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50 posts from November 2013

November 30, 2013

Duke beats Carolina, heads to ACC Title game; UM shifts focus to final exams, bowl practices, recruiting

Al Golden said he wasn't going to lose his mind Saturday scoreboard watching or "become a slave to the TV for seven hours" to see if the University of Miami would get the help it needed to reach next weekend's ACC championship game.

Duke made sure the agonizing only lasted three and a half hours for everyone else who bleeds orange and green.

The Blue Devils, who beat Miami for the first time since 1976 two weeks ago in Durham, punched their ticket to Charlotte and a date with second-ranked Florida State Saturday afternoon thanks to a late 27-yard field goal in a 27-25 win at North Carolina.

Had Duke lost and Virginia upset rival Virginia Tech, UM would have began preparing for a rematch with the Seminoles Monday. Instead, the focus for the Hurricanes (9-3) now shifts to final exams, a few days off and the team's first trip to a bowl game since Golden was hired in December 2010.

> Golden said "it's tough to quantify" what missing 30 to 35 December practices under self-imposed bowl bans did to hurt the program over the last two years and he's definitely looking forward to having them this year.

"Having all the [recruits] in South Florida come watch bowl practice and watch us operate and be around our team and players," will be big for the program moving forward, Golden said. Getting to 10 victories with a bowl win -- at likely either the Chick-Fil-A in Atlanta (Dec. 31) or the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando (Dec. 28) -- is also important, Golden said.

> What did Golden like and not like about Friday's effort in chilly Pittsburgh?

"The kids competed; they had a great attitude," Golden said. "It meant something to them which is so important. I think we’ve all seen instances where it’s like, all right, nobody cares. We’re not in this bowl game or that bowl game. Or we’re letting external influences impact our judgment or our attitude or how we play. That didn’t happen [Friday], which was awesome. They wanted to finish on a positive note."

Golden cited Miami's continuing woes on third down (UM was 4 of 11 on offense; 6 of 14 on defense), special teams breakdowns on kick return and kickoff coverage, and a few instances of poor tackling as negatives in the Pitt win. He did, though, credit linebacker Denzel Perryman, safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush and cornerback Antonio Crawford as having better tackling performances Friday.

"There are so many things we have to fix and continue to fix," Golden said. "One of our goals in the postseason is clearly to push a lot of young players along that have not had the benefit of this time of year -- to be pushed at this time of year."

> Golden said UM came out healthy from the Pitt game and he expects cornerback Ladarius Gunter and defensive end Dwayne Hoilett, who missed Friday's game, to return for bowl practices. Linebacker Alex Figueroa, who has missed UM's last three games, could return but must be cleared by a doctor.

"If we were playing next Saturday Fig would not be ready," Golden said. "There’s a good chance for the bowl game. That would be awesome for him and great for him to have that opportunity."

> Golden said freshman running back Gus Edwards is "practicing better and starting to become more comfortable" in Miami's system. Edwards ran 11 times for 64 yards and a touchdown Friday.

"We can’t live in the past but there’s a young man that missed however many practices in training camp, a good bunch of them," Golden said. "Gus is a young man that is really going to continue to improve. He should be fresh. His play count is  not as high as Brandon Linder or Clive Walford or some of those guys. He should bring some energy to us and we expect him to continue to improve.

"He’s got deceptive speed but I thought he did a great job with his vision and his lateral cuts [Friday]. He really made the right cuts. He stayed with his cuts, he didn’t freelance at all. And when he got to the second level he made some guys miss. We’ve got to continue to get his pads down and get that stiff arm going but we’re hopeful that Gus will continue to improve."

November 29, 2013

UM's regular season ends today in bitter-cold Pittsburgh with Coastal title still in play. Will it be a happy ending?

PITTSBURGH -- It's hard to believe that today is the last regular-season game for the Hurricanes.

Where did the season go?

It feels like yesterday that Howard Schnellenberger was talking to all of us just before kickoff at the opener on Aug. 30th.

Now it's down to Pittsburgh, at Pittsburgh, in the bitter-cold of Heinz Field.

Miami opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and is now a 2-point favorite, from what I just saw. 

To me, this game is so important because it will cast an overall impression on the season. If the Hurricanes win, they'll have rebounded admirably from that ugly three-game losing streak at FSU (expected), against Virginia Tech (not expected) and at Duke (not expected).

A UM victory also would put Miami in prime position for a decent bowl, such as the Chick-fil-A -- and better yet, for a chance to win the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference should North Carolina beat Duke tomorrow and should Virginia beat Virginia Tech.

I just don't see Virginia beating Virginia Tech, though it's a rivalry game and it is at UVA. However, if all the stars align for the Hurricane, they would meet FSU again in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Charlotte. Can you imagine that?

If the Canes lose, suddenly the 7-0 start is completely overshadowed by ending the season with four losses in five games. The bowl situation becomes murkier, too.

Pittsburgh has won its last two of three games, starting with a 28-21 victory Nov. 9 at home on national television (ABC) against Notre Dame in its coldest home conditions (windy, with temperatures in the 40s) until today (kickoff expected to be in low 30s, dropping to mid-to-high 20s by end). The next week the Panthers lost at home to UNC 34-27. Last Saturday, Pitt beat Syracuse 17-16 on the road.

 PItt's total offense and rushing offense are poor statistically. But it has two talented receivers in senior Devin Street (51 catches for 854 yards and seven touchdowns this season) and freshman Tyler Boyd (68 catches for 903 yards and six touchowns). Street, however, hurt his ankle against North Carolina and his elbow at Syracuse and, per Pittsburgh-Post Gazette beat writer Sam Werner, was limited this week in practice. So, we'll see if and how much Street plays today.

