Chris Barney's injury is worse than initially thought. UM coach Randy Shannon first told reporters after Thursday's practice that he first heard the 6-5, 345-pound redshirt junior would be out from 4 to 6 weeks. But Shannon said on Hurricane Hotline Thursday night that Barney will now be out between 2 and 3 months.
I got a chance to catch up with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland Friday for a story I'm working on for next week on another player and asked him for his reaction to the Barney news.
"It's unfortunate," Stoutland said. "Chris had really turned the corner. He changed the way he was living, his approach to school, his approach to playing football. I didn't get a chance to talk to him last when I tried calling the hospital, but I'm going to tell him when I see him that this just a speed bump in the road. Sports has a way of teaching you lessons for later in life. The guys say Chris' spirits have been great. It's very important to have that positive attitude following an injury."
Barney had been in the starting rotation at left guard despite not playing much at all last year. Stoutland said Orlando Franklin, A.J. Trump, Joel Figueroa and Harland Gunn are all guys who will try to make up for Barney's loss.
> With the way some of the young receivers have looked through the first few days of camp, new receivers coach Aubrey Hill has been one of the most sought after interviews this fall. Reporters finally got their shot after Thursday morning's practice. The No. 1 thing Hill said he's looking for in filling up what likely will be an eight receiver rotation: "Consistency." That bolds well for two young guys imparticular, Travis Benjamin and Laron Byrd, who have been singled out now a few times after practice.
Hill, though, said he's counting heavily on veterans Kayne Farquharson, Leonard Hankerson, Sam Shields and Khalil Jones early on in the season to lead the way. "Those guys have been very, very good in terms of leadership and showing the freshmen everything they need to do, kind of giving them a taste of how Coach Hill is going to be. [They're] getting after them and they've done a great job of forewarning them, hey make sure you run every drill, staying in the playbook, making sure they do all the nuances at the position."
> Hills said what has impressed him the most about Byrd is that he's mature beyond his years. "It's not only on the field, it's in the meeting room. He's got his playbook open, asking questions. It's not like its brand new to him. It's not like its a new language like you deal with most freshmen. And then on the field, he's very physical and he has a presence about him. That's one thing you know, he's in the game and he's going full speed."
> On Jermaine McKenzie, Hill said he hasn't seen an ounce of timidness despite the fact he suffered a major neck injury last fall and then injured his ankle and missed the spring. "He's been in there running full speed, trying to hit the safeties and making catches and things like that. Actually, he still young. He missed two-a-days last year. He just needs a lot of reps like we all do in this time of year. But we're expecting him to help us also."
> Hill said there is no question the freshmen are pushing the older players, but says nobody has separated themselves into being a go-to receiver. He said he will look heavily at what happens in the scrimmages. "Right now, today, it's kind of a receiver group by committee. But as coaches you always have to adjust. Coach Nix, Coach Shannon we'll sit down and if somebody is really starting to separate himself, he'll be our go-to guy. But as of right now, we're going to have a receiver group by committee and find guys that can run specific routes and make plays for us."
> Hill said although he hasn't put a clock on him, he said Benjamin is one of the fastest receivers -- if not the fastest -- he's ever coached. "He can run as fast as he needs to. If there is a 4.4, 4.3 DB running, he'll run as fast as he needs to score. He's electrifying. Very electrifying."
> One of the criticisms Miami's receivers got in the past -- even from Shannon -- was that they didn't go up and fight for balls enough. Hill said he's implemented drills to make sure that no longer happens. "I've seen it at times where we do a great job at it and I've seen it at times where I have to coach it."