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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."

NEWS AND NOTES

> 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.

Comments

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The administration oppression talk is actually a new concept and ideology behind why Canes sports have struggled the last decade or so. Not to mention that it is very rarely propagated outside of a couple blogger on this site. The theory actually has legs and needs to pick up interest instead of the infighting that goes on between fans and the whole coaches vs. players debates.

Shalala is a disciple of the former president and just because she is more seen and available than he made himself aesthetically--doesn't mean that her actions and mediocre influence is not the same but actually even worst. Our teams soon despite the previous president angst for the sports department, but under Shalala we have sucked all around--thats a fact and not disputable.

Your first paragraph details your brainwashing and the true propaganda being propagated by the corporate influenced media that the players hold sole responsibility for the success of the football program in and off the field of play. U continue to only point point out what 17-20 year olds have done instead of what position very well paid adult officials and administrators have put them in and the culture they have developed that the kids must assimilate into.

All the bad hires, multiple bad coaches, turnover, scandal, sanctions, lack of continuity, dismissals, coach defections, bad schemes, lack of institutional control and oversight etc.. is the players fault???

Yeah thats exactly what they want Us to believe while they steal money and provide us with an inferior product to appease the status quo.

UM is trying to win in another more "acceptable" way, that won't scare the nation. What they don't understand is that the nation has a perception problem and if anyone needs to change--its that flawed hegemony of racism and greed prominent in the national sentiment.

They Canes were fine then and our recruiting demographic is even better now! Let me know when this "new way" wins anything.

The only "acceptable" Canes team is a beatable won, so of course they love Us and Golden now--we aren't "scary" anymore--we talk and look the part though!!! (-:

Same preseason hype as every other year and these delusional comments are a feast for trolls. Unbalanced comments are just as destructive to the blog as super critical ones.

Troll = Delusional Canes fans

Speaking the truth is troll deterrent and starves them out.

Just because Shalala made your degree even more prestigious on the national scale doesn't mean that her tenure has been good for Canes sports. Keep that individual stuff to yourself, only U benefitted from that and U can't expect other fans who don't have degrees from UM to consider personal matters where football is concerned.

Yup.

The administration oppression talk is actually a new concept and ideology behind why Canes sports have struggled the last decade or so. Not to mention that it is very rarely propagated outside of a couple blogger on this site. The theory actually has legs and needs to pick up interest instead of the infighting that goes on between fans and the whole coaches vs. players debates.
Shalala is a disciple of the former president and just because she is more seen and available than he made himself aesthetically--doesn't mean that her actions and mediocre influence is not the same but actually even worst. Our teams soon despite the previous president angst for the sports department, but under Shalala we have sucked all around--thats a fact and not disputable.
Your first paragraph details your brainwashing and the true propaganda being propagated by the corporate influenced media that the players hold sole responsibility for the success of the football program in and off the field of play. U continue to only point point out what 17-20 year olds have done instead of what position very well paid adult officials and administrators have put them in and the culture they have developed that the kids must assimilate into.
All the bad hires, multiple bad coaches, turnover, scandal, sanctions, lack of continuity, dismissals, coach defections, bad schemes, lack of institutional control and oversight etc.. is the players fault???
Yeah thats exactly what they want Us to believe while they steal money and provide us with an inferior product to appease the status quo.
UM is trying to win in another more "acceptable" way, that won't scare the nation. What they don't understand is that the nation has a perception problem and if anyone needs to change--its that flawed hegemony of racism and greed prominent in the national sentiment.
They Canes were fine then and our recruiting demographic is even better now! Let me know when this "new way" wins anything.
The only "acceptable" Canes team is a beatable won, so of course they love Us and Golden now--we aren't "scary" anymore--we talk and look the part though!!! (-:
Same preseason hype as every other year and these delusional comments are a feast for trolls. Unbalanced comments are just as destructive to the blog as super critical ones.
Troll = Delusional Canes fans
Speaking the truth is troll deterrent and starves them out.
Just because Shalala made your degree even more prestigious on the national scale doesn't mean that her tenure has been good for Canes sports. Keep that individual stuff to yourself, only U benefitted from that and U can't expect other fans who don't have degrees from UM to consider personal matters where football is concerned.
Yup.
Posted by: HarrietTubmanCane | March 21, 2014 at 12:


^^^^^^^^^^^^

http://youtu.be/-Iw0-U9OknI

The offense has a new QB and there's no Duke or Yearby. Don't try to sell us on how good the defense is, please. Everyone knows this defense is going to getting smoked. You can add all of the talent in the world, just more dudes out of position because of that lame scheme.

