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35 posts from August 2010

August 31, 2010

UM releases depth chart, injury report for FAMU

The Miami Hurricanes have released their season-opening depth chart as well as the injury report for Thursday night's game against Florida A&M. 

> Questionable: OL Jermaine Johnson (upper extremity), DL Micanor Regis (upper extremity), DB Jamal Reid (lower extremity).
> Doubtful: LB Jordan Futch (lower extremity), DL Andrew Smith (upper extremity).
> Out: OL Jermaine Barton (lower extremity), FB John Calhoun (lower extremity), LB Kevin Nelson (upper extremity), LB Travis Williams (lower extremity)
> Surgery and Out for the Season: None

As for the depth chart, can't say there are any real surprises. For the version UM sent us click on the link Download 10_1 -Miami Depth Chart

August 30, 2010

Fresher, healthier Canes to start 2010 season

CORAL GABLES -- University of Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't very forthcoming when it comes to questions about depth charts, injuries and starting jobs (just ask our Susan Miller Degnan and The Palm Beach Post's Jorge Milian, who got two completely different answers on whether or not Graig Cooper will play Thursday night).

Randy Shannon So, I've learned over the years to take Shannon's answers to those particular questions with a grain of salt. But if you ask him a question he feels won't slight one of his players or take away from the competition in practice, he'll usually answer it candidly. After missing the last two weeks of camp, I only had one question I figured Shannon would answer Monday: What did he learn about his team this fall that maybe he didn't know or see from them before camp started?

His response: "They didn't hit a wall. My first year here, when these guys were young, they hit a wall and I couldn't get them out of it. When we went 7-6, we hit a wall against Virginia. There's no way in the world, I could get those young guys out of it. We went through the process [this fall] and they didn't hit a wall. 

"One day in practice we had a walkthrough at 10:30 at night. We came back and brought them back at 6:30 the next morning. Nobody was tired. Nobody was late. They responded and had a great day of practice. We've had scenarios where lightning [alarms] went off. We went out half an hour later, and got practice done in an hour. We've put them in situations -- we scrimmaged in the rain, had hot days -- they responded. We went one-a-day, two-a-days, nobody had to have [intravenous fluids] or any of that. They practiced hard, their tempo was great. Anytime you can do that, it's great."

If you bleed orange and green, you have to like what you're hearing from your coach. Maturity and growth were inevitable. But to hear it is actually happening is encouraging. 

There's no doubt the Canes looked like a beat up and tired football team at the end of the last two seasons. After Monday morning's practice, Shannon told reporters this is the healthiest his team has been coming out of camp. Running back Damien Berry said of the previous camps he had participated in, this one was the least physical. Those shorter and less physical practices should definitely benefit this team when it comes time to strap it up with the Florida States, North Carolinas and Virginia Techs in October and November.

A few other notes of interest...

> The depth chart is supposed to be released to the media during Tuesday's practice. My money is on Jermaine Johnson starting at right tackle over a banged up Joel Figueroa -- regardless of what the depth chart says. 

> Travis Benjamin said that he, cornerback Brandon Harris and running back Lamar Miller will start the season as the team’s punt returners. Harris, Miller and running backs Storm Johnson and Eduardo Clements are working on kickoff returns.

> Shannon told reporters a few days ago his rotation at running back would likely be the trio of Miller, Berry and Mike James. I think it's really going to be four players -- freshman Storm Johnson being the other. Berry said Johnson has done an exceptional job in pass blocking situations. That's the difference, I believe, in a redshirt or a freshman season in which he contributes.

"Those guys are picking up the playbook very quickly, very rapidly," Berry said of Miller and Johnson. "Especially Storm. I didn't expect him to come in and learn the way he does. He came in on a mission. He was really competing for the starting spot and still is."

As for Graig Cooper, I'm not convinced he's healthy enough yet to play this season. He didn't play in any of the scrimmages and didn't really participate in any real contact drills. Shannon's motto has always been: you don't practice or hit, you don't play. If Cooper plays, he becomes the exception to that rule.

PUNT BLOCKS A FOCUS: Special teams Jedi master Matt Bosher said one thing the Canes have focused intently on during this fall has been blocking punts. 

"It's been a big focus by the coaching staff," Bosher said. "They want to make sure we get more punt blocks as a team. We're trying to change the game, flip the field around and if we can block a punt and give our offense great field position or even scoop and score, it's a great game changer. We really have a lot of the athletes to get it taken care of. The schemes are really coming along and giving us a chance to go out there and go after the ball."

Damien BerryA BERRY FUNNY MAN: Running back Damien Berry looks like he's taken the lead in the race for best quote on the team this season. Berry held a fun 10-minute back and forth session with reporters Monday. Among Berry's best hits from Monday: 

- On what it feels like getting tackled by Allen Bailey:  "It feels like a car wreck. It's just different from other people. Most guys have a little stomach and it's fat. Allen is all muscle. That's 300 pounds of muscle falling on you. He's not a real finesse guy."

- On what it was like watching Bailey accidentally sack Jacory Harris this fall: "That was scary. It's like a lion getting a little baby gazelle. It was like, 'Hey Bailey chill.' He's a beast. I don't know why we let him practice."

- On player nicknames: "We just go off what they look like. [Walk-on linebacker Sean] Goldstein. The first time we saw Goldstein we were like he looks like [Tim] Tebow. He don't like it. He's like, 'Chill with that bro."

