Here's a quick preview of what could be in store next Wednesday, National Signing Day.
> NOTE: I wore the old Cubs jersey in honor of the late great Ernie Banks.
Send your questions in now. You can post them below in the blog, the Cover It Live chat, or send them directly to me on Twitter @Manny_Navarro.
I'll be on live from 2 to 3 p.m. answering the questions.
Here is Al Golden's Q&A with reporters Monday before the Virginia Tech game.
The Hurricanes are off limits to reporters the rest of the week leading up to Thursday night's game.
Just walked out my front door to the most invigorating splash of cool air I've felt in a long time.
Of course, I've had my TV on for the past hour watching The Weather Channel for news on Hurricane Sandy and how it's affecting the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas.
Much of my family lives in New York, New Jersey and the surrounding states.
Coach Al Golden, who also grew up in New Jersey, told us his brother, Shaun Golden, "is the sheriff of Monmouth County'' in New Jersey.
"That's a shore community,'' Golden said. "So they're [going] a million miles an hour and my parents are back there and so is my older brother. They're expecting quite a bit. Clearly it's going to be a big one, so we're praying for those people and hopefully they'll come out of it OK.''
Meanwhile, in Blacksburg, Va., home of the Hokies, it's 37 degrees (feels like 31) and raining, with high winds.
The forecast for tomorrow is snow and wind with a high of 37 and a low of 33.
We'll keep track of whether the Hokies alter their travel schedule for their Thursday-night game at Sun Life Stadium. Usually they would arrive Wednesday.
Either way, here's hoping that people keep safe during this "perfect'' storm that's about to hit.
Today, the Miami Hurricanes will have their weekly press conference that usually occurs on Tuesdays. Today would be considered a normal Wednesday for UM, because the game is being played two days earlier than usual.
Have a good day everyone.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Just before UM lined up and faced Georgia Tech last month, coach Al Golden told reporters quarterback Stephen Morris needed to do a better job connecting with his receivers down field.
It might be time for Golden to send another one of those notes down the hall to Jedd Fisch's office.
Morris' longest completion since his seven-touchdown, 1,002-yard two-game stretch that featured nine pass plays of 40 yards or more? A 32-yard garbage time completion to Davon Johnson late in the fourth quarter versus Florida State, which preceded Morris' only TD pass in his last three games (an eight-yarder to Rashawn Scott).
The other big pass plays? A 28-yard dump and run by tight end Clive Walford versus Notre Dame; a 26-yard dump and run by Duke Johnson in the same game; and a 24-yard dump and run by Mike James versus FSU.
Notice a trend? Fisch has.
"Every passing offense wants to be able to go deep. If you have to dink and dunk and dink and dunk it forces you to have to make every play perfectly," Fisch said. "You can't have any setbacks. You can't have a penalty. You can't have a drop. You can't have a misread. You can't have a bad ball. When you're trying to have more of an explosive play offense and take some vertical shots you can miss the first one, hit the next one and no one knows you missed the last one. That's kind of where we're at."
Of course, the Canes haven't exactly faced a bunch of defensive patsies lately (FSU went into this week's game ranked 2nd in total defense; Notre Dame was 6th and North Carolina ranked 36th). But regardless of how tough UM's last three opponents have been, Fisch said his offense has to do better (UM produced 37 combined points in those losses).
After the seven drop fiasco against the Irish, Fisch said North Carolina made it a point to take away Miami's deep passing game by playing a soft two deep zone. The Hurricanes dinked and dunked their way to 235 yards passing and 180 yards on the ground. But the offense produced just 14 points.
Against FSU, Fisch said, UM's offense had a handful of chances to hit on deep balls against one-on-one coverage early and simply missed those opportunities. FSU, meanwhile, completely devoured UM's run game. After taking account of four sacks for 33 yards lost, UM had just 29 yards rushing on 21 attempts.
"The thing with us is we've got to be more consistent in our intermediate throws," Fisch said. "I don't think we're as consistent there as I'd like for us to be. We got to find a way to get better there.
"We got to make sure everybody does their job. We got to make sure if your job is to run a route, run the route, not some other route. Our guys are really close to doing something really special. We just got to make sure we close the deal. If you're open, we've got to catch it."
According to ESPN, UM went into last week's game against the Seminoles with 23 drops -- the second most by any school from a BCS automatic qualifying conference this season.
"When you drop balls it's always more than what you expect," receivers coach George McDonald said Saturday. "I think our drops have come at bad times. You never want to drop it, but you never want to drop a touchdown pass or drop a pass on third down. That's what's critical.
"We watch [the drops] on film. What I tell them is it's a personal thing. You're a writer. When you turn your story in, it's personal you don't have any typos. It might happen. But you take personal pride in it. It's the same thing I try to teach them as receivers. If the quarterback throws you the ball, it's a personal thing. You've got to catch it. No matter where the ball is you catch it. If you drop one, OK, that happens. But you have to take personal pride in that."
Receiver Phillip Dorsett, who dropped four passes against the Irish, has been non-existant in UM's passing game since putting up back-to-back huge games against N.C. State and Georgia Tech. He's made just six catches for 54 yards with a long of 23 yards against the Tar Heels.
UM's leading receivers over the last three games has been Scott (15 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD), Mike James (14 catches, 112 yards, 0 TDs), Davon Johnson (8 catches, 148 yards, 0 TDs) and Allen Hurns (7 catches, 72 yards, 0 TDs).
Fisch, for his part, isn't pointing the finger for UM's offensive struggles at any one particular group. But he did say that even if Morris' numbers over his last three games (55-104, 52.8 pct, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 579 yards) don't look as good as his first five games this season (124-207, 59.9 pct, 9 TDs, 4 INTs, 1,635 yards), Fisch believes his starting quarterback "is improving every week."
"Whether the stats show it or not, I can just tell you he's getting better every week," Fisch said. "Over the course of these next 16 regular season games, I can't wait to see him get better every week. He's going to be a special player."
Virginia Tech (4-4) has hardly been the defensive juggernaut UM is used to seeing. The Hokies rank 71st in run defense (167 yards per game) and have given up quite a few big pass plays. But Fisch said Bud Foster's defense is still very good on third down (35.2 percent, 35th nationally).
The Hokies rank third in the ACC in pass defense. UM ranks third in the ACC in pass offense.
"Our biggest focus is just to stay on the field," Morris said. "We've got to get a drive going. We got to make sure we're moving the chains and the deep ball will present itself."
Hurricanes defensive tackle Luther Robinson, whose father took to the radio airwaves earlier this week and accused UM coach Al Golden of favoring his own recruits over the players former coach Randy Shannon brought in, said Saturday he's apologized to his head coach and his teammates and is looking to move forward.
“First, I want to start off by apologizing for what he said,” Robinson told reporters following Saturday morning’s practice. “He was looking out for me, not really looking out for the team. I just told him that he was wrong for doing it and that we need to cut that out.”
Robinson said his father also called Golden and apologized.
Asked about Robinson's father's phone call to WQAM and the Joe Rose show earlier this week, Golden said: "That's about as improper as it can get. It's as simple as that.
"[Parents can call] position coaches, coordinators, head coach," Golden went on to add. "Again, there should be no problem on our team because every player gets graded on every play, every day. So there's constant communication. So there should be no communication breakdown in terms of evaluating a player each day and what they do."
Robinson, who has nine tackles in the seven games he’s played in, is currently listed as a co-backup to starter Olsen Pierre. Earlier this season, Robinson was suspended for the Kansas State game for getting into an argument with an assistant coach.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Robinson averages about 20 to 30 snaps a game and has consistently been among the group of six defensive tackles who play every game. Asked if a parent's actions could affect their child's playing time, D'Onofrio said "it's ultimately up to Al to decide."
"There's 105 guys on our team -- 50 on my side of the ball. Things come about," D'Onofrio said. "I'm not a grudge guy. I don't hold a grudge. I just want the guys to get better. At the end of the day, we want to improve them, coach them hard, tell them what they're doing wrong. If they let us down in some capacity I'm not the type of guy to hold a grudge. They're 18, 19, 20 years old and you have to develop them and help them become better people and those type of things. Otherwise, it doesn't really get you anywhere.
"At the end of the day college football coaches want to win games and whoever gives us the best chance to win, we certainly want them on the field -- provided they do everything we ask of them in practice. I don't know what the numbers would be, but we're definitely playing plenty of guys who were here before we got here."
MORE NEWS AND NOTES FROM SATURDAY
> Golden said there’s a chance junior defensive end Kelvin Cain, who has not been listed on UM's roster since Thursday, could return to the team. Golden said he’s spoken to Cain and his mother several times including as recently as Saturday morning. But Cain, Golden said, has "got to sort through some things and we'll go from there."
“Sure there’s a chance,” Golden said of Cain re-joining the team. “But I just want to make sure we're clear, he stepped away for a period of time, left the team for personal reasons and we're trying to work through it right now.”
> Third-string running back Eduardo Clements, who sustained an undisclosed season-ending knee injury against Florida State, was at practice Saturday to work as a coach with his teammates.
UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Clements, the team's third down specialist, was averaging about 12 offensive snaps a game. Fisch said those will now be split by senior Mike James and new third-string running back Dallas Crawford, who continues to work primarily as the scout team quarterback. Golden said that as of now he doesn't want to have to burn the redshirt of freshman running back Danny Dillard.
> Golden confirmed sophomore linebacker Gionni Paul, the team's sixth-leading tackler, was suspended for the Florida State game. Paul, who has 31 tackles in five games, is now listed as the third string middle linebacker behind junior Jimmy Gaines and freshman Raphael Kirby.
> Freshman running back Duke Johnson, who sprained his right ankle in the second half of the Florida State loss, said it feels a lot better now and he expects to be full-go against Virginia Tech on Thursday. He still is battling through the turf toe injury.
> Quarterback Stephen Morris said his ankle was very sore after the Florida State game, but he's feeling a lot better. "I'm good," Morris said. "Still doing rehab on it, still want to strengthen it, but the ankle is feeling is great. It should be back to 100 [percent soon]."
Although there were reports on television during the FSU game that Morris also injured his hip, Morris said they were false. "I don't know where that hip story came from," he said. "What happened was my tights were too tight. I was just trying to have them cut it and I guess the TV saw them working on it and thought my hip was hurt."
> Golden said reports/rumors of a new injury to linebacker Denzel Perryman are incorrect. "He's had the same ankle for five weeks now," Golden said. "We're trying to get him healthy and in the game."
First, the injury news: third-year junior tailback Eduardo Clements, one of the most devoted and hard-working Canes that I have come across, is out for the season with an injury not yet disclosed to us. Feel so bad for him and the team.
In seven games this season, Eduardo had 16 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns this season as the third-team tailback who is used primarily as a third-down specialist.
He also had two catches for 11 yards.
Eduardo also played on special teams, and had four tackles this season.
We're waiting for practice to end. Please note that the new depth chart only lists Mike James and Duke Johnson at running back -- not Dallas Crawford.
Stephen Morris was out there practicing today for the first 15 minutes we could view. He had his injured left ankle taped.
Also: I noticed DE Shayon Green was wearing a first-team black jersey today, as well as linebacker Jimmy Gaines.
THE NEW DEPTH CHART WAS JUST RELEASED. HERE IT IS.
MIAMI HURRICANES DEPTH CHART
It was supposed to be a relatively quiet bye week for the Hurricanes.
It's hardly been that.
