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Baby J: "Whipple gave it to us raw"

With a week to go before the start of spring practice we got a chance Tuesday to hook up with three returning veterans -- offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, running back Javarris James and defensive lineman Allen Bailey. We learned a lot about injuries, transfers, potential spring battles -- and more importantly -- how The U's two new coordinators have begun to interact with their players.

Mark WhippleHere's what we know: Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has made an impression. According to his players, he isn't going to stroke any of them and let them live off the past. According to James, Whipple's first meeting with the team wasn't full of pleasantry. It was all about getting down to business.

"He's a straight-on guy," James said. "He gave it to us raw. He kind of put us in our place, said a few words in the meeting that caught us by surprise. It was like tough love. That's different from what we were used to. We know this guy came here to win. That's what he's been used to."

The same way defensive players have begun studying their new playbooks this week, so too have offensive players. James told us receivers have been walking around excited, talking about the new routes in Whipple's offense. James said there are also new reasons for the running backs to be excited.

"It's great for us," James said of the playbooks' design for running backs. "It gives us the opportunity to get in the open field, get the ball one-on-one, line us up against linebackers. The whole offense - it's a tough offense to learn, but once we get it down all of us have a lot of confidence in coach Whipple. It's really a pro-style offense. You have different terminology to learn. But it's not too bad. Once you get a feel you'll be fine. The offense is going to be fun for us. It's a lot of different from what I've been used to since I've been here. I really expect big things from the offense."

James said the offense has a lot more it asks of running backs to do -- especially in blocking schemes. "The things you see guys in the NFL doing -- pass blocking, catching the ball out of the backfield -- that's what we'll be doing. You have to be the quarterback's eys as far as protections. You have to look at the safeties, pay attention to it all."

Joel Figueroa OFFENSIVE LINE IN FLUX: Without question, UM's offensive line is going to be the area where the most competition and movement will take place. We learned a few new things Tuesday about the line. One, it looks like offensive guard Joel Figueroa could miss signinficant time this spring. Two, senior Chris Barney has apparently decided to transfer (he hardly played at all in his career at UM).

Figueroa, who started in four games last season as a sophomore, had surgery according to his teammates. He was seen walking around campus Tuesday with his arm in a sling. It's unclear when he'll return. But when he does, he'll likely be back at guard.

In his absecne though we learned redshirt sophomore Harland Gunn will see time with the first team -- a good sign for a player who has spent two years developing on the scout team. Gunn came to UM ranked the eighth best center in the country. Teammates say Gunn is expected to be pushed by prep school recruit Brandon Washington.

Center, the position vacated by Xavier Shannon, will come down to a battle between A.J. Trump and Tyler Horne. Trump played a lot of backup center last season during practice, especially when Shannon was out on Wednesdays because of class.

Left guard still belongs to Orlando Franklin, who made 10 starts there last year. But Franklin said Tuesday he's been told he'll get a shot at right tackle (a position I believe he will be moved to permanently) two weeks into the spring. Franklin said junior Ian Symonnette is currently backing him up at guard. Left tackle of course is being manned by veteran Jason Fox and prep school recruit Jermaine Johnson.

"Coach Stoutland said I’ll get my opportunity to play tackle," Franklin said. "I just always wanted to play tackle in college. When I got here it was easier for me to get on the field early at guard, so they bumped me inside. Last year I took a couple reps and did a lot of one-on-ones [at right tackle] with faster guys. When you play tackle you play against a lot of faster guys. When you are playing guard everything is just right there. When you play tackle you got to see more, you got to be smarter I think."

Franklin said he finished last season weighing 337 pounds. He said he's already trimmed himself down to 328 and said he would like to weigh 318 when the season begins so he can be lighter on his feet. Still, weight isn't the only thing Franklin said he'll be working on. He said he was disappointed with his season last year and wants to improve his technique.

"Technique wise I feel like I grew up a lot," Franklin said. "But I didn’t feel like I dominated people like I needed to. I just want to be that guy. Fourth and 1, there shouldn’t be any questions asked where they’re running the ball. But they passed the ball sometimes. That shows you something."

Allen Bailey A MOVE INSIDE FOR BAILEY? The Canes defensive line obviously has less holes to fill and fewer questions. One question, however, that might not get answered this spring is where Allen Bailey's future is at. Is he going to be an end (where he played primarily last season) or is he going to make the move inside to tackle (where he played on third down situations)? Or will he just play both?

Bailey sounded Tuesday like coaches may ask him to move inside more often this year because of "the youth in the middle." Bailey said he can take the physical play inside (he's now up about pounds to 289-290), but he prefers playing on the outside."It’s way different than the end position," Bailey said. "You are in close quarters with everybody right there in front of you. You have to react quickly. It’s a little bit of a battle. I’m not a typical d-tackle, so there are some advantages."

