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Lovett defends Spence, takes blame for struggles

The numbers aren't pretty. Through three games, the University of Miami defense has looked bad more often than it has looked good against three nationally ranked opponents. Canes fans want to know where the pass rush has been hiding, when the turnovers are going to start happening and when reigning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Sean Spence is going to start playing like he did a year ago.

Sean Spence has 14 tackles through three games and ranks sixth on the team.

Wednesday, defensive coordinator John Lovett faced all those questions and concerns and defended his sophomore strongside linebacker rather passionately.

"You ever have a bad day? Unless everybody here in this circle is perfect, we're talking about the wrong thing," Lovett said referring to Spence. "I didn't do a good job coaching and we didn't good job last week. I got to do a better job getting them ready to play and the kids got to respond and play. 

"You can talk about turnovers, you can talk about missed tackles, you can talk about Sean Spence. As a unit we have to play well. Sean is not just going to make plays by himself. What happens is he takes advantage of other people around him playing well. If he's doing his job, somebody else might make a play. And if they're doing their job, he'll have an opportunity to make plays. It's a team game. There are 10 other guys out there with him, that's how we coach."

Spence, who has fewer tackles on the team this season than Sam Shields, talked some Tuesday about what's been going wrong for him this year (I'll have a feature on him in Friday's paper). But one thing that's become obvious about the undersized 6-0, 212-pounder from Miami Northwestern is that he's become a bigger focus of opposing teams.

"I don't know if its a sophomore slump," Lovett said. "A lot of people know about him, so they're accounting for him. I think everybody's expecting him to put an 'S' on his chest and be the man on every single play. I think last year he showed up a lot because you didn't know who he was. He's not as productive as you all think he needs to be and I think he needs to be. But he's playing well and playing within the scheme and doing OK."

What's not OK in Lovett's eyes -- besides UM's poor tackling -- has been the lack of a pass rush (UM has four sacks in three games) and the inability to create turnovers (the defense has one fumble recovery and one interception). Creating turnovers and creating pressure are two things Lovett said will be huge for Miami against the eighth-ranked Sooners.

"We're a four man front. If they're not playing well, we're not going to play well as a defense. That's the bottomline," Lovett said. "Last week, nobody played well. It was very obvious. But before that I thought they did pretty well. We played pretty decent in the Florida State game, up front against the run until the fourth quarter when we let two out of the game. Last week, obviously was a disaster. Bad game planning by me and we didn't play very hard."

Our Susan Miller Degnan will be all over those last two topics -- with some special insight from defensive line coach Clint Hurtt who gave us an exclusive interview. Look for her story Thursday.

> For the complete audio interview with Lovett visit our UM audio page.

Randy Phillips

> R. PHILLIPS COULD PLAY SATURDAY: It's looking more and more like UM won't be without safety Randy Phillips against Oklahoma after all. UM's second leading tackler, who injured his forearm against Virginia Tech and left the game for good late in the first half, practiced full-go Wednesday according to coach Randy Shannon. Usually, if players don't practice by Wednesday, they don't play on Saturday.

Phillips is obviously motivated to play in this game because he was lit up by the Sooners and Sam Bradford two years ago. He actually was switched from corner to safety after being beat on two scores. Shannon said Phillips return means a lot to the team too. Shannon said he just doesn't want to see the team's emotional leader play out of control.

"[This game] means more to him because of situations he was put in a couple of years ago [when] they got a couple of passes on him," Shannon said. "He felt like he let the team down. But, like I told him, `Don't make it a revenge factor. Make it something you learn from, learn how you got beat and what you have to get done.' I told him you have to come out and play the game and be smart about it. But if you go out there with a little revenge factor - mad, angry, upset - most of the time people make mistakes, say something wrong, do something wrong when they're angry. Me and him talked about it - now he understands the whole big picture."

> PUNT RETURN CHANGES IN STORE?: One of the biggest problems for the Hurricanes this season has been generating big changes in field position on punt returns.

UM actually ranks among the nation's worst with only a 2-yard punt return average. "Everyone's kicking to the left hash and it's going out of bounds - they're not giving us a chance to do what we need to do," Shannon said. "So we have some things we worked on in practice to (negate) those things they're trying to do, where we can field it. The biggest thing is trying to field the football."