First, Luther Robinson's father took to the radio waves earlier this week (he said it was him) and called UM coach Al Golden a liar for saying he doesn't have enough talent on the defensive line. Then, Robinson Sr. wondered aloud if the Hurricanes' second-year coach had "something against [former coach] Randy Shannon's players," -- the excuse as to why his son and other Shannon recruits supposedly are not playing more.
A couple days later, the drama continued.
Defensive end Kelvin Cain -- one of Shannon's recruits -- was discovered to be off the Hurricanes roster (Surprise! Somehow Golden forgot to mention it during his 10 minute ACC teleconference). A UM spokesman later informed a few observant roster watchers that Cain's name had indeed been deleted on purpose because he "left the team."
A day later, Cain's mom told our Susan Miller Degnan she was puzzled and couldn't understand why UM had said Cain left the team. Now, Cain's mom is hoping her son finds a way back on the roster and avoids becoming the 15th player to sign with UM under Randy Shannon and depart under Al Golden before their time was supposed to be up.
So does all this mean Al Golden really does have something against Randy Shannon's players? Is this all part of Al's master plan? Is he sitting in his office crossing Shannon's guys off his list with a red magic marker and laughing like Dr. Evil?
Hardly. Smells like sour grapes to me. Sounds like more excuses. Reads like it too.
Here are some numbers regarding this Hurricanes roster you might find interesting:
> By my count there are currently 79 players on scholarship at UM. Forty-five were recruited by Al Golden and 34 committed to the program under Randy Shannon.
> Of those 79 scholarship players, 26 were listed on offense on the depth chart before the Florida State game and 28 were listed on defense. Count the two kickers -- Dalton Botts and Jake Wieclaw -- and you have a total of 56 scholarship players who aren't just special teams guys (like Dallas Crawford) who see playing time regularly on game day.
> The remaining healthy 19 scholarship players are on scout team/special teams along with other walk-ons. UM has four scholarship players out for the season with injury: OT Ben Jones, LB Ramon Buchanan, WR Malcolm Lewis and QB David Thompson.
So how many Golden guys are starters? 10 including seven on defense.
How many Golden guys are backups? 18 including a dozen on defense.
How many starters are Shannon guys? 18 including a dozen on offense.
How many Shannon guys are backups? Ten.
So that's 28 Shannon guys and 28 Golden guys that make up the depth chart. I'm no mathematician, but that sounds pretty even to me.
Forget math for a moment and concentrate simply on "equal opportunity." I'm a firm believer that any coach puts winning first. If Luther Robinson or Kelvin Cain were even remotely better than the players currently playing for UM why would any coach in their right mind not put them in the game?
Here's the only reasoning that makes sense: Robinson and Cain are not better than the guys competing with them in practice everyday. And if they aren't cutting it in practice, Golden is doing the right thing by playing younger players in the game.
Those players are not only going to ride out the oncoming NCAA storm with Golden, but they still have time to grow and improve. Last I checked, Robinson and Cain have each had at least three seasons to prove they deserve a starting job here. They didn't do it with the previous staff. And they obviously haven't done it now against a bunch of freshmen and sophomore.
Golden is a hater? Give me a break.
HERE IS THE ROSTER BREAKDOWN OF SHANNON'S GUYS VS. GOLDEN'S GUYS (commitment date in parenthesis)
GOLDEN'S GUYS (45 scholarship recruits)
OT Ereck Flowers (5/28/11)
WR Rashawn Scott (1/25/11)
DE Olsen Pierre (12/19/10)
DT Corey King (5/2011)
LB Eddie Johnson (2/2/11)
LB Gionni Paul (1/29/11)
LB Denzel Perryman (1/22/11)
DB Ladarius Gunter (12/4/11)
S Deon Bush (1/7/12)
P Dalton Botts (12/29/10)
QB Ryan Williams (transfer - 5/6/11)
WR Robert Lockhart (1/7/12)
WR Herb Waters (7/11/11)
OG Daniel Isidora (11/29/11)
OT Hunter Wells (late addition - 8/11)
DT Dequan Ivery (2/1/12)
DT Earl Moore (8/17/11)
DT Darius Smith (5/2011)
DE Ricardo Williams (1/9/11)
DE Jelani Hamilton (6/21/11)
DE Tyriq McCord (1/7/12)
LB Thurston Armbrister (late addition - 6/6/11)
LB Raphael Kirby (5/17/11)
CB Antonio Crawford (1/29/12)
CB Thomas Finnie (1/7/11)
CB Tracy Howard (2/2/12)
S Rayshawn Jenkins (11/14/11)
K Matt Goudis (1/16/11)
Scout team (15)
QB Gray Crow (2/16/11)
QB Preston Dewey (6/3/11)
RB Dallas Crawford (1/18/11)
RB Danny Dillard (11/6/11)
WR Jontavious Carter (3/10/11)
WR D'Mauri Jones (6/2/11)
OL Taylor Gadbois (9/7/11)
DT Jacoby Briscoe (1/6/12)
DE Jalen Grimble (2/2/11)
DE Dwayne Hoilett (6/16/11)
DE Jake O'Donnell (6/12/11)
DE Gabriel Terry (11/24/11)
LB Jawand Blue (2/1/12)
CB Nate Dortch (8/2/11)
CB Larry Hope (6/3/11)
Out for the year with injury (2)
QB David Thompson (2/17/11)
WR Malcolm Lewis (11/17/11)
SHANNON'S GUYS (34)
QB Stephen Morris (8/3/09)
RB Duke Johnson (9/20/10)
RB Mike James (6/28/08)
FB Maurice Hagens (6/14/09)
WR Phillip Dorsett (6/19/10)
WR Allen Hurns (12/2009)
LT Malcolm Bunche (9/8/09)
LG Jonathan Feliciano (4/8/09)
C Shane McDermott (3/10/09)
RG Brandon Linder (12/20/09)
RT Seantrel Henderson (2/3/10)
TE Clive Walford (7/20/09)
DE Shayon Green (1/25/09)
DE Anthony Chickillo (9/9/10)
LB Jimmy Gaines (1/24/10)
CB Brandon McGee (8/11/08)
S Kacy Rodgers (7/20/09)
K Jake Wieclaw (12/16/07)
RB Eduardo Clements (11/3/09)
WR Davon Johnson (7/17/07)
WR Kendall Thompkins (11/08/07)
TE Dyron Dye (1/4/09)
TE Asante Cleveland (2/3/10)
C Jared Wheeler (1/10/09)
LG Jeremy Lewis (4/9/07)
LB Tyrone Cornelius (8/18/09)
S AJ Highsmith (2/19/08)
S Vaughn Telemaque (2/1/08)
Scout team (4)
TE David Perry (10/23/09)
TE Cory White (5/14/08)
DT Curtis Porter (7/29/08)
DT Luther Robinson (4/29/08)
Shannon recruits Injured and out for the season (2)
LB Ramon Buchanan (2/6/08)
OT Ben Jones (2/6/08)
Shannon recruits that left the program under Golden (15)
S Ray-Ray Armstrong (1/4/09)
OL Jermaine Barton (12/20/09)
LB Kelvin Cain (1/8/10)
RB Darion Hall (6/10/09)
RB Storm Johnson (11/1/09)
DT Jeffery Brown (2/1/2010) - Charged with rape
DB Devont'a Davis (10/7/09)
LB Travis Williams (10/20/09)
DB Jamal Reid (9/25/08)
LB Kevin Nelson (7/4/09)
DB Keion Payne (11/8/09) - Dismissed for violating team rules
TE Andrew Tallman (9/20/09)
TE Billy Sanders (2/4/09)
FB CJ Holton (12/22/07)
WR Aldarius Johnson (7/23/07)
Recruits that didn't make it into school under Golden (3)
RB Kevin Grooms (1/17/11)
WR Angelo Jean-Louis (4/30/11)
LB Antonio Kinard (1/17/11)
Golden recruits whose career was cut short by injury
LB Josh Witt (7/1/11)
Golden recruits that left the program (1)
DB Vernon Davis (6/12/11)
Shannon recruits that Golden stopped recruiting and never signed (2)
WR Jeremy Davis (2010 -- now at UCF)
LB Nick Menocal (2010 -- now at Georgia Tech)
Shannon recruits that never made it into UM (8)
DT Tavadis Glenn (4/18/09)
DT Delmar Taylor (1/12/10)
DB Prince Kent (7/21/08)
LB Zach Kane (12/4/07)
LB Brandon Marti (11/24/07)
DB CJ Odom (10/9/07)
LB Antonio Harper (10/3/07)
Recruits that transferred out under Shannon (6)
DB Latwan Anderson (3/10/10)
LB Arthur Brown (12/17/07)
WR Thearon Collier (6/6/07)
QB Taylor Cook (5/9/07)
QB Cannon Smith (11/6/07)
DB Joe Wylie (4/2/07)
Career cut short by Injury under Shannon (2)
TE Stephen Plein (6/19/08)
LB Gavin Hardin (2/5/08)
Shannon recruits graduated and now gone (10)
TE Chase Ford (12/8/09)
WR Travis Benjamin (12/21/07)
WR LaRon Byrd (2/5/08)
FB John Calhoun (12/5/07)
LB Jordan Futch (6/6/07)
DT Micanor Regis (3/28/07)
LB Marcus Robinson (7/15/07)
DE Andrew Smith (9/26/07)
QB Jacory Harris (6/12/07)
LB Sean Spence (8/4/07)
Shannon recruits that left early for the NFL under Golden (5)
RB Lamar Miller (10/7/08)
DE Olivier Vernon (3/2/08)
OL Brandon Washington (9/25/08)
DT Marcus Forston (7/26/07)
WR Tommy Streeter (2008)
Shannon recruits that left early for the NFL under his watch (1)
CB Brandon Harris (2/6/08)
A day after the University of Miami said that junior reserve defensive end Kelvin Cain had quit the team, his mother, Ursula Dean, said she was still confused with how the situation transpired and said Kelvin told her when he got to his locker this week, it had been cleared of all his belongings.
“He’s heartbroken,’’ said Dean, who lives in Clovis, Calif., a suburb of Fresno. “He said he did not quit the team.
“Coach Golden told me he left the team but that’s not what my son is telling me. He said, ‘Mom, when I showed up, nothing was in my locker.’’’
Chris Freet, UM associate athletic director for communications and marketing, said Thursday that Cain was on the dress roster for Florida State last Saturday and was expected to be at the game, but that he had “removed himself from team activities” by not showing up Friday or for the game.Dean told The Miami Herald her son called his older brother late last week telling him he was left off the list of UM players who were to stay overnight at their usual Friday-night hotel before home games.
Freet said UM puts out two rosters: a 60-player list of those staying in the hotel on Friday before home games; and a dress roster for those who are to suit up on game day.
Cain's mother said she got a call from defensive line coach Jethro Franklin on Friday afternoon saying coaches didn’t know where Kelvin was.
“Kelvin told me he wasn’t supposed to show up,’’ Dean said. “But I don’t know the rules and if that’s true or not.’’
She said when Golden finally returned her calls Wednesday, he told her he had heard from other members of the team that Kelvin was quitting.
Dean said coaches had told her previously that Kelvin “was having little problems on the field that he didn’t fix.’’
Said Dean: “Coach Franklin said he practiced fine, but on the field the problems showed up again. Kelvin told me he wasn’t getting many reps at practice.
“I really and truly don’t know what’s going on.’’
Dean also said someone at UM tried to get Cain to sign a document “he was withdrawing from the team,’’ but that he declined to sign it.
“Kelvin called me Wednesday afternoon. He still wants to play.’’
