles are a bit dinged up at defensive tackle, much like UM. The Canes' best weapon on offense is its backfield -- Shawnbrey McNeal, Javarris James and Graig Cooper. If those three can get rolling and help Miami move the football, the Canes will have a chance. But if the 'Noles, who held UM to 2 yards rushing last year, shut down the run game, Miami could get blown out in this one.
- 4. Have a great day on special teams: The Seminoles own the edge in all three major statistical categories -- net punting, punt returns and kickoff returns. They've also blocked two punts this year. Miami can't afford to continue to lose the special teams battle. Matt Bosher needs to punt like he does in practice.
- 5. Avoid dumb penalties: This game is going to be an emotional for both teams -- regardless of the current state of both and their records. Miami can't afford to give FSU a second chance with dumb penalties -- like late hits out of bounds or personal fouls. They've got to stay poised regardless of what the scoreboard says.

So, what do you think are the keys to the game? What's your prediction? How are the Canes going to pull this one out? Can they do it?

October 19, 2007

Guest Blogger: Married to The U, Man U Got to Understand

On my daily commute to work in heavy Washington, DC traffic, I was listening to my collection of old school hip hop hits, when two songs came on back to back that got me to thinking. The first song was Foxy Brown’s Letter to the Firm (Holy Matrimony).

“I mean damn, me and U forever hand in hand, I’m married to the Firm Boo U got to understand. I’ll die for ‘em, give me the chair man I’ll fry for ‘em, and if I got to take the stand, I’ll lie for ‘em.” – Foxy Brown, Letter to the Firm (Holy Matrimony)

As the smooth sample from Isaac Hayes’ “Ike’s Mood Part 1” kicks in and the chorus above begins, I began thinking, WOW; she’s so committed to her crew. So much so that she would go all out for them no matter what. Now that’s a COMMITMENT. I mean, she couldn’t have put it better, isn’t that what we all want from our commitments, or from those that we say that we LOVE? That UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, where we know that our loved ones are supportive of us at all times, through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs?

Ironically, however, the next song that came on, MC Lyte’s, 10% Dis, has a message that is essentially the absolute opposite.

“Beat biters, dope style takers, I’ll tell ya to ya face you ain’t nothing but a faker.” – MC Lyte, 10% Dis

The two songs couldn’t be more different, but for Hurricane fans, each song describes in part the components of the fickle Hurricane fan base known as the LEGION. I have wanted to address the topic of Miami’s fickle fan base for a while now, as it has been a sore spot with me for quite some time, and I am fortunate that Manny has given me a forum to do so. While I know what I have to say won’t be popular in some circles, I do believe that it is something that needs to be said.

In the dictionary, a fan is described as an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, team, pastime, celebrity, etc; an enthusiast, fanatic. Does that define a Hurricane Fan? In some cases yes, but in most cases NO, because in reality, the majority of our fan-base is fair-weather, they are as MC Lyte said, Beat Biters, Dope Style Takers. I’ve always found it funny how that when the Canes are winning there are so many so called Canes fans. You know them! The ones on the fan sites and message boards that say, “I LOVE THE ‘CANES! I BLEED ORANGE ‘N GREEN!” But when you dig a little deeper, you find out they know diddley squat about the Canes, nor the tradition the program was built upon. It really becomes apparent when things for the Canes aren’t going well, and those fakers so called love affair with UM then turns into, “F the Canes, they SUCK, this person STINKS, or that person STINKS.” To those so called fans I ask, “Where is that unconditional, undying support? That true commitment that Foxy mentions in her song? Where is your commitment to The U?”

If you are only going to be there when things are good, then please, do us all a favor and cancel your Caneship. We don’t need that kind of fickle support amongst the ranks of the LEGION. What we do need are fans, REAL FANS that bleed ORANGE, GREEN, and WHITE. Fans that know and respect Cane tradition, and love UM Football no matter if we are 12-0 and National Champions, or 0-12 at the bottom of Division I-A. Now don’t get it twisted. Being a REAL FAN does not take away from your right to be critical of the team, the players, or the coaches. But when those criticisms turn into personal attacks of the team, its players, and the coaches, then that is when things have gone too far. Things like the heckling that happened to Kyle Wright and his father last year after a loss are despicable and deplorable. No wonder why the rest of the nation feels we have the worse fan base in all of college football. While I can understand the frustrations that mount due to our struggles at QB, lack of playmakers, and losing, I cannot condone those types of actions. Remember, no matter what, Kyle still chose to come to Miami, and he still wears the U on his helmet. Turning our backs on him or any other player, the coaches, or the team for that matter won’t make things better. These guys need us as fans to support them through thick and thin. You can’t appreciate and enjoy good times, without knowing the pain and hardship of bad times. It pains me to hear reporters on ESPN say that Hurricane fans are the worse fans in the nation, or to hear even Manny say, “Miami fans are fickle and not enough of them are real fans. The U in my opinion has about 20,000 real fans, the diehards who surf the message boards and show up every Saturday. The rest all jump on when the team is good. The rest bash them.” I hate sights like the ones we’ll see this weekend of Doak Campbell full to capacity, with rabid Seminole fans, despite the opponent, while at the OB Miami can only get a “near” capacity crowd, if FSU, UF, or other big name school comes to town.

