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Don't expect many freshman starters

I couldn't make it out to practice today because I'm working on video and other multimedia content for our football preview, but Susan Miller Degnan, our football beat writer, was out there. Nothing earth shattering as far as news is concerned (there usually isn't a week into camp) except that defensive end Eric Moncur was finally participating a bit more. If you want to read Susan's practice notes, here's the link.

> One thing I kept thinking about last night after our Live Q&A Freshmen_marcus_forston_aldarius_jowas how many of the freshmen in this 2008 class will actually start against Charleston Southern on August 28th. And to be honest, I can't think of one. While coach Randy Shannon and his assistants have praised guys like Laron Byrd and Travis Benjamin at receiver, Arthur Brown and Sean Spence at linebacker, Marcus Robinson and Marcus Forston on the defensive line, and Brandon Harris in the secondary, I don't get the sense Shannon is ready to place the full burden of starting and playing major minutes on any of them.

And that's a good thing if you're a Miami fan. That means Shannon and the staff honestly have the confidence to put the bulk of the pressure on the upper classmen, despite going 5-7 last season with most of the guys who will start. That means they believe guys like Darryl Sharpton, Antonio Dixon, Randy Phillips, Orlando Franklin, Joel Figueroa, Chavez Grant, Sam Shields and Bruce Johnson are better football players than they were last year.

So, if you don't see Forston, Spence, Brown, Harris or Byrd in the starting lineup for the first month or two of the season, don't take it as a failure. Because the bottom line is all of those guys are going to play -- a lot. Guys like Marcus Robinson are going to see like 20 snaps a game at defensive end. Laron Byrd is going to catch a few passes a game. Brandon Harris is going to be in the rotation at corner. And in the long run, UM and those talented freshmen are going to be a better football team because of it.

> Ok, I promised to get to the rest of the questions you guys left me last night. I'll leave you my responses below this blog.

Also, a quick programming reminder, if you are a high school football fan, Larry Blustein, myself and Herald High School Sports Writers Bob Emanuel and Andre Fernandez will have a new podcast up every day at 2 p.m. for the next two weeks breaking down every team and district in Miami-Dade and Broward over at The Countdown.


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I couldn't agree more. The freshman will eventually be the main guys on this team, but their value as quality depth is just as valuable this season. Having quality 2-3 deep at each position is what this class will bring this year, making the previously underperforming upperclassman that much better.

Also, I still believe that if Bill Young or Randy Shannon were the Defensive Coordinator last year, we'd have had a winning record. That defense absolutely disappeared last year. Maybe I'm silly there.

FYI...before all the gator fans come on and start behaving like idiots, there was a great article on Urban Meyer's class on SI. Here's the link.


Q: When the d-coord. was canned reporters and fans were curious w/the hire of coach young, being an older coach and out-of-conference....does it seem like the defense is understanding his defensive schemes..and will his scheme give the gaturds problems come sept 6? Posted by: Drtycane | August 12, 2008 at 08:32 PM

A: Dirty, from everything we hear from the players on a day to day basis, this defense is something the players like a lot because it is aggressive in nature. I spoke with Darryl Sharpton, Adewale Ojomo and Lovon Ponder about it specifically since camp began and all they kept telling me was how easy it was. Still, we'll have to see it for ourselves -- especially on Sept. 6. Stopping Florida will not be an easy task by any means.

Q: Manny, from a thousand miles away, great job. You said one of the teams strengths is the o-line. What do you see as the weakest unit? Are the special teams are vastly improved? Posted by: NJshoreCane | August 12, 2008 at 08:34 PM

A: I'd have to say the weakest unit right now is the defensive line -- especially since starting defensive ends Eric Moncur and Allen Bailey are going to start the season a bit slowed by injuries. The special teams on this team could be improved. From what I've seen of Matt Bosher, it looks like his leg is stronger than last year. But UM still needs to find a return man. I think all in all, though, the specials teams will be improved -- especially since you are going to have some pretty good freshmen participating on it.