Golden isn't on the hot seat? It's year 4 and he hasn't won anything. Even his won-loss record is average.

If he can coach, then this team should win the ACC, no? We haven't even appeared in the championship game. That appearance we turned down...it really belonged to UNC.


The offense has a new QB and there's no Duke or Yearby. Don't try to sell us on how good the defense is, please. Everyone knows this defense is going to getting smoked. You can add all of the talent in the world, just more dudes out of position because of that lame scheme.

Posted by: Canesjunkie

------------------------------------------------------
Not taking up Dno by any means, because to me this is his make or break yr, but no matter what the scheme, if a player is out of position, then it's not going to be very successful. So by that same token, if a player is in a position to make a tackle, or disrupt a play, no matter the scheme, and does so, then that's a player who will succeed no matter what. We've only had a few of those guys on D over the last few yrs. Hopefully this new class will have some of those guys.

I don't know Cola...i think you took up for me a little..lol.

It seems like we're always on our heels. The Florida game and the first half against FSU were the only times we looked aggressive.

Took up for him....damn this phone

Yeah I see what're your saying Junkie, I like aggressive too, and maybe with our db's being more seasoned we'll be able to, and they'll be able to keep a big play from getting by, if we decide to blitz? Hell who knows?

Yeah, we don't know what to expect.

I'm thinking we might have to lean on the defense this year. The thought of that scares me. I know some talent came in but they are still young.

U herd it here first: Dorsey was garbage at UM playing on that stacked team. But Cam told me KD's a changed person. I say bring KD in for at least a position coach job.

Heading into year 4, I am expecting the media and the UM administration to give 'Goldy and crew the same scrutiny they gave RS. They let RS go after 4 years.

Note: U are on notice throughout the football year.

yeah cool aka Malcolm x cat

And Randy Shannonbwent 7-6 after his 9-4 year. And his team lostto BC and USF. And his team laid an egg against Notre Dame in the bowl where Um players were seen playing with snow balls. THAT was a Randy Shannon team


Ken Dorsey is the greatest QB in Miami history. Numbers dont lie.

So what if his teams were stacked, you doosh. What would you have liked that they werent stacked? Cam Newtons Auburn teams were stacked. Matt Leinerts USC teams were stacked. Jamies Winstons team was stacked. Tebows teams were stacked. AJ Mcarrons teams were stacked. GTFOH with that stupidity

So your saying Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Wayne caught their own passes? You mean, that 2000 drive against FSU with 1:32 left, and that final TD pass to Shockey was all NOT Dorsey?

Dorsey lost two games as a starter. 2. 1+1 for ignaants like you.

Dorsey played in 2 national championships and had one stolen

Dorsey NEVER lost to the noles or gators

EVER

No one here said Dorsey had the strongest arm, Neither did Japicky Harris

No one here said Dorsey could run. Neither could Vinnie Testaverde

Butthat boy studied film like no other. He knew whathe had and he distributed the ball to his sthletes, and whenpush came to shove, he managed the game and let others win it. But despite ClintonPortis, McGahee, DJ Williams, Ethenic Sands, Andre Johnsosn Sean Taylor, Rolle, Buchanon, Reed, FSU still came back on our 17 point lead, and Dorsey had to direct the final drive

But you were proabably injail so you couldnt see the game- I was there. It was masterful- and head to heads he beat Heisman winner Chris Weinke, who had Anquain Boldin and others by the way- and head to head beat Rex Grossman, who had Ernest Grahama and others by the way. And head to head he beat the Heisman candidate from Nebraska who was basically a clone of Johnny Manziel

Dorsey will always be remembered as one of the greats here. You really can't question his legacy at all.