- On OT Seantrel Henderson’s eating habits: “I’ve seen this guy with a salad. I was like, ‘Bro, I know you ain’t been growing up on salads. He likes steaks and stuff, too.”

- On why he thinks the Hurricanes’ group of running backs is the best in the nation: “It’s kind of hard not to be the best when you’re so diverse back there. It’s like the Lakers. Their bench is great. I think our bench is great.”

Monday: 15 minutes alone with Shannon, Seantrel, Jacory and new Nike Elite Pro Combat uniforms

Hi everyone!

It's Susan on a hectic Monday. Early practice (wrote an early blog before this), then FAMU-related press conference. Also spoke to Randy Shannon by myself for a bit:

* Shannon said he is releasing the depth chart for Thursday night's game on Tuesday, instead of at the press conference, which he used to do.

* I asked Shannon if any players will be suspended for the FAMU game. His reply: "No.''

* Shannon told me that freshman offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson is "doing well. He knows about a quarter to half of the playbook and he's getting better every week and every day. He's very competitive and he's doing a great job of learning and competing and doing everything he needs to do to get ready.''

 * Randy, do you expect Seantrel  Henderson to play? "Don't know. It depends on how the game goes and how the season goes. You never know when he will play and when he won't play.

(Note: I think he'll get in there -- and so does Orlando Franklin; see previous blog -- the first game, but we'll see.)

Seantrel is listed as 6-8 and 355 pounds on roster. But Shannon told me, "He's losing weight already.''

I also asked Shannon if Seantrel does get in, how long will it take to get his conditioning and college game experience down to where he can perform well for an extended period of time.

Shannon's response: "I'll put it to you this way, Orlando Franklin played as a true freshman. He could not finish a game until the last game of the season. it's a process.''

* Good chance new defensive end David Perry, who just reported a couple days ago, will redshirt. "He's going through the acclimation period,'' Shannon said, "and he got here so late." Is it too late for him to play this season? Shannon: "Don't know. Probably is. He's got to go two days in shorts -- with that said, he's probably not [going to play]."

* Will RB Graig Cooper play Thursday? "He's been practicing every day and taking some hits and some shots, so we'll see. It's a possibility.''

* Is RT Jermaine Johnson OK? Shannon: "He was out there at practice. He's not on the scout team. He was wearing a different jersey number [Sunday] because his jersey was ripped. He got his jersey fixed." Shannon said he'll play at FAMU, but he wouldn't say if he's starting.

* How is linebacker Travis Williams ?(I saw him yesterday with crutches and a large black brace on left knee): "You'll get the injury report tomorrow. ACC rules.''

* Is RB Storm Johnson going to redshirt? Shannon: "Don't know. He can play in the first game as early as Thursday. You never know.''

* What's your philosophy on redshirting? Shannon: "I think players redshirt themselves. I tell every player that we recruit when they come to the University of Miami, if they're physically and mentally ready to handle being at the University of Miami, they'll play. I don't ever redshirt anybody until after the fourth game, because you never know what is going to happen. We have a long season to go and the first four or five games are going to be very difficult for us.''

*Jacory Harris is not wearing the white tape (protective covering) over his surgically repaired throwing thumb. He said he is 100-percent healed. "With the thumb I was going to start throwing the first game with the tape around my hand, like I had at the beginning of camp. But these last couple days I've done it without tape and I'm 100 percent. I'll be able to go.

Why the tape during camp?

"It was just in case. It was just me being scared that something may happen. But you can't be scared of everything. Things happen for a reason. You just have to live.''

NIKE ELITE PRO COMBAT UNIFORMS

I promised I'd get back to you guys on the new Nike  "Elite Pro Combat Uniforms."

The uniforms will be unveiled by Nike this Wednesday, but they're not all-black, like some people have surmised.

I just talked to Harry Rothwell, general manager of allCanes store in Coral Gables. He went to the Nike Summit last week in Atlanta and saw an artist's rendering of the Elite Pro Combat unis that will be worn Nov. 20 against Virginia Tech.

In a nutshell, they're all orange -- and Rothwell said they're "cool.''

"I think they're better than last year's,'' he said. Last year's were all white and were worn at USF and at the Champs Sports Bowl.

Rothwell: "Very cool looking. They're orange. Lightweight. They're very sleek and fast-looking. They have a different kind of number on them. I really don't know how to describe it -- it's kind of a green number with some sort of stripe or graphic in it. New shoes -- orange and green and black with the U on them. The gloves are coming back that make the U when the players put their hands together. New pants, with some stripes that go down and around them. I think there's a U on the pants by the knee."

Rothwell said allCanes, on Ponce de Leon across the street from Alex Rodriguez Park, will carry the new Pro Combat jerseys, two styles of related hats, one Dri-Fit related shirt and the gloves that are part of the uniform. He said they'll probably arrive sometime before the game, probably by early November.

These are just special uniforms that will be worn either only at that game or in a very limited number of games.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Sun rising, Canes practicing... three days away.

Good morning.

Susan here.

We had about five- to 10 minutes out there today.

No. 1 national incoming freshman Seantrel Henderson -- literally the Hurricanes' biggest catch -- was playing second-team right tackle. Henderson is listed on the roster as 6-8, 355 pounds. He seems like a beast on the field. Defensive end Marcus Robinson was having no luck getting past him when I was watching.

I'm thinking Seantrel will play against FAMU as one of the rotating backups. I'm also thinking UM is ecstatic he's on the roster.

