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54 posts from September 2013

September 19, 2013

Canes' center Shane McDermott to miss Savannah State game

Starting center Shane McDermott has been ruled out for Saturday night's game against Savannah State with a lower extremity injury according to the injury report released Thursday.

Shane McDermottMcDermott, who has started 14 consecutive games at center for UM dating back to last season, is backed up by 6-5, 319-pound senior Jared Wheeler. The fifth-year player out of Plantation American Heritage High has played in 25 games in his career, but has never started.

UM coach Al Golden said the team was preparing freshman Alex Gall to play in his first game this week. Gall plays guard according to offensive line coach Art Kehoe. Another player who hasn't seen a lot of time in UM's rotation is 6-8, 312-pound redshirt freshman Taylor Gadbois. Both will see more playing time this week as well.

Hurricanes offensive line looking to rebound after ugly performance; protecting Duke Johnson's body a priority assistant says

The Hurricanes starting offensive line is one of the most experienced and polished in the country, a proud group which has been going by the nickname of The Great Wall of Coral Gables since the sports information staff coined the phrase at the start of the season.

But their weekly film session after the win over Florida nearly two weeks ago was a painful experience, guards Jonathan Feliciano and Brandon Linder admitted earlier this week. Feliciano said it was the ugliest game film to recap from a unit's perspective since he's been here.

"It wasn't like we all messed up on one play. It was like we all took turns messing up," Feliciano said this week of the line's performance. "If I was doing good one play something happened on the backside. And vice-versa.

"Coach Kehoe has his way when he's being loud and making a joke of letting you know he's upset. He just wasn't happy with the landmarks we had [where players were lined up] and the way we were coming off the ball. We saw one of the best defenses in the nation. Now we know how they are and how it feels to play against them. We have to come every week prepared like that."

Miami was held to only 50 yards rushing in the game, a week after rolling up 303 against FAU in the season opener. UM only had fewer yards last season twice: at Kansas State (40 yards on 29 carries) and against Florida State (29 yards on 21 carries).

Kehoe took responsibility for his line's struggles, saying he didn't prepare them well enough for all the shifting the Gators did and the explosion they had off the ball. Kehoe said defensive tackle Dominique Easley was jumping cadence and disrupting the backfield way too often. Easley is rated the third-best defensive tackle prospect in the country according to NFLDraftScout.com.

Linder said Easley was definitely the toughest assignment he and his teammates have faced thus far.

"Looking back in hindsight I wish I had done a better job preparing for No. 2 [Easley]. He was like a human wrecking ball in that game," Kehoe said. "That being said, I think we just had five great practices and are getting better. The guys are starting to figure it out. You either bring it or you lose it."

Savannah State, a 60-point underdog, and the University of South Florida (0-3), who hosts UM in two weeks, will hardly present the same challenge the Gators did.

In fact, Miami may not face another big, fast and dominant defensive front like Florida's until it travels to Tallahassee Nov. 2. The Seminoles have top-notch junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (6-2, 298) and senior Demonte McAllister (6-2, 290).

A road trip to North Carolina for a Thursday night showdown with the Tar Heels won't be easy either. Kareem Martin (6-5, 265) is rated the No. 2 defensive end prospect according to NFLDraftScout.com. Senior Tim Jackson (6-4, 285) is rated the 18th best defensive tackle in the country according to the same website.

"The combination of [what happened against Florida] makes you study the film hard and hope you don't repeat it because it can become a blueprint of what teams are going to do against you," Kehoe said. "But I don't know if they got the blueprint to put No. 2 against you. He caused a lot of problems, messed with a lot of our concepts. It was a good learning experience. The good thing is we learned and won. That's the good thing."

MORE NEWS AND NOTES LEFTOVER FROM THIS WEEK

> Running backs coach Hurlie Brown said "it's really important" for the Hurricanes to protect Duke Johnson's body so he stays upright for the length of the season. Johnson said on Hurricanes Hotline this week coming off the Florida game he was "bruised bad and sore."

Through two games, Johnson has carried the ball 40 times for 245 yards and two touchdowns. He's touched it six other times -- three catches for 50 yards and three kick returns for an average of 18.7. A year ago at this time Johnson had 13 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He also had five catches for 28 yards and eight kick returns for an average of 26.3 yards for a grand total of 26 touches, 20 fewer than he has now.

"We just got to be smart about it all," Brown said of the amount of times Johnson (5-9, 196) is asked to do something with the ball. "As coaches, that's what you try to do -- whether it's Duke or anybody else. You try and protect those guys and make sure they can go the distance. Duke's the type of kid that can play a lot, who is a strong kid. We just got to be smart as a staff to make sure he can go the distance."

> By moving Feliciano from right tackle back to left guard after one week it's opened the door for Seantrel Henderson (6-8, 45) to get more playing time and to join the starting rotation. Kehoe said Feliciano is still going to play some tackle, but he's more suited for guard.

"He's been versatile, tenacious and tough," Kehoe said. "The more I look at our guys it becomes kind of fun figuring who can do what where and who is better than other guys. Some guys play tackle better, guard better and some guys are versatile like Jon and Brandon and can play all five.

"Seantrel is in good shape. He's come around in a lot of ways. He knows his time is running out. He's playing hard and getting better and starting to learn from these guys. He's an exceptional player and if he's on, he's hard to deal with. He's got some unbelievable tools he's putting together."

> It's hard to tell exactly what kind of crowd Miami will get for Savannah State Saturday night, but the atmosphere of a sellout against the Gators was one that will stick in the minds of players and coaches for a long time.

