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Hurtt: D-Line making strides

  It wasn't too long ago the University of Miami consistently housed some of the top defensive lineman in all of college football. From 2001-04, the Canes had four first round draft choices on its d-line -- Vince Wilfork, Jerome McDougle, William Joseph and Damione Lewis.

The tradition of top-tier lineman has continued over the last three years with Baraka Clint_hurttAtkins, Orien Harris, Kareem Brown, Calais Campbell and the late Bryan Pata. But entering the 2008 season, Miami not only doesn't have a recognizable star, but it lacks the experience and established talent it once had on a regular basis. The D-Line returns just one starter (Eric Moncur) and must replace Campbell (who left early to the draft) and 10-game starter Teraz McCray at tackle.

If that wasn't enough of a chore for defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, fall practice has begun with Moncur and very promising sophomore Allen Bailey sidelined and rehabbing from injuries. Tuesday, I caught up with Hurtt after practice to talk about how the defensive line is progressing. Among the topics, Scout Team MVP redshirt freshman Adewale Ojomo (YOU CAN CHECK OUT HIS VIDEO INTERVIEW LATER TODAY) and the progress others are making.

Hurtt, who is always upbeat and positive when we talk, sounded a lot like the Coach Hurtt I spoke to at the end of last year when he was running a short-handed ship. The good news is, that although most of Miami's talented linemen are young, at least they're making strides.

Adewale_ojomo "Adewale is a high motor kid, has gotten a lot better rushing the passer," Hurtt said of Ojomo. "He's a very strong kid in the run game, has great explosion, great hands. We expect him to come in and be a key contributor, keep pushing Eric (Moncur) and the other guys because we want to get the best four linemen on the field. He's doing a great job of that. The offensive linemen come up and talk about him, but everybody's improving as a group."

When asked who is currently shining at end, Hurtt said he couldn't name just one.
"Right now you're always looking at playing about five," Hurtt said. "We like to keep that rotation heavy so guys stay fresh. Hopefully around five or six. It all depends on who is game ready. That's what dictates it. Ideally you want five, but you don't want to throw a guy out there who isn't ready to go."

But Ojomo, whom I spoke with Monday, said incoming freshman Marcus Robinson is Marcus_robinsonproviding signs he might be. Randy Shannon compared Robinson Monday to former Cane Javon Nanton, a third-down pass-rush specialist, and said he hoped to get 20-30 plays out of him a game. Hurtt and Ojomo said Robinson (who played linebacker and defensive end in high school and has 4.5-speed) has had several sacks in the early going of fall practices and has even deflected a few balls. Hurtt negated one of my primary concerns about the freshman by saying Robinson (who told me Sunday he's up to 240 pounds) will put on the weight he needs to because he will be eating right in college.

"He has more natural skills right now coming in the door than Javon did," Hurtt said. "I worked with Javon a lot, and Javon did some good things as a freshman. He was a little stiff. Coach Swasey and those guys did a great job in the weight room getting him together. Marcus Robinson has some unbelievable tools, great tools. So he's got a lot of potential."

As for the defensive tackle spot, Miami feels confident Antonio Dixon's weight loss this offseason will allow him to be better conditioned. Who starts alongside Dixon remains a mystery though. Hurtt said Tuesday Joe Joseph, who made five starts as a sophomore last year (primarily because of injuries to others) has had the most improvement of the returnees.

"He's definitely improved," Hurtt said. "Getting Dwayne Hendricks back healthy definitely helps out. Guys are working hard to get better, and there's competition. Micanor Regis has come in and done a lot of things. Competition makes us all better."

> The fight for the starting center job -- the only position on the offensive line really in doubt (I don't care what people are saying about Chris Barney at left guard it's Orlando Franklin's job to lose) --apparently is becoming Xavier Shannon's job by the day. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland told our Susan Miller Degnan Tuesday Shannon has done the little extra things to outshine his competitors, Tyler Horn, Matt Pipho and A.J. Trump.

Jeff_stoutland "I feel very confident with him," Stoutland said. "I was amazed at how fast he was able to learn all this stuff. I have children myself. And I know coaches who talk to me and say I know your son is a coach's kid. Because he listens. He absolutely listens. And he tries to execute what we're saying. Xavier is a coach's kid. He's been around it his whole life.

"Here's a for instance. During the practice session, whoever is getting the play, I will Xavier_shannonlook at the script and I look at whoever is getting the play and whoever is not getting the play. And I look over to a group of them and I'll look over to see who is not paying attention. And if your not paying attention, I might say to you "What's the play?' Now, you don't have a script, but you got somebody calling out the plays. And if you don't hear the play and I call on your name, then I know your real serious about learning. A mental rep to me is as important as a physical rep to me. And so Xavier, I was looking around when he wasn't in the game and someone asked what's the play. He rehearsed it to me(snaps his finger) like that. It's a maturity factor. It's the ability to focus and listen when coaches are coaching. And that's what some of the younger guys to be honest with you have to learn."