No doubts about him being a great coach.

I think Golden has better organizational skills than Shannon, but the results are pretty similar. Compare the records after 3 years, numbers don't lie. Look at where the defenses have ranked.

so far id agree with that junkie. It was the decline after year three by shannon, the HORRENDOUS recruiting and morale, and the loss to USF that did him in in year 4. Many here dont remember that by November before he was fired, and only 3 months before signing day, Um had like 6 commits only. It was ridiculous.

Golden is starting year 4. Year 1 without a cloud even thiugh there are scholie sanctions, he can more or les recruit freely and doesnt have to answer questions about the program/NCAA or wonder where he would be in 6 months. That said, I do believe that he needs to win at least AT LEAST 9 games AND win a bowl for his seat temperature to cool off and for Donofrios job to be safe. Anything less, and one of them or both is gone. Also remember, Um has not won a bowl game since 2006 under Coker. Winning a bowl game and finishing a season ranked at least in the top 15 wouldbe a huge kick start for the following year.

One problem- Ryan Williams, if he starts as #1 this year, is gone next year. SO, for future, Golden would be wise to allow Kevin Olsen more snaps than he did Williams (last year) behind Morris.. Not the QB shuffle that Jacorry Harris and Marve had, but definitely allowing Olsen some valuable play time to run the 1s and 2s

Hey Junkie in this instance numbers can lie . You are not comparing apples to apples because while the numbers are similar the circumstances are not . Randy had a clean slate to work with , while AG had anything but a clean slate . People do not put enough importance on the sanctions and the negativity it created . I am not happy with the Defense but I am impressed with the other aspects of the team . Go Canes

Also agree with GA cane- many here completely dismiss the effects of the looming impending sanctions- just remember how at some point people were speculating that Miami was getting if not the death penalty (which some people thought yes), definitely something close to the death knell of the program. I know for a fact that UF and FSU coaches were negatively recruiting on Golden and the U. They were warning kids that had Miami high that Um wouldnt be in bowls or TV, that it would be the end of Miami, blah blah. FACT. ACC coaches were the worse at that Muschump not as bad as Urban the liar was. What was there to do if you had a kid that was being recruited by Miami and another school? Goldens recruiting through that has been nothing short of magnificent. And he doesnt get as much credit as he should- especially by some here who have hated on him since day one.

Count the number of big Cane defensive linemen with hands on the ground at the start of the play. Less than four, Canes will continue their mediocre ways.

Count the number of yards from the ball to the Cane linebackers. If more than 3 yards, Canes will continue their mediocre ways.

Count the number of plays the Canes have an effective blitz. If less than 30, Canes will continue their mediocre goldie and d'o formations.

Count the number of yards between a Cane DB and a wide open receiver. If more than 3 yards, goldie and d'o are probably betting on the other teams by using a prevent, zone NO defense.

To me those sanctions meant we couldn't win the acc. FSU and Clemson just had more talent than us. But don't tell me we don't have as much, if not more talent than Virginia Tech, UNC, Duke, and Virginia. Golden did a fantastic job of recruiting during the sanctions but it didn't translate into anything tangible.

how many of our guys would start on duke?

fire goldie and d'o and hire the winning coaches
from Friday Night Tykes.

While Harris does want to become a coach, I agree that the biggest benefit to having him on board is his ability to reach out to the community. The man can talk football, so that will appeal to players and high school coaches, and his local ties are of great importance going forward.

HarrietTubmanCane,

Are you kidding me? The world of college sports is more competitive today than it has ever been, especially in the state of Florida.

As to your criticism of Shalala and her "focus" on what you consider important. UM is first and foremost an educational institution, not a sports team. She has raised the academic profile of the school during her time here, with undergraduate and graduate schools all making immense strides during her tenure.

I'd say she has done a sterling job, and has tried to improve sports despite some of the budgetary constraints and the unfortunate timing of the closure of the OB.

If SHitiOnofrios D is dominating the scrimmages wellll we will loose 8 games this year!!!! Why ..that only means our O is worst than the 500yard club!!

Evry time I hear or read the word DOnofrio y get a paper bag and vomit!!

breaking in a starting QB, no staring RB, the defense should look better, that doesn't mean they are better then last year. if donfrio and al hasn't changed anything then nothing will change. we will only know after the first few games.

oh, and OC coley may turn out to be a mediocre coordinator that also makes the defense look better as he learns.

Have Stacey Coley run 5 slants in a row, then we'll see how good that d really looks. Based on what I saw last year, we don't have an answer for that play.

I wanted Donofrio out. But, for the first time, if the U doesn't have at least a 10 win season, I want Golden gone as well and Im now holding him responsible for Donofrio beginning w the Louisville game.

g8rseetmya55 and Ga Cane,

Please stop with the name calling and just provide your opinion or viewpoints. I agree with both of you on the impact of Dorsey playing with a load team as CAM and Tebow. Dorsey had some good late game drives, which was outstanding. Please remember, Jacory won at FSU, and beat OU and OSU. Morris had two late game drives against NC and Wake last year too. Basically, the difference of the three is coaching staff and surrounding support. What would Dorsey have done as Freshman with Nix as the OC, then learning from Whipper during his second and third year? Nevertheless, I still view Dorsey as the overall better QB when it came to decision making and leadership.

Based on my observation over the past 5 years, Shannon's did not inherited a load team either (i.e., Butch gave Coker). At least Shannon was able to fire his previous OCs (nix and whipper) and DC due to lack of production from both units. Shannon loss to BC, South Florida, but he did not prepare nor coach the team against ND in the bowl game. Shannon loss big time against Virginia, but he did not have a committed QB. Shannon did not recruit Wright and Freeman as QBs!

Golden inherited a solid defense, which was rank high nationally among D1 schools. The NCAA did not take any players from the roster. The NCAA did not prepare nor develop the existing scheme on defense. The NCAA did not call any plays during the games. The offense was under the same (NCAA cloud) situation, but made an improvement with Jacory and Morris. Golden made an excellent hire, and no one was attacking the offensive unit.

Based on my observations, viewpoints and opinions, loyalty of friendship is impacting the development and growth of the defensive players. How can a HC allow his DC to call out his players as "the weak link"? True football fans who know football can see the problem...and it is not just the talent level of the players. The talented players' skills determine championships, and a good coaching staff impacts performances.

A good DC will make changes if the scheme is not working with existing players. A good OC will not allow his weak arm QB to keep throwing deep balls (i.e, Nix and Whipper). Morris performance decrease, because of the presence and influence of OC (Jedd Flesh). All I am asking for is everyone to evaluate the success and failure of the U objective...stop being so personal. The DC and defensive position coaches could be the weak link...and Golden is accountiable...just as Shannon was assessed too.

Correction, Morris and Jacory performed better under the previous OC. Coley is new and I believe he will get better with experience. The defensive unit, to include the coaches need to improve. The DL, LB, and Secondary coaches need to play the best players. I like the 4-3 with Tyriq and ADM at DEs; DZP, Grace, and Kirby as LBs; Burns and Howard at CB; and Carter and Bush at Safety. As for DT, the best lineman...regardless of OL or DL.

Great to hear good things about our D but I need to see it in September.

GO CANES!

Anyone expecting more than an 8 win season in 2014 is not being realistic. However, we need to be playing in the ACC championship game in 2015 or Golden should be shown the door. The time for excuses is coming to an end.

I read the recent reports concerning the 300 or so players and coaches attending the "U" for a special event. The Miami Herald staff writer made a big deal of the event, players, and coaches who reportedly came out; I wonder how many of the 300 were major four and five star prospects from Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties? So far, we have five or six three star prospects slated for the 2015 class; where are the major four and five star players? Are we even in consideration (serious consideration) for any of the best players in the country (more so in our own back yard)? We need major players not just the bottom feeders looking for a free ride to the "U". What excuse will be pulled out of the hat next year?

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