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Leadership, depth growing on improved Canes defense; Feliciano has developed into Mr. Cut Block

There were plenty of times last season when coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said he went to his bench too much as he tried to plug the holes and solve the woes of a putrid Hurricanes defense. 

"Last year we probably played 25 to 28 guys in certain games," D'Onofrio said Tuesday."We had too many guys on the field at the same time who were susceptible to a big mental error, a missed tackle, those sorts of things."

The 16th-ranked Hurricanes (2-0) aren't throwing the kitchen sink at opponents anymore. Bigger, stronger, deeper and finally with real veteran leadership, UM's defense played only 19 players against Florida, D'Onofrio said, a sign there is finally a standard of excellence where only the best who can hold their own will play against the best.

"That was the right number for that game because at this point those 19 can execute at a high level and not have a drop off where you get gashed or somebody is not in the right spot," D'Onofrio continued. "I'd like to play more, but I'm not going to play more until they play at the level the 19 are executing at."

A year ago, D'Onofrio said there were current third team players on his defensive line who got upwards of 300 snaps. With the additions of veteran players like senior defensive tackle Justin Renfrow (6-6, 320) and ends David Gilbert (6-4, 256) and Ufomba Kamalu (6-6, 285) freshmen and sophomores who aren't ready aren't being pressed into action anymore.

The Hurricanes, ranked among the worst defenses in the country last season, are surrendering only 2.9 yards per carry this season and rank second nationally in red zone defense.

"There is leadership. There's accountability. There's guys in the room who take a lot of pride in what they're doing now as opposed to saying hey 'I'm on the team and I'm starting or I'm a backup,'" D'Onofrio said. "Like I mentioned [Monday], those guys were a starter or a backup on a team that wasn't playing very well.

"You can pat yourself on the back for that or you can get better. The guys realize that. And they realize they had to do their job and execute better. I'm just happy for them. I'm happy for the players because they put a lot of time and effort into it. It's a good start. By no means are we a finished product yet. We're 2-0 and we've improved in some areas and I expect us to continue to work hard to continue to improve."

A big reason the team is also gelling on defense more, according to coaches and players, is that real leaders have stepped forward. There is an accountability for mistakes and blown assignments.

"I think it started in the summer," said senior and defensive captain Shayon Green. "Not having the coaches around, the leaders, me and Stephen [Morris], Alonzo [Highsmith], Jimmy Gaines, the players saw who was in control. The coaches had been asking us 'Who was going to step up and do it?' A lot of guys take PCP -- Players Coaching Players. There's a big difference from Coach saying it and Shayon saying it or Stephen saying it. When I tell a player to do something or we do something as a team there's no backlash anymore. If this is what we got to do to win, that's what we'll do. Weight room? 5 minutes early? Guys listen. It's all a big help."

Was leadership not present enough before?

"It wasn't present enough," Green said. "We had good leaders. But it wasn't like it was now. It's a big difference. My first couple years we had leadership. Now we do everything together. Before, we had some individual guys who wanted to do their own thing. Now everybody does it as a whole."

That includes playing fewer snaps -- and liking it. Green, Miami's leading tackler a year ago, said he's averaging about 20 fewer snaps a game than he did last season.

"And I'm cool with it," Green said. "I just want to win. If we get a better pass rusher or somebody who is fresher -- that's good."

Denzel Perryman, Miami's workhorse at linebacker, said he was happy to see there was no drop-off in playing against Florida the times he had to tap his shoulder and come out of the game. He said backup Tyrone Cornelius (6-2, 225) more than held his own. Coaches agreed.

"I feel like from my freshman year to now guys just aren't afraid to say something to one another anymore," Perryman said. "Before, I don't want to say we were afraid, but the coaches did all the yelling. Now, we kind of do it amongst each other. If I was to mess up on a play, Shayon will get on me, Jimmy will get on me instead of just Coach. Nobody is taking it negative, fighting among one another. I feel like that's making us better."