Do I ever think this will change? Unfortunately I don’t. It’s been this way since I can remember, but as a TRUE CANE FAN, I will admit that it makes me sick when the bandwagoners and fakers destroy the reputation of the entire LEGION. Its my hope that one day these so called fans will realize that there won’t be smooth sailing all the time, but that being a part of the LEGION is like Foxy said, “…being Married to the Firm”…For better or for worse.

-bg1906 C.C.M.J.T.K.O.

Guest Blogger: What's missing? Miami attitude

So, I am sitting here in my apartment in Tucson, AZ watching ESPN’s College Gameday, and for the first time that I can remember, nobody is talking about the upcoming Miami-Florida State game. Every year, this game is something that I think both school’s players and fans look forward to because there is usually a lot of hard hitting and bit time plays by both teams on both sides of the ball. This, however, has not been the case for the past several games in which Miami fans have been left wondering, “what happened?” The topic of this week’s blog – What is a “real Hurricane”? – may lead to the answer of the aforementioned question. Where are the big time playmakers that used to come up with the game changing or game saving plays that made this rivalry so exciting to watch? This current team (and the teams of the last several years for that matter) has not had a single one of these playmakers.

I pointed to Randy Shannon being the only true Hurricane on this team, but I’m not sure that he can even count because he is the coach. In order to determine why this team does not have a single true Hurricane (for now), I had to go back and think of all the successful teams in the past 25 years and what made those players “real Hurricanes”. The result of my digging found that the most successful teams had players that seemed to play for one end result: the NFL. They may have displayed leadership qualities, a winning attitude, and teamwork skills, but the bottom line is that those were bi-products associated with teams loaded with talent that played hard to get to the end result. Winning was the best way to get there. And knowing they were going to win every game was the Miami attitude.

The Hurricanes now do not have that “knowing” attitude, and there has not been a single player on this team that has become the go-to guy or big time playmaker. I believe that Randy Shannon will bring in those players, and Miami will return to the powerhouse that it once was, but it will not succeed in doing so until players step up and become “real Hurricanes”. That’s not to say that the team right now does not have the potential. Many of the people who responded to the blog pointed to Javarris James, Graig Cooper, Calais Campbell, Orlando Franklin, Eric Moncur, Kenny Philips, etc. I say to these guys as a fan speaking for the fans: PROVE IT!

Since I have a couple of extra words, I wanted to send a shout out to Kevin Everett and say that our hearts are certainly with him and I hope he continues to make progress with his rehab.

-Dave (aka AZCanesDude)
A little background on me is that I grew up in NJ and fell in love with Hurricanes (literally). When I was about 7 years old, I decided that my dream was to go to the University of Miami and graduate with a degree in meteorology. I've successfully completed that (I think that literally makes me a true analyst of "true hurricanes"), and now I'm a graduate student at the University of Arizona in Atmospheric Science. I was accepted to UM just before we won the National Championship, and so I started at UM the year that we lost to OSU in Tempe. It's been kind of down hill since UM won that National Championship, and I was unfortunate to miss out on Butch Davis.

October 18, 2007

Thursday's practice report

Not much news to report from Thursday's practice other than a slight surprise at defensive tackle and in UM's secondary, as well as what was expected -- receiver Lance Leggett and defensive tackle Josh Holmes are out for this game.

* Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said he's starting Vegas Franklin and not Joe Joseph, who made his first start last week, opposite Teraz McCray on Saturday at Florida State. The move will give the Canes two undersized guys together at defensive tackle, but will likely give them more speed in trying to rope in FSU quarterback Xavier Lee. Sounds to me like Hurtt is simply putting his best four guys -- McCray, Franklin, Calais Campbell and Eric Moncur -- out there.

