I got a chance today to participate in my first Google Hangout with a trio of Canes fans and our friends at SportsManias.
Here is the recording.
I got a chance today to participate in my first Google Hangout with a trio of Canes fans and our friends at SportsManias.
Here is the recording.
ORLANDO -- I just got off the phone with University of Miami recruit Brandon Powell, a four-star running back who played for Deerfield Beach High School. Powell is graduating early to report to the Canes on Jan. 8th so he can start college and participate in spring practice.
He said he has cleared through the NCAA and just needs to get a copy of his transcript from DBHS after the winter break ends.
"I’m really excited because I start college soon and just to be on campus and get an early start, that can really help me,'' Powell told me. "It’s really beneficial. I get to learn the plays early, get a lot of reps, get bigger and faster."
Powell said he's 5-9 and weighs 170.
Powell watched the game on TV with his dad and grandmother.
"They started off the first series and it was good,'' he said, referring to the safety that occurred when Deon Bush sacked Teddy Bridgewater. "I was pumped up. But they couldn’t move the ball on offense and I thought ‘what’s happening?’ I thought they were going to crank it up after halftime but they just couldn’t do anything.’’
Despite the disappointing loss, Powell said he can't wait to begin his upcoming career with the Hurricanes.
"I committed to Miami because I feel like I can get on the field and play,'' Powell said. "After watching the bowl game and knowing that Duke [Johnson] is out, I feel like even more I can go out and help."
Powell, who said he also visited Tennessee, West Virginia and Nebraska, said he was most comfortable with the UM staff and players. He said he's "looking forward to learning from Duke Johnson and Dallas Crawford."
What message would he like to give to fellow recruits who were upset after the bowl game?
"Al Golden knows what he’s doing. He’s getting all those kids from South Florida. He’s getting the program back.
"Coach Golden plays freshmen."
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
ORLANDO -- Not a lot of positive to report after the 36-9 thumping the Hurricanes took at the hands of Louisville Saturday night here in the Russell Athletic Bowl. But a quick few bullet points before we get to the transcript.
> Tight end Clive Walford said he's decided to return for his senior season. He led the Hurricanes with four catches for 82 yards tonight.
> Linebacker and leading tackle Denzel Perryman, a new father, said he hasn't made up his mind yet if he's returning for his senior season.
"I was going to wait until pretty much after this game," he said. "Whatever kind of break we have I'm going to go home, sit down, talk to my family, make the best decision for me."
Perryman said he hasn't heard back from the NFL advisory committee yet. "I sent them my evaluation paper I don't know how many weeks ago," he said. "It should come in either this weekend or next weekend."
He said he's going to wait for it before making his decision. What will be the biggest factor? "I don't know. I haven't thought about it yet," he said.
Here is everything UM coach Al Golden and quarterback Stephen Morris had to say post-game. You'll want to read the stuff specifically about Golden's time table for when he thinks UM will be back competing for national titles and how Louisville threw things at Miami they weren't prepared for.
Opening statement: "Obviously disappointed we got beat in all three phases. There's no excuses. We didn't play well enough, give a lot of credit to Louisville they played really well, executed well. Again, it's my responsibility and disappointed in our execution in all three phases. I just -- as I just shared with the team. Despite that, just really proud of Stephen and this group of seniors and what they've been through and what they've endured in moving us forward from six to seven and from seven to nine wins. We're going to miss them greatly for all that they've contributed and obviously for their leadership through really tough three years. So go ahead."
Q: Did it kind of remind you of the Florida state game that you clearly were just against a football team that was significantly farther along than where you are right now?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, Gary, I appreciate the question but it's so hard to answer that without discrediting the guys in that locker room especially the seniors who have been busting their tail to keep us afloat and move us forward. I think everybody recognizes and I'm going to answer this honestly. Everybody recognizes that we're not where we want to be yet but we're scratching and fighting and clawing to get to where we want to be and keep moving forward. We've done it, you know, against terrible odds. I'm not going to discredit the guys we just played, but we have to get better and we're going to play these guys again in the near future and we got to be better.
Q: Al, what does have to change going into next season defensively?
COACH GOLDEN: "Again, we didn't give the defense a chance early in the game. I thought they were playing really well. They did a great job against the run. They were out there for too many plays and we didn't convert. I think we were 0 for seven at the half. Matt, there's a lot of things that have to change. We have to do better job coaching, we have to continue to build our program and just move forward and -- but, again, I think the defense was what was holding us in there in the first half and they were out there for too many plays."
Q: Coach, did you see any of this in preparation, in bowl practice? Was there any sign the game would be like this?
COACH GOLDEN: No, obviously it's our first go round for the freshman, sophomores, and juniors. It's the first time going through this experience. Again, Stephen and Jimmy and Allen, they provided really good leadership for us. But, again, it's the first time. You got to go through it. We didn't want to play the way we played. We wanted to play better. There are going to be a lot of things from this week and from going into a site and learning how to handle the media and the crowd and all of those things that we have not had the opportunity to do. Again, I think our guys are going to find value in that and learn from that.
Q Coach, can you please tell us a little bit more about the significance of the senior class and how it's been in this program after you guys have been through?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I don't think it's -- to go out on a limb and say they saved us. They could have cut and run. They kept us afloat, you know, and they saved us. I don't know how else to look at it. You know, that's about as hard as you get what they had to endure for three seasons. You know, again, it's not to our standard, let alone anybody else's expectations, but I'm not going to let that eclipse what these young men have done for the university of Miami and this program and the class they exhibited and to take somebody else's problem on and claim it as their own and have the resolve and the mental toughness to fight through. I'm proud of them.
Q Stephen, this question is for you, obviously today four sacks, most pressure you felt all season back there. Can you talk about the performance and this being your last game as a Hurricane?
MR. MORRIS: "Obviously it wasn't the performance I wanted to have being my last game but give credit to Louisville. They had a great defensive plan going. They were in the right spots at the right time. They came up with making the play. It's definitely something I want to work on, something it's been an issue for running on third downs we needed to do a better job on that. Over all my performance as a quarterback was not one of my greatest performances but you just learn from it."
Q Coach, you've been here three years, defensively there's been some issues with schematics. Are you going to reevaluate the whole staff and everything in the future now that the season is over or perhaps look to make any changes?
COACH GOLDEN: I'm going to evaluate the whole program, just like I do every year. It's not going to be any different. Again, there's things right now but in terms of moving the program forward, we're going to keep moving it forward. We're going to be resolute in that and we're not going to flinch with that. Again, at the end of the day, we're going to continue to recruit, continue to develop, but in terms of the young kids in our program and everything, I don't want to trade the young kids. I want to keep going. I want to keep moving forward. I just think overall, I think it's really important that every coach, every unit, every player, everybody is evaluated and I'll start that probably tomorrow.
Q Stephen, this might not have been the way you wanted to end your career here but has it fully hit you you've played your last game at the university of Miami and what is it you'll take away most of your time at the university?
MR. MORRIS: I think it will probably hit me tomorrow when I wake up and won't have a schedule from coach Golden and won't have a tech saying where I need to be. It's been a pleasure here, man. It's been a true blessing. I'm blessed to say that all these coaches have truly left such a great mark on my life. It's changed me to a better man. I'm proud to say. Football is a game of wins and losses. Unfortunately we didn't win how we wanted to win. Sometimes we lost the way we loss. I'm always going to be proud to say I'm a Cane.
Q How much did they change over the month in terms of blitz packages?
COACH GOLDEN: It was different.
Q Significantly different?
COACH GOLDEN: Yeah, no it was definitely different and then obviously you know when they got out to a lead and we never brought my pressure on the other side, which kept compounding the problem, Gary. So I don't think there's any question about it. Then you get to a point in the game where you're pressing and your trying to make some plays that you don't need to make. I don't think there's any question we didn't protect as well as we needed to protect. It's my responsibility.
