September 12, 2016

Hot off the Press: UM Hoops Schedule!

By Michelle Kaufman

Yes, yes, we know it's still early in the football season, so nobody's really thinking basketball yet.

But the ACC released the men's basketball schedule on Monday afternoon, so stop gushing over Mark Richt for just one moment and mark your calendars!

Miami will play at Virginia on Feb. 20 as part of ESPN's Big Monday schedule, and will also play four other games on ESPN/ESPN2: vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 12), at Duke (Jan. 21), at Louisville (Feb. 11), and at Virginia Tech (Feb. 27).

The Canes also have two CBS games: Jan. 28 against North Carolina and Feb. 25 against Duke.

Among Miami's home opponents are NCAA runner-up North Carolina, Notre Dame (Elite 8), and Duke (Sweet 16).  The Hurricanes play road games at Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, Pitt, FSU, and Virginia Tech.

UM's first exhibition game is vs. Barry at the BUC on Nov. 2. The first conference home game is Dec. 31 against NC State -- yes, New Year's Eve, but 4:30 p.m., so plenty of time to party afterward.

"We need to defend our home court again this season," said UM coach Jim Larranaga. "Our fans helped create an electric atmosphere and we are looking forward to having that home court advantage again this year."

The full schedule:

Nov. 2 vs. Barry (exhibition), 7 p.m.

Nov. 11 vs. Western Carolina, 7 p.m.

Nov. 16 at UNF, 7 p.m.

Nov. 19 vs. Penn, 4 p.m.

Nov. 24 vs. Stanford, 2:30 p.m. in Orlando

Nov. 25 vs. Indiana State/Iowa State in Orlando

Nov. 27 vs. Florida/Gonzaga/Quinnipiac/Seton Hall in Orlando

Nov. 30 vs. Rutgers 7 p.m.

Dec. 3 vs. Wofford

Dec. 6 vs. South Carolina St, 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 vs. FAU, 7 p.m.

Dec. 22 vs. George Washington, 7 p.m.

Dec. 28 vs. Columbia, 7 p.m.

Dec. 31 vs. NC State, 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 4 at Syracuse, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Pitt, noon

Jan. 18 at Wake Forest, 8 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Duke, TBA

Jan. 25 vs. Boston College, 9 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m.

Feb. 1 vs. FSU, 8 p.m.

Feb. 4 at NC State, 3 p.m.

Feb. 8 Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Louisville, TBA

Feb. 15 vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.

Feb. 18 vs. Clemson, noon

Feb. 20 at Virginia, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25 vs. Duke, 4 p.m.

Feb. 27 at Va Tech, 9 p.m.

March 4 at FSU, 4 p.m.

March 7-11: ACC Tournament, Brooklyn, NY

September 11, 2016

Canes Talk (after Canes Walk): My Impressions after Miami beat FAU 38-10


***We aren't hallucinating. This 4-3, let's-slam-the-quarterback defense, brought to you by Manny Diaz, is the real deal.

 The Canes, one of the worst teams in the nation last year in rushing defense, have allowed 22 and 47 yards, respectively, the past two weeks. They had three sacks last week and seven Saturday. That's 10 total, compared to 26 in all of 2015. They had 15 tackles for loss last week and 13 Saturday. That's 28 in two weeks, compared with 66 last season. They are madly aggressive, don't give up or give in, love to gang tackle and are clearly in great shape physically. 

  The three true freshman linebackers? Wow. Wow. Wow. Weak-side starter Michael Pinckney joins middle starter Shaq Quarterman as an absolute beast. He's fast, he's fearless and he definitely has that old-time swag and the talent to back it up. Pinckney led UM with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. UM fans better hope for them to stay healthy, because what's behind them is thin and inexperienced.Defensive linemen R.J. McIntosh, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas and freshman Joe Jackson have been impressive, as has Kendrick Norton -- though he appeared to get hurt. And, kudos to Darrion Owens, who got two tackles in his first game back after a severe knee injury suffered exactly a year ago against FAU. Diaz said the return of Owens was the best thing about the defensive story Saturday.


*** Run, Canes, run! Miami has gone from 117th in the nation in rushing offense to a team that has to be among the top after the first couple games, with 373 yards last game (three 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987) and 279 Saturday among Mark Walton and Joe Yearby. Walton, a sophomore, is really agile, shifty, quick and strong. Last week he had a career-high 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Saturday he had 155 yards and four touchdowns running -- the first time that a Cane has rushed for four scores since Tyrone Moss did it against UNC in 2005. Joe Yearby added 121 yards and a touchdown Saturday on 20 carries. Walton averaged 9.1 yards a carry; Yearby, 6.1. Not sure why Gus Edwards didn't get in. Mark Richt praised Edwards and said on this particular night, the the other two did a good enough job. Bottom line: a running game is what will make it harder for defenses and take some pressure off Brad Kaaya and the passing game, which struggled Saturday, though Kaaya came back much stronger in the second half.


*** Cut out the penalties -- or else. Miami was last in the nation last year in penalties with 1,094 yards worth. In the opener the Canes were disciplined as well as dominant, committing only six penalties for 54 yards. On Saturday, they were flagged nine times for 90 yards. Keep making mistakes and it will definitely hurt them."Very disappointing,'' Richt said. "Some of them, there's no excuse whatsoever. We have to get better. I don't want this to be a recurring theme, but just not enough discipline, and I'm not doing a good enough job of sending the message, I guess.'' When the Canes start facing better teams, penalties (or lack thereof) could make a difference in a win or loss.



September 08, 2016

Hurricanes' defense gets another hit, and Muhammad posts his whereabouts.


 ***If you thought the Canes' defense was in bad shape physically, it has gotten worse.

 On Thursday night, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt confirmed to Miami Herald correspondent Peter Ariz and to two other reporters at a community park in Pembroke Pines, that defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins and cornerback Adrian Colbert had medical procedures -- knee surgeries, though Richt didn't specify. The University of Miami had put out a press release saying Jenkins and Colbert had "lower extremity'' injuries and wouldn't play Saturday against FAU. When Ariz asked Richt about the report of Colbert "dealing with a knee issue," Richt said, "Yeah, he won't play for sure this week. Not a season-ending thing. It'll probably be a matter of days. I don't know how many days.''

Ariz: "Did he have to have a procedure?"

Richt: "Yeah, he got cleaned up.''

Ariz: "Same thing with Courtel?"

Richt: "Yeah, same thing.'' 

Then, Richt said: "Football is a contact sport... Neither one of these are too serious.''

The Palm Beach Post reported through a source Thursday that Colbert, a graduate transfer from Texas, tore the meniscus in his knee Wednesday "and could miss multiple weeks," adding later in another report that the injury wasn't as bad as originally thought; and that defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who we had reported wouldn't be playing, had surgery for a torn meniscus. Colbert had an interception that he ran back 46 yards to the FAMU 40 -- the second of his career -- in the opener. UM scored five plays later. Until now, all the injuries and/or dismissals had been among the D-line and linebackers. Sophomore Sheldrick Redwine is the player expected to replace Colbert, with other young corners available, such as Michael Jackson, the speedy Malek Young, Ryan Mayes and Terrance Henley.


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*** Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who was dismissed from UM along with linebacker Jermaine Grace for what UM said was a violation of NCAA rules in relation to a Miami Beach luxury rental car company, has surfaced at Hampton University -- an FCS school. 

Muhammad posted on Instagram a photo of a Hampton University football helmet but wrote about his former Canes. Ariz first reported of Muhammad's enrollment at the school, through a source, on his site. Hampton had still not added Muhammad to the football roster as of Thursday evening. Muhammad would not have to sit out a year with the football team, because the PIrates are not in the FBS.

"Sorry for the wait...'' he wrote. "...I lost a lot off people in the past couple weeks family love ones close ones friends people that I would have never thought in a million years would have turned there back on me but it is what it is guess what God and football not going anywhere every play I make I'm throwing up the U for them 305 boys S/O 2016 cane players. #AQM #8 #ALWAYSACANE #305 #973 #RichtEra.''






September 07, 2016

Mark Richt: Freshman receiver Sam Bruce is a "great, great practice player.''



Receiver Sam Bruce is a name we haven't heard a lot of this camp because it was pretty much known he'd be suspended to start off the season.

But when UM coach Mark Richt was asked about Bruce on Wednesday after practice, Richt was effusive.

"Great, great practice player,'' Richt said. "Works hard. Brings a lot of energy. He's not getting as many reps as the other guys, so he's fresher. But when he gets his reps, he's going full-speed. He looks like a player. I would hope, by the time he gets in position to be in the game, that he'll know enough to play. I would think we'll be integrating him into the plan. Hopefully, where we'd feel comfortable, is he knows it all. But if not, we'll pick and choose some spots for him. He'll play."


Richt said of fellow freshman receiver Dionte Mullins, the last player to arrive before classes began: "He's still learning. He does not know all the plays, to the point where I can just call a game and not worry about him. If he's in the game, I have to know and take care of him a little bit. And that's last Saturday. He'll get better this Saturday. Somewhere along the line, when we feel comfortable that he knows what to do, he'll play. Because he has got the ability."


Defensive end “Toolbox Trent” Harris, one of Miami's most reliable players, is still practicing fully, though he has a broken left hand and said he was limited to “8 to 10’’ snaps Saturday in UM’s 70-3 victory over FAMU.

Harris is a 6-2, 250-pound junior from Winter Park who had 49 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery last year as a linebacker/rush end in UM’s former 3-4, read-and-react scheme. He played at least three positions in some games.

Now he’s wearing a giant, soft-padded wrapping -- a "club'' -- on the bare hand that was hit by a helmet during practice. He’ll be at it again Saturday against FAU (1-0).

“I don’t have a strong grip with it,’’ Harris, designated as the “Viper’’ on UM’s defense, said Wednesday. “All I can do is do my best. I’ve just got to play like it’s off and whatever happens, happens.’’

Though Harris had won the starting position after original starter Al-Quadin Muhammad was dismissed from the team, Demetrius Jackson got the nod for the opener. Jackson had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one breakup and one quarterback hurry -- quite a performance. 


Richt said on Wednesday that defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins (leg/knee) and Anthony Moten (shoulder) are questionable for FAU. Jenkins didn't practice Tuesday and wasn't even at practice during the media viewing Wednesday, so it seems unlikely he'll play. Moten was at practice the past two days.




September 06, 2016

Mark Richt: "When you start thinking you're pretty good is when you get whupped.''


Quick hits from coach Mark Richt's press conference today before FAU game:

***"Had a good practice. Full pads, a lot of run game. We did a good job. I thought the first half of practice was actually very good. I thought the second half of practice they started to break down a little bit – similar to our ball game. I think we to a slight degree lost a little focus."

*** On the season-ending injury to redshirt freshman linebacker Jamie Gordinier and what happens next: "Gordinier getting hurt early in the game, I mean it's sad. Anytime a guy gets hurt and can't play the rest of the season -- they work so hard...It's hearbreaking...And then it also puts pressure on the rest of the team...We've lost depth across the board in defense and in special teams. We hurt when guys get hurt...Guys have to rise up, but it puts pressure on your second team, it puts pressure on your scout team, it puts pressure on your special teams. The more attrition you have the tougher it is for everybody to stay healthy.''

*** On productive safety Jaquan Johnson observing and practicing with the linebackers today: "A nickel back is basically a SAM (strong-side) linebacker. That's basically what he is. So will he play that in a 2-receiver set? I don't know. If he has to he will. But a lot of people are three- and four-receiver sets, so we're in a lot of nickel anyway. We can play with just two linebackers in those situations.''

 *** "Offensively, they go about as fast as a team can go,'' (on FAU) said Richt.

*** Richt, when asked if he's kind of looking forward to more adverse situations this week: "(laughed) I mean, I'm human. I like it when I don't have to fret too much when I look at tape. These guys present a challenge... They have a lot of confidence in their cornerbacks. They play a lot of press...''

 ***"It was great to see [FB] Marquez [Williams] score the first touchdown of the year…We do believe in having a lead blocker, not every play."

*** Richt on if he likes the local rivalry aspect: "There are a lot of teams in the state. You could play just about the whole schedule here in this state. I don't get too involved in making the decisions on the schedule... Tell me who we're going to play, where we're going to play and let's go...''

*** Richt on his decision not to allow freshmen to talk to the media today: "No freshmen today was basically a one-day decision made by me. The whole team is human obviously. When people say, 'Wow, you did great. You did great. You did great,' the more of that, the less they tend to focus and all of a sudden they start believing, 'Man, I'm pretty good.' And when you start thinking you're pretty good is when you get whupped...I'm just trying to help them focus...I'm just trying to slow down the train just for a little bit to let them settle a little bit.''

From during our 15 minutes of media viewing:

***Defensive end Trent Harris was practicing with a large, soft-padded cast on his broken left hand.

*** Sophomore safety Jaquan Johnson was observing and practicing with the linebackers. Richt said he's nickel back, and if UM has to, it can play with only two linebackers. 

*** Defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who limped off the field in the fourth quarter against FAMU, was riding on an exercise bike -- without moving his right leg.




September 05, 2016

New Miami depth chart for FAU has changes after suspension, season-ending injury


First of all, feeling bad for redshirt freshman linebacker Jamie Gordinier, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in his first college game. What a shame for him and for the already thin Hurricanes' defense, which had a great opener regardless. 

Here's wishing Gordinier a fast and successful recovery.

With Gordinier, the weak-side backup to starter Michael Pinckney, out of commission, the new depth chart released Monday has Darrion Owens moving up as the backup for this Saturday's game against FAU.

Owens, a 6-3, 245-pound redshirt sophomore out of Orange Park Oakleaf (same school at which freshman middle linebacker Shaquille Quarterman played), tore his ACL early last season against FAU, and although he has been practicing, he hasn't been ready to play in a game.

On Aug. 23, a couple days before UM's practice game using scout teamers against the starters, coach Mark Richt was asked about the health of Owens. "I'd say [Owens] is not likely right now to be a starter,'' he said, "but we just want him to be healhty before he really goes full speed. I"m not saying Owens won't get a crack at it before it's over...''

Another depth-chart change: Defensive tackle Anthony Moten, who has an injured right shoulder and did not play in the opener, has been replaced by redshirt freshman Ryan Fines as the backup to R.J. McIntosh. Fines had two tackles and half a sack in his college debut Saturday.

Junior defensive end Trent Harris, who fractured his hand last week and was limited against FAMU, but was replaced by Demetrius Jackson as a starter in that game, is still listed as a starter.

Now, the very encouraging news: former five-star defensive tackle prospect Gerald Willis, a Florida transfer who sat out last year per NCAA rules and was suspended for FAMU, is back in the lineup behind Kendrick Norton. FAU would be Willis' first game as a Hurricane.

Courtel Jenkins, who backed up Norton in the opener and limped off the field in the fourth quarter, is no longer on the depth chart. Jenkins had a nice game with three tackles for loss. When Richt was asked Sunday for an update about Jenkins, he said he wouldn't know until today, UM's off day.

Stay tuned.