"Joe Robbie or Sun Life Stadium is built for baseball and for football. Since I've been back I haven't been in there where I saw a crazy crowd like I saw Saturday," Kehoe said.

"People were dancing and screaming and jumping up and down. Our kids were getting into it and we were in a fist-fight against a really good team. And it was the kind of environment we all wanted to see around here for a long time. The Orange Bowl was more tight, a tighter joint, but that was the first time this place was popping. It was a fun environment and our kids really loved it."

September 18, 2013

Golden talks redshirts, Deon Bush and more after Wednesday's practice

With 60-point underdog Savannah State on tap for Saturday Hurricanes coach Al Golden figures to get plenty of his young players some work this week. But who will Golden and his staff try to keep out of the game to keep them on target for a redshirt at season's end?

"We're trying to hold [fullback] Walter Tucker, [cornerback] Ray Lewis, [offensive lineman] Sunny [Odogwu] and [quarterback] Kevin Olsen," Golden said Wednesday after another soggy practice in Coral Gables. "Obviously [offensive lineman] Hunter Knighton is out [with an injury] so we're redshirting him. We're playing [receiver] Stacy [Coley], [tight end] Stan [Dobard], [running back] Gus [Edwards], [offensive lineman Alex] Gall and I think everybody else has a role."

The Hurricanes added 14 high school seniors and prep school players to their roster in their last recruiting class and two junior college signees. So far the four Golden mentioned targeted for redshirts and Gall are the only players who haven't seen playing time yet.

"This will be his first go," Golden said. "We've been spending two weeks getting him ready for this. We realized we didn't have enough depth to push through the season after the opener. We've been pushing Alex for the last 2 1/2 weeks. He'll be ready for his opportunity this weekend."

As good as it feels to get a few kids redshirted to help build depth, Golden says the Canes "aren't out of the woods yet."

"As you guys have indicated many times, our scholarship numbers are not where they need to be," Golden said. "Therefore were not as deep as we want to be at all positions. But we can afford to redshirt some guys and I feel like we are building depth. But we got to be careful. It can't be a fool's gold depth.

"We got to understand that on the d-line we're top heavy. And we need help quickly. We need help at mid-year at that position for instance. Wide receiver we have on scholarship and we have six healthy. That's a bad number. We need help at wide out. I can go on down the line, but those are the two areas in addition to the offensive line I think you guys know are really focal points for us in recruiting right now."

MORE NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden, who missed Tuesday's press conference because he was feeling ill according to UM, said Wednesday he was feeling better. "I hope my energy [is contagious] but nothing else," he quipped.

> Safety Deon Bush, who said Tuesday he was still feeling sore, apparently was checked again medically on Monday, Golden said, and obviously cleared to continue practice. Bush had off-season sports hernia surgery and hasn't played yet, but is hoping to get in on Saturday.

"Good week so far," Golden said. "We doubled back and made sure medically that he was really good on Monday just to make sure he felt good and had piece of mind. He's really had a good week. I'm anxious to see Deon continue to get better this week and get his conditioning where it needs to be and move forward."

> Even though his team is a heavy favorite this weekend, Golden said the focus he keeps stressing to players is self improvement. He said there was plenty Florida exposed to keep UM busy the past two weeks. As for bench marks he would like to see the offense hit -- 45 percent conversions on third down and 80 percent scoring on red-zone visits.

> Of facing an FCS Tigers team this week, Golden said: "There is a big disparity going from an SEC opponent to this week. What I'm trying to teach is that it really doesn't what the other team does. At the end of the day it's about us executing."

Golden said the fact Miami is even playing Savannah State is just part of the "system we live in right now."

"Nobody was sending us sympathy cards last year when we played three of our first four on the road at Manhattan [Kansas] and at Soldier [Field in Chicago]," Golden said. "That's the system we're in. I would like for it all to be uniform. I'm sure most coaches would also. Right now all I care about is getting each individual player better."

UM is a 60-point favorite over Savannah State. Would you take that bet?

The Miami Hurricanes are favored at home by 60 points against Savannah State at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Per @RJinVegas, it is only the third recorded 60+ spread in college football since 1980. 

So, just wondering: Would you take that bet?  

(Note: FSU was a 65-point fave over Savannah State last year. The Seminoles won 55-0 on Sept. 8th, 2012.)

Also, how many points do you think Canes have to score, regardless of spread, to stay around where they are in the rankings? Obviously, much of that is dependent on what others do, but was just thinking about it.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 17, 2013

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).

UM Canes (former) quarterback Preston Dewey makes statement -- he's done with football

Hurricanes quarterback Preston Dewey, who was behind starter Stephen Morris, backup Ryan Williams and third-teamer Gray Crow, is no longer on the Hurricanes football team, as reported yesterday.

Dewey released the following written statement through the University.

"Following consultations with doctors in Miami and in Texas, it was determined that I am no longer able to play football because of my back injury. We have scheduled surgery for December and I am looking forward to getting better.

"I have decided to remain at the University of Miami to complete my education. I would like to thank Coach Golden for the opportunity to be a part of the Hurricanes football program -- the future is bright for this team. Obviously this is a very sad time for me, but I will continue to be a supporter of this team and these coaches; and I will be a Hurricane for life."

Quarterback Kevin Olsen, a true freshman, is the other scholarship QB. He's still learning the system and is expected to be redshirted. 

Preston would be a redshirt freshman this season, which means he's never played in a game. He is from Austin, Texas, and graduated from St. Andrew's Episcopal School.