Q: Do you see the running backs becoming much more productive with hill at FB? loco seems to think hes the real deal and i love his attitude. Posted by: reggaebob | August 12, 2008 at 08:37 PM

A: I know running backs coach Tommie Robinson loves Hill's attitude and believes he finally has a real fullback. Robinson was pretty adamant in the spring UM's fullbacks last year didn't get the job done. Although Hill is a bit small (5-9) and round (256) he might be the perfect battering ram to spring Javarris James and Graig Cooper more this year. He's also not bad carrying the football and catching it out of the backfield.

Q: From what you've seen, what is marve's tendency to scramble? Does he wait for the pocket to break down or is he more keen to take off if he cant find an open guy right away? Posted by: reggaebob | August 12, 2008 at 08:37 PM

A: I think it's more of the latter. From what I saw in the spring game, he runs when nobody is open and he'll take a sack instead of forcing the ball into coverage.

Q: and finally- how are special teams? do you think bosher will be alright with all of punts/kick offs/kicking or is having wieclaw ready a necessity? and how is coverage on kick offs and punts? Posted by: reggaebob | August 12, 2008 at 08:37 PM

A: Coaches have already told us they expect Bosher to handle both the kicking and punting duties. My guess is Wieclaw needs time to adjust coming off that foot injury. The coverage on the kickoff teams is solid. You got Ryan Hill and Khalil Jones as fliers who have been starters for two years already. And you'll have more freshmen involved in kickoffs. Posted by: reggaebob | August 12, 2008 at 08:37 PM

Q: ANY STREETER NEWS? Posted by: M.H. | August 12, 2008 at 08:40 PM

A: Not a lot MH. He spoke to the media last week after practice. He's a kid I believe will eventually be a star. He's so big and fast. I know this isn't the popular opinion, but I wouldn't mind seeing him get up to like 235, 240 and let him play tight end. Withe guys like Laron Byrd and Aldarius, you already have big, physical receivers. I think Streeter would be such a great weapon down the middle of the field. He's used to blocking too. He did some at Northwestern.

Q: manny appreciate your help and dedication, with all the gaytes getting that injury bug do we stand a chance in your opinion? I personally feel we do. Posted by: BTB | August 12, 2008 at 08:57 PM

A: Don't want to burst your bubble BTB, but the most important guys to the Gators' success are still healthy -- Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin. It definitely helps any UF opponent that a few guys have gone down with injuries. But these aren't going to make much a difference in Week 2 for the Canes anyway. Miami is so young. The only chance I'd give the Canes is if this game was being played at the end of the year (like when UF usually plays Florida State). Then, Miami might have a chance.

Q: manny appreciate your help and dedication, with all the gaytes getting that injury bug do we stand a chance in your opinion? I personally feel we do. Posted by: BTB | August 12, 2008 at 08:57 PM

A: Don't want to burst your bubble BTB, but the most important guys to the Gators' success are still healthy -- Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin. It definitely helps any UF opponent that a few guys have gone down with injuries. But these aren't going to make much a difference in Week 2 for the Canes anyway. Miami is so young. The only chance I'd give the Canes is if this game was being played at the end of the year (like when UF usually plays Florida State). Then, Miami might have a chance.

Q: Hi Manny, Has Brandon caught up with everyone? If he is stopping our slot receivers at practice like rumored do you see him playing more than everyone thought peace Posted by: solarcane | August 12, 2008 at 08:58 PM

A: What's up Solar? I know I was one of the guys who said Brandon Harris could come in right away and start. While I still think Harris could be a starter at some point this season, I no longer believe he will be from the start. Chavez Grant and Bruce Johnson are doing too many good things in practice along with DeMarcus Van Dyke. I think you will still see Brandon on the field a lot, especially in the third down situations. He's too talented. But starting right now looks like a longshot.

Q: Do you see T.Benj or D.johnson being a percy harvin or preston parker this season or the future Posted by: Stephen | August 12, 2008 at 09:01 PM

A: Both of those guys are real exciting players because they blend speed with some amazing pass catching ability and moves in the open field. DJ's catch the other night -- although I didn't see it -- was supposedly spectacular. He hauled in a 20-yard pass over the middle by reaching over two defenders, then he had the skills to step into the end zone. Benjamin is a kid I've liked since I saw him on day one. So much speed and raw ability. Both are going to be very, very good.

Q: M... have you studied Charleston and if so, what is your take on the game? I'm thinking... 250 yards running and 300 passing Posted by: Cat5 Cane | August 12, 2008 at 09:04 PM

A: Hey Cat. Man, I haven't studies Charleston Southern. I know they were a mediocre football team last year. But so was UM. Expecting 250 yards and 300 yards passing should be the norm for this UM team against a bad FCS opponent. But we got to remember this is a young team with a young quarterback. And you never know if those stats take a hit, especially if the defense has a big night.

Q: Manny thanks for the take on JJ, is Bosher going to be allowed to handle more than one kicking duty this year after the coaching staff stating such responsibilities shouldn't be left in a freshmen's hands last season despite him being the only kicker D-1 worthy on the roster? Posted by: orange 'n green in the vein | August 12, 2008 at 09:12 PM

A: OGV, from everything we are hearing Bosher is going to handle both duties. Wieclaw needs time.

Q: Manny, Keep up the good work. Whats up with A.Johnson? seems like some of the other frosh are taking up most of the shine...is he still producing? Possible starter? Posted by: ObviousCane | August 12, 2008 at 09:15 PM

A: Obvious, AJ had a TD catch on Tuesday and although we aren't hearing his name a ton before then, Randy Shannon said there is no reason to worry. I believe AJ, Benjamin, Byrd and Davon Johnson will be the four freshmen receivers we'll hear a lot from early on this season.

Q: Keep up the great job Manny for informing the CANE NATION on our CANES! Can you tell us what is going on with the true freshmen (WR) Tommy Streeter? There isn't much talk about him, and we all would like to know what's is going on with him! His size alone 6'5, 202lbs. puts him in great shape with a DB! Can you fill us in? Thanks for your time! GO CANES!! Posted by: thecaneomatic | August 12, 2008 at 09:15 PM

A: Hit this one earlier Caneonmatic. Check out my previous response.

Q: Hello Manny and thank you for your insight. Any thoughts on our new venue and if you have any information on season ticket sales? I hope we are playing in front of a packed house and have as much as a home field advantage as the Orange Bowl. Posted by: Trooper | August 12, 2008 at 09:17 PM

A: I know Susan Miller Degnan will be writing a story on those subjects very soon for us, so I'll let her answer that one for you. But as far as the stadium goes, I'm hoping Dolphins Stadium can provide some form of a home field advantage. I know the place has rocked when the Marlins have won the World Series and when the Dolphins have played in big playoff games, but I'm not sure it will ever reach the level the OB had for the Canes on special Saturday nights.

Q: Hey Manny, thanks for the great coverage. Any idea on how Marcus Robinson has looked? He seems to be a perfect fit for coach Young's hybrid/rover role. Also, we havn't heard much about Harland Gunn. I know he RS last year. He was suppose to be a beast. Do you have any update on how he is doing? Thanks. Posted by: SuperCooper | August 12, 2008 at 09:25 PM

A: I'll start with Gunn. Right now, I'd say he's No. 4 on the depth chart at guard behind Joel Figueroa, Orlando Franklin and AJ Trump. Stoutland is very enthusiastic about him and said Gunn is a guy to watch in the future. I just think we probably won't hear much from until '09. Regarding Robinson, he's been a guy I've heard a lot of good things about. Last week, DL coach Clint Hurtt told us he was making a ton of plays, batting passes, getting to the quarterback. I'm now convinced he'll thrive as a third-down pass rushing specialist.

Q: Hey manny, great work with the audio and video. 1. do you think that we still might recruit frankie telfort? 2. Why aren't we recruting jaamal berry? is it grades? 3. do think jacory harris has an advantage over marve in that jacory has a real close bond with all the dade kids? do you think the players may respond to jacory better? Posted by: canefan12 | August 12, 2008 at 09:25 PM

A: Thanks for the compliments and questions Canefan. For whatever reason (I think size and depth after last year's class), Miami coaches haven't been very high on Telfort. I think it's probably too late in the game to get him at this point. 2. Berry is sort of the same deal. UM coaches have wanted big, physical backs. Bryce Brown (6-0, 215) and Mike James (5-11, 211) are both bigger than Berry (5-11, 185). 3. I think the bond Jacory has with the Dade kids is great, but Marve is going to build his own bond now too -- it happens when you throw a ton of balls in practice. How they respond in the huddle remains to be seen.

