The Hurricanes had their last practice Thursday morning before spring break, and UM Coach Al Golden sent them home for a week to see their families, catch up on some rest, hopefully stay connected to their football playbooks, do some moderate weight-lifting and conditioning and get ready for more when they return next weekend.
The assistant coaches will be off, too. "I'll move ahead and try to get everything organized and do some catch-up. But we'll try to get the coaches a break here while the players have a break. I think we're in good shape in terms of having the practices ready for the following week.''
Practice, open to the public, resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 18. Some of the players, by the way, are staying back at UM and continuing to work out -- such as the track athlets.
"It was spirited,'' Golden said. "We got a lot done. A lot of heavy install in the beginning but now they have a chance to digest it over the next nine or 10 days and we'll pick it back up on Monday, March 17 and March 18th will be our next practice.
"It's just the philosophy of it,'' Golden said of why he always starts practice the week before spring break. "Longer duration. If you can get four installs in before spring break, now you've increased the amount of time they're thinking about football."
"I want them to enjoy their time off, relax, make sure we don't get too tight -- stretch, lift a little bit.. really enjoy their time off with their family and friends.''
Some notes from Thursday:
*Defensive end David Perry, a 6-7, 280-pound senior out of University School by way of Portmore, Jamaica, quit the team and is not expected back. David really hadn't been doing anything lately but standing around in practice. "David Perry is excused right now and we'll go from there,'' Golden said.
Perry played in one game (Savannah State) in 2013 and had two tackles. He played in nine games mostly on special teams in 2012, with no stats. He moved from tight end to DL in the spring of '12. He played in five games on special teams in 2011 as a redhsirt freshman.
He was a first-team All-Broward by the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald.
* Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen had a good day today. He looks more fluid and comfortable out there, and he hit receiver Rashawn Scott on several passes today -- short and long, while rolling out and from the pocket. I'm still thinking Rashawn Scott is going to have a good season, but I say that every year. I just think he's really talented, but seems to eventually make wrong choices (not to mention the unfortunate injury early last season.)
* Golden: "Rashawn is in a good place. We're going to keep pushing him. He's got another step to go in his game. We missed Rashawn last year, we missed him. He's a physical presence. Right now he's really worked hard and he's more mature. We've got to make consistency his friend right now.''
* Golden on Olsen: "Kevin is getting better. Kevin is playing with a lot more confidence right now. I think he's seeing it better. He's playing faster. He's playing football, he's not going by rote memory. I like what we see from him right now.''
* Golden on Ryan Williams: "Ryan is doing good. Ryan is distributing the ball really good for us right now. Like I've said to you guys before, he's really smart. He gets the ball to the guys in a position where they can catch and run, especially on the incuts and shallows. A lot of run after catch with Ryan and his length really allows him to see the incuts really well. So, again, he's doing a good job and he's continuing to lead. I think he understands what he needs to do from a leadership standpoint.''
* Sophomore linebacker Alex Figueroa is a beast out there. He plays hard and he plays intense and sometimes angry. It admittedly drives him nuts not being able to really go full force with hitting his teammates at practice.
"That's one of the things I'm glad you guys can see now,'' Golden said. "It's not just me saying, 'That's what a black shirt looks like.' You can see. There's a difference in his effort and some others'. You hope that you can get two-deep on defense that gives that kind of effort. He, Denzel, Tracy, Jamal Carter, those guys all are playing at a high level like that.''
Golden made an interesting point about how not being able to fully tackle makes the players actually have to exhibit better form. "Really by not going to the ground we're emphasizing the technique -- having a good base, being square, having your eyes up. If we just said 'tackle them to the ground' it almost lets them off the hook a little bit. They can go grab the guy. When you're thudding you really have to be in good position, youve got to get in front, you've got to square him up and hold him up."
*Besides Fig, the other defensive players out there today with the coveted black jerseys: cornerback Tracy Howard, defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu, safety Jamal Carter, linebacker Raphael Kirby, linebacker Denzel Perryman, safety Deon Bush, tackle Olsen Pierre, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad.
* Update on OL Hunter Knighton: "He's doing well and they're just being prudent with him. That's all I can say about that. We're excited how he's doing.''
* Golden said 6-1, 304-pound Earl Moore and 6-5, 285-pound Jelani Hamilton have jumped out early in spring practice among the defensive tackles. "It's time. It's time for those guys. They're not young anymore even though they're at the end of their sophomore years."
* Golden on freshman middle linebacker Juwon Young, a hefty 6-2, 240-pounds: "So, he's got to spend more time studying football, which is not uncommon in his situation. Physical, can run, can strike, just gotta keep studying it so he can play faster. Probably not trusting his key enough right now, so he's peeking and then reacting as opposed to just trusting his key and going. That's indicative of a lot of young guys. They play plays instead of reading keys. But big man at 240 as a freshman, with the ability to run.''
*Golden said he's "excited about offensive guard Danny Isidora and tackle Taylor Gadbois. Danny is a guy that played a lot for us and Taylor is as gifted as any of our offensive lineman. I think the only one that's more gifted is probably Ereck Flowers.Taylor, in terms of an athlete, we will mention him in the same type of athleticism. but he's in the 320s now and he's close to 6-7. He's punching probably better than anybody on the o-line right now. For Taylor, it's time. He's patient. He's worked hard, got strong. Weve got to keep working on his conditioning but I'm really excited about Taylor Gadbois and where he's got to go.''
*Golden said guard Jon Feliciano is more vocal than Ereck Flowers.. he's looking for Flowers to be more of a leader. "Ereck is a little bit more like E.F. Hutton. He doesn't say much, than he does and it's like 'Whoaaa.' OK, we're not doing something right.
"So we've got to just try to get Ereck a little bit more out of his comfort zone and communicate. Jon has always been that way. 'Taylor is working on [being a leader], so I'm excited about that.''
* Receiver Braxton Berrios (ACL surgery), his right knee in a brace, is going to be [back] closer to June than August, according to Golden. "Slot receiver, Z receiver, kick return, punt return, special teams. That's all he was. He did all those things. He played wildcat, too. We expect him to be able to do all those things.''
*Reserve offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu had his best day today, Golden said. "He's starting to play stronger. Obviously he's a big kid -- he's talented, he's gifted. He's got to continue to lead. He's just got to keep going.''
*D-Tackle Olsen Pierre gingerly walked off Greentree Field and into the buildling Thursday, escorted by trainer Vinny Scavo.
* Speaking of Scavo, the head UM trainer, a big congratulations are in order. He was celebrated at the end of practice and tapped into the Iron Arrow Society -- the highest honor frrom UM.
And guess who else was tapped into Iron Arrow on Thursday? Pitcher Javi Salas, who pitched a perfect game on Tuesday.
Both are really nice people.
Here's the UM release on that:
Iron Arrow Honor Society, founded in 1926 in conjunction with the University’s opening, is the highest honor attained at the University of Miami. Based on Seminole Indian tradition, Iron Arrow recognizes those individuals in the University of Miami community who exemplify the five qualities of Iron Arrow: Love of Alma Mater, Character, Leadership, Scholarship, and Humility.
The honor capped off an amazing week for Salas, who tossed a perfect game Tuesday night in Miami’s 17-0 win over Villanova. It was the second perfect game in program history and only the 23rd in modern NCAA Division I history (since 1957).
Salas is 1-1 with a 1.59 earned run average in 17.0 innings this season. A 38th-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, he owns a 12-11 career record on the mound for the Hurricanes.
Scavo is only the Hurricanes’ third head athletic trainer to be tapped into Iron Arrow, following Dave Wike and Walt Pomerko. Scavo was surprised by former Miami Hurricanes player Shayon Green after football practice.
He has been Miami’s head athletic trainer since 2011 and has extensive experience as an athletic trainer at the professional, college and high school levels. He previously served as Miami’s baseball athletic trainer from 1984-87, including Miami’s 1985 national championship season. From 2008-11, he was the Director of Sports Medicine Services at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN