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Courtside blog: UM 74, Boston College 61 (F)

I'm here at BankUnited Center for the regular season home finale. I've got some football practice notes I'm compiling as well as audio interviews I'm in the process of uploading to Herald.com.

As usual, I'll be here to give you my thoughts throughout the game. Stay tuned for updates from pratice. Today I spoke with defensive coordinator Bill Young, receivers coach Aubrey Hill, safety Lovon Ponder, coach Randy Shannon, defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, running back Graig Cooper and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Once the audio is up, I'll post links.

15:55 left, UM 2, Boston College 2: Nothing more than some ugly basketball early. Canes have about three early turnovers and can't hit the wide side of a barn. Lucky for them, they are playing some good D.
11:50 left, Boston College 11, UM 4: Well, Miami must have a thing for starting slow against BC. Earlier this year, UM missed 18 of its first 20 shots. So far, the numbers have to be comparable. Tyrese Rice has nine points and the Eagles have taken advantage of some sloppy early play by the Canes to open up an early lead following an 8-0 run.
7:36 left, Boston College 16, UM 11: It's just been an ugly first half for the Canes between missed shots and turnovers. Lucky for them and unlike when they played at BC earlier this year, they haven't found themselves down by 23. Rice by the way has 14 points and is starting to get rattled a little bit by the hometown fans, who have been picking on him since he shot an airball earlier in the half.
4:38 left, Boston College 22, UM 18: UM fell behind by 9, but mounted a quick 5-0 run after Jack McClinton drained three free throws and Jimmy Graham stole an inbounds pass and laid it up.
Halftime, Boston College 27, UM 20: Miami shot a season-low 23 percent in the first half, going 0-7 from three-point range with 10 turnovers. Here's the good news -- they are only down 7. Rice has 18 at the break.

15:46 left, Boston College 33, UM 28: Boston College scored the first four points of the half to open up an 11-point lead, but UM has since responded with a James Dews' three-pointer, Lance Hurdle three-point play and Jimmy Graham score in the post to compile an 8-2 run and get back into the game.
11:15 left, Boston College 41, UM 36: Everytime Miami has had a chance to trim it within five points, BC has expanded its lead back up. Rice still only has 18 points. Graham and Hurdle lead UM with 8 points each. Looks like this is going to have to be another Jack McClinton night if UM wants to pull this one out. And as usual, Jack is hiding pretty good right now.
7:12 left, UM 50, Boston College 47: On cue... Jack McClinton hits a three-pointer to pull UM within 41-40, then hits a jumper before Lance Hurdle steals a ball in the backcourt and lays it and gets fouled to give UM the lead at 45-43. McClinton hits another 3-pointer to put UM up again 48-45.
3:52 left, UM 57, Boston College 53: Tyrese Rice finally hit another basket with 5:12 left to go, his first points of the second half. It looks like it is going to be nip-tuck the rest of the way. McClinton has 18 points for Miami. Rice has 22.
1:53 left, UM 67, BC 57: We might have just seen the play of the game as Lance Hurdle spun away from Tyrese Rice on an attempted steal, dribbled up court and hit a runner in the lane to give UM a 10-point lead. Maybe its the signature play of UM clinching an NCAA Tournament berth. Hurdle has been huge today -- 15 points and a great game defensively against Rice.
:56.2 left, UM 72, BC 61: Put on your dancing shoes Canes fans.

* I asked new receivers coach Aubrey Hill to give me an idea of who has shown flashes of being the playmaker in the open field coach Randy Shannon has long coveted. His response: "There are some Aubrey_hill guys that come to mind really quickly. Leonard Hankerson, Ryan Hill, Kayne Farquharson and Aldarius Johnson. Those are guys that kind of separate themselves. We’ll have some more guys that step up. Jermaine McKenzie will be in there. He’s been injured a couple days. But just as you have to make plays with the ball in your hands, I’m expecting them to make plays without the ball in their hands. Making sure they run the right route structure when they are told to. Making sure they do their blocks. Making sure they run down field, have good habits. It’s as much as we’re talking about and charting everything they do as far as catches and drops, mental mistakes, doing it just right and big plays, we’re charting effort. We’re trying to find out how guys are going to be consistent and accountable in everything they do."