 The Hurricanes' biggest obstacle in this game is expected to be defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a 6-0, 285-pound senior who is a finalist for just about every national defensive award out there. He is an amazing talent, shedding blocks with ease. 

"Aaron Donald has been a one-man wrecking crew,'' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.

Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss, ranks 10th in sacks and 11th in forced fumbles. His blocked PAT last week at Syracuse made the difference in Pitt's 17-16 victory.

The question is, can UM's offensive line hold him off? It's very doubtful UM C Shane McDermott can do it alone.

If the Canes can hold off Donald and hold onto the ball despite the cold, they should win this game.

We'll see.

Happy day-after Thanksgiving to all of you. Enjoy the game.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Pitt Panthers

Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Susan Miller Degnan is up in chilly Pittsburgh to cover today's game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ABC. Feel free to participate in today's live blog as usual.

November 27, 2013

Coach Al Golden speaks on ACC Teleconference about weather & other topics heading into Pittsburgh

Coach AL Golden spoke on the ACC Teleconference this morning, and the first question involved the pre-winter blast of extremely cold weather forecast for Pittsburgh. It's snowing there today, I'm told, and it will be clear for the game with temperatures that start at about 31 and head into the high teens at night. The sun will set early into the game, and any wind converging with the three rivers toward the open end of the stadium will undoubtedly make it brutally cold conditions for both teams, but especially daunting, obviouslly, for the Hurricanes.

Here's Golden's transcription:


COACH GOLDEN: We're in the middle of
our preparation, getting ready to go to Pittsburgh,
first time seeing them as a coastal opponent.
Great challenge for us, great opportunity.
With that I'll open it up to any questions
that you have.

Q. Obviously major weather issues on
the East Coast today. I know it's 48 hours
before you play. I know the Miami Dolphins
were famous for not performing well in cold
weather. Have you seen your team in adverse
weather conditions before? Probably going to
be cold Friday. Is that a concern going up
there in these conditions?


COACH GOLDEN: I think more than a
concern, I think it's a challenge. It's a challenge to
the way we want to operate. It's a challenge to our

mindset. I don't think there's any question. It's a
challenge to everything that we want to be as a
football program.
We want to be a team that's
process-oriented. We want to be a team that
focuses on two-acres and a ball and blocks out
everything externally. In this case the weather is
one of those external challenges.
It's going to be a great challenge to our
team's mindset, mentality and their commitment to
each other for four hours on Friday.

Q. I know the passing game is very
important to you guys. If it's tough conditions
like that, how big an adjustment do you have to
make offensively to perform?


COACH GOLDEN: Well, again, I think we
all know it's going to be tough conditions. It's going
to be tough conditions for both sides. We just
cannot allow any excuses to come into the game.
We got to make sure we're throwing the
ball well. We got to make sure we're catching the
ball well. We have to protect the ball when we're
running it.
I don't think there's any question that we
cannot allow an excuse mentality to creep in here
because at the end of the day it's going to come
down to protecting the ball well and finding a
running game against obviously the great Pitt
defensive front and connecting on the passes that
you throw. We can't have a lot of incomplete balls
because it's cold, windy, whatever the case may
be.

We know there's going to be elements that
are going to be a challenge on Friday. We have to
accept the challenge and execute regardless.

Q. You started out 7-0, ranked 7.
Things haven't gone well since then. Has it
been a product of better competition or things
you're not doing now that you were doing
earlier?


COACH GOLDEN: Again, it's always a
function of us. Some of the things perhaps we
were doing better earlier in the year, like taking the
ball away, playing better red zone defense.
Certainly we did that better against Virginia this
past week. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to
do those things.
It can't be about the opponent ever. It's
got to be about the things that we're doing and
what we're not doing. We haven't converted as 
well as we needed to on offense or third down.
That's really hurt our time of possession and left
our defense out there.
All three units are responsible. We have to
continue to play better. Hopefully we'll play better
than we played last week, as well.

Q. Last week there was talk about
Dorsett possibly playing. Are you still holding
out hope he'll be able to play Friday?


COACH GOLDEN: I still am holding out
hope. Can I say right now definitively? I can't. I
wish I could. He'll be practicing today. I think the
biggest thing is that he feels comfortable and
confident. If we see that today, we'll move forward.
Ultimately it will be the young man's decision
because medically he's cleared.

Q. Their guy Aaron Donald is one of
the best. Can you talk about the problem he
presents.


COACH GOLDEN: Again, when you see
players like this, you admire them. Obviously you
have to deal with them on game day, which you
have to find ways to do that.
You just admire players like this because
he's just not a talented kid, he's a skilled kid. He's
a young man that knows how to play double-teams
really well and he plays with a motor, of course.
They move him around to get him in the right
position to rush the passer. He's got excellent
pass-rush skills, as well.
Again, I think this young man has really
worked hard at his craft. I think that's the thing I
admire about him. He's taken his talent and
cultivated it into skill. The result is a heck of a
football player, one that's going to be a great
challenge for our offensive line.

Q. Tell me about your guys. Make a
case for a couple of your guys.


COACH GOLDEN: Again, you always
hear about who you leave out. I think I'm on
record as saying that [Brandon] Linder is playing at a really,
really high level right now. I'll leave it at that. The
rest of it, you guys have to sort it out and evaluate
it. I'm record on that one, so I stand behind that
one. I think Brandon Linder is playing an elite level
of football right now at offensive line.

Q. I know you play Friday, your fate in
the Coastal Division will be up in the air. If you
win the game, you still have a chance. I guess
you become a UNC and Virginia fan on Saturday. 