Q Coach, this is for you and Stephen. I know it's not good right now, but the week in general, I mean, talk about how was the bowl experience for you/
MR. MORRIS: The bowl experience was very fun. Russell Athletic did a great job hosting the events for us. On top of that the week's practice was great. Even when we were in Miami we had tough physical practices which was great. Guys were excited to be here and when we got to the bowl site throughout the whole week everyone was focused and everyone invested a lot into this game. It's disappointing the way the game turned out to be but it's been a great experience.
COACH GOLDEN: I would say on above of the University of Miami we're grateful, the Russell Athletic Bowl and Orlando for just -- they did a tremendous job for our young people and especially given the fact that our guys hadn't experienced that since 2010. We're grateful.
Q Al, I think Teddy had over 400 yards passing in this game. What was he doing that just allowed him to be so effective tonight?
COACH GOLDEN: Number one, I think he made a lot of plays where he broke a tackle, you know, made a completion. He made some really, really excellent plays, just individual plays where it looked like we had him for a sack. It looked like we got him for a sack, he breaks the tackle and throws. There was a number of those, number of those plays, but obviously he's an excellent quarterback, he threw the ball well, but, again, you can't -- there's no excuses right now. He played well, he execute well. Their team executed well. We have to do a better job.
Q You spoke about a lot of the momentum you felt this month and obviously with everything that's gone on this season, what type of message does this game send the recruits?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I don't know if it sends a message. I just think we're still building. We need help. Obviously the size of this class is an indication you know that we're bringing a big group in and there's a lot of room to help us. I don't think there's any question that those kids understand that. They understand that they can help us and there's room to help us and we're not in a situation right now where we want to be and those kids see themselves as guys that can help us get there. So I don't think that's going to change anything. We just got to keep moving forward.
Q Coach, you're going to have the opportunity to play Louisville again real soon. How are you going to play differently and what can you expect from that program over the next several years?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I can't really speak to what direction they're going. All I can answer is what we need to do. Obviously we need to get back to work and see how we evolve with our personnel in the spring. Depending on when we play them, we'll make determination what our game plan is and what our personnel is. That's so far off right now. We're going to add 25, 26 guys to this team and obviously develop the young men that we have and decide what direction we want to go in all three phases in the off season and spring ball and we'll decide what the game plan will be.
Q Coach, you talk about the process all the time and now the cloud is removed from the NCAA do you have a time frame you expect to get this program back consistently top ten competing at a high level?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, number one, we just won nine games for the third time in a decade. I wish we had won ten, all right, but we're busting our tails right now to keep moving. There is no time table. Again, I take responsibility for everything, responsibility for everything in the program. At the end of the day today wasn't good enough. Again, I'm proud of the seniors and I don't want that to be diminished or lost here. We're going to keep moving this thing forward and it's hard for me to give you a time table. When my time table is wiped out on August 15, 2011. It's hard me to give you a time table. I made a commitment to get it done and we're going to fight our asses off until we get it done.
Q I was just wondering about you know what happens tomorrow? Do you meet with the under class men at all? Do the seniors just kind of walk away and that's the end?
COACH GOLDEN: We'll get the seniors back when they either, A, come back to school or when they start to work out to get ready and do those types of things. They know. We have a great relationship with the seniors, but tomorrow everybody is going to kind of go their own way. That's pretty traditional. We'll find an opportunity to get the seniors back and get them together, but we really did try to honor them as best we could at the banquet and just make sure before the game they understood how important they were and we just had another opportunity and we did that again.
Q Are you -- I guess you probably already talked to some of the juniors that are contemplating, perhaps, entering the NFL. How does that work now?
COACH GOLDEN: We have a great process in place where they get their draft reports. They had and will continue to have opportunities to speak to every entity that they need to, but as it relates to me. I'm just there for support. I am not part of that decision. I make sure that they get everything that they can get to make the best decision for them and their future and obviously if they need consultation from me, then I give it to them, just as we have a whole booklet of people that they can call and different people they can get information from to make the best decision for themselves.
ORLANDO -- The Miami Hurricanes were hurting at receiver coming into this game with sophomore Herb Waters out.
They are minus another: junior Rashawn Scott. He was among a list of three players UM confirmed did not make the trip up to play in the bowl game.
The others: freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen, who had made previous road trips and dressed in uniform, and cornerback Ray Lewis Jr.
UM has not given a reason as to why the three players are not playing. But they have confirmed they were left behind.
Scott has been suspended multiple times, including at the end of last season.
Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of a car accident before arriving at UM this summer. The report stated that Olsen “appeared to be under the influence of something.”
He and Lewis were both being redshirted this season.
Either way, it's never a good thing when you don't end up making a bowl trip with your teammates and you are healthy.
ORLANDO -- The Hurricanes (9-3) hope to complete their first 10-win season in a decade with a win over 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1) at 6:45 p.m. tonight at The Citrus Bowl.
It won't be easy. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former standout at Miami Northwestern and once a UM commitment when Randy Shannon was coach, leads a potent Louisville passing attack.
Las Vegas lists the Cardinals as a 3 1/2 point favorite. With good reason, too. Despite facing a pretty weak schedule, Louisville is sound defensively.
We'll be here to provide live updates as usual on Twitter and in our live blog.
ORLANDO -- Here is a breakdown of Saturday night's Russell Athletic Bowl game featuring Miami (9-3) and 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1). The Cardinals are favored to win by 3 1/2 points.
> Here is also a link to my weekly segment with Orlando Alzugaray on 640Sports.com.
WHEN MIAMI RUNS THE BALL
Louisville coach Charlie Strong said the Hurricanes present the toughest challenge his defense has faced in his four years with the Cardinals. That's not exactly a stretch -- at least for this season.
The Hurricanes are the highest-ranked scoring offense (35.9 points per game, 25th nationally) and top rushing team (172.5 yards per game, 63rd) the Cardinals will face this season. Although Louisville ranks second nationally in run defense (86.25) and is allowing only 2.74 yards a carry, they've faced only two teams who rank better than 80th rushing: Cincinnati (68th) and UCF (79th). Both of those opponents had some success (160 yards average and three touchdowns each) against the Cardinals.
Can Dallas Crawford, Gus Edwards and Eduardo Clements find running lanes behind a big, beefy offensive line that averages 320 pounds? With Duke Johnson sidelined over the last four games, they haven't done it enough. Miami has averaged 121 yards on the ground. That ranks 109th. To beat Louisville, Miami will also have to be better on third down (37.8 percent, 85th). The Cardinals rank second nationally in third down defense (28.6 percent). Edge: Louisville.
WHEN MIAMI THROWS THE BALL
The Cardinals have allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the country (eight) and rank eighth in passing yards allowed (171.7). Only Cincinnati, whom the Cardinals beat in overtime 31-24 in the regular season finale, managed to throw for more than 250 yards against them. Sophomore cornerback Charles Gaines leads the team with 11 pass breakups and five interceptions.
Miami, led by quarterback Stephen Morris and receivers Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley, has thrived with the big pass play. UM ranks second nationally with 35 pass plays of 30 yards or more. Louisville has allowed only 10 pass plays of 30 yards or more all season (tied for fifth-fewest).
What the Cardinals do best to stop offenses is sack the quarterback (39 total, fifth nationally). Senior defensive end Marcus Smith ranks second nationally in sacks (12.5) and junior Lorenzo Mauldin is 17th with 9 1/2. UM has allowed only 13 sacks on the season. Edge: Even.
WHEN LOUISVILLE RUNS THE BALL
About the nicest thing you can say about Miami's run defense (ranked 81st, 182.33 yards per game, 25 TDs allowed) is that it isn't as bad as last year's (114th, 217.92, 29).
