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Spring practice report: Day 2

So what did we learn after Day 2 of spring football? Today, assistant coaches spoke for the first time since the start of the spring. I got to speak with defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, special teams coach Joe Pannunzio, receiver Kayne Farquharson, defensive ends Adewale Ojomo and Eric Moncur, center Xavier Shannon, safety Anthony Reddick and kicker Matt Bosher (audio will be posted later tonight and I'll provide links). Here's a quick rundown of notes I collected...

McGRIFF TALKS SECONDARY: With his two best corners -- Bruce Johnson and DeMarcus Van Dyke -- Wesley_mcgriff participating in track season, defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff said he's been experimenting with putting a few of his safeties at corner early this spring the way he did with Kenny Phillips last season. McGriff said he has Anthony Reddick and Randy Phillips (a former corner) "working on the edges" in case of emergency situations. As for a depth chart, senior Lovon Ponder and Phillips are with the first team at safety with Reddick and sophomore Jojo Nicholas on the second team and sophomores Jared Campbell and Damien Berry as the next in line.

McGriff said there is no question Chavez Grant -- once locked into the nickel position -- will see more time on the outside next season. "He’s what I call the ultimate utility player," McGriff said. "He’ll play nick and corner. You’ll see his playing time increase at corner."

As for the young guys -- Berry, Nicholas and Campbell, McGriff said: "All of them have gotten better. Joe Nicholas got a lot more confidence in making the calls. He’s not that timid freshman anymore. He’s comfortable with the position. Damien Berry is still doing wonderful for us on special teams. He’s a guy that can play corner and safety. I’m going to play him at two positions. He just flies around. Jared Campbell -- he’s done a tremendous job in meetings taking those things and regurgitating them. The main thing is to get them in pads and see how they respond when the bullets fly. They’ve all gotten better in their own ways. But let’s see how they comes along with those pads on."

STOUTLAND BREAKS DOWN THE LINE: UM offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland Jeff_stoutlandsaid he's been pleased with the way his lineman have either gained weight or lost it in preparation for the spring. "Jason Fox, he’s gained some good weight, not sloppy weight. Guys are going to have a hard time running him over now," Stoutland said. "Chris Barney has take a lot of weight off. It’s gone both ways. Some guys have put some good weight on. Some guys have taken some sloppy weight off. I think all in all, they look better physically. Now, its just a matter of putting it all together on the field and learning the system."

Stoutland, who used a rotation of Fox, Reggie Youngblood and Chris Rutledge at tackle last season, said senior Tyrone Byrd has now entered the mix. "Inside is where we have the most change and where we have to be very creative in the springtime," Stoutland said. "I’ve moved A.J. Trump out to left guard. We need to get solid depth there now. Orlando is obviously not involved right now, but he will be. Chris Barney is doing a much better job than he was before. Then we have at the right side, we have Joel Figueroa and Harland Gunn. Harland Gunn is doing a very nice job. He’s very impressive."

"We got to find a center and that’s between Matt Pipho, Xavier Shannon and Tyler Horne," Stoutland said. "They’re all about the same in speed of the snap. It comes down who can move laterally and move fast off the ball and move down the line. So, you got to make a lot of calls up front and make calls."

When asked if Shannon, who made 27 consecutive starts while at FIU might have an advantage, Stoutland said: "He’s got a lot of starts under his belt. To me its important to be in live in games. There is no substitution for being a starter in live games."

CALAIS TALKS DRAFT: Before the start of practice, I bumped into former Canes defensive end 022708_calais_2Calais Campbell, who was working out with a bunch of other former Canes and preparing for Friday morning's NFL Pro Timing Day at The U. Campbell said he was disappointed with his 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine in Indianapolis Monday, but still pleased with the athleticism he showed. He said also felt he did a great job during the interview process. He admitted to both me and Herald Sports Writer Susan Miller Degnan his decision to leave The U early was not easy. He said he wavered throughout the process, but ultimately decided he wanted to leave because he had already graduated and it was best for him to leave.

PHOTOS: I took some more pictures today before practice got started. I'll add the captions later... (#16) Quarterback Cannon Smith plays catch during practice early... (#4) Aldarius Johnson stretches with (#5) Javarris James... running backs coach Tommie Robinson shows (#43) John Calhoun what he wants him to do on blocks... (#4) Johnson hauls in a pass while catches balls from the juggs machine... (#9) Quarterback Robert Marve warms up before practice... (#9) Marve throws the heavy ball with offensive coordinator Patrick Nix before practice begins... UM's secondary warms up before practice (from left, Anthony Reddick, Jojo Nicholas, Carlos Armour, Jared Campbell and Randy Phillips)... (#5) Javarris James gives new fullback Patrick Hill (#30) some words of encouragement... new receivers coach Aubrey Hill talks with Jermaine McKenzie (#15) and Aldarius Johnson (#4) during the juggs catching drill... (#84) Tight end Richard Gordon plays catch with Dedrick Epps.
022708_csmith 022708_aj_and_jj  022708_calhoun_robinson022708_ajohnson022708_marve

022708_nix_and_marve022708_dbs 022708_phill_jj 022708_receivers022708_rgordon


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Tertiary, I guess.