Q: How is the secondary coming along? It seems like they're the forgotten group of this team. Posted by: strobocane | August 12, 2008 at 09:28 PM

A: From what we've heard, the corners have been doing a good job -- Chavez Grant, Bruce Johnson and DeMarcus Van Dyke have been making plays in practice. It's the safety position I'm a little more worried about. Reddick, Ponder are veterans coming off injuries. I'm hoping to hear that someone emerges next to Randy Phillips in the next couple of weeks.

Q: Will the Char. So. game be televised locally or are we stuck with ESPN 360? Posted by: strobocane | August 12, 2008 at 09:37 PM

A: From what I've heard it's going to be ESPN360. We'll be sure to let you know if something changes.

Q: Which qtback is the best at handling the blitz? What makes you belief that the Oline is the strength of the team. They have looked so so for a number of yrs. Posted by: dlu | August 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM

A: Hard to answer that first one considering all we in the media have been able to see is what happened in the spring. I think both quarterbacks do a decent job getting the ball to their outlets when the blitz is on. The oline is the strength of this team because its where most of the experience and depth lies.

Q: Hey Manny...great job with all the posts, you're gonna have a great season.I hear Randy Shannon saying that last year is in the past and that its forgotten, has this been your obervation amongst the players? Is there any desire to get back at UVA for the 48-0 and anyone else we lost to last season? More yardage this year - Javarris James or Graig Cooper? Posted by: Canesjunkie | August 12, 2008 at 10:05 PM

A: The players have repeatedly told us they don't like talking about last year so I really believe that to be the case. I haven't heard anything about Virginia or getting payback. These guys just want to win all of them. I think Cooper gets more yards, Javarris more TDs.

Q: Hey Manny, what's up with Cannon and Taylor at QB? Are they getting snaps in practice and in the scrimmage? I haven't heard anything on their progress. And on offense what do you think our offensive idenity look like a shotgun spread, power running and pass off of play action or a combo of both. Keep the news coming only 15 more days to go!!!!! Posted by: cj | August 13, 2008 at 12:37 AM

A: Hey CJ. Cannon was injured today (check out Susan's story). But before that Shannon told us all three of the guys in the spring would be getting equal snaps in practice and scrimmages. The most interesting thing about Cannon I can tell you is that in the spring he wasn't 100 percent. He was still coming off a separated shoulder. Shannon told us Smith's arm is now stronger and healthy. As far as an identity, I see this Miami team attempting to balanced, but giving Javarris and Cooper a ton of touches not only in the running game but the passing game too.

Q: Whuz up Manny... Thanks for all the hard work you put into your reporting. In your opinion what games does Miami have to win in order to break into the top 25 this year. Posted by: ITS ALL ABOUT THE U | August 13, 2008 at 08:40 AM

A: Go 9-3 or better and contend in the ACC.

Q: Do you or Susan have any observations or direct feedback from the players on how they are taking to Coach Nix--his style and his offense? And if players are talking positive do you sense it is genuine or they are just telling us what we want to hear? It is quite clear from the msg boards that Coach Nix does not inspire much confidence from the fans (though most agree he was working behind the eight ball last year). Thanks. Posted by: C$ | August 13, 2008 at 11:21 AM

A: Nix was in a tough spot last year. He didn't really have many weapons to work with at receiver. He'll have a few more this year. But I agree with you and the fans, there needs to be progress this year. As far as the players are concerned, they say they like Nix's offense. At least I haven't heard any complaints yet.

Q: If the offense struggles this year again, is Nix's job on the line? With all these fast wideouts, and Jacory and Marve running spread offenses in high school, how come Nix isn't changing some things around, or is he? Will we see more five wide looks? I know the U loves to run, but maybe we need to get with the times and get the ball into the hands of our playmakers. Posted by: Evan | August 13, 2008 at 01:16 PM

A: I think the only way Nix's job is on the line after this year is if Miami gets worse. And that's next to impossible after last year. I definitely think you'll see more spread-type offenses because there are more weapons at receiver. I just believe the running game will be the strength. You have to put JJ and Coop to work.


Awesome work manny. you are a machine!

manny thanks for the feedback....good shi*

Off all the 2008 recruits, what players are going to prep schools and who is joining the U.

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