> Go ahead and scratch CJ Holton off the list of missing incoming freshmen at camp. That leaves linebacker Brandon Marti, defensive back Joe Wylie, defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis and defensive end Gavin Hardin.

Holton was at practice Tuesday, but didn't participate in team drills. "He has to go through the acclimation period, so it takes time," Shannon said. "You have to go through two days in helmets, the whole day. He did some conditioning stuff, which is good for him because he can't just come in and (play). A kid could get hurt that way."

I've spoken to the family of at least one of those players who is still waiting, who tells me they've had a hard time getting a phone call back from UM coaches or school reps. Among the remaining recruits, there is growing fear one of the four will be asked to greyshirt (enroll in January) because UM might be over its scholarship limit of 85.

> Junior cornerback Chavez Grant, who has played nickel back most of his career at Chavez_grantUM, told me Tuesday he's spending most of his time on the outside this fall. "My role, I'm pretty much outside on the corner," Grant said. "Brandon Harris is right behind me, pushing me, so is DeMarcus Van Dyke. I'm trying to be somewhat of a mentor to Brandon because he's working a lot at the nickel. And I kind of look up to Bruce, he's a great corner. We're all just working together."

> Shannon said running backs Lee Chambers and Damien Berry left practice because of "hydration issues." Berry was seen by a reporter leaving in a cart. Shannon has been extending practices a little longer than the usual two hours because he says he wants to get his younger players more reps.

> Despite not having a tight end on his roster who caught more than 13 balls or had more than 105 yards receiving last season, Shannon sounded optimistic Tuesday the tight ends will be more involved in the offense this fall.

"When you have guys only the first time playing last year it's kind of hard to get them going," Shannon said. "With a new offense coming in, guys never touched the field. Now these guys are making catches left and right in practice, big key catches. So we're kind of excited."

> Safety Anthony Reddick didn't practice for the second consecutive day. But Shannon said, "Everything's fine with him. He's doing well. We're just monitoring Reddick because guys come off knee injuries, you go and practice him every day you won't get much out of him. It's one day off, one day on, trying to ease him back into it. But he's doing fine."

Fellow safety Lovon Ponder didn't practice either. No reason was given.

> BY THE WAY... Don't forget to check out the two video interviews I've uploaded including a close look at Orlando Franklin's new mohawk and Damien Berry talking about his move to running back.


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As usual, great post, Manny. I was to not see Marcus Forston's name. So what's the deal with him?

The news about the tight ends is great. I really hope they're involved, because those high-octane offenses we had earlier this decade really depended on them. It's not just that we had great tight ends, but we had a tight end as our offensive coordinator, which really helped create mismatches because the tight ends were used in such a creative way. I have my doubts that Nix is that knowledgeable about how to use tight ends creatively, but I hope so. A fast tight end with good hands is almost un-coverable.

Hurtt tried to sound optomistic about the d-line, but none of those quotes you put out make it sound like he's bubbling over with excitement. Lots of "they're really coming along" and "competition makes us all better" type quotes. Sounds to me like he knows he has the talent but they haven't put it all together yet, and he's nervous that they will before the start of the season. Here's hoping Bailey comes back healthy by the first game. I'd really hate to throw him into the swamp for his first start.

Thanks Manny and please keep them coming.

Manny being Manny, keep up the great work thanks

good stuff Manny


Thanks Manny
You are grinding!

Any plans to speak with Tevin McCaskill?

Is he a good student?

Great work again Manny. Great depth.

Chicago, with your top-two DEs out I think there's only so much you can say.

However, don't let Hurtt's seeming uncertainty fool you. Ojomo and Wesley can ball. They're both big, agile guys, who are mentally very focused. When Bailey and Moncur come back we'll be seriously ready.

Robinson and Hardin, if he arrives, will provide the scout team a solid level of depth and strength and be the 3-Deep guys.

I didn't follow the canes last pre-season, but this season there seems to be a lot of optimism. The freshman are supposed to be huge stars in the future, the team is bonding well, and the team seems to be very deep. Is this usuall pre-season talk? Were coach Shannon and the players as optomistic before last year's kick off?

WRIONG ! Your d-line has NO depth. produce something to refute it HOMER. One deep with average skills.

Oh, they know each other so nothing else matters. FOOL

"As for the game on Sept. 6th, I think the Canes will suprise the nation" - go place a very large wager. MORON.

