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Refresher course: The Big Uglies

Only three days before the start of fall practice. Are U ready? Today, we take a look at the guys who decide the game in the trenches: The Big Uglies.

In the U's case, the men up front this year appear to be on different ends of the spectrum. On the surface, the offensive line appears to be the team's strength on offense. Defensively, the line appears to be the weakness, a result of injuries and inexperience. But is that really the case?

> Who is gone:
Three starters graduated (LG Andrew Bain, C John Rochford, RG Derrick Morse). Backup guard Cyrim Wimbs is also gone.
> Who is back: LT Jason Fox, Jr. (6-7, 306), RT Reggie Youngblood, Sr. (6-5, 312), OT Chris Rutledge, Sr. (6-5, 314), OG Orlando Franklin, So. (6-7, 345), OG Joel Figueroa, So. (6-5, 344), C/OG A.J. Trump, Jr. (6-3, 308), OT Tyrone Byrd, Sr. (6-5, 310), OT/OG Chris Barney, Jr. (6-5, 345), OT Ian Symonette, R-So. (6-9, 364), C Tyler Horn, R-Fr. (6-4, 289), C Matt Pipho, Jr. (6-7, 307), Harland Gunn, R-Fr. (6-2, 313).
> Who is new: C Xavier Shannon, Sr. (6-1, 298, transfer from FIU), OT Ben Jones, Fr. (6-6, 270).

> What happened in '07: The Canes began the 2007 season with seven players having veteran experience including an All-ACC preseason selection at guard in Morse. The biggest question was at 030408_jfox center, where injuries once again kept Trump out of the starting lineup. Instead, Rochford moved in from H-Back and manned the center position for all 12 games. Although most might not remember, Miami's offensive line basically escaped any major injuries all season. A strong rotation of seven players either started or rotated in at starting positions all season. Fox started all 12 games at left tackle for the second consecutive season. Bain started 9 of the 12 at left guard with Franklin stepping up in three of the last four. Rochford and Morse started all 12 at center and right guard, respecitvely. And Rutledge and Youngblood split duties at right tackle with Youngblood starting the final seven games. As a unit, Miami gave up three more sacks (25) than it did a year earlier. But all in all, the group did a solid job opening holes in the running game.

> Spring recap: Position coach Jeff Stoutland began trying to replace the three starters in the 030408_jfigueroa interior while getting some of the young guys to come along. With Orlando Franklin out with an injury, A.J. Trump played at left guard with Barney, who has lost weight and finally appears to be headed in the right direction, working in the mix. At right guard, Figueroa seemed to shine brightest with Gunn making steady improvement. The center position is where the biggest struggles occurred. Shannon, Pipho and Horn had trouble during the teams' first scrimmage snapping the ball to the quarterback. By the spring game, though, those problems appeared to be resolved.

> The Big Questions: Who emerges at center and is there enough depth on this team if key guys get hurt? The center battle is expected to be won by Shannon, who started 27 consecutive games at FIU before leaving to join his dad's team. But it is by no means, a sure thing. As far as injuries go, Miami was pretty lucky last season. They'll have to be again this year. Aside from the four guys who have starting experience -- Fox (24 career starts), Rutledge (9), Youngblood (16), Franklin (3) -- the Canes are entering the season with backups who have battled injury/weight issues throughout their career.

030408_crutledge> What to expect: If all goes according to plan, Miami could potentially have one of the biggest and best offensive lines in the ACC. Fox, Youngblood and Rutledge form a solid trio at the edge. The interior (if it goes according to what coaches thought in the spring) should have budding star Orlando Franklin at left guard with mean-streak Figueroa at right guard and an emerging Gunn right behind him. If Shannon steps up, then Miami should be more than fine. But, if things don't go well and key players go down with injuries, it could be a long season for the Canes.

> Down The Road: While Miami should be fine in '08 when it comes to its offensive line, there is no doubt the Canes have to start finding some guys they can plug in for the future. Ideally, Franklin, 030408_olineman could make the move outside to tackle in '09. But if Fox were to leave early for the NFL (there is always that possibility considering he'll be a three-year starter), Miami would still have another tackle position to fill. Who becomes that guy is as good a question as any at this point. While Gunn and Figueroa are expected to develop into starters by the end of this season inside, guys like Trump, Barney, Symonette, Horn and Pipho are going to have to take major steps forward in their careers. The Canes also apparently will only get one of the two lineman they signed in '08 into school this fall in Jones. Fellow signee Brandon Washington (6-4, 315) is attending prep school this fall and has told those closest to him he plans on reopening his recruitment.

