Just got back home from watching the Canes scrimmage for the first time this spring. My first thought: I hadn't realized I'd forgotten what it is like to watch a good quarterback lead The U.
For those of you worried about how freshmen Robert Marve and Jacory Harris looked, let me just preface this by saying they looked better already than anything you've seen in quite some time. Both were sharp, poised, and deadly accurate in Patrick Nix's offense. And here's the best part if you are a Canes fan -- their receivers only made a handful of drops.
All in all, it was a very impressive night for UM's young quarterbacks -- even if the scoreboard doesn't reflect it. Miami's offense only put up 10 points on 13 possessions. But between Harris, Marve and Cannon Smith, Miami's pass offense went a combined 26 of 36 for 236 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. No, there was no official statistician. But like many other writers on the sidelines, I took stats and account of the play by play.
Coach Randy Shannon was the only person available to speak with reporters after the scrimmage. (HIS AUDIO). Here are some highlights, lowlights and notes on who else was impressive...
* Running back Javarris James scored the scrimmage's only touchdown on a 7-yard run on the opening possession. James only had two carries for 11 yards, but he made a pretty move on the TD run, cutting back across the grain and breaking a pair of tackles on his way in for the score. He also caught 2 passes for 15 yards.
* Defensive end Allen Bailey made quite the impression when he leveled Shawnbrey McNeal in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. On the ensuing series, Bailey destroyed Reggie Youngblood off the ball and chased down Jacory Harris for a 14-yard loss. He also was on another half sack with linebacker Daryl Sharpton moments later.
* The centers -- Xavier Shannon, Tyler Horne and Matt Pipho -- all struggled with their snaps. I counted four bad snaps in all, two high, one short and another that Cannon Smith bobbled, then fumbled and defensive end Adewale Ojomo pounced on for a fumble recovery inside the defense's 20-yard line.
* Senior Kayne Farquharson led all receivers with five catches for 51 yards. But he also dropped a potential touchdown pass on a perfect pass from Marve on a deep route. Farquharson had burned Chavez Grant downfield. The drop was inexcusable.
* Sophomore Leonard Hankerson had the tough run of the night when he caught a short pass from Marve on 3rd and 15 and rumbled 14 yards and just short of the marker. Hankerson had 3 catches for 32 yards by my count. Freshman Aldarius Johnson caught four passes -- all short routes -- for 11 yards.
* Freshman kicker Jake Wieclaw ended the scrimmage by drilling a 44-yard field goal. Randy Shannon told reporters Miami kicked three field goals, but it was actually two. Junior walk-on Alex Uribe, the son of famed UM doctor John Uribe, missed a 41-yarder off the post on UM's second possession.
* I was impressed by the play of cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke. On one deep Marve pass, he ran stride for stride with Sam Shields downfield before knocking the pinpoint pass away cleanly. He definitely looks like UM's best coverman.
* Freshman linebacker Sean Spence is without question talented and smart enough to be a starter on this defense (that includes if Colin McCarthy is healthy and available). Spence made several nice open field tackles and made a huge hit on Graig Cooper for a 5-yard loss, reading the play perfectly. Fellow freshman Arthur Brown made a nice play too, when he brought down receiver Ryan Hill in the middle of the field with one hand. Brown grabbed Hill by the shoulder pads and threw him to the ground.
* Coach Randy Shannon said he's not sure if receiver Jermaine McKenzie (who had a boot on his left foot) would return this spring. It definitely doesn't look good for sophomore defensive tackle Josh Holmes (he had a full cast on his left leg).
Marve: 13 of 18, 104 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. His longest pass was a 15-yard completion to Khalil Jones. He had two passes dropped downfield -- one by Shields and one by Farquharson. Marve also made a pair of nice runs to pick up first downs.
J. Harris: 11 of 14, 78 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. His longest pass was a 17-yard completion downfield to Kayne Farquharson. Jacory was sacked twice, but all in all proved to be not too far behind Marve in terms of touch, accuracy and poise in the pocket.
C. Smith: 2 of 4, 54 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. Smith only played in three series -- so much for equal snaps. He hit a wide open Richard Gordon on a blown coverage for a 50-yard gain. He then bobbled and fumbled a bad snap inside the red zone.
RUSHING STATS: G. Cooper 6-15; J. James 2-11, TD; S. McNeal 4-0; Marve 3-12; D. Thomas 2-6; J. Harris 4-(-23); L. Chambers 8-8; C. Smith 1-0.
RECEIVING STATS: Farquharson 5-51, Shields 1-5, Cooper 1-6, A. Johnson 4-11; L. Hankerson 3-32; R. Hill 2-13; D. Thomas 1-13; K. Jones 2-22; L. Chambers 2-11; R. Gordon 2-53; J. Calhoun 1-4.