COACH GOLDEN: Again, we're just trying
to prepare and execute today and get better
tomorrow, obviously play well against Pitt. The
rest of it will take care of itself, will sort itself out.
It's really important for us to play well this
week and try to get win number nine, then we'll
move forward as a program. If we have the good
fortune on Saturday, we'll go forward from there.
For us to speculate on any of that is just
premature. It's really about playing better this
week than we did last week and getting ready for a
Pitt team on the road.

Q. If Duke wins, that game is at noon,
are you worried your kids might drop off a little
bit, put their heads down a little bit because
they can't win the coastal?


COACH GOLDEN: Duke's game is
Saturday.

Q. I apologize.


COACH GOLDEN: We'll be there Friday,
too. You're good. I thought I was going to play a doubleheader (laughter). 

Everybody have a great Thanksgiving.

 

November 26, 2013

Hurricanes deliver Thanksgiving dinner to Overtown church

Six Hurricanes players and several coaches’ wives delivered 48 turkey dinners and other traditional non-perishable Thanksgiving food items Tuesday afternoon to the Greater Mercy Missionary Baptist Church in Overtown.

Players delivering Thanksgiving meals included: backup quarterback Ryan Williams, receiver Herb Waters, defensive tackle Justin Renfrow and walk-on linebacker Akil Craig, walk-on defensive back Alex Irastorza and walk-on defensive back Hugo Delapenha Jr. Director of Player Development Ryan McNamee organized the trip along with Kelly Golden, Diona Kehoe, Valerie McNamee and Inika Vance.

Pastor Willie Williams greeted players as they arrived Tuesday afternoon and was very appreciative of the Hurricanes’ special delivery. All 48 Thanksgiving dinners were handed out within an hour.

> UM coach Al Golden said receivers Phillip Dorsett (knee) and cornerback Artie Burns (ankle), two players coming back from injury, looked good during Tuesday's light practice.

> Golden said he's "struggling a little bit" with why punter Pat O'Donnell is not a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. O'Donnell, a fifth-year transfer from Cincinnati, is averaging 47.6 yards a punt this season, second-best in the nation.

"Pat's a great kid, always locked in, very processed oriented, always out here working on his game," Golden said. "Blame the offense or blame me for not putting the punt team out there enough."

Golden said O'Donnell is in the mix to be named team MVP at the end of the year. Golden said he's never named a punter team MVP in the before.

November 25, 2013

News and notes from Monday: Injury updates, D'Onofrio talks defense, more

With the Hurricanes preparing for the season finale Friday afternoon in chilly Pittsburgh we got our only chance on Monday to talk to players and coaches -- aside from Al Golden -- before the game.

> The big news of the day is that cornerbacks Corn Elder and Nate Dortch are lost for the season. Golden had told us Saturday after the win against Virginia both were significant injuries. He wouldn't elaborate more on Monday, but Elder tweeted that he had a small tear in his meniscus. He was spotted walking around campus on crutches and with his right leg in a large brace.

"Disappointed for both of them because both were really starting to come on and both would have benefitted greatly from the [bowl] preparation moving forward," Golden said. "I also feel badly for Corn because I know he was anxious to play basketball."

Could they be back in time for the spring? "It'll be a couple of months for both of them," Golden said. "I don't want to jump ahead. The doctor is going to see where it's at and hopefully what it is what we believe it is and it will be a couple months' injury for both of them."

The good news? Freshman Artie Burns, who missed the Virginia game with an ankle, "looked really good" Monday according to Golden. 

> Ladarius Gunter, airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital on Saturday with a neck injury, was seen walking around campus in a neck brace. UM is keeping him out this week as he recovers, but there's a strong possibility he will be back for the bowl game. 

"He's around. He has a great attitude," Golden said. "[All the tests] are negative. It's just a function of him getting his confidence back, feeling comfortable and also the doctors clearing him."

> Miami had two 2014 commitments sign and return financial aid agreements on Monday with the school: blue-chip offensive lineman KC McDermott and receiver Braxton Berrios.

The NCAA recently made changes that allow a recruit on track to graduate early from high school to sign a financial-aid agreement as long as the participating college establishes that the player is enrolled in all coursework necessary to graduate high school at the midyear point.

The financial-aid agreement is not the same as a letter of intent, which binds a recruit to a college. The financial-aid agreement commits the university to provide a scholarship, but does not commit the prospect to accept. The benefit for UM? The Hurricanes are no longer restricted by NCAA rules that limit communication with a recruit.

Golden said he couldn't comment on any players who might have signed financial aid agreements because all documentation must first go through compliance and the league office. Golden said he would love to see an early signing day put it place and suggested around the holidays as the window (Dec. 22-Jan. 1).

"In a sense, we're almost circumventing something we've all wanted for a long time, an early signing day," Golden said of the new financial aid agreements. "It's kind of there. To some extent [this] does allow that to transpire. But I would be in favor of an early signing day. Fiscally it's the right thing to do. For all of us as institutions were going to save a lot of money. It clears up the pool for everybody who is a member institution.

> UM signed three fifth-year transfers last off-season: punter Pat O'Donnell and defensive linemen David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow.

Will Golden continue to take fifth-year senior transfers? Not if he doesn't have to.

"I want to get back to conventional recruiting," he said. "We would like to be back to manage our numbers and going through a normal recruiting cycle. This one, the penalty is already factored into this one. Next year, 2015, is the first one we won't have anything to deal with [in terms of the NCAA investigation]."

