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Confidence, physicality growing as Canes defense is "winning the day" more often this spring

Tracy Howard has never been short on confidence.

Ranked the No. 1 cornerback in the country by both Rivals and ESPN coming out of Miramar High in 2012, Howard set the bar high for himself a year ago when he said he wanted to pick off 10 passes as a sophomore. He finished with a team-leading four picks and made 35 tackles, making 12 starts and playing much better than he did as a freshman.

"I’ve always been confident," Howard said Thursday following the team's sixth practice of the spring. "I've never lacked confidence... I never come out onto the field without my confidence being up to the sky."

The same couldn't always be said about the rest of the Hurricanes defense over the last few years. But it's starting to feel a little different around Coral Gables these days.

The offense, which has carried the defense on most Saturdays over the last two seasons, isn't winning the day as often as it used to in practice. The guys on the other side are having more success. They're being more physical. And there definitely feels like there is a lot more hooting and hollering going on with Mark D'Onofrio's unit than before.

"I don't think there's any question the defense was better today," UM coach Al Golden said Thursday. "It was good competition. Fig [Alex Figueroa] was physical, Tyriq [McCord] did a good job. It was good to see that kind of physicality on the team."

One moment Thursday which provided an example of that physicality was during Category 5 drills. Basically, the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back and the back has three blockers down field trying to create a slalom like path to help him run past a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a defensive back.

On this particular play, 6-2, 235-pound running back Gus Edwards was able to get to the third level where 6-1, 207-pound sophomore safety Jamal Carter had broken free from a D'Mauri Jones block for a one-on-one situation. It was the smaller Carter who won the battle, squaring his shoulders and knocking the bigger Edwards toward the turf. (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PLAY)

That tackle -- along with another made by Al-Quadin Muhammad on running back Quincy Casimir during the same drill -- are examples of that physicality Golden was talking about.

"That’s just a drill in practice we line up every spring just to shed blocks, just to be physical," Howard said. "Jamal did a good job with that and it brought energy leading onto the team periods.

"Guys are just growing up, playing with attitude. We got guys like Denzel Perryman, [Alex] Figueroa, Jamal Carter, those guys are like dogs. Everybody just feeds off those guys when it comes to being physical and stuff like that. I feel like we’re just getting better as a whole."

Is the defense winning the day more? "Ask the offense. They’ll tell you the truth," Howard said with a smile. "We beat them in camp last year. We had most of the wins if you go look at the board."


> Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre wasn't at practice Thursday after limping off the field on Tuesday. Golden said Olsen "should be fine."

> Golden made it pretty clear quarterback Ryan Williams is in the lead for the starting quarterback job.

"I think Kevin [Olsen] is having a good spring and Gray [Crow] and Kevin are competing. But Ryan is ahead right now," Golden said. "Kevin is having a good spring, he is. But as I said going in, Ryan is experienced, smart and he's doing a good job with the football right now."

What does Howard think of the QB play thus far? 

"Ryan is a very good quarterback," Howard said. "He knows how to make very good checks and very good reads. He’s an experienced quarterback, started his freshman year at Memphis. He played a little bit last year and the year before that. I think Ryan is going to be a very good quarterback. His decision making is on point. He’s able to read defenses before the snap, great pre-reads. He gives great dummy cadences to make the defense shift and give away their coverages.

"Olsen is just getting better everyday. You see the development every day. We always knew he was going to be pretty good even from his first seven on seven. He trusts his receivers, takes chances on a lot of throws. He’s developing. Even though they’re in a battle he also has to learn from Ryan and it feels like he is."

> Howard said playing against bigger backs in Edwards and Walter Tucker (6-0, 218) has been good for Miami's defense this spring. 

"Playing against those guys it helps out with tackling," he said. "Duke [Johnson] is more of a shifty guy. But Duke can do it all. He can lower his shoulder. He can run past you. But with those backs, they’re more downhill runners. They’re going to lower their shoulders probably 90 percent of the time. It helps us with our tackling just being physical. When we play against those guys we've got to be even more physical. They help us out."

