« Shannon's Spring Goal: "Get tougher" | Main | Whipple not your ordinary scout team QB »

Spring Football Questions: Defense/Sp. Teams

Spring football is officially here. The University of Miami will host the first of 15 spring practices at 3 p.m. this afternoon at Greentree Practice Field. If all goes well, UM coach Randy Shannon plans to have a tougher football team come the fall.

Defensively, they might also have a few answers to the following questions...

> Will redshirt freshman Shayon Green step up and fill a huge need at middle linebacker?

Shayon GreenReplacing a starting middle linebacker and leading tackler can be problematic for any college football team. Calling on a redshirt freshman to do it who hasn't played a single down of college football? Well, that just sounds insane. But that's exactly what Shannon and his staff are hoping to accomplish this spring with Shayon Green

The 6-2, 235-pounder from Tifton, Ga., suffered a severe knee injury that knocked him out before he could even really get on the practice field last fall. But now, with All-ACC Second Team linebacker Darryl Sharpton getting ready for Draft Day, it is Green who is slotted to run with the first team over the next month. Not senior Kylan Robinson, a highly-touted player in high school who has spent his entire career on special teams. Not Arthur Brown, the nation's No. 1 high school linebacker from two years ago (now back home in Kansas). Not even veteran outside linebacker Colin McCarthy.

Shannon said Monday he plans to give Green every opportunity this spring to impress. But the clock will be ticking. If Green simply can't pick things up fast enough, then UM will likely have no choice but to slide McCarthy or even junior Sean Spence over, which Shannon has made clear he doesn't want to do. The Hurricanes will be without juniors Ramon Buchanon and Jordan Futch in the spring. But if true freshman and early enrollee Tyrone Cornelius (6-2, 195) or sophomore C.J. Holton shine, then there might be a chance sliding McCarthy or Spence over becomes a little easier for Shannon to swallow.

> Will new defensive line coach Rick Petri make an immediate impact and help a sub-par pass rush from a year ago look a lot more like the scary defensive fronts of Canes seasons long past?

The numbers for UM's defensive line last season weren't pretty. 23 sacks in 13 games -- seven fewer than the year before. While injuries took their toll, there were moments when opposing quarterbacks had enough time to order pizzas and have them delivered before getting rid of the football. The lack of a pass rush caused what seemed like an improving secondary to get torched at times.

Allen Bailey Petri, who coached some of the better pass rushers in Canes history during his time with the team in the 1990s, will provide a veteran coaching presence that has lacked at the position over the past couple seasons. Although defensive coordinator John Lovett would prefer having senior Allen Bailey at tackle, the Hurricanes' leader in sacks from a year ago with seven will play mostly at end this spring per Shannon's orders. He, along with a healthy Adewale Ojomo (back from a broken jaw), junior Marcus Robinson and sophomore Olivier Vernon should provide the Canes with a quality quartet of experienced pass rushers on the outside with run-stopping senior Steven Wesley and junior Andrew Smith. Redshirt freshman Dyron Dye, back from injury, will be the new face to watch.

On the inside, UM is as deep as it has been in years. Senior Josh Holmes is the veteran. Sophomore Curtis Porter came on strong late last year for the injured Marcus Forston, who is hoping to rebound. With juniors Micanor Regis and Jeremy Lewis also in the mix, it should give redshirt freshman Luther Robinson more time to develop.

> Will the Hurricanes find themselves another dependable, playmaking cornerback to compliment All-American Brandon Harris?

There were times last season when Harris seemed to make every play in the Hurricanes secondary. He finished third on the team with 58 tackles, tied for the team lead with two interceptions and was among the country's leaders with 15 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. The rest of Miami's cornerbacks? Outside of Sam Shields' 41 tackles, we barely heard a peep from anybody else.

Shields is now gone along with veteran nickelback Chavez Grant. Shannon has made it no secret: it's time for senior Demarcus Van Dyke to shine. He was the only other cornerback to intercept a pass last season. The other six belonged to linebackers, safeties and defensive linemen.

The Hurricanes aren't exactly deep at corner. Ryan Hill, coming back from a season-ending injury, will be back. But sophomore Brandon McGee will get a push from walk-on Corey Nelms, whom Shannon said Monday has earned the chance to compete for playing time. Outside of that, the rest of UM's reinforcements at corner arrive in the summer. We don't know if Devont'a Davis, Kacy Rodgers or Keion Payne will be able to help come the fall. But chances are slim considering the learning curve for corners in college.

> Will Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong cement themselves as the cornerstone safeties of the future?

Vaughn Telemaque We've heard all about the VT and Ray Ray and how great both will be. But 2010 would be a great time for the word potential to be dropped when referring to either of them. Telemaque had a solid sophomore season with 48 tackles, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery. But he was expected to provide a lot more than solid numbers. He's supposed to be special, a player who creates turnovers in big numbers.

Armstrong made his presence felt as a freshman with 21 tackles -- and a few big hits (look for his Oklahoma highlights). But coaches definitely are hoping for a super sophomore season from Ray Ray, who has the ability to make receivers do more than flinch or develop alligator arms over the middle. If things go well, senior Jared Campbell and junior Jojo Nicolas will be serviceable backups to both Armstrong and Telemaque while helping redshirt freshman Jamal Reid to continue to progress slowly.

> Will Jake Wieclaw do anything to make us believe he can help the team in one of the three kicking phases?

With Matt Bosher out for the spring, Wieclaw will handle all the kicking duties. It has almost become do-or-die time for Wieclaw, who was unable to wrestle away any of the kicking duties in his second season. Special teams coach Joe Pannunzio said last season Wieclaw was improving on field goals and kickoffs. We should know once and for all where he really is in terms of development or if UM will have to search hard for a replacement. 


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great info_

The question is can Coach Pannuzio get the special teams to be "special." No way we should go through another season with one kicker. If Wieclaw doesn't produce then go visit a soccer game and recruit a walk on.

The starting d i'd love to see....de-m rob de- vernon dt- forston dt- bailey wlb- spence mlb- mccarthy slb- futch cb- harris cb- vandyke ss- ray ray fs- vt.....if they would all make a jump toward reaching their potential we'll have one of if not the best defenses in the nation....but will this coaching staff even make that a possibility...that is what i have no confidence in....unfortunatly i can relistically see josh holmes, jared campbell, nicholas, andrew smith and other vets you would hope would get jumped on the depth charts starting

23 sacks and 8 or 9 picks is extremely disappointing and UNSAT!!! We NEED MORE TURNOVERS!!!Senior or not if "DVD" doesn't show sumthin ASAP he SHOULD be BENCHED!!! The DL needs to step up BIG TIME for us to make it to the Orange Bowl dis year

Special Teams will Win 2 games a yaer ...


Wieclaw should have left with A.Brown and I.Symonette. Does it really take 3 years to learn how to kick??

You see that picture of Shayon Green?? whoooo weeee, yes sir!! 6'2" 235lbs
Buckeyes aint gonna run for sh!!. This guy in the middle
with Ray Ray cleanin it up, look out!!!
Go Canes!!

Can wait for the season to start!! My mom is preparing meatloaf as we speak.

Go 'canes!

That safety duo is downright scary. I can't wait to see these two on the field together. I don't want to pump them up too much, but it looks an aweful lot like having Ed Reed and Sean Taylor playing together. We may have to wait until next year for that kind of production (they'll be a sophomore and junior, after all), but man that's awesome to think about.

Linebacker is the big concern...but it looks worse than it is with Buchanan and Futch out for the Spring. They'll be back, which gives us 4 experienced guys and a lot of potential already on campus, and backups coming in the summer. One of those guys will do fine in the middle.

Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. It was everything last year. You want turnovers, it's all on the pass rush. Even the worst QB can avoid interceptions from the secondary if given enough time. Again, we have the depth and the talent, now we need the consistency.

Go Canes!

Don't worry about the middle linebacker position. With Dandy's Hocus Pocus coaching style Green will be a 3rd string tight end and Malcolm Bunche will be our starting MLB by mid-season. Say cheers to another another 8-4 season. I love losing to NC and Clemson!

The Dee has plenty of experience. The Ends Will be super tough. I worry more about the dee-tackle spot. If Forston doesn't improve and we don't blitz more, to off-set our below average pass rush up the middle, our DB's will get ate up again. Lovett has to do a better job getting those guys ready. Shannon never blitzed much when he coached the Dee. but he at least had better pass rushers. We have to create more T.O's. We probably haven't intercepted 20 passes the last three years combined.

Telemaque was a redshirt freshmen last year he's a redshirt sophmore this year!!!Please dont mislead.....

I hope the pass rush is effective this year. With a good pass rush and Van Dyke stepping up, the defense will raise hell all year. GO CANES!!!!!

yes spring football another chance to hear from america's worst fan base. um fans no patience, no loyalty, think they're entitled
to championships. never put their money where their mouth is.


I hope Green can play some MLB because we're in trouble at that position.

Alex Uribe made one mistake last year and got benched? What are we doing with our kickers!

Ponce stfu please 12-0 boyyyyy so chill wit da heat ray ray 2 sick

critique shannon all you want but his position changes have been spoton. Sam shields to cornerback? helped the team when he wouldn't have seen daylight at WR.
and i hardly hear anyone complain about berry to RB or bailey to DE

Overtown D?????? Im from Overtown, what part are you from? And wher did you hear I. Symonette leaving?

" I'm a machine. That's why I chose the U!" - Deron Dye at All- American game after putting on his hat.

Can't wait to see him in pads!


Forston "is not healthy enough to participate in Spring ball"

That boy is taking giant lepas backwards. Or... Dang, how hurt is he? Of course with the office of misinformation that is the UM press releases, who knows. Nonetheless, Forston looks like he is becoming one of those Miami NW giant BUST!

J-12 will be a bust if he doesnt bring us a ship. And I dont care about an ACC ship.

So, for all you so enamored about recruiting almost exclusively at Miami NW, there it is. One of our prize possessions, hasnt doen a thing. Spence, still waiting. J-12, still waiting... The rest, still witing...

Forston has talent, I wonder why he hasn't been able to put things together.

Jacory isn't a bust, neither are Spence and Aldarius. We haven't seen enough to Streeter.

We would've roast Randy Shannon alive if he didn't get these guys.


really you are still waiting for j 12. did you not watch the season? harris threw for over 3000 yards making him only the 2nd um qb to throw for over 3000 yards in the last 17 years. dorsey threw for over 3000 yards in 2002.
haris led the acc in passing yards and his 24 td passes were the 5th best in the history of the um program.
harris also completed the 3rd most passes in the history of the program only kosar and walsh completed more passes.
do you people watch the games or are you just so negative you can't give one person credit where he deserves it.

jaimie you are a typical um fan quick to bash never checking the facts or stats. i wonder jaimie did you accomplish that much in your career last year. check the facts j 12 is progressing just fine.

Charles bunion.

Fair enough. But really? Did you not see the number of ints (some of them hoorenndous) that J12 threw lastyr? I mean, Ok, he threw for 3000 yds, but how many pick sixes did he throw? Granted not all his fault. Yet, he still threw for the most (or second most ints in D-1)!!!!!!!!

thats why I said, J-12...still waiting. didnt call him a bust.

Now with a bum thumb, who knows.

He threw balls up for grabs, and he was off time with his receivers often. check out the first two drives vs Oklahoma. Yes, he gothis mojo back, but for a quarter there it looked like a blow out.

I like J-12 buthe needs to bringus a ship otherwise, he'll be like Frank Costa...or ryan Collins...Gone and forgotten.

J-12 also tied for NCCA most intercepts , something I believe he will correct, if our running game is more consistent, and he's given enough time, something an O-Line improvement will handle in both cases.

Defense is the key this year.
We looked horrible against Wisconsin, costing us a possible top 10 preseason (I hate them) ranking.

I MAY be in the minority, but I would be thrilled with an ACC championship, 10-2 regular season.

DVD is the real key this year. We already have a lockdown CB, we just need good, solid play from the other CB.

Why can't Shannon just get somebody whose only purpose is to kick it out of the end zone on kickoffs? Most other teams seem to have kickers who do it. And last season the kickoff coverage unit was terrible.

I think some of you put too much hype on this team last year. Given their youth, I figured them to be a 10-3 or 9-4 team, which they were. There has been consistent improvement.

This year the O-line is a question, but there is alot of young talent there. Our running backs are continuing to get better.

We have a tough schedule again, but let's be honest. There are two tough early nonconference road games (Ohio State and Pitt). The good thing is they ae early, when it isn't cold. If they win those, I see them as the team to beat in the ACC. GT is gonna rebuild with their losses, Spiller is gone from Clemson. The tough teams will be VT and FSU. But we can clearly win out in conference. I think the realistic goal this year is 10-2 or 11-1 and an ACC title. But who knows? Beat Pitt and Ohio State and 12-0 is definitely within reach.

THe U needs a very productive spring to develop the youngsters--but this is an exciting time for us.....

And give Shannon credit--the program is more disciplined, the players are focused, the effort is there, and we are far better than we were 3 years ago.....Go 'Canes!

By the way....VT and FSU are home games this year, as is pesky UNC. It should give us an advantage--if the So FLA U Fans step up and come out to support. We need Butts in the seats, but Big U banners in the upper deck.

I will be at the GT and Clemson games. Fans need to put up or shut up.

We need to blitz more 43, 2 man is getting old

NONE of the teams we lost to had more talent. I am sick of losing to teams with lesser talent, and getting outcoached.

Love Randy, but I call them like I see them.

Randy has the raw talent to go 11-1 next season. Its up to the coaches to develop that talent.

The comments to this entry are closed.