Junior Dominique Brown (6-2, 216) and senior Senorise Perry (6-0, 187) are averaging five yards a carry and have combined to run for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns on a Cardinals rushing attack that ranks 80th (150.2 yards per game). It's likely Louisville could opt to give them more work than usual Saturday when you consider the Hurricanes have given up 821 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground over their last three games. Edge: Louisville.
WHEN LOUISVILLE THROWS THE BALL
For the first time since 2010, Miami's pass defense has produced more interceptions (18) than touchdowns allowed (13). Of course, Teddy Bridgewater, the nation's fifth moss efficient passer (70.2 completion percentage, 3,523 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs), could change all that Saturday night.
He's got six receivers with at least 22 catches this season. Bridgewater doesn't go deep as often as Morris does, but when he does 6-3, 209-pound junior DeVante Parker (46 catches, 743 yards 11 TDs) is usually his favorite target.
But for the most part, Louisville doesn't mind killing their opponents slowly. The Cardinals rank sixth in time of possession (33 minutes, 25 seconds per game). Miami's defense is used to being on the field a lot. The Hurricanes rank 118th in time of possession (26:21). Edge: Louisville.
UM kicker Matt Goudis ended the season by shaking out of his funk with seven consecutive made field goals, finishing 13 of 17 including a season-long of 49 yards. Punter Pat O'Donnell had a special season, averaging 47.3 yards a kick including 20 punts of 50 yards or more.
Gaines has returned a kick (93 yards) and a punt (35 yards) for a touchdown this season and is hands down Louisville's most dangerous weapon in the return game. Cardinals kicker John Wallace hasn't had to boot many pressure kicks, but is 17 of 21 on field goal attempts with no makes longer than 39 yards. He has had three field goals blocked and punter Ryan Johnson (41.2 yards) has had one of his kicks blocked.
Louisville's punt coverage team is very good having allowed 15 total yards on 13 punt returns. Coley has a punt and kick return for a touchdown this season and should be aided by the return of Phillip Dorsett. Edge: Even.
Strong hasn't faced many ranked opponents in his four seasons as coach, but he's 4-1 in those games. His team has trailed only once at halftime this season -- 13-10 against Houston -- before rallying for a 20-13 win.
Louisville will be Miami's third rank opponent this season. The Hurricanes beat Florida 21-16 back on Sept. 7 before the Gators went into a tailspin and then they were blown out at Florida State 41-14. Miami is 3-5 under coach Al Golden against ranked teams. Good starts are almost mandatory with UM going 17-1 when leading at halftime under Golden, and 3-13 when trailing. Edge: Louisville.
PREDICTION: Louisville 38, Miami 27
ORLANDO -- UM coach Al Golden met with reporters Friday morning to look ahead to Saturday night's showdown with Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville at the Russell Athletic Bowl. Here is the complete transcript.
Opening statement: "Obviously, very grateful to Russell Athletic Bowl and the Orlando community for just an incredible week and an opportunity for our young people and all of our families, our staff, our coaches, wives, our children, just an incredible experience and one that will create lasting memories, so we're excited. We've turned our focus here in the last 48 hours to really getting ready for a really, really good Louisville Cardinal team and excited about the opportunity to kick that ball off tomorrownight at 6:45, so with that I'll open up to any questions that you might have."
Q: Coach, with a day until the game, what's the perception like with your players knowing that the University of Miami is back in a bowl game and they're this close to being on the field?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, they're excited. We've been excited, really, since we started our first practice, you know, probably more than three weeks ago now. Our freshman, sophomores, and juniors were not able to experience this so -- and that includes everything. That includes the bowl practices, that includes the travel, the unity and the bonding that occurs during these -- that can really only occur when you -- when you experience things like this. And they've practiced with a purpose. I think they've really earned our trust all week by being where you are. You know, they really conducted themselves well and were accountable to each other and now it's really time to get focused in and get ready to play this game.
I think we're in the right -- you know, we have a long way to go until we kick it off, but we're in the right frame of mind right now.
Q: Coach, Teddy Bridgewater is such a dynamic quarterback. What have you seen that you're going to do to try to stop him tomorrow night?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I think you got to -- you can't let him throw in rhythm, so obviously you have to get pressure on him, you have to change up the rotation or the looks. He'll pick you apart if you just stay in one coverage or if you don't put any pressure on him. I think the thing about Teddy Bridgewater that he probably doesn't get enough credit for is his mechanics are tremendous. Tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and, you know, really well taught. So he's got poise. His completion percentage to interception ratio is phenomenal, so we have to find a way to get pressure on him and we have to, you know, obviously make some plays.
Q: Coach, given the current competitive nature of college athletics, do you think the concept of the big three as it used to be, is that still attainable for obviously you guys and Florida and Florida State to be at that elite level on a regular basis?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I mean, clearly Florida won championships. I don't know exactly, I think I want to say six and eight, '06 and '8, and Florida State is playing for a championship this year. We have to do our part. We have to continue to build. Obviously we've been encumbered a little bit more than we would have wanted to be the last two years, but we feel like we are moving the program forward and we do have an opportunity with a win tomorrownight to be the first team in Miami in a decade to win ten games.
And given the circumstances and the adversity that we've dealt with, that would be a tremendous task and a great honor for our seniors. So I don't think there's any question that can still happen and we intend to make it happen.
Q: Can you talk about how the extra bowl practices have helped with recruiting and where you are now in terms of the 2014 signing class?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, there's no many different ways to look at it. Number one, we didn't have the -- clearly we are one of the largest cities in the country in terms of cultivation and recruiting. We have one of the best bases, but yet the last two years we didn't have the opportunity for those young people to come over and watch bowl practice and be around us the way they are now.
We also didn't get this opportunity for a week long infomercial, if you will, that a lot of our adversaries had the chance to and then it was all compounded by the fact we were embroiled in something that brought a sensational element and we were dealing with a very difficult task. So I think clearly the first two are in place now. The third one has been eliminated, and just in the two weeks that I was able to get out, you know, we just have not, Manny, since we've been here -- and, again, you've covered us from the get-go. You know, the first year was a transition year and we didn't have much time at all to go recruiting and then the second two years we were dealing with a very tumultuous situation.
It's never felt like it's felt right now. We feel like we're recruiting to a higher level right now. We feel like the questions that we're getting from parents or coaches or young people, prospects are in line with what they should be. They should be about our university, about our program, our systems, our philosophy, and I can't tell you how good that feels to be able to go just out and recruit without handcuffs on.
It's been -- it's again great. This week has been great for us and can't wait to get back out on the road again.
Q: Coach, you were talking about those inroads with recruiting. Sometimes Louisville is known as Miami north, 26 guys from the area. In that regard, how important is this for the future with so many eyes in that area on this game?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, Coach Strong and his staff do a great job of identifying who they want to recruit and I believe the same for our staff. The difference now for us is that we don't have to do it with one hand -- really two hands tied behind our back. Again, whatever Louisville's philosophy is, their philosophy, I don't really worry about what anybody else is doing. I don't worry about the ones you don't get. I worry about the ones that you do get.
The ones that you do get have to be able to play, have to be able to execute. They have to be able to execute your philosophy on a daily basis. And as it relates to the University of Miami, they have to attend the number one school in the state of Florida, a top 40 institution nationally. So we're proud of that. And so, again, we have so much -- I mean this with a great deal of respect for Coach Strong and Louisville, but I would say the same thing if you were talking about Florida or Florida State or any of our adversaries, especially in the southeast. I don't negatively recruit. I don't talk about the other team, ever. We feel like we have one of the greatest products that there is in college football. We've gone through a very, very difficult time and we're excited to go out and sell that again and be able to do that. And so to be honest, I really don't worry about the other programs because we're in one of the greatest climates mats that there is in the nation. We have one of the best institutions in the nation. We've had more guys in the NFL than anybody. We've got a great tradition. We've played for more national championships than anybody over the last 30 years. We've won more, and it's our job to get it back and we're going to do it and we're going to keep fighting. And this is a big step obviously moving forward.
