September 23, 2014

Canes return to practice field, try to find answers on defense

The Miami Hurricanes were back out at Greentree Field Tuesday morning for their first practice since Saturday night's deflating 41-31 loss at Nebraska as they began preparing for this weekend's important showdown with defending Coastal Division champion Duke (4-0).

Coach Al Golden, who gave the team a day off on Monday to rest and recover, didn't speak with reporters but was there to coach his team in the morning. He left the school shortly after practice to be with his family. Golden has been dealing with a family emergency since the team returned from Lincoln in the wee hours Sunday morning.

Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Golden has been at UM everyday since the team returned from Lincoln. Golden will have his weekly press conference, usually scheduled for Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"Al’s a professional and he’s going through something right now, but he does a great job of being able to continue to get the message across to the team," D'Onofrio said. "At the end of the day, this is our job and there’s a lot of people that depend on us. We have to continue to do everything that we’re doing. So, you know, we got back off the plane and went right back to work and we’ve been working ever since to get ready for this game.”

TALKING DEFENSE

Most of the questions Tuesday naturally revolved around Miami's defense, which gave up 343 rushing yards in Saturday's loss. Considering Duke scorched Miami for 358 yards on the ground in last year's 48-30 romp in Durham, fixing what went wrong in Lincoln is Miami's top focus this week.

Much like Golden said during his teleconference with the media on Monday, D'Onofrio said Miami's breakdowns were a lack of execution, not scheme.

Despite fans and former players complaining about Miami playing too far off the ball, D'Onofrio, like Golden before him, said coaches called run blitzes and pressures about 60 percent of the time. In the end, Miami netted no tackles for loss against Nebraska. D'Onofrio said there were too many missed tackles to count and "yards after contact were a big issue."

"It comes down to execution and trust in your training," D'Onofrio said. "I can promise you that every call that we make is designed to have somebody make a tackle, behind or at the line of scrimmage. I can promise you everyone of them is designed to do that. We wouldn’t want to change that if that was the design. We've got to get the players to execute better.

"As far as philosophically, we go into a game knowing what we want to stop, and you have to have a free player to stop the guy who has the ball. That’s not going to change. So, as long as that’s sound -- we've got to continue to work through the execution."

Asked why the team can't win big games with the talent it has, D'Onofrio responded: "At the end of the day, talent is not enough. Execution is what you need to have," he said. "I’ve been talking about that here for a long time. You have to execute. If you don’t have a guy in his gap, it doesn’t matter how talented he is. The gap’s open and somebody runs through it. That has nothing to do with talent. Defensive football is about execution. And if a talented player is not in his gap and not doing his job, you get exposed. If a talented player is in his gap and makes the tackle then you don't get exposed. At the end of the day that's what defensive football is about.”

Linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive end Anthony Chickillo both defended D'Onofrio's play-calling saying it's up to the players to execute what he calls.

"Coach D is one of the best football minds I’ve been around," Chickillo said. "He probably is the best football mind. His football IQ is unbelievable and he puts us in the right position to make plays. People just have to make them."

Said Perryman: "Yeah. It's not coach man. I ain't going to lie. I try to ignore the outside noise, but when I hear stuff like that it bothers me a lot. It's not coach, you know. Coach D'Onofrio does a great job putting us in the best [positions] and the best situations where we need to be. It's just us up to execute. Like I said, we had a lot of freelancing going on."

Freelancing was a problem last year against Duke and the Blue Devils, who also run a read option offense, return most of the same players who shredded Miami last season. 

"Last year is last year, but at the same time we can't forget about last year," Perryman said. "For me, I know it serves as motivation and I know for a lot of other guys it's the same thing."

D'Onofrio said he believes his players understand the scheme, and are getting coached hard and with great detail. 

"I think if you talk to our players right now and you said, 'Hey do you know what you need to do in the scheme? Are you seeing what you need to see?' I think they would tell you 'Yes,'" D'Onofrio said. "But again, at the end of the day, I have to get them to execute that."

NO SUSPENSIONS

Although offensive coordinator James Coley said Tuesday the team is still awaiting word on whether or not players who came off the bench and participated in an on-field skirmish Saturday might be suspended by the ACC, a source told The Miami Herald the matter has already been resolved.

There will be no suspensions because there was no fight on the field, the source said. Miami was penalized with two personal fouls. The ACC reviewed the issue over the weekend.

> Receiver Rashawn Scott was back in a limited yellow practice jersey Tuesday for the first time since injuring his shoulder.

“I’m waiting for him to come back,” Coley told InsideTheU.com. “He’s got to feel comfortable. It wasn’t just that he had it dislocated, it was that they had to surgically go in there, cut, and when you do that it’s always complicated.”

> According to InsideTheU.com, quarterback Brad Kaaya took 87 percent of his snaps in the shotgun at Nebraska. Coley explained why. 

"We figured that we could use our speed in the perimeter and we got pretty good at our runs out of the shotgun," he said. "At the time we felt pretty confident we could get ourselves into two or three play checks on the field in the shotgun and it would be fast for the quarterback to see it. Plus, Duke runs the ball really well in the gun as well. He runs the ball pretty well in the i-formation too. He's dual-threat with that. It timed up with where we're at right now."

Coley said Kaaya has been asking him to give him more and more from the playbook week-to-week. 

"I think you can't force your hands on players and force them to do things they can't do," Coley said. "I think as guys are able to do things you expand and you're able to throw more at them. It's kind of like how big is your bucket? I think 15 has done a great job. He's part of all this. To this point, he's like I want more. And he can handle it. He really can."

> Coley said Duke Johnson will continue to get the same workload he's been receiving -- even after his costly fumble at Nebraska. "He made a lot of big plays in that game as well," Coley said. "He had over 170 yards or something and made tons of plays. I told him to keep his head up. He's going to have those same opportunities every week because he's a great player. He's very conscious of ball security."

> Miami's offensive coordinator said receiver Stacy Coley's shoulder is better, but what has to improve is his ability to get open. "He came out here today and he was flying around. He looked really good today," James Coley said. "He's just got to get uncovered."

> Defensive tackle Michael Wyche didn't play at Nebraska. "We are trying to continue to get him ready and develop him," D'Onofrio said. "We are getting him reps during the week. I think he is in better shape and he has improved every week. Now it is about has he improved enough to go into a game like that? He is moving in the right direction with his conditioning. He just has to continue to improve."

> I made an appearance on the Marc Hochman show with Zack Krantz on WQAM this afternoon to talk Canes football. Here is the link to the audio from it.

September 22, 2014

UM ranked among Top 20 baseball recruiting classes for 2014-15, per Collegiate Baseball

This just in from UM...

 

RECRUITING CLASS RANKED TOP 20 BY COLLEGIATE BASEBALL 
Three MLB draftees among 14-member group joining for 2015


TUSCON, Ariz. –
 The Miami Hurricanes baseball recruiting class for the 2014-15 season was ranked among the top 20 in the country by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the publication announced Monday.

The Hurricanes’ 14-member class, comprised of 13 freshmen and one junior college transfer, was tied for No. 20 nationwide. The class continues a long stretch of recruiting success for Miami, which featured a top 10-rated class in each of the last two seasons by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.

Three players from the class were selected in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft: junior infielder George Iskenderian (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Indian River State College), freshman outfielder Carl Chester (Longwood, Fla., Lake Brantley HS) and freshman pitcher Michael Mediavilla (Hialeah, Fla., Mater Academy).

Miami’s class was tied with Florida State for the third-best class in the Atlantic Coast Conference, trailing only Virginia (No. 9) and North Carolina (No. 11). The class will be joining a group of returners who helped lead the Hurricanes to the 2014 ACC Regular Season Championship – the second in program history.

Joining Miami’s three selections from the June MLB Draft in the signing class are: Ryan Alvarez (Miami, Fla., Christopher Columbus HS), Rafa Manau (Weston, Fla., St. Thomas Aquinas), Nick Bottari (Wading River, N.Y., Montverde Academy), Peter Crotcitto (Palm City, Fla., South Fork HS), Daniel Epstein (Weston Fla., University School), Andy Honiotes (Geneva, Ill., Geneva Community HS), Jesse Lepore (Beverly Hills, Fla., Trinity Catholic), Devin Meyer (Coral Springs, Fla., Coral Springs Christian Academy), Keven Pimentel (Wading River, N.Y., Montverde Academy), Justin Smith (St. John’s, Fla., Bartram Trail HS) and Luke Spangler (Cape Coral, Fla., Cape Coral HS).

Miami opens fall practice on Oct. 20. All practices will take place at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field and are open to the public. For more information, follow @CanesBaseball on Twitter, @TheUBaseball on Instagram, or LIKE Miami Baseball on Facebook.

Golden stands firm on complaints from fans, talks specifics on defensive woes

Al Golden spoke with reporters for roughly 20 minutes this morning about a lot of different topics in the aftermath of Miami's 41-31 loss at Nebraska that dropped the Canes to 2-2.

He was asked plenty about Miami's porous defense, which gave up 343 yards rushing to the Cornhuskers. But it was the last question from our Susan Miller Degnan that brought out maybe one of the more interesting responses from the coach, who continues to defend the scheme Miami is running. 

Q: I know this has happened before during your tenure but regarding the defense, fans are being very vocal and open and upset regarding [defensive coordinator] Mark D’Onofrio and the job they think he doesn’t do, or does do. How do you deal with that and keep that out? It’s obviously out there. How do you keep that pressure from getting to everyone?

"We don’t read it. We don’t listen to it. We don’t look at it. I think the biggest thing for us is to just move forward. We’ve got a great opportunity here. We haven’t played a Coastal game yet. If we’re really honest, from what I understand there were a lot of the same people that wanted [offensive coordinator] James [Coley] fired after the first game.

    Again, I think for us, we’ve got to block all of that out. I’m sure there were people that didn’t believe in Brad Kaaya the way that we believed in him. I can go down the line of those decisions that we have to make. Obviously, you can’t please everybody. It’s really not about that. It’s about doing whatever is best for your ball club. Our guys right now, we have to move forward. We can’t sit around and complain. It’s not going to help execute. It’s not going to help us win the game against Duke.

    Really, right now what we need to do is just stick together and everybody, starting with me, take accountability for what didn’t go right.

   But let’s also take a deep breath and say, ‘Alright, man, how close were we to winning that game in that environment?’ And be proud of the guys that played the way we want them to play, and get those guys to grow, because a lot of guys did grow up in that game. So, make sure we don’t throw that out with all the negativity.

   Get those guys to grow, take accountability for our errors, fix them, improve them and then let’s move forward on a unified front going into Duke week. That make sense?”

Q: Saturday night was it scheme or execution on the defensive side or was it case that Ameer Abdullah was that good? 

"[Ameer] Abdullah is good. It's an offense that was averaging 600 yards coming into the game per game and 47 points. So we knew exactly what we were looking at. The kid was good. Did we help them by making some unforced errors? Yeah. The first touchdown that they threw to [Kenny] Bell was an error. So we got them off to a fast start through the air. So now you're trying to defend the air, plus the running quarterback. Again, there's no excuses. It starts and ends with me in terms of that. We didn't make them. It's as simple as that. We pressured close to 60 percent on first and second down. We didn't make them pay with tackles for loss. That 17-play drive they had I think we only forced two third downs and they converted both of them. We did not get them off track enough. We did not create more third and long, which would have been advantageous for anybody against what amounts to an option team. You can't put that much time into those aspects of the game and the running game like they are. We didn't force that. At the end of the day, we have to do a better job -- that's everybody. That's tackling, play calling, personnel, whatever it is. We have to look at everything and learn from that and then move forward and get ready for Duke tomorrow."

Q: Were DBs, safeties playing too far off the ball? 

"No. I don't think we were too far [off the ball]. There weren't too many passes. We allocated a lot of people down [in the box]. We were zone pressuring 60 percent of the time on first and second down. You're in eight-man fronts the whole time. So we missed a lot of tackles. We did not make them pay by getting [a tackle for loss]. The quarterback ran proficiently, which we were worried about. Him in conjunction with an All-American tailback they both get going and it causes you problems. Again, we have to look all that take responsibility for it and move forward."

> Golden said the family emergency he had to deal with Sunday will not affect the team's preparation for Duke.

Golden didn't want to get into the specifics of what he was dealing with, but said: "We have a good staff around us. We're still working through something, but again we have a good staff. I'm trying to work as much as I can between deals here."

> Golden said players came in for treatment Monday and that he asked them to spend 90 minutes with their position coaches. But he wanted them to take the day off and rest for the most part. The team will resume practice and preparation for Duke on Tuesday morning.

> This was my take this morning on the Big O Show on WQAM

Hurricanes Coach Al Golden talks about Chad Thomas, negativity and UM's (lack of) defense

Al Golden spoke to WQAM's Joe Rose early Monday morning. We did not get him yesterday in his ususal day-after-game teleconference because of a "medical emergency'' in his family, according to a written statement by UM last night.

We will talk to Al later this morning.

Here's an update on freshman defensive end Chad Thomas, who was seen on the sidelines of the Booker T. Washington High game Friday night, and didn't travel with the team because of what UM previously said was muscle spasms.

 GOLDEN: "Chad on Thursday had acute back spasms. He couldn’t even stand up right. We took him to the doctor on Thursday and it was an issue with his back. We wanted to see if we could get him to the point where he could relax and function on Friday. So he was a late scratch at about 12 noon on Friday. Doctors didn’t think the six hours on an airplane back and forth was going to help him in the long run. They treated him through the weekend here and it sounds like he’ll be ready to go when we practice tomorrow. It’s not a long-term issue. If anybody is reading into it, that’s absolutely wrong. Chad is a leader, he’s been a model player for us. We obviously needed him. We did not have the depth we needed for as long as we were on the field the other night. Hopefully we’ll get Chad back this week."

 ROSE:...How do you learn how to win games and not make mistakes?

 "I thought we were right there. I thought we were right on the cusp. There are a lot of things we’ve got to fix. We’re not perfect and we are far from where we need to be but there are a lot of things we can learn from going into that environment and that’s what I don’t want to get lost in that negativity because we did lose, so no one likes to lose, but what I don’t want the team to lose is the preparation, the intensity, how hard they fought, the confidence they had going into the game. You as a coach, you could feel it on the sideline. Two years ago, when a lot of these guys were young and just starting off we go into Notre Dame and you could kind of feel they weren’t... the game was a little different. This one, there was no doubt we were going to win the game.

 "So, we didn’t play well enough in certain aspects. But I don’t want to throw it all out. I want to make sure the guys learn that they were right there, they loved the environment, I can honestly that, that  they relished it, they were flying around, they were excited about being in that environment. We’ve just got to play better in all three phases to win a game like that. It’s hard to win on the road in that environment with three turnovers. ..we just needed one more takeaway, one more explosive play on special teams or something like that – a sack-fumble, anything like that, or to protect the ball one more time and maybe it’s a different story."

ROSE: Is it hard, your patience, as far as how long it’s taken because, let’s face it, Canes are used to winning down here.. a lot of people are all fired up?

 GOLDEN: "That’s what makes the place great, so I appreciate that. But at the end of the day we’ve got a job to do, and our job is to get this thing… Look, we’ve never won the ACC. Now we’re entering ACC play. Forget about Coastal Play, forget about what’s transpired. Let’s learn what we can learn from it. We’ve got to turn the page quickly. From our standpoint – from our players’ standpoint; I’m not talking about the fans. The fans can say whatever they want. But from our players’ standpoint, being negative, or dwelling on the past and not learning, that’s the stuff that’s going to prevent us from playing well this week. So we’ve just got to do what we need to do this week to play well, take it one game at a time now and just settle in. It’s going to be a long road here."

 ROSE: ...You gave up 343 yards... did you think about trying to put more people up and force them to throw the ball. Did you make the adjustments?

 GOLDEN: “Nobody’s happy after that performance, and it starts with me. Obviously [RB Ameer Abdullah] is a good player. We never got them off track. [QB Tommy] Armstrong did enough passing and had some explosive plays. Armstrong is a good runner. You’ve got to treat it like the option. We did not do a good job of getting them any losses. So we didn’t have any sacks and if we had any types of a loss they were minimal.

   "In terms of our first or second-down breakdown I think we were 55-percent pressure. When you play a team like this, when they do spread you out, pressure, a lot of times they just kick the ball out and now you’re playing in space with less guys. So, there has got to be that mix, and clearly it wasn’t good enough. I’m answering your questions. I’m not making excuses. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. We did not do a good enough job on defense. Our tackling wasn’t what it needed to be. We didn’t stop the run. The money downs killed us, it left us on the field too long. And that helped Nebraska in terms of our tackling deterioration."

Rose asked about UM's D-line: 

GOLDEN: "We’ve got to do better. There’s no excuse."

   Golden talked about how the three-and-outs on offense hurt them, because Nebraska had the ball “for what seemed like for an eternity’’ in second and third quarters.” Golden talked about Nebraska’s long, extended drives. “The reality is the defense did not get off the field on third downs, which just left us on the field too long….”

   Then the coach pointed out that in one of the long drives there was only two third-down situations.

   “We didn’t get enough losses and we didn’t tackle well enough.’’  

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

 

 

 

September 21, 2014

Notes, quotes and observations after Saturday's loss at Nebraska

Notes, quotes and observations from Saturday night's 41-31 loss at Nebraska:

> It's now safe to say the improvement we saw on run defense by the Hurricanes over their first three games was simply a mirage. Nebraska became the fourth team to run for over 300 yards on the Hurricanes since Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio came to town in 2011. In all, 15 opponents have gashed the Canes for 200 yards or more since 2011. Here's a trip down memory lane.

MOST RUSHING YARDS VS. GOLDEN/D'ONOFRIO
376 - Notre Dame, 2012
358 - Duke, 2013
343 - Nebraska, 2014
335 - Georgia Tech, 2013
288 - Kansas State, 2012
287 - Georgia Tech, 2012
272 - North Carolina, 2012
265 - Kansas State, 2011
243 - Virginia, 2013
233 - Bethune-Cookman, 2012
224 - N.C. State, 2012
222 - Virginia Tech, 2012
220 - Pittsburgh, 2013
218 - Florida State, 2012
207 - Virginia, 2011

> For some perspective, Miami gave up 200 yards rushing nine times when Randy Shannon was the head coach, but only twice did a team put up more than 300: 472 by Georgia Tech in 2008 and 308 by Georgia Tech in 2010.

> The sickening part of Nebraska's 343-yard performance really is that the Hurricanes knew the Cornhuskers were going to run and still couldn't stop Ameer Abdullah and quarterback Tommy Armstrong in their zone read option attack. Nebraska only threw the ball 13 times.