POST-PRACTICE NOTE: Starting left tackle Orlando Franklin just talked to us and talked about Seantrel: "He's doing real good. For a guy that big, I think he's doing real good. To be honest with you I was somewhat surprised to see him come in and do the think he's done. He's huge. I could hide behind Seantrel, and I'm not small. So I'm just pretty excited and like I said, on Thursday we're going to see what that kid can really do, and it's going to be an exciting day.''

Franklin also raved about freshman center Brandon Linder.

* I mistakenly thought Fig took part in an early drill and then was on the sideline being tended to by a trainer. I was told by UM he was being stretched by a strength and conditioning coach.

* On the first play we saw, cornerback Brandon Harris broke up a pass to receiver Leonard Hankerson.

* Tailback Damien Berry, playing with the first team, sprinted straight down the middle of the field for a touchdown.

* On a deep pass by Spencer Whipple, Tommy Streeter beats Lee Chambers near the sideline.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 29, 2010

Latwan Anderson and David Perry at football practice (two backup qbs talk)

Good morning. It's Susan.

Just came in from the beginning of UM football practice.

UM track signee and former high school football star Latwan Anderson, a defensive back, is at practice, wearing Thearon Collier's old jersey No. -- 28. He had no pads on and wore what looked like black gym shorts. He will be listed as 5-10 and 170 pounds on the roster.

Defensive end David Perry, out of Fort Lauderdale's University School, also is at practice, wearting jersey No. 95. He looks big -- and he is. Perry will be listed on the UM roster as 6-7 and 230 pounds.

It appears they are just observing and not actually taking part in any drills. We saw about 10 minutes worth so we'll know more after we talk to Randy Shannon. POST-PRACTICE NOTE: Shannon said both guys have to abide by NCAA practice rules and start out in shorts, and proceed slowly, as the others did at the start of camp. He would not elaborate about Latwan or his projected position and kept saying he was a walk-on.

Also: the linebacker position continues to be in flux.

Today it was Colin McCarthy in the middle and Sean Spence and Kylan Robinson on the outside -- first teamers.

 McCarthy, who played on the outside last year, is still in the middle -- where he made  the move recently.  Robinson recently moved from first-team middle to second-team middle, and today obviously moved to first-team outside. Ramon Buchanan had recently been practicing outside with the first team. Today he was with the second team.

 Right tackle Joel Figueroa is back at first-team, but no sign of Jermaine Johnson at practice. Not sure what that's about. (POST-PRACTICE NOTE: It's now after practice and Randy Shannon said Jermaine Johnson was in practice -- nothing else. We saw who we thought was Jermaine after practice wearing a duplicate jersey number (66), same as Harland Gunn, who was at practice.)

 Jermaine Barton played second-team guard today. On the first day of practice, Barton, out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High, was on crutches with his right leg in a boot. 

 Adewale Ojomo is with the second team defensive ends, along with Marcus Robinson. The starters today were Olivier Vernon and Allen Bailey. Josh Holmes and Marcus Forston were the first-team tackles.

 Since this week's game against FAMU is on a Thursday, not Saturday, today was like the usual Tuesday practice -- usually the most intense one of the week. I'm not sure at all, however, whether it means every guy who played with the first team early in practice today will be starting.

POST-PRACTICE NOTES:

* Freshman linebacker Travis Williams just hobbled by on crutches with a large brace over his left knee (saw him from inside a building; our friends at Inside the U made the I.D.)

* Also, we talked to backup quarterbacks A.J. Highsmith and Spencer Whipple today. Freshman Stephen Morris had to lift weights so he couldn't talk to us. It was the first time we got the backups. Shannon wouldn't say who the No. 2 guy is, but that's pretty obvious right now. We're going with A.J., who, by the way, said he wants to be called A.J., not Alonzo. He said he basically put his name on the roster as Alonzo on a whim, but that it didn't really mean anything in particular.

Whipple, who said he is sharing reps on the scout team with Stephen Morris, will be doing the holding, so he'll be in every game in that capacity.'

Have no idea if Stephen Morris will be redshirted, but it seems that could be the case.

Enjoy your Sunday afternoon and evening!

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 28, 2010

Desmond Howard: Canes will play Alabama in BCS National Championship game (and lose)

Good afternoon all! It's Susan Miller Degnan.

I just finished watching the preseason special for ESPN College GameDay, and the Canes were hyped up like the old days. So hyped up, in fact, that two of the three analysts predicted Miami would win the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the first time -- Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit (he also said it recently).

Howard, who lives in Miami and won the Heisman Trophy as a Michigan receiver in 1991, was the only one among himself, Herbstreit and Lee Corso (Chris Fowler doesn't do predictions) to predict the Hurricanes in the BCS national title game (in Arizona) -- against Nick Saban's Alabama.

He did say Alabama would beat the Canes, however.

Corso picked Nebraska beating Florida in the national championship -- "just like in 1995,'' he said. "Nebraska's defense wins it.''

Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback, picked Ohio State to defeat Oklahoma in the BCS title game. "I think [coach] Jim Tressel will open up the playbook this year for [quarterback] Terrelle Pryor. I think Ohio State's defense will be maybe one of the best that Jim Tressel has had.''

As for the Atlantic Coast Conference title, here are the predictions: 

* Desmond Howard: Miami --  "I think they're going to have the talent to do it this year. I think the coordinators are in place, finally, for two years in a row, so I think Miami pulls it out.''

Lee Corso: Virginia Tech -- "I go with Virginia Tech to win it the old fashioned way -- run it, kick it, play defense. Virginia Tech."

Kirk Herbstreit: Miami --  "I'm going with Miami as well. Miami over Boston College. The Canes have been a very young team the last couple years. They grow up this year, show some maturity, more consistency. I like the Canes over BC.''

There you have it.

Have fun today. Be safe tonight.

Susan Miller Degnan

August 27, 2010

Canes award nominees are plentiful (or at least a lot more plentiful this season)

Good evening Canes followers. It's Susan again.

I just compiled a list of UM award nominees for some of the top prizes in college football. Following is what will appear in tomorrow's paper (where I usually write the practice report). Do you guys think that other people should have been nominated for any award? Personally, I think Matt Bosher should have been put on the Ray Guy watch list. Maybe he'll be added later.

I also think Graig Cooper (despite the reconstructive knee surgery) and Damien Berry should have been put on the Doak Walker Award watch list.

Individual award nominations don't mean much, except in the fact that they reflect the talent that this team has. It's pretty obvious that when UM players won national awards, the teams for which they played were very special. The trophies are a symbol of pride for UM.

Check out the players who are listed in UM's media guide as having won "National Awards.''  They were all great players. And just think of all the other greats that didn't win them!

Vinny Testaverde, Bennie Blades, Craig Erickson, Russell Maryland, Warren Sapp, Gino Torretta, Dan Morgan, Ken Dorsey, Bryant McKinnie, Brett Romberg, Kellen Winslow and Joaquin Gonzalez are the players listed in UM's media guide as having won "National Awards.''

HURRICANES UP FOR AWARDS
   The Hurricanes have been racking up the award nominations this preseason.

   The newest University of Miami award nominee is senior defensive end Allen Bailey,
announced Friday for the watch list of the Rotary Lombardi Award (down linemen).

   Bailey also is up for the Bednarik Award (best defensive player in college), Ted
Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive
player).

   Other UM defensive players up for prestigious awards are linebacker Colin McCarthy
(Bednarik, Butkus, Nagurski) and cornerback Brandon Harris (Jim Thorpe, Nagurski,
Bednarik). Sean Spence is up for the Butkus Award that goes to the top linebacker.

   On offense, quarterback Jacory Harris is up for the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell. Receiver
Leonard Hankerson is nominated for the Biletnikoff.

   Kicker Matt Bosher is up for the Lou Groza and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award (honors
excellence in community, classroom, character and competition).

   Defensive tackle Marcus Forston and offensive tackle Orlando Franklin are nominated for
the Outland Trophy.


      --SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (Enjoy your weekend!)
 

Canes Carnivale: today is last chance to RSVP (sounds like fun)

Good afternoon everyone. It's Susan here.

UM football had off today and is off tomorrow.

But just in case you didn't know, the first-ever Canes Carnivale interactive festival is from 10:30 through 1 p.m.in the basketball field house and H-100 parking lot at the BankUnited Center on UM's campus.

The event is free to Hurricane Club members, who each can bring an additional three guests for free.

If you're not a Hurricane Club member, it costs $10 for admission and you become a Hurricane Club member (and can also then bring in three guests for free).

Student-athletes from every UM sports team will be represented.

Randy Shannon will be there for at least some of it (don't know when exactly), and some football players will be on hand as well. They didn't say which players.

Sounds great for families. For example, fans can try and strike out the baseball team, and also compete in an obstacle course against the women's and men's cross country and track teams. The football players apparently will be interacting with fans who test their throwing skills and go through a "mini-combine workout."

In the basketball field house, fans can participate in drills against the men's and women's teams (hey, maybe LeBron will show up again! Not.)

The golf team will have a putting green outside in the H-100 breezeway, with prizes available. Every team will have some activity.

 The UM Sports Hall of Fame will set up a display with at least one item representing each sport. You also can get your photo taken with Vinny Testaverde's Heisman Trophy.

The event will close with a pep rally from 12:30 to 1 p.m., complete with the UM Marching Band, cheerleaders and Sunsations. 

YOU MUST RSVP FOR THIS EVENT BY TONIGHT!!!! BECAUSE OF THE RESTRICTED SPACE, THERE

IS A LIMIT TO AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WHO CAN ATTEND. IF YOU SHOW UP TOMORROW WITHOUT

RSVPing, YOU MIGHT GET TURNED AWAY.

RSVP at 305-284-6699.

August 26, 2010

Rain, rain went away! Thursday practice update.

Good afternoon everyone!

    It's Susan Miller Degnan with some brief information gathered after Thursday morning's practice. The start of practice was delayed because of rain and lightning, but got going sometime around  7.

    * Best news was that LaRon Byrd  (bruised knee) talked to us all and seemed beyond exuberant to be back after what he said was his first injury ever in football! (That's pretty amazing.) He said he feels great and is doing cardio work a couple times a day to stay conditioned. He would like to play against FAMU, but that's up to the coaches. As an aside, LaRon is a terrific young man. He is so nice and good-spirited and friendly and very up front about things. We, in the media, love that whether or not UM has a good game, or even whether or not he personally has a good game, he is always willing to talk to us afterward, and always polite and insightful.

   *Randy Shannon said coaches were trying to get running back Graig Cooper in the last scrimmage on Monday, but the rain prevented them from that. They didn't want to take the chance. Shannon said he his getting a little contact "here and three,'' but nothing heavy duty. Shannon said "he hasn't gotten tackled yet.'' I'd be very surprised if he plays at FAMU, but Shannon didn't rule it out.

