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Shannon shakes up depth chart

Robert Marve was asked Tuesday afternoon how long it would be before we got to see him and Jacory Harris start throwing the ball down the field more. Before the question could be completed, Marve answered: "I hope in a couple of days."

Randy_shannonDon't hold your breath Canes fans. Texas A&M, which will host the Canes on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC, has one of the worst run defenses in the country. The Aggies rank 113th in the nation defending the run, 83rd in total defense and 24th against the pass. So, for those wondering what exactly Miami will do offensively after playing about as conservative as can be against the Gators, I, for one, am expecting more of the same.

Marve, Harris, coach Randy Shannon and a handful of other players met with the media as usual Tuesday to share their thoughts on the Aggies and how Miami will try and beat a team that has already lost to Arkansas State and barely got past New Mexico 28-22 two weeks ago.

The biggest news from Tuesday? It appears Shannon is trying to light a fire under a few guys' butts by making some changes to the depth chart. The biggest moves are on offense, where Shannon said he's moving a few guys around at receiver (and trimming down the rotation from eight players to seven) and moving Chris Rutledge exclusively from backup tackle to seeing some more time at backup guard too. There will be changes on special teams too. Arthur Brown will see more time there according to Shannon. And the new kick returners are Travis Benjamin and Brandon Harris according to Shannon. The new punt returner is Thearon "Pimp" Collier. That's move according to Shannon is to give Graig Cooper (who will handle more carries) a rest.

> As for Rutledge, he told me has been practicing some at guard for a few years now, but still hasn't seen any live action at the position. He said he's been playing both sides at guard since last week. "I don't mind I'm doing whatever it takes to help the team out and win," Rutledge said. "I played a little bit of it in high school. I played some of it when the new coaches came in two years ago. Coaches had already told me to prepared to play guard. I'm looking to get some live reps this week."

Jermaine_mckenzie> For those of you worried about receiver Jermaine McKenzie transferring, he told me he today he plans on "being a Cane for life." The fact he didn't play at Florida, he says, had nothing to do with performance. He told us he had a sprained MCL in his left knee and is now 100 percent healthy. McKenzie, who was a practice star when he first arrived at UM last year, said he's going to do all he can to impress coaches and get on the field soon. Players do not find out if they are on the 70-man travel roster, according to McKenzie, until noon Thursday.

Shannon was asked if McKenzie might get into the wide receiver rotation. "Whenever Jermaine is ready to crack that rotation he will," Shannon said. "Jermaine is like any other receiver. We don't play favorites. Whoever is good to play we're going to play. One thing is we're not going to put anyone in who is not ready to play. Guys have to prove it to us in practice. Is Jermaine doing great? He's doing wonderful. We think he's going to help us out this season. He's been nicked up, now he's back and we'll see what he can do."

The only thing that strikes me a bit strange about this all is that McKenzie was healthy enough to play the role of Percy Harvin the week before Miami traveled to Gainesville on the Canes' scout team. So, I guess we'll have to take their word that he was hurt.

> As for the receivers as a group, Shannon said he isn't sure who will be left out of the rotation. But according to the depth chart released to the media, the six guys listed were Sam Shields, Leonard Hankerson and Travis Benjamin "at The Z" and Aldarius Johnson (listed first), Laron Byrd and Khalil Jones "at the X." Who turns out to be No. 7 remains a mystery. It could be either McKenzie, Davon Johnson or Collier -- who will already be accounted for as the punt returner.

> Last week, Robert Marve defended his offensive coordinator. This week, it was time to stand up for his receivers, who dropped a few passes against Florida.

Robert_marve"We have great receivers here at The U. We have great receivers. I want to make that clear. Everyone talks about these couple drops in one game, in the second game of the season. I wish you guys could see practice, the plays they made for me. In practice, I'll scramble around and I've thrown balls to Leonard Hankerson he's caught one-handed in the back corner of the end zone. It would make you guys say Heisman Trophy winner. The guy is good. Everybody is good. You'll see how good this receiving corps is. When you have guys you can pitch it to that can take it 60, 70 yards. You all will see. And to be fair most of those guys are young. Even Leonard. He's a sophomore. Those guys are going to be ready to play. I trust them with everything. I'm going to throw them the ball -- anybody -- it doesn't matter. I'm looking forward to finding those guys and throwing some touchdowns."

Jacory_harris2> One of the more interesting responses I got today was from Jacory Harris, when I asked him how much freedom he and Marve have to change a play at the line of scrimmage. Basically, he estimated, that about 50 percent of the time he and Marve are given a play with the option of either passing or running. And he said they decide based on what they see at the line of scrimmage. Such was the case against Florida two weeks ago when Harris came in with UM pinned at its own 1-yard line. It was actually his check off to skip the run and hit Kayne Farquharson for the 12-yard gain.

Harris said it's been tough getting used to running the plays called by a coordinator. At Miami Northwestern, he called 99 percent of the plays for the Bulls. But he says he's prepared himself mentally to deal with it. He said he believes, eventually, Nix will give him and Marve the chance to audible more.

"Going into college I knew I was not going to be the person calling plays," Harris said. "People get paid to their job. They get paid good money to do their job and they're not going to let you call your plays, call your shots and do what you want. I prepared myself mentally to understand that."

> Another big topic of late for U has been freshman linebackerArthur Brown. Shannon told WQAM's Joe Rose that Brown has an ankle injury which has been slowing him down. But senior linebacker Glenn Cook said it could be that Brown is still behind when it comes to the playbook.

"I think he just hasn't learned as fast as some of the other freshmen," Cook said. "We just got to keep working with him. He's still getting acclimated. I don't think his level of high school ball was the same as some of the other guys. But I think he'll be fine. He is getting better. It's just a slow process. He's a real positive kid. It's not affecting him."

> In case you missed it, we had a live chat today from 2 to 3 p.m. Here is the link to the chat transcript.

> Also, for those of you who would like to hear Shannon's press conference or anything else that was said Tuesday, here's the link to our UM audio page.

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