Cain, who saw action as a linebacker in nine games last season, had been suspended twice at UM for undisclosed reasons.
In late August, Golden said Cain was on the right path.
“The trouble is in the past,’’ Golden said. “A lot of that trouble is the same trouble a lot of the students in college get into. It’s just that he’s playing for the University of Miami.
“He has grown up. He has matured. I hope that this consistency and this effort we’ve seen from him the last five or six days will become who he is.’’
Cain’s 26-game career totals: 43 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception returned 59 yards for a touchdown last season.
His mom said if things don’t work out, he will likely transfer.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Kelvin Cain is no longer a Miami Hurricane.
The 6-3, 230-pound junior defensive end from Clovis, Calif. left the team earlier this week according to a UM spokesman. Cain played in UM's first seven games and had 11 tackles and one sack. He hadn't appeared on UM's depth chart, though, since before the Notre Dame game.
Freshman Tyriq McCord passed Cain up on the depth chart after the 41-3 loss to the Irish. Cain's best game of the season was against N.C. State. He had three tackles and a sack.
Cain spent his first two seasons at UM as a linebacker before being switched to defensive end in the spring. He finishes his UM career with 43 tackles and two forced fumbles in 26 games. He returned an interception return for a touchdown last season against Bethune-Cookman.
Cain is the second Hurricane to leave the team during the season. Backup offensive tackle Jermaine Johnson also left the team earlier this month.
UM's defense has produced just nine sacks in eight games. McCord leads the team with three.
Hurricanes coach Al Golden spoke to us on the ACC Coaches' Teleconference Wednesday afternoon and offered up some positive news:
* Running back Duke Johnson, Golden said, "practiced today. The X-Rays were negative. Was he 100 percent? No. But he was certainly over 90, enough to practice.''
Keep in mind that Johnson had a foot examined during the FSU game, and that Golden reminded reporters on Sunday that it was a separate injury from his turf toe. "I'm not sure if it's an ankle or a foot,'' Golden said Sunday. Today, Golden did not talk specifically about the turf toe, just that Duke seems to be much better regarding the most recent injury.
Reporters have no access to practice through at least Friday (another day off on Friday), so we're not sure if Johnson wore a yellow jersey (limited) or was full-go.Today was UM's first day of practice since its loss to FSU.
* The update on Stephen Morris' sprained left ankle is also positive.
Golden was asked if Morris is "still in a boot and still sore.'' His response: "No, he's doing better. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday helped him a lot. It's not like we're asking him to run the ball a lot or scramble today. It's mostly pocket stuff or handing the ball off or play-action. He did fine. I just think the combination of those three days and another day off Friday and a fairly light practice on Saturday should get us to where we want to be for game week.''
An interesting factoid in advance of the UM-Virginia Tech Thursday-night ESPN game Nov. 1:
The Hurricanes, according to ACC associate commissioner for football communications Mike Finn, have posted a 15-3 record -- .833 winning percentage -- in ESPN Thursday-night games, the best of any ACC school with five or more appearances.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
UM coach Al Golden's post-game's comments after the Florida State loss.
On the decision to start Stephen Morris...
"I thought it looked better on Friday than clearly it did on Thursday. Until you see him go out there and run around and actually stress it like he did in pregame, we were uncertain. I don’t regret playing Stephen in this game. I thought he gives us the best chance to win the game, and we didn’t get it done."
On keeping the game close until the fourth quarter...
"I thought we played hard. I thought we coached hard, I thought we played hard, and we lost to a good team. That’s it. We lost to a team that is ahead of us right now. We have to develop our guys and recruit some more and keep working, and don’t make any excuses. They’re a better team right now. We had opportunities that we did not convert. They did - hats off to them. Clearly they have an excellent pass rush and got to our quarterback, and we’re not doing the same on the other end. We’re not getting to the quarterback in four, and obviously we let [EJ] Manuel out too many times.
"They wore us down a little bit because we weren’t converting on third down on offense. I think we were 25 percent for the day, had to keep giving the ball back and we just couldn’t hold up. Then it turned into a field position game. Just too many opportunities - too many catches down field we didn’t make, too many interceptions we didn’t finish, and obviously an onside kick that we couldn’t get a better look than we got, and to not convert it is a shame."
On the timeout situation at the end of the first half...
"There was a lot of confusion obviously. I knew they had one timeout left, so that was their answer for the 10-second run-off, and then they said it was the half so I lost half my team. Obviously I wasn’t worried about that, but if we’re in the situation where it’s the final kick of the half, we’d like to get Seantrel [Henderson] and Malcolm [Bunche] and our big people in there. Just so much confusion.
On the performance of the offense...
"We just have to keep getting better. We’re playing a lot of good teams. We certainly have to be more efficient - that’s fair. We have to do a better job on third down, I don’t think there’s any question about that. We have to make some plays on the ball. We had some chances downfield, where we have to make those catches. We just have to take a deep breath. It’s been a long 12 weeks against a really tough schedule playing a lot of young guys. We need to take a deep breath, get healed up and see where we’re at over the next couple days. See if we want to practice at all or if we won’t, we’ll see, and then get ready for Virginia Tech."
On Duke Johnson’s injury...
"I have no idea to be honest with you. I couldn’t even tell you what it is. I was told he was out. I think they x-rayed him, that’s all I know.
On the importance of the bye week...
"It’s critical. We’re hanging on by a thread. We need time off. Brutal schedule, eight weeks in a row, young team. We need time off."
On the defensive momentum during the game...
"I think we got worn out a little bit. You have to keep pace with them and you have to convert on third down. We weren’t making the plays. Clearly they’re rotating three backs in there and they wore us down a little bit in the fourth quarter. We probably needed another takeaway, we had opportunities. They’re throwing the ball into Cover 2 for 30- or 40- yard gain and it should be an interception. We have to come through and make a play there.
"As I said to the team, give Florida State a lot of credit. They’re a very good team right now. They’re deep, and that’s okay. We know what we need to do. They’re ahead of us right now. We need to buckle down and get better. We need to develop our current team and we need to add to it."
On the team’s fast start...
"I think it was a better feel - I think that’s fair. The last two times we’ve played at this level, we didn’t look the same – Kansas State and Notre Dame. It’s fair to say it was a different look, a different feel, a different focus. I can say honestly that’s what I told the staff last night and that’s what I told the team. It did feel different. Just disappointing we didn’t convert on a couple more opportunities to give ourselves a chance. I’m disappointed in that. We have to get back to work there. I’ve been saying it all year we have a long way to go as a team. Are we competing? Yes. Do we execute all the time? No. We had some costly penalties and we had some costly errors in the game and that’s on me. I have to get that fixed."
It's time for another edition of Florida State-Miami. The 12th-ranked Seminoles (6-1, 3-1 ACC) come in three touchdown favorites over the Canes (4-3, 3-1) here at Sun Life Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game can be seen on ABC.
Fans are encouraged to participate in discussion on the blog during the game.
Finally we'll have a game this season at Sun Life Stadium that feels like a big-time college football rivalry.
And it is.
FSU Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes -- always a packed house and great time, even if the results of late have left UM fans reeling.
The Seminoles, last I checked, were three-touchdown favorites over the Canes. Wow. The pressure should be on FSU, though I really believe that UM has plenty of it, too, in defending its house and attempting to reverse the slide. Even if Miami loses this game, it can still go on to win the Coastal and qualify for the ACC championship game.
But think how amazing a win would be for this program.
Something to ponder:
* FSU played its first four games at home in Tallahassee, and has only played two games on the road -- USF in Tampa and NC State in Raleigh, N.C. In those games, the 'Noles scored 20 points and 16 (in their only loss), respectively.
Here's some game information for fans:
*FREE POSTER FOR FIRST 10,000
The 1987 national champion Hurricanes will be honored during tonight's Homecoming game, and a free poster of that team will be available for free. There are 10,000 of those posters available. Fans can pick up poster throughout the Fan Zone at Sun Life Stadiu inside the Grand Plaza. Also, the posters will be available at the Miami Herald subscription tables inside the stadium.
* STUDENT BUS SCHEDULE
Buses will leave UM's campus from the BankUnited Center and will begin departing three hours prior to kickoff.
Parking lots will open two hours earlier Saturday. All lots will open at 2 p.m. Preferred tailgate lots (3, 5A) will open at 1 p.m.
All stadium gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Patrons will be wanded for security purposes as they enter the stadium.
Tickets still remain for the game. Ticket offices at Sun Life Stadium will open at 4 p.m. at Gates B, D, F and H. Ticket/media will call will open at 4 p.m. at Gate H.
Canes fans can partake in the walk by forming a human tunnel from Gate H (southwest corner of Sun LIfe Stadium) to Gate A. Make sure you're at Gate H by 6 p.m. if you want to watch the Canes players and coaches and band and spirit squads make their way through your tunnel.
Have fun tonight and be safe.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Booker T. Washington senior Matthew Thomas showed up to school Wednesday wearing a Hurricanes hat.
"But just because you like a team doesn't mean you should go play for them," Thomas is quick to point out. "You got to average everything out, weigh your options and see what is best for you and your family."
Truth is, the Florida State Seminoles appear have the inside track on Miami-Dade's top 2013 recruit. Thomas has an older brother, Jonathan, who goes to school in Tallahassee. He also has grown extremely tight with FSU assistant coach James Coley (a Miami native). Coley is also close friends with Booker T. coach Tim "Ice" Harris, whom Al Golden has maintained a good relationship with even though he didn't ask Harris to stick around at UM when he took over for Randy Shannon.
Are the Hurricanes completely out of it for Thomas? "No. Not in the least," he says.
Thomas said Wednesday UM and FSU are his top two schools with Alabama a close third (he likes their depth chart situation). But a big win by Florida State Saturday night (the Seminoles are three touchdown favorites) could go a long way in further pushing Thomas towards Tallahassee. Same with a lot of other local 2013 and 2014 recruits, whom the Seminoles have been hot and heavy on for awhile, and will be at Sun Life Stadium to watch Saturday's game in person.
"To be honest, Miami is in good shape as far as recruiting me," Thomas said. "I got a good relationship with Coach Barrow. He keeps it straightforward, keeps it real. He talks about how things are going to benefit me and how he can help me because he's been through it himself and done it.
"I could see myself in their plans and stuff. Coach Barrow talks a lot about how he needs linebackers and how some of their linebackers have been injured and how they've got a walk-on playing. He said I can come in and compete for a job right away. I think honestly the best place for me to play early is Miami. FSU's got a couple guys that are leaving and they got a couple guys committed at my same position, so that's a little bit of a drawback. But this is also more than just about playing time. I want to win a national championship. Everybody does, and right now Alabama seems like the best place for that."
Thomas said his mother, who works as a housekeeper, wants him to stay close to home. His father, whom he doesn't live with, is also pushing the Hurricanes. But the fact Thomas has a brother living in Tallahassee makes him feel comfortable about leaving home, too.
"We talk about going to Florida State, doing stuff together," Thomas said. "They definitely got a lot of love for me up there."
Do the pending NCAA sanctions at Miami play a factor for Thomas at all?
"Yeah I think about it," Thomas said. "People talk about it. But the stuff that happened, it's going to fly by. They're still going to be the University of Miami. If they got some stuff taken away from them, they'll eventually come back. So I'm not too much worried about it."
Thomas, who says he doesn't plan to make his announcement until National Signing Day, said what he plans on paying attention to Saturday night is how both teams respond to adversity and how coaches really utilize their players in schemes.
