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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.
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022708_nix_and_marve022708_dbs 022708_phill_jj 022708_receivers022708_rgordon

Comments

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Alex:

I think you make a good point about FSU. Miami and FSU need each other in order to be respectively great. This is not only from a football sense, where we need to compete against other talented teams. We also need them to give us the national exposure that a rivalry game does. Also, we will need the natural boost that the conference championship game would give us in the future.

This will be especially true in years where we do not play Florida. Assuming the Gators continue their recent success, the BCS will be less likely to pair 2 teams from the same state in a championship games. We all know that if we give voters a chance to screw us they will. We've got FSU guaranteed on the schedule, we don't have Florida. Pounding VT every year in the ACC Championship game every year isn't going to get us anywhere.

This is staring in 2009...lets not go getting crazy about this year, yet.

Is VT in our division??? Well...whoever comes our of the other side in 2009...same result, they get pounded.

I think the entire reason the ACC set the divisions up this way was so that Miami and FSU could potentially play each other 2 times in a year. Since Miami joined the ACC, both FSU and Miami have been sliding down. It won't last long, but things are certainly looking a bit grimmer if you're an FSU fan.

I totally agree that college football in Florida is better when Miami and FSU are in the championship picture, but I think college football as a whole benefits from the big rivalries being weak. It kind of spreads out the attention to schools like Kansas or Oregon or South Florida who wouldn't normally get national attention. Unpredictability is what makes sports great, so when the big time programs are struggling, it makes things more exciting nationwide. Don't get me wrong, I still want Miami to get back to dominance, but last year was one of the greatest all around years in college football nationwide. Now they need to add a team to the Big10 and 2 teams to the Pac10 and make things right by making them have conference championships.

Canesjunkie:

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Boston College
Clemson
Wake
Forest
Florida State
Maryland
NC State

COASTAL DIVISION
Virginia Tech
Virginia
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Miami
Duke

Yo...Kyle while i agree that we just want to see the canes win, the guys you mentioned Romberg, Dorsey, Mcdougal etc only won cause guys like Mcgahee, Andre Johnson, Schokey, Portis and other guys took them to the championship. You're only as good as how many future pros you have on your team. That's not to say Dorsey wasn't good, but alot of guys could have done what he did with the WRs, RBs and TEs he had on that team. Generally, the team with the most pros wins. Thats just how it is.

Hopefully there are alot of future pros on this team. But I do agree that at times it seemed last year that CC wasn't going hard at all. I thought KP played hard all year though. He did what he could.

JayEl, I'll take your comment and spin it around - those guys wouldn't have won without the hard workers who never made it in the NFL. You say the team with the most pros wins, well, we've had first round draft picks for 13 straight years, including 04, 05, 06, and now 07, all sub-standard seasons. we don't need nfl stars, we need miami hurricane stars. i do agree kenny phillips played hard. also, to brooklyn cane - i agree with why frank gore left, and it is as good a reason as ever. its just he should have worked harder that's all. he only got drafted because of the sucess of UM backs before him. And there in lies my point - Today's players at the U think just because they put on the U, that they are entitled to greatness. They don't understand the work it takes. All the former greats, including Shannon himself, have made similar claims. And the proof is in the performance of the U in the past few seasons. That is what has to change, the work ethic and dedication, along with more heart. That means no smiling after losses, like in the Virginia game.

Thanks for the hitlist Delray....Now lets start whuppin' some of these chumps.