Don't be surprised if you see the Canes line up with two return men on Saturday.

> LIVE CHAT: I couldn't make it in time for our live chat Tuesday at 2 since I've been pulling double duty this week by helping cover the big St. Thomas Aquinas-Byrnes showdown. I also know a few of you had trouble placing your questions into the chat. If you want, try again. I'm going to spend some time this afternoon answering whatever questions are there or posted here. 

> MEDIA MAYHEM: Almost forgot. I don't think I'll be asking Orlando Franklin for any interviews any time soon. We requested Franklin this morning and he blew reporters off with some colorful language when approached by UM's sports information staff. "[Forget] those guys," Franklin said. 

It wasn't the first time a UM player was upset with the media. After Saturday's game, quarterback Jacory Harris lost his cool with a Virginia Tech reporter, who asked him four times if the rain was a factor. On the last try, Harris finally said "You must be a reporter from Virginia Tech aren't you?"

Comments

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First!

Real nervous about this game.

Need some variation, some wrinkles in the defense cannot let the offense know what the D is doing every play. And back to the ga tech style of containing , under control not taking themselves out of plays, leading to long gains.

Lovett took the blame, can he deliver on schemes? Hope so the OU game rests mostly on the d.

all what UM has to do is play with the same emotion and intensity they played with against GT/FSU. if the O-line can keep jacory clean we this game will be a highscoring. i wonder if richard gordon will play. his blocking abality was missed against VTECH i hope he plays against OU.

Manny,

Any word on Pat Hill? Barry Jackson noted that he was hurt and Mike James was getting work at FB.

Any word on Pat Hill? Barry Jackson noted that he was hurt and Mike James was getting work at FB. Posted by: DC JRod | September 30, 2009 at 10:27 AM

A: We aren't sure what the severity the injury to Hill is or if he'll even be out for this game for sure. If James is getting a look there it's because he's certainly big and strong enough. He's 5-11, 220, but can bring the wood.

Manny, When will we see some of LB Arthur Brown on defense? He is collecting dust on the sidelines.

Thanks Manny.

I know this isn't a Q&A session, but is there any word on whether the baseball diamond will be gone now that the Marlins are eliminated from the playoffs?

Manny, When will we see some of LB Arthur Brown on defense? He is collecting dust on the sidelines. Posted by: TheSergeantMajor | September 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM

A: I think the reason is simple SergeantMajor -- the kid still hasn't figured it out. Same with Jordan Futch and Ramon Buchanon. Those kids haven't played a lot this year. Let's not forget MIami probably could have used a practice games -- FAMU, Virginia, UCF -- early in the season here to get some guys game ready. Instead, it was that torrid four-game stretch. I think we'll see Brown, Buchanon and Futch a lot more toward the end of the season.

I know this isn't a Q&A session, but is there any word on whether the baseball diamond will be gone now that the Marlins are eliminated from the playoffs? Posted by: DC JRod | September 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM

A: Rumor going around the press conference yesterday was it would be. But I'm not sure. I'll try and find out this afternoon.

I really like Orlando Frankin NOW....

Hey Manny. Is this defense really as bad as the numbers show (efficiency, run def., pass def.)???

I think Julian H hit the nail right on the head. Coker really did leave us with NOTHING!
... no senior talent

Posted by: ChicagoCane | September 30, 2009 at 09:58 AM

Epps
Fox
Baby J
Phillips
McCarthy
Bosher
Franklin*
Coop*

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

Get off randy's back, if ur not a hurricane thru thick and thin get off this blog.

Posted by: representn dis U | September 30, 2009 at 10:41 AM

serious are you morons jumping ship cause we lost one damn game you my dear friends are not canes fans... you are truly worthless.. we dont need people like you as fans so save all of us TRUE canes fans the headache and keep your crappy opinion to yourself

Posted by: david luck | September 30, 2009 at 09:51 AM

STFU, and either support the team and coaches or hit the bricks. We dont' need fans like that.

Posted by: ColaCane | September 30, 2009 at 10:25 AM

my university right or wrong ; )

DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC

I know this isn't a Q&A session, but is there any word on whether the baseball diamond will be gone now that the Marlins are eliminated from the playoffs?