Posted by: canesrule 9'ships | August 05, 2008 at 11:08 AM

this nervous gator is calling out our d-line when Urban Cryar had to put 220 lb. freshman OT Match Patchan at DE due to issues of depth during FL's spring practice???

The UM O-line will be possibly it's biggest ever and one of it's most experienced and effective in years. You have a bigger mismatch issue than the U in the trenches. Not to mentione (other than spikes your small LBs) and the fact that you're down to 4 safeties (one who's 5 '9 and looks like a CB).

Canes know the gators will be favored (and should) but really, take off the urban colored glasses... You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

one month away - Canesville here we come!!!

Manny - thanks forvtge daily updates, can't get enough. Appreciate your hard work.

Gators Suck... Go Canes!

Go Manny go!!! Good take on them Canes.... I still am intrigued with Coach Young's role. Seems like he is letting Barrow run the show like an heir apparent.... He probably will be the strategist during real games....

I think Miami should celebrate in the endzone the moment they score their first touchdown just like this

I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, attended high school in the Grove, my grandfather helped to finance the construction of the OB (Burdine Stadium), and I have been a Canes fan for 57 years...the comments from "AtlantaCane" are spot on!
This may come as a bit of a surprise, as I graduated from UF and yet fly to Miami to attend many of the UM home games...I was at Cobb for Saturday's practice.
Clearly the football tradition at the U rules over the UF program, which has been an under achieving, tax payer supported effort at futility over most of the past seventy years.
As regards the posts by "canesrule 9'ships, et all," I can speak from far more authority on the subject of the school cultures of the Gators vs the U, as a result of my four years in Gainesville and many years of attending UM games. I was talking to then UM President Henry King Stanford, who was a friend of my family, when the brain dead Gators performed the now infamous "Flop" and the Gator culture hasn't changed much since. Hey didn’t then or at any time before or after understand what type of commitment to excellence the University of Miami normally receives from its student athletes and fan base.
It appears that our Gator blogger is a prime example and product of that UF culture.
What an incredible win it will be if we kick their butts in G'ville.
Go Canes!

Q: As usual, great post, Manny. I was to not see Marcus Forston's name. So what's the deal with him? Posted by: Leon Nichols | August 05, 2008 at 04:16 PM

A: He's doing good. He's obviously ahead of the curb when it comes to the other freshmen since he's been there since the spring. I think he starts opposite Antonio Dixon by the third or fourth game of the season.

Q: Any plans to speak with Tevin McCaskill? Is he a good student?
Posted by: IndianapolisCane | August 05, 2008 at 05:01 PM

A: I spoke to McCaskill a couple of weeks ago and go the sense he's very high on the Canes. He was at the team's open practice Saturday. The problem is he might be overrated. He looked lost at times in the spring without Sean Spence. While physically he looks the part, he's going to have to prove himself during his senior season.

Q: I didn't follow the canes last pre-season, but this season there seems to be a lot of optimism. The freshman are supposed to be huge stars in the future, the team is bonding well, and the team seems to be very deep. Is this usuall pre-season talk? Were coach Shannon and the players as optomistic before last year's kick off? Posted by: um2012 | August 05, 2008 at 05:15 PM

A: Miami coaches are always optimistic. They always feel like they have talent and compete. But personally, knowing the quarterback situation a year ago, I think the excitement was tempered. There are so many new faces and so many talented, new young players, emotions are running high.

Speaking of Gator culture (oxymoron alert!) and tradition, remember the Gator QB - John Reaves - beneficiary of the Gator Flop, Didn't we see him a mug shot this morning?

The Times' Thomas Kaplan is reporting today that John Reaves, a former University of Florida star quarterback who graduated as the all-time passing leader in NCAA history...(courtesy of abismal sportsmanship), has been arrested on a cocaine possession charge. Details of his arrest were not immediately available, but jail records show the 58-year-old was taken into custody by the Tampa Police Department on Wednesday night.

Some things never change in Gatorland...the past is a relection of the future.


The mug shot of Reeves was difficult to look at. A shell of a man who has lived the Gaturd lifestyle to the hilt, alcohol abuse, drugs, a man in need of some serious rehab. This is the culture of Gainesville, which is why the Gaturds set a single season arrest record, pot heads, shooting off AK-47s, assault, battery, etc. Yet the national media seems to continue to give Urban Liar a pass, whereas others, even the Georgia Bulldawgs, get pummeled similar to Da U.
Da u is going to shock the world in Canesville on 9/6. Testeroidbow better duck, Allen Bailey is gonna get your heisman ass.

Thanks Manny for the updates! I Can't wait till August 28th! "It's great to be a Miami Hurricane"! Can't wait to see Coop and James run wild! can't wait to see our receivers kick some ass! It's so great to have this upbeat freshman class coming in! This season will be a breath of fresh air! Keep the faith! The Canes are headed in the right direction! Go Canes!