Preston's dad told our Barry Jackson a while back that Preston had been fighting a back injury. He told Barry last night that he never would have been cleared medically to play because of the injury, but that UM is honoring his scholarship. He also said Preston injured himself during spring practice, but UM never announced it.

UM told me yesterday, and Preston's dad told Barry yesterday, that Preston was still on scholarship -- and that it is in some way connected with his injury. UM said he was not counted among the roster limit of 105.

Preston is a nice young man, and I hope he does well. He will be working as an intern with UM's sports marketing team.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 16, 2013

Morris, Coley, Hurricanes offense working on hitting receivers, curveballs thrown at them

As good as the Hurricanes are feeling about being 2-0 and ranked in the Top 25 poll again, there was plenty of work to be had during the team's bye week last week and plenty more the team is focusing on heading into Saturday night's game against Savannah State.

Sure, the Tigers are 55-point underdogs -- maybe the ultimate FCS underdogs in college football with blowout losses to Florida State (55-0) and Oklahoma State (84-0) in recent years. But Miami wants to get better, especially on offense where new offensive coordinator James Coley is trying to get quarterback Stephen Morris and company back on track.

The focus since the team's win over the Gators has been improving the offense's third down conversion percentage, currently ranked 120th out of 123 FBS programs (5 of 25, 20 percent). Morris, meanwhile, ranks 89th in passing efficiency (115.3). A year ago he finished 50th (138.07 rating).

"This last week was all about communication with our players up front and in the perimeter, just understanding what different things can happen [on third downs]," Coley said. "Everybody early in the season has the wrinkles they do. Sometimes when you get some curveballs you have to be able to adjust."

One example of a curveball breaking down communication against Florida was when Morris threw a pass toward Dorsett he didn't even turn around and look for. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground. It was still the kind of mistake that not only frustrates fans, but coaches and players too.

"That's stuff we've been really focusing on in practice, giving them all the wrinkles [a defense might do] -- even if they don't do it," Coley said.

Aside from a few deep shots the Hurricanes took against Florida, Coley and Morris both said Miami's offense has been pretty conservative so far and has been holding back a lot of their playbook. Morris said against FAU, for instance, the team only ran variations on "three or four" plays the entire game.

"It was frustrating because the defense gets used to those same plays," Morris said. "For us, our biggest thing is, let's execute it. Obviously there are lot of things we haven't called and won't call for Savannah State and we'll hold off for other games, but our biggest thing is we have to execute what's being called."

Morris said regardless of who the Hurricanes are playing Saturday -- even a 55-point underdog, "championship teams don't care who they're playing."

"Going off my last two games there is a lot of things to improve on and work on," Morris continued. "That's the thing about it. We're only two games in. Let's take what we did in the bye week and continue to grow."

MORE NEWS AND NOTES

> Coley said receivers Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis have responded well in practice over the past week.

"Stacy, it's a whole new language," Coley said. "He's coming in from high school, it's a whole new grind. He's got these classes he's taking, they're college level classes ... he's coming to practice and he's sore. The guy at the corner now is 200 pounds, not 165 like he saw in high school. So it's physical. What I saw from him is the push, he's really pushed himself. He's a smart kid, very instinctive.

"Malcolm, coming off that injury, his whole deal is being in condition to endure the entire practice. He's going to be sore at times. It's hey, you're running that route at 12 whether you're sore or you're tired."

Do you like noon games? Also: injury update, Preston Dewey and #76000strong #sheesh

 

Do you like noon games?

Hopefully you do, because the Canes have another one on Sept. 28th.

But this time it's on the road against USF, and will be televised on either ABC, ESPN or ESPNU, according to the ACC.

The network will be announced Sept. 22.

Meanwhile, this week's game against FCS team Savannah State (1-2) is at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. The Canes (2-0), which dropped from No. 15 to 16 in the AP Poll and rose from 18 to 17 in the Coaches', conclude their three-game homestand Saturday.

The players are doing their best, it seems, to treat this game like any other. Al Golden is doing a very good job immersing them in his process-oriented culture. They know just how good -- or rather, bad -- this opponent is, but seem to be zoned in on the moment and learning and improving and working on what they need to do. 

Golden's philosophies have really begun to seep deep, at least from what I see.

Anyway, I spoke with A.J. Highsmith for a while today and he was really appreciative of the crowd that showed up for the Florida game.

"Thank you to everyone who came out today! #76000strong #sheesh," Highsmith tweeted.

"I've been here before when there was nobody in the stadium,'' Highsmith told me. "It was really fun to have that atmosphere. I wish we could get that again. It would mean a lot, because of how far we've come.''

QUICK HITS:

* WR Rashawn Scott (shoulder/collarbone) was at practice wearing a red (no-contact) jersey. Golden said he expects him back "sometime before or after North Carolina" on Oct. 17.

* Golden also said he expects OL Danny Isidora (broken foot/surgery) back around that time.

* Deon Bush (hernia surgery) has moved to backup safety, as opposed to third-team on the depth chart. But Golden wasn't saying whether Bush will play Saturday. The coach said he had to look at tape first.

* UM confirmed earlier today that former scholarship quarterback Preston Dewey, who would have been a redshirt freshman, is enrolled as a Miami student but is no longer on the football team. Dewey is still on scholarship, but not as it relates to the football team. He is not counted as one of the 105 players. He is working as a sports marketing intern. I've been told backup quarterback Ryan Williams also will serve as a sports marketing intern. Williams, of course, is still playing.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 15, 2013

UM Hurricanes depth chart released for Savannah State = same starters (w Artie Burns a co-starter)

Coach Al Golden released his newest depth chart for
Savannah State. It's nearly identical. 
At cornerback, freshman Artie Burns is a co-starter
with Ladarius Gunter.

