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McGee, Vernon are maturing fast

Last year, it was Sean Spence and Marcus Robinson who made big splashes on UM's defense as true freshmen. This year, look for defensive end Olivier Vernon and cornerback Brandon McGee to be those guys.

Olivier Vernon Both arrived early in the spring from high school and both have continued to show maturity and growth throughout the first week of practice. Wednesday, McGee recorded his first pick of the fall -- a huge confidence booster for a guy defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff told me was a bit unsure of himself. Thursday, Vernon recorded two sacks, with one coming in third down drills and the other in red zone work.

But it's more than big plays that McGee and Vernon are making. It's personal growth. Vernon took his promotion to the first team a few days ago on the left side -- ahead of redshirt sophomore Adewale Ojomo -- not as an ego boost, but as a reward for his hard work. "I always knew I could rush the passer," Vernon said. "But I feel like I'm not there all the way. I'm not 100 percent yet. I want to take it a step further."

When I asked Vernon (6-3, 250) if he had a streak of sacks going (we hear he's had at least one a day since practice began) he told me flatly "I'm not counting my sacks, I'm trying to make plays." 

Vernon, who said Ojomo and Eric Moncur have been 'great leaders for him', said defensive line coach Clint Hurtt has been helping him improve his hands. "He's helping me with my hand placement, shooting my hands and keeping my stamina up," Vernon said.

McGee, meanwhile, said his confidence is rising. "I was struggling at first when I first came out for summer practice, coming off that surgery," said McGee, who had a broken bone in his ring finger worked on in the spring. "The upper classmen told me don't get down myself. I came around [Wednesday] and got my first interception of the summer. I had a couple pass breakups. I'm definitely feeling confident."


> Tight end Dedrick Epps said after Thursday's first two-a-day and two days of full contact drills that he's "the same old, Dedrick Epps" and isn't experiencing any pain or discomfort from his previous knee injury. The 6-4, 253-pound senior had knee surgery in December after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament before the Emerald Bowl.

> Sophomore receiver Aldarius Johnson said he feels he's improved on finishing at the top of his routes, coming and out of breaks, and blocking since the end of the spring.

> QUOTE OF THE DAY: Defensive end Marcus Robinson on the talent at defensive end: "We're all like wild dogs in a meat house."

THURSDAY'S PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS (Provided by UM's sports information staff)

> BUCHANON, VERNON STAR FOR DEFENSE: Ramon Buchanan recorded an interception in red zone drills and made several big stops, including a sack, in 11-on-11 action... the defense held the offense three straight plays on a 1st-and-goal from the three-yard line... Linebacker Kylan Robinson intercepted a tipped pass for the defense... Safety Vaughn Telemaque had a fumble recovery.

> JACORY HOOKS UP WITH RECEIVERS FOR BIG PLAYS: Jacory Harris hooked up with Jimmy Graham (60-65 yards) and Travis Benjamin (35-40 yards) in 11-on-11 play... Tommy Streeter made two long receptions in team passing situations and had another nice grab in 7-on-7 drills... Running back Mike James had a handful of plays of 10+ yards, including a few catch and runs in third down situations... running back Lee Chambers had a nice long run to convert a third down... The defense held the offense to one TD in red zone drills. Aldarius Johnson had the touchdown catch.


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go canes

Posted by: Daryel | August 13, 2009 at 05:47 PM


ND's TV contract broadcasts all home games on network TV in the middle of the afternoon.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | August 11, 2009 at 02:04 PM



new technology leveled the playing field …
with so many choices …
what’s a boy to do …
I foresee a multi-network TV deal befitting a 12-team super conference …
the ACC re-ups with Disney & Raycom who takes on Comcast …
while shrewdly launching its own network …
ABC, ABC/ESPN2 reverse mirror, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU,
Raycom/Comcast syndication, Comcast on demand, brand new ACC channel …
streaming TV online …
my god …
one can watch & rewatch UM …


That (ND) contract is worth a lot of hard and soft dollars. It's not the same as the conference having a TV contract.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | August 11, 2009 at 02:04 PM


premium brands rule the roost …
the ACC will leverage duke/carolina basketball & UM/f$u football to shake down the networks for a king’s ransom …
if all goes well …
our TV income will lap notre lame’s ...
1 for all and all for 1 …


The weak link is Benjamin...he's too frail.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | August 13, 2009 at 02:26 PM


frail like a thoroughbred …


Vernon looks NFL ready already- big dude. Really excited to see what T-Maq, Streeter and Buchanon do this year.

I like Vernon being at LE. Really think he's going to turn into THE MAN for us. Could end up having mcdougle type impact from LE. Not this year tho. Will make plays this year.


canesjunkie... y u doubting benjamin. it was frail benjamin that ran all over fsu. u probably said the same thing about jacory. dam u stupid


Nope, didn't say Jacory Harris is frail.
Jacory Harris isn't blocking or getting tackled as often as Benjamin. He's also not returning kicks.

FSU was one game.

No need to call me stupid.

Can't believe Vernon is on the first team already.

Let McGee play!!!! We should try to get him as much experience as possible. Let him take his lumps like Brandon Harris did last year.

Please leave Chavez Grant on special teams.

ok sorry bruh.but please support benjamin. please support the canes and more importantly support randy shannon.the canes are on their way back

Benjamin is fast...we'll find out what he does in a couple of weeks. That WR competition is pretty tight....hope everyone gets to play though.

Fuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrsssstest ?

It's good to hear a true battle going on in camp with the D winning some and the O gettin theres in. I guess no news is good news bout the O-line being crappy!!!! keepit up and a 4-0 start or 3-1 wont be out of the question.

Don't knock on Benjamin, the guy has great skills and lighting speed. Plus if he does get injured (which can happen to anyone, i.e. Willis McGahee), there's another guy willing to take his place.

I also think C. Grant is ready to be the 2nd or 3rd corner, depending on how good DVD looks in practice. There's something to be said for the seniors on this team.

They finally feel like they can win, and will give it there all.

Go Canes!!!

Although practice is important, game time is where we will see the real "U"....It's time for these guys to EXECUTE plays...which they could not consistently do last year....They have it in them (with another year under their belts).

Okay CANES....keep up the good work and EXECUTE...


Looks interesting on paper. Of course I'm really excited and can't wait for the big games in September. Point-Lot of guys were hurt last year and minus a couple stupid plays and we would have been there
Miami Bob

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