"In the end, what's going to matter most is how comfortable I really am with the coaches," Thomas said. "I'd also like to play right away and get my full experience of college as much as I can. So those two things."
> Thomas' teammate Denver Kirkland, also a high priority for UM and FSU, said he also is excited about attending Saturday's game at Sun Life Stadium. Kirkland, a 6-4, 330-pound right tackle and excellent run blocker, said he and many of his 2014 Booker T. teammates -- QB Treon Harris, WR Lamar Parker -- will be at the game.
"FSU is a great program, great football team. They just catch my attention in different ways," Kirkland said. "Miami is just a regular school I grew up off of. I saw a lot of great players come out of there."
Kirkland, who said he has a 2.9 GPA and scored a 22 on the ACT, said his other finalists are Ole Miss, USC, West Virginia and South Florida.
"Matthew and I are trying to go to the same school, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen," he said.
If you look at it, it's pretty remarkable what the Seminoles are doing in South Florida in terms of recruiting over the next two years. Not only are they in hard on Thomas and Kirkland, but they've already got the No. 1-ranked player in Dade in the Class of 2014 Miami Central running back Joseph Yearby all wrapped up.
FSU, which already has three Top 25 commitments from Dade and Broward as part of its 2013 class (Chaminade CB Adrian Baker, Booker T. CB Michael Johnson and Columbus WR Jesus Wilson -- UM didn't offer any), is also hot and heavy on at least three South Florida-area UM commitments according to Chris Nee, who covers FSU and statewide recruiting for 247sports.com.
Those players are: South Plantation star running back Alex Collins, Miami Northwestern safety Artie Burns and Delray Beach Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant. FSU had Collins up on official visit last weekend according to Nee. They are working on getting Bryant up for an official visit as well, Nee said.
Of course there are also quite a few uncommitted seniors and underclassmen FSU is also trying to impress like Oakland Park Northeast receiver Stacy Coley. Coley and Collins are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 among the senior class in Broward by The Miami Herald. Kirkland is ranked fourth in Dade, teammate Michael Johnson (FSU commitment) is sixth and Burns is the seventh-ranked senior in Dade.
FSU's 2014 class also includes Coral Reef receiver Jacob McCrary (No. 4), Northwestern two-way star JoJo Robinson (No. 7) and South Dade receiver C.J. Warton (No. 8). The Semionles are also pushing hard for top juniors Ermon Lane (No. 3), a standout receiver at Homestead, Booker T. defensive end Chad Thomas (No. 6) and UM commitment Trevor Darling, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive tackle from Miami Central who is rated the 10th-best junior in Dade.
"FSU knows the importance of recruiting down here," said Charles Fishbein of South Florida-based Elite Scouting Services. "Just look at their roster now. Half their secondary -- Xavier Rhodes (Norland) and Lamarcus Joyner (Aquinas) -- are from down here. Their top two receivers -- Rashad Greene (Aquinas) and Rodney Smith (Archbishop Carroll) -- are too. If Miami were to lose out on some of those kids here in their backyard like Collins, Thomas, Kirkland it would definitely hurt them."
UM's latest injury report is out and quarterback Stephen Morris is listed as doubtful.
The Canes starting quarterback was at practice Wednesday and threw "stationary" according to UM coach Al Golden. But Morris was also spotted and filmed by reporters dropping back and throwing passes.
Golden said Wednesday Morris' ankle was still very swollen. Ryan Williams has practiced as the starter all week in preparation for FSU. His backup is expected to be freshman Preston Dewey.
There were no surprises or new players listed on the injury reported.
Listed as out for the season following surgery: LB Ramon Buchanan, WR Malcolm Lewis, LS Sean McNally and offensive tackle Ben Jones.
Last week, Jones was simply listed as out for the North Carolina game. Apparently, he had surgery this week and is now done for the season. Jones, a fifth-year senior, played in three games this season, starting against North Carolina State. He injured his knee against the Wolfpack and never returned.
Quarterback Ken Dorsey and center Brett Romberg -- key members of Miami’s 2001 national champion football team -- highlight the seven-member Class of 2013 that will be inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame next April.
Other inductees include: Ed Contreras (baseball, 1957-59), Bryan Gillooly (diving, 1994-98), Norm Parsons (administration / coaching, 1972-2012), Don Soldinger (coach, 1984-88 & 1995-2006) and Jay Tessmer (baseball, 1994-95).
With the addition of the seven newest members the Sports Hall of Fame will increase to 274 honorees. The newest class will be inducted April 11 at the 43rd annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, which will be held at Jungle Island.
> Contreras led the Canes in home runs and RBI in each of his three seasons (19 HR, 67 RBI in 77 games) and also led the team in batting in 1958 (.316) and 1959 (.310). He left Miami as the school’s single-season and career home runs leader and he still holds the UM career slugging percentage record (.615) for under 300 at bats.
> Dorsey quarterbacked the Hurricanes to their fifth national championship in 2001 and was named MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl. He was a 2002 All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The 2001 and 2002 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, Dorsey set eight UM career records, including total offense, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts. He is the winningest quarterback in program history (38-2) and he won the 2001 Maxwell Award as the top player in college football.
> Gillooly was a two-time NCAA diving champion, winning the 10-meter platform title in 1996 and the 3-meter springboard in 1998. He was a 12-time All-American, garnering the honor in the 1- and 3-meter springboards, and the 10-meter platform in each of his four years at Miami (1995-98). He was also named the 1996 NCAA Diver of the Year and was a BIG EAST Academic All-Star in 1996-97. Gillooly was a finalist at the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.
> Parsons, who served as the women’s golf coach from 1973-78 and men’s golf coach from 1980-88, coached the women’s golf team to the 1977 and 1978 AIAW national championships. He served UM as Director of the Herbert Wellness Center (1996-present), Director of Campus Sports and Recreation (1977-96), and Intramural Director (1972-73) among other positions. He coached current UMSHoF members Cathy Morse, Woody Austin and Nathaniel Crosby.
> Romberg was a consensus All-American and Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center in 2002. He was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection in 2001 and 2002, while never allowing a sack in his time as the Hurricanes center. Miami went 35-2 in his 37 consecutive starts at center, helping lead the Canes to the 2001 national title and three BIG EAST titles.
> Soldinger was the linebackers and tight ends coach for Jimmy Johnson from 1984-88 and was the running backs and special teams coach under coaches Butch Davis and Larry Coker from 1995-2006. He was on the 1987 and 2001 national championship coaching staffs; he also coached six of the seven Miami running backs that rushed for 1,000 yards in a season (Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James – twice, Clinton Portis, Danyell Ferguson, Frank Gore and James Jackson). In his 16 seasons as a Hurricanes assistant coach, Miami won 158 games.
> Tessmer was a first-team Collegiate Baseball All-American in 1995 after collecting 20 saves – tied for second-most in school history – and posting a 1.31 ERA to lead Jim Morris’ squad to the College World Series. He finished second nationally in Division I with a 1.16 ERA in 1994, while his career 1.24 ERA ranks second in school history. He holds the UM record for fewest walks per 9 innings (1.42 average) and has the second-most appearances by a pitcher in a season (45 in 1995). Tessmer finished his career fifth with 23 saves and played professionally for the New York Yankees.
When Tracy Howard announced on National Signing Day he wanted to be a Hurricane, the All-American cornerback didn't mention anything about coming in as a freshman and being content with sitting on the bench.
"I'm not really a guy who is going to talk and say I'm going to start. It's up to me to produce," Howard said moments after the ink dried on his signed national letter of intent back in February. "But do I feel like I'm going to produce and show out, compete and work hard? Yes, I do. And if I do that I'm going to start."
Despite earning a coveted black jersey (worn by starters) on the fifth day of training camp, Howard still hasn't won a starting job at Miami in his first season.
In fact, since getting in for 100 combined snaps in UM's first three games, Howard has seen his playing time dwindle. After not playing at all on defense in UM's fourth game of the season at Georgia Tech (defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he didn't want his young players to get thrown off by an option offense), Howard has played just roughly 40 combined snaps over his last three games.
Why the reduction in playing time? UM coach Al Golden has never provided specifics, saying simply on Sunday that Howard "hit a wall" and has now started to respond in the past couple weeks.
Truth is, there were a couple layers to that wall.
First, between his disappointment of not being able to earn a starting job and the frustration of seeing his playing time get reduced, Howard admitted Wednesday he lost focus and confidence.
In the end, Howard also ended up exchanging words with his coordinator. "It was nothing disrespectful," Howard told The Miami Herald. "Just a coach and a player talking football."
Whatever that conversation turned out to be in the end, Howard has responded the way D'Onofrio has wanted him to over the last couple weeks. D'Onofrio said Monday Howard has "been dialed in" and has made a commitment to practicing better, particularly the last two weeks.
And that's ultimately why Howard got in for 20 snaps last Saturday against North Carolina (more than he had in his previous two games). Howard responded by making an impressive tackle on Tar Heels running back Gio Bernard near the Canes' sideline -- one of his five tackles on the season.
"I wasn't all the way locked in," Howard said when asked what Golden meant when he said he had 'run into a wall.'
"I was just coming out and playing with talent. Talent isn't really enough. You have to work on the little things - simple things like having your eyes on your luggage, keeping your eyes on keys, just real small things I had to pick up, things preventing me from being the starter off the bat. But I think I've picked it up. I think everything is going to get flowing."
At Miramar High, Howard earned a reputation for being a hard worker, who studied lots of film and prepared himself for every opportunity. He was tabbed by almost every recruiting outlet as the nation's No. 1 high school cornerback because of that -- and because of what he did during his career for the Patriots, finishing with 18 interceptions in three varsity seasons.
Howard said freshman safety Deon Bush, who has made four starts and is tied for eighth on the team with 24 tackles, has helped keep him centered through his struggles this season.
"Me and Deon are the best of friends," Howard said. "He's told me just put your head down, pray and keep chopping away."
Howard (5-11, 185) said although this season hasn't panned out exactly the way he's wanted it to for himself, he's going to continue to work to earn a starting job.
"I know in my heart one day my time is going to come and I'll make the best of my opportunity," Howard said. "Everything will be just like high school all over again."
Asked if he's considered leaving UM at all because he hasn't played as much as maybe he would like or thought he would, Howard responded: "No. No way."
"This is my hometown, my team, my city," Howard said. "I'm not going anywhere."
Send your questions in now. You can post them below in the blog, the Cover It Live chat, or send them directly to me on Twitter @Manny_Navarro. I have an interview scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and will end the live portion of the chat then. But I will be back later to answer any questions posted before 3 p.m.
Morning has given way to afternoon.
And it's a good one for University of Miami football fans, who are awaiting the most fun game of the season: FSU.
Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, who sprained his left ankle during Saturday's North Carolina game, was out there this morning, practicing on Greentree Field -- though Coach Al Golden, who we just talked to, is definitely downplaying the situation.
Golden indicated Morris was very limited, and that all he did was throw the ball. He said he couldn't drop back -- but he did drop back-- repeatedly -- and fired the ball in the 15 minutes we watched.
He was wearing the exact same practice uniform that backup Ryan Williams wore. His left ankle was not visibly wrapped, but you can bet it was wrapped under his white sock. He stayed during the whole practice, I was told, helping Ryan Williams in the huddle and encouraging his teammates.
So, what we saw was Stephen practicing his drop-back steps, then releasing the ball to receivers. When I saw him, he was alternating his throws to Kendal Thompkins and Rashawn Scott. And, as usual, he was zipping the ball with velocity.
When the horn sounded, Morris jogged to the rest of his teammates, who had gathered to start the more intense part of practice, and we left.