* Glenn Sharpe, who played more than he had in a while last week against Georgia Tech and got beat on a few plays, will be limited in his role this week. Defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff said he noticed the sixth-year senior, who has battled hamstring issues his entire career, was gimpy in practice Wednesday. So that means freshman DeMarcus Van Dyke and juniors Bruce Johnson and Carlos Armour will play much more.

* Also playing more this week: Safety Lovon Ponder, who was hurt in the Oklahoma game and returned in a limited basis last week against Georgia Tech. McGriff told me Willie Cooper will start opposite Kenny Phillips but that Ponder, who began the season as a starter, will "play a lot this week."

* McGriff said this week will be arguably the biggest challenge for Miami's secondary -- especially because of FSU quarterback Xavier Lee's running abilitiies. Said McGriff: "It’s probably going to be the set of receivers we’ve faced as a core all year. They got height, speed and then you add the quarterback play. He can beat you both ways. It’s going to be a challenge for the secondary not because the receivers are so talented but because our guys have got to understand coverage. When that guy gets outside the pocket, he’s very athletic and he’s not always looking to run the ball. He can hurt you if you come out coverage. We have to do a great job staying in coverage until he crosses the line of scrimmage and then look out because its going to be tough to tackle him. He’s a big kid."

* Francesco Zampogna and Matt Bosher will continue to handle the kicking and punting duties this week, even though Randy Shannon didn't seem happy about. "We can't trade them or cut them," Shannon said. "They're all we got."

* On a side note, I asked McGriff how safety Anthony Reddick is doing considering this is another season going down the tubes for him because of injury.

"He has good and bad days. I mean you got to understand the guy has been battling injury. He’s a tremendous football player. He has his good points. Sometimes, he has his low points and wishes he could be out there helping the football team. He has done an outstanding job attending meetings. Being attentive in practice. He asks questions like he’s getting ready for games. His spirits are up for the most part. I think he’s just scratching and clawing to get back on the football field and get healthy.

What do you guys miss about him?
"The thing you really miss is his leadership ability on the field. He still does [lead]. But when he’s not out there its still pretty tough to provide leadership when you’re not out there and in the locker room. We really miss him from that standpoint of being the coach on the field because he really does bring a lot of leadership ability to this football team when he’s healthy and in the mix."

* OK guys, I'll be back tomorrow with our guest bloggers and my keys for the FSU game. Going tonight to watch Coral Gables take on Columbus tonight at Tropical Park. Gables has some nice talented underclassmen.

Speaking of recruits, I was reminded today how badly the Canes want Krop linebacker Etienne Sabino and Hialeah High defensive end Corey Liuget. Both are two of the top five recruits in Dade Miami has yet to get a commitment from. If I had to rank a Top 5, I'd list them like this: 1. Tommy Streeter, WR, Northwestern; 2. Brandon Harris, CB, Booker T. Washington; 3. Etienne Sabino, LB, Krop; 4. Corey Liuget, DE, Hialeah; 5. Ben Jones, OL, Miami Northwestern.

And the winner is...

The current Hurricane players who read your responses and take some of those messages to heart. I want thank those of you who participated in what is now our weekly question of the week: Who is a Real Hurricane?

I loved many of your responses. But I had to pick a winner to post a guest blog by Friday I'd select a top three -- AZCanesDude, A Realisst, and BG1906 -- last week's co-winner. If you guys can send me an email before the end of the day we can discuss what your going to write about. I'll post your blogs here on Friday afternoon.

Here are some of my personal favorite lines...

"The current team has less "real Hurricanes" than I have fingers on one hand. In fact, the only one I see is Randy Shannon, and he's not a player. A few could emerge (e.g. Javarris James, Graig Cooper, Orlando Franklin, Demarcus Van Dyke, etc.), but I think they have a long way to go to embody that playmaker role." Posted by: AZCanesDude | October 17, 2007 at 03:52 PM

"In looking back at our successful teams, one common characteristic was that the players seemed to take ownership of the team. They knew the responsibility to win was on them, and accepted the challenge. Those players took UM's success or failure personally... We've got a few too many employees here, and not enough owners. Maybe the reconnection with Dade County (assuming the verbals hold up) will help RS install the pride of ownership that seems to be lacking." Posted by: Mephistopheles | October 17, 2007 at 03:17 PM

