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Linder, young line a fresh dose of hope for UM

The first time they met as teammates they didn't say much to each other at all.

Brandon Linder "We were all kind of hesitant, you know," said Brandon Linder, describing the moment he, Seantrel Henderson, Malcolm Bunche and three other University of Miami freshmen offensive linemen crossed paths inside their dormitory at UM. "I think we were all trying to size each other up. Be tough guys, you know.

"I think about an hour later, when all that toughness broke down, we started giggling and stuff. Now, we're all each other's best friends. We love each other. When we're watching film, were always critiquing each other. I think it's going to be a lot of fun the next four years."

Fun sounds like a welcome change for Canes fans. Since the 28-point loss to rival Florida State two weeks ago, it feels like everything related to this team has been accompanied with a sense of a negativity because of a failure to meet expectations. Fire Randy! Bench Jacory! We only beat Duke by 15?

If you are searching for some fresh hope, the Canes are starting to provide some of that too. Freshman linebacker Kelvin Cain and tight end Asante Cleveland provided two large doses of it Saturday at Duke. But the biggest reason for hope in my opinion is what's happening with Linder, Henderson and the rest of the Hurricanes' young offensive line.

In case you missed it, sophomore right guard Brandon Washington earned ACC Lineman of the Week honors after grading out at 97 percent against Duke. With redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson back home (supposedly because he was sick), Henderson made his third straight start at right tackle and played the entire game for the first time in his career. Linder, meanwhile, made his first college start in a jumbo package and played the most he had all season.

And although UM's offensive line appeared to have some major issues at the start of the season with Joel Figueroa injured and struggling to handle a switch to right tackle, pass protection hasn't been as a big of an issue lately as some feared it might be. In fact, the Canes have only surrendered eight sacks this season -- that puts them on pace to finish with half as many as they did a year ago (35) at season's end.

Outside of left tackle and senior Orlando Franklin (and possibly Figueroa if he is not granted a medical redshirt), the Hurricanes will bring back all of their offensive linemen next season. Starting left guard Harland Gunn and center Tyler Horn will be seniors. The rest of the group will be made up of talented underclassmen.

The group of true freshmen -- led by Henderson, Linder, Bunche and accompanied by Johnathan Feliciano, Shane McDermott and Jermiane Barton -- "is going to be real special" according to Horn.

"All of those guys are really, really good and they're going to be really, really good players," Horn said. "They get reps and go against a really good team on scout team and it's starting to show up. They're pushing guys around like its nothing."

Said UM coach Randy Shannon: "I'm very excited. They're big and competitive. Malcolm Bunche is doing a great job of competing down there, Jermaine Barton we just got back this past week - it's a slow process because he's been out for a long time [with injury]. And Feliciano has been doing a good job. They give our defensive line a lot of fits because they're big, they're physical and knock guys around. Anytime you have guys competitive like that on scout team they give you a great look and take pride in doing it, it's always good for your team."

Linder, who is currently backing up Horn at center, has taken reps in games at guard and as a third tackle on overload packages. Horn calls Linder "extremely smart" and said his attention to detail in the film room has helped him get on the field early.

"He's one of those guys whose always in the film room, hounding [offensive line] coach [Jeff] Stoutland to teach him, teach him, teach him," Horn said. "He also plays hard, runs downfield, never gives up on a block, never stops blocking. It's a mixture of effort and the desire to learn."

Henderson, tabbed as the top high school recruit in the country, was supposed to play at some point this season. But the fact he cracked the starting lineup in just UM's fourth game, Horn said, came as a result of his work ethic.

"He didn't come out here and say 'Hey I'm the No. 1 recruit.' He said I want to earn it the right way. And he's done that," Horn said. "I respect a Seantrel a whole lot because of it. I'm really proud of the way he came in and instead of being all high and mighty, he came in all humble with a chip on his shoulder to really prove he's the best."

Washington said he thinks the Canes will potentially be just as good, if not better than the impressive offensive line Florida State has groomed over the past few seasons. Just like the Seminoles did two weeks ago, Washington believes its only a matter of time before the Canes start dominating up front the way they did.