> Howard said receiver Stacy Coley is becoming more of a trash-talker. The two go head-to-head in practice every day.

"3-on-3 is how I look at it," Howard said referring to the jersey number both players wear. "He’s fast, shifty. He’s mainly always my matchup. We just go out there and make each other better every day. He’s becoming more of a talker. I’m a big talker so I think I bring it out of him most of the time. I do it with all the receivers. When he makes a play he definitely makes sure you feel his presence. He’s not a big talker, but he’s going to talk. He’s going to have his share of words."

> Who ran with the first team Thursday?

On offense, quarterback Ryan Williams, running back Gus Edwards, tight end Standish Dobard, receivers Stacy Coley, D'Mauri Jones and Rashawn Scott, left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano, center Alex Gall, right guard Danny Isidora and right tackle Taylor Gadbois.

On defense, it was ends Ufomba Kamalu and Al-Quadin Muhammad, tackles Earl Moore and Jelani Hamilton, linebackers Denzel Perryman, Raphael Kirby and Alex Figueroa, cornerbacks Tracy Howard and Antonio Crawford and safeties Jamal Carter and Deon Bush.

> Second team center Hunter Wells had a pair of high snaps which sailed over the head of backup quarterback Kevil Olsen. Golden stopped practice to have the offense run suicides after the second one.

> Among the special visitors at Canes practice Thursday: Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon and Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks.

? The Hurricanes picked up a commitment from 2015 Dade City Pasco High tight end Bowman Archibald (6-6, 240) on Thursday.

Archibald, rated a three-star prospect, visited Coral Gables on Tuesday and picked UM over offers from more than 15 schools including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oregon and Southern California.


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Fire Al Golden before it's too late.

You guys are exaggerating the whole Ice Harris acquisition a little too much. Unless he's prepared to take over at DC or put on a helmet and hit someone, he's a administrator.

I'm not trying to belittle the man, but I'd rather hear about the players. I'm done with hyping up coaches...these dudes are all temps.

Stacey Coley is the sh****t!!!! Swag hats for everyone.

Concerned Alumni ...

Shannon got 4 years, how many do you think AG is going to get?

Ice Harris is an offensive guy.... not a DC in waiting. But then again, the defense the past two years has been down right offensive.

The thing is harris is an administrator yes but he can smooth way with high school coaches and once he gets his degree i expect him to be an assistant at miami. where he can recruit the local kids and help miami lock down south florida. as for fire al golden get real. Anyone saying that is an idiot. when u look at what he inherited as players, not one first round or second round pick, this team has overachieved under him for 3 yrs. golden is building something and those who want him fired are idiots.

and hire whom? Who woule be the coachif UM fired Golden? Nick Saban, who makes almost 4 million a yr? Jimbo? LOL. Statements like that are hilarious.ly ignorant

This is spring football! Let's just wait for the lights to come on, and see how the coaches and players have improved from last year. Please, stop with this inherited stuff, because he (Golden) had more than Duke, Wake, GT, VT, Virginia, BC, and Maryland. Let's talk about the here and now for once.


g8rseetmya55, I would hire the former FSU defensive coordinator as a HC. I would hire Mike Bobo (UGA) as my OC and Ken Dorsey as my QB coach. I am not asking for Golden to be fired, but this is his 4th year at the helm. My issue is he has decided to keep everything the same. I hope he is right with continuity of staff and scheme, because he should not get a pass from the fans and media.

Posted by: Canesjunkie | March 20, 2014 at 05:36 PM

At least 4. probably 6-8. He was under sanctions his first 3. His winning percentage and team performance is trending up as opposed to down.

He's improved the overall strength, conditioning, and relationship with local HS coaches...

The Hurricanes picked up a commitment from 2015 Dade City Pasco High tight end Bowman Archibald (6-6, 240) on Thursday.



Is it really that the defense is better or is that the offense is not as good as it's been the last couple of years? One must question...

this kid Archibald is versatile, fast, and fierce. Great tools, athleticism, and frame. Will be a stud before it's all said and done. Great get. Represent!

This kid can play DE or TE. He's very athletic and cock strong with a ton of attitude. I think because of his versatility he's best used as a TE. He shows great blocking potential, and runs naturally. Looks fast in space. Special teamer day one.

Early enrollee at that!

Let's hope he sticks.

No Duke in backfield or Crawford and no Yearly, new QB, the D better be ahead of the offense, remember last year Golden let them off fall camp early cuz they WERE NITTING HARD.....LMFAO..... Then Golden has SPRING PRACTICE VACATION, FOR ALL OF U THAT DONT KNOW WHAT THAT IS (IT IS WHERE A TEAM GETS A VACATION AFTER A COUPLE DAYS OF PRACTICE.....ROFLMFAO..... WONDER WHY WE SOFT

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, trying to encourage his unit, told them Thursday: "The young linebackers are the weak link right now."

Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow later told his group: "We're supposed to be the strength of the unit, not the weak link."

D'Onofrio encouraged players to "over-exaggerate your communication."

hence telling the opposing QB exactly what you're doing.


the new u no d

but u gots D.T.'s now riiieeet ?

hey, seriously ... how was it to be a Great Dane fan today ?



Georgia Southern....hahahahahahahahahah

Your lineman blocking each other....hahahahahahahahaha

The U owning your arse for the last 30 years...hahahahahahahahah

Your credible.....riiight?????

Sorry NEWS

Corch Harris does make great burgers, dogs and ICE ICE Cold T though.

Why is a gayturd always on a canes blog running his stick sucker??? must be lonely and boring up in hecksville florida!!!

Another gator (debose) involved in gun crimes in public. Shut that dump down.





i cant believe anything they say out of spring. They say the same thing every year and Golden and Donofrio have produced the worst defenses in the history of the program.
I think on the offensive side of the ball we'll see more of an intermediate game. Williams can't stretch the field like morris but he's more accurate. probably more dig routes and 10-15 yard outs. Hopefully that gets the tightend iinvolved more. I was always a fan of morris but this past year it seemed like he had checked out early. Hopefully williams stays hungry.

As much as i want to seean succeed we need Olsen to do it with a promising future. That way we land next years BIG and Fast WR

Ryan succed

Cant spell but I got Cuervo

Dino is the weak link in the defense.

6-8 years? That's too long to go on like this.

Confidence, physicality growing as Canes defense is "winning the day"


how'd the u-split-tails do in the nit ?

Why do people keep bringing up hobbies on a sports blog? Basketball, especially womens is a alternative lifestyle sport if you catch my drift. Football is a real mans sport. I guess if they have no real sport , they grab what they can.

Why isGolden trying to impress fans about defense, guess to stop heat on DC, the truth of the matter is on the field of play and Golden and DC have failed here, coachs try to fool fans but results matter and if they dont improve its on them, lets get real people, we have heard nothing new and the same bull as last year. Failure is not a option for DC, results and respect from other teams, we will see what kinda of record canes have this year, i think its clear, improve or pack your bags DC and Golden if he cant see the forest for the trees, Golden is a BS artist.

Its time for new coachs if team doesnt improve and defense doesnt show marked results. Golden and DC are on a ride, this year is the real deal no excuses nor Golden BS about Dofornio not being able to coach at this level, wake up board its on you this year. Somebody will have to have a set to fire DC if same results prevail.


Georgia Southern....hahahahahahahahahah

Your lineman blocking each other....hahahahahahahahaha

The U owning your arse for the last 30 years...hahahahahahahahah

Your credible.....riiight?????

Posted by: We had 3 before you had 1....