September 04, 2016

Here's what Miami coach Mark Richt said after UM's 70-3 victory over FAMU


Opening Statement…

“Just very thankful for the victory. I thought our guys showed up with the right frame of mind and played very well early on. I thought towards the mid-second quarter, there were a couple lapses on offense that weren’t really clean - jumping offside on a quarterback sneak on third-and-one, or dropping a ball that should have been caught on a deep ball. The deep balls could have been thrown just a little bit better, to allow the receivers to run away from coverage a little bit. A couple of catchable balls - I thought the one to [Stacy] Coley quite frankly, I guess I’m not allowed to say, but I thought it was pass interference but I won’t say that. The play before, I’m not supposed to say, but I didn’t think it was holding either.

“Anyways, at the very end, getting a punt blocked wasn’t great, but I thought the rest of the special teams were outstanding. We blocked a punt and returned one for a touchdown, which was great. We ran the ball well obviously – three backs got over 100 yards, which is unique, but we got three really solid backs and we have a few more behind them that aren’t bad. That was good. I thought the line played well in the run game. We gave up a sack on a third-and-medium that was a little hitch-and-go route that I thought we had open for a big play, but we just had a lineman not block the gap he was supposed to block, which was disappointing on a third downs. I think that was the third down right after the one where we jumped offsides. We jump offsides then give up a sack, which wasn’t very good. Other than that, I thought we played pretty good. I’m just thankful for the victory.”


On making his debut as head coach of the Hurricanes and the emotions surrounding it…

“I’ve had the ability to kind of focus on the things I can control: the types of plays that we’re going to call, the formations they’re supposed to be in, calling a game for the first time in a while, that’s where all my thought process was. I want to give props to [defensive coordinator] Coach Diaz and [special teams coordinator] Coach Hartley, because I’ve not spent much time at all getting in the middle of defense or getting in the middle of special teams or the kicking game, so I can focus on the job I’ve got to do as a play-caller. Really, my emotions I don’t get too emotional when I try to focus. My goal is to stay calm and try to make the best calls I possibly can for the team. I don’t know, for whatever reason… there are times when I’ll get visibly mad or visibly happy, but this wasn’t one of those games. It just didn’t turn out to be that way, pretty anti-climactic type thing. I’m just trying to get guys to play hard, execute the whole way though and, for the most part, I thought we did.”

On the emotions of his first Hurricane Walk…
“That was good. I enjoyed that – just being with the people and seeing the fan base and the families, and just driving in and seeing the traffic. There was traffic - that was great. There was a lot of people tailgating throughout the entire parking lot, more than I can ever remember as a player really. I’m sure it was good or better for certain games or certain days, but I thought our fans did a great job. Seeing all the students up in the stands early was great as well. I really appreciate what the students did. Obviously the Band of the Hour, we love them too…cheerleaders, everybody.”

On the nervousness of his first game calling plays in a while, and if he was able to sleep…

“I actually slept pretty good last night. For whatever reason, there was a calmness that started last night. I was able to sleep. I didn’t go to bed until about midnight, but once I laid my head down, I slept pretty good.”

On getting back to play-calling…

“I enjoyed it. Any time you don’t score, you get upset with yourself from a call, or lack of execution or something along the way. We probably practiced more things than we should have going into this plan, but gosh, we had so long to get ready for the game, it’s hard not to put all those ideas together. My guess is we maybe called a half of what we repped [in practice]. There were a few more things that I thought were going to give us a chance, but at the time, it wasn’t time to throw certain pass routes once it got out of hand.”

On his evaluation of the play of quarterback Brad Kaaya…

“I don’t know. He did miss one on a scramble that he probably could have hit for a touchdown. We threw the deep ball to Ahmmon [Richards], which was a very catchable ball, but he had to slow down just a tad. [Stacy] Coley’s, he probably could have kept him on the run a little better too. I thought he got interfered with. But it’s better to put the ball in play to overthrow it, too. Overall, I thought he managed the game well, I thought he got us in the right running game just about every time he came to the running game with the options that we give him. I thought he did a nice job. I don’t think there’s any balls that could have or should have gotten picked, which is big for me. I thought he did good job.”

On his evaluation of the play of the freshmen linebacker trio…

“I think the defense in general played very well. It’s hard for me. Again, I’m focused so much on offense and even in between plays, I’m talking to coaches upstairs, talking to the run game guys - Coach Brown Coach Searels – about what we might run the next series. I’m really active. I’m not the coordinator, but when you call plays, there’s things that need to be done in between series as well. I didn’t watch a whole bunch. I’ll get in position where I’ll watch more as the season goes on, but for Game 1, I wanted to make sure I was doing my job well.”

On how to evaluate the team’s play with a 60-point lead…

“We want them to play hard, obviously we want to win the game, but we focus on the plays themselves and execution of the plays, and how hard we played and how well we tackled, how well we do our assignments – not just the assignments, but the technique. That’s what you have to focus on every play. That’s what I talked to them about at the end. I felt like, on that punt at the end, somebody on Florida A&M cared more than we did at that moment, and that can’t happen any time. You have to cherish every moment you get, every snap you get. If that had been the first play, I hope that wouldn’t have happened. My guess is that somebody relaxed a little bit and got the thing blocked.”

On the first running back trio to each rush for over 100 yards in a single game…

“Those guys all deserve it. They’re all very quality backs. The blocking was good. A lot of times they did make people miss, but there was some good blocking up front, there was some good blocking on the perimeter. The one touchdown to Ahmmon [Richards], even though it was not a run, there was very good blocking by the other two receivers. There was some good downfield blocking and perimeter blocking, which turns a six-yard gain into a 60-yard gain sometimes. In the end, guys have to make people miss to get long runs like that, and they were able to do that.”

On being a well-conditioned team, and what he thought of his team in that area…

“We were tired at times. Both teams were tired. It was hot. It was muggy…it was warm enough and muggy enough to make it tough. There were times that we had guys fatigued. But they played through it. I know we're in good condition. I know we went through the entire camp, and the way practiced we had one I.V. the entire camp on Day 1, and that was probably from nervous energy. We might have had a guy or two come out, but I didn’t see a lot of cramping. But there were a guys that probably came out. Overall, I think we’re in good condition. We can’t go backwards in that area. It’s too late now. We’ll keep practicing hard and keep practicing in the heat. We’ll get better.”

On if this season opener was any different than his time at Georgia…

“I’ll just say this: I really, really like it here. I do. I like these players, I like this University, I like the vibe of the city. I’m very thankful to be here at The U.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (thank you Cam Ghorbi)

September 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes true freshman Sam Bruce suspended three games


The University of Miami just announced that true freshman wide receiver Sam Bruce, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas, is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating team rules. That's one more we expected.

Also announced by Miami: Defensive tackle Gerald Willis, who transferred from Florida and already sat out last year, per NCAA transfer rules, is suspended for Saturday's opener against FAMU. We already knew about this one.

 Bruce's suspension stems from an alleged gun-photo incident the Miami Herald first reported back in February.

According to a source familiar with the situation in February, Bruce used the photo of himself with a weapon as part of an ongoing dispute with an older, former Aquinas male student over Bruce’s ex-girlfriend. The source said the photo ended up in the hands of the former student, who then called police and Aquinas.

The speedy, versatile Bruce, listed as 5-8 and 180 pounds, was a four-star prospect by ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. He was ranked as the No. 7 overall wide receiver in the nation.
Bruce was off limits to the media on media day, when true freshmen were allowed to speak.
It's believed that Willis' suspension stems from an incident last year.
The good news: wide receiver Stacy Coley, as we reported, will be playing today.

Game Day FINALLY. Notables for Miami Hurricanes against FAMU


Welcome to Miami Hurricanes Game Day. It's been too long, right?

Some things to check out on a day of many firsts (free form, random order):


***Mark Richt's first run out of the smoke as a coach and first appearance on the sideline. What will his demeanor be wearing the orange and green and white after 15 years as Georgia's head coach? Also, don't miss the Canes Walk at 4 p.m. at Southwest Gate of Hard Rock Stadium.

***Hard Rock Stadium. Will it feel like a new one after about $500 million in renovations?

***The fans. Kudos to UM athletic director Blake James for being right on point. He said he expected the Hurricanes to surpass 40,000 season tickets sold as of game day, and he announced Friday that, indeed, UM had surpassed that mark -- up more than 11,000 from last year's total. Here's hoping there's a big crowd out there today.

***The players -- how will their demeanor be on the sideline? Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, with his up-tempo, aggressive, get-to-the-quarterback style, thought these Hurricanes were not nearly emotional enough when they did something worth celebrating (without getting penalized of course). I'm interested to see if they step up to his challenge.

***The game

    DEFENSE:  A. How will the defense as a whole step up with the dismissal of end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace? UM was 101st in rushing defense last season, 110th in red zone defense and 77th in scoring defense.

    B. Defensive line: How much will Trent Harris (broken hand), who replaced Muhammad as starter, actually play? Can Kendrick Norton and R.J. McIntosh carry the load for the tackles, with talented tackle Gerald Willis suspended and A.J. Moten out with a shoulder injury?

    C. Linebackers * (see next listing)

    D. Freshmen: If Richt starts three true freshmen at linebacker -- Shaquille Quarterman in the middle, Michael Pinckney at weak-side and Zach McCloud at strong-side (and if not Zach, then redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier, who also has never played in a college game) -- it is likely the first time Miami has ever done that. That's a "wow" for sure. The three are considerable talents, and all arrived in January in time for spring ball, so all have been around Richt and Manny Diaz, who also serves as the linebackers coach, for as long as their older peers. Really looking forward to see how they handle the pressure and how they tackle.


   E. Defensive backs: Count on a good amount of two linebackers and five DBs to compensate for youth at LB. Looking forward to seeing Texas graduate transfer Adrian Colbert playing corner for the first time in college.

PENALTIES: Note that UM was dead last in penalties-per-game and penalty yards last year in the FBS, with an average of 9.31 penalties and 83.63 yards of penalties a game. We're thinking that is going to change this season.

  OFFENSE: A. How will the strength of this team step up as a unit and make it a bit less pressure-packed for the thin, young defense?

B. Mark Richt's play-calling: Psyched to see how Mark Richt does in his first play-calling gig in several years.

C. Running backs: Gus-the-Bus Edwards is back in the lineup after missing last year with an injury. Mark Richt runs a true pro-style offense, and likes the backs to do a good amount of work to make it easier on quarterback Brad Kaaya. How will Mark Walton, Joe Yearby (who surpassed 1,000 yards last season) and Edwards do? Also really looking forward to getting a glimpse of true freshman Travis Homer. Heard he was doing very well in practice.


D. Offensive line: Finally, they say they're all healed up after an injury-laden 2015. They are close with Kaaya and know his tendencies. This should be a vastly improved part of UM's defense. I'm interested in seeing how big, appreciative Sunny Odogwu does after knee surgery. Everyone admires him on the team, including offensive line coach Stacy Searels, and says he's been really good in practice. Center Nick Linder should be healthy and at his best.

E. Quarterback: Really looking forward to see Brad Kaaya today (on his 21st birthday). I know it's FAMU, but still... I'm sure Miami will play as vanilla as possible, but quarterbacks guru Richt has said Kaaya has improved in his mechanics, and just keeps improving in everything else. 

F. Receivers: So sorry we don't get to see Lawrence Cager (ACL), but looking forward to the Kaaya-Stacy Coley and Kaaya-Braxton Berrios connections, as well as newcomer Dayall Harris and true freshman Ahmmon Richards (if his turf toe is not ailing him too much). We expect talented slot man Sam Bruce to be suspended at least today -- and maybe even next week. That's yet to be seen. Like Richards, he could have a nice impact on the Hurricanes.

G. Tight ends: Watch David Njoku do his thing, as well as Chris Herndon. And won't that be fun if Michael Irvin II gets in there?

H. Fullback: Marquez Williams makes his debut with the Hurricanes. Will he put some guys on their backs?





Miami walk-on quarterback Beirne arrested for DUI, cocaine possession


Miami Hurricanes walk-on quarterback Tucker Beirne, a 6-2, 245-pound redshirt freshman out of Miami Columbus High, was arrested shortly after midnight Saturday by the Monroe County's Sheriff's Office in Tavernier, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Beirne was charged with one misdemeanor count of DUI (traffic offense, breath alcohol level of .08 or more) and one felony count of cocaine possession.

He was released on bond, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's website.

 A Miami spokesman said UM had no comment on the situation.

Beirne was not set to dress for the FAMU game.

Beirne, 19, is listed as a redshirt freshman. The UM media guide says he spent his freshman high school season at Aspen High in Colorado and his last three years at Columbus, "setting a school record with 7,957 career passing yards.''



Happy Birthday to Brad Kaaya -- your first present is game day


Could Brad Kaaya, one of the elite quarterbacks in college football, have a better start to his 21st birthday?

Wake up and it's game day.

That is, if he even could sleep at all.

This week, leading up to today's 6 p.m. home opener against FAMU, Brad told us that "It's still exciting. This first week it's always kind of hard to sleep at night.'' He said that Monday night "I kept waking up, kept dreaming about Saturday. That new feeling, it's always there, every year.''

Happy birthday to Brad. I have a feeling it's going to be a good one.

"The plan is to win every single game,'' Brad said. "And the plan is of course to win the Coastal and win the ACC championship. Here at Miami we aren't going to shortsight ourselves of our goals, so that's the plan for me and the plan for my teammates.''

Now, here's a real treat for Miami fans and some nice insight into the life of Brad Kaaya.

 Turns out Brad has a great touch for writing, too!

Any birthday wishes for Brad

 If this story doesn’t fire you up. Check your pulse.

August 30, 2016

Some quick hits from Miami coach Mark Richt's Tuesday pre-game presser


Some quick notes from Mark Richt's first pre-game press conference heading into FAMU opener Saturday:

*** "I've been here almost nine months now and it's been a lot of work between the first day and today...It's time to go line up and play and see what we've got."

*** On going to Hard Rock Stadium: "It is a very beautiful place and a little bit different from what the players are used to...We want to thank the Miami Dolphins.. for allowing us to use their bubble the other day. It was nice to be in the AC. I think we're used to the heat for sure."

*** FAMU coach Alex Wood "of course coached back here early in his career as a running  backs coach -- he won a couple national championships.''

*** The last few days knowing he has three true freshmen lbs that might start, what do you do to make sure they don't make this is into something that it's not?

"I think the big thing is just the fact that they've been here since January. They went through spring football.They went through matt drills first. They spent the whole summer with our strength staff getting stronger and faster and quicker. When we installed our defense in the spring they heard it for the first time with the rest of their defensive teammates. It's not like the rest of the defense had heard it before...They've been through three installations of the same defense and have heard it as often as anybody else that's been here... In a lot of ways they're not freshmen."

*** "Just wearing that U on your helmet for the first time has got to be a really surreal experience. It takes a minute. I guess at a contact position like linebacker it doesn't take long to get those feelings out because once you strike somebody for the first time or get struck one way or another you tend to get ready to play pretty quick.''