That's the fewest a UM defense has seen an opponent throw in a 300-yard-plus rushing game since Georgia Tech threw it only seven times on the night they scorched Miami for a record 472 rushing yards in 2008. Nebraska by the way only threw it four times in the second half and ran it 25 times for 169 yards over the final two quarters.

> Asked after the game in Lincoln by Hurricanes reporters if it was time to change Miami's defensive scheme, Golden responded: “We didn’t tackle well enough. We came up against a good back. We turned the ball over three times.

"Look, I don’t know what you want me to say," he continued. "There’s no excuse for not tackling. There’s no excuse for not doing better on third down. But, we are not giving up on the scheme. We’ve made a lot of progress so far this year. We didn’t play well enough tonight. That’s it. Against a good team on the road. We turned the ball over three times and had a lot of selfish penalties."

> Miami missed tackles  and didn't get enough push up field on the defensive line (Miami had no tackles for loss) but these aren't new problems. It's been this way for four years -- and not just against Nebraska. Abdullah told ESPN in the week leading up to the game Miami had a physical defense, but he liked playing against those kinds of defenses because he could bounce off tacklers. 

Scheme is one thing (UM rarely crowded the box), but there were countless instances Saturday when instead of trying to wrap up the ball carrier players were trying to deliver the big hit. Safety Deon Bush cashed in once coming up with a forced fumble on Armstrong. But that was it. Abdullah actually dropped a ball, but it was on his own on a bad exchange. UM could not recover that one.

D'Onofrio did try corner and safety run blitzes. But the biggest miscues I saw were made by linebackers and ends not sticking with their assignments or responsibilities. They also whiffed a few times.

> As for the good, quarterback Brad Kaaya is at the top of that list. For a 19-year old true freshman starting his fourth game in college he played good enough to win. Yes, he threw two interceptions (another was negated by a penalty). But he was tough as nails and not afraid to stand in there and take a hit. He's the biggest reason for hope moving forward. He finished 28 of 42 for 359 yards, three scores. 

"There's no question Brad is going to be a really good football player, a heck of a football player," Golden told WQAM. "The environment is not too big for him. I thought we did a heck of a job protecting him. We did a great job picking up their pressures, giving him time. I thought he answered the bell. I can't imagine what kind of night he would have had if we didn't turn it over three times. 

> Phillip Dorsett made a heck of a catch in the fourth quarter against the defenders helmet for a 32-yard gain. Somehow, though, the fastest guy on the team isn't the one getting bubble screens thrown his way. He had just two catches after last week's explosive 201-yard, 2 TD performance. He had just one deep ball thrown his way aside from the 32-yarder down the sideline, and he he and Kaaya weren't on the same page for it. Nebraska was smart to take the deep ball away from Miami playing its safeties deep for most of the game.

> I thought tight end Clive Walford could have fought harder on Kaaya's first interception, but he bounced back and played well the rest of the way. He finished with seven catches for 80 yards and a score.

> Braxton Berrios finally looked like a freshman -- for a moment. He dropped what would have been a first down, but still had a nice night overall with four catches for 43 yards and a score. I think he's the best one-on-one receiver on the team. He made a nice 23-yard catch on a third down. He's definitely one for the first guys Kaaya looks for when he's in trouble.

> Until the fourth quarter, Miami's offensive line kept Randy Gregory and Nebraska's pass rush quiet. Gus Edwards whiffed on the block that allowed Gregory to sack Kaaya on the opening play of the fourth quarter. UM eventually had to settle for a field goal after right guard Danny Isidora was beaten to the inside on a designed draw play for Duke Johnson.

All in all, though, I liked what I saw from the offensive line because Kaaya had plenty of time to throw and they got his back when he was hit cheaply by Nebraska's defense. Both center Shane McDermott and Jon Feliciano came to his defense on multiple occasions. That's a good sign.

> Duke Johnson had 93 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown and had some really nice runs. But we're only going to remember the fumble that changed the momentum of the game in the third quarter and led to a 57-yard touchdown return for the Cornhuskers. Afterward, Duke took the blame.

“[It was] me just thinking the play was over instead of me protecting the ball knees to the ground," he said of the fumble. "That was just mishaps on my behalf. I should have made sure I hit the ground and give the ball to the ref like I’m told. I think that was one the play that actually changed the game in a big one.” 

> Tracy Howard had an interception -- Miami's second of the season on a really bad decision by Armstrong and a heck of a diving catch. Maybe it will get Howard, who has struggled early, going. 

> Miami's secondary looked bad on the opening drive when it gave up the 40-yard touchdown pass to Armstrong. Golden told WQAM the play was "an unforced error." Artie Burns delivered a nice hit to break up a pass, but missed Abdullah on a tackle on the swing pass for a TD and also got beat on a key third down pass. With better form on the attempted tackle of Abdullah the Hurricanes might have held Nebraska to just a field goal there.

> Miami didn't have any major miscues on special teams and freshman walk-on kicker Michael Badgley made a 34-yard field goal in a tough environment. Call it a great week for that group. 

> Miami will take on Duke (4-0) at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

September 20, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Canes (2-1) will take on Nebraska Saturday night at Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 8 p.m. on ESPN2

As usual, feel free to participate in our Cover-It-Live discussion while Susan Miller Degnan and I cover the game. We'll pull in Tweets and provide you with updates throughout the game.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska: Sept. 20, 2014
Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Nebraska: Sept. 20, 2014
 

Breaking it down: Canes-Huskers

MIAMI (2-1) AT No. 24 NEBRASKA (3-0)

> Kickoff, TV: 8 p.m., Memorial Stadium, ESPN2 

> History: It's the first regular season meeting between the teams since 1976, but the Canes and Huskers have met plenty of times since including most recently in the 2002 national championship game won by Miami 37-14 in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska is 3-0 against Miami in Lincoln. The series is tied 5-5.

> Spread: Nebraska favored by 7 1/2 points

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (two on defense), 18 four-star recruits (nine on each side), 27 three-star recruits (14 on offense), 1 two-star recruit (defense) and 2 no-star recruits (defense) on their depth chart. Among that group, nine of those players are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: RB Duke Johnson (2nd RD), MLB Denzel Perryman (2nd RD), LT Ereck Flowers (2nd RD), CB Ladarius Gunter (4th RD), WR Phillip Dorsett (4th-5th RD), DE Anthony Chickillo (4th-5th RD), TE Clive Walford (5th RD), LG Jon Feliciano (6th-7th RD), DL Olsen Pierre (6th-7th). 

> Counting stars - Nebraska: Cornhuskers have no five-star recruits, 13 four-star recruits (8 on defense), 29 three-star recruits (15 on offense), three two-star recruits (2 on offense) and four no-star recruits on defense on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are DE Randy Gregory (1st RD), RB Ameer Abdullah (2nd RD), WR Kenny Bell (6th RD), and SS Cory Cooper (7th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed backup guard Alex Gall, kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. We think fullback Walter Tucker (ankle) is questionable at best and we know true freshman defensive end Chad Thomas did not make the trip. Nebraska receivers Brandon Reilly and Sam Burtch -- reserves -- have lingering injuries and are questionable. 

> Background: Nebraska is 39-5 all-time in night games at home. Of those 39 wins, 30 have been by at least 13 points. Nebraska's five home losses in night games have all come against teams that have won at least 10 games in that season (Washington, 1991; Texas, 2002; USC, 2007; Virginia Tech and Missouri, 2008). Miami's recent history in big games kind of stinks. The Hurricanes are 0-9 under Al Golden against teams that finished in the AP Top 25 or had more than eight wins in their season. This Nebraska team has won at least nine games in six consecutive seasons. 

> Nebraska offense versus Miami defense: The stats show us the Hurricanes are better on defense this season, but they were also pretty good after three relatively easy wins to start the 2013 season too. Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister and a Miami defense that has produced 11 sacks, but just one interception is going to have its hands full.

Led by star tailback Ameer Abdullah, college football’s active leader in career all-purpose yards, dual-threat quarterback Tommy Armstrong (10-1 as a starter), and senior receiver Kenny Bell (No.2 all-time in Nebraska receiving), the Cornhuskers have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Nebraska is averaging 47 points (10th), 594.3 yards (fifth), 324.3 rushing yards (eighth) and is tied for the national lead with nine plays of 40 yards or more. Last year, the Hurricanes gave up an average of 41.7 points and 538 yards in the three games they played against teams that finished in the AP Top 25. All were blowout losses.

Nebraska’s offensive line isn’t loaded with experience, but the Cornhuskers have allowed just one sack and three quarterback hurries in the first three games. The left side, anchored by junior tackle Alex Lewis (6-6, 290), a transfer from Colorado, and senior guard and captain Jake Cotton (6-6, 305), has 32 games’ worth of combined starting experience. The rest of the line has 13 combined starts. Right tackle Zach Sterup (6-8, 320) is the only starter who was tabbed higher than a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. 

The key for Miami will be containing Abdullah and Armstrong and what it does on third down. Opponents have been in third-and-long situations 15 times this season and have converted first downs seven times. Overall on third down, Miami’s defense has given up a first down half the time opponents have decided to throw (12 of 24) against it. Nebraska is coverting at 45 percent on third -- middle of the pack right now.

> Miami offense versus Nebraska defense: Quarterback Brad Kaaya had his coming out party last week against Arkansas State, throwing for a UM true-freshman record 342 yards and four touchdowns on 16-of-24 passing. The most encouring part -- he hit the deep ball. Phillip Dorsett has been one of the nation's most explosive receivers this season, averaging a little more than 35 yards per catch. That should help keep Nebraska's defense honest this week and not allow the Cornhuskers to crowd the box on Duke Johnson, who is fresh as a daisy (averaging just 14 carries a game coming in).

Golden said the reason McNeese State, ranked sixth nationally in the FCS poll, was able to hang with Nebraska until Abdullah beat them late in the game was because their quarterback did a great job executing. In order to do that Kaaya will need time. They didn't give him enough in the opener at Louisville. Golden cited poor communication at Louisville as part of the reason why the offensive line struggled against the Cardinals, who produced two sacks, six quarterback hurries and didn’t give running Johnson much in the way of running lanes as they crowded the box. One big difference since the Louisville game: Hurricanes offensive line coach Art Kehoe, who was up in the coach’s box against the Cardinals, has been down on the field alongside his players. He will be again Saturday for the third straight game. 

Nebraska is ranked 18th in total defense (294.7 yards), 19th in passing yards allowed (165.3 yards) and 20th in scoring defense (16.7 points). Randy Gregory, 6-6 and 248 pounds, led the Big Ten with 10 1/2 sacks last season and is part of a pretty formidable front line. Nebraska has created 22 tackles for loss (tied for 14th nationally). Nebraska though has just one interception.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes have been a mess in kickoff coverage. They've missed extra points, had a bad snap that led to a TD and have yet to have walk-on freshman Michael Badgley attempt a field goal. Justin Vogel's punting average of 45.8 yards has been good, but not spectacular. Nebraska has Sam Foltz who is averaging 47.3 yards per attempt. Six of his 13 punts have gone inside the opponent's 20. Nebraska is 4-of-5 on field goal attempts with a long of 44. Both teams have explosive playmakers in the return game, but only Nebraska's De'Mornay Pierson-El has taken a kick back for a score. He returned a punt 86-yards for a score last Saturday at Fresno State.

> Prediction: Nebraska 34-24. Hard to have faith in the Canes when they have yet to give us a big performance over a good team. Maybe they are due. 

September 18, 2014

Details of the first incident report that led to Kevin Olsen's arrest affidavit

   An incident report from Sunday night (Sept. 14) that led to the DUI and stolen/fictitious driver's license arrest-affidavit regarding former University of Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen, indicated that Olsen and other friends were at the apartment of walk-on receiver Greg Golden -- the nephew of UM football coach Al Golden -- but that Greg Golden said he was unaware of what happened during the episode that led to Olsen's arrest.

  According to the incident report from South Miami police, police were responding to two victims who said "that unknown subject(s) were seen urinating on their bicycles'' from the fourth floor balcony of Greg Golden's apartment.

  The report said the victims told police the "unknown subject(s) threw a can of 'Four Lokos' beer from the balcony at them and shouted a racial slur stating 'We're going to piss on your [expletive] Arabic asses.'''

      Greg Golden told police, according to the incident report, that "he was unaware of what occurred but knew his friends were in the apartment earlier that evening.''

    After police advised Greg Golden of what happened, the report states Greg Golden said "he'd call his friends back" to the apartment "for further investigation."

   According to the incident report, while police were speaking with the victims, Olsen arrived at the apartment location.

   The two victims told police they recogized Olsen, but were unable to identify if he was the person involved in the incident.

   No charges were filed. Victims were advised to take the case to the state attorney if they chose to press charges at a later time.

   Olsen, though, was arrested for the DUI and other charge.

   Olsen is no longer a student at UM.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

  

UM Sports Hall of Famer Bill Diaz, 89, died today.

I did not know this man, but I've heard he was really special. UM just sent this out. Married 66 years and a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame. Check out his accomplishments. This was written by Camron Ghorbi, UM assistant director of communications for athletics. Coach Diaz was 89 years old.

Susan Miller Degnan.

 

UM MOURNS LOSS OF LONGTIME COACH BILL DIAZ
Legendary figure helped establish swimming & diving programs at Miami


MIAMI –
 Bill Diaz, who served as the University of Miami swimming & diving coach for 14 illustrious seasons, passed away Thursday morning at his Palmetto Bay home.

    “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Diaz,” Athletics Director Blake James said. “Bill established our swimming & diving program as a model for others to follow, and turned the University of Miami into an epicenter for national and international swimming.”

Diaz, who was tapped into Iron Arrow – the highest honor attained at the University of Miami – in 1995, coached the Hurricanes to four top 10 NCAA Championships finishes and ended in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships 11 times. His men’s teams won three national independent championships (1974, 1977, 1982), while his 1975 women’s squad won six individual national titles – the most ever by a Hurricanes team in a single year.

Under Diaz’ direction in 1973, Miami became the first college in the United States to offer women swimming scholarships. Two years later, the Hurricanes women’s swimming & diving team won the first of back-to-back AIAW National Championships.

The UM Sports Hall of Fame inductee coached 55 collegiate All-Americans during his time with the Hurricanes. In 2007, the University of Miami and the City of Coral Gables recognized him with the installation of an electronic scoreboard at UM’s Norman Whitten Student Union Pool and named it in his honor.

Diaz’ accomplishments on the international scene were equally as impressive. He served on staff or managed five USA National swimming teams, including the USA team that took first at the World Aquatic Championships in 1982.

Prior to his years as head coach of the Hurricanes, Bill had a very successful career as a high school coach.  Between 1953 and 1970, Bill guided first Miami Jackson High and then Miami Springs High to a total of nine state titles. 

“On behalf of the University of Miami family, I extend our thought and prayers to the Diaz family.  Bill was and always will be a member of the Hurricanes family and his legacy will live on through the young men and women who represent our great institution.“

Bill is survived by Martha, his wife of 66 years, his three sons Bill, John and Rick, their wives Rosana, Tracey and Chrissy, his sister Alice Elmore, five grandchildren, five great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at Oak Lawn Memorial North, located at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn, 3344 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL.

In lieu of flowers, the family is request contributions in Coach Diaz’ honor be directed to the UM Sports Hall of Fame, in care of Executive Director John Routh:

UM Sports Hall of Fame
5821 San Amaro Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

 

 



Emptying my Canes notebook: D'Onofrio, Coley see improvements; why Berrios is good; o-line

Time to empty this week's reporter's notebook: 

After three games what is defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio most proud of in terms of his unit's overall growth?

"I think they have really good leadership and unity," he said. "Those are things that we've been looking for. You can go a long way with that. They have taken ownership in the defense." 

What would he like to see his unit do better? "I would have liked to see us be better on third down," he said. "I would like to see us better on balls down the field that we didn't come up with. Those are some of the things -- and some tackling. Those are some of the things that I know if we don't improve on will cost us here moving forward. My urgency is here everyday. Let's talk about what we're doing well, but let's always keep inside what we have to improve on and let's have a plan for it."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley said something clicked for Brad Kaaya in the Thursday practice leading up to last Saturday's win over Arkansas State. The two were discussing concepts where Coley said Kaaya turned to him and said 'I've got it.'

"He just didn't miss after that," Coley said. "His feet were very calm."

Coley said Kaaya (29 of 51 passing, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs versus Louisville and Florida A&M) made faster reads and better decisions against Arkansas State. He also had more time to throw and nearly all of his throws were on the money. Only two of his incompletions were the product of being hurried and the other was a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State.

"He was just lighting it up," Coley said. "Whether it was a 70-yard throw or a 35-yard over route or seeing that corner blitz. He hits Phil [Dorsett] in stride. With a hard blitz, corner off the edge, that's tough and he spotted it, he banged it. He didn't rush it. You watch it on film. He sped up his process and it's six points instead of a first down."

> Freshman receiver Braxton Berrios has turned into Hurricanes' money man.

He's been targeted a team-leading 17 times and the ball has been thrown his way on money downs (third and fourth down) eight times. He's produced five first downs (one on a pass interference call). He's currently tied for the team lead with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Why is he so good on third down? "No. 1 the reads take the quarterback there on third down," Coley said. "He's a good player. He knows how to run his routes with the right tempo where he gets open. I learned early in this profession there's two things a receiver has to do. He has to get open and he has to catch the ball. He came in here and those are the two things he does."

Golden had more nice things to say about Berrios. "He's smart, he's nifty, has got good body control," he said. "And he knows how to sit down versus man and uncover himself. He's caught two corner routes already so he has vertical speed and he's precise with his depth. The ball is thrown on time and the quarterback can throw to the corner too -- away from coverage. He's been effective, and he's a competitor. He wants the ball, which is great, and hopefully he'll continue to improve there."

> Even though he's graded out the highest among Miami's offensive lineman over the last two games, Hurricanes right tackle Taylor Gadbois hasn't forgotten about his rough night in the opener at Louisville.

"I had a lot of good plays and I had three really bad plays that were just uncharacteristic of me," said Gadbois, a 6-3, 316-pound redshirt sophomore who will make his fourth straight start Saturday night at 24th-ranked Nebraska (3-0).

"I kind of let the game get to me a little bit. I like going out there being a warrior and setting the tone for the O-line. I think I was just trying to do too much the first game."

