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Canes need o-line, RBs to step up

Before the season began, UM coach Randy Shannon said the strongest units on his team were the offensive line and the running backs. Through eight games, that hasn't been the story. The Hurricanes aren't getting the type of effort they thought they would from those guys.

The numbers don't lie. Through nine games last season, UM was averaging 175 yards a game on the ground. Through eight games this year, the Canes are averaging nearly 50 yards less (127). While UM's passing Coopergame is averaging 10 more yards a game than it was last year, the line has been giving up more negative plays than it did a year ago. Last year, UM gave up 10 sacks in its first eight games. This year, the Canes have surrendered 17 in the same amount of time. Miami also surrendered 47 tackles for loss in 2007. This year, they've given up two more than that number. The only real area of improvement for the offensive line has been penalties. In '07, Miami was flagged for holding eight times and called for false starts seven times through their first eight games. This year, the Canes have been only flagged four times for holding and six for false starts.

"We definitely had higher expectations than what we're getting done," said 6-3, 300-pound junior A.J. Trump, who has started the last four games for UM at right guard. "We've been up and down. We played some good games here and there, not as good as some others. We're trying to gain some consistency and run the ball a little bit better. We're trying to get better."

Miami needs to be better at both running the football and protecting the quarterback -- and quick. Virginia leads the ACC in sacks with 23 this season. Clint Sintim, a 6-3, 254-pound senior outside linebacker, has been the menace. He leads the ACC with 10 sacks this season. Shannon said in Tuesday's press conference Miami will run the football more this week. Since Javarris James came back from his ankle injury against Duke, he and Graig Cooper have been stuck in quicksand. They've combined for 28 touches and 128 yards. There should be an opportunity to run this week against Virginia, which ranks 10th in the ACC in run defense and gives up 147 yards a game.

Not only that, but this week will mark the first time freshmen quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris will see a 3-4 defense. Nobody in the ACC other than Virginia runs it. Robert_marveBoth Marve and Harris talked Tuesday about how confusing it can be when eight guys drop back into coverage. Last week, was the first time since the Florida game neither quarterback threw an interception. "The 3-4 changes it up a little bit," Marve said. "They can cover more with the eight man drop. It's more recognizing where everyone's at. The 3-4 defense goes a lot off formations. It's more understanding your formation and what they've shown on film compared to what you're going to show. It's a little cat and mouse game."

Said Harris: "It's a very difficult defense to scheme because they can also drop eight and it basically ruins your passing game. We got to try and pound the ball until they bring everybody in the box and then that's when the air attack should start."

The good news for the Canes is the 3-4 won't be as new to its offensive line. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said the Canes face it in practice every week because they usually see it a lot on third down. "We work the 3-4 all year, I don't care who we're playing. I have what I call `Musts.' So in practice I work on a head-up nose guard even if we're not playing a team with a head-up nose guard. Everybody we play plays a 3-4 - on third down they play it. So we work on it every single week so when you get to the 3-4 defense it's not like a brand new deal."

> Stoutland talked with me and a few other reporters for about 10 minutes about the good, the bad and the ugly with his unit this season after Tuesday's practice and even challenged me to hit the pads. We got a good laugh out of it. Stoutland, though, isn't laughing as much about the play of his line. It's been a roller coaster year for his guys and he knows it.

Stoutland said he keeps a chart of how many times his unit runs the perfect play. He focuses on assignment, Jeff_stoutland
technique and effort. "o get a perfect play, if you count up all the plays - if there's 80 plays in a game -- you're trying to get 55 percent or better perfect. You're humming if you're 55 percent or better, and I chart that all the time. We've got to be at that number. It tells you how well you're executing together as a group. Every single day that's what we're trying to do. We look at things, say `Hey, maybe we have to minimize some things, maybe add some things. But that's kind of how we decide our game plan for what we're going to do."

Stoutland said the line has been humming at times, but not enough. But he's encouraged by the improving health of his team. Reggie Youngblood, who went down with a knee injury last month as is playing hurt, is getting healthier by the week. Chris Barney, who went down in fall camp, is starting to progress and might be able to contribute more than just on extra points and field goals. And he said Tuesday he feels like sophomore Orlando Franklin is starting to come on. He also praised Chris Rutledge saying "he didn't grade as high this game, but in the past he's really come on. I'm proud of him for what he's done."

Truth be told, Miami's line may have been miscast as the strength of this team before the season. Aside from three-year starters Jason Fox and Youngblood at tackle, UM had to replace its entire interior starting lineup. And as Stoutland said Tuesday, opponents have been "throwing the kitchen sink" at the line this season to try and rattle the Canes young quarterbacks, who obviously haven't struck enough on those deep passes to keep defenses off. Stoutland said the long run Marve made against Wake was the perfect remedy because it keeps defenses honest.

"Their mission is to break the quarterback's will," Stoutland said. "Get him confused, break his will, get him discombobulated. Our young quarterbacks have made some big plays now. That play Robert pulled and ran it - they're running a game on the back side of that thing and we hit it perfectly. That was a perfectly executed play. When you start to do that, people start to get a little nervous - `Whoa, hold on.' The more we can crack it when people are doing that, the more plays we can make, the more people back off. They'll try you. Last week you see them stemming the whole line back and forth, trying to get you to come off with a false start. I thought our guys handled that really well."

> For those of you wondering if center Xavier Shannon is ever going to bring those high snaps down, don't bet on it. Stoutland said while he's been bothered by the high snaps Xavier Shannon has been releasing lately, he isn't trying to over coach it. "I don't like to over-coach it, because when you start to over-coach it, start go nuts on it, then it goes all over the place," he said Tuesday. "The shotgun snap is a very delicate issue. We monitor that, check it at practice if it's going to the right or left. I don't go overboard with it, though, because I used to do that and then it went haywire. It shouldn't be a bullet snap, just get it back to the quarterback."

> While UM has plenty of veteran lineman this season, we know that won't be the story going forward. We Ian_symonette
know UM is trying a strong push to land offensive lineman and are in the chase for some of the country's best with their next recruiting class. Stoutland gave us an update on how the guys here are doing now and how he's working to bring them along. "A name that hasn't been mentioned in a while is Ian Symonette. He's starting to come on. I've been working with him, having individual meetings and trying to get him. I'm looking forward to working with him to the point where he can compete for a job. He's been here long enough, let's go," Stoutland said. "Tyler Horn last week was unbelievable. Harland Gunn had a really good day. The defensive coaches let me know what they're doing and I'm hearing good things."

Stoutland said Symmonette, a 6-9, 351-pound sophomore, has to focus on his change of direction. "A lot of that comes down to knowing what your doing," Stoutland said. "It's all about angles. But if you don't know what angle to take, it's not going to look real good."

Stoutland said he's also spending extra time with freshman Ben Jones, who has worked his way back from injury to the scout team. "He's going to be a very good player. I do some stuff with him after practice to bring his development along. He's like in the minors. I'm trying to bring him on faster - I haven't had a chance to coach him that much because he was injured."

> Speaking of the injured, linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who was nicked up in the Wake Forest game, should be fine for Saturday's game at Virginia. So, should running back Javarris James, who said he's closer to being 100 percent. "I'm starting not to think about," James said of his ankle injury. "My first week back it was in my mind a lot. It's something hard to overcome. I finally feel like I'm almost all the way back. They said there would always be some type of pain the rest of the year and it's just something I got to deal with."

> Count Randy Shannon as a fan of Dancing With the Stars -- especially now that Warren Sapp is involved in the competition. Shannon said he exchanges text messages with Sapp, who is still in the running for the top spot. "I'll tell him `Great move, but you have to get more pizzazz.'," Shannon said Tuesday. " He's always been one of my funniest guys. I knew that it would be great because Sapp really has great feet and is truly a great athletes, has great dance moves."

> As usual, I've uploaded a ton of audio interviews. Feel free to check them out on our UM audio page.

Comments

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FIRST!!!

I can't believe I'm the first. This has never happened before. I'm finally "that guy".

1st!

Ahhhhhhhhh damn! 3rd!

Ian Symonette, wow. I was just thinking about him the other day. I thought he was a junior by now, just because it feels like it's been ages since we've heard anything about him. He came in with a lot of hype, and has done nothing. Hope to see him start to pick up what he's being taught. We need more big guys like him on the line, just hopefully ones that can play.

Hope I'm wrong, but I think this guy will just go down as BFN (big for nothing).

Ian Symonette is suffering from "Big Dixon" Syndrome. Big hype, big body, big disappointment...so far, hope he can turn it around and lose some weight and have a great career.

Ian Symonette needs to come around...he can't waste that big body.

Manny----Glad to see an update on my fellow Bahamain, Ian Symonette. Canes need him to step up by the end of the year. Not many sophs dominate on the o-line.
Kepp up the good work, or as they say in Aggieland "good bull" (good information).

Um really needs to recruit O Lineman

Manny

I agree the running game needs to step up obviously, but don't you think the coaches (Patrick nix I'm looking in your direction) need to put them in a better position to succeed?

I mean the Wake Forest game, for example, most of the running plays came from the shotgun, or they were trying this stretch run like the Colts used to run when Edge was the running back there. The shotgun doesn't give the backs much of a chance to get started running downhill and when it takes almost 5 seconds to hand the ball off on that stupid stretch run, it's hard for the line to keep any holes open.

Why don't they use the fullbacks as a lead blocker more? How about a toss play out of the I? A misdirection run? I haven't seen one toss to a rb when the QB is under center, not in shotgun. It just seems like Patrick Nix is trying to re-invent the wheel when it comes to the running game. I know when the Coker/Werner regime ran the offense that one of the biggest complaints was that they would CONSTANTLY run the ball up the gut. This regime RARELY does that and hardly ever in the right situations (1st or 2nd down).

If they stop running so much from the shotgun and ELIMINATE that idiotic stretch run that takes WAY TOO LONG to execute, this run game will improve.

Where are Hill and Calhoun.?.I want to see the Fullbacks!

I dont care how they score! pass run fumble! they just have to score some way??..if they win with 6 FG, ok..name of game is to win..as fast closers, thats what they are doing..i dont feel bad when they are down in 1st half..because i know they will fight to come back..and i dont buy idear that they are young team, should changes in plays be made..yes..and why?? after 8 games they should know how to play by now..so give them all kinds of plays..Marve woke up, and thats a plus.and back up is just as good..yes they lose games, so what!! thats how they learn..cuss them out when they lose, but give a big cheer, when they win..thats what life is all about..

They lost to games by a combined 6 pts to teams with a combined 12-3 record, and of course the gaytors who are in top 10. Just never finished 2 games.

I think the key will be the turnover ratio this week. It's been frustrating that the defense has created zip as far as turnovers. Nice sign from Miami this past week not turning the ball over, but Wake isn't exactly a turnover power house. If the defense can create some more pressure on the UVA o-line and QB, hopefully the other guys can come up with a big INT or FF. Then our QB's need to take the pressure they receive in stride. While I hate seeing sacks, it's better than throwing it up for grabs. Tuck it and fall if they gotta!

I wouldn't mind seeing some FB play either. Those guys can probably block better than the RB corps that has done zilch the past couple of weeks.

GO CANES, BEAT UVA!

Job well done, Manny. This offense of line has so much potential, but they just haven't been able to turn the corner. Hopefully this will be the game with no sacks, JJ and Coop with 6 yards a carrie, not holding, and not false starts. Come on offense show me what you can do!!! Bring home a WIN!!

Manny the Man... well written. Easy read and flows well from different subject matter.

Ian Symonette. A name from the past, who is missing on the line... Damn at 6'9" and 350 lbs, I wonder if he can hold the ball and go forward... LOL... Our 3rd and short down conversions are in need of a really big guy that can take a hand off and move the pile a few yards... Hummmm

Ian Symonette, as a RB, whatcha think? LOL

Humor me... Cat

Green - Would you shut up!

Posted by: TXCane | October 27, 2008 at 11:44 PM

why don't you shut up ...

JUST CAUSE

but for the predator's presence ...
I would abstain from posting ...
you see, I achieved my goal: jump-start Eye on the U ...
now, I stand aside ...
so the once-lifeless herald blog can stand alone ...

MAY YOUR WISH BE GRANTED

Hey Manny, got your email!

Posted by: 86Cane | October 27, 2008 at 09:34 PM

malleable manny navarro associates with a two-bit thief ...

JEOPARDY

Having a healthy JJ back will open up the passing game. We need him to run the ball up the middle and bring the LB's up, that will open up Coop and the TE over the middle!

JJ will make a hugh difference if he's healthy and can carry the ball at least 20 times!

Run up the middle all day long!

The U!

g-man, I'm with you on this one. All we heard about this year was how much the fullbacks we recruited were going to help the running game. I haven't seen them in ages! Chudzinski and Coker (bad head coach, good OC) always got big plays out of the I formation because we could run up the gut consistently for 4-5 yards on first down. This running from the shotgun stuff drives me nuts! It is a gimmick offense for smaller teams like West Virginia and Utah, who don't have the size but have a lot of fast guys and so they run this spread-option attack to compensate (like the academies running the triple-option). It works, but it's not the best offense there is, and that's why no SEC schools (UF kind of, but not really), USC, Ohio State, etc run this thing. We need to focus on the pro-set offense that got us all those championships and set records for scoring and total offense earlier this decade.

Why don't you stop trying to be friends with the coaches and friendly with the players and really challenge them as opposed to all the softball questions and attitude.

JJ and Coop aren't up to the challenge and you know it. Yet you act on paper like you believe the coaches when you yourself point out that statistically they are 50 yards a game behind last year.
If you ever want to aspire to being more than a Hurricane reporter learn to be RELEVANT and make people squirm and make a DIFFERENCE. Quit with the one big happy family no matter what stuff.

To be successful against the 3-4 D, u have to run right at it. VA's LB's are good but the d-line is a lil suspect. if the young Shannon can handle VA's nose tackle the canes should win this game. Nix is implementing his version of the spread Offense, but establishing the run in the first half is key; i agree some I- formation football is needed...