Delray Cane: I could not disagree with you more: Bill Parcells is a moron, that style of coaching from the Bobby Knight school is archaic and has no place in 2008 college sports. In pro sports - I just point you to the Chicago Bears and the Colts, their coaches (who happen to be black) are some of the most respected and easy-going in the league, they are winners (including a super bowl) yet they are not tyrants and treat their players, the fans and media with respect.
While I agree discipline and rules are important, the military style discipline being implemented by Coach Shannon goes overboard is some cases. I am not there everyday, so I can't comment on a case by case basis, but I see the way he treats the media (limiting access to the coaching staff and the players), he reminds me of most dictators who have something to hide and control their population and the press. It just rubs me the wrong way to see this type of failed 1950's philosophy being brought back to life today. I, just like all true Canes fans, want the team to succeed, but I am not going to stay quiet while the stealth Coach locks us out of practices and treats us fans like the enemies of the program. He was a good player, a very good defensive coordinator and has proven to be a very good recruiter (the jury is still out on his head coaching ability), but I do not approve of his military style of discipline. I feel the same way about Nick Saban, Bill Parcells, and Bobby Knight, they won some games and are considered successful, but they treat people like crap, and there is a better way. I think that style of coaching by fear should have gone away with Woody Hayes...if a player does something wrong, then do what you have to, but you do it on an individual basis not treating everyone like they did something wrong from day 1. GO CANES.

By the way, judging from last year's record the discipline does not seem to be translating to the field. The players were lost out there and not very cohesive, perhaps not all Coach Shannon's fault, but the talent on last year's team was much better than the record showed. Kyle Wright just did not forget how to complete a pass overnight, Calais Campbell did not forget how to sack the QB... there were other contributing factors (coaching-wise) that led to the terrible season last year. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and see how he does with his own players, but cut out the marine style of discipline.

Really? Didn't Pat Riley win another NBA Championship a couple of years ago with that same coaching style?

I'm pretty sure Butch Davis came to Miami with a little bit more of that "militant" style of coaching, and I could be wrong about this, but he did bring the U out of the toilet in the late 90's, right? I'm opposed to the militant style in the pros because those guys are being paid to be out there and do their job. A coach in the pros shouldn't have to raise his voice or have to reprimand his players. The fact that they do, I think, is a reflection on the lack of discipline at the lower levels (e.g. college and high school).

I'd also like to comment about the fact that last year was Randy's FIRST season as coach with all Coker players. Granted, the defense was made of many guys he assisted in recruiting, but there were so many injury problems, it was tough to tell how good the D would've been. There was no depth, that's for sure. When a team is as lazy and complacent as the ladder Coker teams were, sometimes you have got to whip the laziness out of them or tell them to take a seat on the bench. In the end, RS may not be as militant a coach as he appeared to be last year.

I say this to all fans (myself included): We need to be more patient and stop being so shortsighted. Yes, we want the U to win all of its game right now, but the fact is that this is a rebuilding process that may take up to 3 or 4 years. This is year 2. I say if Miami makes a solid run at the ACC championship that the rebuilding process is already a success. PLEASE EVERYONE BE PATIENT!!! Stop criticizing for things that you really don't know about. Alumni, coaches, current players, future players all read these blogs and I know they don't like the fingers being pointed in all directions.

Canes1 - I suppose it's a matter of individual preference regarding the style you prefer to have applied to your team.
To say that Parcells is an idiot is just a silly statement which reduces your credibility in my estimation - the guy is a HOF coach, won 2 SB's and coached in 3 and nearly 4 if the Broncos hadn't won the AFC Champ game in '98. Check him out on wikipedia if you need a refresher.
As far as your examples of the Colts and Bears: if our Canes were that well disciplined on their own - I'm sure RS wouldn't be taking this approach and I'm sure he'll adjust as needed.
I share your sentiment that like all Canes fans, the bottom line is that we want the team to succeed. If your gripe with RS is your restricted access to practice then that's fine but you've also got to realize that he's got a job to do and is accountable to a LOT of people and has a TON of pressure on him. Let the guy do his job and let the results speak for themselves. If you're in the media, maybe you want to follow Manny as he seems not to have a problem feeding us, the fans (The Beast) quality information and lots of it.

Cane4life - I challenge your statement. If you take a step back and look at this from a "30,000' view", I think you'll agree that last year was a culmination of 6 years of LC's recruiting and soft touch/loose reigns style that obviously didn't work.

Look - give the guy a break. He's got a team full of freshmen...STUDS but freshmen. This is their 1st week of practice...if they come out in the spring game looking like s*it, or if we start seeing confirmed reports that guys are loafing, goofing off or just "not getting it", then start criticizing RS' methods - until then, give him some room to coach the team the best way he sees fit.