Among his mistakes at Louisville, Gadbois said he called a protection the wrong way and it got quarterback Brad Kaaya hit. He said he missed a block near the goal which led to a tackle for loss because of poor communication. And, Gadbois said he got "beat across [his] face" on an inside zone run because of poor footwork.

What did Gadbois do better over his last two games? "He really finished better and he's just getting more confidence," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "He is a really talented guy, really smart but he's a guy that's hard to push sometimes. And he's starting to figure it out. He had his best game [against Arkansas State] and that team was tough the guy he was working on was tough. He missed a couple, but over the long haul of 60-some plays he held up good and he graded out the best of all our linemen."

Kehoe said right guard Danny Isidora has also made strides. "Danny, you can be a good player but until you get games under your belt in live action against different looks - it takes time," Kehoe said. "Now he's starting to feel confident, because he's a smart guy. He's starting to get the reps. I think he's going to be really good. He's going to be a good player."

September 17, 2014

Al Golden talks Gray Crow, Ryan Williams, injuries

From post-practice of Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

AND this first note came from the ACC Teleconference after practice today: Golden said Justin Vogel will be doing the punting, either Vogel or Michael Badgley will be kicking off and Badgley will be doing the placekicking Saturday at Nebraska.

Here's what Coach Al Golden said this morning about Gray Crow's move back to quarterback:

"The idea behind the move [to fullback/H-back] back in July was to give him an opportunity to play, based on our depth at quarterback. We were hoping he could help us at H-back, at fullback, at long-snapper or in some way on special teams. He talked to us yesterday and we moved him back."

When Ryan Williams plays, does he become the backup?

"He was better today and he took more reps today than he has since the injury. Again, you go from rehabilitation to recovery and then ultimately to a competition because everyone else around him has been going and getting a lot of reps. He did a good job competing today and we’ll see where he goes. He’s one of the three quarterbacks going this weekend so we believe that if there was an issue this weekend, we could use him."

 Can you assess the competition between Ryan Williams and Jake Heaps?

 "It’s just too early. He’s only been out there yesterday and today. It’s too early to assess it to be honest with you. Again, we’re just trying to help Ryan everyday to improve and get better and put him in every situation. We’re no longer trying to protect him or call certain things when he’s in there or allow him to do some drills but not the other ones. He’s starting to really get integrated and he did a good job today. We’ll just evaluate day to day."

 At one point do you weigh playing him a quarter here or a quarter there vs. applying for a medical waiver?

 "That’s a discussion we’ll have with Ryan. Right now we’re just trying to get him integrated and get him back. That’s the next step."

How is Stacy Coley (shoulder)?

"Good. He’s doing good. His wind is good. He worked hard last week on his conditioning so that’s not an issue. We protected him so he’ll be ready to go."

How is OG Alex Gall (unspecified)?

 "It looks like we’re going to have to hold him. Sunny Odogwu has been taking all his reps this week. I don’t see that changes but if it does it does."

How is Walter Tucker (ankle)?

 "That’s going to be closer to game time. A little bit better today so we’ll see how it goes. The good news about practicing in the morning is we’re still 3 ½ days out. that’s a long time. That’s about as much time as we had between the first and second game so we’ll see how guys recover."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 16, 2014

Gray Crow moved back to quarterback for Miami Hurricanes

Even with Kevin Olsen having departed the University of Miami football program, the Hurricanes are still at five scholarship quarterbacks.

That's because UM coach Al Golden moved fullback Gray Crow back to quarterback Tuesday evening. Crow was recruited as a quarterback and played quarterback for the Hurricanes until this season.

Two sources close to the situation verified the information.

The scholarship quarterbacks at UM: true freshman Brad Kaaya, graduate transfer Jake Heaps, fifth-year senior Ryan Williams, true freshman Malik Rosier, and now, Crow.

Crow, a 6-3 and 224 pound redshirt sophomore, played high school ball at Countryside in Clearwater.

Last season, Crow played in two games at quarterback and completed six of eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.

 He was a three-star prospect when he was recruited, and threw for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, leading Countryside to 22 wins in two seasons, including a berth in the state title game when he was a junior.

My take is this is a positive move for everyone involved. Gray is very intelligent and hard-working and he has mastered the playbook. He can be of use to the team and younger quarterbacks/offensive players on and off the practice field much more as a fifth-string QB than he could ever help them as an H-back who was never going to see the field anyway.

Probably nothing changes as far as seeing the field or traveling, but if team is what's most important, Golden made the right decision -- not to mention Crow has done everything right and is a really good kid.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Miami Hurricanes QB Kevin Olsen "no longer a student at UM.''

That's it.

We just found out, per the university, that UM quarterback Kevin Olsen "is no longer a student at UM.''

I'll be back with more, as UM coach Al Golden is about to address the media in his weekly news conference.

UM's official statement: 

Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future.

 Here's what I wrote:

Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami.

   A day after Hurricanes quarterback Olsen was arrested and charged with possessing a stolen/fictitious driver’s license and driving under the influence, the university announced Olsen was no longer there.

       “Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami,’’ UM released in a written statement. “We wish him the very best in the future.”

    Olsen, 19, was a redshirt freshman who never got into a football game at Miami. He was suspended the first two games of this season, and dressed in uniform for the first time this season Saturday against Arkansas State.

    He is from Wayne, N.J., and was a four-star recruit when he arrived at UM in the summer of 2013.

   UM coach Al Golden was asked during his weekly news conference how much Olsen’s situation saddened and sickened him.

   “It’s not the end,’’ said Golden, who noted Monday night that he spoke with Olsen’s dad, Chris Olsen, and Kevin for a long time earlier Monday. “It’s not going to be the end.’’

   Chris Olsen coached Kevin at Wayne Hills High, and Golden said he first got to know Kevin when he was recruiting his older brothers Christian and Greg “in the late ’90s, when Kevin was 9 years old and 10 years old – so I watched him grow up. From that standpoint, that was tough for all of us.

   “But right now this is about Kevin and his family and we need to respect that and I have no doubt that he’ll be back. He needs this time to look at himself and move forward. I have no doubt that with the support of his family, his brothers, his mom and dad and obviously those of us that know him really well, there’s no question that he’s going to have the right ending at the end of this.’’

    Golden said Olsen won’t be back at Miami, but that “he’s going to win in the end. He’ll come out on top.”

    Golden wouldn’t talk specifically about what the next step is for Olsen. “That’s personal,’’ he said. “The next step is to look forward and get on the right track and be successful – and he will.’’ 

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 15, 2014

Olsen's indefinite suspension won't change redshirt status of Rosier because Williams continues to progress

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Starting Tuesday, to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account.

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Now, the news...

Hurricanes coach Al Golden said the indefinite suspension of third-string quarterback Kevin Olsen following his arrest early Monday morning won't change the status of true freshman quarterback Malik Rosier, who the team intends to redshirt.

That's because fifth-year senior Ryan Williams is nearing a return from his ACL injury back in April.

"Ryan is getting ready to go," Golden said Monday after practice. "He had a good today and we're getting ready to play Nebraska. Ryan has been cleared for the last two weeks to progress as he can. He looked good out there today, took some reps with the ones and twos. That was positive."

Will Ryan play Saturday? "said “I don’t know that yet. It’s Monday and no helmets, no pads. We’ll watch the tape and see where he’s at.’’

What does he have to show the staff? "

“Just the ability to evade without premeditation – just instinctively,’’ Golden said, “and protect himself and then obviously go through all the movements.’’

  > Golden said he held out backup guard Alex Gall from practice Monday and that the sophomore will see a doctor later in the day Monday. Same with kicker Matt Goudis.

Receiver Stacy Coley was back at practice in a limited role Monday in a yellow jersey. He missed the Arkansas State game with a shoulder injury and Golden said he's hopeful Coley will "climb into the high 90s range percentage wise" come Saturday's game at Nebraska.

"[Fullback/linebacker Walter Tucker] did a little bit today," Golden said. "We're just going to be careful with him over the next 48 hours. I think I told you guys his x-rays [on his knee] were negative... [Receiver] Rashawn [Scott] I don't know if he's going to make it [for Nebraska]. But he's looking better. [Cornerback Ladarius] Gunter is good."

Golden said he could wait until later in the week than he does with other position players to decide if Goudis will play Saturday at Nebraska.

"It was just one of those deals where Matt was just in a lot of pain [last Saturday]," Golden said. "You can't foresee that until you're out there striking it. So I had to make the call then. But [Michael] Badgley is a mentally tough kid. He's a multiple sport kid. He's not just one of these guys that all he did was kick. He's a competitor. He got better today and excited about his opportunity if Matt can't make it."

DORSETT HONORED

Receiver Phillip Dorsett was recognized for his standout performance against Arkansas State Monday afternoon with ACC Receiver of the Week honors.

Dorsett, a Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas grad, hauled in four passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Miami’s 41-20 win over the Red Wolves. He became only the third receiver in UM history to have more than 200 yards receiving in a game.

Here are some of the details of the arrest of Canes QB Kevin Olsen

Here are some of the details of the Kevin Olsen arrest:

According to the arrest affidavit, South Miami Police went to investigate an incident at 6610 SW 57 Avenue late Sunday night when Olsen pulled up to the house in a black 2014 Dodge Challenger.

"[Olsen] stepped out of the driver's side of the vehicle and approached me asking what the issue was," the police report said. "While explaining to [Olsen] what was occurring, I noticed [Olsen] had blood shot watery eyes, and an odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breathe as he spoke in a slurred speech."

Police then asked Olsen to stand up and perform multiple field sobriety tests. According to police, Olsen was unable to maintain his balance. 

Olsen had multiple IDs in his possession: two from Maryland, one from North Carolina, one from Florida and one from New Jersey. He also had the ID of fullback Ronald Regula.

Olsen told police his New Jersey and North Carolina IDs were good, "but the Maryland one is a fake." Olsen took a breathalyzer test and had a .04 rating. Olsen declined to provide police with a urine sample when he was booked at around 4 a.m.

Miami athletic director Blake James said Olsen has been suspended from the team indefinitely pending further investigation.

"Disappointed from my standpoint," coach Al Golden said Monday morning when asked about the incident. "But really what's of paramount concern right now is just his well being, helping him through this. I think the AD addressed everything else. In terms of his well being as a student athlete and a member of our team, his well being.

"I want to make sure that he's getting the help that he needs and that he's safe and his well being is what we're thinking about."

Golden said it won't be a distraction for the team. "Our team is tough," he said. "Our team is mentally tough. We have a lot of kids doing it the right way everyday. It won't be a distraction."

Here's a photo of Olsen after bonding out of jail this afternoon.

Canes quarterback Kevin Olsen arrested for DUI, possession of stolen license

Welcome to Nebraska week!

Hurricanes third-string quarterback Kevin Olsen, suspended for the first two games of the season, got himself in trouble again over the weekend. And this could be the last straw.

September 14, 2014

Canes Progress Report post Arkansas State

 

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Some thoughts and observations after Miami's 41-20 win over Arkansas State Saturday:

> After playing two games in five days last week and looking mediocre at best (29 of 51, 356 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs), quarterback Brad Kaaya and the Miami offense put up a much more encouraging effort against the Red Wolves. Kaaya set a Canes true freshman record with 342 yards and four touchdown passes on 16 of 24 passing with only one interception. Kaaya had more time to throw and nearly all of his throws were on the money. Only two of his incompletions were the product of being hurried and the other was a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State. Kaaya ranks 33rd nationally in quarterback rating (155.09). Only two other freshmen are better: Ohio State's J.T. Barrett (16th, 172.01) and Arizona's Anu Solomon (23rd, 163.59). Stephen Morris' QB rating last year was 144.67.

> Duke Johnson ranks 35th nationally in rushing with 277 yards and 68th with a 6.44 average. But that's hardly disappointing. The truth is he's hardly been put to work in 2014. He's averaging 14.33 attempts this season (tied for 62nd nationally). Last year, Johnson averaged 18 carries a game. Odds are he'll be put to work plenty against Nebraska next week. Nebraska ranks 50th against the run in yards per game and is surrendering 3.77 yards per carry (62nd out of 128 teams). The Canes are averaging 4.66 yards a carry.

> Phillip Dorsett's 201-yard day Saturday elevated his average per catch to 35.5 yards. That ranks third nationally. Nebraksa has already surrendered eight pass plays of 20 yards or more this season. Where the Cornhuskers have been good on defense is opposing quarterback rating (9th, 86.32) and they've only given up two passing touchdowns all year. They've also produced just one interception. A healthy Dorsett will help Miami stretch that defense out. If Stacy Coley can return healthy -- and Golden thinks he will -- that will also help.

> Call freshman receiver Braxton Berrios the Canes' money man. He's been targeted a team-leading 17 times and the ball has been thrown his way on money downs (third and fourth down) eight times. He's produced five first downs (one on a pass interference call). He's currently tied for the team lead with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

> FYI, here are your team leaders in targets: Berrios 17, Dorsett 14, Clive Walford 12, Herb Waters 11,  Coley 8, Duke Johnson 7, Malcolm Lewis 7.

> Sure, the Hurricanes rank eighth in total defense (259.7 yards per game) and 35th in scoring defense (19.3), but where they've really made the most improvement is against the run. They rank fourth nationally (2.02 yards per attempt) against the run. Last year Miami ranked 78th against the run (4.4) in yards per attempt. The Canes have give up just seven runs of 10 yards or more this year. Last year they gave up 70 runs of 10 yards or more (tied for 73rd).

> Of course, Nebraska will be an entirely different animal. The Cornhuskers rank third nationally with a 7.37 yard per carry average. They're also averaging 324 yards per game on the ground. Tailback Ameer Abdullah, an NFL-caliber tailback, has run for 396 yards and three touchdowns on 57 attempts.

> The Hurricanes were better on third down Saturday offensively (5 of 12), but still aren't doing a great job overall. A little research shows the team has been flat out terrible on third and long (seven yards or more) on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Canes have been in third down and seven yards or longer 18 times already this season and have produced just one first down (5 of 13 passing, two interceptions). On the flip side, the defense has been in third and long situations 15 times and has allowed seven first downs on 8-of-15 passing.

> Overall on third down, Miami's defense has given up a first down half the time opponents have decided to throw (12 of 24) against them. That's where Miami fans are frustrated with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. Defensive backs seem lost in coverage at times and receivers far too wide open. Miami has produced just one interception (Raphael Kirby picked off the punter against Arkansas State) and although the Hurricanes have produced 11 sacks they've only produced five quarterback hurries. They averaged only two QB hurries a game last year. 

> The Hurricanes have surrendered six sacks through their first three games. Miami gave up all of 17 last season. Not all of the blame should fall on the offense line. Duke Johnson whiffed on a block Saturday against Arkansas State and Kaaya was sacked. Kaaya was also called for intentional grounding (that counts as a sack) and has been guilty of holding onto the ball a little too long according to offensive coordinator James Coley.

> Miami was flagged 11 times for 93 yards Saturday against Arkansas State. The 11 flags were tied for the most in the Golden era (UM had 11 penalties for 84 yards vs. Duke back in 2012). Golden wasn't happy with Ufomba Kamalu's body slam penalty and the two pass interference penalties Miami drew against Arkansas State (Artie Burns, Tracy Howard were guilty). 

> Left tackle Ereck Flowers was flagged three times Saturday against Arkansas State. He's actually tied for the team lead in penalties with right guard Danny Isidora, who has been flagged four times including three for false starts. Flowers has been hit with two holding penalties and two false starts. 

> Miami's special teams play thus far has been horrendous and Saturday provided the latest example of continued poor play on kickoff coverage. Golden, who coaches the special team, said he played more freshmen on the coverage and return teams Saturday so his regular defensive players could better deal with the up-tempo style of Arkansas State's offense. Kickoff specialist Justin Vogel also didn't get a lot of hang time on his kicks Golden said. 

"The one they hit for us big [before the half] was 3.77 [seconds in the air]," Golden said. "That's not good enough. We had nobody inside the 30 when he caught it. That's a disaster."

> Walk-on freshman Michael Badgley missed an extra point Saturday and finished 5-of-6 on PATs. Miami didn't have to attempt a field goal against Arkansas State, but it's going to be important Matt Goudis (back) healthy and ready to go next week at Nebraska. Golden said he wasn't sure Goudis would be. Nebraska, by the way, has been mediocre on kickoff returns with a 19.78 average. Miami is averaging 19.43 yards per kick return.

> The Hurricanes continue to get stellar production from former no-star recruit Thurston Armbrister. He had a sack and a team-leading nine tackles Saturday. 

September 13, 2014

VIDEO: Kaaya, Dorsett and Perryman wrap up Miami's 41-20 win over Arkansas State

Miami Hurricanes vs. Arkansas State: Sep. 13, 2014

The Canes (1-1) will take on Arkansas State (1-1) Saturday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m.

As usual feel free to participate in our Cover-It-Live discussion while Susan Miller Degnan and I cover the game. We'll pull in Tweets and provide you with updates throughout the game.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Arkansas State: Sep. 13, 2014

Breaking it down: Miami Hurricanes vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves

BREAKING IT DOWN

> Records: Miami (1-1) vs. Arkansas State (1-1)

> Kickoff, TV: 3:30 p.m., Sun Life Stadium, ESPNU 

> History: Canes beat the Red Wolves 42-10 in their only meeting back in 1997

> Spread: Miami favored by 16 points

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (two on defense), 18 four-star recruits (nine on each side), 27 three-star recruits (14 on offense), 1 two-star recruit (defense) and 2 no-star recruits (defense) on their depth chart. Among that group, nine of those players are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: RB Duke Johnson (2nd RD), MLB Denzel Perryman (2nd RD), LT Ereck Flowers (2nd RD), CB Ladarius Gunter (4th RD), WR Phillip Dorsett (4th-5th RD), DE Anthony Chickillo (4th-5th RD), TE Clive Walford (5th RD), LG Jon Feliciano (6th-7th RD) and DL Olsen Pierre (6th-7th). 

> Counting stars - Arkansas State: Red Wolves have 9 three-star recruits (five on defense), 31 two-star recruits (16 on offense) and five no-star recruits (3 on defense) on their depth chart. The only player on the NFL radar for next year's draft is LB Qushaun Lee.

> Injuries: Miami will be without one of its top receivers and returnmen in Stacy Coley (shoulder). Arkansas State is more banged up. Leading rusher Michael Gordon (bruised ribs) is doubtful and starting strong safety Chris Humes is out with a torn bicep. Lee, who led the Sun Belt with 2013 tackles in 2013, is questionable with bruised ribs. 