If CC drops out of the first round (unlikely) then he will really regret it. Looking forward to what the coaches have to say, good stuff Manny.

manny rocks

Ask about the new TE recruit Manny!


JJ looks bigger, and hopefully he'll be faster too.

Pat Hill is built like a bowling ball. Wow. Cant wait to see him blasting holes for JJ and Co.

Who do you predict will be the suprize of the spring offensively and defensively? Thanks

how is cooper doing

thanks Manny


Hill looks so out of shape besides JJ and who is # 15 this guy is so skinny...

Aldarius seems so focused,probably has great concentration!

I think he's gonna be a star from day one.

Dave Cooper is at the ACC championship
in track...He will practice on tuesday.

God I love seeing Canes football starting already! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tell'em ATLCane!!!!!!!!

So, I love football, but what about basketball? If the Canes win tonight, they get to the magic 20 win mark. Manny, regardless of what happens against the Tigers tonight, I'll be curious to see what the feeling is around the team going into the weekend!

Damn JJ looks big! Does Cooper look any bigger?

#15 is McKenzie

Great job Manny. Always appreciate the info

Thanks for the info and the pictures Manny!

we had a fat out of shape FB last year. hill has to be an improvement. calais disappeared in games last year. he was playing not to get hurt. no doubt he had his mind on the draft, his 06 season was way better. shannon needs to get rid of guys who just want the nfl contract. give me guys with heart and play for the U. i'm tired of seeing guys underachieve at the U, and go on to blow it up in the NFL - Frank Gore, Leon Williams, etc.

can't believe I just paid $5 to watch a NCAA B-Ball game online. Not showing it up here JacksoNOLEville. But I'm so excited for this team the year they are having and the possibility of getting in the big tourney.

Also, it helps pass the time until FOOTBALL season starts! GO CANES!

Thanks for all the updates Manny - you really help!

Where did you go online to get the B-Ball game?

I can't believe someone just called Frank Gore an underachiever. He was injured like the whole time he was at the U. When he wasn't injured, he averaged like 8 ypc and he was probably the hardest working Cane a couple of years ago! Dudes, at least if you're going to say something bad about previous teams, know your stuff. Ridiculous! And Leon Williams blew up when he got the NFL because UM's training program wasn't working for him. These guys pay huge $$ to find the right trainer and training program to work for them in the NFL. It's the guys who take plays off that need to go. And also, isn't getting to the NFL really the #1 goal of most of these guys? That's the "career" path they choose. And of course they want to win as much as possible. What regular student goes to college to just get A's and not have a career?

Kyle i think you have a valid point!

I never liked players leaving as juniors...

There should be a contract...When you sign your scholarship...I think it's bad for college sports...

Gore was a very bad example but CC is not!

That's stupid...a contract? Gimme a break! If you were in your 3rd year of college and a huge brokerage offered you 6 figures, but they said you had to leave college, what would you do? These guys aren't thinking 6 figures though. They're thinking 7 or even 8! If you think players leaving in football is bad, then why aren't we talking about basketball, or baseball, or hockey, or even women's basketball now.

Manny, huge applause to you for visiting the Legion last night at Canespace for an unannounced chat.

Guys, if anyone shows they are True U it is Manny!!

Great work as always. Sorry I wasn't there to fire a few questions.

Do you have a direct link to the audios on here???

Thanks a million.

Anyway the one who broke that rule is H.Walker...He was rhe first to leave for the NFL as a junior an since then it is so common...

VIC - ACCSelect.com

Cav here is the link:


cool, thanks

hey azcanedude, i know my stuff. frank gore was only hurt in 02 and 03, giving him plenty of time to get ready for 04. still, he was fat and out of shape. coker was even on record calling him and moss out of shape in 04. the only good game gore had in 04 was against virginia, with holes so big eric winston could have ran through them. so don't tell me how good frank gore was. he had a few good runs in mop up time in 01, and then he never did as good as he is now. that's my point, he took his time at the U for granted and then bolted. and you want to talk about an expensive training program huh? funny how willis mcgahee never needed one, nor did kellen winslow, andre johnson, dj williams, etc. gore and williams never had the heart.

I know everyone is glad fsu is in so much trouble...But I actually (DESPITE being a diehard cane) feel bad for FSU. I think college football is in a sad state when FSU and Miami are not riding high. I see Miami definitely on the rise with all the young talent... and Shannon (with the 3 rings he's got) has too much passion to let things stay down. FSU's future doesn't seem as bright as UM's. But I love it when it's a top 5 matchup with playmakers like Dorsey, Reed, Portis, Taylor, Gibson, Dunn, Weinke, Boldin, Sims, Brooks, Shockey, Winslow, McKinnie, Vilma, Williams, Rolle, Jones, Barrow, Brown, Testaverde, Kosar, Toretta, Wayne, Sapp, Wilfork, Sanders, Irvin, Simon, Warrick, McGahee, James, Reynolds, McDougle, Morgan, Lewis and so on......on each side. Ohio St. Michigan pales in comparison to Miami FSU in its prime. Miami FSU simply has the best talent in the state in a bloodbath when in its prime. Look at the finishes in 83, 87 (Walsh to Irvin), 91 (Wide Right 1), 92 (Wide Right 2), 00 (Dorsey to Shockey), 02 (Wide Left 1), 03 (the rain game), 04 OB (Wide Right 4), 04 (Hester's Block), 07 (The miracle in Tally). I respect FSU because I know they could easily have 2-3 more rings if not for our beloved Canes. As much as I want the Canes to come back to dominance, I also want FSU to become relevant too so that we can continue on this epic rivalry. Go Canes and yay for bragging rights (7 of the last 9 over FSU) (6 Straight over UF)...and still 3 more titles

Is anyone listening to the UM-Clemson game right now, or is it just me?????

(wqam.com, if you're interested...)

2:25 to go, Clem leads 72-65.

Clem was up by 21 at one point, but UM has battled back.

How has Jake Wieclaw looked so far?

How has Jake Wieclaw looked so far?

Kyle, I don't really want to get into a "verbal fistfight" over the team we both love. I definitely don't agree about Gore, but I do agree that recent teams have been lacking the intensity and heart to be good. Gore graduated and then got taken in the 4th round so I'd hardly call that bolting. Plus, Gore came from the projects - I mean THE projects. The instant he signed that contract, you know the money was going to his family.

I still don't think there's anything wrong with guys leaving for the NFL, though. That's really their ultimate goal when getting recruited out of high school.

As far as the conditioning and training goes, you named guys who are freaks of nature to compare to Leon Williams. Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, etc., are the best athletes on the planet. Of course they didn't NEED an expensive conditioning program to be great because it didn't take much for them to be great. Leon Williams isn't the only top recruit to go through Miami and not do so well - heart or not heart. Sometimes guys just don't fit into the system or respond to the particular school's conditioning program. You've got to understand that not every one of these guys coming to the U is a freak of nature or even a tip-top athlete. Most of the guys are pretty raw and need a lot of conditioning when they get to college.

How has Jake Wieclaw looked so far?

good points. its just frustrating because i grew up with the canes of the 80s who used to treat every game like it is their last. all of their losses in the 80s were close games. now, we get blown out by virginia!!! anyway, i just hope the new team works their butts off, or swasey should be fired. we can agree to disagree on this one. i'd rather have guys like jerome mcdougal, kc jones, brett romberg, ken dorsey, guys who are great at the U and not necessary in the nfl. it just sucks when its the other way around.

Amen to that!

Frank Gore left "Da U" early because his mother suffered from a bad kidney and needed blood dialysis every week! That was the MAIN reason he left early!!

If that is the real Kyle Cobia (which I'm inclined to doubt it is, no offense man), I would be more apt to listen to his opinion of Gore's work ethic during his three years on campus.

Manny, thanks for the updates and for the Q and A last night over at Canespace.


THANKS... Slapp'n 5

R U ready for some FOOTBALL ?????????????

What in the world is going on with Coach Shannon and these archaic, Sabanish rules... not only does he restrict media access to the players and coaches, but he takes the names off the jerseys, then he implements stupid little pee wee football rules for his players and benches them for not following the rules (like military basic training), but by not playing them he hurts the team and the fans... then he goes further and takes the "U" off the helmets of the new players... I wonder if he told his new recruits all of this when he was recruiting them.... I suggest that Randy try winning some games first and going to a bowl game before going Stalin on his players.....and the fans... I've been going to spring practices for decades (since Jim Kelly was the QB), now I can't even get close to the field cause Randy "Fidel" Shannon is a football Nazi.... get real!

I don't see a big deal with the rules. The rules are pretty easy to follow considering the training these guys already do and the time they get themselves out of bed.

Its this type of discipline that translate into wins...you can't win first then implement rules, its rules then wins.

You know who didn't have these types of rules...Larry Coker...we all know where that landed us.

Do you think Jimmy Johnson and Butch didn't have rules like this? Where do you think Shannon picked this stuff up.

Great job Manny. You're the man.

How's Greg Cooper been so far?

Canes1 - I've got to tell you that if you look at some of the most successful programs in football, and in business; you'll find that structure & rules are implemented and enforced. This is part of what makes teams & corporations great. Look at what Bill Parcells used to do - especially with the Cowboys...he wouldn't allow anyone a star on their helmet until they'd earned it. I know the 'boys didn't win a Super Bowl under Parcells, but he's one of the most successful coaches of the past 25 years. Requiring players to EARN the "U", benching them when they loaf in practice, removing names from jerseys to instill a sense of TEAM rather than ME all goes towards the goal that we all want to see: a cohesive, hard working, well disciplined, smart, CHAMPIONSHIP team.
Since you've been going to practices and therefore around football for quite some time, you surely recognize that different coaches have different policies and methods. It may be frustrating for fans/media, but if this is what it takes to get us back to our expected form rather than 7-6 or 5-7 seasons, then I'm all for it.

Go Canes!!!

*should have been "Since you've been going to practices since Jim Kelly was QB and therefore around football..."

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