Hill went onto say what every Canes fan wants to hear him say about Sam Shields. "We want consistency from Sam. We want consistency from all of our receivers but one of the things we want from Sam is make sure he’s consistent, he’s accountable in everything he does. We want to make sure he’s consistent. Right now, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. But right now, we got a long way to go."

* New defensive coordinator Bill Young said he wants to see "great effort" and "forced turnovers" during UM's scrimmage Thursday at Traz Powell Stadium. As for the amount of his new defense, he's installed... "We’ve put in a ton. We’ve put in a bunch – probably more than we should have. Some of the concept things are in so the players can learn them. And I think they are picking it up quickly."

* Shannon said the team worked on the two-minute drill Wednesday -- the last part of the offense Randy_shannon he said needed to be installed before Thursday's scrimmage. Shannon said he never considered taking over the defense himself before hiring Young. "I never considered running the defense. I think sometimes when you get involved in that, you become more of a defensive coach and you split your team up that way. A lot of coaches have done and then eventually most coaches relinquish it. A lot of guys relinquish it." Shannon instead has remained involved in special teams, something he picked up last season. "I’m still with special teams. I think that’s how you can win the game, assisting coach Pannunzio. He’s the special teams coordinator. I’m just there to help him get whatever needs to get done, get done."

* Defensive line coach Clint Hurt said new defensive end Allen Bailey is playing his new position Allen_bailey "like he’s been playing it here for the last three or four years. The biggest thing is he has to continue to progress and make sure he doesn’t hit that wall. There is going to be some tough times. He needs to pick up the little nuances. He is such a physically gifted kid. Lot of things come very easily and very naturally to him. The biggest thing is with those big arms he has is working on guys outside shoulders, chopping offensive lineman’s outside arms. As strong as his hands are, he’s really good on working outside shoulders, snatching on guys jerseys. Feeling pressure is the hard thing on the movement part. He’s slowly getting it, but at a faster rate than I expected it."

As for freshman Marcus Forston, Hurtt said "He’s doing well. He’s very natural to the position. The biggest thing is just learning how to finish. When you’re in high school and you’re so much better than everybody else there are somethings you can get away with being very fundamentally sound. But when you get to this level, those are things you can’t get away with. He’s strong enough. He’s a guy that’s extremely strong. Strength isn’t going to be the problem. It’s a matter of a consistent pounding and your body getting used to that. In high school, you go up against a 220 pound guard and the tackle might be 260. No big deal, he’ll split that. But when Figueroa is 340 pounds and Symonnette is 350 pounds, it’s a bit different. That’s something he’s getting used to. He’s got to be able to consistently handle that all the time."

* Running back Graig Cooper said his legs still feel heavy after returning from the track team to Graig_cooper football practice this week. Cooper, who picked up 10 pounds (going from 192 to 202) after the end of the football season, said he remained in his playbook during his time with track. "I feel faster, but my legs are still heavy though. I can’t just say I’m fresh like for a game. Lately I’ve been feeling heavy. I haven’t tested out my speed yet. But I feel comfortable now. I feel like I can take those licks on better than I did last year. Last year, I couldn’t. I don’t want to feel like no little boy out there. I know I had to put on some pounds to play D-I ball."

* Safety Lovon Ponder said he feels back at full strength following his injuries last season. He also said he's been impressed with freshman Aldarius Johnson. "I can see why that guy is rated one of the top receivers in the country in high school," Ponder said. "He’s a guy who has transformed his game from high school to the college level. He plays real tough. Physical guy, that can catch the ball. He’s a good possession receiver and he can go over the top too. His playmaking ability is up there with Sam when Sam came in. He’s not as fast. He’s the toughest guy we got to cover. He runs the routes real well for a guy just coming in."

* Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland doesn't want to field any questions about left tackle Jason Fox 030408_jfox possibly being a first round pick after this coming season. "I don’t even go there," Stoutland told me when I asked him if he thought Fox, who is now up to 305, could go in the first round. "Don’t ask me that question. The last thing I want to have happen with any of these guys. And I’ve seen it happen when a guy starts thinking about the first round because you guys are writing it. It’s the last thing a guy needs to be thinking about. And I’ve seen it go like that [thumbs down] a lot. That part I won’t even go near that. And I won’t discuss it with him until he’s done."