   *Shannon said linebacker Jordan Futch (another favorite of ours; great kid) is "a lot farther behind than Cooper" in terms of his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.

   * Cornerback Brandon McGee (another nice one!) is back "full speed,'' he said, after sitting out for several days with an injury.

   * Latwan Anderson is not part of the football team yet. He will be considered a walk-on, as his scholarship is for track. As soon as (and if) he plays in a game, his track scholarship will be converted to football. 

   I need to start writing my story for tomorrow.

  The Hurricanes are off for two days in a row (Friday and Saturday) for the first time since camp began. I'm sure they are ecstatic to chill a bit (in between doing homework), sleep more and heal some of those bumps and bruises. 

  Happy almost Friday!!

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

    

Rain, rain go away (at least until after Thursday practice)

Good morning! Susan here (Manny will be back soon enough after his vacation, which he badly deserves) in beautiful Coral Gables -- beautiful wet Coral Gables.

Practice was supposed to start at 7 a.m. (and then 6:45 a.m. after a last-second switch) but was delayed because of bad weather -- I saw lots of lightning (and of course bad rain) here.

They've begun practice, however, and will be done early today. It's 7:37 a.m. now. 

We were told there was no availability this morning (and I'm not complaining, just passing it along in case you expected some practice tidbits) because of delays and weather.

As always, enjoy your day! :)

Be back later.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 25, 2010

New day! Canes are up and at 'em for first day of classes.

Good morning all!

Susan here on campus. It's the first day of fall classes and Randy Shannon started practice at 6:45 a.m. Sun just rose and they're off and running.

Some quick hits:

*Wide receiver LaRon Byrd (left knee covered by elasticized support) was back at practice. He seemed to run well in an early drill.

* Right tackle Joel Figueroa was initially doing some agility drills with the line, but didn't see him with that group when we walked off Greentree Field. Maybe he's just doing individual conditioning -- don't know. Jermaine Johnson was still playing first-team tackle in the part of practice we see.

* Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong was at first team.

* Defensive end Andrew Smith was at first team.

* Brandon Harris sure looks the part of All-American. He knocked the ball out of Aldarius Johnson's hands as Johnson was about to make the catch.

* Travis Benjamin has some sort of white tape on his right knee, but it's probably absolutely nothing. Just an observation. Several of the guys wear protective coverings, etc.

* In the beginning of camp, wide receiver Davon Johnson was on crutches, his right leg bandaged up to the knee. Today he stood on the sideline with no crutches, no bandage. Don't think he's practicing, though.

* UM said Latwan Anderson is, indeed, on campus. He just wasn't at football. Has to get all his stuff in order. He's on a track scholarship, so track comes first.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 24, 2010

Scrimmages done, and -- thankfully -- the real thing is almost here

Hi all, it's Susan Miller Degnan.

As most of you know by now, UM closes its scrimmages to most of the media -- but opens it to ESPN broadcasters and any UM-affiliated media it wants to allow in (e.g. WQAM). So the people who cover the Canes every day haven't seen any live game-type situations. All we can do is go by what UM sends us, which is obviously only half the story.

You're not going to see any negative statistics, or hear about any specific problems (except for interceptions), so until the curtain rises and we see the real thing, all we can do is make educated guesses -- and talk to the players.

I'm not saying that UM should tell us every negative thing happening. I'm just saying it's hard to decipher exactly where the team stands, which is why we're all very much looking forward to the first game -- though FAMU is not Ohio State.

 Some thoughts on the scrimmages:

 * Where is Adewale Ojomo on the final statistics of all three scrimmages? I don't see him listed at all. If I'm wrong and someone knows something, please chime in. I think he can be a great player, so I'm wondering how much he has played and what he has done and if he's totally fine.

* What exactly is happening with right tackle (and former guard) Joel Figueroa? He missed the last two scrimmages with an undisclosed injury. We're thinking it must be shoulder-related, though I don't know for sure. He sat out the spring recuperating from shoulder surgery. Randy Shannon said not to worry, that he's fine and will be back. But when? Maybe he'll sit out FAMU, maybe not. But it might not be great for him to get his first start at tackle at Ohio State.

* How is Figueroa's current replacement, redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson? He hasn't taken a snap in college yet, and everybody has to have a first game, but we're all kind of wondering how he's really doing. Shannon told WQAM's Joe Rose this morning that Johnson blew a couple assignments here and there, but that he generally did a very good job.

* Jacory Harris didn't throw any interceptions Monday -- that's excellent. But he only completed 4 of 12 passes. Maybe he couldn't find any open receivers or maybe he was about to be sacked and threw the ball away. But 4 of 12 is not encouraging. I think all of us are wondering what shape his thumb is in. The guy has tons of talent, but he needs that thumb to be healed to be as great as he can be.

* Alonzo (A.J.) Highsmith seems to really be coming along well.

* Desmond Howard of ESPN was on a media conference call Tuesday and commented how thin the team was at experienced linebackers. Colin McCarthy is a talent (if he can stay healthy), he said, as is Sean Spence, but after that it's anyone's guess. He sees this part of UM's team as a definite weakness.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 23, 2010

Miller has 83-yard TD run in final scrimmage

HIGHLIGHTS
- Lamar Miller got things going with an 83-yard touchdown run up the middle early in the scrimmage.
- Later, Travis Benjamin caught a pair of touchdown passes from Jacory Harris and Alonzo Highsmith.
- Kendal Thompkins broke out for gains of 32 and 26.
- Billy Sanders had one of the highlights of the day, catching a pass up the middle from Stephen Morris for a 28-yard TD.
- Andrew Smith had two of the defense's four sacks, while Micanor Regis and Marcus Forston each had one.
- Ray-Ray Armstong had a solid scrimmage, tallying a number of big hits including one that forced a fumble.

Passing stats
Jacory Harris - 4-for-12, 38 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Alonzo Highsmith - 5-for-9, 82 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Stephen Morris - 1-for-4, 28 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Spencer Whipple - 2-for-6, 40 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

Rushing stats
Lamar Miller - 9 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD
Damien Berry - 11 carries, 57 yards
Kendal Thompkins - 1 carry, 26 yards
Storm Johnson - 6 carries, 14 yards
Eduardo Clements - 3 carries, 11 yards
Mike James - 6 carries, 4 yards

Receiving stats
Travis Benjamin - 3 receptions, 56 yards, 2 TDs
Mike James - 3 receptions, 18 yards
Billy Sanders - 1 reception, 28 yards, 1 TD
Kendal Thompkins - 1 reception, 32 yards
Aldarius Johnson - 1 reception, 25 yards

Defensive stats
Sean Spence - 6 tackles, pass break-up
Colin McCarthy - 6 tackles
Micanor Regis - 5 tackles, sack, forced fumble
Ramon Buchanan - 5 tackles
Ray-Ray Armstrong - 4 tackles, forced fumble
Brandon Harris - 4 tackles, 2 pass break-ups, fumble recovery
DeMarcus Van Dyke - 3 tackles, pass break-up
Andrew Smith - 2 tackles, 2 sacks

Special Teams highlights
- All field goals and extra points attempted by Matt Bosher and Jake Wieclaw were successfully, including a 45-yarder by Bosher in pouring rain.
- Kacy Rodgers and Cory Nelms teamed up to block a punt attempt.

August 22, 2010

It's official: Thearon Collier now at USC (but UM got Seantrel) -- & Sunday practice update

It's Susan Miller Degnan, about to head for Sunday's practice, but before I do..

After a long time waiting for the official stamp of approval, former UM receiver Thearon Collier is now officially a USC Trojan.

USC coach Lane Kiffin talked about it after his team's scrimmage Saturday, at which Collier was present (not playing, obviously). Collier will have to sit out a year, per NCAA rules, but he can practice with the scout team.

At UM, Collier would have been a junior. His two-year career numbers: 44 catches for 574 yards and three touchdowns. On punt returns, Collier had 20 returns for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

And who could forget that beautiful 29-yard catch he made on third down in UM's game-winning drive at Wake Forest last season.

I personally liked Thearon a lot, and I think he has tons of talent. I know he had a lot of personal stuff to deal with. His baby boy died during birth not that long ago. His father died while his mom was pregnant with him. Apparently he was not doing the right things in terms of class attendance, etc., according to some UM sources, but I hope he does well at USC. 

"He's been through a lot, had a very tough life so far," Kiffin said, according to espn.com. "I'm glad we can give him an opportunity. Talking to a number of people, I think it's very clear this is something that's good for him, to get away from home and have a fresh start."

As for UM's acquisition from USC.... 6-8, 330-pound Seantrel Henderson (No. 1 recruit in nation)... Let's suffice it to say that UM fans got a really big catch!!

BACK FROM SUNDAY PRACTICE: Today's walk-through was totally closed, but a few notes:

* Randy Shannon said tomorrow's scrimmage will be a lot of first-teamers against first-teamers. Some of them have been held back in the other two scrimmages, to see what the younger players could do.

* RB Graig Cooper and LB Jordan Futch will not play in Monday's scrimmage.

* RT Joel Figueroa missed practice again with an undisclosed injury. Shannon said one of the reasons he's holding him out is that he wants to make sure he's OK for the season. Joel has had shoulder problems in the past. Jermaine Johnson has taken his place in practice.

* Shannon said his players won't be practicing at Sun Life Stadium because the infield dirt is too hard on their bodies and he doesn't want anyone getting infections from the dirt and sand. That has to make you cringe a little, knowing what's in store for them. I've talked to players before about it, and it's not a pleasant experience getting those abrasions caused by the hard surface.

* JoJo Nicolas has not been practicing, though Shannon wouldn't elaborate.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN


August 21, 2010

UM debuts at No. 13 in Associated Press poll

All I have to say is: Nailed it!

The Miami Hurricanes will enter the 2010 season ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press poll. As a first year voter in the poll, I had the Canes 13th

Does that mean that is where I think they'll finish? Not necessarily. This team is obviously very talented and has an opportunity to climb. As a fan, that's all you could ask for. Six of the AP's preseason Top 25 teams are on Miami's schedule this year: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 15 Pitt, No. 16 Georgia Tech, No. 18 North Carolina and No. 20 Florida State.

It marks the 22nd time since 1983 the ‘Canes have earned a preseason Top 25 ranking by the AP. The Hurricanes rank 16th in the country with 28 total appearances in the AP’s preseason poll since 1936.

The ‘Canes were also ranked No. 13 in the USA Today Preseason poll which was released earlier this month.

Last season, Miami opened the year unranked in the AP poll and finished at No. 19 after a 9-4 campaign. The last time the `Canes opened the season ranked this high was 2006, when UM was voted No. 11 in the coaches' poll and No. 12 in the AP poll. It also marks the ninth time in the last 12 years UM earned an AP preseason ranking.