"To me, four words define a Real Hurricane: LEADER, PLAYMAKER, COMPETITOR, and WINNER. All the great Canes of the past (Kelly, Irvin, Walsh, Blades, Torretta, Dorsey, Reed, Lewis, to name a few) exemplify these 4 qualities. The Hurricane tradition as we know it was built on those 4 principles. Great Hurricane teams of the past no matter the regime (Schnelly, JJ, Erickson, Davis, and Coker) all had great Leadership (Coaching and Locker room), Playmakers, Fierce Competitors, and they were all Winners! In recent years, we've struggled in all 4 phases and this is why our teams struggle now and why they fall short of the expectations the fans have." Posted by: bg1906 | October 17, 2007 at 01:42 PM

"The Miami program is the one that most closely resembles the characteristics that we Marines have. The brotherhood, selflessness, camaraderie, doing more with less, overcoming obstacles, never quit attitude. I know it when I see it. The U football team does not accept applications only selfless commitments.That is what attracted me as a fan. I am a CANE fan for life!" Posted by: IndianapolisCane | October 17, 2007 at 11:30 AM

October 17, 2007

Getting them in early

The University of Miami has done well for itself this season in recruiting despite the team's current record and struggles. The Hurricanes have netted more than 20 early commitments since the summer, including many of the top local players from the nation's No. 1-ranked high school team at Miami Northwestern.

The goal now for Randy Shannon and his staff? Getting as many of those recruits to enroll early as possible. The Hurricanes will have the maximum alloted 25 scholarships to use on National Signing Day in February. But if the Canes can manage to get a few to sign in December and enroll in classes by January at the school , it will only open up more spots for this team because none of the scholarships would go toward the maximum 25 in February. Those scholarships used in December would be counted against this past season. My understanding is the team has as many as eight open slots they could use for potential recruits in December.

“Huge," said UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt when asked how important it was for the Hurricanes to sign more kids in the early period. "We need to get in as many guys in here as quickly as possible. We have a certain number we can bring in at midterm. That’s something we’re working on now. There’s no doubt about it. We can bring in as many as we can. We’re going to have a lot of guys here in January. You can write that up just like that."

The early targets -- the kids who have the grades to get in -- include Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and linebacker Sean Spence are all players who could potentially enroll early at UM. Same with Ely cornerback Patrick Johnson and another current non-UM commitment, Booker T. Washington cornerback Brandon Harris.

As for Miami's image in the eyes of recruits following the last two losses, several recruits told me Tuesday they actually feel more encouraged to join the program. Hollywood Chaminade High linebacker Jordan Futch, a UM commitment, told me he's spoken to current UM targets who now seem more eager to attend UM because they've seen freshman play this season and the potential to play next year.

“They all feel like they’re going to be the ones to bring us back," Hurtt said when asked about the way recruits are reacting toward him and the program. "It’s almost like they’re creating a union among each other. Guys from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – all those guys are recruiting each other. They’re saying we got to get things back together and get the rings back on. We got some talented guys now. But we need to be 85 strong."

- For those of you wondering what's going on with Miami's defensive line and linebacker issues, the Canes are basically in trouble right now. They've been mauled by injuries at defensive tackle. Hurtt joked Tuesday about trying to sneak into a uniform. Right now, the only healthy Canes at defensive tackle are Teraz McCray and Joe Joseph. With Antonio Dixon not expected to return until the end of the season or a bowl game, Dwayne Hendricks out for the season and Josh Holmes dinged up, Miami will rely on undersized Vegas Franklin to rotate in at defensive tackle as the No. 3 man. Luqman Abdullah and Steven Wesley could be used in emergency situations. But that's it.

- As for linebacker, Colin McCarthy's return this week should help. McCarthy has done a good job on the strong side. But Miami needs Daryl Sharpton, who is starting at weakside, to be in better positions to make plays. Eric Moncur told me coaches spent a lot of time Tuesday "slowing things down" in practice so guys knew where they had to be in running lanes. The Hurricanes gave up a combined 450 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in their last two games. Before that? A total of 485 and one touchdown in the previous five games combined.

- Some of you have pondered if freshman Allen Bailey could or would be switched to defensive line. Hurtt told me UM's coaches promised Bailey he'd stay at linebacker and the only way he would play defensive line is if Bailey asked for a switch. Of course Bailey, who is 6-4, 270, could eat his way into moving into the line. Shannon hinted Tuesday that Bailey needs to maintain his current weight: "If he goes up to 320, he won't be a linebacker."

- Javarris James' recent struggles in the backfield (he's had 16 carries for 21 yards in the last two games) could possibly be the result of a neck injury he suffered against Duke. UM running backs coach Tommie Robinson said James has been "a warrior" and will continue to practice and will play this week. James did some extra running Tuesday because of his fumble against Georgia Tech. Shannon said he plans to use a three-man rotation -- James, Graig Cooper and Shawnbrey McNeal -- for the remainder of the season.