The 3-4 defense also provides blitzes from all angles, (think Pitt Steelers), most times VA will bring 4 or 5 on any given play. They like to overload on the outside and bring their stud OLB. Many of his sacks he came untouched.. The RBs will need to pick up the blitz (inside- out) well to give Marve/Harris time to throw...

VA does drop 8 usually on 3rd down and 7 or more... a perfect time for a draw.. But mostly expect them to blitz & blitz often...

double TE also works well against the 3-4, don't recall the U running that often this year, but i'd like to see Gordon and Epps on the field with Hill and JJ/Coop in the backfield and run the ball down VA's throat.

Go Canes!!!

I DON'T GET HOW THE PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG FLIP-FLOP ALL THE TIME...

FIRST NIX SUCKS

SECOND MARVE SUCKS

NOW, ITS COOP AND JJ..

ITS B.S.

JJ STILL HASN'T HAD A FULL LOAD YET, AND YALL MUST HAVE ALZHEIMERZ, REMEMBER THOSE 100 YARD GAMES COOOP GAVE US A T THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR... THE LACK OF RUNNING YARDS IS MAINLY DUE TO LACK OF CARRIES... RB'S NEED CARRIES TO GET IN A GROOVE AND TO HAVE A CHANCE BREAK ONE...

THOSE THAT SAY COOP IS A 3RD DOWN BACK, CAN ONLY RUN OUTSIDE,AND IS MEDIOCRE DON'T KNOW $HIT ABOUT FOOTBALL..

I STOP POSTING ON HERE, NOT CAUSE OF THE GATORS( IT'S SOMETIMES FUN) 9>4; OR CAUSE OF GREEN AND 86.. I STOP CAUSE 90% OF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE GAME OF FOOTBALL, ALL U WANT TO DO IS BLAME SOME COACH OR PLAYER, WITH OUT EVEN KNOWING WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES THAT PLAYER IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THROUGH OUT THE GAME..

WHO U GONNA BLAME AFTER COOP AND JJ RUN OVER VA'S 3-4 DEFENSE?

GO CANES!!!!

Manny,

Appreciate the 411, keep it coming. Is there any substance to the chatter about Guz Malzahn from tulsa. I read a rumor that a Miami Booster offered to help with his salary if they would hire him for the OC position. Any possibility of this scenario playing out?

Gman hit it on the head. I've been complaining about this for weeks. On at least 2 occasions last week Miami had 2nd and 3. Both times they where in the shotgun and both times they ran a QB draw and both times they ending up not picking up the first down and punting. I think at times they try to over coach it instead of going with the pond game and keep a drive alive.

Herbal Minded - I totally agree with you!

We could pass for 500 yards and win by 30 points and people would complain about the one interception Marve had.

This is FB and nothing is ever perfect in FB, especially when you have a young QB's and receivers.

Mr. MIA - He was fired at Auburn so who wants Guz Malzahn. He runs a spread O, we run the pro O. Hope we don't see him in Miami!

Tony Franklin was fired at Auburn. Malzahn was at ark. for a period. We dont run the traditional pro offense anymore, its more spread oriented to fit our current personnel. They both ran the spread in HS.

G-Man, you are 100% correct. Where are Hill and Calhoun? Great question. We heard a ton about them pounding people in practice before the season started. What happened? I'm going in very positive for the VA game. I think JJ busts this game wide open. He's due. It's time. GO CANES!

That Jim Martz article is great!

Which Jim Martz article?

THE OPEN LETTER TO JACORY..

You fools have been talking about what COOP and JJ are "gonna do" forever. FOOLS. These guys are average. YOu keep making excuses for them. JJ's injuries are not an excuse. ITS WHAT HE IS...SOFT. U FOOL. COOP is very average. The season is half over fool. These guys got nothing. YOURE AN IDIOT. Go back to making really bad rap videos you half baked player. Don't accuse fans of not knowing football when ITs YOU that don't know anything FOOL.

Which Jim Martz article?

Posted by: roachcane77 | October 30, 2008 at 06:39 PM
http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/colleges/um/story/748571.html

DEAR JACORY

LOL... STUPID PEOPLE, I MEEN INBREEDS, ARE SO FUNNY... GATOR FANS ARE A JOKE... JUST LIKE THIS THIS ONE...

Y DID URBAN MYER CROSS THE ROAD?

CAUSE HIS PECKER WAS STUCK IN TEBOW aka TEBOW

focus support your team the bowl game acc bcs will come everything take time 2 years we will be #1 like the good old days but with shannon we will stay the man is learing jj words coach shannon is the man for the job .... jj knows football......... think about it....

I need more Mollie Rose !

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