Posted by: DC JRod | September 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM

A: Rumor going around the press conference yesterday was it would be. But I'm not sure. I'll try and find out this afternoon.

Posted by: Manny Navarro | September 30, 2009 at 10:41 AM

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/sports-wire/story/1256849.html

One more Florida loss or Colorado win would eliminate the Marlins.
-- AP

OUT, OUT DAMN SPOT

Posted by: green | September 28, 2009 at 10:55 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calgon

790’s josh friedman reports …
infinitesimal odds notwithstanding ...

CALGON, TAKE ME AWAY

Posted by: green | September 29, 2009 at 04:04 PM

FAIT ACCOMPLI

On a previous blog, Rawpimple babbled about how RS isnt Pete Carroll. But,since I used some colorfullaguage, I was deleted by the Herald, alah Hugo Chavez' control of the venezelan press:

Here is my answer minus the colorful laguage:

USC 1999- 5-7 no bowl
2000- 6-6 no bowl
Enter Pete Carroll
2001- 6-6 ? bowl
2002- 11-2 but still no NC

UM: 2006- 7-6 bowl
2007 5-7 no bowl
2008 7-6 bowl
2009 ????????????

Also,please don't forget that USC has lost to Stanford and UW in the last 2 years. That is akin to UM beingranked in the top 5 all year long then losing to Duke or NC state.

I like that Jon Lovett stepped up. I like what he said. No excuses.

To those who think U is irrelevant:

What other team has as many historic rivalries as the U?

Penn State-rival
NDame-rival
Oklahoma-rival
Ohio State- words are not necessary
V Tech-rival
FSU, UF- words are not necessary
Nebraska-rival
For a short while, Washington was becoming a rival, same with West Virginia.

That comes from playing ANYONE ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.

Finally- prayers to Stafon Johnson of USC that was a freak injury that can happen to any kid.

Go canes

well season ticket holder here as well..and I have been as hard as anyone on RS and the players to step up...these are Randys Players..he does not have to play Phillips or James..COOP is the real deal..J james is a joke always has been...he will be flipping burgers in Imokolee next year for sure...he has no vison just a name...epps is no star but is doing a greatjob...

Our front 4 is the issue.and has been for years..the NFL takes them and they become stars at Miami there useless...COACHING...

This week is crucial that we play as a team..I dont care if we get beat I just dont want quitters.I have seen this team flat out quit under RS several times..something no Cane team has ever done in the past...UVA 07. GT 08. VT 09..they just quit...

This team has to get better at the defensive end. I also say instead of Jacory staying in the pocket all the time, have him scramble a bit more when the pocket breaks down instead of him taking the sack or just getting the stuff knocked out of him. I understand that he needs to stay in the pocket for a little bit but if he can scramble to get a first down or get a little more yards-(postitive and not negative).Why not try that? If stays any longer in the pocket, he is liable to get injured for the season. I say if the pocket is breaking down and the the recievers are covered, then try to run for a first down to keep the drive going instead of having him stay in the pocket and hope the O-line can keep his jersey clean.

I think Julian H hit the nail right on the head. Coker really did leave us with NOTHING!
... no senior talent

Posted by: ChicagoCane | September 30, 2009 at 09:58 AM

Epps
Fox
Baby J
Phillips
McCarthy
Bosher
Franklin*
Coop*

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

Posted by: green | September 30, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Thanks for making my point for me green. Coop's a junior. None of those other guys would have started for the 200-2004 teams. Maybe Fox, but he's not Winston, McKinney, Vernon, etc.

I am pumped for Saturday, big time, big game, still see all the Canes hype, even after getting whooped.

Sounds like the some DL (Forston,Smith) may be back for OKL, need depth to keep pressure on.

Defense needs to make a statement (just like Hokies did to us).

Our defense definitely has some holes, but the young guys on defense, especially at the skill positions, just need a bit of time to develop, and these first 4 games have not provided it. We haven't been able to build depth because of the early season schedule, as Manny said. As such, we still have guys like Chavez Grant out there covering guys against VT. He'll be passing out water by the bowl game.