Never gets old. hahahahahahaha


Golden has improved in wins, recruiting and building community relationships all the while under NCAA scrutiny, those are facts that cannot be denied or ignored as much as many critics would like to do. Golden considering the Penn State job, no big deal, what else would you expect from a coach who played there, met his wife there and graduated from there? Any coach in the country would have done the same in his situation and considering the situation he walked into at Miami without being told, what did you expect?

Golden is only now on the clock, what he did in spite of the obstacles is amazing, whether you agree or not, it doesn't diminish what he did. So deal with it folks, he is NOT on the hot seat. PERIOD, lol!

RHCane I thought Pruitt would have been a good coach as well. Once the NCAA announced our punishment we went downhill from there. Seems like the only fans making excuses is the new U. A real Cane fan is forced to live in the past because we definitely haven't won anything in a long time. Time to put up or shut up. The defense should have won the day with new qb's and tailbacks.



Morning CANES FANS and trolling PO$


I like what I'm hearing about Williams and Olsen. Williams will absolutely start IMO and Olsen will have that #2 spot.


It's about damn time I'm hearing news of the defense making life difficult for the offense. Before it was always the offense tearing it up. Now the defense is really making them work for it. Also, now that Duke is out and Yearby is recuperating along side him, our younger and BIGGER backs are getting in there making the defense really work to make a tackle. Last few years have been the worst display of tackling I have ever seen in my life. Now, from a couple of videos I just saw was a world of difference. Think them boys are happy as hell that we'll FINALLY be playing more 4-3. Hell we should just stay in a 4-3 IMO. GET SUM DEFENSE!!!!


If the D is outplaying the O, that's a good sign.

It'd be nice to see the 'Canes play up to their talent level. Golden's recruited some top talent. Now, let's see the team's play match it.

Maybe it will happen, and maybe not. I get the feeling that UM's athletes aren't as free to focus on sports as athletes at other schools are.

But I doubt UM will get rid of Golden. He presents the image that the school wants. If he showed up at games wearing altar boys' garb, he somehow wouldn't look out of place, and I think the school's board of directors likes that about him, and I think his salary reflects that. He gets paid pretty good.

But beyond all that, he's a good coach. If Golden went to a school where the board of directors cut the coaches loose--gave them free rein to do anything necessary to win--Golden's teams would compete for conference and national titles.

It's just that UM's board of directors aren't going to do that. They're going to rein in the sports programs and put more emphasis on academics. This is a huge adjustment for UM's sports programs: especially its male sports programs. (Females typically do better and are more comfortable in academic settings.)

The D outplaying the O is a great sign. Let's see how long it lasts. Williams and Olsen looking very good, by the 3rd Spring practice they will be torching the D.
The Spring game will be won again by the canes.\
All the clueless clucks will proclaim the supremacy of the cane O, again calling it "the best offense in college football". Williams, Olsen and Duke will be hyped as Heisman contenders by these same clueless clucks, who will also claim that all you need is a little defense with such high power offense. Spring delusion will once again rule the Gables. This movie has been played before, every single year for the past decade. Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In your case a history of mediocrity for over a decade. A history of pathetic defenses for the past 3 years. A history of clueless and delusional bandwagon fans. Spring champs and Fall chumps, the new cane thing.

For the record, I think Muschamp is having the same problems at UF. That school's board of directors probably took one look at the number of arrests under Meyer's leadership, which is probably linked statistically to his teams' championship play, and said, "no."

Muschamp has to rein in the athletes' bad behavior, and that's a heck of an adjustment--no small thing--and the team's on-field performance is obviously suffering for it. But it's likely that UF's board of directors have placed a cleaner program as a higher priority than a winning program. They want Muschamp to clean up the program, first, and then win, and they'll probably give him some extra latitude to accomplish that.

