November 04, 2016

UM men's hoops sold out again

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@Miamiherald.com

For the second year in a row, the University of Miami men's basketball team is sold out. If you were planning to go buy tickets, you're too late.

According to a release:

For two straight years, fans have bought over 5,500 season tickets, more than doubling the total number of season tickets sold in Larrañaga’s first season in Coral Gables. When Coach L began his reign in Miami, fans bought 2,251 season tickets for the 2011-12 campaign. After a record-breaking season on the court in 2012-13, season tickets peaked at 3,674 for 2013-14, prior to this year’s 5,750 mark.

Season Tickets Sold per Year

2016-17: 5,750

2015-16: 5,500 

2014-15: 3,427 

2013-14: 3,674 

2012-13: 2,372 

2011-12: 2,251

Miami 12th stop on ACC Football Tailgate Tour Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium

Russellmaryland

Former Hurricanes defensive tackle Russell Maryland, a two-time national champ at Miami, member of the College Football Hall of Fame and No. 1 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 NFL Draft, will be at Hard Rock Stadium to greet fans at the ACC Football Tailgate Tour festivities Saturday.

Festivities, including interactive games, begin at 8:30 a.m. at Fan Zone in the South Plaza of Hard Rock before the 12:30 p.m. UM kickoff with Pittsburgh.

A 53-foot tractor trailer will showcase ACC football videos and other football-related items as well as product information about tour sponsor Lumber Liquidators.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 03, 2016

Injury report for Miami Hurricanes vs. Pitt: three UM players ruled "Out.''

Demetriusjackson

Per Miami, three players on Thursday were ruled out for Saturday's 12:30 game against Pittsburgh, at Hard Rock Stadium:

*** Cornerback Adrian Colbert, who was listed with an "upper extremity'' injury, which we reported early in the week, per Herald correspondent Peter Ariz. The injury was to his arm and Colbert had been scheduled for surgery. 

*** Defensive end Demetrius Jackson (knee), who sustained his injury against North Carolina.

*** Defensive end Scott Patchan (knee), who got hurt at FSU and has been out since.

*** Starting cornerback Corn Elder, who hurt his thumb at Notre Dame, was not on the injury report and is expected to play.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 02, 2016

UM hoops: Canes vs. Barry tonight, Exhibition game

Hoops season officially begins tonight!

Here's a quick primer for the game:

Wednesday: UM men vs. Barry

When/where: Exhibition game, 7 p.m. at Watsco Center on UM campus.

Records (last season): UM 27-8 (NCAA Sweet 16), Barry 26-7 (Division II Elite 8).

Scouting report: The Hurricanes’ top returning players are Davon Reed (11.1 ppg), Kamari Murphy (6 rpg), point guard Jaquan Newton, forward Anthony Lawrence and center Ebuka Izundu. Fans will get their first look at highly rated freshmen Dewan Huell, Bruce Brown, Dejan “DJ” Vasiljevic and Rodney Miller. Also, San Jose St. transfer Rashad Muhammad makes his debut. Barry is led by 6-5 senior forward Adrian Gonzalez (Hialeah Gardens High), and Iceland guard Elvar Fredriksson, who led the nation last season with 8.1 assists per game.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/college/article111929702.html#storylink=cpy

 

November 01, 2016

UM women ranked No. 14 in preseason AP poll

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

The University of Miami women's basketball team begins the 2016-17 season with high expectations after being ranked No. 14 in the preseason Associated Press poll, released Tuesday. The Canes are tied with reigning NCAA runner-up Syracuse.

Five ACC schools are in the top 15, including top-ranked Notre Dame, and UM will play seven games against Top-20 opponents.

The Hurricanes were 24-9 (10-6 ACC) last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in six years. Ten players are back from that team, plus four new players.

The Hurricanes open the season Nov. 11 at the Kentucky Classic in Lexington, Ky., facing No. 19 Kentucky.

Quick hits from Miami football coach Mark Richt's Tuesday presser heading into Pitt

Bradkaaya11-1-16

Short takes from Miami coach Mark Richt's Tuesday press conference heading into the Pittsburgh game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium:

(also, as an aside, Quarterback Brad Kaaya said after practice today that he rotates his throwing shoulder during games to stay warm and when asked about the state of his throwing arm re injury, he said "I can't really disclose any of that information.'' Thus, he didn't say whether his shoulder is fine health-wise, or not.)