Q: Coach, are there any -- I know you're seeing Louisville again next year in the regular season. Are there any benefits at all preparation wise, spend some time looking -- how do you think they might have fared competitively in the ACC this year?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, I think, you know, Coach Strong, they're fundamentally sound as any team that we'll see. I think they're going to do what they'll do. I feel the same way about us. We're going to do what we do.
And whenever we meet again next year, you know, depending on quarterbacks, depending on personnel, depending on what direction both programs go in the spring and then obviously the way we start the season, it might change a little bit, but we are pretty much who we are and we're just going to try to get better at it.
I think the one thing that we sorely missed, and maybe I underestimated it, that we really missed were these bowl practices. You know, to see Jermaine Grace and Jamal Carter and Artie Barnes, Gus Edwards and how much better they have gotten over this, you know, three and a half weeks or whatever, whatever it has been, this time of bowl preparation has been invaluable and clearly those young guys are going to benefit from it down the road. We've missed that.
Q: The second part was how do you think they might have fared?
COACH GOLDEN: I think they're going to be an excellent team. It's a great addition. I'm sorry I didn't follow up. I'm being blinded here by the light. It's a great addition for the Atlantic Coast Conference, it really is. It's making us stronger in every aspect, in every sport, but certainly from a football standpoint, from a men's and women's basketball standpoint, baseball. It's going to make us really strong. We're excited to have them in.
You know, we have to do our part. We have to continue to move and get better and that's going to help the national appeal of the ACC. But certainly I think Louisville coming in is going to help us an the brand recognition now from Boston down to Key West is really going strong for us in terms of television sets and population density. It's going to make us strong and I think Louisville is going to help us with that.
Q: I wanted to get your thoughts on just Ladarius Gunter's progress. The last time he was out there, it ended very scary for him. You know, how has he just been working back from that injury and that situation and how did that impact all the guys afterwards?
COACH GOLDEN: I think Ladarius -- you know, first of all, we have great medical staff and we're so much better prepared, all of us, in the sport now to handle any injury that may look significant as it relates to head or neck. So we -- he ran through all the tests. Certainly he missed the last game, but was really cleared the next week when we started practice. And he's another young man that has gotten better and especially at the bowl side. I think he's practicing with a purpose. I think he understands the challenge ahead of him with Teddy and this great receiving core that we're going to face. He's been really doing well. In terms of the impact on the team, the team knows that we're going to always be smart with them relative to head injuries or, you know, the protocols that we have in place to make sure that we safeguard their health and put the student athlete welfare first. I think our team trusts that and understands that, so I know they were glad that he was, A, okay, number one, okay, and then, B, that he was able to return to action and compete like he is.
Q: Is there room in this state for the big four with the way UCF has been progressing?
COACH GOLDEN: Again, for you guys -- those are all the story lines for you guys. I mean, I wished I lived in that world. Sometimes I wish I did, but I don't live in that world. I don't worry about any of those things. I just think George has gone a great job. George is a class act and he's done a great job and I'm happy for George.
But, again, it's hard for me to understand, you know, without playing them or seeing them or being in the league, you know, what all goes into that, you know, other than, you know, you admire the job he's done from afar.
Really, with our student athletes, with our staff, with all that we've been through, we're just focused on Miami and moving Miami forward and I just can't tell you how good it feels to finally be able to do the things that you came to Miami for, A, go to bowl games, B, get your team better, C, recruit like you are at Miami and not, you know, being challenged by things that are -- circumstances out of your control.
Q Coach, as you've watched the film, who at Louisville kind of jumped off the screen and you believe is the next level talent?
COACH GOLDEN: There's quite a few. Starting with Teddy -- you know, again, I can't say enough kind things about the young man and his maturity and probably the leadership that he provides to their organization, but he's such a good decision-maker and so good with his balance and his rhythm and those are the challenges for us, so certainly Teddy.
But there's others. I mean, wide receiver core is really talented. Again, I got them all here, Parker Copeland, you know, all those guys do a great job, Eli Rogers. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Marcus Smith on the other side of the ball, a very disruptive -- you know, 12-plus sacks, the TFLs that he has, very active, you know, active secondary, you know, Brown at middle linebacker, a big, strong physical kid who can run, so those are all some guys.
But overall very balanced and offense. You know, they'll rush for 150 and throw for 300, very balanced. They do a great job with time and possession. They convert on third down better than just about everybody that we've seen at over 55 percent. On defense, you know, they're top ten on just about everything on defense. I think the one thing that jumps off to me at defense is how disruptive they are. Tackles for loss sacks and interceptions, very disruptive group. And their experience, they have an experienced offensive/defensive line. If you can get experience there, you have a chance to be good.
Q: I know you're limited in what you can say in terms of names and so forth, but in terms of early enrollees do you have a number now that you're thinking you're going to end up with?
COACH GOLDEN: No. It's still evolving. I would say safely eight, you know. You probably have it in front of you more than I do. It's probably about eight. It may grow depending on what transpires here. But, you know, we need that. You know, we needed some guys to come in and offset some of the losses we had. I'm excited for those young people that are coming in because it's going to give us an opportunity to challenge them and acquaint them to how we do things at the University of Miami and cultivate them into our philosophy and how we do things systematically and then obviously give them a chance to adjust to college life itself. I'm excited about that.
Q: Obviously you have a lot of commitments. You've been rebuilding this class for awhile. But this last month, are there any position areas that you're still hoping to address, or do you feel like you've pretty much shored up everything you've wanted?
COACH GOLDEN: No. We still got some positions that we have earmarked. I really don't want to get into the specifics of it, Manny, with all due respect. You know, there's still some -- you guys really probably do a better job of just charting who we're recruiting. That will tell you what we're still looking for.
But because of, you know, some of the things that we imposed against ourselves in the last two years, we had a very small class last year. That's not ideally how you want to build your team. This class is going to be a large class. It's kind of backwards. It should have been the other way around. But having said that, we're excited about this group and what they bring and I really feel like it has a chance to be our best class since we've been here. It may be that way already, Manny, to be honest with you.
Q: Coach, with it being only a day away from the bowl game, what's your main message to the whole team? Is it to make sure that they win? Is it to make sure that they get out there and play?
COACH GOLDEN: Well, I think clearly we're prepared, you know. We're prepared, but, you know, you can lose a lot of games in the final 48. I think the most important things for our guys is to trust. We have 120 years of bowl experience on our staff, but yet we have very few young people on our team that have been to a bowl game so now they have to understand how to stay focused and how to avoid the lobby and how to avoid all the -- because, you know, as the preparation dwindles, you know, as the game approaches, the amount of distractions increases.
There's more people in town. There's more family in town now since the holiday, you know, has ended, so now they really have to trust the formula that we have for them, win the final 48 mentally, and just really stay focused and eliminate the distractions. That's easier said than done when you don't have a lot of guys on the team that have been there, so that's going to be our -- you know, in addition to what the message is to the team, it's going to be making sure we do that.
Q: I'm going to try to take you to that world, so I apologize. You're a hot commodity coach. Charlie Strong is a hot commodity coach. Having dealing with him, he is frustrated with answering questions and questions and questions. How do you deal with it?
COACH GOLDEN: I'm going to have Charlie answer them. Is Charlie coming back in? I'll have Charlie answer them for me. You know, we're in one of the greatest places that there is in college football and we've gone through a really hard time. But it's hard to imagine, you know, places out there that you could, you know, sell, that you could present better than the University of Miami. We know we're not where we want to be, but we know we're not where we were. It was pretty dark days, as you remember. Many of you covered it. We were on the cover of Sports Illustrated two years ago. For these kids -- and it wasn't because we were holding up a trophy. They wanted to end the program. I dealt with masses of media.
My first training camp at the University of Miami, if you can imagine throngs of media three or four times the size of this. Manny is over there shaking his head. And the questions were are you going to have a team next year, and I couldn't believe it.
But we had a lot of young men that stood with the University of Miami. We had a lot of coaches and staff that stood with the University of Miami through really, really dark times, dark days and we're excited about moving the program forward. We're excited about the experience this week and the opportunities that we have and all that we're doing. You know, we just moved into a new football complex. We just finished a new student center on campus. There's never been a better time to be at the University of Miami in terms of the educational opportunities, in terms of everything that we can afford. Young people in our college town of Coral Gables, South Miami, Coconut Grove, you know, but yet we have the diversity and culture that only a world-class city like Miami can bring. So we haven't had the opportunity to really sell that and I'm looking forward to doing that here in January and thereafter.
ORLANDO -- This is getting crazy.
In the words of Al Golden (but said by me): Are you kidding me?
Senior Allen Hurns, Miami's No. 1 receiver with with 60 catches for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns, is wearing a boot on his left foot. He was seen by our Manny Navarro in the past hour at the Russell Athletic Bowl Kickoff Luncheon.
Manny was told it is precautionary. And Manny said he was walking fine, which is great news for the Canes. But if someone is 100-percent fine they're not wearing a boot. We were told that Hurns practiced fully this week, so I have no idea of the specific situation.
You already probably know by now that Herb Waters, (on crutches) is out for the game.
Herb has 28 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns.
And veteran Phillip Dorsett, supposedly full go after partially tearing a knee MCL, has only played in seven games and has 272 yards and two touchdowns.
Calling Stacy Coley!
Freshman Coley, a star in the making, has 30 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.
Junior tight end Clive Walford also has 30 catches for 372 yards and two touchdowns.
I have a feeling Hurns, one way or another, is going to be fine in this game. But it's only a feeling.
An already significant challenge for the Canes appears to be getting tougher.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
ORLANDO -- Just saw University of Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman with the other Hurricanes at the Russell Athletic Bowl's community service trip to Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre theme-park-type village where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families spend a week.
Wonderful, inspiring place. The Hurricanes -- and Louisville Cardinals -- were having a great time interracting with the children and their families, doing everything from hula-hooping to playing life-sized checkers (Curtis Porter was a blast playing checkers with an outgoing little girl) to lifting them for some fancy slam-dunking to dancing to a DJ.
It was great to see the players in a nonfootball setting having so much fun and being genuinely sweet to the kids.
"We put smiles on kids' faces,'' said UM junior linebacker Denzel Perryman. "We just made somebody's days. I have a kid of my own."
Perryman's daughter is Ella Grace Perryman, born Nov. 12. He said he's learned from fatherhood "that you don't get that much sleep and pretty much you just have got to change diapers and have a nice little schedule of rotating.''
And of course we asked him about his status as a Hurricane and if he has made up his mind about whether to enter the NFL Draft after this game.
"I really haven't thought about that,'' Perryman said. "I sat down with [linebackers] coach [Micheal] Barrow, but I"m going to wait until literally after the bowl game to really sit down and think about all that. I'm going to wait a little.
"I really haven't been thinking about that at all.
"It allows me to focus in and continue to do what I have to do. I don't want to make that decision, i'm going to leave and then my whole attitude changes towards the bowl game."
Perryman said that when he, and other like him, first come in the thought is often that they are going to play three years and then automatically leave. But now that he's facing that decision, he said it's much harder than he ever imagined.
"In past seasons, when you first come in you always have that thought, 'I'm going to be three-and-out; I'm going to be three-and-done.' And the decision comes for you to make it, it's kind of tough.
"When you first come in you're like , 'I'm going to leave, it's going to be easy.' but when you get in that situiatno, it's like 'wow. you know, like, this decision can change my life pretty much.''
Does everyone ask him whether he's going to leave early?
"I get it a lot,'' Perryman said. "When people see me out, even my own family asks me what i'm doing."
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
what do you tell them? like, I honetstly don't know.
ORLANDO -- Miami Hurricanes junior tight end Clive Walford is contemplating turning pro.
Walford, a 6-4 and 259-pounder out of Belle Glade Glades Central High, told The Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post today (Christmas Wednesday) after practice that he will make his decision "directly after the game.''
Walford is the father of a nearly five-month-old son, but he wouldn't say specifically whether that plays into his decision-making. He seemed unsure of what he would ultimately do, and did not reveal if he was leaning one way or another.
Walford redshirted his freshman year in 2010, sitting on the sideline while UM lost to Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl in El Paso. He played in all 12 games this season, starting 11. He has 30 catches for 372 yards (12.4-yard-per-catch average) and two touchdowns in 2013.
His career numbers: 36 games, 24 starts, 73 catches for 995 yards (13.6-yard-per-catch average).
Walford's streak of 27 consecutive games with at least one catch was snapped in UM's home win vs. Virginia on Nov. 23. He has had his share of drops over his career, but he's also clearly talented and has made his share of acrobatic catches. He runs fast, too.
Walford was a three-star rivals.com recruit. He had more than 400 receiving yards and six touchdowns as a Glades Central senior.
We asked him what the benefit of staying here another year would be.
"Me staying -- I could better my craft, learn more football because this is actually my fourth year actually playing football. There’s still a lot I need to learn. Just be, like, a certified leader for the team. Because there are going to be a lot of seniors and a lot of upperclassmen that are going to leave this year. If I stayed on the team I could be a major leader for the squad."
Walford said he has not gotten back his evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Underclassmen must declare to the NFL by Jan. 15.
So, what would be the reason to leave, we asked?
"It’s a lot of personal stuff. It’s a tough decision, but I feel like me bettering my craft and me investing in, like, a long term situation is what’s going to really determine what decision I make. I love my coaches here."
I asked which way he was leaning. "I won't really say,'' he answered.
He said he really didn't know.
He was asked if his decision would "go down to the wire?"
Walford: "It definitely won’t go down to the wire. I’ll make my decision directly after the game, whether I’m going to go or whether I’m going to come back. That night."
Any thoughts on whether he should go or stay?
As for junior linebacker Denzel Perryman, who also is a new father, he told us before the team left for Orlando that he would wait until after the bowl game to decide.
Defensive end Anthony Chickillo told me Tuesday that he still hadn't received his evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board.
* To follow up what I wrote yesterday (in today's paper), receiver Herb Waters is not expected to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl. He's still on crutches and coach Al Golden said he is doubtful. I'd say more than doubtful.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
The University of Miami's third-leading receiver, 6-2, 188-pound sophomore Herb Waters, was seen on crutches today at The Citrus Bowl as his teammates wrapped up their practice session for the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Though UM coach Al Golden left practice without speaking to the media, It was confirmed that Waters did not practice today and yesterday. This is bad news for the Hurricanes for obvious reasons. The Canes will already be challenge by Louisville's No. 2 rushing defense and No. 8 pass defense.
We do not know for sure if Waters is out of the bowl game, but it doesn't look promising.
Waters, who was identified by Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post as having his "right knee in light brace'' as we watched players such as defensive backs Keion Berry and Nate Dortch and Corn Elder and of course running back Duke Johnson walk off with crutches as well, has 28 catches for 406 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Senior Allen Hurns leads Miami with 60 catches for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns.
Freshman Stacy Coley has 30 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.
Junior tight end Clive Walford also has 30 catches for 372 yards and two touchdowns.