MORE NEWS AND NOTES FROM TUESDAY

> Sophomore safety Deon Bush (6-1, 203) moved into the depth chart this week and is listed as a backup, but he's still not 100 percent ready to say he'll be back on the field and playing Saturday against Savannah State.

"I wish I could tell you all a for-sure answer, but I really don't know right now because it's a staff decision," Bush said Tuesday. "I still have a little bit of discomfort [in the surgically repaired groin], but I'm still getting ready to play this game."

> Sophomore cornerback Tracy Howard (5-11, 184) has never been the type to wane on confidence, but his first career interception against Florida definitely made him feel better about himself.

"I was just waiting to get that one out the way so the rest could just roll in," Howard said. "You get comfortable. It's like anything else, I'm glad I got the first one out of the way."

> D'Onofrio said freshman cornerback Artie Burns, in the running for a starting job, has a lot of the natural instincts to be a ball hawk like Howard can be. Running back Dallas Crawford said Monday Burns isn't the type of defensive back to deflect passes in practice, rather "he catches them."

"He just has a good feel for it," D'Onofrio said of Burns' knack for picks in practice. "Some of the guys you have to coach it over and over and over again, where they have to be high rep guys where they have to be in the position to make a play. There are other guys who are instinctive, like the Artie's and Tracy's who understand what route is coming, understand a situation and go ahead and step in front of someone and make a play. And know when to take those chances -- more in zone than in man I hope. But that's the deal."

> The Hurricanes have been awarding a WWE-style wrestling belt to the best cut-blocker on the team over the past month and apparently left guard Jonathan Feliciano has owned it the longest.

"We have a belt for the most cuts in a game and we pass it around," Feliciano said. "I've had the belt for the first two weeks of the season. All the positions talk trash about who is going to get the belt. [Receiver] Allen Hurns came up to me today in practice. He said it's mine. We've been doing it for a month. Malcolm Lewis had it once."

According to Feliciano the toy belt has a giant-sized "U" in the middle. UM coach Al Golden said earlier this week Feliciano and right guard Brandon Linder have been the team's most consistent offensive linemen.

"He's kind of like an old school guy," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said of Feliciano. "He's real smart and real tough. He'll do a little bit of pancakes and cutting and six-second drive blocks. He's got a little bit of the devil in him.

"You don't want to be on the field kind of lolly-gagging around because he's going to take you out. He's fun to watch."

> Golden didn't participate in his usual Tuesday afternoon press conference before a game because he felt ill. D'Onofrio pinch-hit for him at the podium and said he expects Golden to bounce back.

> Quarterback Stephen Morris was one of 22 student-athletes selected to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Tuesday by the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association. Last year, running back Mike James was selected for Miami.

Morris is one of only 11 college football players from the Football Bowl Subdivision to be honored with the award, one of the most prestigious community service awards in all of college football. He is the seventh Miami Hurricane to be named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, joining Robert Bass (1993), Tony Coley (1996), Ryan Clement (1997), Nate Books (1998), Joaquin Gonzalez (2001) and James (2012).

Comments

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Many were skeptical of the UTough program.

In fact many laughed at it, and said it was gimmicky.

Now we have pay off time, with bigger, stronger, smarter football i.d.'s leading the way.

Build a Championship team starting with our D.

Good job to all the Coaches and Players. Now it is on to Bigger and Better wins this year.
Go 'Canes

I'm feeling good about M-Y Hurricane defensive unit this season and what not.
So naturally, I SEE-r a Cane SHUT OUT this Saturday. dUh

Oh, I'm still LOL at the SIXTY PERCENT ( 60% ) of Canespace/eoth good ol' boys whom WANTED that MAD HATTER Bo as Miami's head coach. And they know whom they be. hUh

Great article Manny!

Al Golden is the best coach in college football.

PS: Manny's factual overview spells another bad day for Calvin and Gallo...the clueless twosome!