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Miami's tackling effort against Virginia was the best performance of the season for his unit. They graded out at 93 percent. UM had graded out at 79 and 78 percent in its two previous losses to Virginia Tech and Duke.

"We're still a work in progress, fighting for consistency," D'Onofrio said. "They obviously ran for more yards than we wanted to. But at the end of the day we played almost 99 plays. You're going to have yards.

Virginia tallied 483 yards against UM, but 147 of those came on the final three drives of the game with UM already up 38-20 and playing a lot of prevent defense.

"The last three series we were playing soft the whole time," D'Onofrio said. "It's my job not to give up a bomb at that point and let them back in the game. We were getting there, hitting the quarterback, hitting him with a four-man rush and trying not to give up something deep. The snuck some runs in there, did some things. But you can't sit here and worry about the yards. You got to worry about the game. It's a play-by-play basis.

D'Onofrio said he thought Luther Robinson, Curtis Porter, Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre "were stout" along Miami's defensive line Saturday.

"To answer your question it wasn't them," D'Onofrio said of Miami's early struggles against Virginia (203 rushing yards).

> Gilbert, who returned a fumble 72 yards for a touchdown, admitted he was disappointed with how little he played early in the season and actually approached defensive line coach Jethro Franklin about more playing time after getting in on only seven snaps against Wake Forest.

"David played his best game. He gave us something, gave us some energy," D'Onofrio said. "He looked like he had a little more twitch to him. He was moving around a little bit better, gave us something in the pass rush game. We created some competition over there. Quan [Muhammad] went into the game before him. When he got his chance to go in the game he made something out of it. That's what competition does."

> D'Onofrio said sophomore outside linebacker Tyriq McCord did well with his expanded role Saturday (the first time all season he was in on first and second downs). But D'Onofrio said McCord still has a couple things he needs to improve on.

"He earned the right to get in there. He's got big play ability and he has the right tools to really be good in this defense," D'Onofrio said. "He's just got to make his mind up daily that he's got to improve, which he's done the last couple of weeks I don't see any reason [he won't]. He's got a world of potential and he's continuing to improve. Being able to play all those guys helped us."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley, whose unit produced only 304 yards (third fewest this season behind Florida and Florida State), said the Hurricanes left a lot of plays out on the field against the Cavaliers.

Miami has struggled on third down over their last four games, going a combined 17 of 52 (32.6 percent). UM's third-down conversion percentage this season (37.6) is slightly down from a year ago (39.4).

"It's been a tough deal the last couple weeks," Coley said. "We just got to execute. We got to do a better job. It starts with me. I got to do a better job coaching."

Quarterback Stephen Morris didn't have his best game either against Virginia.

"Sometimes when the weather is bad you got to overcome those things, make your plays and trust your teammates," Coley said. "I love his attitude. I love the way he's approaching practice, the message he's giving the younger guys with regards to here's where we're going; this is what's facing. He's been very professional and business like. I love it. I like where his mind is at."

> Coley remains hopeful receiver Phillip Dorsett will play this week, but cautioned Miami's practice Monday was light. "He looked good running out there," Coley said. "We'll find out more [Tuesday] when things heat up."

> Coley said freshman receiver Stacy Coley, one of only three receivers to catch a pass in Saturday's win, has really matured as the season has gone on.

"He's a smart guy. He processes when you're either criticizing or you're coaching him or hard on him," James Coley said. "He's not listening to how you're delivering your message. He's actually listening to what you're saying. Smart players do that. They get past the other stuff. That's where he's improved."

> Cornerback Tracy Howard was named the ACC's Co-Defensive Back of the Week. UM has now had eight different players honored by the ACC in its weekly awards.

Canes talk cold, Pitt, Thanksgiving and going bowling

Here are six video interviews I shot with Hurricanes players Monday as they prepare for the regular season finale at chilly Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

November 24, 2013

Changes in the secondary highlight latest Canes depth chart

Injuries in the secondary and players returning from injury prompted changes in the latest Hurricanes depth chart released Sunday night by head coach Al Golden. Miami (8-3, 4-3 ACC) closes its regular-season slate Friday at Pitt (6-5, 3-4 ACC). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

On offense, redshirt freshman Danny Isidora is listed as the backup at right guard. Isidora made his Hurricanes debut during Saturday’s 45-26 Senior Day win over Virginia after missing the first 10 games of the season with a lower extremity injury.

Junior WR Phillip Dorsett, who returned to the depth chart last week at the Hurricanes’ second wideout position, is not on this week’s depth chart. Dorsett has missed the last five games with a lower extremity injury.

On the defensive side, sophomore Tracy Howard and freshman Artie Burns are listed as co-starters at left cornerback, while Burns, sophomore Antonio Crawford and senior Kacy Rodgers II are tri-starters at right cornerback. Miami will be without junior Ladarius Gunter and freshman Corn Elder who were injured against the Cavaliers.

UM's latest depth chart

November 23, 2013

Gunter released from hospital

An update from the University of Miami on junior DB Ladarius Gunter:

"Ladarius Gunter has been released from the hospital this evening following an upper extremity injury he suffered Saturday afternoon against Virginia. He will be able to play football again this season once he is fully healed."

Al Golden's post-game comments after the win over Virginia includes update on Gunter

Here is what Al Golden said after Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia.

On defensive changes in successful third quarter...

“If I’m not mistaken, their first first down was the penalty on [Rayshawn] Jenkins. They had a first down on the play and then we gave them 15 [yards]. We stopped the run good in the third quarter, and obviously 90 plays [means] we’re just not converting enough on offense. We’re not holding the ball enough to help the defense. Defense I thought really played their tails off with the takeaways and the way they played the third quarter.”

