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What's holding back the offense?

The No. 1 question asked by Canes fans this week -- and probably this entire season -- has been: What's holding back the Canes offense? And it is a fair one. After all, how can an offense with more talent at quarterback, more talent at receiver, an improved group of tight ends, and veterans on the offensive line and in the backfield still be ranked six weeks into this season the same as it was at the end of last year (110th overall)?

Patrick_nixIn search of answers this week, I found plenty of explanations. Tight end Dedrick Epps was insightful with from the receivers perspective. Quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris continued to fill us in on just how confused they've been by opposing coverages. And Wednesday, offensive coordinator Patrick Nix was about as honest, open and insightful as he's ever been in his two seasons here.

I'll have a story on what Nix said later tonight (YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE 16 MINUTE INTERVIEW HERE). But I'll try to answer your question right now from what I learned.

Basically, it's a combination of a lot of things.
> Opposing teams are indeed throwing defenses at UM their young players have never seen before and while Nix is making adjustments (Epps confirmed it), his players are not executing them. Shannon said Wednesday he began having his defense throw various coverage schemes at the offense -- not just what they see on tape anymore -- to see how they adjust on the fly.
> Poor route running is a problem and all of the interceptions Marve has been throwing lately are not all his fault. Epps talked at length Tuesday about how coaches are emphasizing running deeper, crisper routes to keep defensive backs off of them. Nix talked at length Tuesday and gave us examples how his young receivers are tipping off defensive backs, including twice last Saturday which led to two of Marve's three picks.
> Miami needs to remain healthy on the offensive line so they can keep the rotation running. UM simply isn't deep enough and must have fresh legs to be effective in both the running and passing game. The injury to Reggie Youngblood hurt Miami bad and forced Chris Rutledge to move from guard to tackle, leaving players like Orlando Franklin gassed and ineffective at many points during the game. The return of Barney and Youngblood this week will help.

Truth be told, nobody on this team believes the offense is doing as poorly as it. Kayne Farquharson laughed out loud when we told him the Canes' offense ranked 110th. "For real?," Farquharson said. "I didn't even know that man. Hearing it is tough. You want to be in the Top 5 in every aspect of the game. If we're 110, then we're the best 110 out there then. It's kind of shocking. But it is what it is."

> The good news for Canes fans is that nobody is pointing fingers -- yet. Unlike last year when you felt this team fold, many guys are still stepping up and taking responsibility for the woes. We'll see how long it lasts.

> For those of you who haven't seen it yet, my feature on Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is up on our website already. I covered Thad when he was at Hialeah-Miami Lakes and always thought the Canes made a huge mistake not going after him or his HML teammate Armando Allen, who is now tearing things up at Notre Dame. Imagine where UM would be today if it would have had those guys each of the past two years?

ThaddeuslewisLewis can run and make plays with his legs. But what makes him effective is his elusiveness and ability to throw on the run. This year, the Blue Devils have learned how to protect him. Last year, Duke gave up an average of 3.8 sacks a game. This year, they've given up 10 in five games. UM sacked Lewis nine times last year, including what turned out to be the game-clincher by Eric Moncur. UM freshman linebacker knows how important it will be to get to Thad quick Saturday. "He's very talented, real mobile," Spence said. "He's not like a typical running quarterback. He wants to run around and look for the throw. He's not going to look for the run and make plays on his own. He's going to look for his receivers."

Chavez Grant admitted Tuesday UM was able to get away with some mistakes in coverage against UCF because the line finally got pressure on an opposing quarterback. UM had five sacks against the Knights and now has 14 for the season. "For the most part we cleaned up a lot of things, but at the same time we made some mistakes," Grant said of UM's secondary work. "I think it was a little less. But the thing about UCF, they didn't capitalize on our mistakes. We kind of covered them up really well because we were playing fast in the pass rush."

> The big news Tuesday was running back Javarris James and offensive tackle Reggie Youngblood were coming back from injury this week to play. But I'm not a firm believer either of these guys are close to being 100 percent healthy. Both talked after Tuesday's practice about how both are still feeling a lot of pain.

