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A Feel Good Spring

I couldn't help but feel pretty good after leaving the BankUnited Center Saturday afternoon. Not only because Frank Haith's basketball team capped its best week ever in the ACC with an impressive victory over Maryland, but because for the first time in a while there is a sincerely good feeling around The U again as a whole.

* The baseball team opened the season with a three-game sweep of Cincinnati. With the mix of talent and experience this team has, it looks and feels like this could be a special year (at the very least a return to the College World Series type of season).
* Haith's bunch just beat Duke, is red hot and appears to be on its way to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002.
* And the football team, which just signed one of the nation's top freshman classes a few weeks ago, is set to begin spring practice today without any talk about rebuilding or fired coaches or Kyle or Kirby. This spring there is nothing but good old fashioned optimism.

Being born and raised in this city and having spent many Saturdays at the Orange Bowl and Friday nights at the Light as a kid, it's hard for a South Florida guy like me to at least not admit I'm a little happier these days (I'm human after all) that the Canes are doing better. So, I started thinking... When was the last time as a Canes fan have you felt this good? Better yet, when was the last time you were looking forward to what would happen next at Miami while not having to cover one eye while doing it?

I know I haven't given you a real topic to chew on in a while. But I figured as you sit at your computer today waiting for updates on what's happening out at spring practice, you can take a moment to reflect, pound your chest a little and give me your thoughts on the question posed above.

As for spring ball, I never completed my spring forecasts because I was unable to speak to any other position coaches in the two weeks leading up to today's first practice (media availability was about the only thing that hasn't been going well at UM lately). So, instead, I've decided to make them spring reports. I'll be at practice in the coming weeks. There, I plan to do some more in depth reporting as the practices roll on. For now, though, these are the more intriguing story lines I'm sure all of us will be following.

* Bill Young's new defense. What is it going to look like and what are players going to be saying about it? Young told us Friday in a five minute press conference not to expect much change because he stole most of his idea from Randy Shannon and other UM coaches over the years. But come on... you know this team is going show some different looks. The Hurricanes rarely blitzed under Shannon's leadership when he was the defensive coordinator. Young's defense at Kansas was all about taking chances, creating pressure and turnovers. UM used to have one of the most exciting, play making defenses in the country. Last year, they just looked sorry. I can't wait to see how different UM will look come on March 6th and the first spring game at Traz Powell Stadium.

* The quarterback battle. After three years of Kyle, Kirby and some of the worst quarterback play the program has ever had I'm extremely interested to see what two of the state's best high school quarterbacks -- Robert Marve and Jacory Harris -- are going to do being thrown into the fire. Coach Randy Shannon told us Friday he wasn't going to name a starter by the end of the spring and he wouldn't rule out using a two-quarterback system come the fall. What he didn't say is what we should already expect. We're not going to hear him or offensive coordinator Patrick Nix say anything to give us an idea which quarterback is performing better during practice. Nix and Shannon didn't do it last year. They certainly aren't going to do it with these two young guys. The two dates to catch Miami's young QBs and do some critiquing of your own are March 6th (at Traz Powell Stadium) and March 29th (the spring game at Lockhart Stadium).

* The Search For The Playmaker. Shannon has said repeatedly Miami's biggest problem offensively in the past few seasons has been finding that player that could "make somebody miss." With the addition of seven talented receivers in this signing class -- including the early arrival of Aldarius Johnson -- and the return to health of redshirt freshman Jermaine McKenzie, I'm convinced UM has a playmaker or the set of playmakers its longed for. The question is: Who is going to be emerge and be the man at receiver? Sam Shields, assuming he shakes off his off the field woes, should be that person. He's got the talent and ability to be. But will these young hungry guys who are just as talented push him out of the way? It certainly is going to be fun to watch.

* Big Boss Bailey. Allen Bailey was considered the most prized defensive recruit Miami hauled in 2006. He's grown into a walking muscle -- 6-4, 289 pounds with 7 percent body fat. How scary is he going to look on UM's defense now that's made the move from linebacker to defensive line? Is he the most talented player on UM's defense now that Kenny Phillips and Calais Campbell are gone?

Comments

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I'm stoked too, Manny. Can't wait to see both sides of the ball on Miami's new football team. The last time I felt this good about the U was when we beat Va Tech in Blacksburg on national TV. The Canes were electric that night.

go canes!!! can't help but be exited... i don't think they can get any worse.. but then again i thought that last year too... if all this recruiting does not pan out soon then we know it's not the talent it's the lack of coaching...

I'm optimistic too, Manny. But I've been wondering...

What's the word on special teams? Do we have guys who can run back kickoffs and punts? Do we have somebody who can make field goals and punt the ball far and high under pressure?

And how about offensive line depth? Are we one sprained ankle from not being able to run the ball or protect the QB?

I'm excited about spring practice and the season this fall. Although I expect an improvement from last year, I still think that RS and the rest of the coaching staff need another year to mold these young men. The majority of the future are all freshmen. Kids that just came out of high school and need to put on alot of weight and increase speed to acclimate themselves to NCAA football. So RS gets 2 years from me (this year and needs to dominate in 2009). Go CANES!!

i'm fiending for some canes football! atl cane is right-- rs and the staff gets two years to mold this talent and the team. after that step on the gas and let 'er rip! i'm most concerned about the offensive line. already we have 2-3 (very early) committs for 2009 and still no talk of offensive lineman. how about some nasty, beefy, quick and roguish o-lineman? choir boys need not apply!

Your question on when I last felt that our Cane world was in the proper orbit was January 3, 2002. I was at the Rose Bowl for the NC and at the same time, the BB was undefeated. A good day for the Canes.

Manny, you are the man! You bring info year round and lay your competition to waste!

Though Brock Berlin was kind of head scratcher, is anyone really going to say they didn't feel HUGE that night in the Orange Bowl when he poured it on against Florida?

Manny, recently there have only been three times where i felt this excited, but unfortunately it wasnt going in to a season it was coming out of (a single) game. The most electrifying would be the november 5th 2005 game where the canes simply destroyed those turkey people in blacksburg (if anyone can find that place on a map, let me know...) Second would be when Miami came back huge against louisville on a thursday night. The best feeling of excitement ive ever had recently though, HAS to be hail berlin when he slayed the lizards in the OB. If this team (that has so much promise) can do the same to those jortspeople again come sept 6th, this will be a special year.

Manny.
Being a Miami brat, as well, it's easy to be excited and seems like spring is in the air, the birds are chirping and the butterflies are free... everything just seems to be brighter and exploding with color. Watched the sun come up with a few clouds to a bright blue sky... and Yes,it's a great time to be a Cane.

Was over on the Space and Canez1 jacked me up with this connection to get me started this morn... Enjoy! I know I did!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsB6nRPHWrg&feature=related
Cat


I cant help but get amp'd about Canes football. I agree that RS gets 2 years to mold these guys but by 2009 I want the ACC back and we will go from their. The last time I felt like we where back was in 2005 in Blacksburg against those Turkeys. Canes wore all white and had some big time swagger that night. Please give us some hope this year and upset those Gators down in their swamp. I cant wait!!!!!!!! Love them Canes

What makes this year soooo special is that we have some great player already and this incoming class is bringing "Thump" back in the heart beat of the team that we had before. Guys like Bailey and Moncur, Sam and Hankerson, Coop and JJ, Orland and Figueroa, Youngblood,Rutledge and Fox, Dixon, Holms and Hendrix, Johnson,DVD,Grant and Armor, Cook and Sharpen, Davis and Mccarthy, Riddick, Ponder, Phillips, Berry and Campbell... deserve this year to revenge last years misery and let them carry the banner of the U.

It's a new year... Lets kickass.
Five'n in the 305

From June of 1999, through most of 2003, the University of Miami had the top program in both football and baseball. (2 titles in baseball and 1 (or 2 depending upon how you look at it) in football). Even our basketball team made a run at the Big East title. Tell me what school has had three and a half year run like that? And spare me the UF comparison-their basketball team is strong, but their football team had one good year and didn't even run the table for that title. And with all their effort and resources, they still have accomplished nothing in baseball.

But for me, it has to be 1985. I started undergrad in August 1981, and by the time I graduated, I had lived through our first 2 college world series titles, and the Miracle in Miami. I know basketball was off the map, but before 1981, UM was a non-factor in sports. By 1985, we were on the way to becoming a powerhouse in 2 sports. Those were the days.

As for now, it seems good at the moment, but we've got a long way to go to match our past.

GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Im amp'd Manny especially when a co-worker is an OSU fan is already talking 2010 smack!

I'd make like Prince and say it's like 1999 for Canes fans. Bball team is having a breakthrough year just like then, McClinton is our new Tim James, (seemingly) making the NCAAs for the first time in a long time. Also that year the baseball team finally put together a special team after fielding years in years of good to great teams but falling short and won the CWS (beat FSU nonetheless). Seems like this team could be special. And the football team was showing some promise after the long morass of probation, losing only to the #1 and two #2 teams that year and suffering only one upset loss while having some exciting wins and generally pointing upwards. Granted the seasons for baseball and football and basketball still have to play out but in the end I expect and hope it's like 1999 all over again.

The best time in recent UM history, and I saw a couple already touched on this less specificly, but the best time had to be when Baseball, Football, and Basketball were a combined 34-0(?) in 2001 and 2002. Remember? Baseball closed out 2001 on a winning streek, Football went undefeated, and Basketball started 14-0 until we lost to Connecticut in late January. The U was even featured in USA Today for this at the time.

Manny, The Search For The Playmaker.
Will not be a problem this year. The question will Not be Who, but rather, How Many... 10 or the whole team?

robnyce is absolutely correct, and that was going to be my example as well (I was a bit too late I guess). Football, baseball, and basketball were all riding long unbeaten streaks during 2001-2002, and there were several titles in football and baseball proceeding that. Everything was clicking on all cylinders that year. We were whooping all of our rivals, and there was no sign of anything slowing down.

It looks like everything is swinging up towards that again, so I'm a happy man. It's all about the U.

What's good Manny! Last time I really was this giddy for a season was the start of the 2001 season that we won the national title. We had finished 2000 with a bang and had gotten snubbed out of the title game vs OU. I knew we were going to special in '01, but didn't know just how special that year was going to be. Let's hope we get back to that sooner than later!

The Answer to your first question is simple... that night in the O.B. when we totally destroyed Texas A&M. they were ranked up there and it got ugly for them from the first snap! I never felt better... until....

The big Q for the defense is the DTs. The ends will be fine. Bailey will be a more than adequate replacement for CC.

But will Forston/Lewis/Regis be ready to contribute? Will Dixon be ready to play consistently? Josh Holmes?

If the answer is "yes," everything else will be okay. At least a few of the new LBs will step up, and at least a few of the old ones will get their heads out of their a$$es. And the secondary has plenty of guys, IMHO -- Reddick, Nicolas, Berry, Johnson, Phillips, DVD, Harris... There's gotta be a secondary in there somewhere.

If not, it will be another loooong season.

Manny,

The last time there was a buzz around the football team, other than the flies circling around the big pile of sh*t that was our offense, was after the 2005 VT game. Ever since that it has been one disappointment after another.

Canes baseball should always be respected and supported.

Canes basketball is the newbie on the block and is starting to make an impact on the UM sports scene.

Question about spring ball, who is going to be the player coming out of spring practice that all the coaches and players will be talking about?

I'm real pumped for the future at The U. The basketball team is on fire right now. I'm saying the hottest team in the ACC currently. It'd be huge for a win at Clemson tomorrow night. Any new info on Ebanks Manny? I'm ready for the next era with the football team. Marve and Harris I can see being the real deal with both being Mr. Florida football past 2 years. And can't wait till Bryce Brown is in the Gables. Kid is sick.

I'm looking for Cooper to step it up on the offense and become a playmaker.

I felt very optimistic after Miami lost to OSU. I was high on Kyle and thought we had a great chance to compete with the likes of him and Leggett and all the other hyped recruits.

I'll feel optimistic again if UM beats UF. Until that, I'll hold my optimism until 2009.

I think the biggest key to success this coming football season is the depth, to keep coming at them fast and strong all the time on defense and offense. It is up to the coaches to blend in a lot of players smoothly that is the hardest part. On D I feel very good and think Young can do that. On O. , I have gotten to a want and see attitude after cokers O mess.

Rivals has stated that the U signed a TE out of Arizona, Billy Sanders! It's starting to look better every day.

Manny great stuff. You keep new things coming year round. You need a raise man. I'm really stoked about the canes in all sports. There is a deffinate buzz around the FB team that hasn't been there in a while. The two things that concern me are the CBs and DTs. If we can lock those up we'll be fine.

I moved away from the area,the only thing I miss is the miami huricanes. Thanks to you, and your writings I feel like im right at home. I have always loved the baseball program. I remember the football program when we could not win a game to save our life. Yes I guess it has been over 30 years. I was 12 when we moved to miami so long ago. The basketball program is making me look like a star. You see I moved to North Carolina and I wear my MIAMI equipment every chance I get. My boss is a Duke alum and he owes me dinner thanks to the program this year. I have always been a fan. for 1-1/2 years I was also a student. Thanks agaim Manny keep up the good work I believe that the magic is back in MIAMI and all the other colleges beter take notice.

Im jacked everyday just being a Canesfan! There is no team out there with as many titles as the U in the past 25 years! When Miami is down, everyone still wants to talk about them. Ill admit last year was rough, but there is nothing better than a dominating night game at the OB (whooping Texas A&M), or going into choke campbell and smacking the noles across the face! Everyone here knows ITS GREAT TO BE A MIAMI HURRICANE, and thats everyday. GO CANES!

November 5th, 2005 The U vs VT I was in the stands at Blacksburg, my fraternity brothers and myself took the Ibis head up to VT and gave it to Lee Corso when he announced on ESPN Gameday we would win.
A Canes fan until the end I was in Blacksburg this past season again and I also agree with Canesman Texas A&M...Damn that was fun! Always been a Canes fan, born and raised in Miami. Something feels different this year.

There ain a nan nutha team like the u.

hello all you bloggers!

Like it or not tis the season to be electrified and charged at the recieving corp.....Make no doubt about it the u is back by popular demand.

and oh! the last time felt this good was when Kellen winslow stepped up big in the w.virgina-v-miami game.(big east dayz)

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