> Who is gone: DE Calais Campbell (left early for the NFL), DE/DT Vegas Franklin (graduated), DT Teraz McCray (graduated), DT Luqman Abdallah (transferred), DT Chris Perry (transferred to Texas Tech).
> Who is back: DE Eric Moncur, Sr. (6-2, 250), DE Allen Bailey, So. (6-4, 290), DE Adewale Ojomo R-Fr. (6-3, 240), *DE Courtney Harris, Jr. (6-3, 255), DT Antonio Dixon, Sr. (6-3, 322), *DT Josh Holmes, So. (6-0, 280), DT Joe Joseph, Jr. (6-3, 300), DT Chaz Washington, So (6-4, 320), DT Dwayne Hendricks, Sr. (6-4, 300).
> Who is new: DT Marcus Forston, Fr. (6-2, 302), DT Jeremy Lewis, Fr. (6-3, 271), DT Micanor Regis, Fr. (6-3, 300), DE Andrew Smith, Fr. (6-3, 223), DE Gavin Hardin, Fr. (6-5, 225).

022708_calais> What happened in '07: It was supposed to be a big year for Campbell. But UM's most recognizable face underperformed and a barrage of injuries to several other key cogs on the line led the Miami enduring one of its worst seasons in recent history. The Canes struggled against the run, ranking eighth in the conference and failed for the most part to create a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Moncur (5 starts), Franklin (6 starts), McCray (10 starts), Dixon (4 starts), Joseph (5 starts) and Hendricks (3 starts) were primarily the guys on the field for it all. Miami netted 31 sacks as a team.

> Spring recap: Injuries once again played a factor with several guys missing time. The biggest news was the move of Bailey from linebacker to end. Ojomo, the defensive MVP of the Scout team in '07, made strides. But since the spring, two players expected to be in the rotation -- Harris and Holmes -- have gone down with inuries that could keep them out all season. And Bailey, who was being counted on heavily, suffered a torn pectoral muscle that could potentially nag him all year. Bailey and Washington each had sacks in the spring game.

> The Big Questions: Who joins Moncur in the starting lineup and can the Canes 030408_dlinereturn to their old form when the defensive line was a reliable strength? Will the freshmen have no choice but to be pressed into duty right away? Word out at The U is Moncur should have Ojomo or Bailey (if he's healthy) starting opposite him with Dixon and possibly Forston starting at defensive tackle.

> What to expect: Another year of transition for the D-line. While position coach Clint Hurtt has done a great job going out and getting some talented recruits, each will have to get accustomed to Adewale_ojomo lining up against much bigger than they were used to in high school. If Dixon, who has lost weight, can finally be relied upon as a full-time starter and Hurtt can rotate talented young guys like Forston, Lewis, Regis with a few other vets at tackle, then Miami could be an improvede team when it comes to plugging up the run down the middle. As far as creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks is concerned, new defensive coordinator Bill Young did a good job in the spring using his linebackers in zone blitzes to get to the quarterback. The defense had six sacks in the spring -- four were by linebackers. It could create the perfect scenario to allow a young line to concentrate on stopping the run.

> Recruiting picture: Hurtt has gotten off to a good start in trying to lock down two more defensive ends and tackles in the '09 class. UM netted its second defensive tackle commitment Tuesday, adding Crutis Porter (6-2, 334) of North Carolina. The Canes also have 6-3, 280-pound Luther Robinson of Fort Pierce Westwood. Hialeah American defensive end Olivier Vernon (6-3, 245) committed to Miami in February, but has been taking trips to visit other schools. Vernon, though, assured me he's still at UM commitment and is only looking. His recruiting video -- as well as other interviews I did last week (Plantation cornerback Brandon McGee, Columbus defensive tackle Antwan Lowery and Killian running back Lamar Miller) should be up on our Herald.com recruiting page by the end of the week.


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the baptism comes fast....


Are any of the practices going to be open to the public?

Any info is much appreciated.

Bill Young is the biggest new addition for the defense this year. To have a defense as bad as we were last year and have Campbell and Phillips (who is de-cleating people in the Giants camp) starting on it was ridiculous. It points to coaching, and I think we solved that problem. Give Young last year's defense and we have a winning record.

I think our lineman on both sides of the ball are going to have a good year. Plenty of talent there right now. I hope they play up to their potential.

Nice work Manny! Can't wait for practice to start!

GO Canes

the D should have a big year now that we have Bill young

I found some interesting news about what's going on in the world of recruiting and how FSU ans Mississippi State are both adjusting. These are both must reads!!!!!



I found some interesting news about what's going on in the world of recruiting and how FSU ans Mississippi State are both adjusting. These are both must reads!!!!!



Posted by: Lee | July 30, 2008 at 06:49 PM

How is any of that relevant to the canes?


