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Spence: "We're ready to stop the run"

Finding the University of Miami's weakness last season was easy for opponents. It was the Hurricanes' run defense. The collective numbers were about as ugly as it gets for a program that has always prided itself in stuffing the run.

Christian Ponder How ugly was the Canes run defense in 2008? UM allowed 1,974 yards on the ground -- a 151.85-yard average that ranked worst in the ACC and 75th in the country. It's an amazing drop off when you consider in 2006 UM's run defense allowed just 882 yards the entire season -- tied for fourth fewest in the NCAA and tops in the ACC. That season just so happened to be the last year Randy Shannon was defensive coordinator.

The Canes have been getting progressively worse at stopping the run with a different guy calling the shots on defense. In 2007, UM ranked 40th against the run (133.75 ypg) and eighth in the ACC under Tim Walton. Bill Young obviously didn't do any better last year.

UM didn't just give up more yards collectively, they were often gashed by long runs and big plays. N.C. State and California each ran for more than 200 yards on UM in the final two games of the season. 

But nobody had more success against the Canes running the football than UM's first two opponents this year -- Florida State and Georgia Tech. The Seminoles, behind scrambling quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Antone Smith, ran for 281 yards and had 14 runs of 10 or more yards against UM. Georgia Tech carved up the Canes for 472 yards and 13 runs of 10 or more yards.

So what makes linebacker Sean Spence feel like the Canes will not get pushed around in 2009?

"We're all bigger, heavier, stronger," Spence told me two weeks ago. "We're not little freshmen anymore."

Size definitely matters when it comes to college football. And if you watched the Hurricanes last season on defense you know it was more than just the size of the depth chart and injuries that held UM back. Sure, Spence earned ACC Defensive Rookie of The Year honors. But he played most of the season right at or under under 200 pounds. For all of the great plays he made as the team's third-leading tackler and leader in tackles for loss, he admits he often got bounced around by bigger linemen and was out of position to make plays.

"Last year, I was more like a ping pong. I'd bounce off a guy, bounce off another and then make a play," said Spence, who came to UM weighing 193 pounds. "Now, I'm taking on blocks, breaking through the blocks, making tackles."

Spence is now 212 pounds. His linebacker mates are bigger too. Ramon Buchanon, who moved over from safety where he was weighing 200, is now 220 and backing up Spence on the strongside. Jordan Futch, considered UM's first linebacker off the bench, came to UM weighing 205 pounds. He's now up to 230.

"We were probably the smallest linebacker group in the nation last year," Futch said. "We had no depth because guys were hurt and we had no size. Now, we're knocking heads off literally. I feel like it's helped me a lot. I know its helped Sean a lot. Sean was always a big hitter. But he's filling holes. Buchanon lights people up. When you see that weight and the speed we have, it's awesome. We're going to be much better stopping the run than we did last year."

The return of Colin McCarthy from a season-ending shoulder injury is another reason Spence is excited. McCarthy, the projected starter on the weakside, has made a huge difference just in practice according to Spence.

"Colin is a great player, vocal leader," Spence said. "He's another playmaker. He'll make interceptions, pick up fumbles. He's a great open field tackler. I watch him a lot and where he fits up on guys. We missed him bad."

While the Canes have sustained a few injuries to its defensive line this fall (Adewale Ojomo, Eric Moncur, Dyron Dye), Spence said he sees improvement in the guys in front of him. Defensive tackle Marcus Forston and Micanor Regis, both freshmen last season, have been praised repeatedly throughout camp by Shannon. A healthy Allen Bailey in the middle has also made a difference according to Jason Fox.

"Our d-line got a lot better," Spence said. "Guys are sitting in the right gap, wrapping up, anticipating and reading assignments. We're not going backward anymore.

"Last year, guys weren't really buying into what we did last year. Guys are all on one page now. We're ready to stop the run."

The first test is Monday.

Comments

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Damn, Spence get me excited for FSU!!! Oh, and FIRST!

This will be one of the three keys to a succesful season, and we will know soon enough, after the first two games. Remember what Ponder and the GT backfield did to us last year.

