I almost feel like I need to ring a bell before writing this next sentence: Come and get it boys, spring football is back in session.
* After 12 whole days -- man that's crazy -- without football at The U, coach Randy Shannon held his first practice since March 6th's scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium. And guess what? It took less than five minutes for him to get pissed off at the media! Shannon ended his press conference Tuesday by walking away from reporters after demanding to know which internet site (I'm not saying) had posted video of the team's entire scrimmage on its website. When those responsible stepped up to the charges, Shannon asked them why they did it. The media member responded: "Because people want to see it." Ding, wrong answer! Shannon stormed off with this last thought... "That's it, the scrimmage is closed." We'll have to find out just how serious he was and if reporters will now not be allowed to watch Canesfest on March 29th.
As for the previous scrimmage, we did finally get a chance to talk to players about it. And in the following footnotes, I'll share what I learned from talking to some of the standouts and those who struggled. Be prepared... it's a lot of football fodder to swallow and it is all you are going to get until I return from Little Rock with the Canes basketball team this weekend.
* THE QB-CENTER EXCHANGE: Before he got mad at us, Shannon told us he and his staff were able to target the problems Miami had with its quarterback-center exchange during the scrimmage and "fix it easily." So what was the problem? Call it a combination of things. Matt Pipho, who said he, Xavier Shannon and Tyler Horn are still rotating on the first team, said it was a matter of hand placement. Quarterback Cannon Smith, who fumbled a snap in the scrimmage and lost it to Ojomo, said the quarterbacks had problems lining up in the same place in the shotgun. "We did a few things in the scrimmage that didn’t help them out much," Smith said. "We got to stay constant in our depth in the gun. We can’t be a little too deep on the few, if we hadn’t the snaps might have been better. There were a few others we could have handled cleaner."
* SMITTY SPEAKS ON BEING SHORT: Speaking of Smith, he was finally asked the height question -- as in: Are you going to have trouble seeing over the line of scrimmage because you are 5-11. He handled it with class: "Not really. How ever tall you are, you still got linemen that are 6-8. You’re still going to have to find your throwing lanes. You’re not going to throw it over a 6-8 tackle, you’re going to hit him right in the head. You still got to find your lanes. I don’t think it hurts me or Marve very much." Smith said he wasn't bothered by the fact he only threw the ball four times in the scrimmage and said he doesn't need to be promised any more throws to stay happy.
* HARRIS' HAPPINESS: The one quarterback I know Canes fans are worried about when it comes to happiness, though, isn't necessariyl Smith. It's Jacory Harris, who could potentially find himself sitting behind Robert Marve at quarterback for three seasons if Marve becomes the starter and is successful. So, I played hypothetical with Jacory on Tuesday and asked him what we all really want to know... would he stick around if he has to be No. 2 behind Marve? "I’m not going to even lie. Before I came out here, that was something I was saying," Harris said. "If he’s starting or whatever I might not have a chance because he learned everything. But then when I look at it, UM is the place I want to be. And I’m a competitor and I like to compete. It’ll be real stupid to go somewhere I don’t have to do nothing. I’m not getting better that way if I go somewhere I don’t have to compete and I’m not learning anything either. So, that’s why I’m glad I came to Miami to compete."
- Yes, Jacory, but what if you are stuck behind him? Would the competitor in you tell you to move on? "Sometimes it does pop into my head," Harris admitted. "But I always think I can get the job and if I keep saying it to myself then eventually one day I’ll get the job."
- When it comes to the current quarterback arrangement at least, it appears there is mutual respect between the competitors. Robert Marve reiterated Tuesday he would not have a problem if he had to share time. "It does not matter if all three play, I promise you," Marve said. "We just want to have fun and win games." Said Harris: "All of us are fighting for the position. But it’s a good battle because none of us are being selfish. When coach tells us to get out, we get out. When it’s the next person’s time, it’s the next person’s time. And when you in, you just do what you have to do. We’re doing good. We’re doing pretty good doing that."