Saban manages to pull it off at Alabama: maintain at least the imagery of a clean program while still recruiting top talent and winning games. But I have the feeling that a close inspection of Alabama's program would reveal a few surprises. However, Saban's well-connected in college football's "good old boy" network, and the entire state of Alabama would just as soon cover up for a known serial killer at quarterback--or at any other position--if he won games. So if the school's violating NCAA and other regulations, it probably won't come out easily or soon.

Winston at FSU was accused of rape a year ago. Nobody found out about until a couple of months ago, and the school, the police department, and the whole town downplayed the issue and protected Winston. ("His lawyer" was a team lawyer.)

The University of Miami's board of directors will have none of that stuff. Shapiro was probably a HUGE embarrassment, and that whole event probably caused UM's board of directors to really clamp down. (Not just the players, but UM president Shalala in the newspapers, smiling, shaking Shapiro's hand, and accepting his $50,000 "donation"? Let's just say I'd not have been at all surprised to see UM's board of directors fire Shalala for that major faux pas. But she's a former Clinton cabinet member: a political hero. That probably saved her butt.) I've a feeling that UM's board of directors will simply eliminate the school's sports programs that can't clean themselves up: no more steroid-taking baseball players (Braun and Arod are both UM grads); no more whore-mongering, cash-taking, assaulting-and-battering football players; no, no, no, none, not no more, not no how, not no way. Golden probably has to bench players for "audibly breaking wind during class."

Shapiro, by the way was a "con"--as in "confidence"--man. I don't want to hear about "confidence" anymore: not from any UM players, anyway. The team lost to VA Tech and Duke--two woefully under-matched teams--and looked absolutely silly against Louisville in a major bowl game . . . and the team hasn't won any bowl games, major or otherwise, in years.

So, ship your "confidence" in a care package to Nevin Shapiro. You'll find him in prison in Butner Low, NC.

Unfortunately the only way to get rid of these two clowns acting as coaches, Golden and Donofrio, is to have a 4-8 season......proving once and for all.....the the bush league frauds that they are.

Posted by: LakeWorthCane | March 21, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Fellow fan, I have to dispell some of that propaganda. That's a flawed story-line. Shalala has always supported sports and wants to win just as bad as any of us. The former president was far more conservative than Donna. The academic standards are not preventing the football player from tackling, taking proper angles, and containing the football. The academic standards did not break Duke Johnson's leg or make Coley and Burns fumble on kick-offs.

This is not what has prevented us from winning because we won in 2002 with similar standards. The play on the field is what matters most. Stanford wins with high standards. ND wins with high standards. The state school have not been more competitive because they let everyone in, they have been competitive because we've had a negative recruiting cloud or a poor recruting coaches for several years.

Al has a plan and is restocking the talent in coral gables and we just have to get the players to play well. I know for sure if Alex Figueroa can stay healthy and lead the defense they will play better. Kid is a stud. We need leadership from within and for players to take ownership of their success. Watch the canes reloaded and Shock says they made a change when players started to hold each other accountable and when they started putting in extra work on their own time away from the program at places like Brian Picolo park.

Jimmy won with a pretentious tightwad admin, Erickson won with the same and Larry won off the strength of Butch's teams under Foot when Donna first got there.

Time to let go of the administrative opression talk. That ole storyline is played man.

Miami Hurricanes women fall to Stetson in WNIT opener

After winning four of its last five regular-season games, the University of Miami women’s basketball team had hopes of making a late push for one of the final spots in the NCAA Tournament. But an overtime loss to Florida State in the ACC tournament crushed those hopes.

With UM settling for a Women’s National Invitation Tournament bid, the Hurricanes appeared depleted and flat, trailing by as many as 16 and falling 70-63 to Stetson in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday night at BankUnited Center.


Aaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww no more split-tailed nit championship hopes after getting kicked in the teeth at home by Stetson... but ...

u still have the Spring Football National Championship to win and an over .500% record for the wiff n boot beisbol pingers to cheer for...


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