One of the biggest questions or gripes I keep encountering is why the Hurricanes use the blitz more often. Today at practice, I put a couple of assistants on the spot and asked them point blank why the Canes are reluctant not to blitz more.
Defensive coordinator Tim Walton danced around the subject a little, but defensive line coach Clint Hurtt may have finally shed some light on the matter: "We can't blitz yet. Not with these young guys," Hurtt told me. "[Carlos] Armour and [DeMarcus] Van Dyke and our young guys aren't ready for that yet. You can go out there blitzing and you get the ball thrown over your head and we can't afford that right now. Right now, these guys got to get really good and accustomed to playing really sound, fundamental football. Not only because it makes it safe for them, but it allows them to get some confidence. Its simpler and easier, one at a time. If you try to let it all on a true freshman, your letting the kid out to dry."
It makes sense to me, now. Miami's secondary, once a strength of this team, has turned out to be pretty average -- especially at corner. North Carolina exposed that Saturday by taking Miami's strenght -- its pass rush -- out of the game. Hurtt told me the Tar Heels used max protection schemes most of the game, taking out Calais Campbell and Eric Moncur with double teams. Sadly, it could prove to be an even bigger problem for the Canes from here on out if Miami can't gets its cornerbacks and linebackers to tackle better.
* Also making matters worse -- the loss of Antonio Dixon at defensive tackle. Dixon, UM's biggest defensive tackle, was finally beginning to play soundly when he suffered a major knee injury against Carolina. Dixon was in low spirits when I saw him today at practice. He was walking slowly with his head down and gingerly in a large boot that covered his entire left leg -- from the thigh down.
"It hurts because he's playing so well," Hurtt said. "It kind of puts you in a predicament. Hopefully, now Teraz [McCray] can continue to elevate his game. That's the best his body felt really the whole season and obviously that showed against North Carolina."
Hurtt said Joe Joseph will now become the team's fourthdefensive tackle. Luqman Abdullah will be the fifth tackle this week. The way Georgia Tech can run the football, a lot of pressure is going to be put on the shoulders of McCray, Josh Holmes and Dwayne Hendricks this week to raise their level of play.
* Speaking of raising their level of play, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland told me Orlando Franklin is having a phenomenal season. Franklin is second on the team in package blocks, despite playing only 50 percent of the time (an estimated 40 snaps). Also playing better these days, redshirt freshman Joel Figueroa, who has moved into the backup spot at right guard.
* The biggest news from today's practice: No Colin McCarthy Saturday. McCarthy has not practiced all week and is a definite scratch. Look for Daryl Sharpton to move to the middle and Tavares Gooden to move to the weakside. Spencer Adkins will probably keep his starting spot but only because of injury.
* Receiver Lance Leggett could be out too. He's been limping around and not participating in practice too much this week. Shannon said he'll decide Friday.
* As for the kicking job, Shannon said he will also decide that after Friday's closed practice. He said both Francesco Zampogna and Daren Daly have done well in practice this week. Personally, I think Zampogna will keep it for another week. What's disappointing is that Matt Bosher isn't even involved in the competition.