James suffered a high left ankle sprain against Florida. He admitted he's still feeling shots of pain when he makes cuts on his ankle, but said he feels confident he'll play and is around 90 to 95 percent. "I feel a lot more positive than Coach Shannon [about playng]," James said Tuesday. "He's going to do what's best for me. If it was up to me, I would have been dressed a long time ago. But it's just going to be some pain to fight through."

Youngblood injured his left leg, the same leg which he injured as a sophomore. Shannon told us two weeks ago Youngblood would be out for the year. Shannon said it was Youngblood who asked him if he could come back out and give it ago. But I'm sure he got some encouragement. Miami needs Youngblood badly at that right tackle spot. Chris Rutledge and Tyrone Byrd have proven they can't cut it without Youngblood at least in the rotation. "I've been playing with pain since 11th grade," Youngblood said. "It's not nothing I'm used to. I just got to gut it out."

Wednesday, Shannon told us he was hoping to get "anything between 35 to 40 snaps" from Youngblood and 25 to 30 snaps for James. Truth is, it might be less. Shannon, by the way, told us Wednesday its up to Youngblood if he wants a redshirt.

> There is a rumor floating around Sam Shields has been moved to cornerback. I don't buy it. Shannon laughed at it when we asked him about it Tuesday. Shields can't catch the ball too well. But that doesn't make him a corner.

> Shannon was asked why UM hasn't developed a go-to receiver through six games. His answer: youth. "Everybody wants us to have one go-to receiver. But these guys are too young," Shannon explained Tuesday. "It ain't like these guys have been in the system for three years. A lot of them just got here six months ago. Aldarius is the oldest guy we've got at 10 months. You can't do that to [those] young guys."

Glenn_cook> Linebacker Glenn Cook landed hard on his jaw late in Saturday's game and didn't practice Tuesday. Shannon told us he did return to practice on Wednesday. But I'm worried he may be one of those surprise guys on this week's injury report. If he is, look for Spencer Adkins to start in his place. I also don't expect running back Lee Chambers -- who had a flash in the pan with a 25-yard run against UCF -- to be back this week. Chambers suffered what Shannon called a "turf toe" injury. I saw him walking in a protective boot Tuesday.

As for other injured players, Shannon told us receiver Leonard Hankerson practiced Wednesday. Safety Vaughn Telemaque did not. Defensive tackle Josh Holmes, who hasn't played in forever, is practicing on the scout team. Shannon, though, is hopeful Holmes might be able to return soon. He's doubtful, probably next week he'll be ready to go," Shannon said. "This week, he's getting over the soreness. If nothing doesn't go wrong, he'll be fine."

Jermaine_mckenzie> I'm beginning to think we'll never see receiver Jermaine McKenzie get into a game unless somebody else goes down with an injury. McKenzie supposedly was on the verge of getting Saturday. He moved from the bench to standing on the sideline. But his number was never called. He was seen going back to the bench and slamming his helmet down in frustration. Shannon offered this on McKenzie Tuesday: "He's at the Z receiver behind Travis Benjamin and Davon Johnson. He's moved his way up on the depth chart, has been doing well in practice. He has to now execute moving forward."

Demarcus_van_dyke> As for DeMarcus Van Dyke, who has basically disappeared after being a starter a year ago, Shannon said DVD simply isn't winning the battle in competition. "He just has to keep working hard," Shannon said. "When we put seven DB's in the game he's in that package. As players sometimes you go in the tank a little bit. Against Florida State he made a couple of plays. This week we used our dime package, he did a great job. We're not going to shove guys off on the shelf, we'll find packages with him. And that's what we're doing with Demarcus."

Comments

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Posted by: canes in my veins | October 16, 2008 at 04:03 PM

Sorry dude. No reason to think. I'm in the know. Have you seen who LSwho has played? North Texas, App State, Miss State and Auburn. Not the greatest offenses, now are they? Didn't Auburn just fire their OC? Please don't tell me you also fell for LSwho's WAY OVERRATED ranking. So get off LSwho's jock, dude.

