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.
It's a big weekend for college football.
Unfortunately, a lot of us who would have been in Charlotte this weekend for the ACC Championship, will now sit at home Saturday and watch Georgia Tech (6-6 overall. 5-3 ACC) take on Florida State (10-2, 7-1).
Probably not Al Golden.
Unless he changes his plans.
When The Hurricanes coach was asked If he would be watching the ACC title game, he replied, "I probably won't be. I hope I'm at a recruiting dinner trying to get someone that's going to help us get in that game -- again.''
You know it's driving Golden crazy that the Canes aren't in this game, which should have been UM vs. FSU in a rematch of state rivals. When the UM administration opted to self-impose its second consecutive bowl ban in hopes of softening expected NCAA penalties in the Nevin Shapiro case, that also included the ACC title game.
"We've made a significant sacrifice here,'' Golden said. "It wasn't just one postseason game. It was three postseason games. It was a chance to play in a championship game and it also was a chance to play our arch-rival and have a chance to go to a BCS game. So, we're giving up significantly."
Especially frustrating that Georgia Tech is the team that got the nod for the title game over the Hurricanes, who beat Tech in Atlanta in overtime this season (remember Mike James' incredible performance that game?)
Anyway, in case you didn't hear already, the NCAA has granted Georgia Tech permission to play in a bowl game should the Yellow Jackets lose to FSU and have a 6-7 record. In doing so, that could prevent a team such as 10-2 San Jose State from playing in a bowl, or 6-6 Central Michigan.
Doesn't seem to make sense.
WAY TO GO SHAYON
Wanted to give a shout out to defensive end Shayon Green, who won the 2012 Brian Piccolo Award along with FSU running back Chris Thompson.
The Piccolo Award, given annually since 1972 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo, goes to the "most courageous" football player in the ACC. Piccolo, who played for Wake Forest (and the Chicago Bears) and was the 1965 ACC Athlete of the Year, moved to South Florida when he was 12 and graduated from the former Central Catholic High -- now Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas -- in 1961. He was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer and died at age 26. (aside: any of you remember, or ever seen, the movie that immortalized Piccolo -- Brian's Song? A remake of it was made in 2001. The original was aired in 1971.)
Shayon, according to the news release of the award, "had to overcome four different major injuries:'' two ACL tears in his right knee, one meniscus tear in his right knee and also suffered a dislocated wrist that forced him to miss "all, or a major part of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.''
"Shayon is an amazing individual with an unparalleled work ethic,'' Golden said. "I cannot think of anyone who exemplifies the ideals of Brian Piccolo or is more deserving of this award than him. He has overcome a dislocated wrist and three separate knee surgeries to become our leading tackler and team captain. His commitment and perseverance is an inspiration to us all.''
Frank Gore (2004) and Glenn Sharpe (2006) are the other two Canes who previously won this award.
I did a feature about Shayon early this season. He's a tough player, whom I recall many a day walking to or from practice limping. But he ended up leading the Hurricanes in tackles with 67 in 12 games -- three more than LB Denzel Perryman (nine games); six more than LB Gionni Paul (nine games); and eight more than LB Eddie Johnson (10 games).
Shayon will be back next year.
HERE'S THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY I WROTE ABOUT SHAYON EARLY THIS SEASON:
When Shayon Green learned that fifth-year senior linebacker Ramon Buchanan sustained a second major knee injury Saturday on the same knee Buchanan tore last October, tears welled in Green’s eyes.
“That was very upsetting,’’ Green said this week, taking a few moments to compose himself. “He’s in my prayers.’’
Green’s empathy is palpable. The 6-3, 260-pound Miami defensive end tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee as a freshman during 2009 fall camp. He tore the same ACL again during spring practice of 2011.
“But I never quit,’’ he said.
This medical marvel, an inspiration to teammates and coaches alike, resumed his playing career six months after his second reconstructive surgery. Today, the redshirt junior leads the Hurricanes (1-1) in tackles with 15 – highlighted by his tackle-for-loss on an attempted trick play from the 1-yard line at Kansas State in the second quarter.
KSU missed an attempted field goal on the next play.
“He’s as tough as they come,’’ defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said of Green, who plays strong-side, rush end and nose tackle on third downs. “He has come back from multiple injuries, yet he throws it around every day. Here’s an example of someone who doesn’t make excuses, a guy playing three positions and owning the game plan.’’
Green, 21, grew up in Tifton, Ga., where he was rated the No. 65 weakside defensive end by rivals.com. He said his mother, a nurse; and father, who owns a small construction company, helped keep his spirits up through both ACL tears.
“Proud is not the word,’’ said Larry Green, who had just hung up with Shayon a day after the demoralizing 52-13 loss at Kansas State. “He’s very respectful, well mannered, smart – and I love him to death. He was a little upset because he’s a leader on the defensive line and they played poorly. I told him, ‘Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get ready for Bethune-Cookman. You’ve got to rally your troops.’’’
TICKETS ON SALE FOR UM FOOTBALL BANQUET
Tickets are on sale for the UM Football Banquet, which will be held Dec. 9 at Jungle Island in the Treetop Ballroom -- 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, 33132.
Tickets are $60 per person, which includes buffet lunch.
Check-in and reception begin at noon, with luncheon and awards program at 1 p.m.
Fans can purchase tickets online or by calling the Hurricane Club at 305-284-6699.
HURRICANES TO HOST WOUNDED WARRIORS
The UM baseball team will host the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team for a 7 p.m. exhibition on Saturday, Dec. 8 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
The Wounded Warriors are young veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs while serving their country in the military since 9-11.
Pregame festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds from the game ($10 general admission tickets a the gate) go to the Wounded Warriors.
These guys are awesome -- and they're incredibly fit. I've covered the Wounded Warriors who run in the ING MIami Marathon. It's a fantastic organization. I'm guessing that this event will be inspiring, and worth attending.
Another shout out, this one to the men's and women's hoops teams, who had back-to-back great victories against highly ranked teams -- the men against No. 13 Michigan State and the women, last night against No. 6 Penn State.
Michelle Kaufman covers UM hoops for The MIami Herald, and wrote two compelling stories on the games.
While she was at the men's game two nights ago, by the way, she caught up to UM interim AD Blake James to ask him about the speculation of Al Golden speaking to Tennessee (or other teams) about head coaching vacancies.
She relayed this quote to me, from James:
"I spoke to Al the last two days regarding all the rumors and he assured me that he'll be with us next year and isn't going anywhere."
I believe it.
I am on furlough next week (mandatory and predetermined), so will be back after that.
Everyone have a healthy and happy week ahead.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
The Miami Hurricanes might have won a share of the Coastal Division title on the field, but that didn't mean voters felt like they deserved much representation on the All-ACC Team.
Freshman Duke Johnson turned out to be the only representative from UM to make the team. He earned second team honors at running back and as a special teamer.
Four Hurricanes were named ACC Honorable mention: OL Seantrel Henderson, OL Brandon Linder, OL Jonathan Feliciano and LB Denzel Perryman.
Here is the complete list released moments ago from the ACC.
QB-Tajh Boyd, Clemson (86)
RB-Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (91)
RB-Andre Ellington, Clemson (77)
WR-DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (80)
WR-Alex Amidon, Boston College (53)
OT-Oday Aboushi, Virginia (53)
OT-Brandon Thomas, Clemson (51)
OG-Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (79)
OG-Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (64)
C-Dalton Freeman, Clemson (78)
TE-Brandon Ford, Clemson (54)
K-Dustin Hopkins, Florida State (79)
Spec.- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (48)
DE-Bjoern Werner, Florida State (89)
DE-Cornellius Carradine, Florida State (77)
DT-Joe Vellano, Maryland (80)
DT-Sylvester Williams, North Carolina (63)
LB-Nick Clancy, Boston College (66)
LB-Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (65)
LB-Steve Greer, Virginia (58)
CB-Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (66)
CB-Ross Cockrell, Duke (50)
S-Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (59)
S-Earl Wolff, NC State (46)
P-Will Monday, Duke (73)
QB-EJ Manuel, Florida State (25)
RB-Duke Johnson, Miami (47)
RB-Chris Thompson, Florida State (31)
WR-Conner Vernon, Duke (51)
WR-Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest (32)
OT-James Hurst, North Carolina (50)
TIE OT-Cameron Erving, Florida State (21)
TIE OT-Emmett Cleary, Boston College (21)
OG-Tre' Jackson, Florida State (26)
OG-R.J. Matttes, NC State (24)
C- Bryan Stork, Florida State (19)
TE-Eric Ebron, North Carolina (51)
TIE K-Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson (22)
TIE K-Casey Barth, North Carolina (22)
Spec.-Duke Johnson, Miami (44)
DE-James Gayle, Virginia Tech (30)
DE-Kareem Martin, North Carolina (22)
DT-Everett Dawkins, Florida State (34)
DT-Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest (24)
LB-Demetrius Hartsfield, Maryland (34)
LB-Christian Jones, Florida State (31)
LB-Jack Tyler Virginia Tech (28)
CB-David Amerson, NC State (46)
CB-Antone Exum, Virginia Tech (44)
S-Rashard Hall, Clemson (43)
S- Walt Canty, Duke (31)
P-Tommy Hibbard, North Carolina (40)
QB Mike Glennon (NC State) 10
QB Bryn Renner (NC) 15
RB Orwin Smith (GT) 13
WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson) 19
WR Jamison Crowder (Duke) 15
TE Jake McGee (Virginia) 12
C Camden Wentz (NC State) 12
C Jay Finch (Georgia Tech) 16
OG Brandon Linder (Miami) 21
OG Dave Harding (Duke) 14
OG Jonathan Feliciano (Miami) 16
OG Travis Bond (North Carolina) 14
OT Menelik Watson (FSU) 13
OT Emmett Cleary (BC) 21
OT Seantrel Henderson (Miami) 13
OT Will Jackson (Georgia Tech) 14
OT Brennan Williams (NC) 13
OT Perry Simmons (Duke) 11
K Ross Martin (Duke) 11
ST Stefon Diggs (Maryland) 33
DE Kenny Anunike (Duke) 13
DE Darryl Cato-Bishop (NCST) 12
DE A.J. Francis (Maryland) 12
DE Malliciah Goodman (Clemson) 16
DT Antoine Hopkins (VT) 10
DT Derrick Hopkins (VT) 15
DT Timmy Jernigan (FSU) 15
DT Anthony McCloud (FSU) 10
LB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) 26
LB Denzel Perryman (Miami) 12
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (BC) 14
LB LaRoy Reynolds (Virginia) 10
LB Kenny Tate (Maryland) 12
LB Bruce Taylor (VT) 19
LB Vince Williams (FSU) 11
S Brandan Bishop (NC State) 20
S Tre Boston (North Carolina) 29
CB Kyle Fuller (VT) 16
CB Tim Scott (NC) 10
CB Demetrious Nicholson (Virginia) 12
P Alexander Kinal (Wake Forest) 12
P Gerald Levano (BC) 13
> FYI, a year ago UM had linebacker Sean Spence make the All-ACC first team. Running back Lamar Miller and center Tyler Horn were named to the second team. Leonard Hankerson, Matt Bosher and Brandon Washington made the All-ACC first team in 2010. UM had six players make the second team in 2010.