> Who are these guys?: The Red Wolves are three-time consecutive Sun Belt Conference Champions and have a track record of going on the road and playing BCS caliber teams competitively. In 2008, they actually opened their season with an 18-14 win at Texas A&M. But that's been their only win in 16 games against BCS conference programs since 2007. Last week they lost at Tennessee 34-19. In 2013 they they lost at Auburn 38-9 and Missouri 41-19. In 2012, they lost a shootout at Oregon 57-34 and were crushed at Nebraska 42-13. In 2011, they lost 33-15 at Illinois and got beaten at Virginia Tech 26-7. In 2010, they opened with a 52-26 loss at Auburn and were beaten by Louisville at home 34-24. In 2009, they lost at Nebraska 38-9 and nearly pulled off an upset at 13th-ranked Iowa dropping a 24-21 heartbreaker. Three weeks later they lost at Louisville 21-13. In 2008, they lost 35-0 at second-ranked Alabama after opening the season with an 18-14 win at Texas A&M. And in 2007 they lost at then fourth-ranked Texas 21-13 in the opener before losing 48-27 three weeks later at Tennessee.

> Arkansas State offense versus Miami defense: Junior quarterback Fredi Knighton (5-11, 189) will have added pressure on his shoulders with his number one option in the backfield in Gordon out. One of his top receivers J.D. McKissic is battling a shoulder injury. Coach Al Golden called Knighton "the best quarterback runner we've faced." Miami's defense, which appears improved over last year, will have the challenge of trying to stop an uptempo offense. Still, Miami should win this battle up front. Arkansas State’s collective offensive line entered the season with the nation’s third fewest combined starts in the nation.  The Red Wolves returned just two offensive lineman with starting experience: sophomore right tackle Colton Jackson and senior right guard Alan Wright.

> Miami offense versus Arkansas State defense: True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya has struggled and his offensive line didn't look very good in the opener against Louisville. Still, Miami's talent up front should be better than Arkansas State's, which has one lineman to watch in former LSU defensive tackle Dexter Blackmon (6-4, 268). Where the Red Wolves have talent and experience is the secondary. The defensive backfield has combined to start 106 career games, which is among the sixth highest in the nation. The Wolves have allowed only two touchdown passes and have three interceptions this season. Expect Miami to run plenty. Tenneesee had success on the ground against Arkansas State with 168 yards and two scores on 45 carries. Lee is their do-it-all cleanup man.

> Special teams: It will be an important week for kicker Matt Goudis to bounce back. He was 2-of-4 on field goals against Florida A&M. The rest of Miami's special teams units have also had blunders in each of their first two games, surrendering a kickoff return for a score at Louisville and an errant snap on a punt that led to FAMU's only touchdown. Arkansas State kicker Luke Ferguson is a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals, 5-of-6 on extra points and is averaging 45 yards a punt. McKissic is their explosive return guy.

> Prediction: Miami 42-17

September 12, 2014

Canes defensive end Quan Muhammad suspended for season by university

Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad will not play football for the Miami Hurricanes in 2014 and his future with the program is cloudy.

UM's top recruit in its 2013 signing class has been suspended from the university for the fall semester after he got into an altercation with another student last spring. According to our Barry Jackson, Hurricanes coaches aren't happy with the decision made above the athletic department and hopes Muhammad will choose to return next semester.

Coach Al Golden held Muhammad out of the team's first two games and thus Muhammad will not lose a year of eligibility. Muhammad cannot attend classes until the suspension is lifted after the fall term. 

Muhammad, who had two sacks last season and played in all 13 games, posted the following photo and message on his Instagram account on Thursday night.

Photo

UM Hurricanes DE Muhammad suspended for season -- no longer enrolled

University of Miami defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad is no longer enrolled at Miami, as he has been suspended for the season and will not be allowed to play football  or attend classes for the fall semester of 2014, a UM spokesperson said Friday afternoon.

UM will allow him to return to school next semester, if he chooses, but it is not yet known if Muhammad will do that or transfer to another school.

     “Al-Quadin Muhammad is not currently enrolled for the fall semester and will not be participating in athletics,’’ UM spokesperson Margot Winick said.

 Muhammad is being punished for a confrontation with a roommate that left the roommate with a broken nose, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. The incident happened several months ago, and the former roommate has since graduated.

The UM football staff isn't happy with this decision, according to two sources. 

 The decision was made by the UM administration, not the athletic department. 

Muhammad told UM that he hit the roommate in self-defense, according to a UM athletic department employee, who said there were conflicting statements when witnesses were interviewed.

UM coach Al Golden held Muhammad out of UM's first two games.

"He's sorely missed,'' Golden said Tuesday. "He's a great kid. He's one of our leaders. He's a competitor. So, again, it's a difficult situation and we're all just letting it run the proper course or proper channels if you will.''

  On Wednesday, Golden added that he would not play Muhammad until there was a resolution of the situation.

Muhammad, 6-4 and 242 pounds, was a four-star prospect coming out of Don Bosco High in New Jersey, rated the nation's No. 3 weakside linebacker prospect. He played in all 13 games and had eight tackles and two sacks as a freshman.

If Muhammad chooses to return to UM, he would have three seasons of NCAAA eligibility remaining. The 2014 season would count as a redshirt year. 

He's the second four-star prospect UM has lost this week (with Muhammad, at least for a semester). Safety Kiy Hester transferred to Rutgers because of a family medical issue.

 

BARRY JACKSON AND SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 11, 2014

Receiver Stacy Coley to miss Saturday's game against Arkansas State

The Miami Hurricanes offense will be without one of its most dangerous weapons Saturday when Arkansas State (1-1) visits Sun Life Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Sophomore receiver Stacy Coley, battling a right shoulder injury, has been ruled out for the game according to UM's injury report which was released Thursday afternoon. He had been in a red non-contact jersey at practice all week.

A dangerous return man, Coley led the team with 1,491 all-purpose yards last season and finished with 33 catches for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. Coley had three catches for nine yards in the opener against Louisville, but didn't start against Florida A&M Saturday or make any catches the Rattlers. Coley did return three punts against Florida A&M -- his last was a 16-yard return late in the first half.

Receiver Rashawn Scott (clavicle) was the only other player listed on UM's injury report. Scott has yet to play this season, but coach Al Golden said Scott could be close to a return soon. 

September 10, 2014

UM Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis was hurting, & more news

  Matt Goudis came into the FAMU game having connected on nine consecutive field goals – until he missed two of four attempts against the Rattlers, a 45-yarder short of the goal posts and a 32-yarder.

   He connected on 20- and 23-yard attempts.

   Goudis has been recovering from an offseason back injury, and it turns out the misses were connected to a physical ailment, Hurricanes coach Al Golden said. He didn’t say whether that ailment was the original issue with Goudis’ back, but he does believe the problem was corrected earlier this week with the help of a doctor.

    The coach said he is hoping he doesn’t have to play freshman kicker Michael Badgley this season. He said Badgley, a 5-10, 180-pound freshman from Summit, N.J., is “doing a really good job’’ and he hopes to redshirt him.

    “Matt encountered some issues on Saturday that I think have been resolved,’’ Golden said. “He’s gone to the doctor…and we think we have the discomfort part of that resolved and he’s been kicking really well. Lord willing he’ll be able to get past that. He needs a little luck here.

   “As you know, Matt is a real good kicker. He just had some discomfort that was hard to deal Saturday night.”

 ***Stacey Coley still out

  Wide receiver Stacy Coley (shoulder) attended practice Wednesday, but did not participate, Golden said. The coach said he’ll “make a determination’’ Thursday as to whether he’ll play Saturday. Usually players do not compete if they haven’t practiced by Wednesday.

   “We’re just being really careful with it,’’ Golden said. “He is starting to do some running and things of that nature."

***Muhammad issue still unresolved

   Sounds like defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad might miss his third consecutive game Saturday. Golden indicated that the off-field issue with Muhammad was not resolved as of late morning Wednesday. “It’s a private issue right now…,’’ Golden said. “s soon as we get resolution we’ll pass it on to you guys. We don’t have that right now. Until that time I’m going to hold him out.’’

   Muhammad has been practicing.

 ***Are you big enough?

  A reporter told Golden that “the Arkansas State coach said you’re the biggest team that they’re going to face all year. I know that’s something you’ve strived to get to, to be the physical, dominating presence. Are you there yet?”

  Replied the coach, “No, we’re not. You guys know.”

  Golden noted with a laugh that media members “throw lines in the water all the time.’’   

            “We’ve just got to keep building,’’ he said. “Do I like our depth in certain positions?  “Yeah, our safeties are rotating in freely right now; defensive line, we’re rotating more guys than we have been. But we’re not where we want to be yet in terms of size and strength at every position.’’

*** Any depth chart changes Golden knows are coming?

“I don’t know,'' he said. "The corners are still battling. [LB Jermaine] Grace is still battling there for a little bit more time. I don’t know how that’s going to end up tomorrow.”

    The coach said Taylor Gadbois is still battling with Kc McDermott at right tackle, and Alex Gall and Danny Isidora are still battling at right guard. He said wide receivers Herb Waters, Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis are still battling with Phillip Dorsett.

  “We’ve got to have another practice to see who’s sharp and see who’s on it and try to eliminate any defects, any mental errors and then we’ll select a team for Saturday."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 09, 2014

News, notes and quotes from Al Golden's press conference regarding Canes QBs, Muhammad and more

Hurricanes coach Al Golden hosted his weekly press conference Tuesday and discussed many topics.

His thoughts on Saturday's opponent Arkansas State: "This is a three-time conference champ. Really good, very active team. Very aggressive team. Special teams are excellent right now. Got a couple blocks. Their net punting is excellent. Field goal kicker [Luke] Ferguson is doing a great job. They'll throw some exotics in there. They'll make you work on the special teams. We're working very hard on that.

"On offense, everything starts with [quarterback Fredi] Knighton for them. The best quarterback, runner we've faced. We're going to have to be disciplined in the pull game, read option game. But he can throw it. He does do a good job throwing it. He'll get the ball on the perimeter. They'll move the pocket with him. That's what makes him difficult. They have a good running back in [Michael] Gordon. And this [J.D.] McKissic is just catching a ton of balls. They want to score. They want to go high-tempo. They make you want to cover sideline to sideline with the perimeter game and move the pocket. Getting the screen game to the perimeter, make you run. It's going to be a great challenge on that side of that ball. We're going to have to be disciplined in our ability to tackle the quarterback inside. Also, set good edges and tackle them in space. When they get in space they're very difficult."

"On defense, top 20 in a lot of different categories. I think they're number three in turnovers and sixth in sacks. Everything for me starts up the middle. Safeties all veterans, all starters, very active. Very good tacklers. Number 48 [Qushaun] Lee all the accolades precede him as we enter the game. You see why. Body strong just like Denzel [Perryman]. Strong, physical inside, yet fast enough to run on the perimeter. I really like what they're doing in the front. [Defensive lineman Dexter Blackmon] is really strong. He does a good job for them. Just a good active defense. I think eight returning starters. It's going to be a great challenge for us. Obviously they went into Knoxville and gave them everything they can handle [last Saturday]."

> Golden was asked if he will stick with Brad Kaaya at quarterback when Ryan Williams comes back.

"I'm not really going there," he said. "Right now Ryan is really doing well. He's really getting into shape. His movements are progressing. Separate deal right now. When that time comes then we'll deal with that competition and the reps and all that. Right now it's Brad and Jake until that time. We're just talking about something that's not part of the equation right now."

Golden said there are no thoughts at the moment for having Williams seek a medical redshirt. 

"That's not part of the discussion right now with him. His job is to get back," Golden said. "He's been working his tail off. Let's just see where that goes. But as of right now, Tuesday that's not part of the equation right now. As soon as we cross that next hump and we feel he can protect himself from a blitz, from all different angles and not have to premeditate where he's going and just react to it. And we all feel good about it. He feels good. The doctor feels good. [Offensive coordinator] James [Coley] feels good. Then we'll take that next step. But that's not in the discussion right now for sure. It's not on the table."

> Where does Golden think Kaaya needs to improve most? "There's a lot of different areas," Golden said. "For me to go into his deal would be like giving the game plan away. There's certain things we need to see him do a better job on. His poise is really good. His line of scrimmage demeanor is really good. We snapped the ball three times -- maybe four -- on them last week to get them offsides and I think only one time we got them offsides. That was the one we completed to Herb [Waters]. The other ones weren't very good. One resulted in a holding pattern. One resulted in an incomplete. The other in an interception, which kind of got him off track a little bit.

"We all have to do a better job. We have to protect better, catch the ball better. But there's certain things in terms of his mechanics and just trusting his feet. That's probably our biggest focus that I can share with you."

Is Kaaya holding onto the ball too long as offensive coordinator James Coley suggested Monday?  

"Again, James and I watch it all together," Golden said. "To me it's just what I said in terms of trusting his feet. So when his feet say it's time to get rid of it that means we got to go. From the second to third or third to fourth progression. A couple times the other night was really the first time we saw it. He started to scramble laterally rather than just trusting his feet and get it to his outlet whether it was his tight end or his back."

> Golden said it's been his decision to hold defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad out of UM's first two games. "Again, he's sorely missed," Golden said. "He's a great kid. He's one of our leaders. He's a competitor. So, again, it's a difficult situation and we're all just letting it run the proper course or proper channels if you will."

> Quarterback Kevin Olsen, suspended for the first two games, is third on the team's depth chart Golden said. Golden wanted to make it clear Olsen was "just paying for his sins awhile back."

"The suspension did not -- because it happened now -- doesn't reflect all the growth that he had," Golden said. "I just want to make sure we're clear on that. He's had a lot of growth here in the last half year, certainly the last four months. He's making a lot of progress and hopefully Kevin can continue to do that for us."

> Golden said he will redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier. As for other players who will redshirt, he's not ready to tie anybody else down because injuries can happen. 

"For a lot of the other guys it's too early," Golden said. "It's such a long season. I think you guys know there are some that haven't participated. The inference there is coach is leading toward redshirting. But for all those guys for me to come and say wholesale you're all redshirted, it's just too early. We got so much. We haven't even started the ACC Coastal yet in terms of that. So we have a long way to go from that standpoint."

> Receiver Stacy Coley was held out of Tuesday's practice to get treatment on his right shoulder. Coley wasn't targeted with any passes Saturday against Florida A&M and Golden said he would have a better idea Wednesday if Coley will play against Arkansas State.

> The Hurricanes have netted seven sacks, but no interceptions. Golden, though, isn't concerned. "We got to catch the ones they throw us," he said. "If we had a bunch of drops I would be worried. I'd like to have some interceptions. I just don't want to blow it out of proportion because we haven't had a lot of opportunities and we haven't dropped any or things of that nature. Certainly there's a couple in there we have to have a better break and make a play on the ball for sure."

> The right side of Miami's offensive line continues to be a work in progress. Golden said starters Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois are splitting reps with Alex Gall and freshman Kc McDermott at right guard and right tackle respectively this week in practice.

"I'm seeing a good competition," Golden said. "It will resolve itself. They will all get better in the process. We'll see who the starters are come Thursday. We'll have a good idea. Felt like Shane and Jon and Ereck had a good practice today and we got to keep developing Hunter Wells, Trevor and Nick. We got a good group. They're getting a lot of reps. We just got to keep moving him forward."

> Junior college transfer Michael Wyche is getting in better shape according to Golden. He played against Florida A&M and is pushing starter Calvin Heurtelou and freshman Courtel Jenkins for playing time at defensive tackle.

"For all that he was behind he's starting to catch up," Golden said of Wyche. "The good news there is that position looks a lot different. There's a lot more depth and we're getting a lot more factors, a lot more plays than we have been. That's positive. But there's no question the three of them are fighting like crazy for playing time right now."

> Golden said long-snapper Ronnie Regula has not lost his starting job after his bad snap led to a touchdown against FAMU Saturday. "I have a lot of confidence in him," he said. "Hadn't seen it before, hadn't seen it since. He went back into the game and to his credit  fired one back after that. It happens. Disappointing. But, Ronnie's doing great with it and has been doing great."

> Did anybody earn more playing time after Saturday's performance against FAMU?

"Stan Dobard for sure," Golden said. "Stan is really doing a good job especially at the point of attack. Braxton [Berrios], Joe Yearby for sure. I think Kc McDermott and Alex Gall both did a nice job. Herb [Waters] continues to do a good job. We got to get him to push Phillip [Dorsett] and Malcolm [Lewis] for playing time. On the defensive side, [Jermaine] Grace for sure. Grace prepared really well and deserves more playing time. Jamal Carter played better. So again, I think he'll be fighting even more now with Dallas [Crawford], Nantambu [Fentress], Deon [Bush at safety]. Darrion Owens did some really good things. That was good to see. Somebody mentioned Chad earlier. For sure, Chad. Grace really prepared hard for that game. Really prepared hard and it showed on game day. That's good."

> Not many kids in high school play in a 3-4 scheme. Has adjusting to UM's defense been difficult for some young guys?

"I wouldn't say it's complex," Golden said. "I think we're playing cohesively right now. We're unified. As I look around college football, every week whether it's Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or just go around everybody is playing the same defense right now. Everybody is playing a 3-4 - whether it's a 4-3 playing odd fronts or a 3-4 playing even fronts. We've kind of morphed into 3-4 personnel that's playing a lot kick down fronts throughout the game as far as zone pressures and things of that nature. The way it is in college football anymore with the read option or the pull game, a lot of people are playing odd fronts. The NFL is doing that as well versus those quarterbacks they're seeing. In terms of it being difficult. It's not difficult. Everybody has to communicate and be on the same page. And we got a great challenge this week for our defense. We better be on the same page. We better have two quarterback players. We better leverage the scheme game and perimeter game. And we better make tackles in the open field."

> What did Golden have to say about UM President Donna Shalala's impending resignation at the end of the 2014-15 school year?

"It's a sad day," Golden said. "Donna has been nothing but embracing for me and my family since we've been here. You kind of grow close with somebody when you go through the adversity we went through together. That was not an easy time for her or for me. I said during that time I don't know how you can have a better leader in your corner during that adversity. What she has done here speaks for itself. It's amazing. It's an amazing University. The campus is incredible. That's her legacy. Her legacy is all around us. We should all be so lucky to leave that kind of legacy. Just watch out whoever she's going up against next. Whether it's in politics or whatever. She's a competitor. She's brilliant. She can cut through it, makes things simple. Obviously somebody that will be missed here."

September 08, 2014

Safety Kiy Hester is given his release from Miami Hurricanes

  UM football coach Al Golden announced after Monday’s practice that freshman safety Kiy

Hester was released from the football team.