Here's Richt, who didn't talk very long at all:

 *** "It probably starts with [Pitt's] offensive line.'' Says they're really big, physical guys.

*** "On defense, Price, I think everyone knows who he is." Lots of sacks. "Game wrecker.''

*** "LBs.. pluggers that will knock the heck out of you.''

*** "By design, by numbers, they're not going to give you an advantage to run the ball. The advantage is always going to be to stop the run.''

 *** Does Brad trust his O-line? "In general, QBs have to trust. Everytime the ball is snapped, if it's a pass, they need to focus on their reads...''

*** What can Brad do to buy more time in the pocket? "the big thing is we have to have a good scheme for him to be progressing through...'' Says he has to focus on what's happening down field...

***As a former QB, Mark, can you learn a better sense of the pocket? How long should it take to get the ball out? "There's quick game that the ball gets out pretty quick 2 1/2, 3 seconds. If you're holding the ball longer than 4, you're asking for it.'' 

  More to come later.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Miami football practice for Pitt: 2 top cornerbacks missing Tuesday

  Stretchagain10-11-16

We just viewed 7 minutes of stretching and 15 minutes of practice.

Bad news for Canes fans.

Missing were top senior cornerbacks Corn Elder and Adrian Colbert.

Also missing: defensive end Demetrius Jackson, who already has been out with an injured knee. 

Former tight end Standish Dobard was practicing at defensive end again. I would love to see him get a shot to play Saturday.

Elder had his thumb X-rayed during the game, per 560 WQAM radio in its game broadcast. But WQAM also later reported that the X-rays were negative.

As for Colbert, who had an outstanding game at Notre Dame (two pass breakups, tackle for loss and six total tackles), Miami Herald contributor Peter Ariz, of CanesInSight, reported Monday that Colbert injured his forearm against Notre Dame and will have "a procedure'' sometime this week.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

October 29, 2016

Five questions/answers about Notre Dame to help prepare you for the Miami game

 

 

October 28, 2016

Check out Notre Dame great's pregame speech posted by the Irish. Probably too mellow for Miami.

 So, this is kind of cool. I really enjoyed watching it. 

Somehow, though, I don't imagine it's the kind of pregame speech (or day before game speech) that a former Miami Hurricane would give.

 Irish Legend.

 

 

Two QBs you’ll see Saturday when Miami faces Notre Dame have similar numbers – with one big difference.

Bradkaaya2016springgame

   Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was not made available to the media this week heading into Notre Dame.

   Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer said plenty.

Deshonekizer

  Kizer, a 6-4, 230-pound redshirt sophomore, has been getting lots of national attention lately as a projected first-round – even top 10 – NFL Draft pick should he choose to go out early after this season. And that’s despite a 2-5 record and shaky performance last game against Stanford that got him pulled for the backup for a brief time.

  Kaaya, a 6-4, 215-pound junior, has gotten lots of attention himself. This past summer he was also projected by analysts as a first-rounder – in many cases the second quarterback in the draft behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

   Kizer and Kaaya’s numbers are strikingly similar this season, except for one big difference: Kizer can run – and does. He already has seven rushing touchdowns this season and 285 yards on the ground.

    UM (4-3) for years has not been nearly as proficient against running quarterbacks (evidence: last week at Virginia Tech, where Jerod Evans ran for 98 yards and a TD and passed for 259 and two TDs).

   Kizer has completed 118 of 203 passes for 1,775 yards and 14 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. Kaaya has completed 121 of 196 passes for 1,696 yards and 12 touchdowns, with five picks (the same amount he had all of last season).

DeShoneKizer2

   But Kaaya’s stock has dropped this season, more glaring after the past three consecutive losses in which he has been sacked 13 times (8 last game at Virginia Tech). UM’s offensive line has not helped one bit, nor has Kaaya’s lack of mobility. Sometimes he needs to get rid of the ball quicker, if even to be prudent and toss it away. But getting pounded doesn’t help a guy’s confidence, nor does injuring one’s throwing shoulder (against FSU on the first play).

   Kaaya is a fighter with immense pride and loyalty to his team. Gotta love that. Here’s some of what Kaaya said the last time he spoke, immediately after the 37-16 loss in Blacksburg:

   “We just haven’t scored enough points on defense. We’ve got to help our defense out. We’ve got to find a way to get the ball in the red zone. We can’t settle for field goals. We’ve got to make plays.’’