Waters' season-high day of nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns came at Duke on Nov. 16.
His next-best showing was his 73-yard, two-touchdown receiving day at USF on Sept. 28.
The Homestead High graduate played in all 12 games.
We knew about Duke and Corn and Nate, at least, and Keion has played in two games. Reserve linebacker JaWand Blue had a hard cast on his left arm, but he, too, has played in only two games.
I also saw big offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu limping severely near the team bus. He has not played in any games this season and will be redshirted.
As if this game wasn't a big enough challenge for UM, it just became even tougher.
Hopefully for Miami, veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett, who partially tore the medial collateral ligament of his left knee at North Carolina on Oct. 17, is as game-ready as offensive coordinator James Coley told us he was yesterday.
Dorsett needs to spring into big-time action.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
What would you choose from Best Buy if someone gave you a $450 gift card and said you have to spend it all in one shot tonight?
The Hurricanes had that opportunity Monday when they took off on team buses bound for Best Buy. We'll find out tomorrow, when we get our first player access, what some of them got.
Hurricanes freshman offensive tackle Sonny Odogwu is a 6-8, 318-pound native of Nigeria whose voice became squeaky high Monday.
UM sports information assistant director David Villavicencio relayed this quick story that had us all laughing.
He said that the normally outgoing Odogwu, whose deep, powerful voice can be heard near and far, walked into breakfast with a barely audible voice.
Turns out Odogwo had an especially exciting time at Islands of Adventure.
"Roller Coaster,'' Odogwu told the other Canes in a squeaky, high-pitched voice. "First time.''
Those of you who remember the Orange Bowl Stadium's west end zone will reminisce when you see Miami's end zone on Saturday looking identical to the one that used to grace the Orange Bowl. A giant UM helmet on each side of the end zone faces inward, with the word Miami painted in the midde.
There wasn't a lot of news out there today, but tomorrrow could be different. The players will be available, and Coach Al Golden said they were "working through a couple'' injuries "right now. Monday is kind of our loose day. If they can't go by tomorrow then we'll have to release it as such.''
That doesn't sound very promising.
Golden said defensive end Anthony Chickillo, who had worn a boot a couple weekends ago because of an injured toe, was fine and practicing.
Offensive coordinator James Coley indicated junior receiver Phillip Dorsett was ready to get back on the field full go. When asked if Dorsett was over the mental hurdle caused by the torn MCL he suffered against North Carolina in October, Coley said, "I did see it today. I saw it today for the first time, him pushing and running. He looked fast again. A little reckless out there, which is a good sign."
Who got better the past couple weeks since bowl practice began? Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio named linebacker Raphael Kirby, linebacker Jermaine Grace, cornerback Larry Hope and safety Jamal Carter.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native who played at Northwestern High:
"I'm treating this game like any other game. No game is bigger than the next game. I go into every game with the same mindset of executing our offense, managing the offense and taking what the defense gives us.''
Louisville safety Calvin Pryor: "This would be a great win, coming off the Sugar Bowl win last year, and then having a chance to play Miami. If we can win, it would be a stepping stone for coach Strong and the program as we head into the ACC.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
This just in from the U:
MOBILE, Ala. – Miami Hurricanes senior offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson has accepted an invitation to play in the 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl, the bowl announced Monday.Henderson becomes the third Miami Hurricane invited to play in the game, joining teammates Stephen Morris and Brandon Linder.
Henderson was a third-team All-ACC selection by the league’s head coaches and honorable mention by ACSMA. He played 11 games along the offensive line in 2013, making seven starts at right tackle. He helped anchor an offensive line that allowed Miami’s offense to average 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.9 points per game.
The St. Paul., Minn., native will be the 66th Miami Hurricane to play in the Senior Bowl. The 2014 Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is played annually at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium, will kick at 4 p.m. ET on Sat., Jan. 25 and will be televised on the NFL Network.
No. 25 Miami (9-3) will play No. 18/16 Louisville (11-1) in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando. The Hurricanes are vying for their first 10-win season since 2003.
About to leave for UM's first bowl practice. It's closed, so we don't get to see anything, but will be able to interview coaches afterward in the late afternoon. Players are off limits today.
Will be back later with updates.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
ORLANDO -- Russell Athletic Bowl week is finally here.
The Hurricanes have all checked in, according to Chris Yandle, UM's assistant athletic director for communications. The players drove to Orlando, Yandle said, and all had to report by 3 p.m. They had the afternoon free. Some of the players spent the day at City Walk in Universal Studios.
There was no media access at their hotel or otherwise.
Tomorrow, the Canes (9-3) practice from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at The Citrus Bowl, where their game against Louisville (11-1) will be played at 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Practices are closed to the media, and only coaches will be available afterward. We were told the players will be on a Best Buy Shopping Spree that is closed to the media (I'd love one of those myself!)
The last time I greeted a Miami Hurricanes team for a bowl, it was in the airport of El Paso and guys like linebacker Jordan Futch and quarterback Jacory Harris and bowl head coach Jeff Stoutland (with a giant sombrero atop his head) were dancing with local women to the festive beat of mariachi musicians and colorfully costumed Viva El Paso dancers.
That was for the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl. El Paso is a border town that sits on the banks of the Rio Grande -- across the river from Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. Juarez, known as the murder capital of the world, was off limits to the Canes and their Notre Dame counterparts, who got the same reception.
"A wonderful greeting, " Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said that day. "It certainly didn't disappoint in our first trip here as a team."
Kelly's Irish and the Canes each came into the game 7-5, but as Canes fans painfully remember, the Irish beat Miami soundly, a 31-17 drubbing in which Harris threw three interceptions in his seven passes, before being replaced by current senior quarterback Stephen Morris. Current Canes coach Al Golden, who already had been hired, watched that game from a stadium suite.
Miami has not won a bowl since its 21-20 win over Nevada in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl -- Larry Coker's last game as coach.
Since then it's been three consecutive bowl losses.
Last I looked, Louisville was favored by 3 1/2 points. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be nearly impossible to frazzle. Somehow, the Canes have to find a way with a defensive line that has not been particularly fearsome this season.
Weather update: It's clear and 77 degrees in Orlando now. The weather forecast for the game is partly cloudy, with 73 degrees as a high that day and 56 degrees as a low, and a 20-percent chance of rain. But that could change several times before Saturday.
Ticket update: Earlier this past week, Vivid Seats on the secondary ticket marketplace released its report on ticket prices for this year's NCAA bowl games, and cited tickets for the Russell Athletic Bowl as the 14th most expensive of all the bowls, with a median price of $98. "The Russell Athletic Bowl is a bargain compared to the BCS National Championship, however,'' Vivid Seats reported, "which currently has a median ticket price of $1,553.''
UM is staying at the Hilton Orlando and Louisville is at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Louisville will practice at First Academy. The Cardinals' practices are also closed to the media and public.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
FROM THE ACC:
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Notre Dame Friday announced the annual football game schedule in which the Irish will face an ACC opponent beginning with the 2014 season through the 2016 season. The games are part of an agreement between the Conference and Notre Dame to play five ACC teams each year in football.
Due to previous schedule commitments, in the first year of the schedule, Notre Dame will face four ACC teams. But the Irish will then play six games against Conference foes in 2015 and thereafter, beginning in 2016, play five ACC teams each year.
In 2014, Notre Dame will face Syracuse, in a game hosted by the Orange at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (Sept. 27), then will host North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Louisville (Nov. 22) and will also travel to face Florida State in Tallahassee (Oct. 18).
In 2015, Notre Dame will host Georgia Tech (Sept. 19) and Wake Forest (Nov. 14) and play Boston College (Nov. 21) as part of the Shamrock Series in Fenway Park in Boston. The Irish will then will play at Virginia (Sept. 12), Clemson (Oct. 3) and Pitt (Nov. 7).
In 2016, Notre Dame will host Duke (Sept. 24), Miami (Oct. 29), and Virginia Tech (Nov. 19) and will go to MetLife Stadium to play Syracuse (Oct. 1) and will then travel to NC State (Oct. 8).
Beginning with the 2016 season, Notre Dame will alternate between playing three home and two away games one year with two home and three away games the next (2017).
Year Date Team Site
2014: 9/27 at Syracuse MetLife Stad., E. Rutherford, N.J.
10/11 North Carolina Notre Dame, Ind.
10/18 at Florida State Tallahassee, Fla.
11/22 Louisville Notre Dame, Ind.
2015: 9/12 at Virginia Charlottesville, Va.
9/19 Georgia Tech Notre Dame, Ind.
10/3 at Clemson Clemson, S.C.
11/7 at Pitt Pittsburgh, Pa.
11/14 Wake Forest Notre Dame, Ind.
11/21 Boston College Fenway Park, Boston, Mass
2016: Sept. 24 Duke Notre Dame, Ind.
10/1 at Syracuse MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.
10/8 at NC State Raleigh, N.C.
10/29 Miami Notre Dame, Ind.
11/19 Virginia Tech Notre Dame, Ind.
HURRICANES BASEBALL UPDATE
The University of Miami baseball team checked in at No. 13 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper annual preseason poll released Friday, marking the team’s best preseason ranking from the publication since 2010.
The Hurricanes return a number of key contributors from a team that finished 37-25 overall and earned the program’s college baseball-record 41st consecutive NCAA tournament berth in 2013. The Canes have not missed the postseason since 1972, marking the longest active postseason streak of any Division I program nationwide.
Miami will return its entire starting rotation in 2014, including Louisville Slugger All-American lefthander Bryan Radziewski and USA Baseball Collegiate National Team member Chris Diaz. The duo combined to make 30 starts this past season, and both finished among the top three in the ACC in earned run average.
Both Radziewski (29th round, St. Louis Cardinals) and senior righthander Javi Salas (38th round, Minnesota Twins) decided to return to campus after being selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, while Freshman All-America David Thompson (.286, six home runs, 46 RBI) will help anchor a Miami lineup that returns seven starters from a year ago.
Joining the returning nucleus is a recruiting class ranked among the best nationwide. The group was rated No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 6 by Baseball America – its highest ranking from the publication since 2006. The Hurricanes have had classes ranked among the top 10 by both publications in back-to-back seasons.
Miami is one of six teams from the ACC ranked in the top 25 of the poll, joining Florida State, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia and Clemson.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Congratulations to the grads. This just in from UM:
Sixteen University of Miami student-athletes earned their bachelor’s degrees Thursday during Fall Commencement ceremonies at BankUnited Center.
Thirteen of the 16 graduates were football players – Malcolm Bunche, Eduardo Clements, Akil Craig, Shayon Green, Allen Hurns, Alex Irastorza, Paul Kelly, Brandon Linder, Sean McNally, Stephen Morris, Clive Walford and Ryan Williams. Green walked during the May 2013 Commencement exercises. Also graduating Thursday was Billy Sanders, who was a reserve tight end in 2010 and 2011.
After a 9-3 season, the Hurricanes will play Louisville in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 (6:45 p.m., ESPN) in Orlando.
Also graduating Thursday were soccer’s Jordan Roseboro and baseball’s Alex San Juan and Michael Broad. Roseboro was a four-year letterwinner for the Canes from 2009-12 and finished with six career goals.
“Graduation Day is a celebration for not only our student-athletes and their families but for our whole community that has watched our Hurricanes give their very best effort in school and in their sport,” said David Wyman, Associate AD for Academic Services.
San Juan played two years for Jim Morris’ team (2012-13), finishing his career with a .264 batting average, one home run and 18 RBI in 64 games. Broad spent four seasons in the outfield for the Canes, playing in 178 games and making 147 starts. Broad hit .273 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI.
“Today we honor them for their commitment and contributions they made to our tremendous university and join them in celebrating their academic success,” Wyman said.
Miami Heat team president Pat Riley gave the commencement speech.
To listen to Riley's speech, go to www.miami.edu and click on the link for commencement archive.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
The holiday spirit was in the air Wednesday at allCanes in Coral Gables.
The 13th Annual Holiday Shopping Spree for Kids took place tonight at the retail store that centers around the Hurricanes.
The event, supported by the store, the Bryan Pata Memorial Fund and various local sponsors, invites about 30 local at-risk children to a catered meal, then gives each child a $95 gift card -- 95 was the number of former Hurricane defensive lineman Bryan Pata -- to spend for whatever they choose in the store. Pata was shot and killed in November 2006 by a yet-to-be-found assailant, and his brother Edwin comes to the event and talks to the children every year.
Each child was accompanied by a UM coach or family member.
The event is hosted by broadcaster Tony Segreto and included UM athletic director Blake James and his wife Kelly; tennis coaches Paige Yaroshuk-Tews and Mario Rincon; women's basketball coach Katie Meier; Kelly Golden, wife of the head football coach; and assistant football coach wives Lucia D'Onofrio, Kenia Coley, Shakiera Scott, Dee Kehoe and Amber Carroll.
Sebastian the Ibis was there, as well as cheerleaders and members of the Miami Sunsations.
I didn't get a chance to go this year, but talked to several people on the phone there.
"It's great,'' said allCanes general manager Harry Rothwell. "The kids light up. Every child walked out full of food and with smiles on their faces.''
"What makes it special is you actually get to see the faces of the children and understand the impact it's making in their lives,'' Segreto said. "It's an empowering moment because you can be a part of something that at that moment makes a big difference. We live in a world where people are asked to give a lot -- you give a check or canned goods. You never see the delivery or execution of the dollar or food being given."
Other comments from participants:
*It's such a cool experience for these kids to be wined and dined,'' said football coach Al Golden's wife, Kelly, who brought their son AJ, 8, and daughters Addison, 7, and Gracie, 4. I was like, 'Today is about the other kids. Stay out back and eat pizza.'''
Golden said the girls like T-shirts and the boys go for UM jerseys. "Or a lot of kids like backpacks or a miami watch.''
Kelly James, wife of UM athletic director Blake James, said she loves the event and how the children are so happy and appreciative -- and somewhat entertaining as they peruse the store for gifts.
"They're coming in and asking to buy for their mom and dad and siblings. I had one little boy tonight who wanted to buy for his dog. He got a little dog shirt and was trying to find out what size ne needed."
Said her husband, Blake James: "It's the time of year when you want to be able to reach out and help those who might not have as much as others to have a great holiday season.''
The children began their night with a catered meal from Milams' Markets, Crepemaker, Flanigan's and Big Cheese. They came from the Kendall Boys & Girls Clubs, the Police Athletic League, the Pata Memorial Fund and North Miami Boys & Girls Clubs.
"I just think it's great that we're able to give back,'' said Yaroshuk-Tews.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
The Miami Hurricanes football team held its 2013 Canes Football Awards Show on Saturday night at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall located inside the Frost School of Music.
Joe Zagacki, the “Voice of the Miami Hurricanes”, served as the awards show’s emcee. The show opened with the top 13 plays of the 2013 season.
The Hurricanes coaching staff handed out 21 annual player awards. Freshman WR/KR Stacy Coley was named the team’s Newcomer of the Year; junior LB and Butkus Award semifinalist Denzel Perryman was named Defensive MVP, while senior OG and Senior Bowl participant Brandon Linder was named Offensive MVP.
Second-team All-America P Pat O’Donnell was named Special Teams MVP and senior WR Allen Hurns was awarded the Jack Harding Team Most Valuable Player award.