University of Miami freshman running back Duke Johnson was named the ACC's Rookie of the Week for the fifth time on Monday.
Johnson, who along with Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs, is in the running for the ACC Rookie of the Year Award, capped his freshman season with his best rushing performance of the year -- running for 176 yards and three TDs in a win at Duke Saturday.
Johnson finished the season with 947 yards -- a new UM freshman rushing record and the fourth-highest total in the country among freshmen. He finishes 65th overall in terms of yards per game with 78.92.
The only freshmen who ran for more yards than Johnson: Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (1,194 yards), Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (1,181 yards) and Georgia's Todd Gurley (1,138 yards). Each of them had at 37 or more carries than Johnson on the season. Johnson had 139 carries.
Johnson also finished fourth nationally in kickoff return average (33.04) and eighth in all-purpose yardage (171.67).
The last Hurricane to win a conference Rookie of the Year award was offensive tackle Joaquin Gonzalez back in 1998. Reggie Wayne won it in 1997. Kenard Lang won it in 1994.
The last Hurricane to win an overall yearly award in conference was the late Sean Taylor, who won the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2003. UM hasn't won anything since.
> Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post did a good job breaking down the fight for the ACC Rookie of the Year award between Johnson and Diggs on his blog. Check it out.
The Canes (6-5, 4-3 ACC) are playing their final game of the season at Duke (6-5, 3-4 ACC).
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on the ACC Network. Locally, that's Channel 4.
Feel free to participate in our CoverItLive.com chat below. All you need to do is sign in with your email address.
Here we go again.
Hurricanes linebacker and second-leading tackler Eddie Johnson is not on the travel roster for today's game at Duke -- the final University of Miami football game of the season.
Johnson has violated team rules, said UM athletics director of communications Chris Yandle.
Johnson, a 6-1, 234-pound redshirt freshman outside linebacker who won two Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week Awards this season (as linebacker of the week and rookie of the week), did not travel to the Virginia game two weeks ago because of disciplinary reasons.
He was reinstated for the USF game last weekend.
On this week's depth chart, Johnson was listed as the backup to sophomore Thurston Armbrister.
"There's a responsibility and level of accountability that we can't move on without, " UM Coach Al Golden said after he announced Johnson's reinstatement the week of the USF game. "It's not, 'Do this for me.' It's, 'Do it because the rest of the team is doing it and because you want to be accountable and you want to be responsible and you want to be a good teammate.'
"Hopefully, he'll come out of it stronger and respond. I've been in situations where two or three years down the road you look back and say, 'That was a moment that I finally realized what I'm giving up or what I'm costing the team.' As a coach, you can't look the other way."
Chatter about Johnson started trickling down on the Internet yesterday.
He has 59 tackles (7.5 tackles-for-loss), a sack, interception, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and three forced fumbles in 10 games. He has started eight games.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Come talk Canes with me one last time before the season ends. I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss.
Chat begins at 2 p.m. Leave your questions on the blog below or tweet them to me. I will answer all of them on the CoverItLive app.
In case you missed it, our Barry Jackson posted an interesting entry in his latest Sports Buzz column about how the NCAA has sent letters to former UM football players telling them they must talk or they will believe Nevin Shapiro's claims against them.
The deadline is this Friday. Barry and I heard about this last week and he got a copy of the letter recently and posted it on his blog.
Here’s how the letter to one player's attorney reads:
"The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.
"Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients’ cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.
“If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client’s admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.”
Assistant Director of Enforcement
I've heard all along from a couple sources that were interviewed by the NCAA who have told me the organization feels like it has a solid case to hammer UM for lack of institutional control based on the testimony of about eight to 10 former players, former assistant coaches and recruits who went elsewhere and were given immunity.
Not only do I think that stinks (immunity), but I find it downright offensive now that this letter surfaces and that former players are basically being told as the case is being wrapped up they have to speak or all of it is going to be considered true. In my opinion, this is a huge black-eye on the NCAA and the way it goes about collecting its information.
Do we live in America or a dictatorship?
Somebody has to step in here and do something. This system is clearly flawed.
UM coach Al Golden told reporters Tuesday suspended receiver Rashawn Scott will return to the team after Jan. 1.
Scott hasn't played since the Virginia Tech game.
Other notes from Golden Tuesday:
- Golden said team will start weight lifting as soon as the season ends. He said he wants the commitment to continue before players go home on holiday break.
- Freshman safety Deon Bush, who has missed the last two games with a stinger, has been cleared to return and play this week at Duke. Bush practiced Tuesday.
- Golden said he and his staff have been energized by the effort of the players this week in practice. That's a good sign considering players were flat last year after learning they were not going to be a bowl game prior to losing to Boston College in the season finale.
UM coach Al Golden talked about the program taking a second consecutive bowl ban. He also addressed his future with the Hurricanes.
UM quarterback Stephen Morris said the team was "in a state of shock" when they found out Monday morning they wouldn't be going to a bowl game for the second year in a row.
Here is the official release from the school sent this morning:
The University of Miami has made the decision to withhold the football team from bowl consideration for the 2012 postseason. The decision was made in response to the ongoing NCAA inquiry and the University has informed both the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference of its decision. The decision also means that should the Miami football team qualify for the ACC Championship Game, it will not be eligible to participate. Interim Director of Athletics Blake James informed the team of the decision this morning, two days after the Hurricanes became bowl eligible with their sixth victory of the season.
The unprecedented decision to voluntarily withhold the football team from a second consecutive postseason was made by University leadership, including President Shalala, the Office of the General Counsel and Department of Athletics leaders. Considerable deliberation and discussion based on the status of the NCAA inquiry went into the decision-making process and, while acknowledging the impact that the decision will have on current student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans, a determination was made that voluntarily withholding the football team from a second postseason was not only a prudent step for the University to take but will also allow for the football program and University to move forward in the most expedited manner possible.
The University and President Shalala have been clear from the start of the inquiry that Miami will cooperate fully and will seek the truth, no matter where the path might lead and that the institution will be stronger because of it. The University has already taken proactive measures to ensure more strict compliance with NCAA rules and continues to evaluate further steps. No other self-imposed penalties have been issued at this time and to continue to protect the integrity of the inquiry, the University will have no further comment.
I admit I was a bit surprised -- and disappointed -- when Al Golden didn't relay a decision about what the Miami administration will do regarding the Hurricanes' post-season future.
Golden said he wants to keep playing, but that it's what any coach would want, and he wasn't taking into account any future implications. Whatever UM president Donna Shalala decides, Golden said he will support.
Waiting at all makes me think they might be waiting to see what happens in the game at Duke, and whether UM qualifies for the ACC Championship game, which would precede a Bowl. And if UM beats Duke and were to go to the ACC title game Dec. 1 in Charlotte, N.C., a victory would put the Canes in the Orange Bowl. Wow. Imagine that.
Of course, should UM get in the title game and get killed by FSU...
Maybe the administration wants to appease Al Golden, who is the right coach at the right time for this program. The Canes do not want to lose Golden, who seems very committed, but who also will likely be on the wish list for other programs.
Either way, what do you guys think? Should they go or should they stay?
I think they should self-impose, but I figure I win either way. Covering bowl games is really fun, and the players have such a good time, too. And I have to admit it would be really cool for the Canes to get into their first ACC title game.
Have a good night.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Al Golden usually releases his weekly depth chart early Monday morning before practice, but we just received the newest one for the Duke game in Durham -- announced for 12:30 p.m. Nov. 24 on ACC Regional TV.
Freshman receiver Herb Waters, who had an exceptional performance yesterday with 130 receiving yards that included an 87-yard touchdown, is now a No. 1 wideout, ahead of injured receiver Allen Hurns (broken finger).
At left tackle, freshman Ereck Flowers is now a co-first-teamer at left tackle with Malcolm Bunche.
Denzel Perryman and Gionni Paul are co-starters at outside linebacker.
Freshman Rayshawn Jenkins, who led UM yesterday with seven tackles and an interception, is a co-starter at safety with A.J. Highsmith.
DEPTH CHART, courtesty UM
WR 86 HERB WATERS 6-2, 185, Fr.
1 Allen Hurns 6-3, 192, Jr.
87 Garrett Kidd 6-2, 186, RFr.
LT 79 MALCOLM BUNCHE
–OR– 6-7, 325, RSo.
74 ERECK FLOWERS 6-6, 314, Fr.
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 77 SEANTREL HENDERSON 6-8, 340, Jr.
74 Ereck Flowers 6-6, 314, Fr.
TE 46 CLIVE WALFORD 6-4, 250, RSo.
82 Asante Cleveland 6-5, 263, Jr.
49 Dyron Dye 6-5, 255, RJr.
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.
25 Dallas Crawford 5-10, 192, RFr.
WR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, So.
83 Kendal Thompkins 5-10, 182, RSr.
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.
59 Jimmy Gaines 6-3, 230, Jr.
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 –
OR– 6-5, 271, Fr.
90 Ricardo Williams 6-5, 240, RFr.
DT 96 CURTIS PORTER 6-1, 305, RJr.
67 Corey King –
OR– 6-1, 295, RFr.
72 Earl Moore 6-1, 300, Fr.
DT 91 OLSEN PIERRE 6-4, 300, So.
93 Luther Robinson 6-3, 288, RJr.
DE 51 SHAYON GREEN 6-3, 260, RJr.
17 Tyriq McCord 6-3, 236, Fr.
94 Kelvin Cain 6-3, 245, Jr.
OLB 34 THURSTON ARMBRISTER 6-3, 222, So.
44 Eddie Johnson 6-1, 234, RFr.
MLB 59 JIMMY GAINES 6-3, 230, Jr.
56 Raphael Kirby 6-0, 218, Fr.
OLB 52 DENZEL PERRYMAN
–OR– 6-0, 229, So.
36 GIONNI PAUL 6-1, 230, So.
31 Tyrone Cornileus 6-2, 210, Jr.
CB 37 LADARIUS GUNTER 6-2, 198, Jr.
3 Tracy Howard 5-11, 185, Fr.
20 Thomas Finnie 5-10, 183, So.
S 29 RAYSHAWN JENKINS
–OR– 6-1, 203, Fr.
30 AJ HIGHSMITH 6-0, 202, RJr.
S 22 KACY RODGERS II 6-2, 210, Jr.
7 Vaughn Telemaque 6-2, 204, RSr.
2 Deon Bush 6-1, 190, Fr.
CB 21 BRANDON McGEE 6-0, 194, Sr.
39 Antonio Crawford 5-11, 188, Fr
We're still waiting for the teleconference with Al Golden at 4:30 today. Will be back after that.SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
UM coach Al Golden's post-game transcript following the 40-9 win over South Florida.
On his team’s win...
"We knew they were going to bring a lot of energy - the game means a lot to both teams. I was nervous with them coming off a bye week. We did whatever we could to get them fresh this week. We didn’t go in pads very much, and the kids responded today. I was very pleased with the effort, and obviously the amount of kids that stepped up - most particularly at wideout, to answer the call, because we had some injures at that spot."
On the performance of the wide receivers...
"Obviously we really believe Herb [Waters] is going to be a really good player for us. Philip [Dorsett] grew up tonight. I was so proud of Kendal [Thompkins], the plays he made, the blocks he made, the unselfishness he showed out there - he really deserved to go out that way. I’m very happy for Kendal."
On the performance of Clive Walford...
"Our biggest thing with Clive, and what we keep saying to him, is we have to keep pushing you to five, six, seven catches a game. He has that ability. If he didn’t have that in his talent zone, we wouldn’t push him. We have to get him out of his comfort zone and into his talent zone. We think he’s a six-, seven-, eight-catch [guy], he’s in that range. We haven’t got there yet with him. He’s getting better. Sometimes you look out there and you forget he doesn’t have a long lineage in the game. He’s a sophomore. I’m pleased with the direction he’s going and how he’s working."
On being bowl eligible...
"It’s nice. Obviously we lost by five points to the two ACC Coastal teams, which is disappointing. We’ve had a tough road to get to this point. I just stay focused on moving the team forward. When I look out there and see Herb Waters doing what he did today, and some of the other guys respond the way they did, the young guys, it’s really exciting for the future."
On the performance of Stephen Morris...
"They were pressuring us a lot. They hit Stephen a lot on plays he shouldn’t have been hit early on. I think the offensive line responded in the third quarter, they obviously protected him better. I think Stephen shook it off, and that third-quarter drive was as good as any drive we’ve had. We’ve stalled a couple times in the third quarter when we’ve gotten the ball. Stephen had a good look, we protected, we had a good mix of run and pass there - that was excellent."
"I’m excited about Stephen Morris. I look out there and you take Mike James off the field, and everyone else back. I’m excited about the direction that that’s going, and how those guys are maturing. To see Stephen step up like that is great."
On self-imposing a bowl ban...
"I’m not in that loop. I have complete confidence in our president, our legal counsel and our Athletic Director Blake James. The way I look at it is this - we have the best president in the country. A president that oversaw a 600 million dollar budget when she was in the cabinet. She was in rooms where they made decisions as to whether they are going to overthrow heads of state, whether we were going to commit troops. I think she can handle this one. I have complete confidence she can handle this one. I’m just happy for the guys. I’m happy for the win today. I’m happy to have the opportunity to go to Durham next week and play for the Coastal."
On his role in the bowl decision-making...
"I’m not part of it, and most of that is to protect me from the legal side of it, to be quite honest. I’m not privy to what the president is privy to. I don’t know what the president knows, or our legal counsel, or what Blake James knows, and I’m not a part of that. I’m sure there will be some discussions tonight and tomorrow and we’ll go from there."
On addressing the bowl eligibility with the team...
"I lamented the fact that I didn’t address it before Virginia. For all the things we didn’t do well in the game, I wish I had said, ‘hey guys, I’m getting so many questions about it, if we are we going to do this or do that, so I know you must be seeing it or hearing it.’ I think the kids did an awesome job this week of just listening to what I was saying and what the staff was saying. Just live in a vision. Go out and play. Enjoy it. Don’t let anyone get you down, talking about what you don’t have, because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"I thought our kids enjoyed it tonight. Our kids played hard. We have to do the same thing next week. Wehave to block out the circumstances. Don’t make any excuses, we’re responsible for what we can control. The rest will take care of itself - I have faith in that."
On playing for a spot in the ACC Championship Game next week...
"It’s critical. It’s critical for our seniors to weather what they have weathered, and to be able to have an opportunity to go out like that. If you look at it all the way down the line, if you’re a freshman, and you’re playing for that your freshman year, you become accustomed. You change the culture. They start to understand what it means to pack your bags and go on the road to Durham or wherever you have to go to win that game. We’re going to have our hands full – we know that. All our Coastal Division games are hard to win. I hope our guys learned from the Virginia game on what we need to do. That’s my focus. I have complete confidence in our leadership and the direction we’re going with the program and what we need to do to move forward."
On the timetable for a decision...
"I’m here to coach the team and make them better. I’m here to move the program forward and move the team forward. I want to reiterate how proud I am of the guys. You can say whatever you want, come at me, bury me all you want. Attack me all you want. These kids who have stuck it out, who have stayed here, who have never gone one week in two years without hearing this nonsense, don’t blame them. I appreciate all those kids that not only stayed here, but those guys that answered the bell, that answered the call to fix this. We will get it fixed."
On the performance of the team’s defense...
"Denzel [Perryman] and Eddie [Johnson] make a difference, I don’t think there’s any question, having guys back like that. Hopefully we’ll get Deon [Bush] back. I think Corey King did a nice job. The presence of all three of those kids made a difference in the game. We played a lot of guys, we rotated, we got some takeaways which were huge. It was a good win."
On the defense holding USF offense to single digits...
"We were all disappointed with how we played last week and the circumstances we were dealing with. The three games leading up to Virginia, we showed marked improvement, and obviously we got back on track here tonight. You can’t erase what happened last week, but obviously we all understand what goes into a game like that and an effort like that. I thought the guys responded today."
On blocking out distractions with a young team...
"It’s tough. It’s not just the kids, it’s everybody. Everybody in the organization. I’ve never had a season where I wasn’t answering for those questions, never been in a kid’s home recruiting where I didn’t have to answer those questions. I can’t wait for that day. I thank the parents, and the players who stayed here to fight through this – those are the ones we should be honoring. Those seniors who stayed here to fight through this and didn’t take the easy way out, and all the kids that joined us, that want to see the University of Miami back where it needs to be."
On the play of freshman safety Rayshawn Jenkins...
"I think he’s talented. That rookie class has really stepped up. I don’t know if he’s the ninth or 10th freshman who has started for us this year, but they’ve stepped up. They’ve really had to fill in. A lot of them were pressed into service before they were ready. They’re competitors, they love football, and they love the University of Miami. I’m very pleased with Rayshawn."
The Canes (5-5, 4-3 ACC) are playing their final home game of the season against South Florida (3-6).
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and the game can be seen on SunSports.
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UM won't just be shorthanded at receiver for Saturday's home finale vs. USF.
Senior receiver Davon Johnson (21 catches, 348 yards, 0 TDs) has had season-ending surgery according to UM. He joins freshmen Robert Lockhart and Malcolm Lewis as receivers who have been lost for the season. Sophomore receiver Rashawn Scott was suspended indefinitely before the Virginia game and remains out.
So, UM is down to Phillip Dorsett, Allen Hurns (fractured thumb), Herb Waters and Kendall Thompkins as the only scholarship receivers who are expected to play Saturday. UM has two other freshman receivers being redshirted
Safety Deon Bush, meanwhile, will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury. Bush has been battling stingers all season.
Thanks to his big day returning kickoffs last Saturday at Virginia, Hurricanes freshman running back Duke Johnson now ranks third nationally in kickoff return yardage with a 35.41 average.
So could Johnson end up breaking the single-season kickoff average in Canes' history? He might.
Johnson already owns the school record for most kickoff return yardage in a season (779). But according to the record book, Tremain Mack owns the highest average (1996, 37.71 yards per return, 14 returns for 528 yards). Devin Hester is next with a 28.72 average set in 2003.
In terms of career kickoff return yardage, Randal Hill owns the mark with 1,169 yards. Johnson, by the way, already ranks ninth all-time in terms of yardage and is tied for the career mark in touchdown returns (2) with Ottis Anderson, Hester and Tim Morgan.
This week, special teams coordinator Micheal Barrow had high praise for the kick return blocking of Allen Hurns, Mike James, Raphael Kirby, walk-on Nantambu Fentress, Maurice Hagens and Herb Waters.
"Obviously Duke, he hit it hard, found a crease," Barrow said of Johnson's 95-yard kick return for a touchdown. "But those guys laid on a barbwire for him, tried to block guys to the Gatorade cooler and gave him an opportunity to find a button to run off."
UM ranks 13th nationally in kickoff coverage defense, but it's an area UM coach Al Golden and Barrow agreed this week the team has to improve on. Of UM's 56 kickoffs this season, only six have gone for touchbacks. Of the 120 teams at the FBS level, only 14 teams have single-digit touchbacks.
"A few times we've missed a layup, had a guy inside the 20 and missed a tackle," Barrow said. "We also have to get better ball placement where scheme is setup. We went from being one of the tops in the ACC to now we kind of slipped on a banana the last few games. We have to get back to our training and what we do well, and challenge our guys to get off the milk cartons and make plays."
Said Golden: "A lot of it's personnel. We've had a lot of changes, lose Deon [Bush] and Gabe [Terry], elite cover guys in terms of speed and strength. It hurts. We've made a lot of changes there, need some guys to step up and respond - [Raphael] Kirby, guys like that. We need other guys to step up. Eduardo [Clements] is hurt, too. Eduardo was great at it. Dallas [Crawford] has stepped up. We need others to."
> Although he's moved back behind Denzel Perryman this week at weakside linebacker, odds are sophomore Gionni Paul will be fighting with freshman Raphael Kirby to be UM's starting middle linebacker -- and not in pass coverage -- next season. Paul was beaten for the game-winning TD pass at Virginia.
"Gionni has a great knack for finding the football," defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "He made 14 tackles [at Virginia]. He has to improve his conditioning, improve his speed and his pass defense and his knowledge of the defense. Until he does all that there's going to be some plays where not only, he but some other guys get exposed [in pass defense]. But I'd rather have a guy who can find the ball, than one who can't, and that's his strongest asset."
Barrow agrees. "He's a guy that has instincts, comes from Ray Lewis' high school. Must be something in the water up there," Barrow said. "He knows what he needs to focus on. Last year he didn't play a lot like he wanted to and we wanted him to. Through the ups and downs, he's kept fighting. I like guys like that."
> Cornerback Brandon McGee on just how country Alabama-born cornerback Ladarius Gunter is: "Allen Bailey is like Green Mile country. LG ain't that country."
> With the program mired in mediocrity and with NCAA sanctions hanging over head, one might imagine the recruiting pitch has changed. Barrow said he tells recruits when he goes out on the trail that at UM there are great opportunities to play.
"It's still an opportunity to win a championship, a great opportunity at education, for playing time," Barrow said. "We're still playing a lot of young guys. We're a top 30 university in the nation, a private school. Socially it's like a buffet here. It's a small town of Coral Gables outside a major city. There's a reason LeBron [James] went to Miami. It's a beautiful place. And with us located in Coral Gables, that's the Beverly Hills of our county."
> Receiver Phillip Dorsett bounced back from his struggles with a nice performance at Virginia. The Canes, however, will be short a couple more receivers this week with Allen Hurns banged up, Davon Johnson likely out and Rashawn Scott still suspended. The good news? South Florida ranks 102nd out of 120 FBS teams in pass efficiency defense.
"They like to play a lot of Cover 4, Cover 8, man up," Dorsett said. "They're a physical defense. Secondary can run a little bit. I know [former Monsignor Pace standout] Kayvon Webster. I went to middle school with him. It's going to be a challenge like every week."
The hot topic in Coral Gables -- aside from the NCAA investigation and whether or not UM will be skipping a bowl game -- have been player sideshows, and the discipline coach Al Golden has had to hand out over the last couple weeks.
Tuesday, while two suspended players -- freshman linebacker Gabe Terry and receiver Rashawn Scott -- remained out, second-leading tackler and starting outside linebacker Eddie Johnson was reinstated and back out at practice. All three players were disciplined before last Saturday's game at Virginia.
Golden said Johnson will be allowed to play this Saturday in the Canes' home finale against South Florida (3-6), but he won't start. Asked what he told Johnson upon his return to the team, Golden said: "That there's a responsibility and a level of accountability that we can't move on without."
"It's not do this for me, it's do it because the rest of the team is doing it and because you want to be accountable and responsible and want to be a good teammate," Golden said. "I've been in this situation before and hopefully he'll be stronger, come out of it stronger and respond... As a coach, you can't look the other way when those type of things are going on. Hopefully he learned from it. The rest of it is in-house."
While Scott remains suspended indefinitely, Golden remains hopeful the situation with Terry, who blocked a punt in the win over Virginia Tech, will be resolved.
"I'd love for him to play," Golden said. "But it's in his court - he's got to mature. He's got to see the big picture and how he impacts the team. Right now he has not been reinstated. I don't know if that's going to change."
Cornerback Brandon McGee, one of roughly 15 players on the Hurricanes' leadership/unity council, said Tuesday he had words with Johnson recently and is confident the redshirt freshman will "respond positively."
"I spoke with Eddie and had a heart-to-heart with him, just a real pow-wow session," McGee said. "There's a mutual respect between us both. He's a great athlete. He understands. I think he'll keep moving forward and Coach Golden will continue to support him. Coach Golden supports all of us. There's been many times when guys have been in his office and he's never once turned his back on them. He'll keep developing these guys."
How did Johnson respond to a teammate pulling him to the side for an important talk?
"[Johnson] was receptive to what I was saying," McGee said. "He was very understanding of where I was coming from because I took him to a real place."
As for Scott, McGee said he's doesn't know the true extent of why the sophomore receiver has been suspended indefinitely, but said "it's unfortunate."
Another teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: "For Rashawn to get suspended indefinitely, he had to have done some real messed up [bleep]. The rules aren't that hard to follow."
MCGEE TALKS UNITY/LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
> McGee said UM's leadership/unity council meets usually once a month in the Edgerrin James room at the Hecht Center to discuss important issues with Golden. "It's pretty much a connection between the players and coaches," McGee said. "Coach Goldenm he stresses to us what we have to get done and sometimes the players may have requests and it's our responsibility to take it to Coach Golden."
"When you see a guy who may be going down a [troublesome] path, everybody will talk to him and things like that. We'll pull him to the side ourselves and address it then. If coach sees an issue and he feels it needs to be adjusted we'll handle it."
Who is on the council? Every class -- seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen are represented. "[Running back] Mike James, me, [quarterback] Stephen Morris, [receiver] Allen Hurns, [offensive lineman] Brandon Linder, [cornerback] Tracy Howard, [receiver] Malcolm Lewis, [safety] Deon Bush those are some of the guys," McGee said. "It's a big group. We're not necessarily policemen, it's more like a bridge between the coaches and players."
Are there times when players have been proactive to stop a teammate from getting in trouble?
"There definitely has been times," McGee said. "We've also been able to do some other things, too. We talked to coach about bringing music to practice and he was receptive. We impose our own discipline as well. Guys don't sit out games -- that's not our decision. But other discipline measures. It varies."
Golden praised McGee's leadership Tuesday.
"Brandon McGee doesn't get enough credit for being the leader he's become," Golden said. "He's blessed with raw talent to play the corner position. What we're seeing now is he's a guy committed to working on his tools. He's so much tougher now than when he first got here. And he's a leader for us. If you asked when we first got here would he emerge as a team leader, captain, I'd say No. 2, No. 3, that's the chance he'd have. I'm really proud of him."
MORE NEWS AND NOTES FROM TUESDAY
> Golden said he expects receiver Allen Hurns, who cracked his left thumb blocking on Duke Johnson's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Saturday at Virginia, to play on Saturday versus USF. Hurns, who returned to the field and caught two TD passes after being injured, was at practice with a cast on his left hand Tuesday.
Golden lauded Hurns' toughness. "We're protecting it certainly in practice. We'll see how it evolves on Thursday - we want to protect it through Thursday and see if there can be some kind of soft splint or tape job he can [play] with," Golden said. "He's got a crack if you will, in his thumb, and he's working through it. It's not in the joint or anything thats going to be career threating. But he's been cleared to proceed."
> Golden said "it's a little bit cloudy" whether or not the annual series with USF will continue beyond next season because the ACC could go to a nine-game conference schedule with Notre Dame added to the mix. What does Golden want with his out of conference schedule moving forward?
"We have to construct to have the ability win the Coastal," Golden said. "That's the biggest thing. And we have to make sure when everyone walks through the building the way out is through our division, which we haven't won, and then go to Charlotte.
"I'd like to see us play Kansas State, Notre Dame … let's play them in Charlotte and a BCS game, not week 2 on the road because we're taking ourselves out of the tournament pretty quickly by doing that. Our first priority has to be to get to Charlotte, and let's all travel, go to Charlotte and have a great time. Let's enjoy that and then you go from there in terms of taking the next step. We have a long way to go as a program. I see what you see. We have a long way to go. But I'm dug in, here to fix it. We have a staff that's committed to it. We had 32 young Miami Hurricanes that joined us last year that are really making a difference, part of the solution."
> What is Golden's message to his senior class going into the final two games?
"That they have an opportunity this week and the next two weeks to right the ship," Golden said. "Their legacy will be that, that they fought through it, that they didn't quit, didn't leave, they dug in and fought through the tumult, adversity when it would have been easier to say `I'm out of here.' They deserve to finish on a great note, a positive note. They have been through a lot, and as a staff we're grateful to them. Hopefully they go off on a positive note here."
> Golden said the reason fifth-year senior defensive tackle Darius Smith hasn't played the past two games is because "other guys are playing better than him right now."
"The emergence of Curtis Porter has kind of taken some of his reps away," Golden said. "[Freshmen] Earl Moore and Dequan Ivery have taken some of his reps away. That's unfortunate, but that happens in college football. The only thing he can control is having a positive attitude and going to work tomorrow and hope he has another opportunity."
Golden said Porter's conditioning is improving, but he probably played "too many plays last week, to be honest with you."
"His attitude has been great," Golden said. "We're really trying to push him to get eight weeks worth of conditioning in two weeks. I think he'll be better this week. He was better last week. We played him too much. He's effective when he's in there. If he can just buy into a process and consistency he can be very, very good, as good as he wants to be."
AUDIO INTERVIEWS FROM TUESDAY
Starting wide receiver Allen Hurns, one of the hardest-working and well-respected Hurricanes, has a cast on his left hand. A source told me he broke his hand in the thumb area. We'll get details later at the press conference.
Not sure if he would be able to play with that injury. We'll talk to Al Golden later.
Hurns is UM's third-leading receiver this season. He already had to deal with a concussion early in the season. He has 27 catches and four touchdowns for 307 yards, an 11.4-yard average per catch.
The Canes are already missing their second-leading receiver, Rashawn Scott, who is suspended indefinitely.
Other notes from our 15 minutes at practice today:
* Linebacker Eddie Johnson, who didn't make the trip to Virginia for football-related disciplinary reasons, according to Golden, was back at practice -- though he arrived very late.
* Safety Deon Bush wore a red, no-contact jersey and watched practice.
* Linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) wore a yellow, limited contact jersey.
* Running back Eduardo Clements, who had surgery recently, watched the start of practice and was wearing a neck brace. Eduardo is out for the rest of the season.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
A couple of quick notes from Monday's post-practice interviews:
> UM coach Al Golden said linebackers Eddie Johnson and Gabe Terry, who did not make the trip to Virginia Saturday for not following team rules, didn't practice Monday. But Golden said he hopes to resolve issues with both of those players "tonight and tomorrow."
"I just wanted to get through the game film of this and didn't really want to -- they weren't part of that and I wanted to get through today and move forward with them tonight and tomorrow," Golden said.
> Golden on the length of the suspension of receiver Rashawn Scott: "Indefinitely. I don't know if that means there will be closure to that or not. But it's indefinitely for sure."
> Linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) was back at practice Monday according to Golden and practicing with the first team at weakside linebacker according to Mark D'Onofrio. Safety Deon Bush (stinger) was back at practice and was running around and participating in conditioning. But Golden said Bush will need medical clearance to return for Saturday's home finale against USF.
"Denzel is going to be ready it looks like," Golden said. "Deon, we're still in that stage where we have to evaluate. He looked great. He's out here running and everything. It's just, the doctor has to give him the okay. From a conditioning standpoint we'll keep him on track to play. But he can't play until he gets cleared."
