Sometimes when you watch a game it's hard not to just trust your eyes and rush to judgement. It's like stealing the ball at half court and having the lane completely open for a slam dunk.
When it comes to spring football games, though, you can't just call it like you see it. Schemes are simplified and in UM's case Saturday with the game being televised on ESPN3 coaches made sure to keep things pretty basic on both sides.
Mark D'Onofrio's defense ran two coverage schemes -- basic man and zone. But really it was a lot of man coverage without any blitz packages, he said. Offensively, James Coley didn't want show anything either.
The difference: he had Stephen Morris, Duke Johnson and a set of receivers who are clearly better than anything UM has in its secondary when it comes to old-fashioned, beat your man one-on-one football.
And that's really what we learned from this scrimmage. When it comes right down to it, Miami's offense is way ahead of the defense. Luckily for D'Onofrio he'll get to be creative when the season starts. Plus, more help is still on the way.
"We wanted to get the guys out there and challenged a little bit, get some matchups, put some guys against some guys -- some of our corners -- that weren't going against the 1s and find out if they could do it," D'Onforio said.
"It's good to see the guys [in vanilla scheme]: Can you beat a block? And can you cover somebody?" D'Onofrio said. "At the end of the day it's not a call generated scrimmage where you're putting them in position to do something or giving them some type of advantage. At the end of the day it's can they beat the guy across from them. It's a nice way to do it."
Morris pretty much showed everyone why his senior season could be special. He picked apart a mixed collection of UM starters on defense, finishing 13 of 23 for 256 yards and four touchdowns -- all that without a healthy Allen Hurns or Phillip Dorsett out there. His backups, meanwhile, showed just how far behind Morris they really are. Ryan Williams, last year's backup, finished 10 of 25 for 123 yards, 1 TD and two bad interceptions. Gray Crow did nothing to take the backup job away from Williams either, finishing 2 of 8 for a mere 50 yards.
"I was pleased with some of the execution," Coley said. "We had the thought of throwing the ball deep today and we did it. The other scrimmages and stuff like that we we're looking at other schemes and stuff we put in [installed]. This was probably an old school type of deal. You're in pro formation and either running the ball or throwing it deep. I liked how some of the guys looked out there. [Rashawn] Scott looked good. Stephen threw the ball really well and [left tackle] Flowers blocked unbelievable. When I wanted five yards I went to the left side for five yards."
Scott, suspended for the final three games of last season, pretty much took Tracy Howard's lunch money on a daily basis this spring. Howard wanted a one-on-one matchup with him again Saturday and just couldn't ward off the 6-2, 204-pound receiver, who by my set of eyes was clearly the most impressive receiver on the field this spring. Saturday he finished with five catches for 94 yards and two scores -- both on Howard.
"I don't know what he did in the past. I just know from when I got here his focus level -- he's been challenged everyday and he's responded," Coley said. "I like him. I like 'em big like that."
> Sophomore receiver Herb Waters had three catches for 50 yards and a score before leaving Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. He was in a sling for most of the second half.
"He's fine," Coley said. "We got a look at D'Mauri [Jones] a little bit. He made some nice catches. That was a blessing in disguise. We know what we have Herb. He's had a solid spring."
Jones finished with one catch for nine yards. Redshirt freshman Jontavious Carter had a much better day. He led the team with five catches for 113 yards -- including a 48-yarder in the first quarter where he left starting corner Ladarius Gunter in the dust.
As bad as UM's corners looked Saturday, D'Onofrio said he isn't worried about his top three -- Gunter, Howard and Antonio Crawford. But that doesn't mean he's not looking for help.
"I think its improved," D'Onofrio said of his secondary, which ranked 102nd in pass defense last season. "I'm still looking for some -- we're trying to figure out the fourth, fifth corner situation. We got some guys coming in that will help us out in that area. I'm looking forward to Artie [Burns] to coming in and playing corner and see how he competes with some of those guys. I feel good about Gunter. I feel good about Crawford. I feel good about Tracy [Howard]. [Nate] Dortch (beaten plenty Saturday) had a good spring. He had a couple on him today. I thought he improved. We'll just keep looking and see where we're at.
"As far as the safeties goes, Kacy didn't play today. He was out the whole spring. We look forward to him coming back. Jamal Carter is coming in. We're looking forward to building some depth there."
MORE NEWS AND NOTES
> Linebacker Denzel Perryman had two tackles (one for loss) and two interceptions in Saturday's scrimmage. But it's clear coaches want him to raise his game this fall.
"I'm looking forward to Denzel making a lot of progress over the summer," D'Onofrio said. "I think he's capable of playing at another level than he played with this spring. I think that comes with preparation, the day in and day out competing that he's capable of. I have high expectations for him. I'll continue to challenge him because I want to get the most out of him I can."
> Freshman linebacker Alex Figueroa, praised plenty by D'Onofrio this spring, hardly made a dent in Saturday's scrimmage. But there's a reason. "He's been nursing an ankle for the last 2 1/2 weeks," D'Onofrio said. "He's a tough guy. He fought through it. He didn't miss any [practices] which says a lot. He got a tough injury in the ninth practice, before the Naples scrimmage. We limited him some, but he never really missed any time."
> Will Saturday's defensive effort sway D'Onofrio from saying this was a good spring?
"Not at all," he said. "I thought guys did a great job. I thought we had a really good spring. Again, today we broke up the teams. So on defense we were broken up. It wasn't necessarily the first team or second team defense. We had a lot of mix and match in there, not necessarily a lot of guys who had played together in the spring. [The other two] scrimmages is where we controlled it. We tried to take a look at the top of guys. We didn't get past maybe 16 guys who were in there one time.
"I was really pleased -- particularly the second scrimmage. I'm really happy with where we're at. We'll look at this tape and look at the individuals. But kind of how this spring went, very happy with where we're at out there. Guys did a great job."
> Dallas Crawford had three catches for 33 yards and nine carries for just 19 yards and a touchdown Saturday, but it's safe to say he's earned the job as Duke Johnson's backup this spring.
"I love Dallas. Dallas gives so much," Coley said. "He's a guy that can play a lot of things for us. He's the guy."
> Tight end Beau Sandland, UM's most hyped new arrival on offense, finished with three catches for 30 yards Saturday. Although he didn't have an overwhelming spring, Coley saw progress.
"It's always hard when you're learning a system," Coley said. "You got to play fast because you're playing against faster folks. Now he's picking it up, processing it and starting to play fast. And guess what spring is over with. Let's take that over to fall and hopefully he'll get going."
Orange: Herb Waters 13 pass from Stephen Morris (Matt Goudis kick)
White: Garrett Kidd 13 pass from Ryan Williams (Ricky Perez kick)
Orange: Malcolm Lewis 75 pass from Stephen Morris (Matt Goudis kick)
Orange: Rashawn Scott 15 pass from Stephen Morris (Matt Goudis kick)
Orange: Rashawn Scott 14 pass from Stephen Morris (Matt Goudis kick)
White: Ricky Perez 26 FG
White: Andre Johnson 45 pass from Gino Torretta (Ricky Perez kick)
Orange: Dallas Crawford 2 run (Matt Goudis kick)
White: Ricky Perez 40 FG
PASSING: Stephen Morris 13-23-0-256 4 TD; Ryan Williams 10-25-2-123 1 TD, Gray Crow 2-8-0-50.
RUSHING: Duke Johnson 10-120, Maurice Hagens 8-39, Dallas Crawford 9-19 1 TD, Danny Dillard 8-16, Stephen Morris 1-2.
RECEIVING: Jontavious Carter 5-113, Rashawn Scott 5-94 2 TD, Herb Waters 3-50 1 TD, Dallas Crawford 3-33, Beau Sandland 3-30, Garrett Kidd 3-19 1 TD, Malcolm Lewis 1-75 1 TD, D’Mauri Jones 1-9, Stephen Sweeney 1-6.
TACKLES: Ladarius Gunter 5, Tracy Howard 5, Shayon Green 4, Rayshawn Jenkins 4, Tyrone Cornileus 4, Larry Hope 4, Deon Bush 4, Nantambu Fentress 3, Earl Moore 3, Jalen Grimble 3, Corey King 3, Tyriq McCord 3, Jordan Tolson 3, Denzel Perryman 2, Raphael Kirby 2, Luther Robinson 2, AJ Highsmith 2, Jimmy Gaines 2, Ronald Regula 2, Nate Dortch 2, Dequan Ivery 2, Anthony Chickillo 1, Olsen Pierre 1, Curtis Porter 1, Ricardo Williams 1, Brandon Yosha 1, Akil Craig 1
SACKS: Luther Robinson 2 (-14), Anthony Chickillo 1 (-11)
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Luther Robinson 2 (-14), Anthony Chickillo 1 (-11), Shayon Green 1 (-5), Denzel Perryman 1 (-2), Curtis Porter 1, (-1), Ladarius Gunter .5 (-2), Larry Hope .5 (-2).
FORCED FUMBLES: Corey King 1
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Tyriq McCord 1.
PASSES DEFENDED: Ladarius Gunter 2, Nate Dortch 1, Raphael Kirby 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Denzel Perryman 2 (45 yards)
KICKING: Ricky Perez 2/2 FG (Long: 40), 2/2 PAT; Matt Goudis 0/1 FG, 5/5 PAT
PENALTIES: Orange 6-50, White 2-10