We stop the run, get a few more turnovers, and keep Jacory healthy.

Do that and this team can easily win 9 games.

Go Canes!

...and welcome back, Manny. Hope you had vacation...I don't think too much happened while you were gone!

..finger spasm, should have read "Hope you had a nice vacation"

Thanks, Manny. Welcome back. 7 more days, can't wait...GO CANES...

"Last year, guys weren't really buying into what we did last year."

Yea, yea, we hear that every year. The only question is will that be the same excuse next year, or will it be another one? Manny, set up a place where we can vote on excuse of the year.

The program is screwed. We'll likely to 1-3 to start out the season. All of those 4-5* star recruits who are holding out will see the program is still mediocre; they'll also see the writing on the wall with Randy's contract status being in limbo; the top recruits will bail; Dandy will be fired and we'll start all over; the guys who will be Jrs won't like the continued change and flake, and we'll have more ""Last year, guys weren't really buying into what we did last year." We'll start over and need another 3-5 years to get things going. Mark it down 'cause it's the truth; face it, Dandy ain't gettin' it done.

Anyone will tell you to have great LB's you need a GREAT D-line...that is what is in place to make all this happen...11-1....

Spin that Troll!

Your "UF run of the ages" as you put it begins as the "game of the week" on ESPN 360! Isn't that the network Art used to bust us about last year? What's your spin this year Art, now that UF is playing on 360?

But don't worry Art, I looked ahead to week 2 and UF is playing on...let me see...it's right here...hold on...it's coming into focus...ESPN 360!!!! Wow! Looks like you have that network locked down Art! This is awesome! Now I can watch the Gators on my Playstation!

http://espn.go.com/college-football/schedule

Welcome to the club Florida! Where the hell have you been for the last 100 years???????

if randy keeps recruiting kids from south fla like he has the last couple years this program will be great.ponce dont you watch hs football ?randy isnt going anywhere becuase he is doing the best recruiting in south fla that we have seen since davis and it really doesnt matter what coach is doing it as long as they recruit south fla talent um will be one of the best.in college football its all about talent and miami has it because of their location.nfl playmakers are born in south fla.

For all the critics who simply say Miami's run defense was weak last year and will be weak again this year, read this article. As noted, size DOES matter in the college game - as do fresh legs. Miami didn't have the depth last year and was relying on kids who were playing high school ball same time the previous year.

Take a Sean Spence... playing for Northwestern in fall 2007... graduating early and coming to The U... working out and participating in spring ball... summer workouts... fall ball... freshman season. That's a hell of a run for the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Now the then 193 pound freshman has stacked on 20 pounds of muscle and is a year older and wiser. Same for many of his counterparts.

Gone are the role players like Romeo Davis and Glenn Cook. Arrived are a crop of super sophomores (and more talented freshman) ready to get after it.

The run defense took a huge hit last year when Eric Moncur, Colin McCarthy and Randy Phillips all went down last year. CC and RP and back and hopefully EM is back soon... but either way, depth and senior leadership are returning.

Miami will be ready for Florida State. Christian Ponder won't have the field day he had last year an Antone Smith is long gone.

Spence, McCarthy, Cookie, and J-Futch are going to be monsters this year...!!!

Don't talk, just play sound defense -
recognize your keys, get off blocks, run to the ball, and put the guy on the ground.

All that talk is just talk.

you have to play football with aggressive emotion.just getting off blocks and running to ball sound like just going through the motions.you think ray lewis just goes through the motions?you have to play with fire in your stomach and by all means talk alot if it gets you motivated to smash faces.

Spin that Troll!

Your "UF run of the ages" as you put it begins as the "game of the week" on ESPN 360! Isn't that the network Art used to bust us about last year? What's your spin this year Art, now that UF is playing on 360?

But don't worry Art, I looked ahead to week 2 and UF is playing on...let me see...it's right here...hold on...it's coming into focus...ESPN 360!!!! Wow! Looks like you have that network locked down Art! This is awesome! Now I can watch the Gators on my Playstation!

http://espn.go.com/college-football/schedule

Welcome to the club Florida! Where the hell have you been for the last 100 years???????

Posted by: two bits, four bits.....aww screw it... | August 31, 2009 at 01:20 PM


Man, you're killing me with this.... that's some pretty funny stuff.... you had me rolling. Thanks for the laugh.

Something tells me that this is going to be a veeeeeeeeery special year. We are going to surprise some people...

Manny como tefueron las vacasiones. Its time to work bro.

Sounds like they've been placing a heavy emphasis on stopping the run. Hopefully the corners can come through also. It all sounds positive though.

It's scary that Sean Spence can get better. Sky is the limit for that guy.

Its funny but true evry team and every fan thinks there team is so much better then what they really are.

its amazing what david cutcliffe has done for the team. would'nt surprise me if our devils won our division int the acc. GO DEVILS!!!!
from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj7hg_n7mtk


Spin that Troll!

Your "UF run of the ages" as you put it begins as the "game of the week" on ESPN 360! Isn't that the network Art used to bust us about last year? What's your spin this year Art, now that UF is playing on 360?

But don't worry Art, I looked ahead to week 2 and UF is playing on...let me see...it's right here...hold on...it's coming into focus...ESPN 360!!!! Wow! Looks like you have that network locked down Art! This is awesome! Now I can watch the Gators on my Playstation!

YEAH WHAT'S EVEN FUNNIER IS THAT THEY ARE PLAYING THE SAME CHARLESTON SOUTHERN THAT THEY LAUGHED ABOUT US PLAYING OUR FIRST GAME LAST YEAR.

JUST IMAGINE THE #1 RANKED, DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPIONS SO IRRELEVANT IN THEIR FIRST 2 GAMES THAT THEY WILL BE PLAYING ON PLAYSTATION.....OOPS, MY BAD ON ESPN 360!!!
ROTFLMFAO.

NO ONE really had a problem with our run defense before Ga Tech.

I actually did some research - we gave up fewer yards than our opponents averaged. We just happened to play opponents that ran the ball REALLY well (Florida, Ga Tech, Cal). Of course, we wore down and were undermanned, inexperienced, etc. But there's no reason to think we'll be weak against the run.

I LIKE THESE GUYS AND WHAT THEY BRING I ALSO THINK THAT WE ARE GOING TO SHUT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE DOWN THIS YEAR.

Anthony:

Good points, but people started complaining after the UNC game. UNC pounded us in the 2nd half of that game. FSU also ran at will on our defense. We didn't even start playing that game until the 3rd quarter. It wasn't just Antone Smith...Ponder had a field day on our D.

Hopefully those days are behind us.

I agree Anthony. GT just so happened to expose us with all our chips on the table (National TV, 1st time ranked in sometime, etc). I think this year they'll be much better. I hope this year they'll be much better.
And Canesjunkie you're right as well. There were rumblings early on, but like I said GT exposed everything, with everything on the line. That's when it became "an issue".

A FAN is someone who pulls for their team , not like some of these so called fans on this site.Perhaps they are the gator fans incognito ,hoping we wont pick up on them. they know the U and should not disrespect THE U. DOUBT IS A SURE SIGN OF A LOSER. L

The run defense relies on a stout Defensive Line. The guys we have now are better than the seniors that left last year at D-Line.

Da U is ahead of the game. This year of recruiting is sooo important, because we may have several guys declare for the draft with a good showing this season; and into their Junior season it may be a wrap...

All the recruits of South Florida, don't miss out on your chance to get a ring with Da U. The path is being paved right now !!!

Have some pride and represent South Florida...

The world against Da U, and we like it that way !!!

Go Canes!!!

