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Mark D'Onofrio talks Canes defensive woes, bump and run coverage, patience

CORAL GABLES -- UM defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio has plenty of reasons to be frustrated. After putting together a stellar defense at Temple that ranked among the best in the country, his first five games with the Hurricanes haven't had many highlights. Saturday's 38-35 loss to Virginia Tech was especially disheartening considering UM racked up 519 yards on offense against one of the country's top-ranked defense.

Tuesday, D'Onofrio met with reporters for about six minutes and tried to explain what is going on with UM's defense that now ranks 82nd in total defense (402 yards per game), 50th in scoring defense (23.6 points per game), 97th versus the run (196.2 yards per game) and 38th versus the pass (205.80 yards per game).

Q: You have had a lot of injuries obviously at defensive tackle what are you doing to try and patch things up in the middle of the defense?

A: "Doing whatever we can do. Losing Marcus [Forston] really hurt us. Fortunately we'd been playing [Adewale] Ojomo there the week before. So it wasn't a big transition going in and then Ojomo got hurt. So that wasn't good. But just like all the other games whatever happens, happened. We're going to be better for it.

"We had a chance to win the game. All we really needed to do was make one play. Make a play on third down. Make a play in the red zone. Make a play on fourth down. At one other point in the game and we win the game. That's what we're striving. It's always hard to see. I know who were playing. I know who were playing with. I know what they're capable of, who is getting better, who is not. We did a lot of things better the other day. It was certain amount of minutes in the game where we gave up free plays. We gave up some big strikes and we gave up touchdowns at the end of each half. You're talking about seven minutes in the game where we gave up 28 points. We just have to eliminate those key times when you make those critical errors."

Q: Are you not getting enough pressure on the opposing quarterback?

A: "Right now it's a unit. When we're giving up some plays and we're not coming up with stops its generally not somebody doing their job. We all got to do better. We got to keep coaching them up. We got to try and put them in the best defenses we can. And players have to respond and do their job. I wouldn't put it all on the defensive line, by any means."

Q: Coach Golden said Sunday the team will probably have to score 30 points a game for you guys to win. How do you take that as the defensive coordinator?

A: "The defenses we had at Temple, it was the other way around. We would win games 14-10 or would lose games 10-7 or 7-3. From our standpoint it was always we're going to outplay the other team's defense. The situation we're in right now, there's no excuses. All I can say is the guys have been resilient. They just practiced their rear ends off. They're doing everything we've asked them to do. We've played 28 guys on defense this year. We have 28 guys in the two deep that have all played in 5 games. 28 guys. We're going to be better for that. I'm not losing my patience. I want to win now. I want to win this week. I didn't like the way I felt after the game. We're moving our team forward. We're not just sitting here losing with 12 guys playing in the game, 13 guys playing in the game. What are you going to do when the next guy goes down? Guys are going down and we're having guys ready to play. We'll just keep going."

Q: It seems like your defense is pretty basic. You are rushing four and playing off at cornerback. Is scheme limited because of personnel?

A: "A lot of it is everything. We're not running everything we have in our package. What we did at Temple was over a 5-year period. My last three years there I had five senior starters and then six senior starters. So there's a buildup. Right now, we haven't been able to hit that buildup. We never really have had the same lineup. You plug three guys in. Even third down last week, we had four new guys on a third down package. Forston got hurt. Ojomo got hurt. Ray Ray [Armstrong] came back. We moved JoJo Nicolas to corner so you're talking about four new guys playing on third down. It is what it is. We'll be better for it. I have to be committed."

"Everybody says play bump and run. We play bump and run and we give up a 60-yard touchdown pass. The four plays preceding that where we were bump and we had enough guys in the box we stopped them for small gains. They hit us on a play they shouldn't have hit on us in post coverage. Again, it all depends on down and distance and it all depends on the point the game. "At the end of the game we had a four point lead, so bump and run, why would I want to do that and give up an easy touchdown? I needed somebody to make a play. At the end of the day we need to make a play. We let them off the hook a couple of times, let them out of the pocket. We had a chance to sack them on the backside and didn't do it. That's what we're looking for, for someone to make the play, not make it a one-on-one game."

Q: Are you expecting to see better play from Ray-Ray Armstrong at North Carolina?

A: "I hope so. That's the expectation on all those guys. He made some plays in the game he needs to correct. We keep coaching him up. He has a good attitude."

Q: Can you talk about North Carolina's offense?

A: "They're a good football team. They have that big, big physical offensive line. Big tight ends, multiple backs, a quarterback that is really efficient, two wide receivers that have caught a lot of balls. I don't know if you can really hone in one area. This is a really good football team and a big challenge for us. We're excited to go play them. I think they're a really good team and have excellent personnel on offense."


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Bump this, scheme that, not going to win @ UNC or against GT, defense is not good, coaches are not using the right players, no on campus stadium, blah, b-blah, b-blah and it goes on. No one wants to win more than the coaches & players. Effort is their for everyone to see. But running in the wrong direction 100 mph gets you no where. Coach is calling out his "players" on who live for the "hit" - "play" on the highlight reel so that they look good. Keep on tweaking the line-up coach. These guys can't make the reel if they are getting less and less playing time. The line-up you see Saturday will not be the same one you see in three weeks from now. The old attitude is leaving and the winning attitude is coming back! Let's go CANES!!

TheWhat and Jortiz seem to only focus on "two critical erros" the DBs made, only TWO PLAYS did they get burned, if you read the article after the Maryland game, the coach identified that McGee was playing underneath as the safety was suppose to be there but wasn't, and with the Virginia Tech game the safety was out of position again, in addition there was no safety in the picture when it came to the last drive when the QB scored "untouched", that should tell you that the safety position is the weakest part of the defense. Have the two of you thought about how long the QB had to throw on each of those "big plays", they had all day to throw the ball, you prevent that with putting pressure on the QB. And no I wouldn't complain about them losing if they blitzed all game long. I'd rather them lose from getting after the QB than them losing with the opposing QB upright the entire game. It's not rocket science, it's football. These guys get paid too much money to study film, know/study their team, and go out there without making any adjustments until the teams back is against the wall, it's ridiculous. The culture was already set, Shannon cleaned all that foolishness up, this new staff is together on offense with Kehoe back and Jeff Fischer, but because it's Al Golden's boy "D'Onofrio" he's getting slack. Injuries are to be expected, Golden is holding back some of the younger guys like DT Corey King, as he's trying to build for the future instead of going all in. This is the U, there's no such thing as holding back. We go hard or go home, and so far we've been going home through defensive schemes for punks. Shannon by far wasn't the most successful coach, but would never have let his defense sit back and get ate up the way Golden is.

Amen to bburgcane. Reality is hard to face but a GREAT post...Man up , support or shut the lip.I will guarantee though that these same pundits will be flapping gums big time when Miami is winning and saying "I told you so", but impatience is driving some to a frenzy.I have not seen so many D Coaches in my life..injuries etc..don't mean squat, bring on wholesale changes and Win NOW.

The defensive scheme, as the question implies, is very basic. Can we expect to win using the same basic scheme every game? Albert Einstein was correct: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." We need to change the defensive scheme, even if its just by alittle. The wait and react defense which is what we have is too predictable.

Stay the course Canes....you will gradually get better. You've been in every game this year. Last year it seemed you quit during some games and had no fight whatsoever in others. This year is obviously different. You WILL get better. Good effort. Thanks. What's REALLY cool is the 'crickets' from the Jacory critics.

Anthony you just proved my point, Im not focusing on anything but the entire unit, Im done going back and forth with you. The safeties out of position, is that coaching or personnel. And of course the qb had all day to throw bc they cant get there even when they do blitz. Ive seen them blitz plenty of times this year and the qb still has all day to throw bc nobody gets through. This process is gonna take time and I believe this staff will get it done.

Some of you great fans would be better off at a Backgammon board

Jortiz you're focusing on the entire unit by talking about a few bad plays, in which you identified areas of weakness/concern, that makes as much sense as someone saying that a 2-3 bad plays determine the outcome of the game. I'm glad you're done posting because you can't be watching the same games everyone one else on this blog is talking about. They rush the QBs decision everytime they send at least 5 guys at the QB, but when they back off and play that weak scheme as "worried hurricane" mentioned, every teams QB looks like an all american.

DNix, you said it man. Everybody was talking about Jacory, but now that he has a good offensive coordinator/qb coach in Jeff Fischer nobody is screaming out Morris anymore. So Jortiz, all that it's a process is molarchy. How you don't understand that the players Shannon recruited can be explosive under the right scheme beats me. So I guess what you're saying is that Shannon only knew how to recruit offensive players and not defense, although he was a defensive coordinator and should be our coordinator now. If our defensive coordinator could complement the offensive coordinator we would be en route for an ACC Title, instead we're on brink of another porous season.

this looks like comments from 08 blogs and it goes coker kids, staff left the cupboard bare, alot a youngs, but just wait for who when thier seniors byrd and ajohnson plz sounds like moore and legget great freshman year plenty of promise then what. marcus robinsion had three sacks against vatech in 08 0 in 11 why? thats whats wrong alot of young guys come in get hungry win thier job and quit working they cant adjust ask nd theyve spent the last two and look how much money theyve thrown at the best coaching. bottom line the u is the u im not talkin bottom feeder thrid rounders 1 and 2 is what takes to overcome that mystique of playin here

norte dame games are like watchin cane games army beat them . we dont need coaching we need scouting rarer is the ability to spot ability guys who will be first rounders regardless of stars

Shannon huh, you said it all right there brother. And yea 2-3 bad plays can mean the outcome of a game. And when theyve rushed five this year theyve gotten nowhere near the quarterback I dont think u r watching the same games. Yea man lets blitz everyplay wer the freakin U, get the hell outtahere. You talk about about safeties being out of position, and you want these guys to blitz and run all of these schemes when they dont even know where to be while running like you say a basic defense. Shannon, ru referencing Shannon, please tell me ur not. This guy said Shannon.

crap crap mega crap...play defense and shut up... i am tired of loosing the games......see you in chapel hill

Oh and by the way his name is Jedd Fisch, not Jeff Fischer, r u watching the right team.

"what we did at temple"....SHUT UP..you are not at temple..you are at the university of miami..home to 5 national championships,more first round players then fsu,florida usc combined... documentary's are made of this program with the athletic talent you have here,and you can't make it work then sounds to me YOU are the problema....you sir are way out of your league here mr d'onofrio...if talking about freaking temple is all you have,then you sir need to resign

we dont have the personnel on D right now. We werent going to win the NC this year or in the next few. Let this staff work. We'll be back soon enough

what he did at Temple was turn an 0-11 doormat, into statistically one of the better defenses in the country, oh and by the way Temple had two Defensive lineman go in the first round of this years NFL draft, how many first rounders has Miami had in the last few years on defense. But Im sure u can do better right canedude, resign, jeez, get the hell outtahere already. God I hope Donofrio and the D pitch a shutout Saturday so that all of these wannabe Defensive Coordinators can go away already. Give em hell boys.

Jortiz, yeah clown I said Shannon, the guy who was the defensive coordinator when the U had dominant defenses when Butch Davis was head coach. The same Shannon that cleaned up Larry Coker's mess of recruiting that let other school's into our backyard. If it weren't for Shannon, Al Golden wouldn't be here, because of Shannon we have plenty of playmakers on offense and defense. With that said, Shannon wasn't a great head coach, but he was able to re-establish the backyard and keep some of the upcoming talent in the tri-county coming to the U. Look at what canedude1 posted. Obviously i'm not the only one that one that can read between the lines. And yeah i'm watching the right team and games, there's no way guys on defense would have tackles for losses if they were in the basic 4 man rush, open your eyes, better yet come to the games and stop watching from the couch and you might be able to see things more clearly. I don't know how long you've been a fan but if you paid attention to the U back in the day, the cornerbacks never plaid off 10 yards and yeah they blitzed the whole game, not every down, but the whole game. I talk about safeties being out of position for 2-3 plays out of 5 games idiot, those plays didn't cost us the game. It was that basic defense they're in for the majority of the game is what's hurting the team. UM has always been an attacking team not a reactive team. Wake up and smell the folger's. Like I said, with the right coaching the defense would be in line with the offense. All it took was "Jedd Fisch" to come in and use the talent that's there and now J12 and the crew are putting up numbers Hurricane fans are used to seeing. We don't need new players we need a better coordinator who can adjust through the flow of a game. Fisch obviously knows how to make adjustments on offense to get points on the board, how come D'Onofrio can't make adjustments to keep the opponents from scoring, let me guess, he needs more time. I'm looking forward to your posts after North Carolina. I truly hope the canes can put it off and force some turnovers, if not it'll be the Maryland game all over again, they'll bubble screen us to death with our corner's play within 5 yards of our safeties.

25 year season ticket holder clown, jeez can u ramble on and on, golden is here bc shannon got fired dummy. Bc he did just as lousy as coker. Now Butch,.that boy can recruit. maybe thats why shannons defenses were so good, they had players duh. Its just funny to me how u guys come on here and think u know more than these coaches, good night, idiot boy.

Where in the hel is Keion Payne,Kacy Rodgers @. Kieon Payne came from st.thomas aquinas it's a shame that he see's his boys like Lamarcus Joyner,James White,Brandon Linder and so on to see the field and he doesn't. We don't need no busts @ Miami we need to weed out the weeds so we can plant our flowers. I'm telling you Cane Fans we need our guys to step up. Now I have to agree with Mark.D on somethings the guys don't make plays at all. The time for them to make the highlight reels they choke. I know they we're sick and tired of seeing Logan Thomas walking in the end zone untouched. I know I did.....but it's a shame that some of these Seniors on the team are not being leaders. The only one I would the tittles to is Sean Spence & Jacory Harris. Laron Byrd ain't hitting on nothing. He's lazy and he doesn't want to work. Ojomo not really doing anything. Brandon (Burn me all day) Mcghee ain't hitting on nothing. But I tell you all this I think they can pull it out from North Carolina.

It dosen't matter if our corners run a 4.2 or 4.3 its about technique and thats what are cornerbacks lack.

"### Why isn’t UM blitzing more to generate more of a pass rush? Because UM is afraid to leave its defensive backs, especially its corners, without help. UM considers Brandon McGee the best of its corners – faint praise – but a UM official said he continues to have a habit of sulking or losing confidence after giving up big plays."

From Barry Jackson's new column.

That's what I saw too, he doesn't say who his sources were but I'm pretty confident that D'Onforio isn't an idiot and saw what was going with the pass rush. This is the only explanation that makes sense to me for Va Tech.

Jortiz; Butch Davis could recruit, his staff did the rest of the job, being a 25 year season ticket holder you should know that the RB coach (who Larry Coker fired for whatever reason) was the one putting Portis, McGahee, etc in the league, Kehoe who put the TE and OL in the league, it was shannon and the defensive coordinator who put the safeties, LBs, and defensive linemen in the league, not Butch Davis. You might forget that it was Shannon who had the connections with the inner city schools and went and recruited a majority of those athletes on the defensive side. I don't think I know more than the coaches I just know that these players aren't being coached well. Warren Sapp came to the U as a TE, but because he had great coaches he turned out to be one of the nastiest DTs to ever come through the U. Everybody knows Shannon was hired to clean up the program, not to win games, but while he was there he recruited a lot of great athletes and got them ready for the league, no matter if they were first round or not, he got them there. He (Shannon) approached the basketball Head Coach, and converted Jimmy Graham into another excellent TE who's doing well in the NFL, he converted Sam Shields from WR to DB, who made some memorable plays during Green Bay's road to the Super Bowl ring. You must be a guy that gives only the head coach his credit huh? Well a head coach is only as good as his staff, and right now he's looking 50/50. But let me stop rambling, don't want to make to much sense on here. Hope the players rally around each other early on defense, because who knows how long it will take before D'Onofrio makes adjustments this saturday.

If players are out of position and the coaches are letting them know that and trying to correct it then its the players just because you are an athlete dont translate you to understanding football schemes we have a talented group but I think the football IQ is rather low

Hey Keith B:
Al Golden is a D coach. He was a linebacker coach before he was a d-coordinator. UM's probably going 3-4. Look at Bama, 3-4. Then look at the Ravens 3-4. Linebacker U is what i'm trying to say son.

Yea u make alot of sense, please, Shannon is gone and he aint coming back get over it, u were probably one if the posters that wanted him fired last year. And if he was such a great innercity recruiter like u say why has golden had to re establish and rebuild all of these relationships with highschools and their head coaches that shannon burned. Example Central. And all of those players that u named were misused at UM thats why theyre blossoming now in the pros, another example of how coker and shannon were clueless. Is this u Randy, I domt think your real name is anthony is it, shannon, is that you on here.

Donofrio needs to man up. I dont care if you play bump and run, man on man and get burned for 60 yds. At least you play aggressive D. Whats the diffference between that and getting dinked and dunked for a 7 minute drive and they still score?????????

I dont get this guy. If he knows so much about coaching Ds then his answers were ridiculous. Admit it: YOUR DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS AND SCHEMES< PARTICULARLY IN THE 4TH Q VS VT AND IN THE 1-3 QS AGAINST MARYLAND WERE NON EXISTENT!

With UNC they definitely have to stop the run and the TEs thats their strong points.

I agree with Cane1. thats the problem with these overhyped recruits that begin listing how many "official visits" and offers they have before they even graduate. The football IQ in many of our players equals their jersey numbers. We are especially weak in the m iddle at MLB. Sure with cookie injured, but we are decimated at MLB and they allowed a very good prospect (6 ft 230) from Southwest Fl to go unrecruited, who was being looked at by guess who- Mike Barrow himself. I havent bought into Donofrio yet. Golden, maybe, but Donofrio has had 5 games to show what he can do with what he has and it aint much on either count!

Donofrio: Stop mentioningthe word Temple in these interviews. Temple doesnt belong in t he same conversation as the U.

Basic Defense!!! For how long we seen a four men rush at UM. We can do that when we are a dominant defense, not this year.Mark is saying not to take a risk and play it safe. We are getting beat anyway,we may as well create havoc for the QB.

I am just going to say one thing. Everybody has their own opinion, but the proof is what we've seen on the last few Saturdays. Fire Mark D'onofrio! He keeps talking about what they did at Temple. We have better athletes and players at the "U". So stop living in the past and fix the problems with your defense at Miami!

We will see everything we want see out of this dc over the next two games. Like I have always said the scheme was the problem with j12. Whipple garbage. If the dc tried to mix some of the things we did well last year and slowly transition into his scheme I think we would be better of on d. We used to live and die by the blitz and that's what kind of players we have on the roster. Use them until you can get your players and then run whatever you feel is best. Qb's running the ball have killed us in games against kst,bcc and vetch. Vetch scored on their first drive with Logan and on their last possession to close the game. That must be corrected.

Someone needs to give coach D a tape of the 1992 Arizona wild cats desert swarm defense. Under sized but really fast.

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