Golden: "He just threw stationary. It's not a situation where he can drop yet or plant,'' Golden said. "Ryan [Williams] took all the reps. [Third-team QB] Preston [Dewey] took some as well. Again, we're moving forward with Ryan and we'll see if Stephen can in these last 72 hours do something.
"I'm not surprised that he could just stand there and throw.''
Golden was asked, ''Encouraging that he's out here, vs. not even being out there at all?"
The coach said he's still swollen, though I had heard they've made progress in that area and that the swelling had subsided quite a bit yesterday. "He's in a boot if he's not here,'' Golden said. "He's back inside getting some treatment and he'll continue to do that.''
One thing we know for sure is that those FSU defenders are going to be flocking to the quarterback Saturday. We also know that Stephen Morris is a warrior.
"He's always a guy who heals from injuries quick,'' said running back Eduardo Clements. "That's the type of quarterback and leader he is. He never wants us to see him down.''
That's all for now.
By the way, unfortunately, we don't have any access tomorrow or Friday.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Will he play or won't he?
Doubtful or probable?
During his weekly press conference Tuesday, UM coach Al Golden wouldn't indicate one way or another whether Stephen Morris, who sprained his left ankle Saturday against UNC, would play against Florida State Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.
"Game-time'' decision, Golden said.
Morris again did not practice Tuesday, and is not expected to practice Wednesday, Golden said. The coach said the earliest he would even attempt to practice -- obviously, if he is able -- would be Thursday.
Here's what Golden said about Morris: "He didn't practice today. And he probably won't practice tomorrow. I think at the earliest we'll have a shot to do anything would be Thursday -- I mean at the earliest. And you're talking not pocket stuff, just 7-on-7 and things of that nature. We've got a long way to go.
"I would have to classify him as a game-time [decision] right now. So, I don't know what that would mean in terms of our ACC [injury] report. Doubtful maybe if it came out Thursday. We'll see. Probably, doubtful --one of those.
"Ryan did a great job today. He threw the ball well, practiced really well, made all the throws. We're excited about him. We don't have really two separate game plans going in. Ryan ran the whole thing and Preston Dewey backed him up today, because I knew that question was coming. So we're proceeding like that. If Stephen's healthy, we'll give it a shot.''
How do you make that final decision?
"Just how he feels. They both are preparing, they both have got to get ready. Stephen is more mental right now; Ryan is more physical, taking the reps with the ones. I'm not going to put Stephen out there if he is not healthy enough to execute. It wouldn't be fair to the team and it wouldn't be fair to Ryan. I want to make sure we're all preparing throughout the week and see how it shakes out.''
Golden's take on Ryan Williams: "He's got a great pocket presence. He's got vision in the pocket. He really has nice touch on the ball. The one thing that he does well [is] he's got a good mind; he's got good touch on second-level throws -- level two throws -- incuts, deep overs to corner routes, things of that nature. And he's long. He's not afraid to stay in the pocket and use his vision and his ability to release it high.
If you read my story in today's paper you'll remember that Stephen sprained that same ankle THREE DAYS before the Sun Bowl in El Paso in late December, 2010. And it was a bad sprain, at that. Then, after Jacory Harris threw three interceptions in his first seven passes, Stephen came in as a freshman and was impressive, despite a hurt ankle in the bitter cold. Per my story: Morris’ numbers that day in UM’s 33-17 loss to Notre Dame: 22 of 33 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He even rushed on the bad ankle four times for 22 yards.
Today, Golden elaborated on how UM's initial goal is to win the Coastal Division, because that's the "way out'' to get a 50-percent shot of making it to a BCS game. With that in mind, I asked Golden,
"Can you talk about the fine line between deciding to let Stephen start knowing he might not be 100-percent healthy and having him sit out Saturday which gives him another week or more before your Coastal game with Va Tech?"
Golden's response: "I’m not going to have that conversation with Stephen in terms of ‘Stephen, should we sit you out this game?’ If you want to have that with him, go right ahead. I mean, that’s not going to go very well.
"I [understand]. But we all only get so many shots at this. He deserves an opportunity if he’s healthy. I’m not going to ask him to sit out Florida State for any game, to be honest with you. If he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. If you see Stephen out there it’s because he’s ready to go. It’s not because I’m making him go, or he wants to go. It’s because he’s ready to go, and he can execute at the level we need him to execute in that game. That’s it. If he’s not, then that question is answered."
So, if Stephen is ready to go, someone asked Golden, then he starts the game if he hasn’t practiced this week?
"I can’t say that right now. We’re so far away from that. We’re just trying to get Ryan and Preston ready. I’m just trying to project for you guys. We’re not having the same conversations here. In terms of us, we’re getting Ryan and Preston ready. If tomorrow he looks better and can do something we’ll let him do something. If he looks a little better on Thursday. But he couldn’t do anything today, and we’ll see. As I said, it’s not a high-ankle sprain, so we know it’s not going to be a long time like Denzel’s was. But it’s swollen. It’s significant. I know he’s tough. I know that."
My gut is that Stephen will play. But honestly, I have NO idea how bad his ankle is and how painful it is. He was seen by a couple reporters walking into the weight room today, and apparently wasn't limping. Let's see tomorrow what happens, because I think this situation can change quickly. Maybe Ryan starts and Stephen comes in... Maybe Stephen starts and Ryan comes in...
Tomorrow is the last day we have access at UM, so we'll get back to you then.
Until then, please chime in. I know this isn't a Coastal game, but to me, FSU is a very important game -- for all kinds of reasons. I think the coaches will treat it that way.
One more thing: Golden confirmed today that Duke Johnson has turf toe, but said he seems to be getting better daily. Turf toe can be a long-term problem. Hopefully it's not with Duke. He's too valuable to this team, and too fun to watch.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
|RT||77||Seantrel Henderson -OR-||6-8||340||Jr.|
|QB||17||Stephen Morris -OR-
|83||Kendal Thompkins -OR-
|6||Robert Lockhart Jr.
|90||Ricardo Williams -OR-||6-5||240||RFr.|
|93||Luther Robinson -OR-
|MLB||36||Gionni Paul -OR-||6-0||218||So.|
|59||Jimmy Gaines -OR-
|3||Tracy Howard -OR-
|S||22||Kacy Rodgers II
|7||Vaughn Telemaque -OR-||6-2||204||RSr.|
UM coach Al Golden told reporters moments ago x-rays performed on the left ankle of starting quarterback Stephen Morris were negative for a fracture and that he has a sprain.
"It's not a high ankle sprain -- that's the [bad] one," Golden said.
Golden said the team will go into this week preparing as if backup Ryan Williams will be the starter against Florida State, but wouldn't rule Morris out just yet. Golden said Williams' backup right now is unclear. He said freshmen Preston Dewey and Gray Crow have not separated themselves yet.
"I don't think I can imagine a scenario where we're not going to try to beat Florida State," Golden said when asked if the team would try to sit Morris this week since a loss to FSU wouldn't impede Miami's chances of winning the Coastal Divisin. "Our kids deserve everything we've got to win this next game."
Golden said having Williams make his first start for UM against the 10th-ranked Seminoles would obviously be a huge challenge. But Golden said it would be a huge task "no matter who is playing quarterback for us."
"We'll assess [Morris' health] as the week unfolds, but going we're going in with it thinking Ryan is going to be the guy," Golden said. "Ryan's very bright and took a lot of reps in the spring. He'll have to rely on that now.
As far as the backup quarterback position is concerned, Golden said: "Preston obviously was ahead of Gray earlier in the season. Gray has responded the last two weeks. We're really going to have to evaluate those two -- they're body of work over the course of the season and where they are at mentally and who would be ready for this opportunity should it arise."
MORE TIDBITS FROM SUNDAY'S PRESS CONFERENCE
> Golden on winning time of possession for the first time this season vs. UNC: "I would trade some of that time of possession for some explosive plays in the game in terms of a couple passes that would have helped us score."
> As far as the Hurricanes defense is concerned, Golden saw improvement and said the reason the Canes played better in the second half versus North Carolina (173 yards, 3 points) was because they got better play from their defensive tackles Earl Moore, Corey King and Olsen Pierre and corners Ladarius Gunter and Tracy Howard. He also praised the play of freshman safety Deon Bush.
"We still left too many plays out there," Golden said. "We need to continue to work to improve that. We're still not exact in too many places, but we did a good job on third down. I think we held them to 50 percent in the red zone. We wanted to win those two areas. But we never got any deflected passes and batted balls. If they're going to sit there in shotgun and throw quickly, you got to get some batted balls and we didn't get the takeaways other than Eddie [Johnson's interception]."
> UM's defense had a better day, but getting pressure on the opposing quarterback continues to be a problem. The Canes didn't produce a sack for the second straight game and had no hurries either. The Canes have produced just seven sacks all season and are on pace to produce the fewest in a season ever.
"We're not getting the pass rush we need. There's no question," Golden said. "That's an ongoing problem right now we have to continue to address. We need guys to not only improve there, but mature."
> Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel is the fourth-highest rated quarterback in the country in terms of passer efficiency. He's completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,804 yards, 14 TDs and just four interceptions. He's also run for 186 yards and a touchdown.
The next-highest rated quarterback the Canes have faced was Kansas State's Collin Klein. He ranks 17th nationally in passer efficiency with a 159.9 rating. He's the only opposing QB in the top 30 UM has either played already or is scheduled to play against later this year.
"He is really good at distributing the football," Golden said of Manuel. "He can move out of the pocket and create. He's got length so he can down the field and he has an arm that can make all the throws. And he's a dual threat. There's a number of issues that he presents that you obviously have to game plan for and resolve. This clearly one of the best players that we've seen so far this year."
> Golden said it was a game time decision Saturday whether or not freshman tailback Duke Johnson would play. Johnson has been battling a toe injury and told reporters Saturday he's at "95 to 90 percent" in terms of health. Golden said the team had to relieve Johnson from a lot of his duties. Johnson carried the ball 14 times for 47 yards Saturday against North Carolina, but didn't catch a pass or return a kickoff.
"He really fought through it and did a nice job for us," Golden said. "I think he played 25 plays. But we had to hold him out of kickoff returns and that nature. We just got to make sure we continue to monitor those reps like we do all those guys and keep them fresh."
Golden said Eduardo Clements (12 offensive snaps, 10 more on special teams) and Dallas Crawford (special teams only) have to be ready to share the load moving forward. Mike James carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 96 yards vs. UNC.
> Golden said linebacker Denzel Perryman, who re-aggravated his right ankle and left the field a couple times Saturday only to return, is battling through discomfort and will continue to wear a walking boot on it for precautionary reasons. Golden said he's been wearing a boot for almost a month now.
"Just trying to make sure we alleviate any stress or any pain," Golden said. "Right now he's not showing up on any report as far as going backwards."
> Golden said he's seen improvement over the last 10 days from three young corners -- Gunter, Howard and Antonio Crawford. Does that mean more playing time? Not necessarily.
"Tracy was physical in terms of the tackling he made on [UNC RB Gio] Bernard on the sideline and did a good job in coverage," Golden said. "He played about 20 plays for us and some more on special teams. But I think he's making progress right now. I think they've all hit the wall at some point. I think for Tracy it was a couple weeks ago and we're trying to push him through it. He's got a good attitude right now and I really see the light coming on in terms of him learning. We just to continue to keep pushing him forward. At the end of the day, they're young kids we got to continue to teach and out of a comfort zone."