"If we can get everybody clicking on all cylinders, by my senior year, it's going to be crazy," Washington said. "You'll have Malcolm Bunche, Seantrel on the same side -- that's 600, 700 pounds alone of meat and muscle working together to blow open some big holes. It's going to be a beautiful thing."

QUICK HITTERS

Damien Berry > The more you hear players talk about Damien Berry, the more you realize how much he's not only a huge leader but how much the offense feeds off him and his big runs.

"It's like blocking for your brother -- your blood brother," Horn said. "When you see him run over one of the safeties down the field, it fires you up, you want to open a bigger hole for him so you can see him run it again. As the game goes on, he doesn't get tired. It's like he gets more amped up, excited about running over people. It's a lot of fun to block for that guy.

"He's fierce," Brandon Washington said. "He's a powerhouse, a one-man wrecking crew. It feels good blocking for someone like that knowing if I just stay on my block this could spring for a 20, 30-yard run. If I can make my play, this could be a great run."

> With Berry getting the bulk of the carries these days, you wonder how the guys behind him are feeling about their limited opportunities. Berry said he talks to a lot of the guys behind him on the depth chart about having patience and points out how he had to wait to the middle of his junior year to run the ball.

"I talk to Storm [Johnson] and Eduardo [Clements] a lot," Berry said. "But they know there are four great guys in front of them that have playing experience and when it is their time, they just have to show out. Everybody will get their opportunity.

"You can't get down. Me and [Graig] Cooper are like best friends. Sometimes he does have his days. But it's never down in the tank. It's more like I have to do more to help this team."

For fun I asked Berry if he missed playing safety. His response: "That's like asking me if I like riding the bench."

> For those of you who believe some of these players don't demand enough perfection from themselves, when I asked Brandon Washington if he was proud of the Canes' improvement in allowing fewer sacks he just shook his head at me. "Eight sacks? We're not proud of that at all," Washington said. "We want zero sacks. The first half of the season is behind us. We want to end the last six with zero sacks and more pancakes."

> If you are wondering where those six big freshmen offensive linemen dine together, it's not off campus. According to Linder, they can't go anywhere because "none of us have cars."

"Freshmen aren't allowed to have cars," Linder said. "So we go to the Rat and stuff, tear it up."

> Another great quote from Tuesday's press conference came from the lips of Tyler Horn. When asked about the recruiting stars system, Horn said: "You can have all the stars in the world, it doesn't mean your going to be a good football player. It just means you have the potential to be a good football player. I've always been told potential is a nine-letter word for bad."

Comments

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George Mira,

I don't think anyone is trying to take away from his accomplishments as a coordinator, but that requires a different skill set from a head coach. Look at Norv Turner in the NFL, excellent coordinator (even made Alex Smith look good for a year), but mediocre head coach. IMO jury is still out on Randy's HC abilities. He's steadily improved from his first year, but anyone who watched the FSU game knows he is not an elite coach, at least yet. Randy has coordinated a number of great defenses, but he is yet to get the most out of a team as HC. Might still happen, but no need to jump all over someone else's post when Randy still hasnt proven himself as a hc.

J Smooth,

Prove you are not Curse.

Post

"Go Canes, even without Randy"

on the Sun Sentinel blog.

We will wait....

WHY ISNT KENDELL THOMPKINS PLAYING?

Hey Wayne, if we'd quit playing like a Pop Warner team and start playing like a college team, we'd quit ranting. Expectations were high for this team. Okay we coughed the OSU game up on a silver platter but getting punked by FSU and especially young FSU compared to us, on our home field, what do you expect us to say, it'll be alright. Then we go to Puke and score 21 offensive points on only 7 turnovers. If your in love with being average and will get them next year Tiger, well Shannon's for you. By the way we will put it all together for one night only and lay the smack down on UNC 31-13> Remember, Im said for one night only. We're like Cinderalla.

You haven't said it will take 10 years to turn things around? You don't make constant references to how Larry Coker left the program in a bad situation?

I'm not heated, I know we're going to lose again at some point.

No need to exchange in the future, no problem.

WHY ISNT KENDELL THOMPKINS PLAYING?

Posted by: DALLAS CANE | October 21, 2010 at 03:56 PM

idk...something is seriously wrong inside this program. Allen hurns is getting more reps then streeter too. Please will somebody inside the closed doors of miami expose the school already

COME ON CANES. BEAT THE SNOT TAR OUTTA THOSE HEELS. Don't let Butch turn RS into his B----h for 4 straight years. Have some PRIDE in what you do and for the TR"U" fans that support and love this city and TEAM!.

GO C-A-N-E-S, CANES!

You see, "J Smooth", Fake Donna Shalala and Fake Art Kehoe both went underground around the same time that you popped up. The coincidence is suspicious to those that have been posting here a while.

Your writing style is similar enough to adds to that suspicion, and your starting off so very negative adds to that suspicion.

See, if a regular poster here did question Jacory, Randy, Whipple, etc, they would have a history behind them, but when a noob does it, it is a red flag as to what their TRUE motivation is.

Like I said, you can remove that suspicion with a simple post to the Sun Sentinel, or even to Canespace. Different IP address, different person. Same IP address, LIKELY the same person.

Good luck!

Randy's comments on the people calling for his head, Awesome answer.

Have you been bothered by the barrage of criticism after the FSU game, including a chunk from former UM players?

"No. Not at all. Joe, you got to remember one thing. It hasn't changed. It's been like this way since [former UM coach Howard] Schnellenberger, when they wanted to run him out of town. When he lost to Florida A&M, everybody wanted to run him out of town. It's the same thing when Jimmy [Johnson] was here his first year. They went 8-5, and then we lost three straight bowl games, and they wanted to run him out of town. And then Dennis [Erickson] won two national championships, and the next year they went 9-3, and they wanted to run him out of town, and Butch [Davis] the same way. It's Miami. Everybody wants a winner. That shows that they care."

FYI: I bleed orange and green and I played the game. Common-sense tells me that we MUST beat UNC. If not, J12's confidence is gone; RS and Whip will get further confused. I can't figure out whatz up with defensive coordinator. Whats his name anywayz?

Spence will show up against UNC. I bet none of U can tell me who else will show up.

I like Randy, but progress is progress and player development is player development. a head coach is a lot of things, RS is some of them, but...

How did it feel finally being called out Curse/JSmooth?
Finally someone had enough of your racist garbage and put your email and IP address out there for all to see
seanwilson523@hotmail.com must be filled with email by now
You went so far with your racism that now you even let your facebook page out there
You might want to fade away or find new accounts to come troll on

We need a dose of hope from the QB and recievers.

Thompkins was used as a slot receiver...for some reason we stopped using one. That's just crazy to me. Why wouldn't we try to spread teams out, throw slants, and/or pound the ball between the tackles.

You would think we want to put the most talent on the field.

I agree, something is wrong.

Look fellas, give randy the rest of the season. We lost to 2 top 15 teams in Ohio state and FSU. Its not like the past where we lose to East Carolina. IF, and a big IF, we can go 6-0 or 5-1 and finish at least 9-3 or 10-2 and play in ACC title game, then randy has gotten us to where we can excel next yr. However, if we lose 2 more games before the bowl game, I would be the 1st person to say its time for a change. this is his 4th yr. LETS SEE WHAT HAPPENS---WE CAN WIN OUT AND PLAY IN ACC TITLE GAME

well done dom. lets see what kind of guts these guys have.

'Canes,

Please disregard the negativity of the ostensible fans, and kick * for yourselves, your families and the number of 'Cane fans in Miami and around the world that support you unconditionally.

GOD Bless,

real canes' fans weather the storm.

Manny,
You hit the bulls-eye right on the mark. Jacory's class was brought in to stop the bleeding and set the bar (talent wise). Whether it is coaching or just player under achieving this year, only the guys in the locker room know.
However, with the class of offensive linemen that was brought in last year how could a player not want to come here. It is going to be the best offensive line in the country in the next 2 -3 years. Any recruit should be dying to come to here and play especially offensive one's.

CANES FAN

U hit the nail in the coffin. Things have changed in College Football with limited scholarships 85, BCS rankins, Conference Championships......

U r a real CANE fan.
GO MIAMI HURRICANES!!!!!!

BACK TO BUSINESS.........


BEAT THE TAR HEALS!
GO CANES!!!!!!!

LOYAL Caner since 1980, and even though we're struggling, STILL bleed green and orange, and know that these kids have it in them to play better, it's something that they have to bring each game, not the coach, the players have to bring it. I feel Satruday night, THEY WILL! GO CANES!!!!

Wow. I'd like to know what other "fans" say about their teams in the paper. It amazes me that Canes 'Fans' would actually yearn for jacory's down fall. To hope for your starting QB to get hurt? And then what? Put AJ in? Put in Whipple Jr? I know...we'll run the wild cat with Coop in the back. And to actually sit and say Fire Shannon cuz he's stupid. This fan bases doesnt deserve a team with this legendary history. Shannon has bled for this school over the past 20(+) years and he's won more games than the year before.
Thats right...I always forget that this is the same fan base that ran Marino out of town and bought in Fiedler. The same fan base that wanted to get rid of Butch and now he cant do anything wrong. The Canes are going to be fine. They have a chance to go 11-2 or 10-3 which is an improvement from last year. Support 'your' team. Not tear them down.

Wayne, regarding your post(Posted by: Wayne | October 21, 2010 at 03:18 PM)
I agree with much of what you say, however, my friend it is wishful thinking, for again, as you say too many say too much yet say so little...other than the usual cyber bullying that has replaced civil, intelligent discourse.

Returning to FOOTBALL:
The NC game will be a harbinger of what's to come our final games. If we let NC push us around, especially our O-line, we will be in for an unhappy late December, playing in the cold at Boise. (assuming that bowl game still exists)
Go...REALLY GO Canes.

WIN. i don't care how ugly it is. we love Shannon the man, all agree. but being a Mentor is different than being a Leader of Men.

good gawd my friends, if we lose this one how bad are the blogs going to be? the Outrage (including myself), the ferocity from the Alums? this will get out of control.

ENOUGH drops

ENOUGH stupid penalties

ENOUGH poor special teams coverage

ENOUGH INT's Jacory--we still believe in you

ENOUGH lack of using Lamar

ENOUGH standing on the sideline "deer in headlights" Coach

Today is the day

Regain our pride, our history, our reshaping college football, or Shannon goes

This is it.

THE INTERESTING ABOUT LIFE IS THE MIRROR EFFECT IT PRODUCES. YES, OUR MIAMI TEAM MAY NOT BE AS GOOD AS WE WOULD LIKE THEM, BUT THEY'RE MUCH BETTER THAN THE FAN SUPPORT THEY GET. MAYBE IF THEY GOT SOME REAL FANS, THEY COULD TRANSFORM I NTO YOUR SO CALLED REAL TEAM. YOU CAN CATCH MORE FLIES WITH HONEY, THAN YOU CAN WITH VINEGAR. I REMEMBER SO VIVIDLY ABOUT FOURTY YEARS AGO. I ATTENDED A BASKETBALL GAME IN WHICH THE HOME TEAM WAS LOSING BY TWENTY FIVE POINTS. THE FANS GOT BEHIND THEM AND THEY ACTUALLY RALLIED AND WON THE GAME. NOT IN OVER TIME , BUT REGULAR TIME. THOSE OF YOU WHO USE YOUR NEGATIVE ENERGY TO WRITE. TRY TURNING THAT ENERGY IN TO POSITIVE WRITING, YOU MIGHT BE SHOCKED TO SEE. THE TRANSFORMATION PROCLAMATION. REMEMBER THERE IS A MIRROR CALLED LIFE AND IT'S REFLECTING AND SAYING. YOU'RE NOT PERFECT, YOU'RE NOT PERFECT, YOU'RE NOT PERFECT.GO CANES. I STILL THINK YOU'RE AWESOME AND YOU'RE THE BEST. PSALMS 29

WIN. i don't care how ugly it is. we love Shannon the man, all agree. but being a Mentor is different than being a Leader of Men.

good gawd my friends, if we lose this one how bad are the blogs going to be? the Outrage (including myself), the ferocity from the Alums? this will get out of control.

ENOUGH drops

ENOUGH stupid penalties

ENOUGH poor special teams coverage

ENOUGH INT's Jacory--we still believe in you

ENOUGH lack of using Lamar

ENOUGH standing on the sideline "deer in headlights" Coach

Today is the day

Regain our pride, our history, our reshaping college football, or Shannon goes

This is it.

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