Stout D? We kept UF to 89 yards on the ground so our D must be the stoutiest.

Yes, UF is heading down. 13-1 to 9-4, and whatever this season will end up being. Ole Miss? Come on. UF is set up to have the best schedule because of who they play at home PLUS they didn't have to play Auburn or Bama this year on their regular schedule. Their schedule is set up for success.

Is that enough to back my statement of UF heading down. Here's one more, they only recruited 6 kids from SoFlo this year, and they think they can win with 175 lb backs.

Only time will tell if I am wrong. Still a lot of football to be played.

Where do i start? How do i address the state of the U. We have to start at the top, right. So let's start with Del Shannon. A great recruiter, a home grown boy, a good D coordinator, a horrible game manager. Motivator? i don't think he grades well there either. Miami used to dominate the 4th quarter which is why we were the first school holding up four fingers when the 3rd quarter clock showed 0:00. Since 2005, we have been outscored in the 3rd and 4th quarter 90% of the time. Coker was there for some and now Del has continued that proud tradition. Motivation? Conditioning? Do we blame it on our facilities? How about when the game tightens up, Del is pressing coal into diamonds. He always looks shook and his players can feel it. On game day, i get sick knowing that when the game is on the line, and x's and o's come into play, we are screwed. His panic and lack of ability to make adjustments is a direct flection of how our QB's from last year and this year feel when they have to make a play. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

You know, if you look to the past, a lot of our swagger came from our coaches. they knew that they were better than the coach on the other side. Jimmie Johnson knew that given 2 minutes in the octogon with any other coach, he would tap him out. his players knew that. its like going into a test and having the answer sheet taped to your leg. you knew you would ace the test. our coaches gave that security blanket to the players so therefore the players would always have a chip on their shoulder. they always knew that no matter what, coach will put us in position to win

Patrick Nix has 2 qb's last week say in post game interviews that they saw a defense on saturday that they never saw before and never prepared for. are you kidding me? then Nix stood up when manny interviewed him and confirmed that; then back it up by making the excuse that they as coaches don't have enough time with the kids. Nixer has to go.

I will be back later, but a closing thought.

Last year, wasn't Sam Bradford a red shirt freshman? didn't he have 29 td's and 6 picks? i wonder if he ever blamed coach stoops for not preparing him for that daunted baylor defense?

With all due respect to my fellow Hurricane fans, but I do feel it's in our best interest to cut our ties with Patrick Nix once this season's over and try to get June Jones away from SMU because I feel that June's scheme is a better fit for the type of talented palyers we do have on offense!!!

Redzombie13 - What??? Shannon makes 900K as a head coach and June makes like 4M, I'm sure he would take a 3 1/2 m paycut to be the OC? Plus, he hasn't ever won crap with that stupid O.

Howdy Pards:
UF has very good team, if not for a few bad breaks we could have beaten them.
UNC has a good team and we should have beaten them .
FSU has a very good team and we should have beaten them.

Therefore right now we have a good team, we will see them become very good this year. Next year will be even better. Then a NCAA Champ in 2010. Nix and Randy and Bill will be the ones to get us there!

Go Canes smash Duke!

Typical cane egghead that "Colorado Cane" is. That's because Colorado Cane is actually the foamy mouth Canesrule 9ships. You are still on crack dude. Everything you post revolves around "if." YOU are what you ARE. U lost all three of them. THREE L's. Great hypothesizing though. FSU sucks (LOSS)

"Therefore right now we have a good team." Good comedy Stool. U is TERRIBLE. Keep sipping that Kool-Aid ya foamy mouthed dolt.

Duke will tool you saturday. Cutcliffe will so out perform Nix that it will be almost sad. How far has DuhhhU fallen when DUKE is making you nervous? NC State gave paltry FSU fits last night. You guys have a lot more suffering to endure with your Wal-Mart coach.

It will be so enjoyable to watch (ESPNU..the wasteland of irrelevant football) you guys get worked by D U K E

G
O
D
U
K
E

I can't wait to hear all the crying monday about "Nix...this...Nix that...Shannon this...Shannon that.

Terrible coaching staff with overrated players.

Duke 32

UM 14

This is for the mouth breathing "I wish" who said "UF is heading down" This clown also cites records of 06 and 07 as proof of UF's downfall. UF's Defense was elite in 06 and paved the way to a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. That entire defense left. Florida was rebuilding that D in 07 and was beaten by better opponents. The 08 defense is back to nasty. Here's some Offense stats below you mouth breathing dolt.

Floridas national rankings

Scoring offense 1st 38.5 points per game (by almost 5 points over Alabama)
Total offfense 3rd 404.3 yards per game
Rushing offense 2nd 193 ypg
Passing efficiency 1st 150.7
Red zone efficiency 1st 23 of 24 (with 15 TDs)

Floridas national rankings

Scoring offense 1st 38.5 points per game (by almost 5 points over Alabama) Wrong, your ranked 14th in the Nation and Fla.ST is 11th!

Total offfense 3rd 404.3 yards per game. Wrong, your ranked 37th in the Nation and Fla.ST. is 28th!

Rushing offense 2nd 193 ypg. Wrong, your 24th in the Nation and Fla. ST. is 14th!

Passing efficiency 1st 150.7. Wrong, your 20th in the Nation. (Maybe 1st in QB runs up the middle)

Red zone efficiency 1st 23 of 24 (with 15 TDs). Wrong again, your 5th in the Nation.

My turn.....

All that O and you couldn't beat Old Mrs. at Home??????????

Canes are not good and there is no hope insight. Next year....who will be playing????? you will still have Nix and Shannon with his crap. The old guys feel cheated, and some players dont want that to happen when they get up in years. Same players, same coaches.....same mindset = loses. Dont give me that "you cant win with freshman"....question, why the heck are freshman playing a lot anyway????? whatever

Why so much interest in the Canes Blog? Do they not have there own fishwrap with some homer writing about the Ole Ball Coach and the hay days? You must have some place to be besides attempting to trash our program on a daily basis.

Florida is better than us right now. They proved it on the field and beat us in the 4th quarter. Over the past 3 seasons, Florida has been better than us thanks to Coker and the lack of talent he brought in on the field and on the sidelines. You better take your shots now, because once tebow leaves, we will climb back on top of the hobbled gator and hit you with 200 mile winds that make H Katrina look like a cool winter breeze.

You guys run that fake ass offense that is beginning to become so predictable. Our secondary is horrible and tebow needed 130 yards in the 4th quarter to have respectable stats by the end of the game. When we find a coordinator who can utilize all this overrated talent, we'll see who is lighting up the scoreboard. How many titles do you guys have in this decade? how many do we have? how many title games did you play in?how many have we played in? ok, enough said.

as for this week and playing duke. yes we will have our hands full. we are not the U of old and yes every win is a big win for us. i really think we are the under dog this week in durham and shouldn't be favored the rest of the season until we prove something. we do have a mountain to climb and maybe we don't have the right pieces in place on the sidelines, but our new AD will not settle for these excuses for long. What about your coach? you guys have the guy you want and you seem to under achieve every year except for the year you some how got into the title game. good thing tressell is regressing in colombus or you would have no titles. at least we recognize the fact that we need a new group of offensive coaches. you guys think meyer is better than the ole ball coach and you will NEVER catch another break to win another title with hime there. how does it feel to be so loaded and go 8-4? how does it feel to get donkey stomped by an inferior michigan team in an irrelevant bowl game? should i go on?

we are well below the usual U standards. we can ackowledge this fact. you guys however, are supposed to be the almighty gators, but your just another small creature in a big swamp that gets bullied by the bigger, stronger, and hungrier predators over the course of the hunting season.

i would rather be sitting at rock bottom where we are building the pyramid again than thinking i already sit atop the perch only to be knocked off by half ass teams that shouldn't even be be allowed near my nest.

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