Go Canes!!!

AZCaneDude - I completely agree with your perspective. We're all chomping at the bit for our return to greatness, but we've got to give it time. Let the transformation work - we're only in the first week of spring practice. I see the Spring Game as a major Milestone as well as the first and last Fall practices.

College football has been put on notice - UM is coming back - soon!

Go Canes!!!

Delray Cane: I called Parcells an idiot because he is one. I have been around him a few times in New York and at some spring baseball games in Florida(he goes to them a lot) and I have personally observed the way he treats people... I have seen him scream at people who have simply asked for his autograph, I have seen him lambast the media for no reason other than the fact that he acts that way most of the time. He is a narcisistic a-hole - I do not like people like him who intimidate others and talk down to people. He thinks that he is god's gift to the world and the rest of humankind should idolize him. Have you ever watched one of his press conferences after a game? How can you not have the same opinion of him after watching him treat reporters the same way on T.V.? Sorry, but in my opinion (and it is only my opinion of him as a person not as a coach) he is a HOF idiot. Just because you are a HOF caliber footbal coach does not automatically give you a green light to treat people like crap. By the way, he won 1 superbowl and that makes him god? Remember that he had LT at the time. You must be from New York where he a folk hero? Am I right? Anyway, this is not about him, it is about the "U", and I graduated from UM and have been a fan longer than RS has been alive... I love this school and the football team. I will give RS all the time he needs to succeed, and I will give him the benefit of doubt; after all we have the same goals, i.e., to bring the "U" back to national prominence and respect. Notwithstanding your comments, I think that I have the right to question some of the archaic rules being implemented by the coach and, unless I am mistaken, this is a free country and I have a right to express myself. You may not like it that I am being critical of RS, but he has yet to prove anything other than the fact that he can recruit. I loved RS as a player and defensive coordinator, but I am not a fan of his military style of discipline and the way that he is treating the media and, by extension, the fans.. I dislike Bobby Knight for the same reasons. You have to earn respect not demand it, RS should coach the kids and try to open up to the media and fans more. It is just my opinion. We all wish RS luck and pray for a great season. GO CANES>

Canes1 - you're right it is "All about the U" but I must correct you again...Parcells won 2 Super Bowls: '86 against Elway & the Broncos and again in '91 in one of the greatest SB's ever when Scott Norwood of Buffalo went...WIDE RIGHT (I like that phrase!!!). Yeah - I'm originally from NY...what's that got to do with anything?

Anyway Canes1 - there's no animosity here; all I'm saying is let coach Shannon prove himself. I truly believe that soon enough we all as fans will have lots to be happy about and will have little to stand on relative to questioning RS' coaching methods.

I'm out!!!

Go Canes!!!

I stand corrected on Parcell's superbowls, I forgot the "wide-right" bowl. The reason I knew that Delray Cane is from NY is cause Parcells is god there. I touched a sensitive button when I called him an idiot. We are all Canes fans and want the team to do well. I am very patient with the winning and don't expect to be back on top overnight. I am very excited about the recruiting and there is a very bright future ahead. I just have a hard time with the Bobby Knight style of coaching... and I dislike people who treat others as their lessers and have a god complex. I for one, will give Coach Shannon the benefit of doubt, but win or lose, I will never like the fact that he locks the fans out of spring practices, and limits media access to his players and coahces. Let's just agree to disagree on this one.

i just want to say: manny! you're doing a hell of a job keeping us informed about the progress - and how ever minor they are - results of spring practice. much appreciation to you for your insightful and informative reports. i read reports of several different news papers and cant think of one that's as insightful and anticipating as yours. you are one devoted reporter, and here's to say WE recognize the effort and enthusiasm.

one up my brother!!!

i just want to say: manny! you're doing a hell of a job keeping us informed about the progress - and how ever minor they are - results of spring practice. much appreciation to you for your insightful and informative reports. i read reports of several different news papers and cant think of one that's as insightful and anticipating as yours. you are one devoted reporter, and here's to say WE recognize the effort and enthusiasm.

one up my brother!!!

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