> Freshman running back Duke Johnson was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season after tallying 368 all-purpose yards at Virginia. Johnson became only the third FBS player since 2000 with a TD pass and a kickoff return for a TD in the same game.
> Sophomore Gionni Paul was named co-Linebacker of the Week after tallying a team-leading 14 tackles against the Cavs. Paul, who was honored by the ACC for the second time this season, was practicing as the backup to Perryman at weakside linebacker on Monday according to D'Onofrio.
> For those of you hoping Golden might decide it's time to make a change at defensive coordinator, don't hold your breath. We continue to get the sense that despite the Hurricanes resetting the record book for most points and yards allowed on defense, Golden doesn't blame D'Onofrio for any of it. He blames youth.
"The mindset right now is we're in this to fix it long term," Golden said Monday. "We just had a two minute drive at the end of the game and we didn't stop them and there were no seniors on the field. None. So, I think the guys understand we didn't get it done, but if you're here long term and you want to get it fixed, it's going to be all of us that are here plus whatever we add next year. It's not just going to [snaps fingers four times] just turn overnight. I think they have a good attitude. I think they understand that. For all the things we didn't do persay in that two minute drive, look at all the guys who were on the field. The [Tyriq] McCords, Tracy Howards and [Rayshawn] Jenkins that did a nice job."
> Big picture you get the sense Golden is tiring of dealing with outside distractions. It's not even the NCAA anymore. It's his own players like Johnson and Rashawn Scott getting themselves suspended in Week 10 of the season that are troubling him.
"It's been TMZ since I've been here," Golden said of the outside distractions. "Let's be honest. Yeah, it's been tough. It's been tough on the coaches. It's been tough on me, personally. There's not one minute I go to bed where I don't think I'm fighting that with the team. Again, I'm looking forward to the day when we're focused on our opponents and making our players better and not talking about [outside distractions]."
Are the players totally focused and where they need to be? "I don't think we're there yet," Golden said. "I think we've made a lot of progress. I think we've gotten to the point where we're starting to focus on what's important for our program and what we need to do in terms of the Coastal Division and those opponents. But clearly we had some missteps last week. I don't think there's any questions about it."
Golden said players need to do a better job policing themselves "proactively" or before someone makes a mistake. "Every team battles it," Golden said. "I just don't want to be there in November."
> Golden believes UM will be focused to take on South Florida (3-6, 1-4 ACC) this week.
"This has turned into a rival," Golden said. "There's going to be a lot of energy and effort that both teams are going to put into this game to prepare. I see some guys playing a non-conference game, but it's a non-BCS or FCS game to get them ready for their rivalry game or get them settled in for their conference championship. That's not the case here. This is all we can handle. This will be a well rested team, a tough team coming in. We better get back on the horse."
I will update and post more notes after I transcribe them. Stay tuned for updates. But for now, the audio from today's interviews are available for your listening pleasure.
The Hurricanes just released their newest depth chart for the USF game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium -- the final home game of the season, which will honor the seniors.
It's too bad some of the underclassmen haven't been disciplined enough, or done the right things, to help make it a more pleasant experience for the few seniors.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Eddie Johnson's status "is yet to be determined,'' UM coach Al Golden said Sunday evening. Eddie Johnson, a former starter and second-leading tackler on defense, wasn't allowed to make the trip because of something football-related, the coach said. Whether they say the word "suspended'' or not, if you did something wrong and you aren't allowed to travel and you're one of the most productive players on defense, you're suspended.
Starting safety Deon Bush, a freshman with stingers that usually affect the neck/shoulder area, is not on the depth chart and "doubtful'' for USF, according to Golden, who said that nonetheless he was still "hopeful'' that Deon could return. Kacy Rodgers and A.J. Highsmith are listed as the starting safeties.
Denzel Perryman is expected to practice at some point this week.
The new depth chart has sophomore Thurston Armbrister as a starting outside linebacker, Jimmy Gaines in the middle and Gionni Paul OR Denzel on the outside.
Davon Johnson now joins Phillip Dorsett and Allen Hurns as a starting receiver, with walk-on redshirt freshman Garrett Kidd as Johnson's backup.
And Curtis Porter, who made his first start of the season at Virginia, is now a first-team defensive tackle, along with Olsen Pierre.
DEPTH CHART, COURTESTY of UM
||Gionni Paul -OR-||6-1||230||So.|
|S||22||Kacy Rodgers II||6-2||210||Jr.|
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
The Hurricanes are back at .500 following a heartbreaking 41-40 loss on the road at Virginia.
Of all five UM losses this season, this one will probably haunt UM coach Al Golden and his assistant coaches the most. UM (5-5, 4-3 ACC) had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, and then a five-point lead with the ball following a safety with 4:19 remaining.
This loss wasn't about a lack of talent or being outclassed by a better team. The Canes simply blew too many opportunities against a Cavaliers team (4-6, 2-4 ACC) that will be lucky to finish .500.
This, by the way, is Golden's third loss to a sub .500 team in his first 22 games as Hurricanes coach. Golden's assistants deserve to share the blame equally.
Jedd Fisch's offense had the ball in Virginia territory on each of its last two possessions and went three-and-out on each drive.
Mark D'Onofrio's defense, meanwhile, gave up a 12-play, 71-yard scoring drive which made it 38-35 and then a 16-play, 87-yard scoring drive with six seconds left to give up the lead for good. Virginia converted two fourth downs on the game-winning drive including the last one on a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Thomas Finnie.
Afterward, Golden called the loss "heartbreaking."
UM, which was minus two suspended starters (linebacker Eddie Johnson and receiver Rashawn Scott) and two injured starters (linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Deon Bush), returns home next week to host USF.
We have to see if Bush and Perryman will be healthy enough to return, and if Johnson and Scott will be allowed back. Golden didn't elaborate on the status of either suspended player.
"We just got to keep fighting," Golden told WQAM after the game. "We can't go backwards here. We got to stay together. It's really important we don't splinter, we stay together."
> Freshman Duke Johnson pretty much solidified his spot as the ACC's Rookie of the Year. He ran for a season-high 150 yards on 16 carries, threw an 8-yard TD pass to Allen Hurns and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score (the two kick returns in one season tied the school record). His 368 all-purpose yards in Saturday's game helped him surpass Edgerrin James, Graig Cooper, Chuck Forman, Santana Moss and Lamar Miller for all-purpose yards in a season. Johnson now has 1,688 total yards on the season. Willis McGahee holds the UM record with 2,108 in a season.
Yet, it somehow still wasn't enough.
Fisch turned to Johnson with the game on the line -- with UM facing a 3rd and 6 at the Cavaliers 49-yard line with under three minutes to play. Johnson only got two yards on the carry and the Hurricanes had to punt. But Saturday's loss was hardly Johnson's fault.
"The last 3rd and 5, I wanted the ball in his hands, thought he would be able to get us in there," Golden said. "We didn't and had to punt the ball. Duke gave great effort. Last couple of weeks he's been healthy, preparing better. He's really playing hard for us right now."
UM's defense gave up 482 yards of total offense including 388 through the air as Virginia's two QBs Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims combined to go 40 of 51 passing in the game. That's a 78 percent completion percentage. Rocco was completing just 58.2 percent of his attempts coming in. Sims was completing 55.8 percent of his passes.
By giving up 41 points, UM's defense has now surrendered 312 points on the season -- just two shy of the previous UM worst set by the 1984 and 2008 defenses. The Canes have already given up 4,896 yards in all. The previous worst was 4,369 yards (1997).
The records for most yards allowed rushing (2,492, 1944) and passing (2,695, 2009) are well within reach with two games to go. The Canes have now given up 2,310 yards rushing and 2,586 passing after Saturday's loss.
> Gionni Paul ended up leading UM with a career-high 14 tackles. With Perryman and Johnson out, Paul and Jimmy Gaines (12 tackles) saw extensive playing time. Paul was beaten by Jake McGee for the game-winning touchdown pass.
"Obviously we left some guys home that could have helped us here today," Golden said. "We got to get off the field more on third down or the play count gets too high. The play count got really high on us. We didn't have the depth we need right now at the linebacker position and it showed late."
> Defensive end Anthony Chickillo produced his first sack in six games and helped along with Curtis Porter to produce a safety on Rocco in the fourth quarter when it was ruled he intentionally grounded the ball while jumping back towards the end zone. Chickillo was later credited with his second sack on that play.
Despite his effort Saturday, it's clear the Hurricanes need Chickillo -- and other pass rushers -- to be more productive consistently. Virginia's QBs rarely felt the heat on third and fourth down. The Cavaliers were also 6 of 6 in the red zone with 6 TDs against Miami. The Hurricanes have now given up 33 touchdowns in 54 red zone trips this season.
> Freshman Rayshawn Jenkins didn't start for the Hurricanes at safety, but finished third on the team with eight tackles. Jenkins and Bush are the future for UM at safety and D'Onofrio might consider playing both together in Miami's final two regular season games -- assuming Bush will be back.
> Cornerback Ladarius Gunter continues to impress in pass coverage. He had three of UM's five pass breakups. Most of Virginia's successful passes went in the direction of Finnie, freshman Tracy Howard and over the middle against UM's linebackers, who were out of position on many plays.
> A week after going 1 for 12 on third down versus Virginia Tech, UM finished 4 of 10. It's the last two third down attempts that will haunt them.
> Receiver Phillip Dorsett, who had just eight catches for 81 yards in his four previous games combined, finished with six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The Canes (5-4, 4-2 ACC) are playing in Charlottesville this afternoon and taking on a 3-6, 1-4 Virginia team minus four starters: WR Rashawn Scott (suspended indefinitely), LB Eddie Johnson (didn't make the trip), S Deon Bush (stinger) and LB Denzel Perryman (ankle).
Kickoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on ABC.
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What do LB Eddie Johnson, WR Rashawn Scott, LB Denzel Perryman and S Deon Bush have in common?
As you probably know by now, they're not here at Scott Stadium for the UVA vs. Miami game.
Eddie "didn't do what he needed to do to make the trip,'' according to UM director of communications Chris Yandle. That explanation came when I asked if Eddie was suspended.
Rashawn Scott, however, has been suspended -- and indefinitely.
Here's the email we got announcing Scott's suspension:
"University of Miami sophomore receiver Rashawn Scott has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.
The sophomore ranks second on the team with 512 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 35 catches.
"The ACC Coastal Division-leading Miami Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2 ACC) play at Virginia (3-6, 1-4 ACC) at noon ET Saturday on ABC."
UM coach Al Golden said last week that Bush had stingers. Perryman has an injured right ankle.
OK, so now the Canes are missing their second-leading tackler in Johnson, their third-leading tackler in Perryman and a starting safety in Bush.
On offense, Rashawn Scott can make the big play. I think that's a big loss.
Kacy Rodgers is starting in place of Bush.
Gionni Paul is starting for Perryman.
Thurston Armbrister is starting in place of Johnson.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Sometimes the life of a receiver can be hit or miss.
Hurricanes sophomore receiver Phillip Dorsett, who posted two of the top 10 individual receiving games in UM history in wins at Georgia Tech and at home against N.C. State at the end of September, is now in one of those month-long slumps -- and he's looking to Saturday's game at Virginia to snap out of it.
"I definitely want to be able to perform better," said Dorsett, who still leads the Hurricanes in receiving with 36 catches for 545 yards and three touchdowns despite four sluggish weeks in a row.
"I haven't had that many catches these last few weeks. I just got to keep working and whenever the ball comes my way just catch it and do something with it."
Since hauling in 15 catches for 375 yards and three scores against the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack, Dorsett has continued to see passes thrown his way -- even after his four drops against Notre Dame. In all, Dorsett has been targeted a team-leading 25 times in the last four weeks. He and quarterback Stephen Morris just haven't been able to hook up.
Dorsett has just eight combined catches for 81 yards and no touchdowns during the stretch. Only two of his catches -- a 26-yard catch last week against the Hokies and a 23-yard catch against North Carolina -- have produced double-digit yardage.
His special teams work? Equally disappointing. Last week against the Hokies he made the mistake of fielding a punt at the Canes 1-yard line and drifting into the end zone, before recovering and avoiding a safety by getting tackled at the 1-yard line.
"Special teams is a crucial part of the game for us. Blocking that punt gave us a big momentum boost. Me fielding that punt on the 1-yard line shifted the momentum to Virginia Tech," Dorsett said.
"The hardest thing about catching punts is knowing where you are. Say you are on the 20-yard line and the punter punts the ball real high up, once you are up looking you don't realize you are backing up. The only thing on your mind when the ball is in the air is catch it. I'm backing up and realize 'Oh, snap I'm on the 1-yard line.' I just got to do better, practice plus territory punts and get better at that."
Despite Virginia's 3-6 record, Dorsett said the Canes know they are in for a battle Saturday against the Cavaliers defense. Virginia ranks 34th against the run, 44th in pass efficiency defense and ninth overall on third down defense.
"They like to play a lot of Cover 8, Cover 1 defense," Dorsett said. "They're a big physical defense. They took it to us last year and we're looking to take it to them this year. We got to answer the bell."
The Hurricanes injury report has been released for Saturday's game at Virginia and none of it is encouraging.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman, who has started six games this season and ranks third on the team with 50 tackles, has been listed as doubtful with an ankle injury.
Freshman safety Deon Bush, who has six of the last seven games for UM, is out this week with a stinger. Bush has 31 tackles this season.
Freshman receiver Robert Lockhart, injured Tuesday in practice, is now listed as out for the season following "lower extremity" surgery. Lockhart only played in two games and didn't make any catches. Is Lockhart eligible for a medical redshirt? Not according to the rules I just read.
FROM NCAA HANDBOOK REGARDING MEDICAL REDSHIRTS
For a student-athlete to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver per Bylaw 14.2.4, the following four conditions must be met:
1. The student-athlete may not have participated in more than two contests or dates of competition or 20 percent of the team's completed contests/dates of competition.
2. The injury or illness must occur prior to the completion of the first half of the season.
3. The injury or illness does not have to occur during practice/competition, but it must be incapacitating.
4. Appropriate medical documentation must exist and be provided.
All percentages are calculated according to contests or dates of competition, depending on how your sport's competitive opportunities are counted. Only contests or dates of competition occurring during the championship (traditional) season are included in the calculations. Conference championships/tournaments are counted as one contest or date of competition, regardless of the actual contest/dates used.
If the percentage calculation for the 20-percent rule results in a decimal -- any decimal -- the whole number preceding it is always rounded up. For example, if the softball team competes in 56 games, 20 percent of 56 is 11.2. Due to the "rounding-up," a softball team member who competed in 12 games does qualify for a medical hardship waiver.
To meet the first-half-of-the-season requirement, all competition must cease prior to the start of the contest or date of competition that begins the second half of the season. For example, a soccer player competing in the 10th game of a 19-game season does not qualify for a medical hardship waiver.
Also, a student-athlete who is injured in the first half of the season, then attempts to play in the second half and aggravates the original injury, does not qualify for a medical hardship waiver.
South Plantation star running back Alex Collins -- the leading rusher in Broward County -- told University of Miami coaches on Wednesday he's no longer committed to signing with the program.
Considered the 11th best running back in the country by Rivals.com, Collins said UM remains in the mix to sign him, but he's reopened his recruiting and is strongly considering Florida State and Wisconsin. Collins leads all rushers in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties this season with 1,253 yards and 14 touchdowns on 140 attempts.
UM, which now has 10 commitments as part of its 2013 signing class including Lake Mary Prep tailback Ray Lewis III, will lose senior Mike James at the end of the season and are expected to have four scholarship running backs back next season. They are: Duke Johnson, Eduardo Clements, Dallas Crawford and Danny Dillard.
Plantation American Heritage junior Sony Michel, considered one of the best running backs in the country in 2014, remains a high priority on UM's recruiting list.
Coach Al Golden cannot comment on recruits, but was asked Wednesday about the perception of his program in the eyes of local recruits.
"The perception is we're looking for young men to join our program and put Miami back where it belongs in the national scene," Golden said. "I keep saying it, but I confront the facts, know where we are as a program. It's not where we want to be. It's really important we address the facts, not gloss over anything, understand what we're looking for and what we need to do both here in this program and in recruiting to achieve our goals and get us back to where we want to be."
> Delray Beach Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant, a Hurricanes commitment, has been named to the U.S. Army All-American team. He's told reporters he remains committed to UM, but plans official visits to LSU, Oklahoma and South Carolina after the season. The Palm Beach Post says it's going to be a battle between UM and Florida State for Bryant.
> Golden said Wednesday he expects safety Deon Bush (stinger) to miss Saturday's game and that linebacker Denzel Perryman "is somewhere between probable and doubtful. If I was going to guess it would be doubtful right now." Perryman was not wearing a boot Wednesday on his injured right ankle, but was still in a yellow non-contact jersey.
> Golden said freshman receiver Malcolm Lewis, who broke his ankle at Georgia Tech, has been granted a medical redshirt for this season.
> Receiver Robert Lockhart suffered an undisclosed injury Tuesday and could be out this week. “I don’t know if [he’ll play this week]," Golden said. " He has an injury we have to be careful with."
UM coach Al Golden's weekly press conference before the Virginia game.
“(We) had a chance to rest up the team and get healthy and get stated on UVA. Clearly the University of Virginia is a different team coming out of a bye week. (They had) 446 yards on offense and 48 carries for almost 250 yards. They did a great job with time of possession. Six sacks and four takeaways against NC State, and they held them to something like 19 yards rushing. They clearly have made some changes.
“I’m really impressed with UVA’s offensive line, especially the tackles and the center. I think the center is as good as anyone we’ve seen so far this year. Two quarterbacks in [Phillip] Sims and [Michael] Rocco. I really think their running back depth is excellent…We’ll see all three of them. We’ll see a number of receivers in the game, and obviously their tight ends are a strength as well. Big, strong, rugged team. They beat us the last two years and four of the last six. Clearly that, coupled with the NC State game, has got our team’s attention. Hopefully we’ll be able to maintain our focus and get ready for a great UVA team in Charlottesville.
“On defense, again, they’re rugged up front…Big and strong and long up front on defense, same as last year….I think we’re expecting the University of Virginia team that played last week. Clearly they had some turnover ratio issues, which had led to some mistakes earlier in the year. But they clearly got that cleaned up in the bye week and looked different last week in terms of how they’re operating.”
On the influence of being in first place in the Coastal Division...
“(Our players) have to learn how to do it. It’s difficult because it’s the first time that we’re navigating that – we were pretty much out (of the race) by this time last year. This is where you’re either disciplined, and your habits and your process either holds up or cracks. We’re trying to teach them how to make it so habitual, so disciplined and ingrained, that it can withstand anything. For us to want to go where we want to go in the coming years, this is the first step for us. It’s really important to stay focused on UVA and block everything else out.”
On added energy from being in the ACC Championship game mix...
“I hope. That’s part of it. Part of being in the mix towards the end (of the season) should supply you with some energy and should reinforce your focus. We have goals as a team, but our goal right now is to prepare as well as we can, block out everything external and stay focused on the University of Virginia. At the end of the season, this was a team last year that was physical and strong. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, and it’s going to be a barometer for us to see where we are from this time last year.”
On the Cavaliers’ use of two different quarterbacks...
“I think they’re both good. Obviously they’ve won with both of them. They’re hitting their outlets; they’ll throw it to the two tailbacks out of the backfield…Excellent screen throwers. Not afraid to move the pocket with them, or play action and get a chunk. I’m sure from [Bill] Lazor’s standpoint or Mike’s [London] standpoint they see them differently in terms of how they operate. Right now we’re just preparing for the totality of the Virginia offense, not really just one quarterback or the other.”
On the difference between Virginia’s play before the bye week and after...
“I can tell you this – the biggest thing was they got to the quarterback. I think they only had seven sacks coming into NC State and they got to him six times. I think they were minus-16 (turnover ratio) going into NC State and now they’re minus-12…They’ve done that with system and with personnel…I’m sure they put a great emphasis on protecting the ball and taking it away. Obviously they brought that to fruition. In terms of stopping the run right now, this team is as good as anyone in the country…They’re strong, they’re efficient, they’re physical…We better be ready to go.”
On the play of Miami quarterback Stephen Morris...
“I think Stephen is developing every week. He’s getting better every week. We’ve faced some really good defenses and we’re going to face another good one coming up. I think he just has to get back to trusting those around him. Stop looking for the big play, and just hit some singles. The great lesson is the Mike James play on our second touchdown - it’s a one-yard completion that ends up being a 16-yard touchdown. He needs to get back to doing more than that – trusting the guys around him and distributing the football. It doesn’t always have to be down the field. We have enough talent out there that we can get explosive plays without throwing it 50 yards down the field. He just has to settle in. We’re protecting him well. This team will pressure you - last year they got to us, make no mistake about it. We have to protect well for us.”
On Miami’s ability to create more turnovers this season (18) compared to last season (15)...
“We’re starting to create some turnovers. A lot of it sometimes, as coaches, we’ll do the drills and everything, but the reality of it is sometimes it’s just [about the] players. Sometimes there are just guys that, with a little bit of training, if they have that knack for it or they look for it, they can make some plays. We’re starting to get some interceptions now – I think that’s the biggest difference. Last year we were trying to rip it out a lot…The biggest difference right now is we’re getting some interceptions. And we’re doing that without getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Hopefully we can continue to get some pressure on the quarterback, and that should disrupt us a little bit more. We’re protecting the ball well on offense - we better against this team - and we’re taking it away on defense. We need to continue to do that.”
On the keys to avoiding trouble on third down by setting up well on first and second down...
“Be efficient... I think [Virginia] had eight three-and-outs against NC State, and I think we had five against Virginia Tech. So clearly that’s part of their M.O. and part of their success on third downs. They get you into third-and-long situations, and then they do a nice job of getting the ball out and either tackling you or putting pressure on you. As many times as they sacked [Mike] Glennon in Raleigh, they hit him. They hit him an awful lot. We have to be efficient on first and second down. We can’t be sitting there in those “band downs”, as I call them – those third-and-longs when they strike up the band, everybody gets jacked up, and they’re getting in sprinters stances and coming at you. It’s really important we are efficient on first and second down.”
On lack of productivity in the third quarter...
“It’s just how you look at it. I look at it like our defense has only given up about three points in the last three games in the third quarter or something like that. Our defense has been very productive. Our offense has not been as productive for sure in the third quarter. I think this is the first game in the last three or four where we actually started on offense in the third quarter - and I think we went three and out, if I’m not mistaken. There’s no question overall we have not had the production we need to have in the third quarter. But it’s more than that - we can’t have the three-and-outs and we have to produce on third down. I think third down has a lot to do with it.”
On the importance of his offensive line against a talented Virginia front...
“They know what’s up. They know this team is strong, they got a lot of sacks last year, got a lot of pressure. That’s on the running backs, tight ends and the offensive line. I don’t think there’s any question - we know what Virginia is and what they were last year. They’re a big, strong, rugged team that’s tough. As they played last week, I know that’s how they want to conduct again. They don’t want to beat themselves. That onus is on everybody and Stephen [Morris] has to get rid of the ball as well.”
On his team’s pass protection up to this point...
“I think it’s been excellent. This will be as big a challenge as we’ve seen, both in personnel and from a system standpoint. This team will pressure you, and I mean rushing six or more, more than anybody.”
On how defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio dealt with his team’s defensive struggles...
“I think you just keep saying, ‘We’ve seen this drill before. We’ve seen this game before.’ And just be supportive. It has not been an easy task. We lost a ton of guys and a ton of experience on defense. The younger guys are starting to grow up, and we’ve gotten the linebackers healthy. Through that time we were down, what – four or five linebackers? How many are we playing now altogether? Seven, or maybe eight? And we had four or five of them that weren’t with us for a while – that was tough sledding there. We didn’t have [Curtis] Porter, we had some other injuries. I think there are some guys that are healthy that are growing up. We’re playing better, but you’re only as good as your next game, and that’s the challenge coming up. These guys are going to try to run the ball down our throat with a big physical offensive line and physical tight ends. We better be ready to tackle really well and hold up at the point.”
On the impact of having defensive tackle Curtis Porter back in the lineup...
“He’s strong. To have a man – what I mean by that is a guy who is strong, he’s mature, he’s physical, he’s stout, he can hold the point of attack, not get knocked off, all those things. At the same time he’s coming back, some of the younger guys are growing up, which is good. You’re seeing better play from Luther [Robinson] or Corey King or any of those guys right now. They’re starting to grow up in there. We’re not where we need to be, but certainly It helps to have that depth and strength in there, for sure.”
On the improved play of cornerback Ladarius Gunter...
“He’s growing up a lot. He benefitted really from the last couple weeks and certainly the bye week. He’s been working hard, he’s got length, he’s strong, and I think he’s settled in right now. He understands the system, and he’s playing with a lot more confidence. I would say [Antonio] Crawford is playing better, Tracy Howard is playing better. That group has to keep moving forward. You could say the same thing with [Rayshawn] Jenkins at safety - he played the most he’s played in the Virginia Tech game and had success. Hopefully those guys will continue to grow as a unit.”
Quick injury update from Tuesday's press conference:
Coach Al Golden said linebacker Denzel Perryman, who was seen at practice in a yellow noncontact jersey and with a boot on his injured right ankle, will likely need another day before its determined whether or not he will play against Virginia Saturday afternoon.
Safety Deon Bush, who was wearing a red injured player jersey at Tuesday's practice, is doubtful for the game according to Golden. Bush has been battling stingers on his shoulders.
Here are some news and notes from Monday. The Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2) returned to practice after getting a couple days off following their win over Virginia Tech last Thursday night and are preparing for Virginia.
> Freshman linebacker Gabe Terry and running back Duke Johnson were named the ACC's Special Teams Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, on Monday.
UM coach Al Golden said Terry, who blocked a punt in the win over Virginia Tech, learned from his roughing the punter penalty against Notre Dame.
"He went down low for the ball, elongated - he didn't put his hand up high like he did at Notre Dame, learned from that," Golden said. "That was a tough lesson for all of us at Notre Dame, but obviously he learned from it."
Johnson, who produced his fourth 200-yard all-purpose game of the season, was honored by the ACC for the third time this season. Johnson ranks 21st nationally in all-purpose yards.
> Defensive end Kelvin Cain has been reinstated and practiced with the scout team Monday. The 6-3, 245-pound junior had his name removed from the roster two weeks ago after missing the Florida State game for what Golden deemed "personal reasons."
Asked about Cain's return to the team after he was removed from the roster, Golden said, "It's personal, but he's been reinstated. He sorted some things out, so I'm happy for the young man. It's good to see him back out here today."
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he didn't see Cain practicing Monday because he "was watching our side of the ball [the first and second team defense.]"
"Hopefully he's got his mind right and is back and ready to do what we need him to do," D'Onofrio said.> Golden said there's no injury update on safety Deon Bush (stinger) or linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle), but both were expected to see doctors Monday.
"Denzel we're protecting; he'll see the doctor again today," Golden said. "And Deon is seeing the doctor this afternoon."
Golden reiterated he doesn't think Perryman's health went backward during the Virginia Tech game and remains hopeful he's on track to play Saturday at Virginia.
Someone close to Bush told The Herald Monday night Bush's injury doesn't appear to be serious and he expects to play at Virginia.
> Golden said defensive tackle Curtis Porter, who got his first action of the season on Thursday night coming off an appendectomy, has to continue to improve with his conditioning.
Golden said the team was looking to get Porter "around 25 to 30" snaps against Virginia Tech. D'Onofrio said Porter got around 30 snaps.
"He's got another level he can get to if he can get in condition and eliminate the distractions," Golden said. "His biggest enemy is consistency, being the same guy every day. If he can develop that discipline, make good choices every day and have a positive attitude and stay focused he could be a really good player. Inconsistency is his biggest enemy."
D'Onofrio said he was "happy for Curtis." "He's had a tough run, a lot of injuries, hasn't had a chance to play," D'onofrio said. "It was good to have him back. I thought he played well. He was stout in the middle. We gutted him a little bit - he played in the 30s which is a lot of plays considering where he was at conditioning-wise a couple of weeks ago. And that was good. He gave us a boost."
> D'Onofrio noted that of the 26 players to lineup on defense for the Hurricanes last Thursday 22 graded out higher than their season average. He said the defensive line was the most improved unit and praised defensive tackle Luther Robinson for "probably playing his best game."
"It comes down to keeping the points down," he said. "We did that. We're starting to do a better job of that, even the FSU game - they got a couple [of late scores]. We're playing better red zone defense really over the last four games, are in the low 40s in touchdown percentage and that's where we want to be. That's helped a lot."
> UM already has more turnovers (18) than it had all of last year (15). There were three turnovers forced by the defense Thursday night and now UM is plus-5 for the season.
"I haven't coached it any different than we have forever," D'Onofrio said. "I think a lot of things happen. Guys become comfortable with it, become more ball aware. We've got some balls ripped out, we've taken some balls away that way. That comes with strength, with confidence. We're trying to make a big emphasis of it. We really challenged guys this past week. I'd like to see us cause a few more fumbles."
> Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch addressed the issue of third down efficiency. UM finished 1 of 12 versus Virginia Tech. The Hurricanes are now 52 of 134 (38.81 percent) on third downs on offense this season -- that ranks 73rd. UM converted at 42.57 percent last season (63 of 148, 44th out of 120 teams).
"Last week was kind of an anomaly of game," Fisch said. "We weren't very efficient at times on first and second down, so therefore your third downs are third-and-10. I think we're like 58 percent on third-and-six or less, 90 percent on third-and-one. But when you have a lot of third-and-eight, nine, 10, you struggled there. But most teams do. You really have to execute."
> Quarterback Stephen Morris has continued to see his completion percentage drop over his last five games. Fisch said he's monitoring the way Morris throws the ball and sees no major problems.
"We just have to keep getting better," Fisch said. "The best part about Stephen is he still has a lot of games left with us. It's not like this is the final countdown. He had no spring. He only started one game last year, had no spring. I think his confidence is fine; we have to make some plays."
> Fisch said receiver Allen Hurns "ran some really good routes" against Virginia Tech.
Hurns had two catches for 21 yards and had a 16 yard TD catch against the Hokies. Since starting the season with eight catches for 91 yards and then taking a vicious hit at Kansas State that knocked him out the rest of that game and the next, Hurns has made 13 catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns over his last six games. Not exactly elite production.
> Golden said Sunday he would like to get Dallas Crawford more reps than the two he had on Thursday night. Fisch said Monday "maybe five, six, seven" reps would be possible for Crawford moving forward.> Golden said Virginia's blowout win over N.C. State last weekend shouldn't be the only reason his team is wary of the Cavaliers.
"They beat us four of the last six, the last two," Golden said. "I thought they were a team that pushed us around and were physical a year ago. They have a great running attack. I think they're as deep as anybody, probably the deepest at running back. they have a big, powerful offensive line. They took the ball away on defense, protected the ball on offense, something they hadn't done as well. Coming out of a bye week they were a different team.
"I think our guys understand what we're up against in Charlottesville."
> Golden said right tackle Seantrel Henderson is still battling "consistency and discipline" issues with "his technique every day." But he adds Henderson is "making a lot of progress, has eliminated a lot of distractions" and "has become process oriented."
We have another road trip Saturday, this one at Charlottesville, Va., where the Hurricanes will face the Virginia Cavaliers (3-6, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference coming off a victory against NC State) of the Coastal Division.
The weekend off had to be beneficial for the Canes (5-4, 4-2), especially with a road game this week.
The newest depth chart was just released.
Not many changes, but there are some. A.J. Highsmith is now back at first-team safety.
And Seantrel Henderson has taken over at first-team right tackle.
At outside linebacker, Denzel Perryman now shares the first-team position with Gionni Paul.
Keep in mind that Denzel is injured, or at least overcoming an ankle injury.
And our comeback player of the week is Curtis Porter, who after his first game this season on Thursday, is the backup to starter Earl Moore at defensive tackle.
|49||Dyron Dye -OR-||6-5||255||RJr.|
|6||Robert Lockhart Jr.
|92||Jalen Grimble -OR-
|93||Luther Robinson -OR-
|17||Tyriq McCord -OR-
|OLB||52||Denzel Perryman -OR-||6-0||229||So.|
|3||Tracy Howard -OR-
||Kacy Rodgers II||6-2||210||Jr.|
Al Golden's post-game Q&A with reporters after the 30-12 win over Virginia Tech.
On his impressions from the team’s performance…
"I'm excited. I feel like we healed up, I feel like we grew up. Holding them to 12 points is significant without Denzel [Perryman], without Deon [Bush], I think some other guys stepped up. I'm real proud of their effort and the fact that a lot of the young guys are not young anymore. They had a good look, they prepared well, we had good practices. I felt good coming into the game, and the kids responded."
On the importance of a bye week...
"We all seemed fresh. Let's all be real - that was really hard. The first eight weeks, and the opponents we ended up playing out of conference and away, that was difficult. I just think last weekend we got them back. We only practiced two days in the bye week. Good sense of mind, good focus and good energy. I thought they were really resilient tonight. They were tough."
On the lopsided time of possession and score...
"We had good field position because of one Duke [Johnson] return and a turnover I believe. Obviously there are a couple of red zone opportunities we didn't convert early, or it could have been even bigger at the half. Nobody got down. Even when we sputtered on offense in the third quarter, the whole third quarter basically - hats off to Virginia Tech, I thought they did a great job, they had a great scheme, gave us a lot of problems there - our guys hung in there and had some big drives to end the game."
On the play of the team’s defense...
"We held them to 12, and we gave up about a 75-yarder - it looked like he started here and ended up in Coral Gables. It was just one of those deals. Our MIKE linebacker was matching around and he fell down and it just opened up. I'm real proud of how resilient they were. We weren't great on third down on either side early in the game, but we ended up getting another takeaway down there on the goal line. There were a lot of guys who stepped up and really did a nice job for us when they got an opportunity today."
On being in first place in the Coastal Division...
"It's critical. I know everybody wants us to be national champions yesterday and get back to the BCS games and all that, but the reality of it is that the pathway through that is the Coastal. It's almost like we have to re-educate our team that that's how you get there. You get there by getting to Charlotte, and then you have a 50-percent chance of going to a BCS game. That's what we have to do, we have to educate our team, because our fanbase doesn't really understand that right now. They look at the Notre Dame game and it's all in or bust. This game coming up against Virginia is critical. It's truly critical for us. We have to get focused, get right, and get back to work."
On the fourth quarter spark on offense...
"I think we stayed with it. We found a couple of runs that worked. It started with Rashawn's [Scott] conversion on the third-down play. That was big. He and Stephen [Morris] read each other's eyes and made a big play there, and then we got some runs going. I thought Mike [James] and Duke [Johnson] ran really hard, and then obviously knocked them off the ball a little bit."
On winning games without explosive plays...
"We're better on defense. It showed that we're making enough plays on defense that we don't have to have prolific, explosive plays and still win. Obviously the punt block helped. We have to do a better job covering kicks, but it showed we could win in a different way. We didn't quite have enough against North Carolina to pull that one off. It's nice to do it this way."
On the improved play of the team defense...
"I thought our defense hung in there. They did a great job in the redzone and ended up doing a good job on third downs late in the game. We got a couple of sacks, we started to get after their quarterback - that's critical, We haven't had that from a four-man rush. Olsen [Pierre] came up big the one time, and a couple other guys did a really nice job of getting to him. It makes all the difference in the world. Finishing with an interception was great."
On Deon Bush’s injury...
"Deon's been struggling with some stingers. We'll evaluate him, but I think the best thing to do was to shut him down. It was on fire for him. There was some pain. Denzel just wasn't quite right. We'll put him back in a boot, and hopefully in nine days he'll be ready in Charlottesville."
On a strong special teams performance...
"They looked good in the return game. I think it was Gabe [Terry] that blocked it, right? We put him in a different position this week and challenged him, and Rayshawn [Jenkins] and those other guys, he just went out and did it as perfectly as you could do it. He stayed low, got his hand down nice and low. We missed on some of those opportunities earlier in the year. Mike [Barrow] has been working the heck out of it. Mike designed it, and the kids went out and executed it. I'm really excited we had a chance to do that finally."
On wearing orange uniforms with orange pants...
"I wanted them to have fun. It was a tough eight weeks. We had a chance to get a break, catch up on school, and get healthy. I just wanted them to have fun. It was a little surprise for them. I think they were excited about it. I guess that means we have to keep wearing it, I don't know. It was good."
On the success of trick plays...
"That was big. Dallas [Crawford] did a nice job, and he threw it really well. I guess you could argue he should have thrown it in the flat to Duke. But he made a decision and Kind of zinged it in there. I keep saying it, Dallas is coming on now. Dallas is starting to do a good job for us and grow up. I'm excited about Dallas. Obviously Dorsett made a great decision getting us some more depth and throwing it across the field to Stephen [Morris]."
On the expectations inside his team’s locker room...
"We're trying to learn a process and get better. We've been focused on the Coastal. That's what our focus is right now. I'm glad I'm coaching at a place where the expectations are high. At the end of the day, When you can meet the expectations of your fanbase, you're going to be in a great spot. We're going to keep doing it. We just need a little bit of patience because of how young we are. We're growing up. Guys are fighting hard, they're working, they're getting better. I'm excited. A lot of guys stepped up today that hadn't - Curtis Porter, Jalen Grimble, Tracy Howard early in the game, [Rayshawn] Jenkins in his coverage. I can go on and on. Guys stepped up, and guys that are going to be here for a long time, and I'm excited about that."
The Canes (4-4, 3-2 ACC) are coming off a bye week and playing the last of three consecutive home games at Sun Life Stadium tonight against a Virginia Tech Hokies team (4-4, 2-2 ACC) that isn't your uncles Virginia Tech Hokies team.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN.
Taking a team from mediocrity to greatness is probably the toughest coaching challenge in all of college football.
But it's a feat that's been achieved here before at the University of Miami. Not once, but twice really.
Howard Schnellenberger took over a 6-5 program in 1978 and in five years went from 5-6 to 9-3 to 9-2 to 7-4 and a national championship in 1983.
Then, in 1997, after NCAA sanctions began to take their toll on UM's program, Butch Davis went from 5-6 in 1997 to 9-3, 9-4 and then 11-1 before the Canes won a national title the following season under Larry Coker.
Why the history lesson? Because that's what Randy Shannon failed to do after he took over in 2007. And now, it's what Al Golden is attempting to do after Shannon was cut loose following the 2010 season.
Our Linda Robertson wrote a column today that it's time for Golden's Hurricanes to make a statement. I couldn't agree more.
Golden, who will coach his 21st game tonight for the Hurricanes, is in a unique position -- a lot like Davis was after his first two seasons. He knows sanctions are going to cut scholarships, bowl games, etc. It's going to make recruiting even tougher.
UM gave Golden a contract extension through the 2019 season because they knew finding somebody to deal with this mess isn't going to be easy. Golden seems eager, passionate about his task.
But does that necessarily mean the program will be resurrected like it was under Schnellenberger and Davis? Will the Canes eventually head down a championship path?
After 20 games it's really hard to answer that question -- especially with the NCAA hammer still hanging over head. In the end, none of us really know how far the rabbit hole goes when it comes to punishment.
But so far, after his first 20 games, Golden appears to be on a path more similar to Shannon than he does Schnellenberger and Davis. I went back and looked up the first 20 games for all four coaches (Davis I studied his third and fourth seasons because that's when he really dealt with the NCAA scholarship reductions) and found some interesting numbers to share with you in terms of what they accomplished.
> For starters, Davis and Schnellenberger never lost to teams with losing records in their first 20 games at Miami. Golden and Shannon did twice.
Shannon got beat by what turned out to be 4-8 North Carolina team in 2007 and a 5-7 North Carolina State team later that same season. Golden lost his first game to what turned out to be a 2-10 Maryland team last year. He finished the season by losing to a 4-8 Boston College squad.
> Golden and Shannon each went 10-10 through their first 20 games. Two of Golden's wins came against FCS opponents (Bethune-Cookman twice). Shannon only played one FCS school (Charleston Southern).
Golden, meanwhile, is 1-4 versus ranked opponents -- his only win coming against an Ohio State team that eventually finished 6-7 last year. Shannon went 1-5 versus ranked opponents -- his only win coming against a Texas A&M team that finished 7-6.
Shannon eventually finished his second season with four straight losses including the bowl game to Cal. UM was 7-6.
> Howard Schnellenberger went 11-9 in his first 20 games, but beat three ranked opponents -- at No. 18 Houston in 1980, at No. 19 Penn State in 1979, and at home versus No. 9 Florida State in 1980 -- and suffered six of his losses to ranked teams including an 11-1 Florida State team, 12-0 Alabama, 9-2-1 Notre Dame and a 10-2 Penn State team. Schnellenberger went on to finish his second season with five straight wins including a 20-10 win over Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl.
> Butch Davis went 12-8 (one win over an FCS school) over his first 20 games amid NCAA sanctions. His best win during that 20-game window? Knocking off 13th-ranked West Virginia in 1998. The Mountaineers went on to finish 8-4 and play in the Insight.com Bowl. Davis would close out his second season with an embarrassing 66-13 loss to Syracuse, but bounced back the following week to beat No. 3-ranked UCLA and then win a bowl game against N.C. State by 23 points.
The point here is Golden and UM have an opportunity to deliver a message over their final four games. They can finish strong like Davis' group did in 1998 and Schnellenberger's team did in 1980. Or they can limp toward the end of the 2008 season like Shannon's highly-touted, freshman loaded team.
The schedule certainly isn't that tough. Virginia Tech is 4-4. Virginia is 2-6 and winless in the ACC. USF is 2-6 and winless in the Big East. And Duke is 6-3, but still Duke.