The spring game is over, and there was much of the same. Namely, interceptions.
Two by Jacory and two by Stephen.
It was very basic, very simple, "vanilla,'' Golden said.
Let's face it, the UM running backs are mighty good, and fans better hope the offensive line can open big holes for Lamar Miller, Mike James and Storm Johnson. Lamar scored three TDs and gained 166 yards on 10 carries (one TD was for 70 yards and another was for 64).
I say (until proven otherwise) lots of shorter, safe passes, and occasional long ones. And utilize the tight ends, something that's been missing the past couple years.
The guys who made the picks: Andrew Swasey, Sean Spence, Brandon McGee and Thomas Finnie.
The receivers have been unproven, because so many of them are hurt. Kendal Thompkins had a very good day, and Travis Benjamin hurt his leg, though it doesn't seem bad. LaRon didn't play, Aldarius didn't play, and three of them wore yellow "non-contact" jerseys. Tommy Streeter looked as tentative and not-so-dominant as he looked good last weekend.
Defensively, safety Swasey is impressive and will find his way onto the field for sure. Golden said he's a great special-teamer as well. Finnie (pick) has had a very good spring. Brandon McGee is getting better.
Sean Spence (pick-six for 25-yard TD) should be a force this season. And safety Ray-Ray Armstrong just demolishes his victims, as well.
I forgot to put in my story for paper and online that walk-on Sean Goldstein led the defense with 14 tackles!!
Several players missed the scrimmage, including Kevin Nelson (I asked his status and if he was injured and Golden answered, "Kevin Nelson did not participate today, as many guys didn't participate. We're holding a bunch of them out.'' Seantrel Henderson (back injury) didn't play, but you already knew he wasn't going to play.
I know that, as Jacory said, an interception or touchdown takes all 11 players to create, but hopefully Jedd Fisch's intelligence (he's smart) and play-calling will result in game plans that play to the strengths of each quarterback -- or at least not to their weaknesses. This scrimmage was kind of weird, too, because the players were all scrambled up and not always playing near the persons they'll be playing with for games.
Remember, the game is being televised tomorrow at 5 p.m. on CSS.
Also, I talked to DT Marcus Forston (brace on right knee). He seems to be in good spirits. He had surgery April 6 to repair a torn MCL.
AL GOLDEN SPEAKS
"It was the first time we played a game. I had been putting them in situations so I thought it would be a little bit tougher on them conditioning wise than it was. A lot of guys responded. Clearly the running backs have a chance to be special for us and make some ex[ceptional] plays. I’m disappointed about the interceptions, but we have to do a better job with that.
One of the plays was exceptional, the other play was really, we were throwing it to a yellow shirt and we really couldn’t finish the play. So I’m not even sure if that was really fair that we allowed that one. But overall good tempo. I think we learned a lot about our team today."
Pleased with any picks for the defense? "Oh yeah. I thought Swasey’s interception was exceptional. Again, I know from experience that eventually as long as the defense keeps applying pressure they’re going to take the ball away so this was a lot of reps today for us, I think about 120.
Good effort I thought today."
QB position today? "We’ll see how they evolve in the summer and then in preseason camp. It’s too close to call right now. I thought both did some really good things today and there are a couple things we need to correct but we really only had about six or seven pass plays in, so after a while it gets old. It gets vanilla. We had no motions in. We had no shifts. But we’ll be able to help them in terms of disguising some things in August, obviously."
What did you think of atmosphere? "It was good. I thought it was special. Yesterday, at our facility, we had over 200 players and someone said close to 300 today. Obviously that’s a special group, that’s a family and we were glad to be a part of it. We thank all the UM fans and alumni that came out and supported us today."
Lamar's big-play capability? "Most people that just watch football, just in general as fans, think of explosive plays as passes. But he clearly indicates that an explosive play can be a run, and he can do it. He’s got elite short-area quickness, he’s got a great lateral cut and he’s got long speed on top. And all that wrapped into a 210-pound body. He’s very talented."
Did it hurt not having as many healthy receivers and then Travis going down? "Well, that hurt. It hurt right away because Travis got hurt, I don’t know if it was the first series, but maybe the second one, because the first ones I think were three-and-out on both sides. That hurt. LaRon Byrd was supposed to be on Jacory’s team and that was a scratch in pregame, so now all of a sudden we’re down our two most experienced receivers. Then I made the decision on Thursday to play the yellow jerseys, which is something we hadn’t done. I think that probably didn’t help our timing and rhythm at all."
Now that spring ball is done, what did you learn most from your team? "That they have a will to win. They want to win. And they have some seniors right now that are leading the way and have some urgency and I think we are a better conditioned team right now than we were in January. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we need to be in terms of our conditioning and our mental toughness."
Did you enjoy running through the smoke for the first time? "I did. I did. It has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to even enjoy any of it. And I think for about 3.5 seconds I enjoyed that first second. It’s a special place, the traditions are special and clearly this was a great day for Miami."
Once you pick a quarterback do you envision that guy being the starter throughout or do you see a scenario where both will play? "I don’t know. That’s too far in advance. Right now I just want to see them compete. We’ll see who the starter is. Then, obviously, based on their talents, we’ll try to cater to the offense in our play calls to support whoever the quarterback is. But certainly we want them to compete day in and day out. But I’m not going to make a decision on any of that right now. I just think it’s too close to call and we’ll let them compete for the next 140 days and figure it out."
Transition of Nicolas to corner and your secondary as a whole? "You know what? Obviously he’s a big, physical presence for us at corner but the ball that Jacory threw to Streeter was right on the money. I thought it was a great pass and JoJo just made a tremendous play on it. That gets me excited when he’s making plays like that down the field."
Position battles that stand out? "At running back clearly there’s a great competition there. There’s an excellent competition between Calhoun and Hagens. I though Hagens came on really strong this spring at fullback. At tight end you could flip a coin. I don’t know who the starter is right now. I know Walford has had a good spring. Blake, Chase, Cory White, clearly we’re going to get Asante back going into the summer because of his injury. There’s a lot of competition on the offensive line. At defensive end there’s competition. Mike linebacker between Gaines and Futch there’s a lot of competition. We sat Gaines today. And I think there’s going to be a lot of competition at corner. Corner is wide open right now other than JoJo’s got a little bit of a lead there."
Andrew Swasey? "Number one he’s getting more reps and warranting more reps because he’s an excellent special teams player. That’s really a lesson for a lot of the guys, that if you get on the field on special teams, you’re on the bus, and if you’re on the bus, the coaches are always saying, ok, who are the 60 guys that are there and where else should we play them? He got an opportunity to play safety. He’s a physical player. He’s bright. He plays with energy and I think the interception he made today was exceptional. He has made the most of his opportunity and he’s really had a good spring for us."
On Kendal Thompkins: "With all the receivers that were down that was tough on those guys. To be honest with you we’ve been running them into the ground all spring at wideout because we just haven’t had the guys, with Aldarius and Davon and Ben hurt and Hurnsey being down and LaRon Byrd and Travis on top of it, that was a tough day for those guys. But I thought Kendal had a good spring. I think Kendal is a tough player. And I think Kendal will help us on special teams, too, so he’s carving out a role for himself."
Kevin Nelson, status? Is he nicked up? Is he on the team? "Kevin Nelson did not participate today, as many guys didn’t participate. We’re holding a bunch of them out."
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (I'll have more quotes for you tomorrow)
Att Comp Yds Int TD
J. Harris 30 18 149 2 0
S. Whipple 1 1 10 0 0
TOTALS 31 19 159 2 0
Att Yds TD
S. Johnson 7 34 0
M. James 9 25 1
J. Harris 2 15 0
A. Hurns 1 4 0
S. Whipple 1 ‐5 0
TOTALS 20 73 1
No. Yds TD
A. Hurns 6 64 0
M. James 4 29 0
D. Johnson 4 15 0
S. Johnson 3 33 0
T. Streeter 1 17 0
J. Calhoun 1 1 0
TOTALS 19 159 0
ut at total tfl‐yds Int‐yds PBU Sacks FF RR TD
S. Goldstein 5 9 14
S. Spence 3 6 9 1‐2 1‐22 1‐2 1
R. Armstrong 3 6 9 1
M. Robinson 3 0 3 1‐7 1‐7
T. Finnie 1 1 2 1‐1
T. Williams 2 4 6
Att Comp Yds Int TD
S. Morris 22 14 140 2 1
S. Whipple 3 2 6 0 0
TOTALS 25 16 146 2 1
Att Yds TD
L. Miller 10 166 3
D. Hall 9 48 0
M. Hagens 9 28 0
T. Benjamin 1 11 0
S. Morris 5 8 0
S. Whipple 1 8 0
K. Thompson 1 4 0
TOTALS 36 273 3
No. Yds TD
K. Thompkins 7 81 1
C. Walford 4 48 0
L. Miller 2 2 0
M. Hagens 1 9 0
B. Bruneau 1 5 0
S. O’Dare 1 1 0
TOTALS 16 146 1
ut at total tfl‐yds Int‐yds PBU Sacks FF RR TD
K. Cain 1 5 6
M. Regis 0 5 5 1
O. Vernon 2 2 4 2‐10.5 1.5‐10.5
B. McGee 3 1 4 1‐36
A. Swasey 2 1 3 1‐0
A. Ojomo 2 2 4 1‐4.5 0.5‐2.5