WEEK 3 DEPTH CHART (as of Sept. 15, 2013)
OFFENSE (PRO)

WR 1 ALLEN HURNS 6-3, 195, Sr.
3 Stacy Coley 6-1, 180, Fr.
15 D’Mauri Jones 6-4, 192, RFr.

LT 74 ERECK FLOWERS 6-6, 315, So.
77 Seantrel Henderson 6-8, 345, Sr.

LG 70 JON FELICIANO 6-5, 318, RJr.
79 Malcolm Bunche 6-7, 327, RJr.

C 62 SHANE MCDERMOTT 6-4, 296, RJr.
75 Jared Wheeler 6-5, 319, Sr.

RG 65 BRANDON LINDER 6-6, 319, Sr.
67 Alex Gall 6-5, 304, Fr.

RT 77 SEANTREL HENDERSON 6-8, 345, Sr.
76 Taylor Gadbois 6-8, 312, RFr.

TE 46 CLIVE WALFORD 6-4, 259, RJr.
82 Asante Cleveland 6-5, 260, Sr.
85 Beau Sandland 6-6, 255, Jr.

FB 33 MAURICE HAGENS 5-11, 250, Sr.
44 Walter Tucker 6-0, 226, Fr.

QB 17 STEPHEN MORRIS 6-2, 218, Sr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 223, Jr.

RB 8 DUKE JOHNSON 5-9, 196, So.
25 Dallas Crawford 5-10, 194, RSo.
23 Eduardo Clements 5-9, 192, Sr.

SLOT 6 HERB WATERS 6-2, 193, So.
3 Stacy Coley 6-1, 180, Fr.

WR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, Jr.
6 Herb Waters 6-2, 193, So.
9 Malcolm Lewis 6-0, 187, So.

SPECIALISTS

P 16 PAT O’DONNELL 6-5, 220, Gr.
18 Matt Goudis 6-0, 172, So.

FG 18 MATT GOUDIS 6-0, 172, So.
16 Pat O’Donnell 6-5, 220, Gr.

KO 16 PAT O’DONNELL 6-5, 220, Gr.
18 Matt Goudis 6-0, 172, So.

H 16 PAT O’DONNELL 6-5, 220, Gr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 223, RJr.

LS 57 SEAN MCNALLY 5-10, 200, RJr.
61 Paul Kelly 6-1, 255, RSr.

SS 61 PAUL KELLY 6-1, 255, RSr.
65 Brandon Linder 6-6, 319, Sr.

PR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, Jr.
25 Dallas Crawford 5-10, 196, RSo.

KR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 185, So.
8 Duke Johnson 5-9, 196, So.
1 Artie Burns 6-0, 190, Fr.
3 Stacy Coley 6-1, 180, Fr.

DEFENSE (4-3)

DE 71 ANTHONY CHICKILLO 6-4, 277, Jr.
90 Ufomba Kamalu –OR– 6-6, 285, Jr.
99 Jelani Hamilton 6-5, 285, So.

DT 96 CURTIS PORTER 6-1, 325, Sr.
78 Justin Renfrow 6-6, 320, Sr.

DT 91 OLSEN PIERRE 6-4, 305, Jr.
93 Luther Robinson 6-3, 296, RSr.

DE 51 SHAYON GREEN 6-3, 264, Sr.
11 David Gilbert 6-4, 256, Sr.
98 Al-Quadin Muhammad 6-3, 240, Fr.

OLB 34 THURSTON ARMBRISTER –OR– 6-3, 233, Jr.
36 ALEX FIGUEROA 6-3, 235, Fr.
17 Tyriq McCord 6-3, 235, So.

MLB 59 JIMMY GAINES 6-3, 240, Sr.
56 Raphael Kirby –OR– 6-0, 235, So.
94 Kelvin Cain 6-3, 250, Sr.

OLB 52 DENZEL PERRYMAN 6-0, 240, Jr.
31 Tyrone Cornileus 6-2, 225, Sr.

CB 3 TRACY HOWARD 5-11, 184, So.
21 Antonio Crawford –OR– 5-11, 187, So.
29 Corn Elder 5-10, 173, Fr.

S 22 KACY RODGERS II 6-2, 212, Sr.
30 AJ Highsmith 6-0, 208, Sr.

S 26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS 6-1, 208, So.
2 Deon Bush 6-1, 203, So.

CB 37 LADARIUS GUNTER –OR– 6-2, 196, Jr.
1 ARTIE BURNS 6-0, 190, Fr.

September 11, 2013

Al Golden from Wednesday's Atlantic Coast Conference Coaches' Teleconference

Some quick hits from Al Golden's ACC Teleconference:

 

* On getting more national exposure since the win against Florida, and if it parallels at all with how UM's basketball program: "We have no idea what is being said outside these doors. We're just going back to work. ...I have no idea what transpired with Jim and with basketball, but relative to us we're not talking about anything out the outside, just as we did not talk about Florida going into the Florida game.

   "It's been about our process. This week is us vs. complacency. We're really not calling it a bye week. We're calling it a process week.'

* On tight-end Clive Walford and expectations for him compared to a year ago:

"A lot higher. He's been one of the guys we've been pushing the last two days to get his timing down, to run everything full speed so Stephen knows exactly where he is, to really turn the corner and play faster. He's a guy we've got to get involved more for sure, especially on third down.''