*** On how team responded to news about Grace and Muhammad: "We just got back to work." Richt says he talked to team about attrition and the next guy has got to be ready. "On the other hand they're teammates, they're friends, they're guys that have been working alongside them that have created the energy and momentum we have to this point. It hurts. It hurts us as coaches, it hurts the fans, it hurts the teammates. I'm sure it hurts the gentlemen. It is what it is. It's done. So what are we going to do now to make sure we win?"

*** On FAMU, an FCS team, what kind of things do you have to guard against?  "Well, I don't really look at it that way. When I approach any opponent I watch the film, I look at the scheme they're in.. and we schematically try to figure out what gives us the best chance to win."

*** On freshmen linebackers: "Yeah, that's a key spot. No doubt. I mean the heart of your defense and you've got a bunch of freshmen in there. Thank goodness for mid-year enrollees."

*** On how Malik Rosier finally won the backup quarterback job: "Evan Shirreffs did have an injury on his throwing hand in the middle of camp that didn't help his accuracy. But Malik at this point has begun to figure me out and do it the way I ask him to do it every single snap...He has improved quite a bit... He has some good athleticism. I think he can be a guy you can design a little bit quarterback run for -- that helps him as well. Shirreffs and [Vincent] Testaverde right now, it's more of a battle for [third team] now.

 *** Do you think safeties have skill-set to play in nickel spot? "Yes I do. I feel a lot better about our defensive backs today than I did at the end of spring. I was a little concerned.. I didn't know if we could tackle anybody in space... What a huge difference that I see now in our defensive backs and our safeties' ability to close that space, come at good angles and  get people corralled and get them on the ground... There might have been more interceptions in this camp that I'm used to seeing, period. ...Part of it is working with four guys trying to be second-team quarterback but I feel like we'll have enough defensive backs to play the nickel."

*** On Braxton Berrios: "I can kind of gauge our entire practice regimen by watching Braxton. If Braxton is dragging then we're probably doing too much. That guy, he doesn't drag around...I can't even tell you how many yards that cat runs. He's been a great leader. He's smart, he loves football...He can play the Z, he can play the Y and he can play the X.''

*** On why Mark Richt isn't using the GPS system: "Because I think there's a way to go about it without having to look at that thing.. I want it to be tough. I want them to push hard. I went them to go through the physical and mental toughness part of camp. I think you can watch them and know when to pull off...''

*** On calling plays again and the excitement: "The first time I called plays in the scrimmage in the spring I didn't sleep that night.. I was excited... My focus is going to be calling the game.. My focus is going to be on recruits.. that day. There will be so many things to keep me busy I don't think I'll get too nostalgic. I'm sure the Cane Walk will be an emotional time, but then we've got to get our minds right and get back to work.''








August 29, 2016

Miami coach Mark Richt on dismissals, freshmen who will play, Allison, Kaaya, more


UM coach Mark Richt made his first public statements Monday about the dismissals of defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace, thanks to a fine interview by WQAM's Joe Rose and Curtis Stevenson.

Click here to find out exactly what he said on Muhammad and Grace.

After he spoke about those players, here are some of the highlights from his interview:

***On how UM will compensate for the loss of the two players: "There’s always somebody next in line and that’s what we have to determine...We’re working 1s, we’re working 2s, we’re working 3s. They’re all working the same reps. We’re not making up something new for the 3rd team who may now be a second teamer."

***Any specifics? "Again every defensive end on our board. Joe Jackson, the young kid, is probably getting more reps than he would have gotten before...

***On the linebacker position: "...all three of those linebackers [Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Zach McCloud] that came in at midyear, they may all start before the season is over. 


***On the wide receiver corps: "We’re a lot better bunch than we were in the spring.'' Richt said that all three freshmen are expected to play this season. That would be Ahmmon Richards, Sam Bruce and Dionte Mullins. "The Mullins kids looks like he’s got some promise,'' Richt said.

*** Richt also praised walk-on redshirt sophomore receiver Mayweather, "who’s a walk-on who came in and really looks the part.'' Mayweather, listed as 6-1 and 185 pounds out of Olive Branch East Mississippi Community College, helped lead Olive Branch High to 2011 Class 6A state title and 15-0 record as a senior, recording 781 yards and five touchdowns on 41 catches. He originally was on UM's roster in 2013.

***On true freshman quarterback Jack Allison and freshman offensive tackle Tre Johnson: "Jack Allison is probably not going to play this year. You never know how things go, but other than that, maybe our young offensive tackle [Tre Johnson ] -- let’s see if things would have to happen for him to get in a game.

***On quarterback Brad Kaaya: "He already was a superbly accurate passer in my opinion, just outstanding in that way. For me he’s an outstanding decision-maker because he listens. He understands the system, why we’re working one side of the field as compared to the other and what progressions are and what he’s looking for in those progressions. I think he’s made a lot of improvement. I think he’s ready to go."

***The Canes were off Monday and will continue practicing on Tuesday for the 6 p.m. Saturday opener against FAMU. 




August 28, 2016

Owner of exotic rental agency says relatives paid for cars of former Canes Quan Muhammad, Jermaine Grace

Juan Caballero, the owner for South Beach Exotic Rentals, released a statement to the Miami Herald Sunday night regarding the dismissal of former Hurricanes defensive standouts Jermaine Grace and Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Grace, the team's leading tackler last season, and Muhammad, the team leader in sacks, were kicked off the team Saturday after a six-month probe into Caballero's company amid allegations the players broke NCAA rules by receiving improper benefits from the rental car agency. 

When he spoke to The Herald several weeks ago Caballero said he was unfamiliar with Jermaine Grace and did not know who he was.

"South Beach Exotic Rentals has been asked over the past few months to provide information relating to University of Miami Football players receiving exotic cars in exchange for memorabilia," Caballero said. "When we first were notified about this, we thought there must have been a mix up.  Therefore, we decided to cooperate and provide information that was requested.  For example, the university noticed that Al-Quadin Muhammad was seen on Instagram in exotic cars after games.  We provided them with the information (flight schedules, credit card receipts, insurance coverage, full payment) that Muhammad's cousin, Jeff, was in fact the one renting the cars, as he has for many years. 

"We also provided information that Jermaine Grace's uncle rented a car for him at full price.  They continued to ask for information which was well documented and provided.  There has been many University of Miami students over the years who have come by to test drive our cars in hopes of purchasing or leasing them when they graduated. This is also common with University of Miami Law students and Medical Students, who wish to check out our inventory in hopes of renting or purchasing at a later time.   They would simply show up and speak with a sales rep about sitting in the cars or taking them for a test drive, as they would at any dealership. 

"[Senior Associate Athletics Director for Compliance] Craig Anderson is the compliance officer who continuously would call and even show up to our place of business asking about information to help him make his case, that these kids were doing something wrong.  If we had such information, it would have been provided.  However, there has never been a single incident where a player has received preferential treatment or anything of value for free."

August 26, 2016

Will backup Miami QB possibly see playing time against FAMU? Mark Richt respects opponents too much to answer.

Don’t expect Mark Richt to say he wants to see certain players get experience against a team like, say, FAMU on opening night Sept. 3. On Friday, he made it clear that he’s not that type of coach.

   Some quick hits from Richt after today’s practice:

   ***“Would you like to see perhaps at least one of the backup quarterbacks get playing time if you have a good enough lead?’’

    “I’ll never answer that question,’’ Richt said twice. “I have total respect for our opponent, and our goal is to try and win it. If anybody on the whole team – if a second-teamer at any position earns it, he’ll play. Whether or not he goes in will be decided on how the game goes.’’

***So, with that now known, has he gained any clarity about the backup situation?

     “I’m just observing,’’ he said. “There’s no rush to decide.’’ He said Malik Rosier and Vincent Testaverde “are getting the reps. As we get close enough, we’ll let them know.’’

*** Richt, on his philosophy on redshirting: “I go as far as we can go. I think it’s Game 5 or 6 or something. After a certain game, it’s 100-percent done. I want everybody to not think they’re being redshirted until we get to that point, because Game 3, you might have two guys hurt in front of you, and guess what? You’re in the game. For that matter, you can be thinking you’re redshirting and all of a sudden in Game 9, you get two guys hurt in front of you and you’re in the game. You need to try to keep a mentality.

    “I don’t like to tell them they’re being redshirted. And if I do, if I said, ‘The plan is to redshirt you,’’ the plan also has to be to stay ready, which is hard to do.’’

*** Richt said the team will “go in just helmets’’ for Saturday’s practice. “We’ll still have the lower [pads] that you’d have for shell days. Then Sunday, we’re going to be in a normal week.’’

***Finally, when asked if he anticipates any further suspensions, Richt said, "I'll tell you all if I want to tell you all about that. I'm not going to give any information about that.'' 


August 23, 2016

Miami DT Gerald Willis suspended for opener and LB Michael Pinckney back in "full'' action


***When coach Mark Richt was asked after Tuesday’s practice why Gerald Willis, who had a great scrimmage last week, was wearing a scout-team jersey, Richt said, “One of our issues is just numbers. We don’t have any D-linemen. So we have to rotate guys around to make it work.’’

     Another issue that Richt didn’t discuss was that Willis is suspended for the opener, as reported by Palm Beach Post and confirmed by the Herald through a source.

     That's obviously not the end of the world, as UM should be fine in the opener against FAMU. But it's obviously not good, either. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad is one of the players, in addition to linebacker Jermaine Grace and receiver Stacy Coley, who might receive a suspension to begin the season, in an alleged connection to the luxury car-rental case.

    Willis, a 6-4, 285-pound redshirt sophomore who sat out last season after transferring from Florida following various altercations and disciplinary problems, was a 2013 First-Team All-USA by USA Today out of Edna Karr High in New Orleans.   

  ***The Canes were finally in scout-team mode Tuesday, with players preparing for Wednesday’s third scrimmage since practice began Aug. 4.

    “I thought it was very well organized,’’ Richt said. “I have to give credit to the graduate assistant coaches and even the guys who were on the scout team. They did a really good job of getting lined up quickly and they gave us a good look.

    “For Day 1, it was excellent, and that’s not easy to do. That’s important, because tomorrow those same guys are going to be Florida A&M when we have our little practice game.’’

    ***Back in “full’’ action for the second straight day, according to Richt, was weak-side freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney, who has been working to mend an injured hamstring.

     Pinckney was the first-team weak-side backer, but redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier, who had been moved to weak-side in Pinckney’s absence, is battling the freshman for the starting spot.

    Richt said Darrion Owens, back this camp after sitting out almost all of last season with a torn ACL, “is not likely right now to be a starter, but we just want him to be healthy before he really goes full speed. I’m not saying Owens won’t get a crack at it before it’s over, but right now, that’s what it looks like – [a competition between Gordinier and Pinckney].

***Cornerback Ryan Mayes (shoulder) was limited Tuesday.

*** Freshman receiver Ahmmon Richards is still splitting first-team reps at the X – or split end – position, with Dayall Harris, Harris said. Richards has turf toe, which is a lingering, painful injury, and “missed some practices,’’ Richt said. He's still limited. “He’s not full speed yet, in my opinion. …It’s still bothering him some. Overall, I see him better than he was four or five days ago, so hopefully it keeps moving in the right direction.’’

***Harris praised senior wideout Stacy Coley, calling him “a total package. He’s a first-rounder for sure.’’

 ***Freshman receiver Sam Bruce had an allergic reaction and was not at practice Tuesday, Mark Richt confirmed, as he was checked by a doctor. “I just saw him – I think he’s fine. He had an allergic reaction to something and was just kind of getting swelled up in the mouth and throat areas, so we wanted to be sure he’s OK. He’s fine. It was not a medical emergency, but anytime a guy starts swelling up from some kind of allergic reaction, you have to be careful.’’

***Freshman receiver Dionte Mullins wore pads Tuesday. Harris said he looked sharp out there on Greentree Field. “He looks really good,’’ Harris said. “I can tell he’s a big-time playmaker. They’ve been working him in easy. He’s been getting reps with the threes, and coach put him in with the twos today. He’s playing at Z (flanker). He definitely will be a slot guy, but right now they’re trying to teach him the plays, trying to make him learn a little more of the offense before they just plug him in.’’

***Quarterback Brad Kaaya said he’s “real excited’’ about the opener. “These guys have been ready to play for a while now. Coach Richt was even telling me last week, saying how he wished he played this weekend, because he just can’t wait to get out there. At this point it’s a lot of review, not much about adding new plays.

   “We might add a few wrinkles here and there. The guys are just ready to get after and I’m looking forward to it.’’

*** Safeties Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins, offensive guard Danny Isidora and receiver Coley are on the Senior Bowl preseason watch list.

***Quote of the Day by Richt, talking about the backup QB competition between Vincent Testaverde and Malik Rosier: "If somebody spits the bit or is not a guy who we can trust, we may roll somebody else into that spot."


August 20, 2016

Per Miami Herald's Barry Jackson: star Miami WR Stacy Coley investigated in car-rental case

Stacy coley

Following is what our Barry Jackson just reported on Miami football star receiver Stacy Coley, who has not been made available to talk to us all fall camp:

"2 pm Saturday: UM's investigation into players who might have used cars from a South Beach luxury car rental agency, in exchange for future promises, has expanded and now includes UM receiver Stacy Coley, according to a source with direct knowledge. As we have previously reported, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace also are being investigated by UM for using cars from South Beach Exotic Rentals. UM, not the NCAA, is handling the investigation. UM has declined to say if any of the players will be suspended. Some UM players are expecting short suspensions for the players, but it remains unclear if that will happen. UM is still in the process of determing what, if any, discipline will be doled out."

As Canes fans know, Stacy Coley is without question one of the major talents on this offense, and without him the offense will be diminished. That's not to say he's getting suspended. I don't know right now. But it doesn't seem promising if indeed he is involved in this situation.

Coley, who has had an excellent fall camp, according to UM coach Mark Richt, chose to return to Miami for his senior season instead of entering the NFL Draft, giving the Hurricanes a major boost. The 6-1, 195-pound senior from Pompano Beach (Northeast High) played in 11 games last season. He had 47 catches for 689 yards and four touchdowns. He has 1,464 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.

In this past Wednesday night's scrimmage, Coley had five catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Hard to replace that type of talent.




Miami scrimmage: Kaaya (4 TDs, 395 yds); Willis (5 tackles, 2 sacks); Coley (5 catches for 125, 2 TD) shine


 Mark Richt promised -- and delivered.

The Miami coach said after Wednesday night's scrimmage that he didn't immediately have stats and he would give them to us at another time.

Today was that day.

Here are some of the highlights:


PASSING: Kaaya, 21 of 34 for 395 yards, 4 TDs and one interception.

Backups: Malik Rosier was 3 of 7 for 19 yards and 1 TD; Vincent Testaverde was 4 of 8 for 42 yards; Evan Shirreffs was 2 of 3 for 4 yards; Jack Allison was 0 of 6 with interception.

 RUSHING: Mark Walton, 8 for 39 (4.9 average); Joe Yearby, 2 for 20 (10 average); Gus Edwards. 15 for 57 (3.8); Travis Homer, 6 for 50 (8.3). Rosier, 2 rushes for 22 yards; Testaverde, 1 for 6. Shirreffs, 3 for 22. 

RECEIVING: Stacy Coley, 5 catches for 125 yards, 2 TD; Braxton Berrios, 3 for 87 and TD called back; Dayall Harris, 5 for 79, 2 TD (1 called back); Sam Bruce, 2 for 18; Darrell Langham, 2 for 17. 


TACKLES: Gerald Willis, 5; Jermaine Grace, 5; Michael Jackson, 5; R.J. McIntosh, 4; Romeo Finley, 4; Shaq Quarterman, 3; Jaquan Johnson, 3;  Al-Quadin Muhammad: 2.

SACKS: Willis, 2; Grace, Demetrius Jackson and Quan Johnson: 1 apiece.

BREAKUPS: Adrian Colbert and Malek Young led the team with two apiece.

On defense, second-team tackle Gerald Willis, a Florida transfer who is eligible to play this season and was going against the first teamers (and second-teamers when he subbed in with the first team in passing situations, per CanesInsight) during the scrimmage, was a definite standout.

On offense, the Brad Kaaya connection with Coley, Berrios and Harris is key this season. Canes fans should be meditating to a "Stay-Healthy-Brad" mantra repeatedly this season.  

*** RB Trayone Gray, who tore his ACL last week, will undergo surgery on his knee Monday.

***WR Ahmmon Richards, the talented freshman who has turf toe, was out of practice to take care of a personal issue and will be back Monday, Richt said.

*** Weak-side linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring) was working out on the sideline "but is not quite ready'' yet, Richt said. "If he was a true freshman without spring ball, I doubt we'd be thinking a whole lot about trying to get him ready. But he showed enough in the spring that we think he can play at this level. He's a pretty sharp kid. We just have to get him healthy.''

*** Safeties coach Ephraim Banda named three safeties who are working in nickel and dime packages: Rayshawn Jenkins, Jaquan Johnson and Jamal Carter. Cornerback Corn Elder also works nickel.

*** Elder said returners for punts and/or kicks include himself, Coley, Malcolm Lewis, Berrios, Bruce and Richards. "We're just working on catching punts and catching kicks,'' Elder said. 

*** The Canes have off Sunday. Saturday was considered the last day of preseason camp, as school begins Monday and next week the Hurricane first-teamers will start working against the scout team. 


August 19, 2016

Canes backup QB battle down to Rosier, Testaverde; notes on the OL, freshman Dionte 'Jingle Joints' Mullins

And then there were two.

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt announced Friday the backup quarterback job will be won either by redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, Brad Kaaya's backup last season, or redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde, a walk-on and transfer from Texas Tech.

Redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, who had been taking second team snaps for most of camp, did not make the cut. Kaaya later revealed Shirreffs has been dealing with an injury on his throwing hand since the start of camp. Meanwhile, several players said it's expected highly-touted freshman Jack Allison will redshirt this coming season.

Richt plans to spend the final two weeks leading up to the team's Sept. 3 season opener letting Rosier and Testaverde split all of the second team reps. He said the battle to get into the final two was "a very tight race."

"The rest of the guys, I want them to keep competing," Richt said of his quarterbacks. "They're still in a lot of drill work...if somebody struggles in that two unit match, it might be someone [else] bumps in there. It's not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they're in the driver's seat right now. They'll get all the reps with the number twos.

"There were times when I would have said Evan [Shirreffs] is in that bunch. There were times where I would have said Jack [Allison] is in that two-man deal. It took a long time to get to this point. No one really was so consistent that I was like, 'This is a slam dunk.' All these guys, even the top two, they've not done everything like we want it done on a consistent basis. But they've shown flashes, and they're a little more solid, maybe, in their accuracy or the decision-making process. But, even today, a bad decision here and there that we just can't have. Now you're in that position, what are you going to do with it? You're getting the reps, what are you going to do with it? That's part of the exercise. Once a guy feels like it's down to two, what happens to him? Does he continue to focus and get better, or does he spit the bit?"

Richt remained consistent in saying Rosier has to do a better job of making the smart play and not trying to be a hero.

"I think Malik has a tendency to want to do something heroic," Richt said. "I keep telling him I don't need a hero, I need someone to run the system. I need someone to do what they're supposed to do on a down-by-down basis. There's two things that I'm teaching them - if there's a bad play, don't turn it into a catastrophe. In other words, sometimes we call a route and it's a one-high beater route, and we guess wrong. It ends up being two deep - well don't throw it into coverage. Throw the ball away. Or it's perfect coverage, but the guard gets beat by the three-technique [defensive tackle] and he's up in your face. Well, you might have to throw it away if you have time, or take a sack and protect the ball. Don't throw it under duress up in the air and let the ball get batted around and picked. Don't turn a bad play into a catastrophe. The other thing is, like I said before, most great plays are just a normal play that they do at an extraordinary time. Just be consistent in your reads, be consistent in your accuracy, be consistent in getting us in the right place, be consistent in declaring who the mike linebacker is and our run and passing game schemes to let everyone know who to block. Those are the things they have to do."

> Meanwhile, freshman receiver Dionte Mullins, cleared by the NCAA and UM on Thursday, practiced with his new teammates for the first time. Kaaya intimated Richt is a big fan of Mullins saying his coach refers to the freshman as "jingle joints."

"One play. He ran a little stop route. The ball was a little high, he snatched it, tucked it and turned up field, nice and smooth," Richt said of Mullins. "Looks like a really smooth athlete."

> Richt said he feels comfortable with about "six to seven" of team's offensive linemen being able to handle all assignments.

Who is in that group? We believe left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Kc McDermott, center Nick Linder, right guard Danny Isidora, right tackle Sunny Odogwu and backup interior linemen Alex Gall and tackle Tyree St. Louis.

"I'd say [there are] six or seven that are ready in all areas," Richt said. "[That's] assignment and just the skill set to get the job done, and being able to do it on a consistent enough basis to have some peace.

"The linemen are like quarterbacks  -- certain guys will show flashes of doing it right, but if you do it right three times in a row and on the fourth time you whiff a guy, you're going to get somebody hurt - a back or a quarterback. I think guys are a lot closer to being ready than we were when we started in the spring, for sure. I'd say about six or seven. There's other guys that at least know what to do, and you can function like that. If a linemen knows what to do, and puts his hat in the right spot, and he fights like mad, even if he's not dominating, you can function and play."

St. Louis has been taking first team reps at right tackle and some at left tackle throughout at camp and Gall, a senior, can play all three interior spots.

"It’s a little bit different," St. Louis said of playing left tackle. "I haven’t even really touched that position since my senior year of high school, especially going against some of the competition out here. But it’s the best thing for me to be able to play both, especially in college.”

> Redshirt freshman Bar Milo, a four-star recruit from the same high school as Kaaya out in California, said he's been moved from tackle to left guard in the last week. He admitted Friday he's struggled in camp, but feels like the move might be for the best.

"Earlier in training camp, I was having a rough time," Milo said. "I was having mental issues. I went to Coach [Richt] and told him, and I can’t thank him enough for how patient he has been with me. I haven’t been playing how I wanted to this training camp, but I’m starting to get back into that fun, festive mood that I’m usually in when I get on the field, taking pride in the protection. If I’m one of those seven people, I’m glad he can trust me. I think I have a long way to go to where he can actually rely on me to put me in a game if someone goes down, but I’m excited to see what happens.”

August 18, 2016

Mark Richt on scrimmage: 'We got our money's worth as coaches'



Mark Richt and a few players after Thursday's practice (plus a little video of Malcolm Lewis)

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

"Very short and sweet practice today, day after the scrimmage. Tomorrow we're going to have a full fundamental day again, so we wanted to give them a little bit of a break. We basically did most everything we normally do, we just kind of condensed the time of it. We also had some orientation meetings with a lot of our freshmen today, so that's why we're doing it in this certain window. We had Dr. [Julio] Frenk address us and Blake James, our Athletics Director, address us - the entire athletic community, I think that was at nine o'clock this morning. We started a little later because of that. It worked out - this is just what we needed."

On the message from President Frenk…

"Just how much he appreciates athletics as it relates to a university setting, and our responsibility to do things right - do things within the NCAA, ACC and university policy. Let's work together. We are a community, we are the U Family. That was mainly the message. He thanked everybody for our hard work, but also, 'help keep us accountable to doing things right.'"

On any takeaways from the team’s second scrimmage…

"I think we got our money's worth as coaches. It was a pretty long scrimmage. I thought the players just gave it up - you go back and watch the tape, there's very little...I just don't see much loafing around. Usually somebody is dogging it out there and you have to get on them, but that part has been probably the most pleasing thing of camp, is the effort of these guys every day. A lot of it is coaching and being on the same page, and sending the same message every day.  Don't one day say this is okay and the next day you decide that you're going to get mad at it. Just be consistent. But as far as the scrimmage overall, I would say by tomorrow we'll give you the stats as our staff put them together. It's late news, but it might be interesting for the fans."

On which players he has seen take on leadership roles defensively…

"[Rayshawn] Jenkins definitely. I like what Corn [Elder] is doing. I'm watching guys practice hard and take coaching. Sometimes, when everybody is going hard and everybody is doing their thing, there's not a whole lot of work to lead. Like I'm saying, I don't have to get everybody to go. I don't see anybody feel like he has to grab his teammate and get them to go. They're all doing it, and I think they enjoy that. I think they respect each other enough to do that. It's early, it's the first year, I don't know how many games we'll win, but we're working hard and I'm proud of it, in that area."

On the improvement of the defense from a tackling perspective…

"There's no question. Tackling in the box, most everybody can tackle in the box. It's when people get out in space when you miss tackles. That's mostly defensive backs - safeties, corners - offensively, the goal is to block everybody but a safety or a backside corner on a stretch play...if you do break it out, somebody has to defeat a block and go close that space and corral that guy and get him on the ground. Usually you can't do that by yourself. You do that because of team hustle and taking proper angles. Just the approach of the open-field tackles have made a huge difference."

On if he gained any clarity on the back-up quarterback role

"Yeah, but I haven't told those guys yet. By tomorrow, we'll know who's at least battling or still in the battle. I won't name a No. 2, but I'll narrow it down."

On if he sees Darrion Owens playing in the season opener, and Michael Pinckney’s injury…

"I hope so. I don't know what [Darrion] used to look like. But he looks, still, he doesn't look like he's flying around, 100 percent full speed every snap. Maybe just kind of getting to trust it again. I don't know. Pinckney, I would hope yes. He's just had a hamstring issue that’s been bothering him.''

Some Of Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz's impressions after scrimmage

***On DT Gerald Willis: “That evaluation is ongoing. He knows the things he has to continue to work on. Part of it is the ability to make a play, and there’s also the issue of not being where you’re supposed to be and giving up plays. Sometimes your playing time in a way is not dependent on how much good you can do, it’s dependent on how little bad you can do. He’s one of those guys that is certainly trying to focus in on, first, not burning the house down before we worry about how we attack the other people.’’

***On scrimmage sacks: “I think it was five.”

***On what it was like for his first-team D-line to go after backup quarterbacks who had shed their no-contact jerseys and were allowed to be hit: “I think they thought there would be [more sacks], but fear is a great motivating factor, so that ball came out sometimes differently than it did before.’’

***On Jamie Gordinier, who is playing first-team weak-side linebacker in place of the injured  Michael Pinckney (hamstring): “The biggest thing with Jamie…is his confidence in himself. When you’re a young guy and you’re trying to learn everything and be perfect, that’s really hard. So, what we’re trying to talk to him about is, ‘Trust yourself. Let the game come to you. And just let it go.’ I think he’s got a really bright future. I think he’s physically gifted but it’s just at-bats, that’s all it is, and persistence will turn him into a good player.’’

***On freshman cornerback Malek Young: “He’s fast, and fast players know they’re fast, so that affects their confidence in terms of how they cover; and…he’s tough. He’s a willing tackler, so the arrow is pointing up on Malek Young.’’

Head coach Mark Richt said he’ll name the top two contenders for the backup quarterback job on Friday…The Canes practiced for about an hour Thursday on the heels of the scrimmage…UM President Julio Frenk addressed the team and athletics personnel in the morning…Richt praised Elder and safety Rayshawn Jenkins for their leadership roles on defense…Weak-side linebacker Darrion Owens has not played in either of the scrimmages. “I don’t know what [Darrion] used to look like,’’ Richt said, “but he doesn’t look like he’s flying around, 100-percent full speed every snap.’’…Richt said he is hoping Pinckney will be well enough to play in the opener.


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Linebacker Darrion Owens

On missing time due to knee injury…

“I love the game. I want to be out there. I wish I could be out there with them, playing along with them. I’ve been playing this since I’ve been young. It is hard, just watching them going out there. But it’s better than sitting in the training room, wondering what they’re doing. It’s still a good feeling to be out here with them.”

On what he gains from watching from the sideline…

“When you’re watching, I think I can see how certain people deal with certain situations, and how some younger guys grow up and step up to adversity.”

On the team’s trio of freshmen linebackers – Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud…

“They don’t act like freshmen. All the freshmen linebackers, I have a good relationship with them and all of them carry themselves not like usual freshmen would. They work hard, they have a good head on their shoulders…they’re going to have a great future. I’m excited to see them play this year and from now on. They’re all going to be great.”


Defensive Back Rayshawn Jenkins (above picture by SMD: Rayshawn with Jaquan Johnson)

On how the defense played in the second scrimmage…

“There were definitely some good plays, but then again, there were definitely bad plays. We still have room for improvement, but that’s what practice is for. We have jut about two weeks before the game, and we have to get some things fixed.”

On how the defense stands compared to this point in camps of the past few years…

“In my opinion, it’s definitely better than in recent years we’ve been here, but it’s still not where we want it to be. There’s some stuff, like I said, that we still need to clean up, and we’ll move from there.”

On if he has seen the defense get beat on big plays…

“Not at all. It’s just little stuff – techniques, guys are getting accustomed to this new defense. Just a lot of technique errors, footwork…we’ll get it down.”

On where he sees the strengths and weaknesses of the defense…

“Definitely tackling. We tackle really well. And competing, just as an overall group. Like I said, technique – there’s not very much we need to improve on, in my opinion.  Just bringing those younger guys along, because we’re going to need them at some point down the road.”


Linebacker Jamie Gordinier

On the aggressiveness of the defense…

“We just put in that new third down ‘prowler’ package. It’s exciting to get to the quarterback. It’s a lot of fun. We have guys lining up in all different sorts of places and once the ball is snapped, it’s just kind of letting loose and playing backyard football.”

On the challenges of camp…

“The coaches are setting a really high standard for us. We were doing some extra stuff after practice for things we didn’t do right in the scrimmage. Everyone is kind of sore and tired, but that shouldn’t stop us right now.”

On learning the new defensive scheme…

“It wasn’t very difficult picking this defense up. He made it simple for that reason, so we could pick it up a lot easier.”

 On his mentality as he’s worked with the first team…

“My mentality is to give it my all. If I mess up on one play, I need to know that I need to attack the next rep and not think about what I just did wrong.”