Bailey said he's working at right tackle with Joe Joseph behind him. The left side is being manned by sophomore Marcus Forston and Josh Holmes. He said he expects redshirt freshmen Micanor Regis and Jeremy Lewis to contribute this season along with true freshman Curtis Porter. It sounds like left defensive end will be manned by Eric Moncur and Bailey. Sophomore Marcus Robinson, junior Adewale Ojomo and freshman Olivier Vernon are expected to rotate on the right side.

Bailey shed a little light on new defensive coordinator John Lovett's schemes."Seems like the defense will be a little easier," Bailey said. "No dropping back into coverage for the ends. It will be more basic stuff. It will probably allow us to do more rushing for the ends."

Comments

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1ST, FINALLY SOME REAL FOOTBALL NEWS

1st from America

okan!
(means 1st in a nigerian language)

I can't wait for spring to start. How about Sam Shields moving to CB? Is that true?

This kind of talk gets me excited for the fall. we have a ridiculously tough september. Hopefully the coaches with the help of the daunting schedule can get everyone focused and on point. hate to win at tally and come back and have another let down against ga tech. The toughest challenge any coordinator at the U has ever had, is keeping the players minds in-check, week in and week out. I have hope that Whipple and Lovett can do it.


CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Unless Bryce Brown makes a decision Wednesday, the nation's top-ranked recruit will be going somewhere other than Miami.

The letter of intent Brown was offered by Miami expires Wednesday, and a person involved in recruiting the running back from Wichita, Kansas told The Associated Press the Hurricanes will not reissue the scholarship offer.

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awesome work manny. i really wanted to hear something from the players about whipple and also from the O-line. i like what i'm hearing with the offense. sounds like we're going to find an identity sooner rather than later. my main problem with our offenses of the past couple years has been how disorganized the entire ordeal has been. it seems like no thought went into pat nix's game plans. he was a jack of all trades and a master of none. one minute it'd be terribly executed bubble screens, then live and die by the run, then no-huddle, then huddle, then qb run, then empty backfield. he just never quite seemed to know what was going on. glad thats over. plus, it really sounds like these guys are developing well.

Great job as always Manny.

Quick question... who will be the next 2010 commit? Jakhari Gore?

Q for you; do you get sandbagged on info like Figueroa's inj like we do? I swear, Coach Shannon has a better lockdown on leaks then the Bush WH did...

Once again, Navarro - props to U.

Canes, baaby

Thanks Manny, we cannot wait for spring football to start. Sounds like Whipple has already gained the attention, respect and confidence of his players with a little tough love right off the bat.

Whipple is installing his NFL-type offense (contrasted with UF's gimmicky offense). If Whipple's offense can score at least 10-17 points more than last year (as UMASS CANE projects), UM's defense will hold its own and UM's relatively young team will win at least 10 games next year on the field (perhaps a BCS bowl) because that point margin was the difference in most UM losses.

This success on the field in '09 is critical because there will be a number of elite recruits in the State of Florida, and with success, I think you will see more early commitments to the U like with UM's '08 class.

As Kenny Rogers once sang You got to know when to hold um and when to fold um. Good bye Mr Brown

hey manny,

good stuff...

I am a student at UM and from what friends on the football team tell me, the offense is going to be much more fun this year...

I am glad to see whipple is opening it up...

This Harlang Gunn kid is a beast, I'm surprised he hasn't been playing much already in 2008.

His only weakness is his height at 6'2, but i don't think there's another lineman at Miami that has the nasty streak of this Harland Gunn kid from what i've seen of him on Youtube.

I always wondered why he wasn't being utilized...

However, with that being said, i think he can take the spot at Center if he went after it. It might be a better fit for him career wise, being that he's a more compact and stout kid that may have more pro potential appeal at Center @ 6'2 over 300lbs.

Go Canes!!

Hey Manny,

Can you give us an update on the physical improvements of our linebackers, as far as thier ability to put on more bulk/size at the position; that's my only concern.

I would be awesome to have those guys flying around like a missles at at least 220 - 230lbs by the time the season rolls around.

Sean Spence OLB 6-0 190 OLB #2
Ramon Buchanan OLB 6-1 190 OLB #3
Jordan Futch OLB 6-3 202 OLB #5
Arthur Brown OLB 6-1 210 OLB #1

All of the guys we have signed the last 2 years with good LB size coming in, have been moved to D-Line?? What gives:

Marcus Robinson OLB 6-2 222 OLB #7
Adewale Ojomo OLB 6-3 218 OLB #8
Gavin Hardin OLB 6-5 225 OLB #37

please drop Bryce Brown now. Have some class "U". This kid is mental and we don't need his type. have him go sit on the bench at usc

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