Maybe even moreso than the offense, the different parts of a defense really feed off of each other. If your cover guys can't cover, the QB will be able to get the ball off quicker and you won't get any sacs. If your front 7 can't stop the run, you won't be getting many interceptions. If your front 4 can't pass rush, your secondary will have to cover longer and won't get as many turnovers. etc, etc, etc.

We have holes in our defense still, but the young talent is there and developing. It will all come together eventually this year and we'll steamroll into next year.

Our front 4 is the issue.and has been for years..the NFL takes them and they become stars at Miami there useless...COACHING...

Posted by: nealtrom | September 30, 2009 at 11:56 AM

I agree with you on this! This issue is also with the LB's, look at Beason a ProBowl player at Carolina but wasn't even that good at the U.

Clint Hurt is a great recruiter but maybe he's not so good at coaching the D-Line?

I would love to see this team emulate Bud Fosters D at V-Tech. He changes it up week to week so teams never have a clue of what's hitting them.

Things will get better, just beat OU and were back in the top 15!

Anytime Anywhere Anyone,

Well said. I did the same analysis a few days ago. For fun, you should continue the analysis starting with Miami's 2000 1-loss year, 2001 undefeated, 2002 1-loss and through to 2006.

USC had the exact same 3-year stretch (starting with a 1-loss, split NC year...~2004?) and the same ~35 game win streak, and has since followed a very similar path of increasing losses. They haven't fallen off a cliff yet like we did in 2006, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Here's my three cents worth. First I have figured out "Pedro" he is left handed and slamed his fist down on his key board smashing his cap lock key. So this is why when he writes it's all in capital letters. So stop with all the negative comments about him. I only fault him because every time he posts he is always down on the canes, as if they can never do anything right. and he always think we are going to get pounded with a total score total that is just too laughable. I have said this for a while now. "If you have something to say and it is so outlandish stop do not touch your key pad. get off this site and go somewhere else. If you truly love CANES football you will except this team 100% of the time win or loose.You can blame the coaches, blame the players, but also blame yourself if you do not have confidence and a love for this team you are also quilty of giving up and not showing respect. Get on the 2009 wagon for a wonderful trip or get off and find another ride. Look at the other NCAA football teams take your pick... as for me since 63 this is my home town team and win or lose I will always back my team, I will rejoice in a victory, and cry in defeat. I just wished more fans felt the same way. I live in NC and have to watch on TV. If I was back home in SO. Fla I'd have season tickets and be there everytime. By the way while im thinking of it. The stadium will always be called Joe Robbie Stadium in my mind and heart, call it what you want if not for him there would be no Dolphins and no place to play. Thanks

just ignore Pedro. He has other things to worry about like:

How is Tebow going to rush 25 times with Jello in his head?

The Tigers are a-comin'!

You guys are jokes. Coker left you with nothing? Guess who was a main part of Coker's staff and recruiting????????
Answer: Waaaaaaandy Shannon

So you cant blame Coker for everything like you blamed the last offensive coordinator and the D-coordinator in Shannon's first year. You guys throw blame each and every way (injuries, rain, coordinators, Coker) and the one constant is Waaaaaaaandy.

Next excUse?

Please dont get me wrong, I hope Waaaaandy signs a lifetime contract. However, he is so blatantly over his head, it is laughable, and I just want to be the guy to tell you all "I TOLD YOU SO".

Randy Shannon = Ron Zook without the brains

Shannon needs to chime in on the Defense... He's one of College Football's great Co-Ordinators.

He now has other responsibilities as Head Coach, but that new contract should motivate Shannon to stick his head in there to check on Lovette...

Now-a-days, you can't let anybody sit back with no pressure to the QB...

Applying pressure forces even great QB's to make a few Bad decisions.

Pedro,

Are you on drugs? Are U delusional? I mean, U are either the dumbest person to ever blog, or you are the posing KeHoe posting under one of your many names...

On second thought U are both... What a loser U are KeHoe

My name is Pedro Kehoe Rodriguez perez Martinez de los santos ramirez gomez. And yor nay?

Pedro,

Does Tebow plan on completing a pass over 18 yards against LSU?

Also, how many carries will he get before his head falls off?

If you can answer in CAPS, I'd appreciate it.


Thanks

Pedro

Since your a U fan what would you do to turn this program around?