- Harris said the No. 1 thing Patrick Nix told him not do after the scrimmage is "drift out of the pocket." Harris said when he took some bad snaps, he either drifted to his left or right instead of dropping straight back. That led to sacks.
- Harris also dispelled any thoughts he might have a shotgun only package in place for him. After playing in the shotgun his entire career at Northwestern, he said the only reason he was in the shotgun a lot during the scrimmage was because that's the plays Nix was calling for. He said he is comfortable under center and working on it a lot more.
* THE BAILEY BEAT: Defensive end Allen Bailey had a strong showing in the scrimmage with two sacks and a huge hit on running back Shawnbrey McNeal in the backfield. My favorite response of the day on how they thought Bailey had played came from freshman linebacker Sean Spence: "The first thing I said after I saw him play was: Is he human?"
- Tuesday, I asked Mr. Superhuman how he felt he played and the first comments out of his mouth were about the mental mistakes he made. That's a good sign for Canes fans. You never want a guy as talented as Bailey to be satisfied, even if he had a good first showing. As for his comfort level, Bailey said he's about 85 to 90 percent comfortable with his new spot. He said he's picking up some of the defensive line moves "rip, shoulder lean and counter" faster than he was before and is now working on his "bull rush."
* MARVELOUS MARCUS: Freshman defensive tackle Marcus Forston said he was happy he and his three Northwestern teammates -- Spence, quarterback Jacory Harris and receiver Aldarius Johnson -- had a strong showing at the scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium, the place where they became stars as Bulls. Forston, who said he took a trip with his parents to Busch Garden over the weekend, said the Northwestern foursome spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday working out at their old high school over spring break. I'm sure they were treated as celebrities.
- Forston said he is very proud of his new eating habits since he's been at UM. He said when he first got to UM, he jumped up to 315 pounds, but is now down to 303. Forston's diet plan: "Omlette, two pieces of toast and some fruit for breakfast. For lunch, I’ll eat two sandwiches and some Lays potato chips. Then for dinner, I’ll eat some pasta or Teriyaki Chicken and pasta. All I drink is water now, too." Forston said he's been doing so well, he even passed up his mother's cooking. "I’m still mad now. My mom cooked some baby back ribs and some macaroni, shrimp fried rice. I didn’t even want it. Is that crazy?"
- What's not crazy is the bond Forston said he, Bailey and redshirt freshmen Adewale Ojomo are building on the defensive line. Forston said he and Bailey are having fun together. "When he’s on my side, me and him are always talking and communicating to each other. I tell him to push himself and keep that contain and I’ll make the quarterback flush out to him or he’ll make him step up to me. It’s either or. We’re working together. And then we got to build that bond like I had with my defensive end in high school."
- As for what Forston said he needs to work on -- its handling more complex blocking schemes. "In high school, I didn’t get too many blocks. You got double teamed or had guys pulling. Right now, they’re doing pulling, double-teamming, they're going out and doubling the linebackers, they're doing all type of blocks I’ve never seen before. Coach Hurtt told me I’m doing a hell of a job with it. I’m doing better with my hands too coming off the ball, too."
* SUPER SEAN SPENCE: Spence, who is still playing with the first team at strongside, said linebackers coach Michael Barrow has begun "moving guys around" at linebacker. Tuesday, Spence said he played on the weakside. I'm still a firm believer Spence will end up being the starting middle linebacker in a few seasons -- and so does he. "When I was getting recruited they said I might move to the middle because of how smart I am. But I haven’t made the transition yet."
* THE SWASEY WORKOUT PLAN: Running back Javarris James had two big runs and the only touchdown in the scrimmage. During the team's week off he said he spent a lot of time working out at UM, playing catch with players on campus before hitting the beach with his teammates. It's part of the growing process of friendship Miami players are building. "We had a chance to get away from football," James said. "When we were out there, [DeMarcus] Van Dyke went out showing his little muscle shirt. We wanted to show off the Swasey workout program we got going. It was all fun. We had a good time."