Throughout the evening, several video messages from prominent #ProCanes were played for the team – Warren Sapp, Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen.
QB Stephen Morris was the recipient of the Plumer Award for Leadership, Motivation and Spirit. Senior DE Shayon Green received the Melching Leadership Award. Both awards are voted on by the team.
At the end of the night, head coach Al Golden thanked the senior class and all 25 seniors were presented with their framed jersey.
"We were on the road all week, and we’re excited to be out on the field tonight and again tomorrow for the last two open practices, and then we’ll great into our preparation for Louisville and the Russell Athletic Bowl. I missed an opportunity to visit since the bowl announcement, but clearly we’re grateful for the opportunity to go to the Russell Athletic Bowl, to play in Orlando, and let our kids experience the sites and attractions and the community in Orlando, and get a great opponent in Louisville. Our kids are excited, I think they’re grateful. They’ve been through a lot the past two years, and they have not been able to have this opportunity. I thought after we talked last weekend, that [the conversation] resonated in the way they practiced. Hopefully we’ll see that again here tonight and tomorrow. They’re practicing with a purpose, they’re excited, and clearly they have a really tough opponent coming up."
On the younger players who impressed during the first weekend of bowl practice…
“Just jumping around, I think Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall were two guys that really benefited from that. I think both of those guys stepped up and showed that they’re capable, so we’re going to continue to push them and get them ready here for the bowl game. Those are two guys that come to mind. I told [Raphael] Kirby again today, I thought he really grew up last week and played with low pad level and ran and took charge of it. He needs to do that. In Jimmy [Gaines’] absence, he needs to be able to do that. If he keeps practicing like he did last week, he’ll carve out more playing time. I thought Jamal Carter really great up and answered the call for us.
“There were a lot of guys who really competed. There were others, a lot of guys that really competed. You got that sense when you were out there, that it meant something to them. Clearly now with a lot of the veterans coming back, there will be more competition. We’re still going to see a lot of those young guys, but this time it will be against guys like Allen Hurns, Stephen Morris and Brandon Linder, which should make the competition all the more better.”
On the challenges for his secondary of facing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater…
“We have to play really well. This is a very talented young man. He has great command on the offense. I don’t want to intimate you at all, that I’ve studied everything I can about them, we’re going to do that about 11 a.m. Sunday. We’re going to take two whole days to do that. Clearly we see enough Thursdaynight games or Friday nights to see the young man is talented. He has speed, good corps of receivers, knows how to distribute the football, doesn’t make many mistakes with the football, can move in the pocket. It’s going to be a great challenge for our corners and safeties. Those guys are going to be challenged again tonight to improve, compete and get better. Certainly we’re not where we want to be yet, in every facet of the game – not just corners and safeties.”
On his satisfaction with safety play, specifically Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush…
“I think your comment is fair. We need to continue to be more physical and more consistently physical. Deon clearly has been hampered all year. Hopefully every time we were hoping we were going to see Deon…he came up with a hamstring recently and before that, his groin. Hopefully we’ll see him get healthy here and finish off the season well. With Rayshawn, it’s continuing to trust the process and be consistent. Not your highs be high and your lows be low – just continue to be consistent, and we have to to get that play out of him, there’s no question about it."
On how he has seen freshman Stacy Coley improve over the first weekend…
“I think Allen [Hurns] has been a great mentor for him. He has learned how to prepare. I keep saying to you guys, his talent is really good. He has excellent talent. But what’s allowing him to play at a high level and have so many explosive plays is [that] he’s trustworthy. We give him a lot of plays. It’s really a great example of ‘Hey, if you want to increase your role in a game, master the ones we give you.’ He has done that. It hasn’t always been easy for him, as you guys can recall. He didn’t start off the season the way he wanted to, let alone how we wanted him to do. He fought through it and continued to get better every day. This is a young man who can be a great model for a lot of young players out there for how to prepare, how to study, and how to article that. Mike James talked to our team in the spring, when he got back from the NFL Combine, about being able to regurgitate it and being able to articulate it. This young man, no matter what we ask him – he’s very loud and proud in the meetings. He tells James [Coley] or Brennan [Carroll] or the offense exactly what he’s going to do on a play – with conviction. That leads to a lot of trust. There is a preparation element in there that really exceeds his age.”
On the health improvements of junior Phillip Dorsett…
“I’m expecting him to be healthy, I really am. I’m as anxious as you. I’ve been out all week. I think we have a green light with him. We should see Phillip back to normal, which hasn’t been the case since the North Carolina game for us. We would love to have Phillip back - he was really having a heck of a year when he got hurt.
“I think he has had a great attitude. He fought, fought, fought and got really close, and really we thought we would have a chance with him in the Virginia game but it wasn’t quite right. There were a couple plays in Pitt when he got in, but not to have the impact of the game that he wanted to have. Clearly on offense we were doing well, so it got to a point where [we said] “Do we really need to put him in?” I know he’s anxious to get back out there, and hopefully we’ll see him out there today.”
On how closure to the NCAA investigation has affected his staff’s ability to recruit…
“I don’t know if it’s ever easy, but what energizes your staff when you go out? What motivates it and what drains it? Clearly you can understand almost every high school we left, we left answering 20 questions about something we didn’t have any answers about. We did that for 28 months. It’s very difficult to recruit under those circumstances.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to have tonight - we’ll have 30 or 40 juniors out there from South Florida. We haven’t had that opportunity. We haven’t been provided that opportunity. It feels totally different. You’re not going to get them all. There are other good opportunities for kids and all that, but at the end of the day, we feel like we’re on a level playing field for the first time. It’s unfortunate it comes at the tail end of our third class, but nonetheless, it gives us a chance to finish this one and start the 2015 class with a fresh slate. There has been a lot of positive energy out there, and we’re just excited to move forward. You can feel the difference.”
On the difficulty of recruiting dominant interior linemen…
“When I answer the question, it’s hard to answer without reflecting on the players that are currently in the program. What head coach and what defensive coordinator doesn’t want dominant defensive players? We have to continue to develop the young men we have, but I don’t think it’s a secret we need help on the defensive line, help on the front seven.
“I think everybody understands that, and I think that’s reflected in our numbers of guys we have committed at those positions. We were not given the opportunity to recruit the type of full class we wanted to recruit last year. We’re making up for it right now. We were looking at 16 commitments going into Signing Day a year ago. If you’re on a regular ‘Year Two’ schedule, that number probably would have been 23, 24 or 25. Here we are the following year trying to make up for that. It’s been a challenge. There were a lot of places we would have loved to fortify our positions a year ago, we weren’t given that opportunity. We gave up a lot so we can move forward now, so let’s move forward.”
On if he has a plan to divide the scholarship reductions …
“I do. I don’t know if I want to share that at this time, just because we’re working through it. Again, it seems very simple, because now they quantified it for us and made it a static number. You can deal with a static number. Last year, I had no idea how many I was going to have - before Signing Day, after Signing Day, right until after we kicked off the ball. Now that we have an idea, I feel like we can plot a course. Clearly I don’t recommend anybody running their business that way. It’s hard.”
Hurricanes coach Al Golden was presented with the 2013 Lombardi Award for Excellence in Coaching on Wednesday night at the 44th Rotary Lombardi Award Ceremony. The ceremony was televised live on CBS College Sports.
Legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards presented Golden with the award.
"What a great honor to receive this award from Coach Edwards,” Golden said in his acceptance speech. “I humbly dedicate this award to the 2013 Miami Hurricanes. They overcame a lot of adversity over the last three years. And in so doing, they taught us a lot about perseverance and leadership itself and maybe perhaps overall about class.”
During his acceptance speech, Golden thanked Miami AD Blake James, President Donna E. Shalala, his wife Kelly and his mom and dad.