Who would you hire?

PB Post has resumed putting that photo of a baffled looking Randy on their sports front page
DUDE IS SO LOST!

Melon Head ain't fixin that sorry defense. How many times U gotta be told dat? Cause it's duh truuf!

Whipple? Washed up nobody that was UNEMPLOYED!
UM coaching staff is a JOKE

Pedro

Since your a U fan what would you do to turn this program around?

Who would you hire?

Posted by: ordep | September 30, 2009 at 02:38 PM

?????

Pedro,

Its time to get off the computer hunny. We need to get you back into the special needs Classroom. We can;t have a kid with down syndrome coming on here and ruining these nice people blog.

Pedro if u notice u actually admitted to being a gator fan.

" I AM A GATOR OR TEBOW FAN."

I can spot u losers from a mile away. I know it's tough to win 2 of 3 and still be the middle child. It's ok. I understand.

Another question Pedro Herbstreit:

How do you think Tebow will fair as a fullback next year considering his brains just got scrambled in that big head of his?

Lose the act. I hope u are younger than 18. There might still be hope for you. To think that a 25-35 yr old is hunched down in his cubicle, typing these little posts kind of concerns me as a human being that has to share this world with you.

All of the nit-picking over the VT loss is silly. The loss comes down to not executing on a fundamental level, namely missed tackles, not catching the football and lack of focus. They all seemed to be a problem against VT. The best offensive and defensive schemes in football will not work if the fundamentals are not sound. This team had a problem with all 3 things last year and were the primary reason why this team was 7-6. Last year we could chalk it up to youth and in the VT loss we can chalk it up to the weather (which definitely was a factor), an off day or whatever. But now it is crunch time and the excuses for not executing on a fundamental level are wearing thin and need to go by the wayside if this team is every going to take it to the next level.
This team has plenty of talent and good enough coaching to be a great football team and now is time for this team to step-up and play at the level that we all know they are capable of.

Manny what are they saying about rotating some of these guys on defense?? we keep seeing the same guys play i play out. Aren't we deep at LB?
laz

NO PEDRO YOUR CONFUSED AGAIN. YOUR MOM IS THE ONE THAT SUCKS. I THINK IT'S 20 WITH THE TEETH IN & 25 WITH THE TEETH OUT. I KNOW IT'S HARD TO KEEP UP WITH ALL THE WORKING GIRLS IN YOUR FAMILY. GLAD WE COULD HELP.

LAZ

Pedro - I think U might be my kid???

What street did you grow up on???

Nope, I think he is my kid.

Hey Pedro, where's you're boy toy Napoleon Dynamite?

For real though, if our Canes can focus like they did against GT, we have a real shot at winning this game by a couple of scores. I think the loss to VT will do this team good and they will bounce back from it. I just had a thought, there's a possibility that every team can suffer 2 losses overall and win their conference. VT can still lose one conference game and be the costal division champs while Miami can run the table and finish with 1 loss on the season and be out of the NC picture. Think about that!! Florida and Texas could play for the NC with 2 losses as long as everyone has at least 2 losses except the Canes. Since we did not win our Conference Championship we could not play in the NCG. How wierd would that be???

No Pedro, that's not the best I got. I just thought I'd make it simple for a person like yourself to understand.

How is Tebow going to rush 25 times with Jello in his head?

Posted by: SHHHH....It's pretty quite in Tally right now....

He'll just take another shot of steroids to his forehead.. GO CANES!

pedro, do the world a favor and go kill yourself.

No Pedro, we do not play in the NC. That rule came about after Nebraska played us in the NCG in 2001 without winning their conference championship. Remember that? Or are you just a recent UM fan jumping on and off the "bandwagon". Me, I've been a Cane fan from 1983 to present. VT can lose to ECU and GT and have 3 losses and still win the ACC because they would have only one loss and would have the tiebreaker against Miami. Does that answer that question for you? Sorry I don't know spanish so I can't translate it for you Babaloo.

Hey Pedro,

Take the CAPS LOCK off and use a little sentence structure. It looks like you're "yelling" at everyone on here. Calm down dude.

it doesnt matter. just buy a gun and pull the trigger. god doesnt care about your pathetic excuse for a life.

i have no sins. i am God.

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