I am going to be a freshman next year at UM... Does anyone know if there are open practices during the year?

ha loser the canes dont want you

Good stuff Manny, can't wait for the podcast

just have to hope we don't have a slew of injuries at DL like last year. that just killed things. Having two DEs play back up DT for an extended period of time pretty much means the unit's going to struggle.

I'm actually getting excited about this offense of line. I think our QBs will benefit having so much experience protecting them. Especially since the QBs are so young. We are going to have a big line, and if they can be quick on their feet, I see our QBs having more time to throw the ball.


I'll FedEx you a box of chocolate glazed ... and give you FIFTY bucks if you smack Shandel upside the head with one.


um2012...they usually have 1 open practice during fall camp. Practices during the season are usually closed.

Good luck at the U.

Ian Symonette is an f'ing beast...whats his deal??? He should be the stud out of all of these guys.

I thought our linemen looked fat at the spring game....they did open up some pretty nice holes, but what does that mean? Maybe the o-line is that much better than the d-line.

Always tough to tell at Spring games whether one of your units is doing well or the other just stinks. Considering how bad our defense was last year, the offense opening up holes isn't such a big deal. On the other hand, our offense was pretty bad too, so there must have been some improvement.

Nonetheless, I'm excited about or offensive line as well...hell, I'm excited about everything.

I'm still not liking how many south florida kids are headed elsewhere (especially FSU...screw that!), but the fact is we're not recruiting any of them so I guess it's not that big a deal. If we were losing battles for them that would be one thing. People talk like just being from S. Florida makes you great. I think that happens most of the time, but if you don't fill the needs on the team, what good is bringing in top talent? I have been depressed about us not recruiting the best linebackers and QB's in S. Florida, but I recently read that the 2010 crop is better for both and we're already in contact with them. Maybe that's the real reason...we don't want to fill up on positions that will be better filled next year. I hope so.

Symmonette needs to drop some serious weight. Figs is a big boy but as big as he is he's still light on his feet.

Hey Manny,

some sources is saying zach kane is going to prep school now? is that true?

so Fellow signee Brandon Washington (6-4, 315) is attending prep school this fall and has told those closest to him he plans on reopening his recruitment.it sound like washington is plan to go to another school.
hey i am wonder if the other fellas who went to the prep school are plans on reopening their recruitment.. i hope we can have brandon back to miami next year we need offensivelimen


Check out the herald recruiting podcasts...the 2010 crop is supposed to be much more talented than 2009. I'm also thinking that is the reason we are recruiting outside of South Florida. I don't know the specific players, but thats the general consensus.

Its going to be interesting to see how well we do outside of South Florida. I'd like to see us get a couple of corn-fed linemen from the midwest.

When players don't qualify and go to prep school, who foots the bill?

Who did not report today?


Duuuhhhh U is Back !!!


Gavin Hardin, Antonio Harper, C.J. Holton, Zach Kane, Jeremy Lewis, Brandon Marti, C.J. Odom, Brandon Washington



I wish my gators had an OL as good as the Ol the CANES have.

Green's posts serve no purpose and ruin this blog
-- 86Cane

Posted by: 86Cane | July 29, 2008 at 09:11 PM


Posted by: 86Cane | July 31, 2008 at 10:50 PM

where'd you bootleg that link?


malleable manny navarro associates his ethical employer with a two-bit thief ...

Great articles....and a good post Mancito!

BOY (blogger of the year) for the Herald should be Green [speech, speech..], with his biting comments..

Posted by: M.H. | July 30, 2008 at 03:27 PM


I don't understand why the Herald, [Manny] doesn't have a larger fan base.

Posted by: M.H. | July 30, 2008 at 03:27 PM


hey manny navarro, how'd your blog do in november?

Posted by: green | December 08, 2007 at 07:08 PM

This were the numbers for November... I was second among Typepad blogs for The Herald. This list also includes Blogger, another blog format. That's the format Dolphins in Depth uses.

1. Dave Barry's Blog 699,966 hits
2. Dolphins In Depth 139,378 hits
3. Eye on the U 135,460 hits
4. Naked Politics 117,454 hits
5. Cote's Blog 68,800 hits

Posted by: Manny | December 08, 2007 at 07:27 PM

hey manny navarro, how'd your blog do in december & january?

Posted by: green | February 20, 2008 at 09:07 PM

No. 2 on The Herald's website behind Dolphins in Depth. Although, the week of National Signing Day alone we drew over 100,000 page views -- more than any other weekly total.

Posted by: Manny Navarro | February 20, 2008 at 09:17 PM


Hopefully Manny and Shandel, will be at camp, tomorrow. [#86]

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