POnce 86 aka o you are a probator fan , aren't you

OUR PROBLEM OF STOPPING THE RUN STARTED WHEN COLIN MCCARTHY WENT OUT INJURED. FROM THAT POINT ON WE DID NOT STOP ANYONE'S RUNNING GAME. MCCARTHY IS BACK HEALTHY THIS YEAR AND ALL OF THOSE BABAY CANES FROM LAST YEAR HAVE GROWN UP. WE NO LONGER HAVE THE DEPTH PROBLEMS EITHER THAT WE HAD LAST YEAR. WE HAVE BACKUPS AT EVERY POSITION. MOST OF WHICH HAVE ACTUAL PLAYING TIME UNDER THEIR BELTS. FSU WILL BE THE FIRST TEAM FOR THE HURRICANES TO USE AS A STEPPING STONE BACK INTO THE TOP 25. THEN GA TECH, VA TECH, AND OH YEAH, OKLAHOMA. IF MIAMI IS 3-0 WHEN OKLAHOMA COMES TO TOWN, LOOK FOR A REAL BATTLE. IF THE GAYTURDS HELD OKLAHOMA TO 14 POINTS LAST YEAR IN THE NC GAME, THEN REST ASSURED THAT IF MIAMI CAN SCORE 24 POINTS ON THE SOONERS THEY WILL THEN BE 4-0.

GO CANES....SHOCK THE WORLD.

One thing that has trickled out of practice is the D seems to have practiced some different things if adjustments are needed. If the D-line turns out to be too small, they need to insert Forston and another tackle at de to get a huge D-line and see if that works. One thing is the U cannont just let it go, if it works from the get go great. If they are having trouble stopping the run, quick alternatives need to be made. There were not enough adjustments made in the D last yr. It should be fine this yr. The coaching has had all off season to fix the run defense.

Christian Ponder is gonna truck Sean Spence, mark it down !!! 212 lbs at LB ?? PLEASE.

He wouldn't start at USF, UCF, FIU or FAU.

This guy is sooooo overrated, just like this 2009 version of CANEVICTS.

I agree with anthony and MD cane- hey GT ran ragged over Temporary Number 1 ranked Georgia to the tune of over 400 yds! That vaunted "sec dEFENSE" was exposed by dwyer and the triple opt. Hey, the triple is hard to stop. even when Navy would lose 11 games a few yrs ago, they'd still run for a c--pp load of yds per game! Antone Smith is a stud. He's doing well in the NFL. No reason to whine tomuch about that. Same when Tachard Choice raan for 200 yds in 07. choice is a great NFL rb now, and he and Smith were running against either frehsmane lbs (smith), or INFERIOR, non-nfl lbs (choice).

MDCane,

Spot on analysis. I mean Ponder had over 100 yards rushing midway through the 2nd quarter but it took the Ga Tech game to expose our run defense.

Plus I think getting Randy Phillips back is huge. He plays huge against OU.

Also great job by the master recruiter Shannon with Patrick Peterson. I dont think my Miami needs one of those big physical All American types. Give me an underrated SF guy like Joe Wylie anytime.

"Now, we're knocking heads off literally."

Literally? Damn~! Guess I'm gonna bring a poncho to the home opener.

All of the physical ability in the world will not make-up for a lack of intelligence. Our coaching last year was terrible. Is everybody forgetting about the bowl game last year? For Miami to get back to a BCS game, we need to have BCS coaching. The issue I always saw with the run defense last year was our DB's getting manhandled on the outside. Grant and DVD could not get off a block to save their lives. I hope they gained 20 lbs and learned some technique. If not, look out smurf turf again.

The team will be ready on Sept.7 The Defense had a lot of injuries and young players. Let's see the difference what a year a makes.

Christian Ponder is gonna truck Sean Spence, mark it down !!! 212 lbs at LB ?? PLEASE.

He wouldn't start at USF, UCF, FIU or FAU.

This guy is sooooo overrated, just like this 2009 version of CANEVICTS.

Posted by: Ohhhh & Four....back to glory !!! | August 31, 2009 at 05:56 PM

hahahahAhahahahahahaha, your funny. First I would love to see ponder try to run spence over, that's not a topic worth arguing about. Next, as a FSU fan it's funny that you know who Sean spence is(this guy must be good if you know who he is) because who the hell are your LBs, some no name backups that no one has even heard of! Last and definately the funniest thing I heard in a while, you calling the canes canevicts. Last I checked the canes haven't had a run in with the law in 2 years now. Where's Preston? O that's right he was kicked off the team after his 5 run in or something like that. Didn't the whole recieving Corp get suspending for fighting but your starters still played? Or geno Hayes, remember the felony he got a couple days before playing Alabama a few years back and still played 90% of that game. Make sure you check your facts before you bite your tongue.

ALLEN BAILEY GONE SMASH LIL christian ponder ALL DAYFOR 6 SACKS FOR THE BEAST ALLEN BAILEY
MIAMI35-FUS3

LETS GO GET THEM CANES

POnce 86 aka o you are a probator fan , aren't you

Posted by: sidcane | August 31, 2009 at 05:15 PM

VIVA LA DIFFERENCE

9-8-09

Please check back on this blob to see a link to a "U"Tube video showing Ponder meeting Spence.

MARK IT DOWN!

Hey 404Canes404 they might not show that kind of violence on youtube. A hit tha big might be sensored. I hope Ponder is stupid enough to try to run Spence over. If he is, that will be his last mistake of the season.

Last years problem with the GaTech game was exactly what Coach Shannnon said. First quarter GaTech wasn't running. Then players tried to be heroes instead of staying on their assignments. I was @ the game. It's easy to blame the coach for that. The best way to practice for the option is to practice without the football as LSU did when they Schlacked GaTech. LETS GO CANES!!!

Manny,Manny,Manny please dont remind me of the horrible rush defense numbers. The middle of the defense is responsible for stopping the run. Both D-tackles, middle LB and Safety. When U r strong at those position U will be strong against the run. We must account for the QB also. They seem to burn us. See last year FSU game and Championship game against OSU.

If Tebow cant run over spence wat makes u think Ponder can.

Child Please!

WE ALL KNOW THAT OFFENSE SELLS TICKETS, BUT DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. WHEN MR. SPENCE SPEAKS EVERYBODY SHOULD LISTEN. THIS YOUNG MAN IS A WARRIOR, AND LIKE DAVID. HE FEELS HE CAN CONQUER GOLIATH AND UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE. I AGREE WITH HIM. FLORIDA STATE. THE STRANGE THING ABOUT A REAL HURRICANE IS THAT IT HAS THE ABILITY TO REDIRECT AND GAIN MORE POWER AND MORE STRENGTH. THE UM IS NOT NICK NAMED THE HURRICANES FOR NOTHING. THE DETECTION OF REDIRECTION, SIMPLY MEANS DIRECTION CORRECTION. YES THE UM HAS CORRECTED THEIR PAST MISTAKES AND ARE NOW HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. CATEGORY 10 PSALMS 27

Next week at this time it will be Miami 24 FSU 0, going into the 2nd half.

Spence said it...therefore I believe it!!! No further questions.

I want to see us laying hits on Ponder...ball or not that dude has to get hit. He's just a couple of nice hits away from being Chris Rix.

6 days ...

Cav, Ponder may have been over 100 midway through the second quarter. But if we were that exposed so early in the year, why did the next few box scores look like this, and these were all wins:

UCF - 27 Carries, 4 Yards, .1 ypc
Duke - 44 Carries, 142 Yards, 3.2 ypc
Wake - 52 Carries, 195 Yards, 3.8 ypc
Virginia - 23 Carries, 71 Yards, 3.1 ypc
Va Tech - 38 Carries, 77 Yards, 2.0 ypc

Followed by:
Ga Tech - 56 Carries, 472 Yards, A LOT ypc
Which was the time of EXPOSURE. Spot on analysis, I think.

Sure it's talk now...BUT...after Sept 7th...it'll be...SWWWAAAAGGGGGGGEEEEERRRRRR!!!

GO CANES!!!

Howdy Pards:

Well its almost time! I'm so glad to have Sean Spence playing at the U. This D will surprise alot of people early. Remember we were only 5 tds from winning 12 games last season. Miami 38 FSU 14.

Go Canes!!!

WE GOT SOME CANES OVER HERE!!!!

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