   On how he’ll make sure the team keeps moving

   “This team has been close even before the season. Right now our camaraderie, our family is going to get tested. We just have to stay together and keep playing and keep grinding, because there’s still five more games left. It’s still a long season. At the end of the day we’re all we’ve got and we’ve always known that.

   “…We can’t just sit here and mope around and keep losing. You have to stand up and fight. We can’t be mediocre. We have to do something – find a way to get better.

   “…We can’t just put it in the tank… Miami Hurricanes don’t quit no matter what the record is.’’

   Kaaya on third down problems: “We just have to come together at every position because it takes all 11. When we do make plays, our offense executes very well. But in order to get to that point everyone has to do their job… If the O-line does their job and gives me time, the receivers run their routes, the running backs keep their blocks, we all come together and do the right thing, if I put it on the money, we’re going to b e successful on third down…It takes all of us.

  “…There are times I got smacked tonight and other times I probably could have gotten rid of the ball and made something happen – found a way.’’

  “These last couple of outings haven’t been a representation of what this offense if about.’’

   Here’s some of what Kizer told reporters this week going into the Miami game:

   On if he Kizer was frustrated last game, a loss to Stanford in which the Irish had the ball on the Stanford 14 with 41 seconds left and no timeouts and after a short completion, sack and spike, he ran on fourth down and fumbled the ball away (he also threw two picks, one returned 50 yards for a TD):

  “I mean we lost again. The only feeling you have right there is anger. It was a rough game for me. Obviously very interesting getting benched at one point in the game…”

  On how to counteract Miami’s aggressive defense: “You’ve got to match their intensity. They’re a bunch of athletes out there who are all fast, and every last player out there is a big-play type of player. We all completely understand that. In order to go out and be successful against a defense like that, we have to come out with that same aggressiveness, that same confidence in ourself to be the better player and to beat the guy in front of you.’’

   On what the identity – “the thing that always works” – is for the Fighting Irish:  “Our identity is that we have athletes all the way across the board.’’

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 26, 2016

Canes get feisty in practice and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly talks Miami's sacks allowed

  Markricht10-26-16

The Hurricanes’ practice “went well” Wednesday, UM coach Mark Richt said, with the Canes infusing some feistiness into the session.

 Formerly injured (and likely still sore) starting defensive end Chad Thomas, starting cornerback Sheldrick Redwine, starting safety Rayshawn Jenkins and defensive tackle Gerald Willis practiced again, Richt confirmed, though he declined to comment about their progress.

   “It got a little feisty out there,’’ Richt said. “Guys wanted to get after each other a little bit today, which was healthy.’’

   *** Regarding the Miami running backs and perhaps using Gus Edwards and Travis Homer more, Richt said the Hurricanes “have the right backs in there’’ in Mark Walton and Joe Yearby.

   “I’m not saying Gus won’t get any work, because he has practiced well this week. So he might get some playing time. But I don’t think there’s an issue with the runners. We just have to create more space and block better downfield.’’

   ***Richt said the Canes worked on third downs and red-zone play Wednesday – “third and medium, third and long, third and short; high red zone, low red zone, that was the main focus.’’

NOTRE DAME COACH TALKS UM SACKS ALLOWED

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly addressed the media on the weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday.

When asked what stuck out to him about some of Miami’s struggles in watching the tape over the last few weeks, Kelly noted the “new system of offense’’ and how the Hurricanes “are doing some things differently there. I don’t think there’s any one thing particularly…’’ he said. …I don’t think there’s anything glaring. When you look at them you don’t look at it and say, ‘Wow, there’s a hole here or a hole there.’

A couple minutes later Kelly was reminded that last Thursday the Hurricanes gave up eight sacks and that his team had six sacks all season, and he was asked what that equation could mean in the game.

“Well, it means that we’re probably not going to get eight sacks if you go with the numbers. That’s for certain,’’ Kelly said, laughing. “I think Virginia Tech is a very difficult defensive scheme. You’ve got some inexperienced players. They’ve got some young talented players that are growing. Virginia tech can be an avalanche situation where [if] you get one, you can get a number of them. They play a lot of man coverage and if you don’t get rid of the football, some of those sacks can be not just on the offensive line, they could be on receivers, they can be on the quarterback

   “[Virginia Tech defensive coordinator] Bud Foster does a great job of doing that against everybody. So I wouldn’t look at Miami in particular. He’s been doing that for 30 years to everybody.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 25, 2016

Major players return to Miami football practice before Notre Dame

Chadthomasstretch10-25-16

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said yesterday on 560 WQAM that some injured players would be returning this week as the Canes prepare for Notre Dame on Saturday. 

Just got done with our 15 minutes of practice viewing (and five or so minutes of stretch) and there IS good news for Hurricanes fans. Important disclaimer, however, is that we only watch non-contact, position drill period of practice before the contact and intense stuff begins.

That said, it is nothing but encouraging for this program that the following players were practicing during our viewing:

*** Safety Rayshawn Jenkins -- Almost unbelievably, he was out there playing safety in position drills. Jenkins injured his lower right leg (ankle?) in the third quarter of the Virginia Tech game, and he was in really bad pain. I never thought we'd see him back. Remember, we have no idea how much he practiced or if he'll play. But to see him out there...

***Defensive end Chad Thomas -- His right hand is still in a club, but Chad was doing everything the D-linemen were doing. Chad didn't travel to Blacksburg. This is huge for UM if he plays.

***Cornerback Sheldrick Redwine -- Redwine was a late scratch for the Virginia Tech game when Miami reported the day of the game that he didn't travel to Blacksburg. Redwine was hurt trying to attempt a 50-yard pass play in the second half against North Carolina. He limped off the field. He practiced a bit last week but had to leave practice early one day last week because of the injury, I was told. We still don't know exactly what has been ailing him.

Two players that for the most part weren't with the others during our media viewing, but  but were dressed in practice uniforms and working out a bit on the sideline with the training staff: 

*** Defensive tackle Gerald Willis -- Willis (left knee in brace) was with his position group before walking to the sideline. Willis hasn't played the last two games.

*** Starting defensive end Demetrius Jackson -- His left knee was in a black elasticized brace and he was lightly jogging up and down an area of Greentree. 

Not at practice today:

*** DE Scott Patchan, who was hurt at FSU in the first playing time of his college career after overcoming two ACL tears.

Mark Richt has his weekly press conference at noon today. I doubt he'll tell us much, but I'll be back afterward.

Here's my injury-related story that is in today's Miami Herald:  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 24, 2016

McClellan makes Wizards' roster; Larranaga, former teammates thrilled

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@Miamiherald.com

University of Miami men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga beamed with pride Monday as he reacted to the news that former Hurricane Sheldon McClellan, who went undrafted, made the Washington Wizards' 15-man roster over the weekend.

McClellan, 23, helped his chances by scoring 20 points in 32 minutes in a double-overtime win against the Philadelphia 76ers last week. He also had four assists, three rebounds and a steal.

“One of the happiest moments of 2016 was to get a text from Tommy Sheppard (Sr. Vice President of the Wizards), and it said, `You have a wall with your NBA players listed and you can now include one more – Sheldon McClellan will be a Washington Wizard this year.’'' Larranaga said. "I’m so happy for him. Deeply deserving of that acknowledgement of his ability to play basketball. He’s such a wonderful kid. I texted him, his mother, his agent.

"He has all the attributes they look for in the NBA. I think he is on his way to a long NBA career."

McClellan posted on Twitter: "Blessed!!! Dream come true was made tonight!!! Excited for my first year and the team."

UM seniors Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy, who played with McClellan last season on the Sweet 16 team, were thrilled with the news.

"I'm extremely happy for him," Reed said. "That's the end goal at the end of the day, and to have somebody you played with be there. That's where we all want to be...It's good for the younger guys to see a former player in the NBA and people have heard about his work ethic, what it takes and that will definitely inspires some of our players."

Murphy added: "It's good to have somebody that close to us in that environment to give us feedback on what to expect, things we need to do to get to that level."

 

 

October 20, 2016

Miami football confirms more injuries, more players out for Virginia Tech

Sheldrickredwinefsu16

The University of Miami confirmed Thursday that starting defensive end Chad Thomas did not make the trip to Blacksburg, Virginia, and will miss the 7 p.m. game against Virginia Tech with an “upper extremity’’ injury.

UM had listed Thomas as “questionable’’ on its injury report released Tuesday evening.

And yet another starter who didn’t make the trip and won’t play Thursday: sophomore cornerback Sheldrick Redwine. Redwine, who was listed as starting the past five games, was hobbled and limping after a long pass play last Saturday against North Carolina and never returned. But he was not listed on Tuesday’s injury report.

Also out for Virginia Tech is the other starting defensive end, Demetrius Jackson, with a knee injury. His absence already was on UM’s injury report.

The original report also has defensive tackle Gerald Willis (knee) out, and defensive end Scott Patchan (knee) out for Thursday.