After playing four of their first six on the road, the Canes (4-2, 3-0 ACC) are back home to kickoff the first of three straight games at Sun Life Stadium. First up: North Carolina (4-2, 1-1 ACC). Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU.
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If you've been thinking this might be the worst Hurricanes defense of all time after just six games -- your eyes are not deceiving you.
They've already given up more points (208) than Larry Coker's team did in his final season as head coach in 2006 (201 points) and they are on pace to give up 416 in total -- 102 more points than UM did in 1984 under Jimmy Johnson and 2008 under Randy Shannon (tied for the current worst all time).
Yards? Take your pick, rushing or receiving. Both records appear as though they will go down easily.
The 1,504 rushing yards given up already are nearly double of what the 1989 national championship team allowed (1,520, 2nd fewest all-time), and should easily surpass what the 1944 Canes allowed (2,492 yards, the current worst) by the time UM is on its way out of Virginia on Nov. 10.
The record for most passing yards allowed -- 2,695 in 2009 -- should end up going down around the same time at Virginia. These Canes are on pace to give up 3,112 yards through the air in all. That's 1.7 miles.
Total yards? Miami has already surrendered 3,060. These Canes should easily crush the record of 4,369 allowed during the 1997 season. Same with first downs. UM's given up 158 of those in six games. The current record is 238 set by the 1997 squad.
Sacks? This UM team is on pace to end up with the fewest in that category too. They've got seven and would finish with 14 -- two fewer than the 1984 team which has the current low of 16 sacks.
Now, before you run down to Coral Gables with pitch forks and ask Al Golden to hand over his best friend -- defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio -- take a deep breath. This is also one of the youngest defenses in the country. I know what you're thinking: No excuses (that's Miami's mantra right?)
Well, for all the armchair defensive coordinators out there complaining D'Onofrio doesn't blitz enough and there is too much cushion in pass coverage (I agree), ask yourself if anyone out there could honestly do a better job with 19 first or second-year players (that would be true freshmen, redshirt freshman or true freshman) on the Canes' two-deep.
Eight of those young guys -- Anthony Chickillo, Corey King, Olsen Pierre, Eddie Johnson, Denzel Perryman, Gionni Paul, Ladarius Gunter and Deon Bush -- are all slated to start against North Carolina Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.
I'm not saying there isn't some talent to work with here or that D'Onofrio deserves a free pass from criticism. But no Canes defensive coordinator in the last five seasons has had to work with so much youth (trust me, I looked it up).
That probably goes for any Canes defensive coordinator since UM started winning national titles.
I'm pretty sure you remember when UM was dominant prior to this sour stretch of football -- sophomores freshmen and redshirt freshmen weren't being counted on to play a high number of snaps. Right now, eight 1st or 2nd year players are starters and 19 of them total are among the 29 players in the two deep. Those are players who all arrived in 2011 or later.
Last year, D'Onofrio only had nine players in his two deep of 23 who were 1st or 2nd year players. Only three -- Perryman, Kelvin Cain and Chickillo -- started UM's final regular season game against Boston College.
In 2010, there were only six 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two-deep of 24. Defensive end Olivier Vernon was the only starter in that group.
In 2009, there were 12 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two deep rotation of 26. Four were starters in the bowl game: Vaughn Telemaque, Brandon Harris, Sean Spence and Marcus Robinson. That defense gave up the most passing yards ever in school history.
In 2008, there were also 12 1st or 2nd year players in UM's two deep rotation of 24. Five were starters in the bowl game: JoJo Nicolas, Brandon Harris, Spense, Robinson and Steven Welsey. That 2008 team gave up 314 points -- tied for the most points allowed in Canes history.
I took a look at every depth chart in the ACC as well to see how UM stacks up in terms of youth. Miami is pretty much in a league of its own.
The closest ACC teams with as much youth on defense as these Canes:
> Clemson has nine players in their 24-man two-deep on defense who are 1st or 2nd year players. Five of them are starters -- all in the front seven. The Tigers by the way rank 71st in scoring defense (27.33 ppg), 96th in total defense (445 ypg) and 102 in rush defense (202.67 ypg) and sacks.
> Boston College has 12 players in their 22-man two-deep on defense who are 1st or 2nd year players. Four are starters. The Eagles rank 82nd in scoring defense (29.0 ppg), 52nd in total defense (416.6 ypg), 117th in rushing defense (259.0 ypg), 35th in pass efficiency defense (115.06), 110th in sacks and have forced 10 turnovers (t-7th in ACC).
> Florida State has 13 of its 26 players listed on the two deep who are 1st or 2nd year players. But only one of them is a starter -- cornerback Nick Waisome. Virginia has 13 1st or 2nd year players on its 26-man two-deep. Three are starters. North Carolina has 14 of 24 players in its two-deep that are 1st or 2nd year players. Only two are starters, both in the secondary.
Duke Johnson has taken his fair share of hits throughout this season. But Thursday was the first time the freshman running back appeared on UM's injury report.
The All-American out of Miami Norland is listed as having a lower extremity injury, but is probable to play in Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kickoff against North Carolina at Sun Life Stadium. Johnson leads the team in rushing with 381 yards and 5 TDs in six games.
Who else was listed on the injury report? Offensive tackle Ben Jones (lower extremity) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (upper extremity) have been ruled out.
In this week's episode correspondent Maribel Rivera catches up with AJ Highsmith and Manny Navarro interviews a couple Canes players after the Notre Dame loss to discuss that and Saturday's showdown with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
A couple quick news and notes from Wednesday's Miami Hurricanes practice before we get to the Q&A, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. today and will go until 3 p.m. -- we're making up for last week's lost hour:
> Defensive tackle Curtis Porter returned to practice on Tuesday and is working on the scout team. Porter had an appendectomy before the start of the season and has been recovering since. UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday Porter "is a ways away."
> Left guard Jonathan Feliciano has been limited in practice and is wearing a yellow non-contact jersey, but Golden said coaches are just protecting him. Right tackle Ben Jones remains out. Jones was injured against N.C. State and didn't play last week.
Feel free to leave your questions in the blog below. I will answer them in the CoverItLive app later.
GOLDEN DEFENDS D’ONOFRIO
Fans have been highly critical of defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, whose Hurricanes are ranked near the bottom nationally of every defensive category. Golden was asked Tuesday if he sensed any frustration on D’Onofrio’s part.
Golden: “Any frustration that he has on his part… because there’s no fan out there that can match his intensity or his dedication in trying to get his trade right. The last two years the same guy had two Top-20 defenses in terms of scoring defense. So, as angry as everybody is, they’re not watching it, they’re not living it everyday like he is.
“As I say to him and the whole defensive staff, we’re moving the team forward. Just keep moving it forward. As I said to you guys before, it’s not like we’re hiding a bunch of fourth and fifth-year seniors on the scout-team field. Where are they? There are no fifth-year seniors, there are no fourth-year seniors – only a couple – and there are very few juniors.
“The guys we’re playing with right now are fighting every day, they’re learning, but they’re learning under fire. I think you go to Parris Island before you go to war, right? They’re learning on the battle field. Just stay positive, man. Just keep moving forward. We’ll get there. I promise you we’ll get there.’’
I checked the NCAA statistics again and D'Onofrio's and Golden's last season at Temple in 2010, the Owls finished 16th in scoring defense (19 points a game allowed) and 16th in total defense (317.6 ypg allowed). Last year, the Hurricanes, under D'Onofrio and Golden, finished 17th in scoring defense (20 ppg allowed) and 29th in pass defense (198 ypg allowed).
D'Onofrio's rushing defense last year at UM was ranked 68th (161.9). His rushing defense at Temple in 2010 was ranked 47th (139.5).
DORSETT BRUSHES OFF “NAYSAYERS’’
Receiver Phillip Dorsett spoke Tuesday about his critical drops Saturday at Notre Dame, saying he was “really excited to get back on the field’’ and catch balls again.
“I’m still confident,’’ Dorsett said. “I had a bad game last week, I know. But I’m going out there and working hard everyday, and I know I should be able to have a great game this week.’’
Dorsett later told reporters about “naysayers, people threatening’’ on Twitter, but didn’t elaborate on specifics.
“I just look past it,’’ he said.
When asked by The Miami Herald about the criticism he took from the public, Dorsett brushed it off, indicating that fans are fickle and that he didn’t pay much attention to it.
Dorsett, known as @BrickByBrick_4 on Twitter, posted Sunday: “I had a bad game, I didn’t play to my standard, but you better believe that will never happen again.. It’s going down next week #hungry.’’
Another one of his Sunday Twitter posts: “Games like yesterday shows who really supports you through the ups and downs of this game.’’
STEPHEN MORRIS TELECONFERENCE
This is Miami Herald intern R.J. Rico’s last week with us, but I’m sure you’ve noticed some of his stories the past few weeks. R.J. was on Stephen Morris’ teleconference today, and transcribed these comments:
On North Carolina: “They’re a very fast defense. They’re very physical. They’re extremely well coached. They’ve done extremely well in the red zone, on third downs, and situational football. They’re a very well-coached team. They know their insides and outs. They play fast and get to the ball very fast. It will be a great challenge.’’
On Notre Dame: “After a game like that you really just have to take the positives out of it. Obviously it wasn’t the type of game that we wanted to have. The biggest thing to do is to learn from the mistakes that we made and make sure that they don’t happen again. We had too many costly mistakes and that led to bad drives on offense that didn’t lead to points.”
On Phillip Dorsett: “I just want him to have a great game. I want him to bounce back extremely strong. We’re just looking to get him started. I know that he’s going to be excited to go out there and be able to play again. That’s the best cure for a game like that – just going out there and letting loose and having fun. I think that’s what he needs. I’m going to be behind him no matter what. It’s a growing pain. He’s growing and he’s going to make his own mark.’’
STEP RIGHT UP!
Per UM: Due to President Barack Obama’s visit to the Miami campus, BankUnited Center ticket office will be closed to walk-up sales Thursday. Instead, fans interested in purchasing tickets that day can visit the Hecht Athletic Center. The Hecht’s ticket office will be open from 8:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday. If you’re interested in the $9 before 9 a.m. special, and it happens to be Thursday, visit the Hecht from 8:30-9 a.m. that day.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch discussed the Notre Dame game and looked ahead to this week's North Carolina matchup on Monday.
The Hurricanes (4-2, 3-0 in ACC) were plagued by drops against the Irish. Fisch agreed drops seem to be the only real negative that has affected his offense this season.
"It definitely has hampered us at times from really the Boston College game," Fisch said. "We kind of looked back and I think we had seven drops in that game and we had seven drops in this one. I think there are games where we are getting better at it. I don't think we were dropping it in the games that we had our bigger games in terms of production. We had less drops [in those]. This one got us. Against Kansas State we dropped a pretty good amount. It is one of those things that you have to work through and be able to find ways to catch the ball and execute the plan."
Fisch called Saturday's performance against the Irish "weird" because the offense performed well but only produced three points. "We look back on the game and we had two offensive penalties the whole game, we didn't turn the ball over, no interceptions, no fumbles," he said. "I thought Stephen Morris did have a good game, and we walked away with only three points. What do you tell them? How does that happen? Well it happens because we didn't execute. We didn't finish. You can throw a beautiful ball, but if you don't catch it then you don't finish."
> There weren't many changes on the Canes' depth chart on offense. But there was one notable new addition: freshman Robert Lockhart is now listed on the two-deep. Fisch said Monday he would "like to have a role for [Lockhart]" in Saturday's game against North Carolina.
"I'd like for him to have an opportunity," Fisch said. "He's done a great job competing each week and improving. He has a good understanding now. I think we can use him as one of our weapons. He has a better understanding now and I think we can use him as another one of our weapons."
> While freshman Duke Johnson continues to rank in the top five in the ACC in all-purpose yards (1st, 168.3), kick return average (3rd, 27.9), and rushing (5th, 63.5), his overall production rushing and receiving has begun to slow down a bit in the past three weeks. He's scored just one touchdown in the past three games and had 57 yards combined total offense versus the Irish. Fisch said Duke's drop in production Saturday was just a case of not being able to get things going on offense at all.
"Obviously, you would like to hit on some of those bigger plays because that would have given us more plays and not dropped the ball on the third down," Fisch said. "When you get more plays, you get more opportunities to run the football, you get more opportunities to get the ball in Duke's hands. I think in terms of our ratio to plays run and his touches, it was good, I just don't think he didn't have enough touches because we didn't run enough plays."
> Duke has had some drops during some games this year. Is that unlike him?
"It is certainly not like him in practice," Fisch said. "I don't even know if I could think of a play that Phillip dropped a ball in practice. It is not like him either. It's not like Duke. Duke didn't drop that slant against Kansas State all week long when we practiced it. It just happens to be sometimes that it happens. No, it is very unlike Duke to drop it and it is very unlike Phillip to drop it. I don't expect it to be an epidemic by any means."
> Fisch said the accuracy of quarterback Stephen Morris "has really improved."
"One of the things that we were talking about going into the season was that we all knew he had a very strong arm, but how was his accuracy going to be?," Fisch said. "That was an earlier knock maybe. I think it's A, hard work; and B, I think his ability to be accurate is due to how hard our wide receivers practice during the week. If you are always running full speed, then you are practicing that way and you become more accurate. When you have guys practicing at different tempos all the times -- and that is an issue we had until this season -- our guys practice full speed everyday. Phillip runs that route that fast Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Therefore were able to become more accurate throwing it on Saturdays.
"I think we have been able to convince Stephen to trust himself. Trusting yourself means that if you believe somebody is coming open, throw it then. You don't have to wait until you see them come open every time. That's part of it. Trusting yourself means that if we tell you that he is going to run by the safety 40 yards down the field, trust it and let your feet do the talking -- meaning throw it on one hitch, don't wait until three or four hitches and wait and wait and wait. That's a huge difference. I think that's why he is more accurate and more confident and our receivers are doing a great job running routes in practice."
> One player who continues to gain the trust of Morris and Fisch is fifth-year senior Davon Johnson, who is now fourth on the team with 16 catches for 262 yards.
"DJ's done a really great job," Fisch said. "He has made some of the tough catches and some of the easier catches that sometimes when you are wide open and thinking about it. You're thinking about 'I got to catch it.' He has been very mature. It think his age has shown up, his maturity. He has been around the program for a while and I think that's helped him and I think that's helped his consistency."
> North Carolina's defense isn't as highly touted as Notre Dame's, but they still present a good challenge, Fisch said. The Tar Heels rank 26th in scoring defense (17.83 ppg), 20th in total defense (312.33 ypg) and 11th against the run (86.33 ypg).
"They are very fast up front, their secondary is good," Fisch said. "Obviously, Butch [Davis] did a great job recruiting, so they are very talented players. They do a great job schematically -- really a great job. It is going to be a challenge for us. It's going to be an all day challenge for us.
"Their defensive line is excellent, they are very active. Their secondary does a great job of ball-hawking. I think they have a number of interceptions, a high number of takeaways and a high number of sacks. So our [offensive] line is going to have to do a great job. I think our line is giving up a sack once every 34 passes, which is double compared to last year when we're 1 for 17. It is going to be an all day event on Saturday. They're not a big man team. They play zone. They're very aggressive and their safeties are very good."
The Hurricanes Oct. 20 Homecoming showdown with Florida State will be televised live at 8 p.m. on ABC, the Atlantic Coast Conference office announced Monday.
Miami (4-2, 3-0 ACC) sits atop the ACC Coastal Division standings and hosts North Carolina at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.
We got our newest depth chart this morning, two days after UM released another chart minutes before kickoff Saturday at Soldier Field.
Olsen Pierre is back as one of the starting tackles, opposite redshirt freshman Corey King, who made his first start against Notre Dame. Pierre was injured but Al Golden said he will play against North Carolina.
Gionni Paul is starting again at weak-side.
At cornerback, Ladarius Gunter is now listed as the starter, with freshman Tracy Howard and sophomore Thomas Finnie co-backups.
Mike James and Duke Johnson still have an "AND" between their names as co-first-teamers at running back -- as they did when UM released the depth chart before the game.
Seantrel Henderson started at right tackle Saturday. The depth chart says: Ereck Flowers OR Henderson, as it did before the Notre Dame game.
Clive Walford, who had a nice 28-yard catch Saturday on that unforgettable opening drive, is now the starting TE.
DEPTH CHART, courtesy UM
|RT||74||Ereck Flowers -OR-
|RB||5||Mike James -AND-
|83||Kendal Thompkins -OR-
|6||Robert Lockhart Jr.
|93||Luther Robinson -OR-
|56||Raphael Kirby -OR-
|31||Tyrone Cornileus -OR-||6-2||210||Jr.|
|3||Tracy Howard -OR-
|22||Kacy Rodgers II
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
No I'm not in Chicago. But I do have a comfy seat here at home and a big screen TV to watch tonight's big showdown between your Miami Hurricanes (4-1, 3-0 ACC) and the ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0). Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Soldier Field and the game can be seen everywhere on NBC.
Feel free to participate in our CoverItLive.com chat below. All you need to do is sign in with your email address.
> The Canes are coming off another thrilling, heart-stopping win in the ACC. They knocked off N.C. State 44-37 when quarterback Stephen Morris connected with Phillip Dorsett on a 62-yard scoring strike with 19 seconds left. Morris is coming off the best single-game performance ever by a Canes quarterback with 566 yards and five touchdown passes. UM's defense gave up over 600 yards, but forced six turnovers in the win.
> The Irish had a bye week last week and of course will be playing this game a short drive over from South Bend. Notre Dame's defense is pretty sick. The Irish rank ninth in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in both sacks (3.5/game) and pass efficiency defense (96.79) and are giving up an average of just nine points a game. The Irish defense has totaled eight interceptions -- equal to the number of interceptions the 2011 Notre Dame defense recorded. Senior middle linebacker Manti Te’o has played a role in seven of the 13 turnovers forced by Notre Dame’s defense. The All-America linebacker has recorded three interceptions, recovered two fumbles and hurried passers on two occasions that resulted in interceptions.
CHIGACO -- So, here we are, another chapter in the Miami-Notre Dame history about to unfold, and at historic Soldier Field, no less.
Notre Dame and Miami will meet for the 25th time, with the Irish holding a 16-7-1 series lead.
At least as of last night, Notre Dame was favored by 14 points.
Notre Dame has had an extra week of preparation for this game, as the Irish had off last week. That also gave them extra time to heal.
The weather tonight will be in the low 40s, but the Canes can deal with that.
Judging by the past five games, the only way Miami wins this one is if the offensive line does its job today and opens some running holes as well as passing lanes. Duke is due, though the Notre Dame defense is very good. Linebacker Manti Te'o is scary good.
We've seen how prolific the UM offense can be, too. UM has to score and score and score some more. No one else has done it against the Irish.
I saw a lot of UM fans yesterday, which was a good sign. But the Canes' tickets were spread out among three separate portions of the stadium, according to Chris Freet, UM associate athletic director for communications and marketing. I don't see how the Canes fans aren't going to be drowned out by the Notre Dame crowd.
Of course, as the avid (and fairly plentiful) UM fans who attended the Georgia Tech game can tell you, there's nothing more gratifying than seeing your team silence the vaunted opponents at an away site (and let's face it, Soldier Field is not neutral).
Winning this game will catapult UM into the rankings and national spotlight.
If it's a UM loss, hopefully for the Canes it won't be a rout.
I can tell you for sure, as all of you know by now, this young team has tons of heart and does not quit. It needs to keep that personality no matter what happens.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
University of Miami President Donna Shalala just confirmed what we already knew: UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst has resigned, effective immediately.
Eichorst has taken the same job at Nebraska, and will replace Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne Jan. 1 -- though Eichorst will begin at Nebraska Oct. 9 as a special assistant to Chancellor Harvey Perlman. Eichorst accepted a five-year contract, reportedly worth $973,000 annually.
"I am deeply disappointed in Shawn's departure to the University of Nebraska as I thoroughly enjoyed working with him,'' Shalala said in a written statement. "We wish Shawn and his wonderful family the very best at their new post.''
Shalala has appointed Blake James, Senior Associate Athletic Director, as the acting UM athletic director. James served as the AD at Maine from 2005-2010 and returned to UM in 2010, having previously worked at UM from 1995-97 and from 1998-2001.
Eichorst was hired by the Hurricanes in April, 2011.
Hello? Anyone want to be the UM athletic director?
Osborne announced last month that he will retire at the end of this year.
At UM -- bracing for NCAA sanctions in the case involving former UM booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro -- Eichorst has been one of the most low-profile athletic directors in school history. He was not at UM during Shapiro's wrongdoings, but except for once or twice, has declined to speak to the media since coming to Miami -- and has mostly kept his distance from UM fans and donors.
Among the media, Eichorst was known as the invisible athletic director.
He was supposed to accompany the Golden Canes boosters on the trip to Chicago.
"I think his timing is offensive,'' a long-time Miami booster told me. "It's a Golden Canes trip. It's a Notre Dame game. If he was that unhappy, he should have just left before this.
"If someone can't even say hello to people he sees all the time, he's not at the right place and isn't part of the Hurricanes' family."
Former UM great Alonzo Highsmith has been busy tweeting this morning:
"Donna listen," Highsmith tweeted, referring to Shalala, "Find an AD with vision, passion, guts, decision maker, leader, knows and respects program , knows the culture, man of people!"
Alonzo also tweeted this: I wouldn't know Miami AD if he told me who he was and that's all u need to know!!
Eichorst's predecessor, Kirby Hocutt, served only 2 1/2 years as the UM athletic director and now is the AD at Texas Tech.
Eichorst was responsible for the hiring of basketball coach Jim Larranaga. Just before his hiring, the school agreed to reward women's basketball coach Katie Meier, the co-national Coach of the Year, with a five-year contract extension that would take her through 2016. The contract was negotiated by then-acting AD Tony Hernandez.
Eichorst is a native of Lone Rock, Wis., and was an all-conference defensive back, three-time letterwinner and 1990 team captain for the UW-Whitewater football team, according to his Miami bio. He graduated magna cum laude in business from UW-Whitewater in 1990 and earned a law degree from Marquette in 1995.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Oct. 3, 2012
Needham, Mass. (theACC.com) - Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford announced today future scheduling formats and conference policies as approved by the ACC's Faculty Athletic Representatives and Athletics Directors. The announcement was made following the annual ACC Fall Business Meetings.
"The addition of Notre Dame gives us an opportunity to reinforce a number of conference rivalries in basketball and Olympic sports while also giving our schools greater flexibility in nonconference football scheduling," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "With Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame joining us, it is an exciting time in our league and our schools have made decisions that position us extremely well for the future."
A breakdown of the action items are listed below:
With the addition of Notre Dame playing five games annually against ACC teams, the league has determined it will play an eight-game conference schedule for 2013 and beyond. Divisions, primary crossover partners and rotating opponents from the opposite division will remain consistent to what was previously announced.
Men's and Women's Basketball
The ACC will continue to play an 18-game conference schedule with the addition of Notre Dame. The scheduling model will be based on a two-partner format.
Each year, teams will play every league opponent at least once with the two partners playing home and away annually. In addition to the four annual games against partners, the remaining 14 conference games will feature home and away games with two rotating opponents and five home-only games and five road-only games.
The two-primary-partner format preserves competitive balance and builds upon traditional rivalries while providing the opportunity to create new ones.
Boston College - Notre Dame and Syracuse
Clemson - Florida State and Georgia Tech
Duke - North Carolina and Wake Forest
Florida State - Clemson and Miami
Georgia Tech - Clemson and Notre Dame
Maryland - Pitt and Virginia
Miami - Florida State and Virginia Tech
North Carolina - Duke and NC State
NC State - North Carolina and Wake Forest
Notre Dame - Boston College and Georgia Tech
Pitt - Maryland and Syracuse
Syracuse - Boston College and Pitt
Virginia - Maryland and Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech - Miami and Virginia
Wake Forest - Duke and NC State
Following the regular season, the ACC Tournament format will continue to feature all league members. The Tournament will begin with three games on Wednesday, followed by four games on Thursday and Friday, two semifinals on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday. The top four seeds will continue to receive byes into Friday's quarterfinal round.
In the annual ACC/B1G Challenge, the decision was made to include the 12 teams with the best RPI from the previous year.
Beginning with the 2014 season, the ACC Baseball Championship will feature 10 teams in a six-day event. A double-elimination format will be used Tuesday through Friday followed by two single-elimination games on Saturday and the Championship Game on Sunday.
Conference Policy and Procedures
The decision was made that should a member institution be ineligible for postseason competition due to NCAA sanctions, it will be ineligible for regular season or divisional recognition.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
We had our news conference with Al Golden today.
While the ailing UM defense has gotten back middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, as you know, it has likely lost starting defensive tackle Olsen Pierre for the Notre Dame game. Pierre did not practice Tuesday again. Golden said he was "doubtful'' for Saturday. The coach said Corey King will likely replace Pierre, and freshman Dequan Ivery will be included in the rotation. Ivery has not played yet.
Defensive end Shayon Green (knee) wore a yellow (limited) jersey in practice Tuesday, as did linebackers Jimmy Gaines (ankle) and Perryman (ankle). You've got to figure that UM coach Golden is being cautious and making sure these guys don't get hurt more, or again, leading up to the game. Shayon, I've noticed, has been limping at times on that same right knee on which he's had two reconstructive surgeries. And Jimmy was sidelined Monday with a boot over his left ankle.
UM sophomore Phillip Dorsett has had two breakout games in a row, and the nation has noticed. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced Tuesday that Dorsett was one of 11 receivers added to the Biletnikof Award Watch List. Dorsett, who went to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High, leads UM with 28 receptions, 464 receiving yards and three touchdowns through five games. He had a career-high nine catches for 184 yards at Georgia Tech and then outdid that with seven catches for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns against North Carolina State last weekend.
"I honestly didn't even know that,'' Dorsett told me Tuesday. "It's a great honor, obviously. Every receiver wants to be on that list, but I'm focusing on Notre Dame. We've got to go out there and get that W.''
Junior Allen Hurns was on the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List.
ODDS AND ENDS
*Golden was asked what he thought of neutral site games.
"Well,'' he answered, "I'd prefer it to be neutral.''
*The game Saturday at Soldier Field is technically a neutral site (less than a two-hour drive from South Bend, Indiana), but everyone knows it's a home game for Notre Dame. The Irish will serve as the home team and will have basically the entire stadium rooting for them. (Or at least most of it! The Canes fans will do their best to be heard, I'm sure. They are a devoted bunch when we see them at away games.)
I was told by UM that Canes fans have three separate scattered sections at Soldier Field.
*When Golden was asked about the Canes' second- and third-quarter lulls (UM has scored 47 points in those quarters compared to 125 points in the first and fourth quarters), he said, "I wish I had the answer to that. We're constantly striving for consistency and yet we're inconsistent... Sometimes that just comes with experience.''
SEANTREL TAKING CHARGE
Seantrel Henderson has the edge to start at right tackle, judging by Tuesday's practice.
"If I had to tell you just by observing,'' Golden said, "I would tell you Seantrel was better than [Ereck] Flowers today.''
The Canes now don't have two offensive tackles for this game: Ben Jones, who has an injured foot; and Jermaine Johnson, who is not on the team right now, Golden told us Monday. That will put a lot more pressure on the UM line, which is going against a great defense. They'll need their conditioning to come through Saturday.
*Miami practices tomorrow morning, but Golden has cut off access to the players after today. We usually get them on Wednesdays.
Al Golden wants no excuses about the cold that is expected Saturday in Chicago. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, weather.com had Saturday's nighttime low for Chicago at 37 degrees and the high that day at 51 -- with 20 percent chance of rain and winds at 16 miles an hour.
Keep in mind that the game begins at 6:30 p.m. Chicago time, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
"I hope we're not to the point where we have to all huddle around the heater,'' Golden said. "I hope we're all tough enough to just go out and play.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Canes quarterback Stephen Morris, linebacker Gionni Paul, and linebacker Eddie Johnson were named Atlantic Coast Conference Football Players of the Week on Monday.
Morris, named the Offensive Back of the Week, threw for a UM- and ACC-record 566 yards to lead the Hurricanes to a 44-37 win over NC State. The junior completed 26 of 49 passes for a 21.8 yards-per-completion average, and recorded five TDs, tying five other Miami quarterbacks for the most in a single game and the first since Kyle Wright at Wake Forest in 2005. In his last two games, he has thrown for 1,002 yards.
Paul, named Linebacker of the week, made his first career start and had a team-high 11 tackles, including eight solo stops. His 11 tackles matched his total in his first 11 career games.
Johnson, named Rookie of the Week, tallied seven tackles (six solo stops), one sack, one tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup. The reigning ACC Linebacker of the Week recorded one of Miami’s two sacks and a tackle-for-loss. His six solo stops were second among Miami players and the seven tackles were third on the team.
UM has now had five players selected as ACC Player of the Week selections: Duke Johnson (twice), Eddie Johnson (twice), Morris, Paul and Phillip Dorsett.
MORE QUICK NOTES FROM MONDAY
> The ACC announced the UM-North Carolina game on Oct. 13 will be a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
> UM coach Al Golden told reporters Monday backup offensive tackle "Jermaine Johnson is not with us right now. That's personal reasons. But it's Jermaine's choice and he's not with us right now."
> Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre was held out of practice Monday for unspecified reasons. Freshman Dequan Ivery, scout team MVP last week, was practicing with the varsity Monday.
The Hurricanes just released their depth chart for the Notre Dame game Saturday at Soldier Field, where Notre Dame will be the home team.
Some quick changes: Denzel Perryman (high-ankle sprain) is back and starting at middle linebacker.
With offensive tackle Ben Jones out, the co-starters at right tackle are now freshman Ereck Flowers and junior Seantrel Henderson -- with redshirt freshman Hunter Wells listed as the backup to Malcolm Bunche at left tackle.
Tyrone Cornileus and Gionni Paul are listed as co-starters at outside linebacker.
Deon Bush is listed ahead of Kacy Rodgers at safety.
UM DEPTH CHART
WR 80 RASHAWN SCOTT 6-2, 190, So.
86 Herb Waters 6-2, 185, Fr.
LT 79 MALCOLM BUNCHE 6-7, 325, RSo.
64 Hunter Wells 6-4, 300, RFr.
LG 70 JONATHAN FELICIANO 6-5, 314, RSo.
68 Jeremy Lewis 6-4, 316, RSr.
C 62 SHANE MCDERMOTT 6-4, 295, RSo.
75 Jared Wheeler 6-5, 314, RJr.
RG 65 BRANDON LINDER 6-6, 308, Jr.
63 Daniel Isidora 6-4, 320, Fr.
RT 74 ERECK FLOWERS –OR– 6-6, 314, Fr.
77 SEANTREL HENDERSON 6-8, 340, Jr.
TE 49 DYRON DYE 6-5, 255, RJr.
46 Clive Walford 6-4, 250, RSo.
82 Asante Cleveland 6-5, 263, Jr.
FB 33 MAURICE HAGENS 5-11, 240, Jr.
43 Sean Harvey 6-4, 262, RSo.
QB 17 STEPHEN MORRIS 6-2, 214, Jr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 221, RSo.
RB 5 MIKE JAMES 5-11, 220, Sr.
8 Duke Johnson 5-9, 188, Fr.
23 Eduardo Clements 5-9, 195, Jr.
WR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, So.
83 Kendal Thompkins 5-10, 182, RSr.
WR 1 ALLEN HURNS 6-3, 192, Jr.
24 Davon Johnson 6-0, 188, Sr.
P 13 DALTON BOTTS 6-3, 205, Sr.
40 Jake Wieclaw 6-2, 193, RSr.
FG 40 JAKE WIECLAW 6-2, 193, RSr.
18 Matt Goudis 6-0, 170, RFr.
KO 40 JAKE WIECLAW 6-2, 193, RSr.
18 Matt Goudis 6-0, 170, RFr.
H 13 DALTON BOTTS 6-3, 205, Sr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 221, RSo.
LS 61 PAUL KELLY 6-1, 262, RSr.
SS 61 PAUL KELLY 6-1, 262, RSr.
65 Brandon Linder 6-6, 308, Jr.
PR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, So.
8 Duke Johnson 5-9, 188, Fr.
KR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, So.
8 Duke Johnson 5-9, 188, Fr.
DE 71 ANTHONY CHICKILLO 6-4, 262, So.
99 Jelani Hamilton 6-5, 271, Fr.
DT 98 DARIUS SMITH 6-2, 315, Sr.
72 Earl Moore –OR– 6-1, 300, Fr.
66 Dequan Ivery 6-1, 303, Fr.
DT 91 OLSEN PIERRE 6-4, 300, So.
67 Corey King 6-1, 295, RFr.
93 Luther Robinson –OR– 6-3, 288, RJr.
92 Jalen Grimble 6-2, 295, So.
DE 51 SHAYON GREEN 6-3, 260, RJr.
94 Kelvin Cain –OR– 6-3, 245, So.
17 Tyriq McCord 6-3, 236, Fr.
OLB 44 EDDIE JOHNSON 6-1, 238, RFr.
34 Thurston Armbrister 6-3, 222, So.
MLB 52 DENZEL PERRYMAN 6-0, 229, So.
59 Jimmy Gaines 6-3, 230, Jr.
56 Raphael Kirby 6-0, 218, Fr.
OLB 31 TYRONE CORNILEUS –OR– 6-2, 210, Jr.
36 GIONNI PAUL 6-1, 230, So.
57 Nantambu-Akil Fentress 5-9, 205, So.
CB 20 THOMAS FINNIE –OR– 5-10, 183, So.
37 LADARIUS GUNTER 6-2, 198, Jr.
S 2 DEON BUSH 6-1, 190, Fr.
22 Kacy Rodgers II 6-2, 210, Jr.
S 30 A.J. HIGHSMITH 6-0, 202, RJr.
7 Vaughn Telemaque 6-2, 204, RSr.
29 Rayshawn Jenkins 6-1, 203, Fr.
CB 21 BRANDON McGEE 6-0, 194, Sr.
39 Antonio Crawford –OR– 5-11, 188, Fr.
3 Tracy Howard 5-11, 185, Fr