> Senior Matt Bosher was named to the 2010 preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation’s top kicker by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Bosher earned first team All-ACC honors as a kicker and second team All-ACC honors as a punter in 2009. He connected on 14-of-16 field goals and ended the season making 12 in a row, which is the second-best streak in school history in a career and in a single-season. He also has made 90 consecutive extra-point attempts, which also is the third-best streak in a career at Miami. He was a semifinalist for the Groza Award as a sophomore in 2008 after going 18-of-20 in field goals and earning second team All-ACC honors.

Bosher has a career success percentage of 88.9 percent in field goals. He enters the 2010 season as the most accurate returning kicker in the nation having made 32-of-36 field goals attempts.

August 20, 2010

McCarthy working with first team at MLB

Happy Friday everyone!

Susan Miller Degnan here.

Our Bill Van Smith went to UM's 7 a.m. practice this morning and will be writing a feature later today.

Some quick hits from the 10 or so minutes the media is allowed on the field:

Colin McCarthy * For Colin McCarthy fans (and if you follow UM, there is likely a lot of you out there), McCarthy practiced in the middle Friday. Ramon Buchanan was elevated to first team on the outside after four tackles and an interception in Wednesday's scrimmage. Kylan Robinson, who had been practicing at first-team in the middle, was taking reps at second team. The other outside linebacker is Sean Spence. Last season, McCarthy started 10 games on the strong side, and ranked second in total tackles with 95. He also was second among all UM defenders with 10.5 tackles-for-loss. McCarthy normally plays in the middle in nickel formations.

* Wide receiver LaRon Byrd is wearing a brace on his left leg and has a bone bruise on that knee, according to Canesport.com. Coach Randy Shannon said Byrd will "probably" be back in practice next week, "maybe Monday or Tuesday.''  Shannon said Byrd is doing strength and conditioning drills.

* Shannon said quarterback Jacory Harris was a quiet leader, "not a yeller or screamer," though it appears Harris is becoming more vocal. Shannon also said he has not decided who the backup quarterback will be among Alonzo (A.J.) Highsmith, Spencer Whipple and Stephen Morris. We're thinking it's Alonzo.

* Defensive end Andrew Smith, with 10 tackles, three sacks and two quarterback hurries in Wednesday night's closed scrimmage (stats provided by sports information), "Can't wait to run out through the smoke" against FAMU on Sept. 2. He's not alone.

* Right tackle Joel Figueroa did not practice. He also sat out of the scrimmage. Shannon said wide receiver Allen Hurns (hamstring) returned. He also said cornerbacks Brandon McGee and Ryan Hill; and linebacker Tyrone Cornelius returned Friday. All those guys missed the last scrimmage.

* Shannon was asked what, in particular, had to be worked on before the Florida A&M game. He replied, "Everything. Too far away to worry about A&M.''

* UM has its final two-a-day sessions Saturday, then a short walk-through Sunday.

-- SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Some video interviews courtesy of UM.

August 19, 2010

Randy Shannon talks about scrimmage No. 2

Hello again everyone! It's Susan Miller Degnan here. I got a chance to hear Randy Shannon on WQAM with host Joe Rose early this morning. It was a great interview.

FYI: The team is off today, so there's no access.

In case any of you didn't get a chance to hear it, here are some tidbits about the scrimmage (closed to fans and media) from that interview that stood out, per Shannon's perspective (in no particular order):

> The guys he listed as missing  (there might have been more; don't know) the scrimmage were offensive tackle Joel Figueroa, WR LaRon Byrd, DT Curtis Porter, LB Tyrone Cornelius, CB Brandon McGee, LB Kelvin Cain, CB Ryan Hill. "All of them have nicks. But everybody thinks, 'Well, they put them in a boot and they're done.' You know and I know when you put guys in boots you're just trying to heal them quicker.''

> LaRon Byrd was walking around last night with a brace and Shannon said the injured guys walked around the Traz Powell Stadium track for a couple miles. Traz Powell was the scrimmage site. He said the next scrimmage will be late in the day instead of night.

> The safety position and second-team linebackers are the areas he's still looking at extra closely, trying to solidify the exact lineup

> Olivier Vernon is "so athletic" and "so explosive" that he could play a lot of positions, including linebacker and his current defensive end. Shannon said he sometimes takes chances that likely get coaches nervous, but often work out because he's such a good athlete.

> Freshman WR Allen Hurns, who hurt his right hamstring around Scrimmage No. 1 (that info is from me, not Shannon), is a guy Shannon would like to get back into the mix sometime soon.

> WR Tommy Streeter needs to improve his consistency. One play will be a great one; the next not-so-great.

 > His young running backs are fast!! But we knew that already.

> DE Andrew Smith, who, according to UM sports information office, had 10 tackles, three sacks and two quarterback hurries, "is in unbelievable shape." He said, "This guy is making plays for us.''

> Offensive line is still a battle. He didn't say why RT Joel Figueroa sat out last night (Jermaine Johnson played tackle). He didn't say the line looked bad, he just said it's important to have a lot of backups who can play.

> He said Jacory Harris is doing well on the field and being more talkative and assertive.

> Matt Bosher still seems to be the guy who will do the kickoffs, at least for now.

> Kickoff coverage and punt coverage teams -- Shannon said UM has about 15 guys he feels confident about who are "fast guys, physical guys" and can "make plays in open space.''  He said they're better than last year, and about eight of those guys who weren't part of those 15 last season because of injuries or they weren't around.