UM will start freshman Joe Jackson and junior veteran Trent Harris at the end spots, with graduate transfer Adrian Colbert expected to make his second start at cornerback.

The Canes’ strength this season has been its defense, despite losing several other players to injuries, some of which required surgeries. Colbert, for instance, already has had knee surgery during the season.

Miami is 4-2 and 1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and needs to win Thursday night to keep its hope alive in the Coastal Division.

The Hokies are 4-2 and 2-1 and are also coming off a loss, and in need of a Coastal Division victory.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Get prepped: Five questions with Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter

Vatechum

Thank you to Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times for giving us insight into the Hokies before tonight's big game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. Andy is really thorough. Follow him on Twitter to learn more @AndyBitterVT.

1. How different are things in Blacksburg with Justin Fuente running the show after nearly three decades with Frank Beamer?

                                                                                         
More than anything, there’s a different vibe around the program. During the latter Beamer years, everything that happened with the program was always framed with the same question: how many years does Beamer have left? That’s not the best way to have a program that’s looking to the future. That’s changed now with Fuente, who is 30 years Beamer’s junior and an up-and-comer in the industry.


What’s striking is that temperamentally, Fuente and Beamer aren’t all that different. Fuente’s not a glitz and glam guy. He won’t light the press conference up with really quotable material. He’s not a ranter and a raver on the sideline. He’s preached the same day-by-day work ethic mantra that Beamer did. Interestingly, they both have a Murray State connection in their past, Frank having coached there and Fuente having played there. Maybe it’s a Kentucky thing? Whatever it is, it’s kind of like a younger version of Beamer running the program.


That said, Fuente does bring a little more energy. He runs an up-tempo offense and frames his practices that way. Everything is go, go, go, whereas Beamer was a coach who obviously had his tried and true methods that didn’t change that much toward the end of his run. Bringing in a new offensive staff and two new defensive assistants really seems to have reinvigorated this program with some new blood. There’s a new way of looking at things without losing sight of what Beamer accomplished in his three decades.


2. What went so right for the Hokies during their three-game winning streak against Boston College, East Carolina and North Carolina? Where can Tech really hurt an opponent?


More than anything, it was a total team effort. The Hokies were sharp with their offensive execution, didn’t allow anything on defense and were making big plays on special teams -- a Virginia Tech staple. From start to finish, they played total games in those three contests, jumping on teams from the get-go and not letting up.


Offensively, it starts with quarterback Jerod Evans, who has 17 touchdowns and two interceptions this year and has shouldered a bigger load rushing lately. Tech is best when he’s able to move around and out of the pocket, especially when he can get receivers Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges involved. When the Hokies can crank the pace, which they haven’t been able to do all the time this year,, the offense can wear down an opponent. That’s Fuente’s ultimate goal.


Defensively, until last week the Hokies had allowed next to opponents to do next to nothing. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s goal is always to stop the running game first and then make a team one-dimensional in the passing game. That worked to a T for weeks, with the Hokies cranking up the pass rush after forcing teams to go to the air. The weather was terrible at North Carolina, but Mitch Trubisky and Co. really couldn’t do anything against Foster’s defense.


3. So what the heck happened last week at Syracuse?


That’s a good question. I’m not quite sure. Tech was 22-point favorites in that game and looked nothing like the team that had played the previous three games. The offense was sluggish, the defense couldn’t get off the field and the special teams weren’t sharp. For the first time this year, Virginia Tech didn’t jump on an opponent early. The ground game had its worst effort this year. The defense couldn’t get off the field on third and fourth down. And Syracuse really controlled the flow of the game.


By the time the Hokies started playing like a team that could win that game, it was the second half. They managed to tie it up at 17, but by then, Syracuse had so much confidence from earlier in the game and the Tech defense was so gassed from having played so many plays that the Orange won the fourth quarter pretty decisively. Tech ended up playing 100 snaps on defense. Part of that was its inability to get a third- or fourth-down stop. But part of that was the offense giving the ball back so quickly after not sustaining a drive. All in all, it was a valuable lesson that if you don’t bring your best effort on any given week, anybody in the ACC can knock you down a peg.


4. Where are the Hokies most vulnerable?


Evans isn’t as sharp if teams keep him in the pocket and force him to throw under pressure to beat them. Syracuse did a good job of that and the quarterback looked a little rattled. Part of the reason the Orange could come after Evans so much was because the Hokies’ ground game didn’t produce much. It’s been an inconsistent attack for Tech. No single defined running back has seized a large share of the load -- although Fuente doesn’t subscribe to the theory that you need one featured back -- but more than that, the Hokies don’t consistently churn out yards. Even in some of their biggest rushing games earlier this year, the yards came late, after the passing game softened up the defense and the opposing team was worn down. Tech has yet to really come out of the gate and physically dominate an opponent on the ground, which is what Fuente would like to do.


Defensively, Syracuse picked the Hokies apart with underneath passes. That was after hitting on some big plays early, which softened up the coverage. It’s kind of similar to what Brad Kaaya did against them last year. And he’s got the skill to dissect a defense if given time. If the Hurricanes can keep the Hokies’ d-line off of Kaaya, he has a good chance of having success through the air. Tech thrives on chaos, trying to mix up and disguise coverages and blitzes better this year. The more time a QB has to diagnose that, the better he’ll fare.


5. With both teams’ Coastal hopes probably riding on this game, what kind of atmosphere do you expect in Lane Stadium?


It’s hard to say, mostly because I would have said that Lane would have been a madhouse a couple years ago on aThursday night and Miami blew the doors off the Hokies as bad as anyone has in the last 2½ years, dominating 30-6. I’d expect a raucous crowd there Thursday -- it’s Fuente’s first Thursday night game with the Hokies, after all -- but as Virginia Tech goes, so go the fans. They’ve been burned by letdown performances too many times the last couple years to not be a little gunshy if they see another one coming.


And although Virginia Tech built a lot of its reputation on Thursday night games earlier in Beamer’s run, lately that night hasn’t been so hot for them. Outside of games against Georgia Tech, the Hokies have lost four straight on Thursday night going back to 2012 (two to Miami, one to Florida State, one to Pittsburgh). In fact, as you probably well know, the Hurricanes are 3-0 against the Hokies all-time on Thursday nights, having outscored Tech 60-18 on the last two occasions.


Maybe Fuente and his staff can break the trend. They certainly did a good job earlier of not letting the Hokies have a letdown after stomping Boston College and then East Carolina. Beamer’s teams were prone to that late in his run. But then Tech fell victim to a trap game at Syracuse, bringing a lot of Hokies fans back to earth and giving credence to the idea that having a new staff doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a clean slate for all the problems that have plagued Virginia Tech in the recent past. It’ll still be a lively, rocking crowd at Lane on Thursday. Whether it stays that way to the end largely depends on if the Hokies can get back to playing like they did in Weeks 3 through 5.

       ANDY BITTER  

   

October 18, 2016

Rainy day blues for Miami Hurricanes football

Rainschwartzcenter101816

Green and orange?

Try rainy day blues, or here's another cliche: When it rains it pours.

Waiting for practice (in the rain to end). I missed stretching and our 15 minutes of viewing sitting on the 826 South Parking lot.. I mean the Palmetto... for about an hour.

But here's what I learned from reporters Christy Cabrera Chirinos and Matt Shodell.

It's not pretty, people. Missing from practice today were defensive tackle Gerald Willis and starting defensive ends Chad Thomas (already has a broken hand before he was injured again against UNC) and Demetrius Jackson (knee).

It seems like, perhaps (we'll hopefully find out more later or on the injury report tomorrow), that they will not be playing at Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

So, who's left?

There's freshman Joe Jackson and freshman Pat Bethel and junior Trent Harris at end. And (surprise!) tight end Stan Dobard apparently worked with the defensive ends today. Ouch!

UM is a 5 or 6-point underdog for this game, and I can certainly understand why.

I'll be back later.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainschwartzcenter101816

October 15, 2016

Miami Hurricanes need a victory against North Carolina. Some Keys to ensuring one.

Bradsackedfsu16

No. 16 Miami (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces North Carolina (4-2, 2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in dire need of a victory  to keep its hopes of winning the Coastal Division realistic. One loss in the conference can often at least get you into a tiebreaker, and Miami's loss was to FSU, which is in the Atlantic Division. That means the Hurricanes still have a shot at winning out in the Coastal.

Only two teams in the Coastal have not lost to an ACC opponent: Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0), which meets the Canes on Thursday night in Blacksburg, and Virginia (2-3, 1-0), which meets Miami on Nov. 12 in Charlottesville.

The Canes told us this week they have short-term memories (I don't actually believe it, do you?) after losing to Florida State last week. But I don't. I remember last year's 59-21 drubbing in Chapel Hill.