Put that banana back in your mouth tubby!

d it makes me cry to know somebody has to try so very hard to b4 cool. you don't have many friends hUh?

I hate honky

Posted by: HarrietTubmanCane | September 17, 2013 at 06:47 PM

Put that banana back in your mouth tubby!

Posted by: cane crazy | September 17, 2013 at 06:59 PM

^^The true definition of trolling

UT SECONDARY IS IN FOR A TREAT SATURDAY. ..THANKS DRISKELL

lmao @21-16

Anybody going to the NC game in October?

Tubby, I'm a true cane fan . Reading ur ignorant azzz posts, cracks me up. Waste more time banana boy

By Christy Cabrera Chirinos, Sun Sentinel September 17, 2013
CORAL GABLES —— It's still early, but through two games, the changes are already visible.This Miami defense is markedly different from the unit the Hurricanes had on the field a season ago

Players are older and more experienced. Many of them are bigger and physically stronger. There's depth at several new positions and a level of maturity Miami just didn't have last year.

That's led to better play and given the Hurricane defense confidence, something the group is hoping to continue building when 16th-ranked Miami takes on Savannah State Saturday."

Like we talked about before our opening game, you don't really know until you get out there and play and get a feel for where you're at," Miami defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "The first two games are an indication that we're improving. We're executing better, and with that demonstrated performance comes confidence for the players."

Miami's defense is coming off arguably one of its best performances in recent seasons. During their 21-16 win over Florida earlier this month, the Hurricanes forced five turnovers, including three in the red zone.

Though Florida was able to move the ball, the Hurricane defense did enough to keep the Gators out of the end zone and help Miami hold on to its first-half lead.

Against FAU in its opener, that same UM defense held the Owls to 250 total yards and a pair of field goals.

That's helped make Miami (2-0) one of the nation's best teams in red-zone defense. The Hurricanes are ranked second nationally in that category after holding opponents to one rushing touchdown and three field goals in eight trips inside the 20-yard line.Overall, the Hurricanes are ranked No. 34 in the nation in total defense, an improvement on last year's performance, which had Miami ranked at No. 116 at season's end.

Despite the positive start, some players say they're not content with what they've done this year.And they still haven't forgotten the criticism directed at them or at D'Onofrio last season.

"I wouldn't say we feel like we can brush it off. We've only played two games," said junior linebacker Denzel Perryman, who leads the defense with 19 total tackles, including 14 solo stops. "There's still a lot more to come this season. But I know a lot of guys, we all know we got better. In training camp we saw we were making progress in areas. We've gotten better."Adds sophomore linebacker Tyriq McCord, "[D'Onofrio's] the same guy. He has the same expectations out of us a defense. The younger guys from last year are stepping up and making plays. The excuses of being a young team, that's not where it's at right now. Everybody's growing up. Everybody's taking a leadership role. It was on us a unit. It wasn't coach D'Onofrio. We're just going out there and executing for him."

For Miami's defense, the challenge now becomes continuing its development, especially because games against Savannah State and South Florida are all that's left before the Hurricanes open ACC play against Georgia Tech on Oct. 5.The defense's youngest players will likely see more opportunities against Savannah State (1-2), a FCS team that has scored just five touchdowns in its three games."

This is just like any other game," said McCord, a sophomore. "We're just attacking every game the same exact way. Every game, we have to come out and know we have to attack."

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This is the point that many of us has made over and over a billipn times to hate mongers calvin and and cool cat and gallo... That the d was young, inexperienced, undisciplined. Donfrio saw tha, i saw that opposing offenses saw that. People blamed donfrio this that whatever but come on.

The problem with the young excuse, it had more to do with the scheme than the team being young as why the defense was that bad last year, we've been young before on defense at UM and have never played that bad of defense ever, so while some of it is valid, the majority of it was the scheme was not fitting the players.