- Former Canes receiver Lamar Thomas passed by camp Sunday and spoke to the team according to players. He isn't the only alumni who has been calling and trying to contact the Canes. UM safety Kenny Phillips says he's been receiving phone calls from former Canes John Beason, Brandon Meriweather and Ed Reed telling him "they're embarrassed" by the way Miami has played lately. Hurtt said he's received phone calls from Dan Morgan and Damione Lewis who want to know "what the heck is going on."

“Guys are frustrated and that’s because how high the bar was set – especially a lot of them that played with me," Hurtt said. "The guys know what we went through in the mid 90s, late 90s. I’m letting them know we’re going through growing pains. Ain’t nobody accepting. And that’s what former players are getting frustrated with. They don’t want to see anybody expecting it. They’re like what are you guys going to do about it? Are we playing the guys who are willing to go the extra mile that need to do what they need to do to put us back to where we need to be?”

- Speaking of Kenny Phillips, he spent the final moments of the loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday standing in the back of the end zone as the teams met at midfield to shake hands. Afterward, he declined interviews with reporters.. But on Tuesday, I caught up to him after practice. Phillips said Miami's struggles are hurting his soul and that he's physically sick of losing. Check out the complete audio interview in our audio section (I've got a lot of good ones, including a good one with Derrick Morse).

- Shannon said Tuesday running back Charlie Jones and linebackers Romeo Davis and Glenn Cook would all miss the remainder of the season. But when asked if any might return next year, he was non-committal.

- Shannon was asked Tuesday to point out which freshmen aside from Shawnbrey McNeal he thought have played well thus far. His response: "Lee Chambers was coming around then he got dinged up. DeMarcus Van Dyke is coming back around. He had a lull. Damien Berry has been unbelievable on special teams. Orlando Franklin – he’s playing half with Andrew Bain. He’s playing a lot better than a freshman is. Hankerson started the season off well and hit that lull but he's coming back."

- Shannon said punter Matt Bosher has to kick the ball better in games. "In practice its 50 yards, he gets in the game, he gets nervous. He’s not a freshman anymore. He needs to step up and accept that job. If he does a good job this week, we’ll have a great chance to win this game."

Who is a real Hurricane?

In the aftermath of the University of Miami's second consecutive loss, I've been trying to put my finger on what coach Randy Shannon has tried to get his team to understand about what he wants and expects from them.

In a sense, I feel Shannon has been undergoing his own journey of understanding. As Miami's defensive coordinator for six seasons, Randy never really got to understand what was happening on the other side of the locker room. (For those of you who never played the game, offenses and defenses rarely to speak to one another. When one is on the field, the other is in a huddle on the sidelines, game planning the next step. The same applies with practice during the week).

When Shannon took over this job in January, the only part he recognized was his own -- the defense. So, he brought the team together in the spring -- joining the lockers, establishing his unified rules -- and began pushing the offense as hard as he's always managed to push the defense. The problem? Randy's realized not everybody was pushing back and many simply don't know how. I think he finally came to that understanding last week when he went on his now infamous tirade in front of reporters at the end of last Tuesday's practice. A quick recap: Shannon cussed the team out and pointed to guard Derrick Morse and shouted "He's a real Hurricane!"

I think for awhile Shannon believed all he had to do this season was point -- like he did last Tuesday --  and like magic, eventually things would fall into place. The guys who weren't real Hurricanes could somehow become one through following the footsteps of "The Real Hurricanes." The problem is there are not enough "Real Hurricanes" around to this team escape its current state of mediocrity -- not yet anyway (but the troops are on their way). And, the imposters don't have enough ingredients to be "Real Hurricanes."

As UM fans, I can understand your frustration with this program. You have high expectations. You expect perfection. Here's the good news: Shannon and his staff do too. They remember the Old U. The problem is expectations can cause problems. And you've been terribly misled. I hear the gripe all the time -- but I thought our recruiting classes were among the best in the country. What we fail to realize is that the guys making the evaluations -- on those recruiting websites and at The U the last couple of seasons -- weren't very good. As one former Hurricane told me Tuesday, there aren't just enough real Hurricanes in this group.

So what does being a Real Hurricane mean? I define it as a mixture of mental toughness, the undying desire to win at all costs and the athletic ability to carry all of that out. The bonus feature? Real disappointment with losses and feeling unsatisfied with losses (just look at the way Kenny Phillips reacted after the Georgia Tech loss). Miami's coaches have realized there aren't just enough Real Hurricanes around. Now, you have to see it too. This team may not be playing at its best, but there's not much more ceiling to go right now. Go through the roster yourself and you'll see it littered with sophomores and juniors and seniors who have never smelled the field. Why? They aren't good enough.

Miami's new staff is weeding those people out right now and my guess is don't expect to see many of those guys back. Butch Davis made a similar ultimatum when Miami was going through its previous struggles in the late 90s. Guys left and things changed. From all the conversations I had Tuesday, expect to see the same in the coming months from Shannon and his staff.

* BLOG TOPIC: So, how do you participate in our Blog Topic of the Week? I want you to tell me how you as a fan define a Real Hurricane. Who are The Real Hurricanes on this team? Which former Canes do you look to as fan as Real Hurricanes?  What makes you a Real Hurricane fan? As usual, our winner will have an opportunity to be a guest blogger Friday. I'll need all responses limited to 500 words or less by 10 p.m. Wednesday. I'll pick a winner and announce here on Thursday morning.

October 16, 2007

Tuesday's live Q&A

OK folks. I'm going to get started with our weekly Q&A session soon. Feel free to leave your questions below. I'm going to go back and find the ones you left me earlier this afternoon.

I spoke to several people today including Calais Campbell, Eric Moncur, Clint Hurtt, Robert Marve, Derrick Morse, Joe Joseph, Chavez Grant, Kenny Phillips and Kyle Wright and some others. Audio is being posted as we speak on our UM audio link if you want to check out what they said.

See you at 8 p.m.

Marve redshirted

University of Miami fans hoping to see quarterback Robert Marve under center this season will have to wait until next year. Coach Randy Shannon said Tuesday he's redshirting Florida's Mr. Football.

But when Canes fans finally do get to see the 6-1, 195-pound freshman from Tampa, Marve said they'll see a fully healed and tireless worker who knows the playbook and is ready "to command the troops."

"I'm feeling really good right now, physically," said Marve, who met with the media for the first time since fall practice began and showed reporters the scars he suffered on his left wrist and non-throwing hand from the rollover car accident he was involved in this summer.

"Being able to go out and practice has helped me mentally. I'm just trying to keep my arm strong, throw routes to receivers. So, I throw 10 or 15 deep balls a day. I work on my footwork some days, run through the plays by myself. I feel good about everything."

Marve, who said he still experiences slight pain from nerve damage on his left hand, fully expects to be 100 percent healthy by the spring. By then, he could be in the middle of a tight race for the starting quarterback job with current backup Kirby Freeman and two current Hurricane commitments, Miami Northwestern High's Jacory Harris and Texas native Tyler Cook, who are both trying to enroll at UM by January.

Right now, though, Marve is trying to heal. He's gained 12 of the 14 pounds back he lost after the accident and said he began running Miami's scout team the week before the Texas A&M game on Sept. 20.

Marve said he accidentally re-opened his "open wound'' taking snaps a couple of weeks later and had to have stitches put in and now wears a glove during practice to protect his injured hand. And although some days Marve says he can't grip the ball, Marve said his hand is starting to feel better.

"He throws it very well," UM cornerback Chavez Grant said of Marve. "He drops back and he's looking around and scrambling and everything. He's very accurate -- I believe he's deadly accurate. He has a quick release. Once your watching film, you can see it. I think, he'll be great."

As for the playbook, Marve said he's picking it up little by little. "I've definitely been looking at the basics of the playbook, trying to know a couple basic things first before I start getting into something bigger. I feel good about where I'm at now in the playbook," he said. "There's a lot to it, the audibles, there's a lot of things that go into it. It's going to take time."

As for his relationship with his future competition, Marve said he and Freeman are ‘‘good friends," and that he and Harris, whom he knows well, are also friends. "We all want Miami to succeed," Marve said. "That's the ultimate goal -- to win."

Busy Tuesday at The U

Florida State week is now in session. I've got lots to share from Tuesday's press conference including interviews with quarterback Robert Marve, defensive tackle Joe Joseph, good stuff from Derrick Morse and a long talk with cornerback Chavez Grant.

But it's going to take me some time to piece it together. Check back around 4 p.m. and I'll have a nice notebook chalk full of info here for you.

For now, feed me some questions for tonight's live Q&A at 8 p.m. Plus, anything you might want me to ask a player or coach after practice. Practice usually ends by 5 p.m.