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.
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