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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.

Comments

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Its not for me to know MovingZen, U made the comment that "he couldn't be all that if the only job he can get is a LB coach", so the onus of proof is on U, not I.

U could support him by speculating something positive about him rather than taking the flawed position that he can't get a DC job because he's incompetent, when we have proof as Cane fans that he is competent in the DC capacity. Why can't U use the same logic U used with Dungy and JJ with RS and assume that maybe he has nothing to prove either. He did win the top reward in the country for coaching coordinator.

Ok man, U end your post with another misnomer, misrepresentation, and exaggeration of something Cal has never said lol. Lets agree to disagree. Cal said that Dorsey was overrated and a product of the players around him--thats far from the same as saying that Dorsey was the worst UM QB ever. Come one man...U are seriously reaching now. May the zen bring U peace brutha.

It has been posted correctly about the previous coach's situation with his fight for his contractual pay. That fact is the greatest indictment of all that pertains to his support.

I can see that there is an attempt to excuse Al Golden's failure on the field.

I await the time that he has a 1 loss season. This year was a great chance at it. The ACC is down. Next year as Miami gets better, so will the rest of the conference.

@Harriet
"Its not for me to know MovingZen, U made the comment that "he couldn't be all that if the only job he can get is a LB coach", so the onus of proof is on U, not I."
I really don't have to prove anything. It's my opinion, if you don't agree.. feel free to disagree.

"U could support him by speculating something positive about him rather than taking the flawed position that he can't get a DC job because he's incompetent, when we have proof as Cane fans that he is competent in the DC capacity. Why can't U use the same logic U used with Dungy and JJ with RS and assume that maybe he has nothing to prove either. He did win the top reward in the country for coaching coordinator."
I never said he was incompetent. I said he wasn't a good head coach and that in no way tarnished his Cane legacy in my opinion. Head coach at this level is a job only a few really excel at and not being one of those few isn't really a negative thing. At least he was good enough to be offered the chance. It's like saying AJ McCarron is a failure because he didn't win the heisman. He's in the building on award night, how many can say that?
"Ok man, U end your post with another misnomer, misrepresentation, and exaggeration of something Cal has never said lol. Lets agree to disagree. Cal said that Dorsey was overrated and a product of the players around him--thats far from the same as saying that Dorsey was the worst UM QB ever. Come one man...U are seriously reaching now. May the zen bring U peace brutha."
Looking back at the Dorsey thing you may be right. Someone else may have said what I attributed to Calvin. You would probably know better than me tho ;}
I'm almost always at peace...except during games lol. I assure you I'm not one of those freak out on a blog type people. I can disagree and not even be mad about the issue. I let blogs and forums work me up in like 99 or 00...not anymore. I'm sure you've noticed but a lot of the posts and posters here can be figured within the first couple of lines.. and then a few of them can be quickly skipped. For instance I don't get worked up about the racist crap. People have a 1st amendment right to be as stupid as they want. That type of hate will do far more damage to them then it will to you or me. Here's what I think when I read it- "good luck with that." And then I start skipping their posts because if their thinking is based on that then they can't really have anything intelligent to add to the conversation.

Golden talks a great game to the media, but he is a very average coach. The record bears that out. There was improvement under Shannon every year until the turnover machines started that final year. The position that cost Shannon the most was QB & OC. Even with all the turnover of coaching staff, the defense had improved and we had a stout OL. There were plenty of players on the roster as well. But, your record is your record and 28-21 doesn't cut it. What is Golden's record? Golden is more accessible to the media, is earnest, has a lot of energy and has a positive disposition - great things for recruiting, but Miami has lost games it should have won and not even shown up in others. Besides the Florida win, there is nothing. The gap between FSU & UM has grown the last three years: 2011 - 23-19; 2012 - 33-20 & then 41-14 this year. Look at the KState games: 28-24 with a chance to win to a 52-13 blowout. There is something missing with Golden. Maybe he needs more time. Every coach should be evaluated after 4 seasons because of recruiting, but three years in and the only thing that is clear is the defense continues to sink and QB play is spotty despite Morris's physical ability. IMO, Golden is at a crossroads in his career, whether he sees that or not, he has to learn and improve and make a decision about what is truly best for the program and players who have committed to it or continue to coddle his DC. Kehoe has done a horrible job with this OL as well. There is a reason he wasn't coaching. He's burnt. They can get to 9 then 10 wins with the bowl. That would be a very good season by all standards. Expectations would be raised tremendously. The fact is, the team, and coaches, are just not ready to compete in the important games yet. Golden needs to change that. Hopefully, next year. Go 'Canes!

http://www.tomahawknation.com/2011/5/5/2154722/miami-hurricanes-2010-recruiting-class-already-a-failure

Cane72, they play the exact 3-4 D that Alabama plays stupid.

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