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News and notes from Monday's practice: Duke, Deon, Dorsett, D'Onofrio and defense

As devastating as it was to get dominated in the second half by rival Florida State and lose Duke Johnson for the season in the process, the Hurricanes shifted their focus Monday and completely immersed themselves in preparing for Saturday's pivotal Coastal Division showdown with Virginia Tech.

"We have a lot to play for," UM coach Al Golden said. "We got a lot of season left. How we play here in the next four weeks will determine how much, what the stakes will be. It's real important we get back on the saddle given the team that's coming in, their tradition, what they've meant to this division and the challenge they pose."

The Hurricanes (7-1, 3-1 ACC) still control their destiny in the Coastal Division. But lose to the Hokies (6-3, 3-2) and the Hurricanes will need help to reach the ACC title game.

"It's still all in front of them," Golden said. "What they have to do is trust what we're telling them. Let them go through that process of growing and maturing and learning, just focusing on the details everyday and not focusing on everything else. Sometimes you get stung."

NEWS AND NOTES FROM MONDAY

> The No. 1 question on the minds of all Hurricanes fans has to be just how bad Duke Johnson's injury really is. A source inside UM told me Johnson's broken ankle is not nearly as bad as the one receiver Malcolm Lewis is still trying to completely recover from.

When asked if Johnson might be ready for spring ball, Golden appeared encouraged: "I think he'll be back sooner rather than later," he said. "We're going to try like heck to get him stronger, really work on his nutrition and his weight gain. I know Clinton Portis is one of the guys who talked to him about that. He's got to continue to get stronger, and he will."

> How will the Hurricanes handle not having Duke around? Offensive coordinator James Coley said replacing Johnson's production will involve a running back by committee approach. Still, expect to see Crawford handle the bulk of the carries with Clements coming in on third downs and Gus Edwards likely participating in special packages. Freshman Walter Tucker is simply taking more reps in practice in case any of those three go down.

Golden said the reason Edwards had not seen much work (one carry for no yards at North Carolina) since tallying 166 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries against Savannah State and USF four weeks ago is because Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford "were holding his reps off."

"Gus is ready for this now," Golden said. "He's going to be in the mix and is definitely going to be carrying the ball for us on Saturday."

Golden said the offensive play-calling would not be scaled down with Johnson out and noted that the team's mental errors are down 50 percent from where they were a year ago "at this very date."

> Expect to see safety Deon Bush a lot more this week against Virginia Tech, which could lead to fewer minutes for senior AJ Highsmith, who despite making Miami's only sack Saturday didn't have a great game overall.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and Golden both came to Highsmith's defense Monday. Golden actually said Highsmith "played really well at FSU" and has done a great job "leading, getting us lined up."

"I know he'd like to have the one play back -- he's was probably one step away from intercepting the deep play [to Kelvin Benjamin] -- one of the few deep ones they got in the game," Golden said.

D'Onofrio said Highsmith didn't get the help he needed from the cornerback covering on that play (Ladarius Gunter) and noted Highsmith has "played played a lot of snaps without a mental error. Going into that game he was 250 snaps without making one mental error, which is hard to do, especially at that position."

Still, D'Onofrio conceded he'd like to have a more physical safety out there. Bush had four tackles and his first career college interception Saturday (his previous one came his junior year at Miami Columbus).

"It is the most he's played and the best he's looked so hopefully we can get him back to the confidence level he was playing with last year prior to the injuries he's had to deal with," D'Onofrio said.

"We need physical players back there. Your physical players in games like that have to make plays, they have to impose their will. You guys know who they are. You watch the games. The guys that are physical, that can cause fumbles, those guys have to show up and be physical. He's one of the guys that can do that. And we're going to need that from him."

Bush said Monday he still experiences some pain in his surgically repaired groin, but is feeling the best he has in a long time. He also dealt with neck/shoulder injury last year.

> D'Onofrio said his defense was obviously disappointed with giving up 41 points and more than 500 yards of offense to Florida State because they had a lot invested into Saturday's game. But the Hurricanes did enjoy some success against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston early, throwing a mix of man and zone coverages in with an occasional blitz, leading Winston holding onto the ball and to two interceptions.

The problem for UM was they couldn't get off the field on third down and let Winston escape the pocket a few times on third downs for first downs.

"That was disappointing," D'Onofrio said. "Our guys had an understanding of who was back there [Jameis Winston] and we just didn't make plays on him a couple times. We didn't have the vision we needed there. It's really a two-level deal. You have to keep him in the pocket, try to come clean and get a sack, and then have underneath defenders that have vision. Somebody needs to be a wrap player whose watching him if you're in man coverage and then all the underneath defenders need to watch him in zone. We just have to do a better job overall when you're dealing with a mobile quarterback like that."

The difference in the game, D'Onofrio said, was Florida State's ability to establish the run in the second half. Once the Seminoles went up by a couple scores Miami was simply playing catch-up.

> Against Virginia Tech's offense, the Hurricanes will have to try and contain a quarterback that has beaten them with his legs before.

Senior Logan Thomas ran 22 times for 124 yards and a touchdown last season against UM, but struggled throwing (19-37, 199 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) in a 30-12 Canes win. A year earlier in Blacksburg as a sophomore, he lit UM up, finishing 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns and running for 38 yards and two scores in a 38-35 win.

Defensive tackle Justin Renfow, who faced Thomas a few times when he played at Virginia, said its even more important this week for the Hurricanes defense to make sure they don't let the opposing quarterback escape the pocket.

"Logan Thomas is a good quarterback and I think think its even more important this week [to cut off running lanes," Renfrow said. "He's been a lot more run first. One look and if his first look is not there he's tucking and running. As a d-line we definitely have to corral him because he tries to run people over. The big guys up front need to be delivering the hit instead of leaving it like we did against Florida State for the corners and safeties to come up and do it."

> Golden made it seem Monday as though receiver Phillip Dorsett might be able to come back before the end of the regular season. "He is fighting like crazy to get back" Golden said. "We have to help him by continuing to play well."

A source said Dorsett had a clean tear in his MCL, which was helpful in his case, and was catching passes at Monday's practice. Still, it's more likely to believe Dorsett will be back for the ACC Championship game, assuming Miami makes it.

Comments

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JSY sure seems to have a lot of time recently, esp for a big time doctor.

His "in my field when you see a tumor you cut it out" is really reassuring top notch medicine.

Jimboo thinks Golden is too conservative and D calls Golden a desperate degenerate gambler, yet they think they agree with each other.

Jsy, what is the holiday today that has freed up so much of your valuable doctorin' time?

im an anesthesiologist, never claimed to be a big time doctor i just quoated what i hear surgeons tell me all the time. And yes my job does allow me have a good work life balance so thats why I do what I do.

What holiday is it dr jsy?

today is election day so the ORs are closed at my work cuz i work at a VA hospital

would you like me to snap a photo of my hospital badge and email you? and why are u bringing it up? i said what i said about a tumor to illustrate a point and I already said today was a holiday for me so i have some free time so i choose to be on my comp cuz unfortunately besides the va most places still work today

Really, the VA operating room is closed be cause there is an election?

JSY:

I'm an internal medicine doc myself. UM undergrad 91, UM med school 95, UM residency 99.

And you?

Yes va hospitals take election day seriously. But I'm not going to complain its the reason why I work in va hospitals bc the pay is much less but the hours and lifestyle is great.

I'm class of 2005 under grad, miller class of 2009 and finished anesthesia residency July 2013 at jackson memorial, so I'm pretty fresh out in practice

I do not see Golden using a man coverage to permit Howard, Burns, or future CBs to use their skill-sets to man up on opposing teams’ best WRs; it makes sense to allow this coverage, but Golden has a bend / don’t break philosophy. While at UVA as Groh’s DC, the defense rarely if ever used it; at Temple, not quite sure – but I would say not used. At UVA, Groh did not have play makers at the CB spot because his system employed some variation of zone coverage 99 percent of the time. DBs under Golden / Groh at UVA were ultimately good tacklers in run; but couldn’t cover a decent WR to save their lives. With our talent base and ability to bring in the best DBs nationwide, this should not be the case. We have access to the best DBs available with varying skill sets; to force them to play soft zones or man to man one of 80 plays is asinine. Put Howard or Burns on the opposing team’s best WRs all game and if a zone is warranted, let the other players within the defense play zone. If Howard, Burns, or any other excellent DB gives up a big play on some occasion, we should be able to live with that fact. One caveat, need to put pressure on the QB for this to work in our favor 99% of the time.

jsy and SCB, so did you vote for the Jackson bill, will it reduce layoffs? Seemed to me to be redundant since the 1/2 cent tax was still there.

"The problem for UM was they couldn't get off the field on third down and let Winston escape the pocket a few times on third downs for first downs....That was disappointing," D'Onofrio said.

It was not only disappointing, it was nothing new for Coach DoNo's defense. Part of the problem is that our CANES are still lacking in talent on defense: we've got some good players, but none of them are real studs. It's a work-in-progress. We play the way we do because it gives us the best chance to win the game. What I like is the effort: the unit gives everything. I'm not complaining because in the past 14 games, we are 13-1, and the defense was stout when it had to be to win those 13 in a row.

Change your name little Jimmy and refute the facts, remember your ID cinco títulos is all about 'correcting' untruths in comments that recruits might base their life decisions on after reading on a blog, a very important life's ambition for a bankrupt, pandering, old man.

Posted by: They're called primary rivalry games for a reason | November 05, 2013 at 02:35 PM

OK. So now you claim I am Jimmy Carr. I thought that you said that was Sarasota Cane. Yet after all this time and many, many offers to meet, you have failed to attempt even once.

You either:
1. Know you are wrong, and just like to stalk random people because it is all you have.
2. Know you are right, but are such a coward that even with that information, you have failed to do anything about it.

I would go with both 1 and 2, because you are a known obsessed stalker and coward.

However, for the record I will deny being Jimmy Carr. I will also deny being Sarasota Cane.

I would hate for you to try something with him, when he is just some guy you have latched onto. Especially since you have claimed in the past that you did something to Bryan Pata and threatened to do something to Randy Shannon, Jacory Harris, and many of the bloggers on here and on other sites.

You truly are a sick fellow, but I can only hope your sickness is relegated to empty threats. If something DOES happen to Jimmy Carr though, I hope you get questioned first, since you are the ONLY person that seems to be stalking him for these past five years.

Someone please let jmike know---if you want to believe the stat which says UM has #24 ranked D is valid---throw out every team they've played except Div 1 schedule and re-calculate. Hey! jmike! "Get that dirt of ya shoulders" son.


Someone please let jmike know---if you want to believe the stat which says UM has #24 ranked D is valid---throw out every team they've played except Div 1 schedule and re-calculate. Hey! jmike! "Get that dirt of ya shoulders" son.

Posted by: Rabblerouser

######################################################

Do you throw out Baylor's offense stats as well because tehey had nothing but cupcakes on tehir schedule the first five games

What is D'Onofrio talking about? Any idiot before the game knew that Winston was always a threat to run, just like Thomas is.

So what is all this about someone spying on him? Why wasn't that the strategy? That's a realization?

Why do these coaches continue this mental error crap, and why isn't it solved?

Though I appreciate the talk of hard hitting safeties, where are the lines about the team playing hard and motivating the team's passion? Enough "process" crap already. These guys sound like robots at times, afraid to screw up.

I love 7 - 1 and don't mean to whine, but something is off here. And you know that the D will have the exact same problems and lay back, no blitz defense that D'Onofrio called against FSU. This guy is an inflexible doofus.

Not necessarily a Mr Jim Gallo fan, but the cretinous D and someone called 41-14 (one and the same, I'm sure) are posting as a false Gallo.
This is an amazing place.

Folks a bad loss, but at 7-1 and people are panicking?
Canes beat VT, count on another Duke loss, or UM beats them and its at least a 9-3, 10-2, without your best weapon, THE DUKE for 5 games,. including an earlier game this year.

I do agree the defense MUST show controlled aggression. Against Logan Thomas, you still have to stay in your lanes, especially up the middle.
Canes by 10 points Saturday, assuming Goudis gets his s*** together.

Golden created this problem when he hired his boy now he ain't got the balls to fire him.we will not make a top 10 team until we get a D1 DC.

Cote cannot help it, he probably loves ObamaCare

Richard, as I've p[osted a few times, Miami's teams (Canes and Fins0 seem particularly cursed with these sorts of situations. Shula/Olivadotti, Sparano and his pal the ST coordinator, Jimmy Johnson/Wannstache, Philbin/Sherman, and perhaps Tuna/Ireland.

Its funny to see so called fans bring there political opnions into a football blog in defense of what true canes see as garbage schemes and philosophies. Instead of talking about obama care lets talk about how bush took the biggest econmoic surplus in the history of the US since slavery and almost sent us into the biggest recession in history all because of philonius Wmd and family agendas? 952 is to much of an idiot to talk about why a garbage country like china owns the majority of our debt which bush allowed him to do. I suggest you leave politics out of this discussion this is a football blog.

It funny i dont here anyone here talking about here great schiano is? I wonder why? Its not that golden isnt a good coach he and his dc have just been unwilling to adapt to what type of team he has. They are hell bent on doing it the big ten way and eventually we will have a good team but get crushed on the national stage because of their unwillgness to adapt to the type of talent we have here.

Ask chikkalo how that Utough has worked out after being choked slammed and gettin trampled on all night.

21-16
17-6
36-17
23-20

ha!...they're really comming of as complete fools now...don't they realize that we we're the ones that started they're losing ways???

^coming off ^we're ^their....damn phone

The key is still QB play which has not been mentioned as the problem child, if Morris starts off slow replace him imediately, cause he will throw interceptions to Exxcum on VT, Stephen isnt seeing the field throw short.

I dont think fsu man handle us in the run came they just simply ran to the week side, there was no linebacker over there. Two in the middle one on the strong side and they took advantage of it. Had we shifted the line to cover the weak side tackle puting the linebacker head up on the te we win those battles.

GALLOOOOOO!!!! He's back just like all you other frauds..Straight dummies.. SHHHHHHH ladies SHHHHHHHH!!!

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