News and notes from Thursday's practice:
> Coach Al Golden cut practice at least an hour short because he said he thought "the humidity was catching up to us a little bit." Miami practiced twice on Wednesday after having an off day Tuesday.
> With junior Matt Goudis solidly in position to be Miami's kicker, the punter job remains a battle between walk-on senior Ricky Carroll and walk-on sophomore Justin Vogel. Golden said the team will have a special teams scrimmage on Friday "that will determine a lot."
"They're going back and forth," Golden said. "Will [Friday's special teams scrimmage] be the final? No. We have a lot of practices left. So, we might not even determine who the starters until next week."
Goudis has been trying to bounce back from a lower back issue. “He’s getting stronger," Golden said. "I think the biggest thing right now is there’s nothing ailing him in terms of pain. There’s no real medical condition. It’s just strength, and the way you build that back up is to kick, lift and do whatever you’ve got to do. Then you rest, let it heal and come back the next day. He’s making a lot of progress right now. He’s just got to keep doing that, have no setbacks. He’s doing well.”
> Golden said senior transfer Jake Heaps "was sharp" in Thursday's practice. Heaps was held out of Monday's scrimmage with a sore elbow, but continues to take first team reps alongside freshman Brad Kaaya.
"I thought he ran [the offense] really well," Golden said. "We threw some more deep balls perhaps than we have. When he didn’t have those, he came down, worked his progression. Thought he did a good job. Threw the ball well.”
> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Wednesday the cornerback position remains the toughest position to narrow down in terms of starters.
“[Wednesday's standouts were] Ladarius [Gunter], I think he’s really improving," Golden said. "Corn [Elder] probably had his best day [Wednesday]. Artie [Burns] did really well. We come back [Thursday], Antonio [Crawford] gets two interceptions and he looks better.
"It’s definitely a group that's competing, I think they all understand that – but it’s a good situation. They’re competing for both corner spots and then the starter on the nickel. We have a long way to go in terms of that, so we’ll see how that plays out. But we feel much better about our depth and competition.”
> Safety Deon Bush was in a yellow non-contact jersey Thursday. Golden said they were protecting Bush because he has "a little hamstring" issue. "If we were practicing this afternoon, he’d probably be ready to go, "Golden said. "He did significant amount of individual stuff and everything, but he’ll be fine.”
> Golden said he feels better about Miami's linebacker situation because senior Thurston Armbrister "is playing really well."
"Thurston’s playing really good football and Darrion Owens has been really consistent," he continued. "[Jermaine] Grace is active, which is nice. [Rapael] Kirby is back now. Juwon Young and [Walter Tucker] should be able to help us. It will be a good group – Tuck and Juwon and Grace have to keep hammering their alignment and their technique and all the little things, but clearly having Denzel and Kirby, veterans there, should help settle it down.”
> Senior Nantambu Fentress, who has seen time at weakside linebacker and safety in camp, will be on scholarship for the second year in a row, Golden said. Fentress was a walk-on who first received a scholarship last year. The scholarships are one-year renewable and Fentress said last Friday at media day he didn't know if he would receive on this year.
"He's been renewed," Golden said. "He's basically a starter. The only reason he doesn't start on every special teams is because we save him for all the other things he does. Nantambu is one of those guys. He's smart. He plays two positions. He's a tremendous leader for us and he's doing a great job for us on special teams."
Golden wouldn't reveal which other walk-ons have received scholarships. He said he usually keeps that private. Fentress, by the way, has spent the past two days working at safety.
> Freshman David Njoku is back at receiver after spending two days last week working at linebacker.
"We think he's more inclined to be an offensive player," Golden said. "Just where he is right now in terms of his body and his makeup he would have to stay on Slim Fast for 4 years to stay at 230. I think he's going to develop into an H [back]. I think when we're talking on March 1st he'll be 250 pounds. So I think he's going to go the route of being an H. If he helps us at all this year it will be as an X receiver, low red zone, things of that nature."
> Golden said sophomore Al-Quadin Muhammad came out of Monday's scrimmage having earned a first team spot at rush end. Tyriq McCord and freshman Trent Harris continue to receive reps there behind him.