On the injury of cornerback Ladarius Gunter...

“Ladarius has been taken to Jackson [Memorial Hospital] for observation. We’re just being cautious. As soon as we learn something, we’ll share it with you guys. I don’t have anything other than that. He was moving everything, he was conscious. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here. That’s where we’re at with it now. Hopefully he’ll be okay.”

On the play of his team’s defense, which had four takeaways...

“It was big. Early in the year, we were counterpunching really well if the offense made a mistake or special teams made a mistake. During this stretch, we haven’t been counterpunching as well as we have needed to. I thought defense counterpunched so much better today. We made a mistake and they went out there and they had a different look than they’ve had. They didn’t get disappointed, they weren’t, ‘here we go again.’ It wasn’t that mentality. Obviously it’s been tough on the seniors and the team - the courage to keep mustering it up and all of that. The seniors have never been 8-3. They’ve never been 8-3. Now they’re 8-3 we have a tough road game against Pitt, try to end up with a win there, and obviously the seniors haven’t won a bowl game and have not been able to go to a bowl game the last two years. They want to finish up strong.”

On if his defense took criticism personally heading into Saturday’s game...

“I’m sure they did. I hope they did. But it’s not really a function of what’s being said outside - it’s those guys that go to work every day and their standard of what’s acceptable and what’s not. We tackled better, especially in the third quarter. We ran to the ball better. We looked like we had some more energy in our pass rush today. If we didn’t get a number of [sacks], we certainly hit the quarterback a number of times. Again, just too many plays - I want to say 45 or 46 plays at the half for defense. On offense, we have to do a better job. Nobody can be out there that long, we’re just not that deep.”

On still contending for a potential trip to the ACC Championship Game...

“We just have to worry about the Pitt game. We’re going up there, and I’ve seen a lot of Pitt the last couple of weeks because of the crossover games. They have some really effective players on defense, two wideouts that are talented. It’s going to be their last game – it’s going to be a tough environment. I hope we have a team that gets on the plane and is excited about that challenge. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We have to learn how to finish the season and I think everybody is excited because we get to go to practice and we get to move the program forward, finally. We have a lot of football left, and I know the seniors feel the same way.”

On the play of wide receiver Allen Hurns over the course of the season...

“He is a testament to what we want in our program. He doesn’t really say too much. He just works every day. I can’t underscore that enough. I don’t think anyone realizes he is having a great year – not having a good year, he’s having a great year. He is self-made. He is a leader. He’s the same guy every day. He’s consistent, playing with confidence. If we tell him to play him to play special teams, he’ll special teams. If we ask him to block, he’ll block. He’s constantly talking and thinking during the game of different scenarios and different pass routes. He is what we want. When you reach that level where you just go out and play. There has been a lot of work that has been put into it. I’m proud to say that he’s really a symbol of that for us.”

On the performance of quarterback Stephen Morris...

“I thought the one he threw to Allen [Hurns] late, he just threw it. I thought he was maybe aiming a little bit earlier, and trying to be exact. I don’t know if it was the rain, but you just have to throw it. He made plays when he had to, which was great. He is going to continue to improve. At least the discussion is not about his leg anymore - we did that for two months, for eight games. The last two games he has started to move around and protect himself better. We could have helped him out a couple of times – we had a couple of drops. He’ll get better. We don’t have a lot of time to get ready for Pitt, and we’re going to need his leadership and his experience."

On how much respect he has for the seniors, who played their final home game Saturday...

“Incredible amount. More than anybody can know. The standards and expectations are high at Miami, and that’s why we all come. That’s why we want to be a part of it. We never want to drop our expectations. But for these guys to go through what they went through, none of these guys were part of the problem, but every one of them was part of the solution. They took an issue that obviously was really bad. It was toxic. They paid a dear price. They adopted the problem as their own, and ultimately delivered us out of it. This is a big part of it. We have a long way to go before anyone here is satisfied. There are so many things we have to fix on the field – no one is satisfied. But these seniors have never been 8-3. Now they have a chance to go 9-3. To do it on the back end of what they’ve been through says a lot about them. Now we have to make sure we finish strong.”

On how excited he is for the seniors...

“I’m exhausted right now, just because it’s emotional for those guys. That’s why I try not to get involved before the game. We really saluted them Thursday night so it wasn’t right before the game Friday night. We paid our tributes to them, and a lot of them stepped up today. Whoever is better than Pat O’Donnell, I want to meet him. I was happy for him, for David Gilbert, Allen [Hurns], Stephen [Morris]. I can go on and on. Shayon [Green], Kacy Rodgers. A lot of those guys made plays when we needed them. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Now I want to make sure we stay focused and get ready for Pitt, and see if we can’t do something that we haven’t done in a while.”

On the injuries to cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder...

“It was all corners, which was one of the reasons we couldn’t sub. I think they’re significant injuries to Nate and Corn. I don’t know to what extent. It’s not like last week somebody gets a little pull or something and you know they’ll be back on Monday. It’s not like that. I will have a better idea when I talk to you guys tomorrow.”

Canes CB Ladarius Gunter carted off late in win over Virginia with neck injury

Hurricanes cornerback Ladarius Gunter was carted off the field late in Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia with a neck injury. But according to early reports the injury does not appear to be life threatening or serious.

Gunter was hurt after attempting to make a tackle on Virginia's final score of the game. WQAM reported Gunter was hit in the jaw by a shoulder pad. He fell to the ground moments later and was surrounded by teammates and medical staff before they waved over for a cart to come and take Gunter off the field.

WQAM reported Gunter was being transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The flagship radio station also reported that coach Al Golden was heard telling his players: "He's okay. He's okay."

Stay tuned for updates.

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Cavaliers

The Hurricanes (7-3, 3-3 ACC) will attempt to end a three-game losing skid against woeful Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) this afternoon. Kickoff is at noon and the game can be seen on ESPNU.

November 21, 2013

Canes injury report released; video interviews with Hurns, Perryman

As expected receiver Phillip Dorsett (knee), cornerback Artie Burns (ankle), and linebacker Alex Figueroa (shoulder) were ruled out for Saturday's game when the injury report was released Thursday.

Here are a couple interviews from earlier this week with linebacker Denzel Perryman and receiver Allen Hurns.

November 20, 2013

Dorsett, Burns doubtful to play Saturday against Virginia; Golden talks recruiting

Although he's has been hopeful to get 2012-leading receiver Phillip Dorsett (MCL tear) back soon, UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday both Dorsett and freshman cornerback Artie Burns (ankle) appear doubtful for Saturday's home finale against Virginia.

Neither player has been fully integrated into practice this week, Golden said.

"If he feels good we're going to give it a run. But it's not where it needs to be right now," Golden said of Dorsett, who has missed four games after injuring his knee Oct. 17 at North Carolina.

"He's isolated right now. Until he can become integrated, avoid guys and make guys miss and protect himself we're not going to put him out there. When he's ready to do that we'll do it. But right now it looks doubtful."

> Receiver Herb Waters (groin) injured against Duke "has a chance" to play Saturday, Golden said. Golden lists Waters as probable.

Receiver Stacy Coley and freshman cornerback Corn Elder, who were in a non-contact jerseys earlier this week at practice are expected to play, Golden said.

> With three commitments since the NCAA sanctions were announced last month, Golden was asked Wednesday if he's noticed more interest from recruits since the penalties do not include any post-season bans and only the loss of nine scholarships over three years.

"Their response has been different," Golden said. "We've gotten three [commitments] since the announcement, which is unique this time of the year. Kids are getting ready for playoffs and things like that. So it's attributed to that, there's no question about that because mostly kids made the decision two months ago or are waiting until the holidays, visits. So that's positive for us.

"I think most of the interest from the younger guys is that it's behind us now and not getting hammered. Remember, the kids that are [high school] juniors, all they've ever known about the University of Miami is that we've been in trouble. Since they've been recruitable prospects we've been under probation. So it's good to have that behind us now. We have to move forward."

Golden said the Hurricanes were cut short last year on scholarships "for a variety of reasons" and the staff is now "trying to compensate this year by signing more than we did last year."

UM's class features 27 commitments and is ranked fourth nationally by Rivals.com.

Has the fact the defense looked so bad helped garner more interest from recruits who think the could help right away? Golden bristled at that question.

"We're going to continue to need help everywhere," Golden said. "People want to talk about the defense because all of us haven't executed well enough the last couple of weeks. So I answer that question now I'm saying that the kids we have aren't good enough. That's not the case. The case, as I've been saying, is we're going to continue to build until we have the depth to go through a whole season and there's no drop-off. That's a separate question all of us here who have worked today, that watched film -- all of us have to fix what's going on now."

> Golden has been steadfast in his support for his seniors and wasn't happy Tuesday when a reporter suggested the sudden emergence of freshmen and sophomores on the team's latest depth chart are a sign coaches are making a decision to play younger players.

"On the outside it's easy to sweep it under the rug and act like it's no big deal or it's over. It's not over. These guys have been through a lot," Golden said of his seniors. "They stood with us through a really tumultuous time. I think it's important that me, the staff, their teammates support them down the stretch.

"I keep getting the questions 'Are you going to go younger now that you lost a couple' No. We're not doing that. We're going to honor these seniors and push them to the finish line and help them do something they haven't done. They haven't been to a bowl game the last two years. We have to finish off strong and send them off strong."

November 19, 2013

Golden discusses defensive philosophy, other notes from Tuesday (w/video)

With his team on a three-game losing skid and his defense in the midst of one of the worst runs in school history, UM coach Al Golden continued to face questions Tuesday about defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, his scheme and the basic philosophy behind it.

Once again, Golden reiterated he signs off on everything the defense does.

"I'm going to keep saying it, that I'm involved in every aspect of football here at the University of Miami," Golden said. "I'm responsible for it all. Right now we're not playing well enough collectively. Again we had some good performances the other night. I indicated those to you the other night on Sunday. But really collectively it's not good enough and I'm responsible for it."

What exactly is the philosophy behind this 3-4 scheme? And why does it seem like players are reading and reacting instead of being aggressive?

"There's never a day where we ever talk about read and react. That's not even a mention," Golden said. "Depending where you are on a defense you have a key and have to respond. That's defense. We want to be a 3-4 because a 3-4 lets you get more speed at linebacker, get in and out of over and under fronts. It allows you to play with four down or go to an odd front, allows you to have speed, allows you to attack more. Interceptions are up, takeaways are up, sacks are up. All that's up, but it's not good enough. So we have to continue to build it. We have to continue to build our depth, continue to develop kids. Obviously we want to attack, want to be a dynamic defense, a defense that can fly around and disrupt the passer and get tackles for loss. Otherwise you don't want to be in that configuration. Again, it hasn't been good enough. I want to own the fact it hasn't been good enough the last couple of weeks."

Why did Golden choose this style of defense?

"Because we didn't have a million defensive linemen," Golden said. "We didn't have 16 defensive linemen. For the real big guys, the noses, you only needed a couple of those. [Curtis] Porter, Earl Moore, we had to bring [Justin] Renfrow in to have enough to go through the season. We didn't have the depth on the defensive line. We had more linebackers, more guys like [Tyriq] McCord that were a hybrid guy. I think it was the best decision for us coming into this season and we'll continue to personnel it. But we're going to have to continue to improve and continue to build depth and move forward."

How important is scheme in relation to execution?

"At the end of the day you summed up any coordinator or any entity. You lay out what the philosophy is, what you're trying to execute and ultimately it comes down to the execution of it," Golden said. "It comes down to whether or not we're carrying out everything we need to do in those positions. The problem with our defense is you can get exposed if there's nine or 10 guys doing it right one play and one guys is not. No. 2 when you have issues you weaken other areas by trying to fix those. I don't think there's any question in my career I've seen just about every defense, been a part of a staff of any defense that you can have. Ultimately it comes down to the execution of what you're trying to get done on any single play. That's it at the end of the day. There's a million different things we can call. We look at that every day. We're evaluating that, we're evaluating our personnel, making sure we putting guys in position to execute and get their talent in the game."

Have you seen a difference in run defense in the 3-4 compared to the 4-3?

"I think we had more success early in the year by continuing to be multiple, by lining up in both, by pressuring out of both, and we'll continue to do that," Golden said. "We need more tackles for losses, more sacks. And we need more takeaways. All three of those can be tied together. We need that kind of output to return."

NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden said there will be personnel changes this week, but he didn't want to delve deeper into than what UM released in its depth chart late Sunday night.

He did say senior Justin Renfrow would play more at end so Curtis Porter and Earl Moore see more time at tackle. Golden also said sophomore Tyriq McCord has played well at strongside linebacker the past couple weeks.

"[Freshman] Corn Elder is on the depth chart now. He is going to get more reps," Golden said. "[Freshman] Jamal Carter got a lot of reps today. Some of those guys are earning reps and doing a good job in the roles that we're giving them. We'll see if they can't add spark us or add something to it.

Is Golden going younger on purpose to get those players more experience? He stayed away from saying that -- or upsetting his seniors.

"It has nothing to do with their age," Golden said. "The one thing I want everybody to know -- we're going to support the seniors through this. Because we lost a couple of games I'm not going to turn my back on the seniors that really stood with us through all this tumult. I'm not going to do it.

"But certain kids I mentioned, Jamal [Carter], [Al-Quadin] Muhammad, [Ufomba] Kamalu, Corn Elder, they're earning reps. And they're earning reps because they're producing. It's just like Stacy [Coley]. Stacy is producing on kick and punt returns so now he's going to earn more reps. It's not that were taking any reps from any seniors. Some of these guys have earned reps and we're going to give them an opportunity."

> Golden said if the Hurricanes played Wednesday receiver Phillip Dorsett would be listed as doubtful.

"We have to be careful not to go too fast," Golden said. "If he's not ready to go we're going to have to continue to have Rashawn [Scott] and Stacy [Coley] and Herb [Waters] and those guys step up and chase the rabbit - the rabbit right now is Allen Hurns, he's doing a great job for us."

As for the other players battling injuries: "[Offensive lineman] Danny [Isidora], it's positive he's in yellow. Stacy [Coley] has already been integrated, will be clear. Corn [Elder] is moving forward. Artie we had to protect today. We'll know more about Artie [Wednesday] and Phillip [Thursday]. [Receiver] Herb [Waters] was fine. We were on our seventh returner in the game, lost our returners, needed guys to step up and they did."

> What has Golden seen out of freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen?

"He's starting to understand," he said. "Every opportunity he's in the film room he needs to listen, learn, take notes. Every time we're in a team meeting, go in that environment on the road, he has to learn. He has to learn to give him the best chance to compete with Ryan [Williams]. We have a smart team, know where to go with the football. Ryan and Stephen [Morris], very fortunate they can talk football the way they talk. They watch film, have ideas and reasons why they're doing it. We need Kevin to develop into that as well. Our biggest concern with Kevin was adhering to a process and learning how to do it. Because at the end of the day, playing quarterback, that process has to be second nature."

VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio talks Duke mistakes

UM collecting canned food at Saturday's home finale against Virginia

UM is hosting a Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive during Saturday’s home finale against Virginia at Sun Life Stadium.

Collection bins will be located outside all four helixes (Gates B, D, F, and H) as well as gates C and G. Fans will be allowed to donate as much food as they want. All food donated will go directly to Feeding South Florida.

Part of the Feeding America network consisting of 202 food banks, Feeding South Florida is the largest of nine Feeding America food banks in the state of Florida, distributing almost 35 million pounds of food annually to 949,910 individuals in need of food assistance. FSF is the leading domestic hunger relief organization in South Florida, serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties through a network of nonprofit partner agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, group homes and other emergency food service programs.

Saturday's game will also kick off its "Uniendo La Familia" (Uniting the Family) campaign. During the celebration of the Hurricanes’ last home game, the Hurricanes will show their appreciation of the diversity within the South Florida community with an on-site concert featuring radio host celebrity, DJ Laz, and popular artist, Maffio, along with pre-game activities appropriate for all ages. The event will give attendees the opportunity to partake in a variety of family-fun activities, including an Instagram booth and photo opportunities.

To purchase tickets to Miami’s home finale, fans can order online at www.canestix.com, visit the UM Ticket Office at BankUnited Center (M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) or call 1-800-GO-CANES.

November 18, 2013

Is a youth movement about to get going on Canes defense? Looks like it on new depth chart

The University of Miami released a new depth chart late Sunday night after the team's third consecutive loss and as expected receiver Phillip Dorsett was back on it, an encouraging sign considering the Hurricanes could use all the help they can get.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all was that for the first time all season explosive sophomore Tyriq McCord was on it, listed as the co-starter with Thurston Armbrister at strong side line backer.

Also around and easy to spot on the two-deep: freshman defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (backup to Shayon Green, hadn't seen him listed in weeks), freshman safety Jamal Carter (backup to Rayshawn Jenkins and Kacy Rodgers) and freshman cornerback Corn Elder (second team behind either junior Ladarius Gunter or freshman Artie Burns). Also, sophomore Deon Bush is now the clear-cut starter over senior AJ Highsmith at safety and sophomore Earl Moore is now listed as a backup to Curtis Porter at defensive tackle.

Which raises this question: is Al Golden ready to dump the old guys for the new guys? Sure has that aroma.

Obviously the depth chart is a mere piece of paper. Golden can ultimately do whatever he chooses and play whomever he chooses. But I'm taking this as a sign that now that the Canes really have no shot at the Coastal Division title and because the defense has been horrendous he's going to let some of the young guys get some real burn. Honestly it's one of the smartest things he can do at this point.

UM FB Depth_Chart 111713

November 17, 2013

Transcript of Dallas Crawford after UM loss to Duke

You lost 48-30 but had over 500 yards of offense. How difficult is that?

 

"We just look at it as another challenge. I didn’t even know we had that many yards. It gives us a good plateau to jump from. We see we can do it. We’ll focus on the little third downs that we missed, get back at it on Monday and see if we can fix our problem."

 

Did you know that Maryland had beaten Virginia Tech while you were playing, putting the Canes in control of their Coastal Division future?

 

"Myself personally I didn’t hear anything about it. I don’t know what happened but I didn’t hear it. About five minutes ago, after I got out of the shower. We weren’t really worried about that. We were just focused on taking care of Duke. Virginia Tech had no play on what happened."

 

So many things went well on offense -- you averaged six yards a carry and the passing game was clicking for a lot of the day but it seemed like things broke down on third down and maybe the offense buckled a little bit trying to play under so much pressure to score points?

 

“We have to just focus in. Third down is a critical down – the most important down. We have to focus in and pay attention to the small details. Usually when we watch film it’s just either one person out of their gap that usually causes the whole play to be off. We just got to watch film and fix it and keep going.”

 

What keeps you going now. You know you’re pretty much out of ACC race?

 

The seniors. The seniors. They put in a lot of work and have been through a lot. We just have to do this for the seniors. That’s our motivation right now.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Here's the transcript of Coach Al Golden talking to reporters right after the Hurricanes lost to Duke

Al Golden on Saturday after 48-30 loss to Duke

On Duke’s interception, trailing 17-7 in the first half:

“You could say the momentum changed there. It was unfortunate because we had a chance for a completion, and they got the ball with some good field position. There were so many other things that we did wrong. It’s my responsibility. The penalties. We didn’t tackle well enough. We didn’t get enough red zone stops. It was really disappointing.”

 

On Miami’s re-evaluation of coaching defense:

“I think it’s fair to say we’re evaluating every component of [the team], every step of the way. That includes defense. There’s enough blame to go around in this game. We didn’t punt the ball well. We weren’t good on kickoff returns. We had too many penalties. We didn’t answer. We needed to answer them on offense, if it was going to turn into that kind of game, and we didn’t do it. It’s all three phases. The buck stops with me. I have to get it fixed.”

 

On commonalities through the last three Miami losses:

“I don’t know. Obviously we’re giving up too many points. That’s changing the way we play the game on offense. We had more penalties in the first quarter today than I think we had the last two weeks. We’ve been punting the ball well, but we didn’t punt the ball well [today]. There’s too many explosive runs. Too many missed tackles. We have to dig deep and look at everything and see what we can do better, and see what direction we want to go here, starting tomorrow.”

 

On the defense allowing 358 yards rushing:

“Disappointing, for sure. No excuses. Too many explosive plays on the ground. They weren’t throwing the ball very much. We didn’t make enough stops. They got into too many third-and-shorts and converted them.”

 

On Virginia Tech’s loss earlier in the day:

“Somebody mentioned something. That’s not going to change anything we do. We didn’t execute well enough. Give Duke credit. They played really well. They’re playing really well right now. We have to get back to work and improve … I think maybe the players were aware. I don’t know. I don’t know if they saw a score, or announced it, or what. I don’t know what happened. It’s immaterial. It’s really about executing, and we didn’t do that well enough. Duke did.”

 

On Duke’s two-quarterback system:

“In terms of them staying fresh, that was difficult. I don’t think there was much difference when each was in the game. They’re both running the ball well. Obviously they used a lot of running backs, and ran the ball well, and we didn’t tackle well enough and they wore us down.”

 

On Miami’s preparation coming into the game:

“We started well. We just aren’t doing a good enough job of answering on defense. When you get into this kind of game, you really need to be perfect on offense. We weren’t, they were. We had one turnover, they didn’t have any. Obviously we aren’t generating enough turnovers right now. We’re not creating short fields. There is no excuse. It’s my responsibility.”

 

On coaching methods to use following three consecutive losses:

“Obviously it’s the seniors’ last home game. I think it’s important to rally around those guys. They’ve been through a lot. It’s important that we respond. Virginia will be coming off a week off, so they’re going to be fresh. We need to get our guys healthy. We have a lot to play for. Obviously this team has not been able to go to a bowl game the last couple years. We have to get our minds right and finish the season. That’s my responsibility to get them focused and recentered and get going.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN