CORAL GABLES -- The one thing Vaughn Telemaque was known for during his high school playing days at Long Beach Poly was his ability to create turnovers. Entering his third year at The U, the 6-2, 197-pound redshirt sophomore would like to be that kind of player again.
"I kind of lost it my first year [with the shoulder injury and redshirt]. I used to like to talk to quarterbacks, wide receivers, get in their head and play mind games with them," said Telemaque, who finished fifth on the team last season with 48 tackles, but didn't recover a fumble or grab an interception.
"I kind of lost that knack. I lost me, was trying to fit in, make sure I wasn't messing up. I want to talk to these quarterbacks, let them know I'm here, try me. That's the attitude I want to have. I want these guys to come at me."
When Ed Reed and the late Sean Taylor were roaming the field at safety for UM, the Canes used to create fumbles and interceptions about as often as they did first downs. But in the last few years, they've become one of the worst teams in the country at forcing the other team to cough it up. Last year, they forced 21 turnovers (good for 68th nationally). The team's nine interceptions (five more than in 2008) ranked 87th nationally.
So why will the Canes be better at it in 2010? Age and experience according to Telemaque.
"I think we were OK with trying not to give up the deep ball instead of jumping the short routes or jumping the medium routes," Telemaque said. "I think what's going to be a big plus for us is we have a lot of guys with experience. Guys are going take chances, play loose, play like you do with your brother in your backyard or practice."
Telemaque said he feels like he benefitted greatly from playing corner in the spring and believes it should help him break on the ball better.
"I got to speak to Ed Reed [this spring]. He said 'This can help you with what these corners are going through, where your vulnerable points are.' It carries your safety position to another level," Telemaque said. "You can understand routes, where the quarterback is trying to fit the ball. If you can do that, then you know where you can fit in the void as a safety."
MORE CANES NUGGETS...
> GROWING UP: One thing you could tell about all three Canes players who spoke Wednesday (running back Damien Berry and receiver LaRon Byrd were the others) is that they've all become bigger vocal leaders and a lot more confident in themselves. "I feel I can step in and be a vocal leader because I actually have experience now," Telemaque said. "So what I say isn't coming out of the air. And I'm just trying to take everybody in and make sure we all buy into this program."
"When I say buying in, coach Shannon is telling us we're not young kids anymore. We've developed into our own players, personalities, the personalities he recruited, molded to try and make this a national championship team, an ACC championship team. We understand what coach Shannon wants us to do, what our coaches want us to do, what fans want us to do, what us as a team want to do. We should come out fine. We just all have to buy in, understand this is what we want. If everybody doesn't worry about who gets the credit, we'll be the best team ever."
> BYRD ON JACORY: One story that will be huge all of fall camp is how exactly quarterback Jacory Harris bounces back from offseason thumb surgery. Last week, Harris admitted he wasn't exactly back at 100 percent even though he feels better and has been throwing the ball around in 7 on 7 drills since the end of May. Byrd, however, said Harris looks like his old self.
"In workouts he's doing great, is throwing the ball like the old Jacory," Byrd said. "I've never seen him miss a beat. We've completed a lot of deep balls. Everything is there."
> McGEE STEPPING UP: Byrd had high praise for sophomore Brandon McGee, saying, "He's stepped up real big. I don't know what he did, had surgery on those hips and got them flexible or what. But he's flipping his hips great."
> WHAT'S ON TAP: There will be one more media day on campus next week (I won't be there) before the entire team and coach Shannon meet with reporters for the start of practice on Aug. 5. Our Susan Miller Degnan will be at the ACC Media Days this coming weekend in Greensboro, N.C. where defensive end Allen Bailey and kicker Matt Bosher will be representing The U along with Shannon.
For the complete audio interviews from Wednesday, visit our UM audio page. If you want it short and sweet, check out the videos below. FYI, I'll be uploading them on my YouTube page throughout the season.