Sorry this was so long!! Have to get back to some other stories. Enjoy your day.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 18, 2010

Storm Johnson, Andrew Smith shine in scrimmage

Here are some highlights and statistics from the second scrimmage of the fall on Wednesday night provided by UM's sports information staff. The practice, held at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami, was closed to the media and fans.

Scoring plays:
- Mike James 20-yard TD catch from Jacory Harris
- Storm Johnson 92-yard TD run
- Matt Bosher 30-yard field goal
- Damien Berry 1 yard TD run
- Kendal Thompkins 28-yard TD catch from Spencer Whipple
- Eduardo Clements 3-yard TD run
- Travis Benjamin 25-yard TD catch from Jacory Harris
- Storm Johnson 1-yard TD run

Passing
Jacory Harris - 8-for-12, 102 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Spencer Whipple - 7-for-8, 96 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Stephen Morris - 5-for-11, 80 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Alonzo Highsmith - 0-for-6

Rushing
Storm Johnson - 12 carries, 132 yards, 2 TD
Lamar Miller - 10 carries, 90 yards
Damien Berry - 6 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD
Eduardo Clements - 14 carries, 16 yards, 1 TD
Mike James - 8 carries, 14 yards

Receiving (players with multiple catches)
Kendal Thompkins - 4 receptions, 75 yards, 1 TD
Travis Benjamin - 2 receptions, 47 yards, 1 TD
Asante Cleveland - 2 receptions, 31 yards
Ben Bruneau - 2 receptions, 26 yards
Mike James - 2 receptions, 20 yards, 1 TD

Defense
Andrew Smith - 10 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries
Olivier Vernon - 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
James Gaines - 7 tackles (2 on special teams)
Ramon Buchanan - 4 tackles, 1 interception
Allen Bailey - 3 tackles, 1 punt block
Luther Robinson - 3 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss
Colin McCarthy - 2 tackles, 1 interception returned for 31 yards
Marcus Robinson - 2 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries, 1 tackle for a loss
Micanor Regis - 5 tackles
Jamal Reid - 4 tackles
Travis Williams - 4 tackles
Kylan Robinson - 3 tackles

POST SCRIMMAGE VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH RANDY SHANNON

Jason Fox a Lion, but still talkin' Canes

Hi all! This is Susan Miller Degnan, filling in for Manny while I try to get some stuff written for The Miami Herald's preseason football section. Tonight is UM's second scrimmage, but it's closed to the public and media. When UM releases something on the scrimmage, Manny will post it late tonight or in the wee hours tomorrow.

Jason Fox I had a chance to speak to Jason Fox a couple nights ago by phone. Jason, as you all know, is one of the most loyal Canes of recent years. He played hurt (knee) for a long time, sacrificing his body -- and perhaps, a round or two in the NFL Draft -- for the sake of the team. He started 11 games for UM last season and had 47 career starts, third most all-time by a Hurricane.

I wrote a story for today's Herald about Orlando Franklin, and Jason said if he could think straight during the Lions' grueling preseason camp, he could come up with some funny stories to share. But on this night, he just wanted to let Canes fans know that he believes Franklin will do a great job at left tackle, and that Joel "Fig" Figueroa will be a standout at right tackle opposite Orlando.

Franklin was struck by how Fox told him to enjoy his last year as a Cane, because there's nothing like your college years.

Some nuggets Fox told me:

> "First of all, I should say, it's such a great opportunity and experience to be where I'm at. It's different here because the guys you play with, most of them are married and have kids. Whey they leave work they go spend time with their families. Unlike college, where we were such a close group that when we left, we'd always go out to eat together, hang out together. It's literally a job now. I told Orlando that this is the last year he'll be playing for fun."

> "[Center] Tyler Horn as been waiting on his opportunity, and he's finally getting it. [Guards] Harland Gunn and Brandon Washington are stepping up into big roles, so they're all excited. I've heard great things. I've talked to several of the guys around the program and I've heard nothing but good things.''

> "Going from guard to tackle, the biggest difference is you're playing against more athletic people. You kind of get put out there on an island sometimes with a really quick guy and it really tests your feel. In the middle, you've got to be strong to go against those big D-tackles, but a tackle you're sometimes matched with the speed guy so you need to be able to move your feet. Orlando got reps at tackle at the end of the season last year and he was always an emergency backup tackle, and always got tackle reps in practice. He's gotten used to it.''

OK guys, that's it for now.I was thinking about other Canes who have sacrificed their bodies during the season, and played instead of sitting. Most guys play hurt, but sometimes it's a fine line. There have been dozens of those guys at UM. The first couple who come to mind recently: Jacory Harris, former defensive back Randy Phillips and running back Javarris James.

 Have a great day!

-- SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 17, 2010

Grandal signs with Reds before deadline

Former University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal has agreed to a four-year deal worth $3.2 million with the Cincinnati Reds late Monday night, the deadline for teams to sign players. Grandal, the ACC Player of the Year, was picked 12th overall in June by the Reds.

Grandal, who received a $2 million signing bonus, had of the most impressive offensive seasons in UM history, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in batting average (.411), slugging percentage (.729) and on-base percentage (.538). 

"It brings me a new life," Grandal said Monday night. "I'm playing a little kids game and getting paid for it. Mom is delighted."

Grandal said he's been told he'll head out to Arizona for two weeks before being reassigned. "They're going to see how prepared I am and then after two weeks, they'll send me out somewhere," Grandal said. "I could go to Low-A, High-A. I guess if they think I'm ready I can go to Double A. We'll see."