"Yet the national media seems to continue to give Urban Liar a pass, whereas others, even the Georgia Bulldawgs, get pummeled similar to Da U." - realcanesrule

Guess what? Duhhhh U also got a pass on the cover of SI. An indirect result of unloyal fans and promoting within. No one here would be surprised if, with their level of unprecedented success, the Gators end up on the front page of the Miami Herald Sports section more times than Duhhhhh U does.

U set your own table you a-hole.


"I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, attended high school in the Grove, my grandfather helped to finance the construction of the OB (Burdine Stadium), and I have been a Canes fan for 57 years...the comments from "AtlantaCane" are spot on!" - realcanesrule posting as HoustonCane and AtlantaCane and agreeing with himself


Listen and learn.....


"The Gators should try going undefeated for once" - CanezNC

Duhhhh U should try reaching a conference title game or at a minimum placing second in their division.

Indy, Big Easy, ACC

NCs,a few W's, Losers


Miami running backs Damien Berry and Lee Chambers left Tuesday's practice early because of dehydration.

Lack of off-season conditioning.


"A series of disappointing seasons was capped by last year’s 5–7 campaign that ended with six losses in the last seven games. Another difficult season is on the horizon thanks to a lack of experience on both sides of the line and the absence of proven playmakers." - Those in the know

All eyes on the #1 vs #2 SEC showdown on November 1st.


"Florida has numbers for the first time to go two-deep with five wideout sets." - ESPN

2 x 5 + 1 Heisman Winner x The Fastest Team in the Nation / 1st Year DC + Prom Queens - 4th Choice Coach = yet another loss for U


As a Gator fan I would like to say I'm sorry for having to read all the crap canesrule spits out. This child is not a real fan just a Gator impostor.

Prediction: Gators 41 Canes 17


Duhhhhhh U finally recieved ONE point in ONE pre-season poll. The mighty lame canes join the likes of Connecticut and Boise State under others receiving votes in ESPN's College Football Power Rankings.

The Gators only beat U out by 330 points. Potential foreshadowing of our 33-0 victory in 30 days.

Enjoy your time in the limelight, the #39 ranking will be your highest ranking in ANY poll ALL season.



If your Gators were so good last year. Why with the Heisman winner, could they not lose just 2 games or less (like LSU did)and make it out of your conference & play for title?

LSU took care of what they needed to and why couldn't you guys. If you weren't on here talking all this bulls*%&, I wouldn't ask this question. All this talk of how great you were and how great you are going to be again this year. I don't get it.

You tell Canes fans not to live in past but technically you are as well talking about your team last year. What your team is going to do next year, who the hell knows, so do us all a favor and find a chick, a life partner, whatever it is that you're into...and get a damn like. Stop trying to act like you are above everyone else with your copy and paste excellence and go talk to fellow fans on your teams blogs!

GO CANES!!!!!!

Hey Manny,

Been thinking a lot about what i saw at the first practice on Saturday, and while I still keep my expectations under control for this season (I am expecting 8-4 or 7-5)...what excites me the most is the 2009 season. Something about the amazing potential that I saw on the field..its been while since I could say that...

As per the D-line, I have a feeling its going to be a really, really, really tough year. It crazy to think that our line will be the weakness of our defense, but it looks that way. I think there is raw talent, but it will take a while to develop. I just hope our stellar linebacking core and an improving class of defensive backs will carry the defense for a while...UF might get ugly though....

Great article on Orlando Franklin...he looks scary...which is a good thing when he is on your team...

Great Job as always Manny

Dear all...it would be very wise to simply ignore canesrule altogether. He gets on all the local blogs and spouts complete lunacy just to get people riled up. He/she is not attempting to make any real points or to discuss anything. On Milian's Palm Beach Post "blog" (if it can be called a blog...that guy's an idiot), canesrule spouts off nearly 50 responses to each entry, even though he is often the only one talking.

Don't be suckered in...just ignore him.


I can't wait to see 'Canesrule' do his excellent cutting and pasting technique with your comment. His parents must so proud of the money they spent on his schooling to only be able to learn that...Wait I feel a cut and paste from my own comment! Enjoy, 'Canesrule'...

Here is some nice cut and paste





Hows that for some cut and paste?

I have inspired a literary fit from tbe Post blogger formerly known as jay and Daniel, who impersonates yours truly on canespace, goes by 14-0liftthetrophy on the Sentinel site, lives in a trailer in loxahatchee, and due to his curren t state of unemployment due to being intoxicated almost 24 hours a day, has a lot of time to go to his free public library, and post continously. Get a job loser!!!

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