 “He’s got a personal issue at home,” Golden said. “In fairness to the kid, I want to leave it at that.

Kiy is a great kid. He’s got an issue at home that he’s dealing with and we released him.”

Hester was a 4-star recruit out of DePaul Catholic High in Wayne, N.J. before enrolling at UM in

May. The release now allows him to transfer to another school closer to his home.

*** Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who has not participated in either of the

team’s first two games, was seen at practice on Monday as a full participant.

*** Also a full participant in practice Monday was Denzel Perryman (shoulder), who left Saturday’s

game against Florida A&M early. Receiver Stacy Coley, also dealing with shoulder issues, was wearing a

red no-contact jersey.

*** Golden said that receivert Rashawn Scot (clavicle) is making progress in recovery from an injury

in camp.

“I don’t think it’s going to be this week, but he’s got a chance moving forward,” he said.

*** Braxton Berrios earned an orange jersey – worn by team leaders on offense – for practice

Monday after his six-catch, 63-yard game on Saturday. Also wearing orange was Duke Johnson,

Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers and Shane McDermott.

*** The defenders wearing black jerseys at Mondays practice were Denzel Perryman, Thurston

Armbrister, Anthony Chickillo, Deon Bush, Dallas Crawford and punter Justin Vogel.

DAVID FURONES

September 06, 2014

Notes, quotes and observations following Miami's 41-7 win over FAMU

In the five days since the Louisville loss, Hurricanes fans and former players  unleashed quite a bit of venom. The complaints: poor offensive play-calling, shaky offensive line play, and scheme adjustments that have long been needed on defense.

It’s hard to tell if Saturday night’s 41-7 win over Florida A&M will get them off the coaching staff’s back considering there was a mixed bag of results against a Football Championship Subdivision team.  

But some observations and reactions nonetheless:

> The Hurricanes started the same offensive line Saturday they did at Louisville, but right tackle Taylor Gadbois was replaced on the third series by freshman Kc McDermott. The two split series the rest of the way before the second and third team made its way into the game to end the third quarter.

UM, which ran for only 90 yards at Louisville, finished with 198 yards on the ground and Joe Yearby shined in the second half (95 yards on 14 carries).

The Canes had their best success running the ball in the first half behind its veteran left side of the offensive line. Duke Johnson ran behind left tackle Ereck Flowers and left guard Jonathan Feliciano when he broke free on a 55-yard run. Gus Edwards later scored on a 15-yard run behind that same side. It looks like when the Canes to run it will be behind those guys.

> Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya took deeper shots downfield than he did at Louisville, but wasn’t always sharp. He threw two interceptions and finished 12-of-22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He is building some nice chemistry though with freshman receiver Braxton Berrios. The two connected on a big fourth down conversion in the second half.

“I thought Brad made some really nice throws,” coach Al Golden said. “I think it's unfortunate we snapped the ball three times thinking we had them offsides. One was incomplete. The other was an interception. That wasn't good there.

“We like to keep the ball outside the numbers there on the go route [on the interception intended for Herb Waters]. He brought it inside, brought the corner into the play. But there were some heck of a throws there too. I thought we did a pretty job protecting him versus all the zone pressure. Brad is going to continue to make progress and grow.”

Kaaya loves throwing to Berrios. Even though Berrios was still recovering from his ACL injury when Kaaya arrived in late May and the two didn't start working together until July, Kaaya said of Berrios: "Braxton is a really good man-to-man receiver. He's a good route runner. He's a guy that I look for on third down if it's man coverage. This is a guy I can really rely on."

> Junior cornerback Tracy Howard and senior Ladarius Gunter were beaten in coverage in the secondary. It wasn’t the result of playing far off the line of scrimmage. Both simply lost their receivers downfield. Miami fans won’t be happy to know linebacker Raphael Kirby was lined up against a slot receiver on third down early in the game (a constant complaint). UM didn’t get burned though on the play.

Coach Al Golden seemed pleased with the defensive effort overall. UM held FAMU to only five first downs, 25 yards rushing and 89 passing. 

“Last week we had 72 plays,” Golden said. “That's probably 800 reps. Out of those reps on defense we only had 15 mental errors. They challenged each other this week to have less than that. They're cohesive right now. Everybody is fitting in the right gaps. We let up a couple deep ones we got to do a better job of playing the ball down the field. But we're keeping the quarterback in the pocket. We're tackling better. The defensive line -- we're playing more of those guys and getting more production for sure.”

> Receiver Phillip Dorsett was impressive. He had three catches for 44 yards and scored twice. He caught Kaaya’s first touchdown pass from four yards out and then split two defenders in the back of the end zone to make a diving 32-yard touchdown catch late in the first half.

"I know I had a post [route], and I thought because of the look they gave, I thought the play was dead," Dorsett said. "I wasn’t supposed to get the ball on that play. When I saw the ball go up in the air, the only thing I thought was I was going to catch it. No matter where I am, no matter who hits me, just catch the ball.”

What did Dorsett think stood out for Kaaya Saturday? “I would say his poise," he said. "He looked like he was ready this game. We made a pact as an offense…to not let the defensive players touch him this game. He looked a lot more comfortable back there. We said we were going to rally around him, because he’s our quarterback, and that’s what we have to do.”

> Sophomore Walter Tucker became the first Hurricane since Devin Hester (2005) to play on both offense and defense in a game. Tucker saw action at middle linebacker when Denzel Perryman left the game in the third quarter.

> Golden said Perryman, receiver Stacy Coley and Duke Johnson were all held out. He doesn't think there are any injuries. Perryman was standing on the sideline with ice on his right shoulder.

> Golden said quarterback Kevin Olsen, the starter leaving the spring after the Ryan Williams injury, is done serving his suspension.

> Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad did not play, but was on the sideline in uniform.

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. FAMU Rattlers

The Canes (0-1, 0-1 ACC) are set to kickoff their home opener against the Florida A&M Rattlers (0-1) at 7 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

Feel free to participate in our cover it live discussion.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. FAMU: Sep. 6, 2014
 


Can't see the live blog? Click here

September 05, 2014

UM & FIU's first game back together at Sun Life Sept. 22, 2018

 The Hurricanes and Golden Panthers are officially back to being buddies.

UM and FIU's second post-brawl football game (and first since 2007) is set for Sept. 22, 2018 at Sun Life Stadium, where the Hurricanes will be the host.

The second game, in which the Panthers will be host, is at a site to be determined in November of 2019 -- possibly Marlins Park.

Athletic directors Blake James (UM) and Pete Garcia (FIU) joined their school's presidents -- Donna Shalala (UM) and Mark Rosenberg (FIU) -- at the press conference this morning at the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence on UM's campus.

No other sports have renewed competition between the schools, but James and Shalala said the schools intend to initiate that as soon as possible. James called it "a partnership in all of our sports going forward scheduling competitions.

"While we don't have other dates to announce in other sports today, Pete [Garcia] and I have agreed that in all of our programs, we will continue to work to schedule each other, because of our belief in the great things it brings to the student-athletes at both Florida International University and the University of Miami."

  No UM teams currently play FIU teams.

  Garcia said the 2019 game site is still open. He said Sun Life Stadium and Marlins Park are options. 

"...To schedule a crosstown rival is something that makes sense for us,'' James said. "In a day and age where expenses in college athletics continue to escalate, one of those big expenses being the cost of travel, from a financial perspective, this was a relationship that I thought made a lot of sense on many different levels."

   Garcia noted that the financial arrangement between the two schools is "basically reciprocal. I know for football it's $500,000 when we play at their place and $500,00 when they play at our home place. Basically, the financial arrangements are going to be a wash. But the benefit is all the travel and getting on a plane and hotel rooms, and everything else, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings for each institution, where we could better utilize that money on our student athletes.''

     Said Shalala: "President Rosenberg and I have spent a lot of time selling Miami as a great college town and this is just another step in that direction. We already cooperate on community health care initiatives with Jackson Memorial Hospital and we collaborate on the study of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union among other things. ...Our community expects this of us.

  "This is a great college town but the colleges and universities working together is important to our community and therefore I'm absolutely delighted that our crosstown sister institution and the University of Miami will be playing each other, not just in football but in other sports.

  "I want the whole community to embrace the pride that we have in intercollegiate athletics in doing the right thing in our communities. And we hope that the community and the fans and the alumni will attend the matchups. We expect to be able to fill the stadiums..."

  Rosenberg echoed those sentiments.

  "President Shalala and I both know this is what the community wanted. We're universities that are family oriented and community centered and there's nothing better than to renew this incredible rivalry, this incredible relationship in this way. Everywhere you look in this community you'll see evidence of the presence of the University of Miami and FIU, and there's no reason we shouldn't have this collaboration in this form."

   Garcia, who graduated from UM and worked there as a senior associate athletic director and recruiting coordinator, said the two schools will also  "partner up and talk and try to bring events down to South Florida, whether it be an NCAA basketball regional, or whatever it is, we'll work together to bring more events that this community can be proud of. This will be for all our sports.'' 

  The last time and second time the two football teams ever faced each other, in 2007, UM defeated FIU 23-9 in the orange Bowl.

 The first time they played each other, in October of 2006, UM won 35-0. The story, however, was a massive brawl that eupted with nine minutes to go in the third quarter. The game resulted in the dismissal of two FIU players, indefinite suspensions of 16 FIU players, one-game suspensions for 12 UM players and one indefinite UM suspension.  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 04, 2014

Live Canes chat today at 1 p.m.

LINK TO CHAT PAGE

September 03, 2014

Canes defensive effort at Louisville "a floor" and "a good place to start" but not elite

Denzel Perryman gave me a look like he had seen an alien.

Was this the best defensive effort you guys have put forth in a while?

"It was pretty impressive, but I don't think it's the best we've ever played," Perryman said giving me that look. "Last year when we played Florida we had errors in that game as well, but we got the ball back a lot. This game, I was impressed with the defense. We just have to improve in our pass coverage."

Impressive is probably the right word to use, but only because we're comparing it to the nightmarish defense the Canes have played over the last two seasons.

On Tuesday, the day after Miami's 31-13 loss to Louisville, coach Al Golden threw the word "elite" around after he said the defense forced three-and-outs on half of the dozen series they were in on. Truth is it was five three-and-outs (two count were first play turnovers). But we got his point. It was elite for the Hurricanes. They don't usually get off the field quickly.

Coach Mark D'Onofrio's group gave up 24 points, 336 yards (206 passing, 130 rushing) and 21 first downs on 71 plays. Louisville piled up 17 points and 157 of those yards on their final three possessions. Miami's offense controlled the clock for only 14 plays and 5 minutes and 59 seconds during that stretch.

Last year, against seven FBS winning programs (and we're assuming Louisville will be one this year to make the comparison), UM's defense gave up an average of 35.9 points, 509.3 yards (295 passing, 214.9 rushing) and average of 25.2 first downs.

So, by the numbers alone the Canes were vastly better (11 points, 173 yards and four first downs fewer) against Louisville than they were against winning teams last year. Miami never produced more than two sacks against those aforementioned winning teams last year. They had four Monday night. 

UM also forced two fumbles deep in Louisville territory. UM didn't force any turnovers against Virginia Tech, Duke and Louisville -- their last three losses of the season.

What did Mark D'Onofrio think of his defense at Louisville? He called it "a floor" and "a good place to start." And I agree.

"The first game there's always positives and things you could have done better," he said. "At the end of the day we didn't do enough to win the game and that's really what my assessment is.

"But from a positive standpoint obviously [five] three-and-outs out of 12 series is really good. And two of them one-and-outs, you know. That's what we want, take the ball away. So that part was good. 

"I thought the tackling was good... especially for an opener. That's a good place to start. Again, those things should be improving every week. I thought the defensive line played well. Things that have to improve, the third down defense and red zone defense, giving up touchdowns. We want to give up field goals down there, get takeaways. That has to improve. And we had an opportunity in the fourth quarter we had them second and long, let them off the hook, didn't get the ball back. That's kind of a rough overall assessment."

D'Onofrio said he played nine defensive backs, nine defensive linemen and five linebackers. He saw fewer mental errors.

Among the first timers to see real playing time were defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins and Calvin Heurtelou, defensive ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris and linebacker Darrion Owens.

"To get those guys in in that environment is a real plus for us moving forward," D'Onofrio said. "[Anthony] Chickillo I thought played a really nice game, really did a nice job. [Ufomba) Kamalu I thought played the best he played this year including the scrimmages. I thought the nose tackles really gave us some good play - Calvin and Courtel were kind of a two-man deal in there. Calvin got 36 snaps and Courtel had 26 in his first game. And I thought they showed up, you know. They were physical at the point of attack, pushed the pocket in the pass game and made some plays. Courtel split a double team on the first play of his career, made a play. So as far as the D line goes, those are the guys that stood out.

"And then Perryman and [Thurston] Armbrister at linebacker. And [Deon] Bush and Dallas Crawford in the secondary. Antonio Crawford I thought played a good game as well. Those are the guys that stand out to me."

 > So why are guys like Tyriq McCord at the rush linebacker spot still dropping into coverage? 

"Those guys have certain drops but they're never the deep player," D'Onofrio said. "It just all depends on the coverage and what the receivers do. Sometimes they have a responsibility where they have to take a wheel route, those sort of things. But they're always an underneath defender if we're dropping in zone."

> How close is Mike Wyche to getting on the field to provide more depth at defensive tackle? Not close enough for D'Onofrio's taste. "At the end of the day, he's on the clock," D'Onofrio said. "He got here and his weight has come down and he's got himself in a better position. But he's got to continue to learn and continue to get in shape."

> Golden said Wednesday Miami's offense was "22 points below where we want to be at a minimum."

If Brad Kaaya and Duke Johnson and the rest of Miami's offense can put up 35 points a game they should win a lot of games with this better version of a defense. Remember I said better. Not great or elite.

Practice after opening loss: "Good,'' but "disappointment" & "a lot of regret''

University of Miami football practice was affected because of a lightning delay Wednesday, so reporters did not have the customary 15 minutes of viewing.

However, UM did try to get us out there, and while we were waiting to see if we could get through the gates to Greentree Field, I did notice that as far as I could see, there were no Hurricanes in the orange jerseys that are given to players on offense who are doing well or considered first-teamers.

Please note that we were standing very far away, but I did not notice anyone in orange.

I did notice a few players in the coveted black jerseys given to outstanding defensive players. The few I noticed included safety Dallas Crawford, defensive end Anthony Chickillo, safety Deon Bush, linebacker Thurston Armbrister and tackle Calvin Heurtelou. There might have been more.

 After practice, Al Golden spoke to us for about five minutes.

InsidetheU reported Tuesday that freshman safety Kiy Hester, who had to go back home to Wayne, NJ to tend to a family matter that apparently involves an illness, would be seeking a release from UM to transfer somewhere closer to home -- possibly Rutgers. 

When asked about the situation, Golden said, "Kiy Hester is working through a personal problem and I’ll release that when…it’s a personal family deal. When we have resolution there, I’ll release that.”

Golden was then asked, Is there a chance he could leave the program?

“He’s got a personal issue,'' the coach said. "In deference to him and his family, and respect that, and that’s it. I can’t say it enough. I know you guys have to chase down rumors. I don’t like to deal in the rumor world. When it’s official one way or the other, we’ll make an announcement or go from there.”

As for defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who did not play Monday, I saw him in uniform at practice speaking with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.

Golden has not elaborated on the talk about Muhammad possibly being suspended for Louisville. The coach was asked Tuesday in the day-after teleconference if a report that said Muhammad did not play against Louisville "because of a conduct issue that needs to be resolved" was accurate. 

Replied Golden: “That was my decision not to play him last night. As I say, with all these instances, if a young man is going to be suspended or is suspended from the University or athletic department it will come from [the sports information office] or it will come from [athletic director] Blake James. … I have a responsibility that we handle everything the right way. It was my decision not to play him. If there’s anything from a suspension standpoint we will release it to you guys.’’

I asked D'Onofrio today if he expected Muhammad to play this Saturday.

 “I’m not going to comment on that,” D’Onofrio said.

 I asked the coach how Muhammad is doing in practice.

 “He’s doing great.”

 Golden said the Canes' first practice Wednesday since the game was "good,'' but there was plenty of regret.

  "You know they left plays out there, so however that manifests itself – whether it’s  regret, disappointment, not discouragement, but there’s disappointment; there’s a lot of regret... Duke’s long catch, first-and-goal there; so, that’s three first-and-goals inside the 10, right, and I think we got three points out of that; kickoff returns – one guy out of the lane and a safety go back door on us; there are other plays, obviously, but those ones bring the most regret, for sure.’’

   Talk about regret, we talked to senior defensive linemen Shane McDermott (center) and Jon Feliciano (left guard) about the deficient play of the offenseive line. They were not happy about it.

   "We just didn't execute,'' McDermott said. "They played a great game against us. We just had to execute better.''

   Feliciano: "They just beat us. They did better than we did. We lost the game for our team. That's the first time since I've been here that I feel like we were the reason we lost.''

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

September 02, 2014

Canes freshman QB Brad Kaaya talks about his first college start

Canes freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya finished 17 of 29 for 174 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in Miami's 31-13 loss to Louisville on Monday night.

Here is what he talked about when it was over...

Q: What was it like?

A: "I felt that the first few series they were pretty good series. We just didn’t execute as a whole. I felt like there are a lot of places to get better at just in every position."

Q: Did you feel overwhelmed at any time?

"No, not at all. I was in the game." 

Q: How do you rate your performance?

A: "There are always things to get better at. I did some good things. I did some bad things. But I just feel like there are always places to improve." 

Q: How did it feel to play a college football game?

A: "It felt good. I mean, it’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was 5 years old. It felt pretty awesome. Win or lose, it still felt good to get out there."

Q: What is the next step for you?

A: "Just go back and watch film and see what we all need to get better at, myself included." 

Q: What did it mean for you to win starting job?

A: "For me, all the other quarterbacks I competed with, they’re all great quarterbacks. It felt good that coach was confident in me and my ability to help us win and I thank him for that." 

Q: Was it more than you dreamed of when you arrived or you wanted to be starter?

A: "I always planned to be the starting quarterback. I never really second-guessed myself. That was my goal."

Q: What did Louisville do well against you guys?

A: "They just played hard. They just played physical. They brought some late blitzes on us. But outside of that they just played as hard as possible." 

Q: Talk about the pass to Stacy he fumbled and lost inside the 20?

A: "All I saw was they were still moving guys on and off the field. They had, I don’t know how many guys were on the field. But there was one guy out there. We tagged a quick hitch pass. It was a little low and that killed the momentum right there." 

Q: Did you think you’d get the flag? Is that why you rushed it?

A: "Yeah, I mean I just wanted to get the ball out. they were shuffling guys on and off the field. There were still guys running on and running off. I just wanted to get out there. There was one cornerback standing there and no one else."

Q: Did anyone say anything to officials that they had too many guys on field?

A: "I don’t know." 

Q: Your first touchdown pass -- how did it feel?

A: "It felt good to get the first one out of the way. Of course I wanted to score many more, throw many more touchdowns. That’s my plan."

Q: You had success with the play action pass with Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett

A: "I just feel like after awhile they keyed on Duke a little bit and I felt like that opened up some guys downfield. He’s such a good athlete that a lot of guys attract to him."

Q: The eight, nine guys in box for a lot of the game, how tough did it make it?

A: "It was pretty hard. They came out with some funky coverages and alignments. They game-planned well."

Q: Was there a lot they did you didn’t expect?

A: "No. We came in with our gameplan. It was all what we expected but we just had to execute."

Q: Any former Canes reach out during the week? 

A: "No one really. I just talked to my parents and friends of the family."

Q: Coach said he expects you to progress. How does it go for you now preparing?

A: "I think just playing my first game I feel like it’s good to get the feeling. I’ve never played a college football game before. Just good to get that feeling. Game day is a lot different from practice. There are a lot of things you learn in the game that you can’t really experience in practice because you haven’t played yet. I feel like over the next couple days and the next couple of weeks that will help me."

Q: Does anything change with your preparation?

A: "Nope. There’s a plan, coach got it and we all stick to it."

Post-game audio, quotes from Canes coach Al Golden following the Louisville loss

AUDIO: AL GOLDEN RECAPS MONDAY NIGHT'S 31-13 LOSS AT LOUISVILLE

Q: What do you make of the way Brad Kaaya played tonight?

A: "He's a tough kid. He's courageous. Tough environment for him to open up his career. I don't think we did a good enough job protecting him. Obviously, he made some good throws, and some that, clearly, he would want back. So again, it's a tough position for him to be in, but I think he's going to make a lot of progress in the next four or five days. He's going to learn a lot from that -- being in that environment, being in that experience. Again, we didn't do a good enough job protecting him. We did not do a good enough job protecting a first start quarterback." 

Q: With the veterans on the offensive line are you surprised that they didn't protect Brad enough?

A: "Again we go right to the offensive line. There's more to it than that. There's a multitude of reasons. Whether its running backs, the offensive line, maybe just a couple different times calling a different play. Secure protection a little bit better. As I just told the team, too many errors in that game against a good team in a tough environment to win. That starts with me. Everyone has to be accountable. We all have to look in the mirror, take care of business, watch film and take care of business." 

Q: They were putting eight, sometimes nine guys in the box. That had to make a difference correct?

A: "We knew it was coming. Obviously, they were going to go after Brad with that. We were starting to find some cracks in there. We just didn't finish good enough. And  then they started to get the lead and move ahead. Defense got us the ball twice within the ten. We didn't convert there. Then we had an illegal man downfield on the play that Duke gets us inside the five. Then they return a kick. So it's tough to overcome those errors, plus some of the other penalties. Plus we weren't good enough on offense." 

Q: How much did the coaching staff have to squeeze the playbook because Kaaya was young?

A: "There are no excuses. They played better than we did. We didn't execute and the thing that's disturbing as the head coach are just errors that we haven't seen -- like the illegal man down field on the Duke pass. On Brad's lateral throw. Again, he's a very bright kid. So he just saw man uncovered out there and he kind of rushed the pass and ended up throwing it backwards. Again, really bright kid. Sees it. Just made an error on the throw. Obviously we had a chance to score points there and we did not do that. That was tough."

Q: Third down conversions continue to be a problem.

A: "It's just a totally different scenario and a different team now so I think we need to focus on what we are doing now with Brad. Again, I thought that they did an excellent job of stopping the run early in the game and forcing us into some third and longs. Then we got behind and you're playing catch-up. It's hard to convert in those situations. We didn't convert in the short yardage play. That was disappointing. Again, no excuses. We have a lot of things we need to fix starting with me and the coaches. We'll start on that here tonight on the way back and get with the guys on Wednesday. We don't have a lot of time to sit around. We have to get better."

Q: Duke and the running game got better in the fourth quarter.

A: "There were stretches on defense too. Again, when you talk too much after a loss like that you end up saying the wrong things. That's the truth. There's a lot things in here we can build on. But, just too many errors to overcome in an environment I don't think they've lost but once in the last couple years."

Q: How is Denzel Perryman doing?

A: "It was a cramp. He should be okay. I think right now we're healthy. But we'll see."

September 01, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Louisville Cardinals

LOUISVILLE -- It's Game Day!

The Canes are 3 1/2 point underdogs against Louisville, who shredded them 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December. But things have changed quite a bit in the nine months since.

Please feel free to participate in our Cover It Live discussion when it starts at 7 p.m. here on the blog. Kickoff is at 8 p.m.

 

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Louisville Cardinals
 

August 31, 2014

Breaking down Monday night's Canes opener at Louisville on paper

A look at Monday night's showdown between Miami and Louisville on paper.

> WHEN THE CANES RUN THE BALL: The Cardinals led the nation in rushing defense last season (80.69 yards) and held the Hurricanes to a season-low 14 rushing yards on 28 attempts in a 36-9 blowout in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Part of those abysmal numbers were attributed to four sacks on Canes quarterback Stephen Morris. Monday night's matchup will be a little different for a pair of reasons: Duke Johnson will get a crack at the Cardinals (he was injured for the bowl game) and Louisville is replacing seven starters on defense. UM returns three starters on its offensive line -- left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jon Feliciano and center Shane McDermott. In addition to only having two returning starters in the front seven, Louisville has switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Homestead High graduate James Burgess Jr., whose father played for the Hurricanes, and Miami Norland grad Keith Brown, a former teammate of Johnson's state championship team in 2011, are the two returning starters at inside linebacker for Louisville. Former defensive ends Deiontrez Mount (6-5, 243) and Lorenzo Mauldin (6-4, 252) are starting at outside linebacker. If UM wins this battle they’ve got a chance to win the game. Edge: Even.

> WHEN MIAMI THROWS THE BALL: Brad Kaaya will become only the second true freshman quarterback in the last 35 years to start for the Hurricanes in a season opener. The good news for Miami: he's got a strong cast of receivers loaded with experience including the speedy Phillip Dorsett, who didn't play in last year's bowl game. Louisville has to replace two starters at safety including Jets first round pick Calvin Pryor. But there is speed and plenty of talent from South Florida around including former Miami Central standout Charles Gaines (22 tackles, 5 INTs in 2013), senior Andew Johnson (Miami Southridge), junior Gerod Holliman (Southridge) and freshman Trumaine Washington (Killian). In the bowl game, Louisville held UM to a season-low 160 yards passing. I expect a better game for the Canes throwing the ball because of Johnson's presence in the backfield alone. But this is still a tough spot for Kaaya. Edge: Even.

> WHEN LOUISVILLE RUNS THE BALL: The Cardinals bring back four starters on the offensive line: 6-4, 304-pound right guard Jake Smith (38 career starts), 6-2, 312-pound left guard John Miller (34 starts), 6-6, 326-pound left tackle Jamon Brown (27 starts) and 6-5, 305-pound right tackle Ryan Mack (12 starts). With Teddy Bridgewater scorching the Canes for 447 yards and three scores in the bowl game, bruising tailback Dominique Brown (6-2, 241) didn't have much of the workload on his shoulders. He was still limited to 42 yards on 16 carries as the Hurricanes held Louisville to only 107 yards on the ground, one of their better performances of the 2013 season. Leading tackler Denzel Perryman has moved to  middle linebacker for the Hurricanes, who will rely upon him plenty to anchor a run defense which hasn't been very good for awhile. If new Louisville running back Michael Dyer (5-9, 212) is healthy enough to play he probably tips the scale the Cardinals way. Edge: Even.

> WHEN LOUISVILLE THROWS THE BALL: New sophomore starting quarterback Will Gardner threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville's spring game and with offensive guru Bobby Petrino now in charge the feeling is the Cardinals won't skip a beat without Bridgewater. As ESPN analyst Lee Corso says -- not so fast my friend. Leading receiver DeVante Parker, who scorched Miami for nine catches, 142 yards and a touchdown, will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season with a broken bone in his left foot. That puts the onus on senior Eli Rogers (Miami Northwestern graduate) and tight end Gerald Christian to step up against the Hurricanes, who finished 59th in opposing quarterback rating last season. Except for injured safety Rayshawn Jenkins, UM returns its entire starting secondary and is hungry to make up for last year's bowl embarrassment. Edge: Even.

> SPECIAL TEAMS: Both teams have plenty of explosiveness in the return game. Cardinals punter Ryan Johnson, a three-year starter, averaged 41.2 yards a punt and had 11 land inside the 20 in 2013. Kicker John Wallace connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts and was a perfect 9-for-9 from 30-39 yards. He is a perfect 16-of-16 for his career from that distance. UM's new punter is sophomore walk-on transfer Justin Vogel, who has yet to punt in a college game. Kicker Matt Goudis is back after going 13-of-17 on field goals in 2013, but he's not 100 percent healthy. Edge: Louisville.

> COACHING: Whether he's been at Louisville, Arkansas or Western Kentucky, Petrino's offenses have always been among the nation's best. He's 83-30 in nine seasons as a college head coach and inherits a program for the first time in his career that is already good. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spent his last four years at Georgia where the Bulldogs averaged 33 sacks a season over the last three years and ranked in the Top 36 in scoring defense every season but last. Canes coach Al Golden (58-53 in nine seasons) brings back all but one coach from last season and finally has the NCAA cloud in the rear view mirror for the first time in his tenure in Coral Gables. In the end, Petrino's track record is better than Golden's and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. Edge: Louisville.

PREDICTION: Louisville 34, UM 27

August 30, 2014

UM finally says QB Kevin Olsen suspended for Louisville -- and some "extremity" information.

The Hurricanes sent reporters this email a little bit ago:

Good morning,

Here is the University of Miami football injury report heading into Monday’s game against the University of Louisville.

Out:

Rashawn Scott - Upper Extremity 

NOTE FROM SMD: Translation: shoulder/clavicle.

-----

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

Kevin Olsen – Suspended for Violation of Team Standards.

NOTE FROM SMD: We've known this for several weeks now, but I'm glad UM finally announced it. The "Team Standards'' part is a new phrase. Also, we reported that this suspension is for "at least'' one game. The next couple of games (Florida A&M and Arkansas State) are at home and should be a lot easier, before the Canes travel for Sept. 20 game at Nebraska.

 Also, I find it curious that quarterback Ryan Williams is not on the injury report. I know he's traveling, and I guess he'll dress out, but wouldn't they say he's "Out?'' if he absolutely, positively could not see any action. At this point I have no idea. I do not think Ryan Williams will play, or is ready to play. 

 Coach Al Golden told us yesterday that Ryan was going "for leadership, and he knows the offense better than anybody so he’s good to have on gameday.''

 And we had this conversation with Ryan earlier in the week, when a reporter asked him if any games were ruled out by the doctors. 

Williams: “I mean, I tried my hardest to be ready for this game. I guess it wasn’t physically possible. I’m just going to take it week by week and when I can come back, I will.”

No specific date then?

Williams: “No specific date, no.”

Stay tuned.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

The freshman QB experience and where Brad Kaaya fits into college football and UM history

ATLANTA -- The average college football fan hears the term "freshman starting quarterback" and hardly flinches anymore.

After all, look at what Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston did in their first years under center. They  won the Heisman, and Winston led Florida State to the national title in January.

But lumping every freshman starting quarterback into the same category is a mistake. And that certainly applies for University of Miami freshman Brad Kaaya, who will make his debut Monday night at Louisville and join Jacory Harris (2008) as the only the true freshmen over the last 35 years to start the season opener for the Hurricanes.

Ken Dorsey didn't do it (he started the last three regular season games as a true freshman). Jim Kelly didn't do it (he made his first career start in the eighth game of the season at Penn State). And Bernie Kosar didn't do it. He, like Winston and Manziel, had the benefit of a redshirt season to learn Miami's offense before leading UM to its first national title in 1983.

Kaaya obviously won't have a year of apprenticeship under his belt. And unlike a bunch of other true freshmen who have found their way under center recently throughout college football, Kaaya doesn't even have the added experience of having enrolled early and participated in spring football.

He's only been at UM since the end of May when the first session of summer classes began in Coral Gables.

Over the last five years, a total of 34 true freshmen have started a game and attempted at least 100 passes for a school in a major conference (FootballStudyHall.com did the research from 2008-2012 and I looked up last year's numbers). Of that group, only nine started the season opener. The majority of those true freshmen enrolled in college early including two of the three who did it last year -- former Texas Tech walk-on Baker Mayfield (who has since transferred to Oklahoma) and Cal's Jared Goff.

Penn State's Christian Hackenberg, who started all 12 games for the Nittany Lions last year as a true freshman and went 7-5 as a starter before being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, enrolled in college in late June. He might be the only example of someone who got into school later than Kaaya and started right away.

While Winston, Manziel, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Boise State's Kellen Moore, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, Georgia's Aaron Murray, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota all had tremendous success as redshirt freshmen, most true freshmen have endured growing pains.

The good news for Kaaya -- and Miami fans -- there is some history of true freshmen having success.

Back in 1985, Jamelle Holieway became the first and only true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title after being pressed into duty when Troy Aikman was lost for the season in a 27-14 loss to the Hurricanes in Norman.

More recent examples include:

> Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor took over as the starter three games into the 2008 season and went 8-2, completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,942 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished with a quarterback rating of 145.6. Pryor was not an early enrollee.

> Baylor's Robert Griffin III enrolled early in college and put up a quarterback rating of 142.0 after coming off the bench four drives into his first season and taking the starting job from there. Baylor went 4-7 with Griffin, who threw for 2,394 yards and 28 touchdowns and eventually went on to win the Heisman a couple years later.

> USC's Matt Barkley led a top five-ranked team in 2009 from the start to a 9-3 record. He completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and 2,697 yards finishing with a QB rating of 131.3. Barkley was an early enrollee. 

> Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater started the final 10 games of his true freshman season and went 5-5, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards, 14 TDs and 12 picks. Bridgewater was an early enrollee.

> In 2009, Rutgers' Tom Savage started 11 games and went 8-3, completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 2,106 yards and 15 touchdowns. Savage was an early enrollee.

> And just this past year, Texas Tech started a pair of true freshman -- Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb -- and went 8-5. Both were early enrollees. 

> Houston's John O'Korn, a former St. Thomas Aquinas standout, meanwhile, took over as a starter three games into the 2013 season and went 6-5. He was the named the American Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Year after setting the Houston freshman record for touchdowns (28) and completions (259). O'Korn was a summer enrollee.

Something else for Kaaya can lean on aside from history: his backups.

Seniors Jake Heaps and Ryan Williams both started as true freshman for BYU and Memphis, respectively. Heaps became the starter the fourth game of the season and went 6-4. Williams became the starter the third game of the season and went 1-9.

What has coach Al Golden told Kaaya to do with all the hype surrounding his start opening night?

"Just keep ignoring, keep blocking it all out," Golden said. "I think he's mature in that sense. He'll do it. Again, expectations are just like what they sound -- external.

"He's playing to a standard right now and not really worried about anybody's expectations. He competed everyday for the starting job. He won it outright. I think that's all he's worried about it -- performing and taking care of all the little things as we get closer to the game. We need the whole offense to rally around him and keep him poised, keep him relaxed and not worry about the outside."

August 29, 2014

Which QBs are making the trip to Louisville? Al Golden's last pregame chat.

Just spoke to Hurricanes coach Al Golden before the Canes close up shop (at least from the media) and get ready to head to Louisville for the big game at 8 p.m. Monday.

What you need to know:

*** The four quarterbacks making the trip are starter Brad Kaaya, backup Jake Heaps, Ryan Williams and true freshman Malik Rosier. "

   Golden said Williams, still recuperating from a torn ACL sustained in early April, is traveling "as a captain and leader, that kind of role,'' Golden said. "...Ryan is there for leadership and he knows the offense better than anybody so he’s good to have on gameday."

*** The freshmen playing special teams will include Trayone Gray for starters, and "Oh, my goodness, there’s a whole bunch of them --[Ryan] Mayes for sure, Darrion Owens, Juwon Young -- God, there are so many.''

  Golden was then asked if Tyre Brady would play special teams? "They’re on the depth, whether or not that actually unfolds on game day…  Brady’s ready, [Darrell] Langham’s ready.. right now they’re all traveling. we’ll evaluate all that tonight, select the final traveling squad, kind of set the depth and go from there."

  ***Walter Tucker will get in the game at fullback and on special teams, and maybe on defense.

    Golden: "The order for him will be fullback, special teams and then defense. He’ll definitely see action on offense and special teams and he’s close on defense. That selection is going to be made here, to be honest with you based on how he and Juwon performed and then who won the special teams jobs. That’s how we’ll work that."

 *** Golden is still not revealing the starters at right tackle, cornerback and safety.

  On right tackle -- "[Jon] Feliciano can play out there, [Taylor] Gadbois can play out there, [Trevor] Darling can play out there and [Kc] McDermott can play out there. We’re going to keep rotating all those guys out there. There will be probably two in the game at that position.''

    And safety? "That will be determined out here. It would be silly of me to sit here and select it right now without making sure I go back and evaluate the tape and give everybody a fair opportunity."

   How did Gadbois look?  "Taylor looked much better. There’s really good competition there. Nobody can relax. I thought [right guard] Danny Isidora has had a good week. Obviously the center [Shane McDermott] and left guard [Feliciano] and left tackle [Ereck Flowers] have been really experienced veterans for us. I think all the guys contributing at right tackle are doing well, it’s just hard to figure out who’s the starter and who’s going to come in next."

  *** Kicker Matt Goudis was never in the punting competition because of his back ailment earlier in the summer, but Justin Vogel earned the kickoff spot because he's been better in practice.

    "We pulled him back from punting because of that,'' Golden said of Goudis. "And to be honest with you, Vogel has been doing better at kickoffs right now. He’s healthy now. There was some weakness. I expect him to be ready to go game day. Everybody is behind Vogel right now at kickoffs."

   ***Nantambu Fentress, as defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said recently, is playing safety now and special teams. 

 *** Receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder/clavicle) went to the doctor recently, but Golden gave very few specifics on his recovery status.

   "He’s doing good,'' the coach said. "I don’t know what his recovery. I know he just met with the doctor and they said he’s recovering well. What that means I don’t know. So it would be crazy for me to comment on it."

  That's it, folks. Have a happy weekend enjoying all that football. Can't believe it's back!

   The Hurricanes are now officially in hibernation until Louisville.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN   

August 28, 2014

Canes notes: Vogel wins punting job, will handle kickoffs too; Chickillo talks Louisville rematch (video)

Al Golden (COMPLETE AUDIO OF GOLDEN'S PRESS CONFERENCE THURSDAY) wasn't ready to reveal a final depth chart or tell us who has won the remaining position battles up for grabs (secondary, right tackle), but we did learn Thursday at least who will be handling kickoffs and punts.

Walk-on sophomore Justin Vogel, a transfer from Florida, said Golden informed him a couple days ago he'll be handling punts at Louisville Monday night. Vogel said he also climbed to the top of the depth chart -- the one only players and coaches have had a chance to see -- on kickoffs.

"I've always been No. 2 on kickoffs, but I had a really good day on Tuesday," Vogel said. "I had always been hitting them here and there. But then we did our game plan, scheme and I just hit a couple of really good kicks. Coach [Golden] was like do it again the next day. So I replicated it again. That moved me up to first team."

Freshman walk-on Michael Badgley is backing Vogel up on kickoffs. Redshirt senior Ricky Carroll is behind Vogel on punts.

"They judge all of it," Vogel said of the competition for the kicking jobs. "First off [on punts] they want to make sure the operations aren't slow. No matter how good your kick is if the operation is bad you're kick is getting blocked. So it has to be off under in under two seconds. Coach Golden wants is 43 yards, 4.3-second hang [time]. I've been averaging around that. I've kicked better than that too."

GOLDEN TALKS TEAM

> So what is happening with some of the remaining position battles yet to be determined?

"We're still going," Golden said. "For some of them it's too early to call. I like our depth at a lot of positions. Obviously some of them are settled like Denzel [Perryman] and Chick [Anthony Chickillo]. But if you look at the back four, the secondary, those guys are fighting. Thurston [Armbrister] has had a good camp, [Raphael] Kirby seems to be back now from his ailment. On the other side [Taylor] Gadbois and KC [McDermott] and Trevor (Darling) are all still in the mix at tackle. We'll see more of [Chris] Herndon and Jake O'Donnell now and Ron Regula as a third or fourth tight end. The tailbacks are the same as all camp and Brad [Kaaya]. We'll probably play six or seven wide receivers as well."

> Golden yet again reiterated that sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad will play in Monday's opener. Muhammad was back at practice Thursday morning after missing Tuesday's practice to deal with what Golden referred to as a personal issue.

> Golden said the only freshman who will be counted on in a major role is quarterback Brad Kaaya

"The last few years we were counting on so many young guys before they had the opportunity to learn the system or ready to go. We're playing a lot of young guys but they're not in significant roles, they don't have to shoulder the burden," Golden said. "Obviously Brad is the one outlier in this instance. The good news with Brad is he has a veteran line in front of him, a nice complement of veteran guys."

Asked if there is plan to play senior transfer Jake Heaps, Golden said: "No."

Asked if Kaaya struggles if Heaps would replace him, Golden said: "No. He's our quarterback. He's going to do great, execute really well, has been doing really well. Brad's worked really hard over the last 16 weeks, has earned this job and that's it. There were no qualifiers here ever. He's the exception this year in terms of a freshman that has to start."

What is it about Kaaya that gives Golden so much confidence in him? "I don't know," he said. "All I can say is really sharp. First of all not many mechanical flaws. And then the young man went and lost 20 pounds so you weren't dealing with mechanics and something physiological in terms of condition. And whatever he learned via videotape or book transferred to the field spatially, conceptually. Plus a young man who's a great example for everyone else. He gave up a lot socially, a lot of his time to continue to work hard, ask the right questions, fix his flaws. He has a long way to go as a quarterback, as we all do, but he really worked hard mentally and physically to put himself in this position."

Did Golden think Kaaya would start from Day 1? "No," he said. "We thought he'd compete, but we took a lot of roads since April 4 [the day Ryan Williams tore his ACL] to get to this point. I sleep well at night knowing we have two guys we can run at quarterback right now without Ryan being in the mix yet."

> On Wednesday night Miami landed a commitment from Kaaya's former high school teammate, four-star offensive tackle Bar Milo. Golden was asked how having a kid like Kaaya helps UM's recruiting efforts.

"Your greatest recruiters are the young men that are in your program because they're the ones that know how you treat them every day, what the values are," Golden said. "When you start getting that endorsement, the testimony they give to the local kids, that gives a lot more weight than any feedback a coach has in a recruiting setting. It's good. We're seeing more of that. Guys are proud of what we're building at the University of Miami. It's exciting for us."

VIDEO INTERVIEWS

> I was able to catch up with Vogel and defensive end Anthony Chickillo and record their interviews on video.

Chickillo talked a lot about facing Louisville's offensive line which returns four starts, game planning for new coach Bobby Petrino's offense and what it's going to be like facing a Louisville team that trash talked a whole lot in the bowl game.

August 27, 2014

Another "Welcome to the U:" Kaaya 4-star OT teammate commits

The Brad Kaaya pipeline is paying dividend for the Miami Hurricanes.

West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade four-star offensive tackle Bar Milo – class of 2015 – committed to the University of Miami on Wednesday night.

Kaaya, the true freshman starting quarterback for the Hurricanes, recently graduated from Chaminade.

Milo, 6-6 and 300 pounds, told Rivals.com on Monday that “regardless of where I commit I promised my parents I’d keep my recruitment open and not be fully committed. But where I commit, that’s where I plan on going. I’d just stay open.’’ Milo added that “he’s taking into consideration’’ that his parents don’t want him to go too far from home.

His other finalists were Washington, Nebraska and ArizonaState.

Milo attended ‘U’ Day on an unofficial visit Aug 10. He watched the Canes practice and told 247Sports.com that Kaaya was “fantastic. He only says good things about Miami – how fantastic he’s been treated and how it’s a family atmosphere. He thinks it would be a great fit for me.’’

Milo is ranked the 32nd best offensive tackle by Rivals and the 26th in 247Sports’ composite rankings.

He is the seventh offensive lineman to commit for 2015, a class that now has 23 commits, according to 247Sports. On Tuesday, Under-Armour All-American kicker Andrew Galitz decommitted from Miami and committed to Baylor.

“I have officially decommited from the University of Miami,’’ he posted on Twitter. “I would like to thank the coaching staff for recruiting me.’’

If he follows through and signs with UM, Milo would be the third Hurricane out of West Hills Chaminade. Kicker Matt Goudis also went there.    

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Hot off the press: ACC announces '15 men's hoops schedule

ACC Announces 2015 Men's Hoops Schedule

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami opens it 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against reigning league champion Virginia on Jan. 3 in Coral Gables, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced today.

 

In the 2014-15 campaign, Miami will host three Atlantic Coast Conference opponents that finished in the Top 25 in 2014, including preseason No. 7 North Carolina (Feb. 28), league newcomer No. 10 Louisville (Feb. 3) and No. 12 Virginia (Jan. 3). The Canes will travel to preseason No. 2 Duke (Jan. 13) and No. 21 Pittsburgh (March 4).

 

“The ACC in my mind is the best basketball conference in the country. Every night you are playing against a Top 20 or Top 10 team in the country,” said Larrañaga. “Whether you are at home or on the road, you had better be at your best, or you will be defeated.”

 

Miami will play eight games on the ESPN body of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU), one game on CBS, three on the ACC Network and six will be aired on the ACC’s regional sports network (RSN), which consists Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Florida, Sun Sports, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Midwest, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, NESN, YES Network, MSG Network and ROOT Sports.

 

“We have such a demanding non-conference schedule because of the number of games we are going to play in such a short period of time. We are going to find out right away how well prepared we are for the ACC,” added Larrañaga. “This is going to be a very challenging team with nine new players. They are going to be asked to bond and play well together very very quickly. That’s why the trip to Spain was so important to us.”

 

The Canes start the conference season with two at home and two on the road, as UM hosts Virginia Jan. 3 on ESPN 2 and Boston College (Jan. 10), then hits the road for a pair of ESPN or ESPN2 televised matchups against Duke (Jan. 13) and Notre Dame (Jan. 17). Following a home outing against NC State on Jan. 22, Miami travels to Syracuse, N.Y. to face the Orange on Jan. 24, a game that will be on ESPN or ESPN2. Miami wraps up the month with a home matchup with Georgia Tech on Jan. 28.

 

The Canes play nine games in February, five of which are at the BankUnited Center. UM opens the second month at Florida State on Feb. 1, then is in Coral Gables Feb. 3 and Feb. 8 to face Louisville and Clemson, respectively. Miami’s next three of four games are on the road as the Canes go to Wake Forest (Feb. 11) and Boston College (Feb. 15), are home for Virginia Tech (Feb. 18), then travel to Louisville Feb. 21, for an ESPN or ESPN2 game. The Canes conclude the home portion of the schedule with home matchups against Florida State (Feb. 25) and North Carolina (Feb. 28).

 

Miami’s two games in March are on the road, as the Canes play at Pittsburgh (March 4) and at Virginia Tech (March 7).

 

The ACC Tournament will be held at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum March 10-14.

 

In 2015-16, Miami will play home and away against Virginia, Florida State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech and will host Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. UM will play on the road against North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Boston College that season.

 

The 2014-15 season will be the first year of a 12-year schedule rotation during which teams that are not partners play five years at home only, five years on the road only, and two years both home and road. The past two conference schedules were “one-offs” due to an increase from 16 to 18 conference games and conference expansion, respectively.

 

This season will mark the third in which each ACC team will play an 18-game conference schedule. With Louisville joining the ACC on July 1, nine of the conference’s 15 teams will enter next season having made postseason appearances in 2013-14, including seven teams that took part in NCAA Tournament play this past year.

 

The ACC’s collective non-losing streak in the NCAA Tournament reached 27 years in 2013-14, by far the longest stretch in the nation. The ACC has had at least one team ranked among the Top 10 of the final Associated Press poll for 54 consecutive years.

 

For the latest information on the Miami Hurricanes, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @CanesHoops. For the most accurate and up to date information delivered to your phone, download the official Miami Hurricanes app for your Droid or iPhone.

 

Date

Opponent

Location

TV

Time

Nov. 6

Eckerd College (exhibition)

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 14

Howard

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 17

at Florida

Gainesville, Fla.

ESPNU

7 p.m.

ESPN Charleston Classic (Charleston, S.C.)

Nov. 20

Drexel

Charleston, S.C.

ESPNU

3 p.m.

Nov. 21

Akron/Southern Cal

Charleston, S.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 23

Penn State/South Carolina/Cornell/Charlotte

Charleston, S.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 25

at Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 28

South Alabama

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 2

Illinois

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPN2/U

9 p.m.

Dec. 6

UW-Green Bay

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 8

Savannah State

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 19

Eastern Kentucky

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 22

vs. Providence  (at Barclays Center, N.Y.)

Barclay’s Center

TBA

TBA

Dec. 30

College of Charleston

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Jan. 3

Virginia

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPN2

2/4:30 p.m.

Jan. 10

Boston College

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

4 p.m.

Jan. 13

at Duke

Durham, N.C.

ESPNU

9 p.m.

Jan. 17

at Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Ind.

ESPN/2

2 p.m.

Jan. 22

NC State

Coral Gables, Fla.

ACCN

8 p.m.

Jan. 24

at Syracuse

Syracuse, N.Y.

ESPN/2

4 p.m.

Jan. 28

Georgia Tech

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

9 p.m.

Feb. 1

at Florida State

Tallahassee, Fla.

ESPNU

12:30 p.m.

Feb. 3

Louisville

Coral Gables, Fla.

ACCN

8 p.m.

Feb. 8

Clemson

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPNU

6:30 p.m.

Feb. 11

at Wake Forest

Winston-Salem, N.C.

RSN

7 p.m.

Feb. 15

at Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

ESPNU

6:30 p.m.

Feb. 18

Virginia Tech

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

7 p.m.

Feb. 21

at Louisville

Louisville, K.Y.

ESPN/2

2 p.m.

Feb. 25

Florida State

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

9 p.m.

Feb. 28

North Carolina

Coral Gables, Fla.

CBS

2 p.m.

March 4

at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pa.

RSN

8 p.m.

March 7

at Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Va.

RSN

Noon

ACC Tournament, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

March 10

First Round

 

 

 

March 11

Second Round

 

 

 

March 12

Quarterfinals

 

 

 

March 13

Semifinals

 

 

 

March 14

Finals

 

 

 

 

 

-www.HurricaneSports.com-

 

Al Golden just spoke on ACC Coaches' Teleconference. Here he is...

You guys have two prime-time games in first 20 games of season. In recruiting how much do you still talk about Miami being a national brand and obviously somebody that is still attracted to networks?

GOLDEN:  “From our recruiting realm, young people understand that and the high school communities around the countries understand that. That’s one of the reasons that we can still attract nationally, but yet at the same time make sure we’re paying close attention regionally and locally for sure. In terms of our guys on the team, they’re just focused on this week and worrying about Louisville. The rest of it will take care of itself.’’

 How is Duke Johnson doing? Is he ready for Louisville?

 GOLDEN: “Duke has been doing good. He’s had a great recovery. There are no signs of fatigue or anything. He’s much stronger. He’s retained his quickness, he’s posted his fastest 40 since he’s been here back in July. Duke is ready to go.”

 NOTE: Golden also talked about Brad Kaaya being the starter and all the veterans he has around him.

 Al, a couple of your players have told the media down there they felt disrespected by the way Louisville played the second half of the game, maybe thinking they ran up the score. Do you find any sense of extra motivation from players given what happened at the bowl game?

 GOLDEN: “No, not at all. Louisville played really well. They had an exceptional team. They only lost a couple times in two years. That was a great team [that] played really well. But no, in terms of our program and their program, this is a different team for both and clearly we have to take care of our business, not worry about anybody else’s.”

 When Golden was asked about what it was about Kaaya’s play since beginning of August that made him decide to go with him as his quarterback, he said, “His completion percentage was excellent. He did a great job at the line of scrimmage. That’s probably where we got the most confidence from him, just his overall depth and understanding of what we were trying to get done and his ability to get us in the right play at the line of scrimmage. Without that, it would be hard to name him the starter. But he certainly demonstrated to us all training camp that it certainly wasn’t going to big for him and we’re excited for him.’’

 From what you’ve seen of Petrino offenses in the past on film, what is it about that Petrino system that makes them traditionally so prolific with him as the coach?

 GOLDEN: “He does a great job, no question about it, with multiple formations and tempo, high completion percentage and probably what goes under the radar the ability to run the football in addition – a two headed monster if you will. Those are things we have to adjust to and be prepared for going into this game.’’

 The defense this year has looked really good this year in camp, despite having a few younger players. What are your expectations of the defense and how good can the unit be this year?

 GOLDEN:  “That’s the challenge we have to answer. We can talk about it all we want, but at the end of the day there’s a great challenge. I thought they improved in the spring, I thought they started to play together a lot more. I thought there was more harmony. I think our tackling was better. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about going out there and proving it and what better opportunity [than] to go against a prolific offense that Louisville has.’’

 Any plan for which players on the right side of the offensive line will start and what rotation will be used?

 GOLDEN: “Danny Isidora, a young man who played for us [at right guard] last year, he’s been the starter since spring there. That hasn’t changed. And then Taylor Gadbois, Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling, all of those guys have seen action at right tackle and we’ll let that play out this week to see who the starter is.’’

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

August 26, 2014

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino talks injuries, Canes, Kaaya, Duke and more

Louisville's pre-game press conference took place Tuesday afternoon and he are several topics coach Bobby Petrino touched on related to the Hurricanes before Monday night's opener.

> Louisville's best receiver DeVante Parker, injured in practice last Friday, will miss Monday's game after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot. Parker is expected to miss six to eight weeks. 

“He’s a tremendous player, and what we just have do is guys have to step up and perform. I think we’re fortunate in the situation we’re in that we have a lot of experienced players. We’ve got Eli Rogers, we’ve got Michaelee [Harris], we’ve got Kai De La Cruz, Matt Milton, James Quick, guys that have played in games and made plays. And certainly they’re all going to have to contribute, we’re going to have to rely on our tight ends and running backs, so you’re never going to replace a guy like DeVante with just one guy. You’ve got to do it collectively with all the weapons that we have stepping up and making more plays.”

Will the injury to Parker restrict Louisville's offense?

"It’ll change things around. I don’t know if restriction is the right word. Certainly when you miss a guy like that, we’re going to be a little bit different. Like I said, we’re not going to have one guy step in and say “OK, you’re now DeVante.” We’ve got to be able to utilize the weapons that we have, the things they do well, mix the ball around, get guys in a position where they can make plays.”

> The health and availability of running back Michael Dyer (bruised quadriceps) remains in question. “Michael has not progressed as well and we had th0ught he would initially. He still has some swelling in there, he’s not been able to get back out on the field yet. I think here, today, tomorrow are big days to see if he’ll be available for the game. He has made progress and he has gotten better, particularly the last part of the week last week, but we’re yet to see if he’ll be available for the game.”

> Petrino said he and his coaching staff have gathered plenty of film on freshman starting quarterback Brad Kaaya.

“We’ve got his high school film," Petrino said. "We studied his high school film. He’s a big guy, he makes a lot of good throws, he looks like a guy that gets the ball out of his hand quick, has a quick release. In the video that we watched, he’s not like a run-around guy and he’s more of a pocket passer. But he was impressive in his high school video.”

> Louisville didn't face Duke Johnson in last year's 36-9 blowout win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They will this time.

“He’s a really good player,"  He’s somebody that we have to contain. We’ve got to do a good job of setting edges with our outside linebackers and defensive ends. Our safeties are going to have a to do a good job coming downhill and tackling, and we’ve got to get 11 guys to the ball. I think that’s the biggest thing when you watch him is that we’re going to have to run full speed to the ball because he’s a guy that can take it the distance.”

> Would Petrino rather be coaching the losing team in a bowl game rematch?

“No I would rather be coaching the team I’m coaching right now. And I wasn’t part of that either," he said. "I think that’s the thing that we’ve tried to make sure our players understand. They’re two completely different teams. We have a different offense, different defense, they have a different quarterback. They do have the same defensive coordinator and some of the same guys back on defense. But it’s totally two different teams, and it’s going to be a battle. We have to go out there and perform well, play with great intensity and try to find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter.”

Canes DE Quan Muhammad misses practice Tuesday to deal with personal issue, Golden said

Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, expected to be one of the team's top pass rushers this coming season, was noticeably absent from Tuesday's Hurricanes practice.

But there is no reason for fans to be alarmed. Apparently, it wasn't unexcused.

"He's got something on campus he's dealing with right now. It's personal in nature," Golden said. "We'll have him back here by [pause] he's probably in class right now."

Will Muhammad play in the opener? "Absolutely," Golden said. 

MORE NEWS AND NOTES FROM TUESDAY

> Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen (6-3, 200) was out there in a scout team jersey. So, no, he hasn't transferred.

> A total 15 players on offense were wearing orange jerseys (designated for starters): tight ends Standish Dobard and Clive Walford, running backs Gus Edwards and Duke Johnson, fullback Ronald Regula, receivers Malcolm Lewis, Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley and offensive linemen Kc McDermott, Shane McDermott, Jon Feliciano, Trevor Darling, Ereck Flowers, Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois

> A total of seven players on defense were wearing black jerseys (designated for starters): Cornerbacks Corn Elder and Ladarius Gunter, safeties Nantambu Fentress and Dallas Crawford, defensive linemen Olsen Pierre and Anthony Chickillo and linebacker Denzel Perryman.

> Junior defensive tackle Corey King remained in a yellow non-contact jersey. He was in one Monday, too.

> Gadbois, competing for the starting right tackle job with freshman Kc McDermott, said he took all the first team reps Tuesday with McDermott backing him up. It was the first time this week Gadbois said he took all the reps. McDermott and him had been splitting the reps.

"I assume the battle never stops," Gadbois said. "I'm just going to keep pushing forward with what I've got to do. I took all the reps with the ones and he took the reps with the twos [Tuesday]. Whatever. Coach's call. But like I said when we go to Louisville I'll be the starter."

> The cornerback position continues to be a hot battle.

Corn Elder said he continues to get most of the reps at field corner with Tracy Howard working in with him. At the boundary corner, it's Ladarius Gunter leading the way with Artie Burns getting some reps. 

"I think a lot of guys are getting used to competing and not worrying about the end result," Golden said. "They're just trying to get better. Obviously our team will get better if we keep doing that. We have a group there -- certainly five -- we'll rotate into the game and a lot of guys fighting for that nickel spot too."

> Quarterback Ryan Williams will travel with UM to Louisville, but won't play. Williams, who said his surgically repaired right knee was about 85 percent on Monday, has not been cleared for contact, Golden said, but "he's cleared to progress what he's confident with." 

"To say he's ready for middle dog blitz at him or the ability to step up with somebody coming at him those are all things that have to be determined by the doctor no question about it," Golden said. "He's making progress. We're pleased with how he's progressing. But at the end of the day it's going to be a medical decision and a decision Ryan has to make in conjunction with the medical staff, training staff and his family."

August 25, 2014

Backups Williams, Heaps talk and more notes from Canes practice

A day after it was announced true freshman Brad Kaaya had been named Miami's starting quarterback, the guys backing him up -- seniors Ryan Williams and Jake Heaps -- talked about the situation.

> Asked if Kaaya was keeping his seat warm, Williams smirked and said: "I mean, they couldn’t sit around and wait for me, I guess. I’m hurt. I didn’t think I was going to play Week 1. Didn’t really expect to. The recovery’s been a long time, but it’s still been faster than a lot of people. They had to move on. They couldn’t wait around and see if I could play or not. Glad for Brad. He had a great camp. I think he’s very smart. I think he can get the job done.”

Williams, who started as a true freshman for Memphis back in 2010 and lost 56-0 at Louisville during a 1-11 season, will be making the road trip with the Canes next week even though he won't be physically ready to play. Coach Al Golden said he's taking Williams because he wants his leadership there.

With redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen suspended for at least the opener, freshman Malik Rosier will also probably be making the trip, Golden said, as the team's third quarterback behind Heaps.

“It’s a big confidence-booster," Williams said of being on the travel roster. "Just means that I’m there to help my team regardless of the situation. Even though I can’t play, I’ll still be there to talk with Brad on the sideline and the other players on the sideline regardless of what happens.

“I did a lot of that last year. Me and Stephen would talk about everything, every drive, every play, really. So I don’t expect any different this year.” 

> Williams said his surgically repaired right knee is about 85 percent. In camp, Williams participated in 7-on-7 work and "did a little bit of team stuff one day," but he still hasn't been into full-speed reps very much.

Williams said he is "just trying to get moving on it and throwing on the run and getting the cutting down and all that stuff” and hopes to get into more team drills soon. But there is no timetable for a return. 

> Heaps, who transferred in from Kansas with the hopes of being Miami's starting quarterback when Williams went down in April, said Monday he's not considering transferring after losing out to Kaaya. 

"I'm happy to be here," Heaps said. "I don't have regrets being here. This is a great opportunity and we'll just see what happens the rest of the season. All we know is we're getting ready for game one and we're excited for it.

"For me, it's just about keeping my head up,  just continuing to work hard and practice hard and be a team guy. When my team needs me I'll be ready. That's all I can do at this point."

Heaps missed UM's second scrimmage with what Golden said was elbow soreness. But it appears it was a little more than soreness. Williams called what happened to Heaps "an unfortunate accident in practice."

Still, neither backup quarterback said they felt Heaps missing the scrimmage factored into Kaaya winning the starting job.

"It wasn’t like my arm got tired or anything like that," Heaps said. "I won’t really get into the details of it, but it was something that I just needed to have some time to recover from.

"So I don't think [that was a factor]. I think it was over a period of camp and a full evaluation. I don't think one day makes or breaks you. But me not being out there, I would have loved to be out there with my team and be in the game situation and compete out there. It would have been better than not being out, but I don't think it was the deciding factor."

Said Williams: "I didn’t think it really hurt his chances. Brad had a great camp, it wasn’t like he was given it for no reason.”

MORE NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden said sophomore walk-on Justin Vogel, a transfer from Florida, had a really good day punting Monday. It appears safe to say he's leading in the race for the job over senior Ricky Carroll. Vogel apparently is also impressing on kickoffs.

"It comes at a good time," Golden said "Tomorrow is a big special teams day."

> Six players on the offensive line -- including sophomore Taylor Gadbois -- were wearing orange starter jerseys Monday, and Golden said he isn't sure who is going to be in the starting five. 

"But I feel like we have a rotation now," Golden said. "Kc [McDermott] is making progress. Alex Gall is making progress. Trevor Darling. We're definitely in a better position than we were at the beginning of camp and certainly coming out spring ball. 

Golden said a lot of jobs will remain up for grabs all the way up until Saturday's practice. 

"A lot of those jobs -- it's all the game within the game," Golden said. "You guys maybe don't see the guy coming in on short yardage and one guy leaving. Well that job is up for grabs. Goalline that job is up from grabs. On the nickel those jobs are up for grabs. Those are all different jobs on defense. Offense the same thing. 21, 12, 11, 10 personnel. Empty package. Those are all up for grabs. We have a long way to go -- five more practices -- before that."

> Tight end Clive Walford said the veterans in UM's offense are all pushing to make Kaaya feel more comfortable in the huddle. 

"He's still kind of young," Walford said. "We're all trying to teach him when he calls a play in the huddle to make sure everybody knows the play, and before he snaps the ball to make sure everybody is set and the guys in motion are in motion. We're trying to stay on top of him with that. As soon as he messes up in the huddle the veteran guys correct him."

> Why does cornerback Tracy Howard think Kaaya won the starting job?

"I think it's his pocket presence," Howard said. "He has great footwork in the pocket. He has a natural feel. He does a great job stepping up and avoiding defenders in the pocket. He makes great decisions. You can't beat a guy who makes great decisions. He rarely makes bad decisions. I feel like before he'll throw an interception he'll throw it away. I just feel like he makes great decisions with the ball. He moves the ball down the field. He moves the sticks."

How is Kaaya's arm strength compared to Stephen Morris? "I feel like he's got good strength and he can get the job done. They're starting him for a reason. I feel like his strength is up to par."

Is Howard nervous about starting a true freshman at quarterback opening night? "No. I'm not nervous," Howard said. "I feel like he goes up against a good defense in practice every day. I feel like he handled himself very well. Not saying sometimes we didn't get the best of him. But he goes out there and makes plays. I feel like if he can do it against us he can do it against defense in the country."

> Even though freshman Darrion Owens is wearing a black jersey in practice, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said nothing is official yet in terms of him getting the starting nod over Thurston Armbrister at strongside linebacker. 

> D'Onofrio said Antonio Crawford, Howard and Corn Elder are the three players competing at nickel corner. "We’ve got some flexibility there as far as the combination there," he said. "Obviously they all play corner as well."

Early morning Monday for Miami Hurricanes

The Miami Hurricanes were already doing their walk-through by 7 a.m. this morning.

Afterward, we got to watch the first 15 minutes of practice. 

It's definitely game-week for the opener a week from tonight at Louisville, but it's also something else today for the Hurricanes: the first day of college classes.

Think Brad Kaaya, the new starting quarterback, has a lot on his mind?

Coach Al Golden was on the Joe Rose show on 560 WQAM this morning, and said he wanted to get a really early start for the kids today so they could have the whole day in front of them to focus on school.

 How much do you think they think about school during the day, vs. football?

 Anyway, you don't have to answer that.

Here's who I saw wearing the orange jerseys, in no particular order, for the offense (orange signifies first-team or the players who most recently performed well): RB Duke Johnson, OT Kc McDermott (he has been playing first-team RT), OG Danny Isidora, RB Gus Edwards, OT Taylor Gadbois, OT Ereck Flowers, WR Malcolm Lewis, FB Ronnie Regula, TE Standish Dobard, TE Clive Walford, WR Stacy Coley, WR Phillip Dorsett, C Shane McDermott, LG Jon Feliciano.

 Here's who I saw wearing the black jerseys, in no particular order, for the defense (black signifies first-team or the players who most recently performed well): DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE Anthony Chickillo, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Raphael Kirby, LB Darrion Owens (Al Golden lauded him today on the radio), S Dallas Crawford, CB Corn Elder, DT Olsen Pierre

  Glad to see S Deon Bush (green jersey, for defensive players who aren't in black) without any type of limited (yellow) jersey on. Deon has had his share of injuries over the past couple seasons and he is a real talent. He just needs to stay healthy.

  Also glad to see Gus the Bus in orange for the second consecutive day. He's a bull, and Canes need him to perform, too.

 A new player who is being added to the roster is Collin Alford, a running back who will wear No. 45. He played for Miami Columbus High (two-time All-Dade selection) and the Fighting Falcons of Fairmont State University in West Virginia (at least in 2011 and 2012), from what I looked up.

 ***TE Beau Sandland is transferring, according to Palm Beach Post, and even though Golden didn't respond to the question, saying he'll address the situation as soon as he talks to Sandland, it appears to be true. Sandland was not at practice this morning. That leaves Clive Walford and Standish Dobard as the go-to tight ends. 

** Kind of felt bad for Jake Heaps this morning. OL coach Art Kehoe was giving him crap for not getting a play off fast enough in very early drills. I like Heaps and I thought he'd be named the starter. But I have to give kudos to Al Golden and James Coley for not going the safe route and choosing the guy they think is ready for the moment.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

August 24, 2014

Brad Kaaya new starting QB for Miami Hurricanes

A true freshman will lead the way.

Finally, a week and a day before the University of Miami season opener at Louisville on Labor Day night, coach Al Golden named a starting quarterback -- and that quarterback is 18-year-old Brad Kaaya.

"Brad Kaaya will be the starter,'' Golden said, calling the decision "close'' as reporters began immediately posting the news on Twitter. "Jake understands exactly what he needs to do in terms of getting ready and supporting Brad, and Brad knows that the competition is going to continue.

   "We've got a long way to go in terms of the season. There's competition at every position.
   "It was a tight battle. It was a battle that none of us, including you guys, could have foresaw at the end of June or beginning of July or maybe even at the beginning of camp. I'm excited about that position.

   "In Ryan [William's] absence, those two had a great battle. Kevin Olsen really improved, so I'm excited about him. But right now, Brad nudged out Jake and he's our quarterback.''

   Golden said he made the decision this morning and told the media after practice Sunday that Kaaya "nudged out'' graduate transfer Jake Heaps, 23, who played his first two years at BYU, transferred to Kansas and spent the next two years there, and transferred again this summer to Miami.

  Kaaya will not be made available to the media until after the Louisville game, which is the usual policy for freshmen who haven't played  in a game. Heaps and Ryan Williams, who were both requested by media members, however, also were not made available to the media Sunday.

 

    UM offensive coordinator James Coley said the decision had nothing to do with the injury (elbow) that kept Heaps out of the second scrimmage.

  "I thought that Jake did a great job this camp and I just thought that, you know, Kaaya towards the end here really pulled away and started getting really comfortable, and like I've been saying, he's not your regular freshman, right?'' Coley said. "He's not a freshman anymore, he's the starting quarterback at the University.     "He's really embraced it. There's no hiccups.

   "It was tough early coming in. Down maybe the last eight to 10 days you saw him get a lot [more] comfortable out here with the players and with the speed of the game.''

   Kaaya, 6-4 and 206 pounds, is from West Hills, Calif. and was an All-American at West Hills Chaminade College Preporatory.  Kaaya led Chaminade to a 23-3 record as a starter and threw for a school-record 3,855 yards during a state-championship senior season, and has impressed everyone this fall camp.

Heaps, 6-1 and 210 pounds, came out of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., as a Parade All-American ranked the nation's No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com. He completed 219 of 383 passes in all 13 games his freshman season at BYU, good for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns, with nine interceptions, setting nearly every BYU freshman record.

But last season at Kansas he completed only 49 percent of his passes for 1,414 yards, with eight touchdowns and 10 picks.

  Golden said Kaaya "has come along great'' in terms of progressing with his communication skills and being more vocal. "He's really maturing. We're putting him in a tough environment every day in terms of the music [UM blasts at practice]. I think the biggest thing now is to get him to... because we don't have our whole offense in for the opener, he'll improve by leaps and bounds in the next three or four days."

 What was Heap's reaction?

  "They were both very positive,'' Golden said. "I don't want to get too much into the personal stuff in terms of protecting our privacy. But obviously both are really positive guys, they've been great the entire competition and they know it's an ongoing thing. It's all about performance and execution. That's where we are today. Brad is the starter going into the opener and Jake knows he needs to support the starter and get ready to go.''

   What does this mean for Williams, the fifth-year senior who would have been the starter had he not torn his ACL in April?

   "Ryan, as I said all along, that's a medical issue right now,'' Golden said. "When it's not a medical issue anymore and he can do everything that we need our quarterbacks to do,then we'll look at it in every angle and see what's best for our football team. But right now that's not part of the equation. His health right now, his strength, his ability to rehab and return is paramount for him. Once he does that we'll evaluate the situation.''

   Kaaya did not come to UM for spring football, which makes this decision even more impressive.

   "The biggest thing was we saw how much he was devoted to it, how many sacrifices he made, how well he learned and how it translated to the field,'' Golden said. "A guy can be good in the film room or be good out of the book and then it doesn't translate. But it has translated here. We've put him in very tough situations. 

   "We've put him under the gun, his completion percentage is good, he's protected the ball really well, he can articulate the offense, he's very poised. At the end of the day, as I told him, he's our quarterback. He's not a freshman quarterback, he's the University of Miami quarterback.''

   Golden said this is the first time in his career he's starting a true freshman at quarterback.

  And this will be the first time that a true freshman quarterback starts for the Hurricanes in an opener since Jacory Harris was anointed in 2008. Harris' selection was the result of former quarterback Robert Marve being arrested on a misdemeanor charge in Coconut Grove, and thus suspended for the opener.

The 2008 opener was against Division I-AA Charleston Southern, which UM throttled 52-7. 

The Canes finished 7-6 in 2008, with Marve and Harris sharing reps during games.

Louisville, which embarrassed the Hurricanes 36-9 this past December, is in the "others receiving votes'' category in the Associated Press poll -- equal to a ranking of 31, while UM would be ranked 39th in the AP.

UM coach Al Golden said he will not allow Kaaya to speak to the media until after he plays his first game.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

August 22, 2014

New high for Canes' season-ticket sales at Sun Life. Oh, you want FSU tickets? Read this.

   The Hurricanes have sold more than 31,000 season tickets this season – “more than we’ve ever sold since we moved to Sun Life Stadium in 2008,’’ said Chris Freet, UM’s senior associate athletic director for communications, marketing and sales. "We're really pleased, really excited." 

   There are 27,000 seats in the lower Sun Life bowl, and the Canes have sold 95-percent of the seats that aren’t allocated to students (5,500), visiting teams (about 800) and recruits and high school coaches (about 1,500), Freet said.

   The capacity of Sun Life is 75,000, but goes down to 67,000 when the four corners are covered with tarp.

    Last year the Canes sold 29,917 season tickets, Freet said.

   "The impact of the Florida game on the schedule last season was fantastic and we've only played the Gators at home once every 10 years historically,'' Freet said. "This year, with Florida State on the schedule, which comes in every two years, the fact that we're outpacing last year is really, really exciting for us in terms of growing our fan base No. 1 and the impact it will have on revenue for our department.''

FSU TICKETS

   Now, the more pressing issue for Canes fans: single-game tickets to FloridaState on Nov. 15 have already been sold out through the Hurricane Club, Freet said. The only way to still get a ticket to FSU is by buying a “mini-plan’’ that encompasses both the FSU and North Carolina (Nov. 1) games. The least expensive mini-plan is $108.00 for upper-bowl seats.

   The cheapest ticket Friday for the FSU game on StubHub.com was $112.89.

   Freet said the 1,500 tickets UM got for the Sept. 1 Louisville opener have been sold out.

  “What we heard from our fans is that it’s a difficult trip because they’d have to travel back on Tuesday, a work day,’’ he said.

   Freet added that there will be “a much larger group of UM fans at Nebraska’’ on Sept. 20. He did not specify how many seats have been allocated to the Canes.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 21, 2014

Canes cancel Friday practice, end camp

 

Apparently, the Miami Hurricanes don't need any more stinking training camp.

In an email sent out late Thursday night the University said Friday's practice had been canceled, essentially wrapping up camp. The Hurricanes will instead be off Friday and around to sign autographs Saturday from 4-7 p.m. at CanesFest.

Preparation for Louisville officially begins on Sunday when practice resumes.