Now while it's only been 2 games, it does look good ranking wise where we are. My problem still is, had we not forced all of those turn-overs, how would the game have turned out, because while we're #2 in the nation in redzone defense, that might have more to do with the fact that our defense stayed in the redzone against the gaytors, but forced enuff turn-overs to cover up that fact. So let's say the gaytors actually kicked 3 of the fieldgoals when they were in the redzone, they still win the game.

As we get further into the season, we'll start facing more offenses that actually execute better, that'll be whe nthe real challenge starts.

racial posts...i bet the blackguy is really a white guy and the white guy is really a chick....stick to football..

Calvin is back to saying last year's defensive issues were not due to a very young, inexperienced, less than physically imposing unit, but was all due to D'Onofrio's schemes.

Well Calvie, that same logic can be applied to Savannah State as their defensive players physically mirror our squad from last year...so if they just change their schemes they will have a top 40 defense...right?

Then Calvie reached down into his bottomless negative bag of screwball "what if's" and wonders; "So let's say the Gators actually kicked 3 of the field goals when they were in the red zone, they still win the game"

Okay Calvie--what if the Gators didn't block the punt and Miami got the punt off cleanly, the Gator return man fumbled the punt and the Miami coverage team picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown?

What if Morris and the offense played the whole game like they did in the 1st quarter? The defensive effort against the gators was even more impressive considering the fact the offense couldn't get a first down.

I guess exposure really hurts because dudes can't keep my name out of their mouths lol! Isn't that what U guys refer to as "butt hurt?" It seems relevant in this case.

cane crazy the troll- stick to reading--your posting skills comprise of insults or cheerleading--no original ideas at all. Now if that isn't the characteristics of a banana eater I don't know what is. I see that despite all that knuckle walking, the occupational therapist I assigned U FINALLY has U typing more than 8 words at a time! If U are a true cane--then where are your posts about the Canes and not their fans?

Troll Harriet/Bored/Reality/cane crazy/Loser etc etc--the devil comes in all colors, U just happen to be one that is white--so don't make generalizations.

By the way, U still haven't posted or reposted my saying or even implying a racist belief. Anyone can say anything, the difference is that I provide proofs and explanation for what I say...what about U? Your feelings are hurt--but thats your issue..not mine. The truth shouldn't hurt so bad. Work on that.

A smart man can play dumb, but a dumb man can't play smart.

Hey Calvin, did [[_]] forget that our defense stopped a dumb 2 point conversion that some idiot coach called up after the blocked punt and a 9 yard TD run by Driskel. I guess it wasn't motivation for our defense to keep u out of the end zone another time in the red zone or maybe it was the spark that said these guys can't score on us!! And I'm not sure because I was having to much fun shoving all the BS that comes out of gator fans mouths back into there face but who calls for the field goal kicker to come out on 3rd down, 1st down, 3rd down, and another 3rd down when u turned it over. So what I think is if u kick the extra point instead of going for 2 it would of been 21-17 so last time I checked that is still a W for the [[_]]

what if Morris made all his passes to Dorsett and others. What if the Offense made a couple of more 3rd down conversions. What if the refs had actually seen that Morris head was almost screwed off on a missed face mask penalty on 3rd and long. What if the refs had correctly allowed Clements' first down run instead of mistakenly called it a holding. What if Duke had not committed that clipping penalty. What if Rashad had not committed that personal foul penalty on Tracy's int return.

All I hear is excuses.

instead of UF you all should call yourselves EXCUSE U.

Schemes Calvin? Schemes? We talking about Schemes?

Miami could have had Bill Belchick and his "schemes" as DC last year and they would have been bad on D. Thats the part that Calvin is too stubborn and blind to admit. ,,, or///

He just dont know squat

9>5>2, and remember the impossibly kind spots they got on three consecutive third and twos, where they were given the first down by ACC refs of all things.

The final score was closer because of a late TD that we gifted them, an early TD that we gifted them, and some bad calls by the refs against their own conference team.

Still, SCOREBOARD!

Harriet,

You've made it bro, you have you own personal stalker/ troll. You and Calvin has become the elite. LOL

Calvin,

What are they going to say now, Barry Jackson listed a slew of Shannon's recruits that's ballin for the 2013 Hurricanes. Yes, Coach Golden is credited with their development no doubt, good job Al, but I thought Shannon couldn't recruit. LOL. So now is Barry Jackson a no nothing troll? You know they can't form their own opinions so let the back-pedaling or bashing begin in 5, 4, 3, 2, .......

IT'S FUNNY BUT I AGREE WITH BOTH CALVIN AND ZOOK IN THAT YES WE WERE YOUNG AND INEXPERIENCED LAST YEAR BUT THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR IS D'ONOFRIO HAS MOVED UPSTAIRS AND HAS DONE A BETTER JOB OF CALLING MORE AGGRESSIVE SCHEMES THAT APPLY PRESSURE AND MORE MAN COVERAGE IN THE SECONDARY(CALVIN'S POINT) THIS STYLE COULD HAVE BEEN PLAYED MORE LAST YEAR WHETHER YOUNG OR NOT. AS FAR AS ALL THOSE WHAT IF'S GO !! WHAT IF COACH D HAD NOT MOVED UPSTAIRS,,WHAT IF THE PLAYERS FROM LAST YEAR HAD NOT TAKEN UPON THEMSELVES TO GET BETTER AND PERFORM BETTER? WHAT IF THE SKY WAS PURPLE? WHAT IF ALL BLACK PEOPLE GET TO BE WHITE 3 DAYS A YEAR? WHAT IF ALL WHITE PEOPLE GET TO BE BLACK 3 DAYS A YEAR? WHAT IF WE JUST ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THIS IS 2013 AND NOT 2012 ? NOW THAT I CAN AGREE ON ALSO. GO CANES !! WHAT IF WE BEAT FLORIDA ST?

Exactly True Cane, I've clearly struck a nerve LOL!

I've been gone over a week and for years prior to a month ago, but this dude is here constantly day and night, changing aliases and trolling had supposedly has a life..ok.

Oh really Mr. D, seems you take different sides at all times of the day. Yesterday, or Mon., you said this team would take us into the 4th qtr. Which is it? Rather, are you D, Calvin, or Gallo now, or even Harriet. You need professional help, like dr. assisted suicide.

A lot of guys take PCP -- Players Coaching Players.

Somebody needs to tell Ok. St. players this.

sorry, I look at the stats and data then draw an opinion......not drink koolaid like most here.....

last year UM defense had average:

79 plays / 486 defensive yards....

florida game was 77 plays / 413 yards.....

so all this talk from golden that the defense was out there a long time is BS as always.....the defense was out there shorter.....77 plays vs 79 last year average....

Florida was in the red zone 6 times vs UM @ 2......

Florida time of possession was 38.20 vs opponent last year average of 33.4 last year.....what you want is a LOWER time (more 3 and outs lower the times).....it was higher so the defense has a LONG way to go

golden/dnofrio still s...ck

Posted by: Jim Gallo | September 12, 2013 at 10:09 AM
------------------------------------------------------

I don't know how I missed this one....
Mr stat, what was our 2 biggest problems on defense last year??
Let me help you.
RUN DEFENSE and GETTING OFF THE FIELD.
Check out the 2nd half stats from last week. That's second half, you know, crunch time with the game on the line?
Florida rushing: 24 carries for 60 YARDS
Florida third down conversions: 1-7

Also, brainiac, your taking defensive stats over an entire year last year and comparing that to one game against one of the best teams we'll play this year.

DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
Miami D, 2nd half stats, toughest 2 early season opponents last year (KSU and ND) vs UF this year:

3rd Conv Rushes/Yards YPC TOP TO's POINTS
KSU-ND 5/8 61/339 5.0 17:57 0 28(ave)
Florida 1/7 24/60 2.2 16:44 2 7

Ahhhhhhhhh!!....Much better!!

...i gotta work on my spacing...

^you're

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