Busy day at UM today since it was Media Day. Got oodles of video, audio and written content to share.
Couple quick notes:
> Got to watch the final 30 minutes of practice today (a rarity since the media isn't allowed to watch beyond stretching). Defense was very impressive. First time since Kirby Freeman was around that I thought the defense actually looked better than the offense.
> Sophomore Antonio Crawford looked like an absolute beast (had two pass breakups against freshman Stacy Coley). Also like the impact Curtis Porter has at defensive tackle. Quite obvious defense is better with him.
> Pass rush and pass coverage looked a lot better. Run gap assignment still appears to be a work in progress. Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford were able to break free for long runs because guys weren't where they needed to be. Still, defense won a lot of the head-to-head battles. More on practice later.
> UM released it's new depth chart.
> Even though defensive tackle Olsen Pierre is now listed as the starter at end ahead of Anthony Chickillo don't read too much into it. Pierre said he's only getting snaps there as a backup. Chickillo was injured this week and missed a lot of practice.
> The fact Thurston Armbrister is now listed as the starter at strongside linebacker ahead of freshman Alex Figueroa is probably a move to create more motivation for Figueroa, who is obviously still adjusting himself to the playbook, etc.
> The most interesting battle for me will be who emerges as the team's fourth cornerback. Freshman Artie Burns has been impressive and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio echoed those sentiments saying he's giving Nate Dortch a battle there.
> Offensively the big shakeup was Jonathan Feliciano moving past Malcolm Bunche as the starter at left guard. Again, don't read too much into it. Bunche was running with the ones today. Odds are he and Feliciano will split a lot of playing time anyway.
> Meet freshman defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, easily the most interesting interview of the day. Kid says told me he has moves some people have probably never seen others make. D'Onofrio and Golden love him.
> He's only a freshman, but cornerback Ray Lewis III is already showing us he's capable of speaking in front of cameras and maybe speaking up and delivering speeches to the entire team.
> Meet linebacker Alex Figueroa, easily the freshman most likely to play a ton this season. He talked about sitting out a season and what his expectations are this season at UM. He's currently listed second at strongside linebacker.
> Meet tight end Standish Dobard, who like Figueroa has been around since the spring. He said getting lit up by sophomore linebacker Raphael Kirby this spring was his welcome to college moment.
> Meet freshman receiver Stacy Coley, who talks about what he needs to improve now that he's in college.