* On the defensive-line rotation: Golden said Anthony Chickillo got around 71 reps against Florida, but that the other players rotating, including Ufomba Kamalu, Jelani Hamilton, Justin Renfro, Curtis Porter and Olsen Pierre, "didn't get out of the 40s, which kept us fresh.

"The rotation will get stronger as we start to bring along Kamalu and Jelani Hamilton and Earl Moore. We really need those guys to grow up and step up.''

* On Phillip Dorsett and Stephen Morris getting their signals crossed at times:

"Just disconnected a couple times and that's it. It's really not a function of any one thing. We all have to improve, starting with me. Today and yesterday we worked very hard on a lot of different things, most particularly on our third downs.

Stephen’s balance is excellent right now. He’s throwing the ball really well. We had a lot of continuity with our receivers. We’re pushing Stacy and Malcolm. We’re trying to get more production out of the tight ends. It’s been a very productive two days, but it’s really not a new offense, it’s not Stephen, it’s not Phillip. It’s the totality of it and the way the game unfolded."

 * On recruiting after Saturday's victory, and the importance of timing as it relates to recruiting after a win:

  "I don’t know so much of the timing. If this was decision time then timing is important. If a kid was going to make a decision and he and his family said, 'OK, sometime after the Florida game we’re going to make a decision.' Obviously, then that would be favorable to us. But in terms of timing of it it’s just a function of getting out.

 "We’re in a bye week and we’ve practiced really hard the last two days. We’re going to practice tomorrow and then we’re going to get our coaches on the road Thursday and Friday. We’re going to go to further places, places further away, because we don’t have a game this weekend. And when we go to South Florida, we’ll do the Tampa and Orlando area, maybe Fort Myers, West Coast and when we’re back home we’ll start hitting the local areas. There’s a little strategy involved..because of the way it falls on the calendar."

*On the play of the offensive line:

 "There are cert things we need to get fixed. We know that. We have to be able to run the ball better. That’s not just on the O-line. That’s on everybody, starting with me. There are some things we’ve looked at that were exposed that we need to get corrected and we’ll get that fixed and there are some other things we can do moving forward that we will do.

"Slugfest for sure. Proud of the way the guys fought. It wasn’t pretty but certainly a lot of room to improve this week and they know that."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 10, 2013

My chat with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit on Canes BEFORE Miami beat Florida

I had a phone interview (right before UM met FAU in the opener) with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, regarded as one of the best in the business.

When he talked to me, Herbie said it was too early to make a pick for the UF-UM game. But, of course, like almost everyone else, he picked the Gators to defeat the Hurricanes last Saturday -- maybe partly because he went out on a limb, the wrong limb, to pick Toledo over the Gators in Week 1.

Herbstreit talked about Al Golden, the UM defense and that four-letter-word, as Golden calls it, and how it could affect the Hurricanes.

 Q: How would the NCAA sanctions coming down during the season as opposed to before it, affect the Hurricanes performance-wise -- or in any way?

 Herbstreit: “I think that’s kind of a big asterisk next to this 2013 team. I’ve been blown away by the job Al Golden has done in his two years of blocking these distractions out and putting his team last year in a position to get to an ACC Championship game before they self-sanctioned their postseason. So they have proven they can block things out. 

"But if the sanctions were to come down during the season, to me, unless it’s good news -- are they impressed with what Miami has already done and they agree and say, 'Hey, you know what, you’ve done enough, it’s time to move on’; or do they say, ‘Oh, you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. We’re going to hit you with this, this and this.’

 "I think it really depends on what kind of news they get. Because no matter what Al Golden has been able to do, if they get devastating news it’s going to be hard for it not to affect this team. On the other hand, if they finally have a break in this dark cloud that is hovering over their program and get good news, boy, that could be a real boost to what they’re trying to accomplish and what looks like a team that can be pretty competitive this year and have a great shot at getting back to where they were last year, when they had a shot to get to the ACC Championship."

Q: What would you consider a severe punishment for UM?

Herbstreit: "Any more postseason bans, taking scholarships away, taking them off TV – anything like that could really affect a kid that’s excited right now. If you and I went into the Hurricanes locker room right now and kind of took all the cameras and microphones away and talked to these kids I bet you there’s a real sense of excitement of what they think they can accomplish with [19] returning starters off a team that won seven games last year.

 "I’m not saying they’re going to get bad news – hopefully they’ll get great news; But to potentially get devastating news about, ‘you can’t go to a postseason game this year,’ that alone would be something that could really affect you and your psyche when you think you’ve got a chance to have a great year."

Q: Do you think UM can beat UF?

Herbstreit: "I think they can. I had a chance to see the Miami-Florida State game last year and the thing I walked away from was, No. 1, their defense, which was much maligned last year – they’re young. They were playing so many guys that night who were on a high school field the year before. They had so many true freshmen and redshirt freshmen and sophomores just littered throughout that entire defense. So it was really hard to sit there and say, ‘Wow, they don’t get pressure on the quarterback enough. Where are their playmakers?’

 "It was hard to do that when they were so young. But I do remember walking out of that game and thinking, ‘Wow. [Safety] Deon Bush is going to be a really good player.’ There were a number of other guys that stood out to me that night who were young, athletic kids. And now they’re a little more familiar with what Mark [D'Onofrio] is trying to do on defense and what it takes to be successful in college football. I think you’re going to see really great strides on that side of the ball, which is key for them to be able to hang with teams like Florida and others. We know they’re going to be able to score with Morris and Duke Johnson and those receivers, but can their defense grow up, can they become more physical, can they become more dominant? That’s the thing nationally people want to see from Miami this year.

"I think playing as many young players [on defense] as they played last year. There were not a whole lot of guys making many plays that were seniors. You’re talking about probably a ton of guys who were probably pretty humiliated and embarrassed with the way they played on that side of the ball and are pretty anxious to have a chance to get back out there."

 Q: What's your prediction for Miami's record this season?

 Herbstreit: "I picked Miami to play Clemson in the ACC championship. I picked Clemson to beat Miami. Depending on what the NCAA says, if it’s status quo, or they get good news, I think an 8-4, or if everything really goes good, a 9-3 year would be great for them."

Note that Herbstreit, of ESPN's College GameDay, is promoting the Ultimate Road Trip Sweepstakes, in which fans can register for a chance to win a trip with three friends to the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl to watch the game with Herbstreit.

The grand prize package also includes a 2014 Buick Enclave and a trip to Pasadena, Calif, for the BCS title game. To enter, go to AllstateCFB.com. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

September 09, 2013

UM AD Blake James says he'll contact UF AD Jeremy Foley to try to resume Canes-Gators series

Al Golden has been saying it for the past week, and Monday night on WQAM's Hurricane Hotline, Hurricanes athletic director Blake James said it too: Resume the rivalry.

James made it clear he'd like for the Canes, who defeated UF 21-16 on Saturday, to play the Gators again.

As it is now, there are no more games scheduled between the two teams. UF AD Jeremy Foley told the Associated Press last week that he'd only consider playing again at a neutral site.

Here's exactly what James said, regarding a possible UM-UF revival:

"I think it's great for college football. I think it's great for the state of Florida. I think it's great for Miami. When you look at, hey we all know Gators; We all live with them -- some of them, they're our family; some of them, they're our neighbors. Whatever it is, the reality is we're going to have Seminoles, Gators and Canes all around the area.

"The rivalry is good for South Florida. If it were something where it made sense for Jeremy and Florida -- and again, I can't speculate what does or doesn't make sense for the University of Florida. I don't know all the ins and outs of what they need to do.

"But I do know from our side, we'd definitely like to play them. But to me it needs to be a game that makes sense. So whether it's a home and home -- you know, if we wanted to look at a neutral site, you have to find a neutral site.

"I said New York City last night.

"Someone said to me, 'Hey Jeremy said he wants to play at a neutral site like Orlando or Tampa or Jacksonville.'  I said, 'That doesn't really sound neutral to me. I would choose.. maybe... Yankee Stadium.'

"Those are conversations that we need to have. I'll reach out to Jeremy again and see what makes sense  to them. We're different programs that have different needs.

"I would say for us, yeah, it would make sense to have them on the schedule on a regular basis. But with that said, understand, there are different challenges that they have. Whatever works I'm sure will end up happening for the two programs.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Start planning your tailgate for Savannah State. Tigers lost first 2 games by combined score 143-12

Be assured that the No. 15 Hurricanes will be too busy working on themselves the next couple of weeks to get a cocky attitude about Savannah State, their next opponent.

 Miami (2-0) has off this Saturday, but returns to Sun Life Stadium at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 against the FCS Tigers.

Here's pretty much all you need to know about the Tigers:

* They lost 66-3 against FBS-team Troy this past weekend. Troy (2-0) passed for six touchdowns and ran for another two. Troy also scored on a field goal and 78-yard interception return.

* They lost 77-9 in their opener against fellow FCS-team Georgia Southern.

* They finished 1-10 in 2012.

Suffice it to say that a lot of backups will get playing time against Savannah State, and the Hurricanes' passing game should dramatically improve.

The game will not be shown on TV. ESPN3 will show the game online.

Will the fans show up at Sun Life? I think they will, but I'm an optimist. If nothing else, it should be a good night to party and watch some Hurricane future stars get ample playing time.

No matter what kind of team Savannah State has, Al Golden will get his players ready to roll in this one.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

Perryman, Chickillo earn ACC Player of the Week honors

Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive end Anthony Chickillo, who led the defensive effort in the Hurricanes’ 21-16 win over Florida and have been starters on UM's defense since they were freshmen, were named the ACC Linebacker and Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week, respectively Monday.

Perryman tallied a team- and season-high 13 tackles, including a game-high nine solo stops against the Gators. He led a Hurricanes defense that forced five Florida Gators turnovers, including a fumble he forced on Florida’s opening possession. Perryman leads the Canes with 19 tackles, including a team-high 14 solo stops, through two games.

Chickillo was tabbed Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week with five tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. He has made 23 consecutive starts along the defensive line, dating back to the final nine games of the 2011 season. He has 10 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss the through the season’s first two games.

The Hurricanes (2-0), who entered the AP Top 25 Poll this week at No. 15, will return to Sun Life Stadium when it hosts Savannah State on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3.

The game time and broadcast were also announced Monday.

September 08, 2013

Miami Hurricanes jump 11 spots to No. 15 in AP poll -- first time since Nov. 14, 2010 that Canes enter AP's Top 25.

Miami Hurricanes fans will likely be beating their chests for at least two more weeks (and let's face it, probably the next month). The Hurricanes, who were just out of the AP Top 25 last week, rose 11 spots to No. 15 (615 points) when the poll was just announced.

The Hurricanes, coming off yesterday's impressive defensive performance that catapulted them over the Gators in a 21-16 victory, have not been in the AP Top 25 since Nov. 14, 2010-- until now. 

The Gators, who were No. 12 last week, fell to No. 18 (405 points).

And Florida State, which had a bye week, is No. 10 (1011 points).

The Hurricanes rose from No. 24 to No. 18 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

Do you think the rankings will affect the Hurricanes in any way psychologically? I know for sure that Coach Al Golden is going to do everything he can to keep them focused on each individual day and what they have to do to better themselves, as opposed to "the external," as he likes to say.

By the way, this is the first time Al Golden has ever had a team in the Top 25.

UM next meets Savannah State on Sept. 21 at home, then USF in Tampa on Sept. 28. Then comes Georgia Tech in Miami on Oct. 5.

What are your thoughts? 

It was an impressive win, despite the offense being nonexistent much of the game. The Canes scored points when they had to and have learned, it seems, to make the big plays defensively. An exhilarating win against the Gators. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Miami Hurricanes jump 11 spots to No. 15 in AP poll -- first time since Nov. 14, 2010 that Canes enter AP's Top 25.

Miami Hurricanes fans will likely be beating their chests for at least two more weeks (and let's face it, probably the next month). The Hurricanes, who were just out of the AP Top 25 last week, rose 11 spots to No. 15 (615 points) when the poll was just announced.

The Hurricanes, coming off yesterday's impressive defensive performance that catapulted them over the Gators in a 21-16 victory, have not been in the AP Top 25 since Nov. 14, 2010 -- until now.

Miami is ranked in the AP Top 15 for the first time since the week of Oct. 3, 2010, when it was ranked No. 13. 

The Gators, who were No. 12 last week, fell to No. 18 (405 points).

And Florida State, which had a bye week, is No. 10 (1011 points).

The Hurricanes rose from No. 24 to No. 18 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

Do you think the rankings will affect the Hurricanes in any way psychologically? I know for sure that Coach Al Golden is going to do everything he can to keep them focused on each individual day and what they have to do to better themselves, as opposed to "the external," as he likes to say.

By the way, this is the first time Al Golden has ever had a team in the Top 25.

UM next meets Savannah State on Sept. 21 at home, then USF in Tampa on Sept. 28. Then comes Georgia Tech in Miami on Oct. 5.

What are your thoughts? 

It was an impressive win, despite the offense being nonexistent much of the game. The Canes scored points when they had to and have learned, it seems, to make the big plays defensively. An exhilarating win against the Gators. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

September 07, 2013

O'Donnell rebounded from blocked punt with two game-changing punts in the second quarter, plus other notes

It's not often the punter gets invited to the post-game victory press conference.

But Pat O'Donnell earned himself a place in the spotlight Saturday afternoon with a pair of booming punts in the second quarter while the Hurricanes offense was struggling and the defense badly needed to shift field position.

"We're grateful for Pat O'Donnell. That's all I'm going to say," said sophomore rush end Tyriq McCord, who had the sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery that led to the decisive touchdown run by Duke Johnson.

"He's amazing. In practice he's always booting it about 100 yards average. That's all I can say."

O'Donnell, a graduate student and transfer from Cincinnati, crushed a 55-yard punt from Miami's 17-yard line after the Hurricanes offense went three-and-out to open the second quarter. He then shifted the field again with a 60-yarder, his longest punt of the season, after another three-and-out and Miami pinned back at its 16.

It was a nice bounce-back effort considering the day didn't exactly start great. Florida produced it's 13th blocked kick under coach Will Muschamp when Louichez Purifoy broke through and blockedhis first punt that led to Florida's first touchdown.

"As a punter, that's your job to flip the field when you can," O'Donnell said. "Unfortunately we had some events in the game that didn't go our way. I tip our hats to the Florida Gators. They did a good job rushing the punt."

OFFENSE STRUGGLES

Saturday's first quarter was one to remember for quarterback Stephen Morris and the Hurricanes, who put up 14 quick points on a seven-yard TD pass to Herb Waters and then a 52-yard scoring pass to Phillip Dorsett.

But the final three quarters were a nightmare.

UM only produced four first downs and 69 yards on 35 plays after exploding out of the gate with 143 yards over the first 15 minutes. Duke Johnson ran for 39 yards in the first quarter, but only 20 more over his final 15 attempts. Morris finished 12 of 25 passing for 162 yards and an interception after going 8-of-11 for 101 yards to open the game. 

UM's 212 total yards of offense were the fewest since a 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech in 2009.

"They have a great defense, one of the best defenses we’re going to play all year, one of the best defenses in the country," said Johnson, who was babying his left foot after the game. "They just came out and did their job and did it better than I expected."

Said Morris: "They made a lot of great adjustments. They knew when we were going to run and throw it. that was the best defensive line I ever went against, but we did what we needed to do to win the game."

MOVING UP THE POLLS

The Hurricanes, who broke into the polls earlier this week for the first time under coach Al Golden at No. 24 in the ESPN Coaches' poll, should find themselves moving up when the new polls are released Sunday.

Morris, who said Tuesday he could give "two you know whats" about where Miami was ranked, kept the same mindset after Saturday's win.

"It really doesn’t matter to me or this team," Morris said. "Whoever is in front of us we’re going to look at as a threat and we’ve got to do our best to win that game, no matter what we’re ranked no matter; if we’re not ranked. Our biggest focus is to continue on and moving forward."

> Safety A.J. Highsmith had the tackle on Florida's failed two-point conversion attempt and the recovery on the Gators' failed onside kick attempt late in the game.

> Senior Seantrel Henderson made his first start of the season at right tackle. Junior Jonathan Feliciano, who started at right tackle in the open, slid to left guard. The rest of Miami's starters remained the same.

> Safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who had an interception in the first half, was helped off the field with 5:29 to play in the third quarter. Trainers were looking at his left leg.

> Linebacker Thurston Armbrister left the game with a left ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.

Morris, Duke Johnson, receivers talk about the offense's rough day against the Gators

VIDEO: Perryman, Howard, McCord talk about their big defensive plays in UM's win over Florida

VIDEO: Al Golden calls Saturday's win over Gators "almost cathartic.. 26 months unleashed."

TRANSCRIPT

Overall thoughts on the victory...
“It’s a good win. We’ve been through so much. It was almost cathartic, to be honest with you. It was 26 months just unleashed there in the last four or five seconds. I’m proud of these guys. You guys watched us grow – we couldn’t handle this setting a year ago. We started to catch on a little bit by the time we got to Florida State, then we played better against Virginia Tech, and obviously because of the intensity, this one is a level higher early in the year. I’m real proud of the way the guys fought. There was nothing easy on that field for either team. It was a good hardnosed football game, physical, and I’m just real proud of our guys’ mental toughness, conditioning and resiliency.”

On the performance of the defense...
“I’ve been saying it since the spring - I think they’ve grown up. We played so many young guys a year ago at places you can’t play young guys. We’re so much stronger, bigger up front. Our linebackers are all 20 pounds heavier. The secondary doesn’t miss rotations anymore like last year, so there are no blown gaps. Florida is good. Their running backs are good. Their line is good. Of course they make a good run in there. They settled down in the red zone, made a short yardage stop, took the ball away a couple of times. It says a lot about Coach D’Onofrio, the game plan that he put together, and really the whole defense. The whole defense got a game ball.”

On postgame emotions and reaction...
“I was excited. You guys know me – I don’t really hide my emotions. I just wanted our guys to celebrate. It really had nothing to do with other than running over there, being classy and courteous. I did want the kids in that endzone because I wanted them to thank all those people that stood by us, all the guys that - no matter what - they’re there. They stood with us. It was a good moment for our guys.”

On Florida’s failed two-point conversion attempt...
“We had a call that we practiced. You got the right guys out there - Jimmy Gaines and Denzel Perryman got us lined up. It didn’t matter because we matched it well, they threw it out there, and we were prepared. We worked on that last year before North Carolina too, but we didn’t get lined up. It’s just a sign of our maturity. Last year at North Carolina, they go in and it ended up being a big play in the game. Today, guys line up and put it to bed. That ended up being a big stop.”

On the performance of Denzel Perryman...
“He is in great condition. He’s 240 [pounds] and he’s in great condition. Our team is in great condition. We’re mentally tough. Was it all perfect down the stretch? No, but there was no one laying around, especially the defense. They did a great job of trying to wear us down. Our defense was in great shape - they played hard and they finished. You can ask Denzel, but the one thing that’s different about Denzel Perryman right now are the habits that he’s forming every day - by how he’s finishing and how he’s practicing, and it’s carrying over to the game. I hope he’s a believer now, I hope he understands that it is important.”

On what went through his mind during the final seconds...
“It’s been such a hard road. We’ve just been battling this thing, and obviously they’re one of the teams we’ve been battling during this thing. I think you guys can figure that out. It was a very cathartic moment, it was a great moment for our guys – all those guys that not only chose the University of Miami during this, but stood there and fought. We have such a long way to go, I can’t say that enough, to be that kind of program. Big win? Yes. Program yet? No. We have to get back to work, get better, be mature, and go about our business every day. I guess that’s what was running through my mind, how proud I was of all the guys that bought in to what we’ve been doing. They deserved to win this one. They deserved victory.”

On Tyriq McCord’s sack-fumble and Tracy Howard’s interception...
“They’re big. They’re all big plays. What did we have today, four turnovers? Five? That’s big. Guys are where they’re supposed to be. Tracy is where he’s supposed to be. Tyriq comes around and he’s free. Then you trust them to go ahead to make the play and finish the play, they’re good enough to do it. A year ago, maybe that would have been a sack, but it wouldn’t have been a sack fumble. Same thing with Tracy - maybe he would have gotten a pass break-up. But he was in great position, he’s mature, and he has been studying the patterns they’ve been getting. He got a good break on it. I’m happy for those guys.”

On performance of the team’s offense...
“It was a war. I’m not going to make any excuses. Our play count was so low at halftime because we didn’t convert on third down. Give them credit – they’re good. That’s a good defense. They didn’t give us anything. Our guys fought, scratched and clawed, and sometimes you have to win like that. They had the guts to win like that, which was important.”

On passing game rhythm and sync...
“We’re going to work on it. I just want them to enjoy this. We did what we had to do to win. We’ll worry about the stats and completions tomorrow. We’ll make a commitment to get that fixed in the bye week. I just want them to enjoy this tonight. That was a tough game. Give [Florida] credit - they were deep on defense, they rotated a lot of guys, they came off the ball and played low, they disrupted a lot of routes. We did have patience, except for the one third-and-long where we could have made a better decision. Other than that, we really displayed patience as an offensive staff and really believed in the defense for the first time in a while. We really were patient with the run.”

On looking like a more mature team in Week Two...
“I knew that. I’ve been saying it all along. We are different - we’re physically different, not just mentally different. We’re more mature. We’re not a finished product. We have to go back to work. There are a lot of things we have to fix. We certainly can’t let them have a quick score here, we can’t do that. We’ll get back to work tomorrow. I’m proud of the guys, and happy that we came out with a hard-fought win.”