Some keys to winning Saturday:

*** 1. 2. and 3: Protect Brad.

Kaaya, UM's quarterback, got hit several times in the past couple weeks, and according to coach Mark Richt, injured his shoulder on the opening play of the FSU game, when he was violently thrown to the ground because no one blocked Seminoles' linebacker Jacob Pugh. We really don't know the extent of Kaaya's injury, and how much his head might have been hurt as well, as he got rammed into the jaw and lost part of his molar when FSU was penalized for intentional grounding. He also hit his head hard on that first play. I doubt Kaaya is 100 percent right now, and really, we don't even know if he will play this entire game. With right offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu out for the season after surgery on his badly injured lower left leg, expect the Tar Heels to come after him. It's time for the Canes to put on their big-boy pants and do some big-boy blocking.

4. Pressure quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

   Trubisky is good. He spreads it out and throws, throws, throws in a hurry-up offense. He completes 70.2-percent of his passes, sixth best completion percentage in the nation.  Until last week's two picks in horrendous weather, Trubisky had not thrown an interception this season. The Canes will be missing talented defensive tackle Gerald Willis. Starting end Chad Thomas, with a tremendous season to date, broke his right hand against FSU and will have his hand heavily wrapped in "a club.'' The Canes, No. 1 nationally in tackles for loss and No. 8 in sacks, somehow have to compensate and keep the pressure coming. 

5. Sustain drives (run more).

   Give the defense time to breathe by keeping the offense on the field a bit longer. UM's average time of possession is 24:14 in a 60-minute game, 13th of 14 teams in the ACC. UNC is 14th, averaging 22:47. One team will keep the ball more Saturday. Pretty sure Mark Richt will be hoping his tailbacks take some of the pressure off Kaaya.

6. No turnovers.

  Kaaya cannot afford to throw picks Saturday. With his health in question, he needs a clean game, as do his running backs and receivers.

7. Limit the penalties

Miami had 10 for 110 yards last week against the Noles. (Last year at UNC, the Canes had 12 for 103 -- nine of them in the first half.) Note: If Mark Walton is running with the ball, don't get caught holding. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

  

October 11, 2016

UM hoops facility to get $1.7 million makeover

By Michelle Kaufman

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

The University of Miami men's and women's basketball teams will be working and lounging in fancier digs after a $1.7 million makeover this month that will include upgrades to the weight room, locker rooms, practice facility hallways, and athlete lounges.

The first part of the project is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 2, at the start of the exhibition season.

The coaches’ offices and hallways will feature highlights from Miami basketball history and high-profile alumni. The players' lounge will get new couches, T.V.s and a gaming center.

“I’ve always thought that we had great facilities here with our offices and locker rooms and practice facility being in our game venue, but I am so excited for the impact these renovations will bring,” women’s coach Katie Meier said. “We compete for ACC championships every year and these improvements will greatly enhance our current student-athletes’ experiences, as well as give us a huge advantage in recruiting. When we bring recruits in, they will see the state-of-the-art, modern technology and awesome ‘U’ branding throughout. We are extremely grateful for the donations and hard work that has made these renovations possible.”

“It really started in year two after Director of Athletics Blake James took over and we sat down and talked about the direction of the programs,” men’s coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Due to certain limited university budgets that can go to projects like this, we had to go out and raise the money. We were able to reach out to a lot of friends and a lot of them were very understanding and very generous in their contributions. We can’t be any more thankful to the people who have made this possible.”

 

Miami QB Brad Kaaya (shoulder) throws at practice, DE Chad Thomas in club

Stretchagain10-11-16

Our first day of Miami Hurricanes practice viewing -- about seven minutes of stretching and 15 minutes of non-contact drills -- just concluded.

What you need to know:

***Quarterback Brad Kaaya (shoulder) participated in both sessions, and he threw several passes, handed off and pitched a couple balls. If Kaaya had been diagnosed with a concussion, he would not have been out there. We still don't know exactly what tests he underwent to determine his injury status.

   Coach Mark Richt said yesterday on WQAM that Kaaya hurt himself on the first play of the FSU game. I went back and reviewed the ABC telecast, and Kaaya fell on his right (throwing) shoulder. Richt called the FSU sack "unacceptable'' on UM's part, blaming a flat-out missed assignment.

***Starting defensive end Chad Thomas, who has had a tremendous season thus far with 20 tackles, a team-leading seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups, was out there practicing with his right hand completely wrapped up in thick padding -- known as a club. Fellow end Trent Harris broke his hand in late August and also has been playing with a club.

***Starting wide receiver Stacy Coley, who was named ACC Receiver of the Week yesterday, and leads UM with 22 catches for 291 yards and six touchdowns, had a black elasticized brace over his left knee but was at practice taking throws. However, he was doing a lot of left-leg bending back and forth, kind of testing it I guess.

***Starting middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman was there doing drills.

*** Starting right offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu was not there. He has a bad left ankle/lower leg injury and is out indefinitely. Sophomore Tyree St. Louis is replacing him for now.

*** Defensive tackle Gerald Willis was not at practice. He left the field with what appeared to be a knee injury against FSU.

*** UM President Julio Frenk attended practice and addressed the team after its stretch period.

More to come later, as coach Mark Richt will have his weekly pre-game (UNC) teleconference at about noon.

Kaaya is unavailable to the media this week, as is backup Malik Rosier, per UM.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

October 09, 2016

My thoughts on the Miami Hurricanes after long FSU game (and short sleep)

Stacycoley2fsu

Here's what I'm thinking about after last night's disappointing, but hard-fought 20-19 Miami loss to FSU:

1. Coastal Division

As much as we got sick of hearing the "C'' word last season, it's time to suck it up, exhale and move on to the two most important games at this point: North Carolina and Virginia Tech -- UM's next two games against Coastal Division members of the ACC.

   One game at a time, they’ll say, and that’s correct. But the No. 10 Canes (the AP rankings won’t be released this week until Monday) need to win both to securely stay in the race for a division title, which would lead to a berth in the conference title game for a chance at a major bowl.

  So, guess who played each other yesterday in the Coastal? That’s right. UM’s next two opponents, with No. 25 Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0) dominating 34-3 over No. 17 UNC (4-2, 2-1) in sloppy conditions caused by heavy rain and winds.

   North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who entered the game with the ACC’s No. 2 passing average (342.2) and had put up three consecutive 400-yard passing performances, threw for 58 yards and his first two interceptions of the year

   The Hokies scored 20 points off four turnovers. What does that mean for Miami? NC and Trubisky will be extra fired up to prove its worth. Then, UM will have a five-day turnaround, including a travel day, to face the Hokies in Blacksburg.

    This will be a true test for UM’s coaching staff, which for the first time will have to get its troops focused after another loss to nemesis FSU.

2. I was sure the offense would be the strongest part of this year’s Hurricanes. But it has been the defense.

     This well-coached defense is the real deal, and will continue to grow along with its youngsters. Dalvin Cook’s 59-yard receiving touchdown came on a defensive breakdown, but the Canes were violent (a Manny Diaz word) and aggressive and physical, repeatedly hitting Deondre Francois or blocking his passes (seven total breakups). Tackles Kendrick Norton, R.J. McIntosh and Gerald Willis were dominant, as were ends Chad Thomas, Demetrius Jackson and Joe Jackson. The defensive backfield was also physical,imposing and a pleasure to witness, with Corn Elder, Rayshawn Jenkins, Sheldrick Redwine and Jaquan Johnson having big games – and Jamal Carter being ejected for targeting on a questionable call.

    “We can feel bad about this for 24 hours, but we’ve got to go back to work tomorrow,’’ said safety Jenkins. “It’s very frustrating.

   “It’s never OK to lose to Florida State. Unfortunately, I’ve never beaten them but those younger guys, they’ve got to learn from this. They have to. They gotta be the ones to stop that bleeding. We’ve got to learn and move on.’’

   3. Brad Kaaya needs to be protected better. He got hit against Georgia Tech and he got hit hard last night. He was sacked three times last night. Granted, Matthew Thomas was ejected for targeting (and knocking out half of Kaaya’s molar tooth early in the third quarter), changing the complexion of the game and Kaaya’s performance thereafter. But he was sacked on two consecutive plays in the fourth quarter after FSU had scored to go ahead 20-13.

   4. Penalties, penalties, penalties: 10 for 110 yards. You might disagree with some, but there are still way too many.

    5. Individual offensive kudos go to Mark Walton (he should have had that 45-yard touchdown had holding not been called), receivers Stacy Coley (seven catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns) and Ahmmon Richards (four catches for 58 yards). And Braxton Berrios not only is all heart, he’s full of talent (and fast, too!) That 43-yard punt return to the FSU 16-yard line to give UM life with 3:19 left, was a thing of beauty.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN