October 28, 2014

Miami Hurricanes lose left tackle Ereck Flowers to knee injury

The Miami Herald first learned that University of Miami left tackle Ereck Flowers is out for at least one game, and possibly the rest of the season with a knee injury, a source familiar with the situation said Tuesday morning.

UM offensive coordinator James Coley confirmed the news saying Flowers was injured late in the game against Virginia Tech. Coley said senior Jonathan Feliciano took snaps at left tackle Tuesday and freshman Trevor Darling has moved into Feliciano's previous spot at right tackle.

Flowers, a 6-6, 322-pound junior out of Miami Norland High, is regarded as one of UM's best linemen -- if not the best. He has started 25 games including the last 21 at left tackle for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes have now lost their three best offensive tackles to injury this season. Former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois, a redshirt sophomore, injured his left knee against Duke, and recently had surgery. 

Gadbois' backup, four-star recruit and now true freshman Kc McDermott -- the younger brother of UM center Shane McDermott -- also injured his left knee against Duke. UM coach Al Golden said Monday after practice that McDermott is done for the season.

The Canes (5-3, 2-2) host North Carolina (4-4, 2-2) on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.

Darling, a 6-5, 320-pounder out of MIami Central, is another highly regarded former recruit, but has played sparingly. Coley said he replaced Flowers for four plays late in the Virginia Tech game.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN AND MANNY NAVARRO

October 27, 2014

Miami Hurricane Duke Johnson: Will he stay or will he go? Interview with his mother

 We all talked to Duke Johnson today after his phemonenal performance at Virginia Tech -- 249 yards and a touchdown rushing and another 37 yards and a touchdown receiving.

  He finally has his 1,000-yard season, has 2,903 career yards and is just 58 yards shy of surpassing Edgerrin James for No. 2 on the Hurricanes' all-time rushing list. 

  I asked him if he was on track to graduate this year, because he had previously said it would be easier to make a clear decision if already had his degree in sport administration.

   He then informed us that he probably has another semester after this academic year.

  How will that affect his decision as far as whether to enter the NFL Draft?

  "Cassandra,'' he said of his mom. "It's all on Cassandra. That's a decision that we have make -- majority her.''

  So, I called Cassandra Mitchell this afternoon and asked her about it.  

   “Wow. I thought he was, like, right at the door,’’ she told me. “I’ve been talking to Duke about staying because I saw the Duke game when he tweaked his ankle a little bit. So, besides getting his degree, I’m like, OK, maybe he gives it another year. That ankle would heal completely and I think he’ll be a little more confident. I think sometimes he babies it and favors it. Then I think sometimes it’s mental with him. When he thinks about it, then he might start limping a little bit. I’ll be like, ‘Why are you limping? Is it hurting?’

     “‘No,’’’ he’ll say. ‘So why are you limping?’’’

     “I think it’s a mind thing with him sometimes."

    Mitchell said the one factor that concerns her is possible future injuries.  

   “Everybody from my job, my Facebook friends, give their little opinions or what have you. The thing is the injuries. While I want him to heal, you never know if he’ll get hurt again. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

   “It was good seeing him out there really tearing it up. That’s something I haven’t been able to see this year, just watch him enjoy playing football.  Thursday he enjoyed playing football and it showed. That’s my only concern. Everything else can wait.

   “We don’t know what the rest of the season may hold.

   “I’m worried that he could get injured, but also just know that I want him to get his degree because once he gets into the NFL, the demands of their schedule. It was hard for him [in college]. He wanted to be an engineer, but because of their workload he had to major in something else. So, I can only imagine at the next level, how much time would you really have?

   “The degree isn't something I want him to keep putting off. I tell him it’s ultimately his decision. I’m going to tell him what I feel but right now I’m mixed.

    “I think another year would give him more confidence and put him where he really wants to be at, and then he’d have his degree and everything would be right there. It sounds too good to be true, right?’’’

   Maybe.

   Maybe not.

   Johnson seems vulnerable injury-wise, but he also usually gets up and keeps on motoring. I don't know how much higher in the draft he could go next season, because at this rate he'd at least be a second-rounder.  

  NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a second-rounder and the fifth best draft-eligible running back.

  But can you imagine him back next season? If the line holds up, and I think it could, that offense could be amazing. 

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 24, 2014

Golden reviews Virginia Tech blowout win, talks injuries, more

Here is everything coach Al Golden talked about Friday during his teleconference the day after UM's 30-6 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg:

Q: How did you come out injury wise?

"I think Joe Yearby will be fine. I think Juwon Young will be fine. Both of those guys. Obviously Joe didn't play. Juwon got hurt in the first half. Everybody else is good to go."

Q: You've talked about wanting to play the complete game. Was this as close as you've gotten to one since coming to Miami?

"It was the most complete game we've played this year. I thought Cincinnati we played really well in all three units for three quarters and this one I thought we played really well. We could have done a couple things better late in the game, but again your mindset changes a little bit when you're up 24 or 31 late in the game. I thought it was a good performance."

Q: What happened to Juwon Young?

"Juwon actually got a hamstring too."

Q: How much did having the bye week off help?

"I think we needed the rest. I opted to only practice once last week. So we really didn't get a tactical advantage on Virginia Tech. Again, I just thought the rest was more important based on how the season was going with the three night road games away not getting back until 5 a.m. three times and I just thought the rest was better and I think it showed up last night for sure."

Q: Is there anything going on with Herb Waters who didn't play?

"Is there anything going on with Herb Waters? No. We ran the ball for close to 400 yards and that's just the way the game played out. We didn't anticipate Virginia Tech playing us the way they did play us. And then obviously when they continued to play us that we continued to run the ball. It just was a function of personnel groups. I don't want to start any rumors or whatever your question is coming from it's unfounded. I don't understand it. We just won the game 30-6 on the road in Lane Stadium. I think the guys gave an incredible effort and the receivers especially -- Malcolm and Phillip and all those guys were so unselfish blocking all night. I really appreciated it."

Q: What did you like most about the way you played on defense?

"We didn't miss many tackles. Our tackling percentage, we're still working through it in terms of our quality control and making sure we don't miss anything. If there's anything we need to correct we're going to do that. But we didn't miss many tackles. We fit them pretty good. We were very unselfish up front. Everybody was spilling the ball and directing the ball where it needed to be -- either to the linebacker or the safety. And I think when the defensive lineman had opportunities they made plays. I thought the pass rush was good. I wish we could have finished it with a couple more sacks. But we certainly made the quarterback uncomfortable, made him move his feet and alter a lot of his throws especially when we had them backed up with the field position."

Q: Does this feel like the biggest win or most impressive win you guys have had since coming to Miami?

"I don't get into all that, respectfully. You guys analyze that. We're pretty much putting a bow on this thing by 6:30 tonight and then moving on to North Carolina. So, I'll leave that analysis up to you. But a year ago we needed a two-minute drive to win at Chapel Hill and it seems like the last two years we've won big games on Thursday night in really tough environments. So I think from that standpoint our team had a good look, a lot of confidence and again there's a lot of teams that go into that place and fall victim. So I was glad glad that we didn't."

Q: What was it like having 8-year-old Make-A-Wish kid Carter Hucks around again for the game? 

"It's been awesome. We have an opportunity to bring joy and fulfillment, Carter's dream to and he and his family. At the same time we think he's doing the same to us. He's been a lot of fun, a lot of joy to be around. Great attitude, great personality. Obviously we're blessed to have him around. Hopefully we'll see him again soon.

Q: Why has the running game been so explosive and productive (699 yards on 88 attempts) over the last two games? 

"Like I said earlier I think we have a lot of unselfish guys right now. If you look at Duke's first long run against Cincinnati, Malcolm Lewis is on the right side and he gets a great block on the safety. Phillip is on the front side and he gets a great block. Otherwise it's a seven-yard gain. The offensive line has been doing a good job. Danny [Isidora] is making a lot of progress. And Nick Linder is making a lot of progress. Alex Gall. I think those guys are making progress. But we're getting a lot of unselfish play. We really asked the receivers, both tight ends Clive and Stan and Tucker, to simply go out there and block for three hours and they all did it pridefully and willfully and did it really well. I think that is a characteristic that's really hard to come by. I'm glad we're starting to see that."

Q: You had fewer penalties (4 penalties, 28 yards) against Virginia Tech. Did that come from coaching, guys understanding the line better?

"I think there is a line and we want them to walk that line and we want them to be aggressive. One of the things about being disciplined is self governance and the last couple games we got into a couple selfish penalties whether it was a retaliation penalty or celebration. So we can't have any selfish penalties. Last night, again, I go back to being unselfish. We were unselfish last night in a lot of the ways we played the game and I think penalties was one of them. I just think we were very unselfish. There were a number of opportunities to retaliate and we did not. I think if we got on the perimeter and we were blocking and starting to hold them we let them go. I just think from that standpoint we were smart and disciplined and unselfish and that's what corrected the penalties. But we've got to keep going."

Q: How big a jump has Raphael Kirby made over the last month?

"I can't believe you said that because we were just talking this morning. This last four weeks -- I don't even know how to describe it. We were just talking this morning. This last four weeks I don't even know how to describe it. He's so process-oriented right now. His preparation is through the roof. He's practicing really hard. He's playing mike and will for us. So again, it goes back to him being mature, being unselfish, saying you know what I'll play whatever spot you want us to play. His production over the last month has been really, really good and I just can't say enough about the direction he's going, leadership and really consistency is the word I would describe." 

Q: How about Jermaine Grace's improvements?

"Jermaine Grace is a talented young man who is really working harder and harder each week on the mental aspects of the game, on his preparation, on his film study. And he has to continue to do that. When he marries those two he has a chance to be a formidable presence for us. I hope that he sees know, he understands and he accepts that challenge. That's going to be the challenge week in and week out. The offense we're going to see this week is a lot different in many ways than the offense we just saw. He's going to have to invest again mentally and from a preparation standpoint and back it up physically, which he has been doing. His effort has been really good. We just have to get that mental aspect down, I really believe if he can marry those two he's going to be tough."

Q: What's the schedule moving forward?

"We actually have a team meeting in about 10 minutes. So we're going to knock out this film, get that cleaned up, make sure any mistakes we made last night we don't let them sit or forget about them. Let's clean that up, be honest about it. Whenever you get a big win, some guys want to sweep stuff under the rug. We don't want to do that. If we made mistakes whether its technique or mental errors or whatever the case may be depending on your positions we get it cleaned up. We're going to do that and then I'll give them off [Saturday] and then normally they have Sunday off. So we'll stay with that schedule and return on Monday."

Canes right in the middle of a wild, wacky Coastal Division race

The Hurricanes' 30-6 blowout in Blacksburg Thursday night keeps them very much in the race to win the Coastal Division with four games left to play. 

Here's a look at how the division stacks up the rest of the way from a Canes perspective:

Duke (6-1, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: at Georgia Tech 31-25, Virginia 20-13
> Losses: at Miami 22-10
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh (4-3), Noon (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at Syracuse (3-4)
- Nov. 15 vs. Virginia Tech (4-4)
- Nov. 20 vs. North Carolina (3-4), 7:30 p.m.
- Nov. 29 vs. Wake Forest (2-5)
> The Breakdown: The Blue Devils rebounded from their loss at Miami on Sept. 27 with a pair of back-to-back wins in Atlanta and at home over the Cavaliers to take control of their own destiny in the Coastal. At this point, the two toughest games left on the schedule for Duke appear to be at Pitt, which they'll have two weeks to prepare for, and a Thursday night showdown with rival North Carolina just five days after facing Virginia Tech. The good news for UM is they own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Duke. The bad news: it's unlikely the Blue Devils will lose more than two ACC games the rest of the way, if that. Duke's ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (15.1 ppg) and the only offensive juggernaut still on the slate is Carolina.

Pitt (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: at Boston College 30-20, Virginia Tech 21-16
> Losses: at Virginia 24-19
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 vs. Georgia Tech (5-2), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 1 vs. Duke (6-1), Noon (ESPNU)
- Nov. 15 at North Carolina (3-4)
- Nov. 22 vs. Syracuse (3-4)
- Nov. 29 at Miami (5-3)
> The Breakdown: Behind running back James Conner (172 carries, 959 yards, 11 TDs) and a decent defense (14th in scoring, 18.6 ppg) the Panthers will be a formidable final hurdle for the Hurricanes to close out the regular season. Pitt can do Miami's dirty work over the next eight days by beating the Yellow Jackets (who own the head-to-head tiebreaker with UM) and bringing Duke back to the pack.

Virginia (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
> Wins: Louisville 23-21, Pitt 24-19
> Losses: at Duke 20-13
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 vs. North Carolina (3-4), noon (ESPN3)
- Nov. 1 at Georgia Tech (5-2), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at Florida State (7-0)
- Nov. 22 vs. Miami (5-3)
- Nov. 28 at Virginia Tech (4-4)
> The Breakdown: The Cavaliers weren't supposed to be in this race, but are very much players in it after an impressive start to the season. Their losses are at home to a ranked UCLA team by eight points and on the road at a ranked BYU team by eight points. The Hurricanes are just 2-3 all-time in Charlottesville and have lost two in a row there.

Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-2 ACC)
> Wins: at Virginia Tech 27-24, Miami 28-17
> Losses: Duke 31-25, at North Carolina 48-43
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 at Pittsburgh (4-3), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 1 vs. Virginia (4-3), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
- Nov. 8 at N.C. State (4-4)
- Nov. 15 vs. Clemson (5-2)
- Nov. 29 at Georgia (6-1)
> The Breakdown: The Yellow Jackets have been on a slippery slope since beating the Canes in Atlanta. They've given up 79 points and 952 yards over their last eight quarters in back-to-back losses. With a head-to-head win over the Canes in their pocket, the Yellow Jackets would win the tiebreaker if they finish in a two-way tie with the Hurricanes. But at this point that doesn't look like that will happen. They've got a tough road game this Saturday and still have to host a good Clemson team.

Miami (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
> Wins: Duke 22-10, at Virginia Tech 30-6
> Losses: at Georgia Tech 28-17, at Louisville 31-13
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 vs. North Carolina (3-4), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 vs. Florida State (7-0)
- Nov. 22 at Virginia (4-3)
- Nov. 29 vs. Pittsburgh (4-3)
> The breakdown: The Hurricanes have dropped four in a row and seven of their last nine to the Seminoles and haven't beaten FSU at home since 2004. Beating the defending national champions and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at home will be a tall order, which means winning the other three ACC games are musts. The only game UM probably won't be favored in aside from FSU is at Virginia. If the schedule plays out with UM winning three of its final four except FSU the Canes will finish 5-1 in the division and the only team they'll lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with is Georgia Tech.

North Carolina (3-4, 1-2 ACC)
> Wins: Georgia Tech 48-43
> Losses: at Clemson 50-35, Virginia Tech 34-17
> Remaining games
- Oct. 25 at Virginia (4-3), noon (ESPN3)
- Nov. 1 at Miami (5-3), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 vs. Pittsburgh (4-3)
- Nov. 20 at Duke (6-1), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
- Nov. 29 vs. N.C. State (4-4)
> The Breakdown: The Tar Heels haven't been able to stop anybody on defense (rank 127th out of 128 FBS teams in scoring defense with 43.3 ppg). And nobody has really stopped them from scoring either (38.7 ppg, 17th nationally). Quarterback Marquis Williams has been a one-man wrecking crew. He's completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 1,776 yards, 15 touchdowns and six picks and leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 448 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Carolina lost 50-43 at Notre Dame scored plenty on Clemson. It's unlikely the Tar Heels will remain in contention for the division with the schedule they've got left, but you never know.

Virginia Tech (4-4, 1-3 ACC)
> Wins: at North Carolina 34-17
> Losses: Georgia Tech 27-24, at Pittsburgh 21-16, Miami 30-6
> Remaining games
- Nov. 1 vs. Boston College (4-3), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
- Nov. 15 at Duke (6-1)
- Nov. 22 at Wake Forest (2-5)
- Nov. 28 vs. Virginia (4-3)
> The Breakdown: As bad as the Hokies looked Thursday night against the Hurricanes it's not out of the realm of possibility they turn things around and win out -- especially with two weeks to prepare for a trip to Duke. After all, this is still a team that won on the road at Ohio State back on Sept. 6 and has won the Coastal four times. At least the Canes own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Hokies.

WHAT ARE THE ACC'S TIEBREAKERS?

Two-way tie: 
1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.

Three-way tie (Note: Once a team is eliminated from the tie, the tie-breaking procedures restart for the remaining teams. If the three or more team tie can only be reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaking procedure will then be applied): 
1. Combined head-to-head winning percentage among the tied teams.
2. Winning percentage of the tied teams within the division.
3. Head-to-head competition versus the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference winning percentage, and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last, using the league’s tie-breaking procedures.
4. Combined winning percentage versus all common non-divisional opponents.
5. Combined winning percentage versus all non-divisional opponents.
6. Winning percentage versus common non-divisional opponents based upon their order of finish (overall conference winning percentage) and proceeding through other common non-divisional opponents based upon their divisional order of finish.

Rapid reaction: Canes beat Hokies 30-6, put together most complete win in Golden era

Forget the win over the Florida Gators last season.

This was the Canes' most impressive, most complete victory of the Al Golden era. 

Until Hokies backup quarterback Mark Leal connected with Isaiah Ford for a 14-yard touchdown pass with a minute and 30 seconds left to play, the Hurricanes were on the verge of putting together their first shutout over an FBS opponent since they beat FIU 35-0 back in 2006.

Instead, they'll head home with a 30-6 beat down of Frank Beamer's Hokies in Blacksburg that breathes life back into their Coastal Division title hopes and puts them 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.

That's much more than anyone expected. Vegas favored Miami by just 2 1/2 points coming in. And why not? UM was 0-3 on the road this season and there was nothing they had to done recently to give you faith they would play as well as they did Thursday.

Some of the highlights:

> Led by Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards the Hurricanes ran for a season-high 364 yards against a Hokies run defense that ranked 29th nationally coming in (123.29). Last year, the Hokies held UM to 28 yards on 24 carries with Johnson hurt and lost for the season. Consider this: UM has run for 699 yards over its last eight quarters. The Canes had 800 total over their first six games.

"It was great man freaking running the ball like that," right tackle Jon Feliciano told WQAM after the game. "Duke had a great game. Gus had a great game. It felt like whoever would get the ball would make a play for us.

"I was kind of mad we were taking knees at the end of the game. I wanted go back out there and get 400. That's what we were talking about on the sidelines."

> As noted by many Johnson ran for a career-high 249 yards on 29 carries (one shy of his career mark) and also had two catches for 37 yards including a 22-yard TD catch seconds before the half. Johnson's 249 yards are tied for the third most in UM history with Lorenzo Roan. Only Edgerrin James' 299 yards vs. UCLA in 1998 and 271 yards at Boston College in 1997 rank higher.

The only thing that could stop Johnson Thursday was the Hokies bench (the actual metal sitting area). Johnson crashed into it as he ran out of bounds early in the fourth quarter. He later tweaked his right ankle late in the game (I'm not sure why he was still in there). But WQAM's sideline reporter Josh Darrow said Johnson was treated with "pain gel" and was fine. 

Johnson by the way has run for 1,036 yards this season and has 11 100-yard rushing games under in his belt now including four 100-yard games in a row. "I think this is what the team needed -- a big performance," Johnson told ESPN afterward. "I just did what the coaches told me to do all week in practice -- to trust my o-line."

> Gus Edwards, getting the most action he's seen all season because Joe Yearby was hurt (ESPN reported a hamstring), ran for 115 yards on 15 carries. He scored on a 38-yard TD run to put UM ahead 30-0 in the fourth quarter.

> Coach Al Golden said the game plan coming in was to stay out of third and long situations at all costs. Miami ran the ball 53 times and threw it only 16 (Brad Kaaya finished 7-of-16 for 92 yards and a touchdown). It turned out to be the perfect formula to dominate the Hokies. Miami held the ball for 37 minutes and 52 seconds, easily their season-high. 

> Virginia Tech ranked second nationally in sacks coming in with 28 total. The Hokies had none against the Hurricanes and just three quarterback hurries and three tackles for loss.

> Miami, ranked 127th in third down conversions coming in, finished 7-of-15 on third down. The Hokies had the fourth-ranked third down defense in the country (26.26 percent).

"That first third and long, [offensive James Coley] puts the draw in there and we get it against a blitz," Golden said. "That was our M.O. coming in. We were not going to get in a bad percentage third down and let them turn the game on that play. I thought James executed the game plan perfectly."

> Defensively, the Canes forced three consecutive turnovers to start the second half and are now 13-0 under Golden when creating at least three turnovers in a game.

The turnovers: safety Deon Bush simply took the ball away from running back Marshawn Williams near the goalline to prevent a Hokies touchdown on their opening drive of the third quarter. Tracy Howard then stripped a Hokies receiver of the ball and Jermaine Grace pounced on it at the UM 32. Denzel Perryman then crushed a Hokies running back and Grace pounced on that one as well at the UM 17.

> Virginia Tech finished with 262 yards of total offense (77 came on the final scoring drive of the game). That's the fewest yards Virginia Tech has put up since Alabama held them 212 in the 2013 season opener.

> Perryman led the Canes with 11 tackles. WQAM reported Perryman was hit hard in the ribs during the game, but fought through the pain. Safety Nantambu Fentress was next with nine tackles.

> UM had six tackles for loss including a pair of sacks (Anthony Chickillo, Grace each had one). Chickillo also batted a ball at the line of scrimmage. 

"Takeaways, red zone stops and third down stops -- that's the difference," Golden said of his defense. "That's what we hadn't been doing altogether... You see how powerful it can be when we can do that.

""They got a little mojo there in the third quarter to open it up. I could see our guys were going for the ball. We tackled pretty well. For the most part the first guy on the scene was getting the tackle. We leveraged the screens really well. We put that to bed so it wouldn't become a problem. And then we pursued really well. Again, great effort, very active, very aggressive up front. I don't think we got many sacks, but we were around the quarterback a lot and altered a lot of throws."

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio called several blitzes with his linebackers early including the first two linebacker blitz I had seen from the Canes all season. It turned into a Jermaine Grace sack.

> On special teams, UM gave up a 58-yard kickoff return to open the second half (the seventh return of 30 yards or more this season). Golden said it was too low of a line-drive kick. But overall, the special teams units were very good. No bad snaps from the new long snapper Frank Gabriel and punter Justin Vogel was an unsung hero. He had three punts pinned inside the 20 including one on the one-yard line.

"We didn't want special teams to be a factor in this game," Golden told WQAM "We did a good job with that and obviously we won the other two phases."

> Miami was flagged only four times for 28 yards. They were flagged a season-high 13 times for 155 yards against Cincinnati two Saturdays ago.

> Carter Hucks, the 8-year-old Make-A-Wish kid from South Carolina who spent a week with the team before the Cincinnati game, was on the sidelines with the Hurricanes again Thursday. He's set to have a bone marrow transplant in the coming days.

"I asked him what he was doing next weekend," Golden told WQAM afterward. "He sat in here, he was on the field with us, came in our huddle. He's just tremendous. He's fun to be around."

October 23, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech Hokies

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech: Oct. 23, 2014
 

MIAMI (4-3, 1-2 ACC) AT VIRGINIA TECH (4-3, 1-2 ACC)

> Kickoff, TV: 8 p.m., Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va., ESPN

> History: Miami leads the all-time series 18-13, but is 5-7 all-time in Blacksburg and lost last year's meeting at Sun Life Stadium 42-24.

> Spread: Miami favored by 2 1/2

> 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 - Virginia Tech: Hokies have one five-star recruit (cornerback Kendall Fuller), 14 four-star recruits (seven on each side), 24 three-star recruits (12 on each side) and 2 two-star recruits (one on each side) and 6 no-star recruits (three on each side) on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are DT Luther Maddy (3rd-4th RD), S Kyshoen Jarrett (4th-5th RD) and S Detrick Bonner 6th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive lineman Kc McDermott (knee) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) as out. Virginia Tech gets RB Marshawn Williams (ankle) back this week and lists receivers Isaiah Ford (ankle) and Cam Phillips (toe) as probable. LB Chase Williams (knee) is not expected to play. 

> Hokies offense versus Canes defense: The return of freshman running back Marshawn Williams (5-11, 229) should be a big boost for Virginia Tech's offense, which mustered only 26 yards rushing in the 21-16 loss to Pittsburgh last Thursday night. While quarterback Michael Brewer completes 61.1 percent of his passes (53rd nationally) and ranks 46th in yards per game (239.1) he's thrown as many interceptions (11) as he has touchdowns this season and he ranks 90th nationally in QB rating (119.59). He has four receivers with at least 20 catches this season, but freshman receiver Isaiah Ford (32 catches, 424 yards, 4 TDs) seems to be his favorite target when he needs a play. Ford has produced 27 first downs and four scores. Virginia Tech will be starting a new left guard in converted four-star defensive end Wyatt Teller (6-6, 301). Right guard Augie Conte (6-6, 295) is also in his first season as a starter. UM's defense, which has given up 193.8 yards per game and 10 touchdowns combined against five FBS-winning teams this season, can take solace in this -- Virginia Tech is actually better at throwing the football than running it statistically. 

> Canes offense versus Hokies defense: The Hurricanes are coming off their best offensive performance of the season (55 points, 621 yards) against Cincinnati, who has one of the worst defenses in the country. The Hokies are an entirely different animal. They rank 19th in scoring defense (20.0 points per game), 20th in total defense (326.0), fourth in third down defense (26.26 percent) and tied for second nationally with 28 sacks. They've forced 14 turnovers (tied for 30th nationally) and rank 23rd in passing efficiency defense (109.90). Cornerback Kendall Fuller is one of the best cover men in the country and the secondary overall is pretty good. It's going to be a struggle to get points on the board for Miami, which is used to getting them via the big play. Where can UMwin this game? On the ground with Duke Johnson, who has run for over 100 yards in three consecutive games and missed last year's game against the Hokies. He had 100 yards on just 11 carries against Virginia Tech as a freshman in 2012. I expect his biggest workload yet as a Hurricane tonight.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes have a new long-snapper tonight in Frank Gabriel. The Hokies have a pretty good punt return man in freshman Greg Stroman and have a history of making big plays on special teams. 

> Prediction: Miami 26, Virginia Tech 24. I wasn't ready to trust this team to win a big game on the road before the season and now at 0-3 to start this season I can't see them beating a Hokies team that is getting their top running back to return this week. But I picked UM to win the Coastal Division and so they have to win this one to have any shot at it.  

ESPN chart: The Hurricanes are decisively victorious on Thursday-night telecasts

  For proof of the Hurricanes' success on Thursday-night ESPN games, go no further than here. 

  According to ESPN, coming into Thursday’s game, the Hurricanes were 16-3 in Thursday-night telecasts, 10-1 at home on Thursday-night ESPN telecasts and 6-2 on the road. Their losses: 28-21 to Virginia at Sun Life Stadium on Oct. 27, 2011; 41-23 at Georgia Tech on Nov. 20, 2008; and 21-17 at Pitt on Sept. 19, 1997.

  The first box shows Miami's games at home on Thursday-night ESPN telecasts. The second box shows road games. Note that Al Golden is 2-1 in ESPN Thursday-night games while the Miami coach. He beat Virginia Tech in 2012 and at North Carolina in 2013 and lost to Virginia in 2011. 

 

9/12/1991

Houston 10 @ Miami (Fla.) 40

11/19/1998

Pittsburgh 10 @ Miami 38

11/21/2002

Pittsburgh 21 @ Miami 28

10/2/2003

West Virginia 20 @ Miami (Fla.) 22

10/14/2004

Louisville 38 @  Miami (Fla.) 41

11/23/2006

Boston College 14 @ Miami, Fl 17

9/20/2007

Texas A&M 17 @ Miami (Fla.) 34

11/13/08

Virginia Tech 14 @ Miami (Fla) 16

9/17/2009

Georgia Tech 17  @ Miami (Fla.) 33

10/27/2011

Virginia 28 @ Miami 21

11/1/2012

Virginia Tech 12 @ Miami (Fla.) 30 

 

9/12/1996

Miami (Fla.) 33 @ Rutgers 0

9/18/1997

Miami (Fla.)  17 @ Pittsburgh 21

9/27/2001

Miami 43 @ Pittsburgh 21

8/28/2003

Miami (Fla.) 48 @ Louisiana Tech 9 (at Shreveport)

9/23/2004

Miami (Fla.) 38 @ Houston 13 (at Reliant Stadium)

11/20/08

Miami (Fla) 23 @ Georgia Tech 41

9/23/2010

Miami (Fla.) 31 @ Pittsburgh 3

10/17/2013

Miami (Fla.) 37 @ North Carolina 23

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 22, 2014

Ask an opposing team's beat writer: Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times talks Hokies

Thank you once again to Andy Bitter, who does a great job covering Virginia Tech for the Roanoke Times. Follow him on Twitter @AndyBitterVT.

SMD:  It seems that Virginia Tech has been hit with its share of injuries lately, including three tailbacks who missed last week at Pitt and at least one major defensive player who will miss the Miami game. Could you elaborate on the injuries and who is expected back for Thursday's game?


AB: The Hokies’ top three tailbacks have been hit by injuries. Shai McKenzie is out for the year with a torn ACL, Trey Edmunds probably won't’ be back in the regular season with a broken clavicle and Marshawn Williams had a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the Pitt game last week. Williams, a true freshman who is the team’s leading rusher with 337 yards, is probable this week, a boost to a running back group that floundered against the Panthers, gaining only 26 yards on the ground. He’s 229 pounds and the bruising back that Tech would like to give the ball 20 times a game. Getting him back won’t necessarily ail all of the Hokies’ offensive issues, but it’ll help.

The D has been hit with injuries too, though. The word on linebacker and leading tackler Chase Williams’ knee was a little bit better than expected. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he was out on Monday, although Tuesday’s injury report had him as doubtful. Either way, he’s unlikely to start or play much, meaning redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka, who has only played about 30 defensive snaps in his career, will be in charge of getting the defense lined up. Tech has some other injuries that aren’t new. Knee surgery will end defensive tackle Luther Maddy’s season (he’ll seek a medical redshirt to come back next year) and a shin injury will likely lead cornerback Brandon Facyson down the same path. All in all, that’s three defensive starters from the beginning of the year that Virginia Tech will be without.

 SMD: Junior quarterback Michael Brewer played better earlier in the season. At times he's very erratic. Which player do you expect to show upThursday and how much passing do you foresee him doing?



AB: It’s really hard to tell. At times, Brewer has been just what this offense has needed, a gutsy passer who, when he gets in a rhythm, looks a lot like a guy who started his career at Texas Tech. At others, he takes unnecessary risks with the ball, loses his accuracy and doesn’t feel comfortable in the pocket. He’s both much more accurate than what Logan Thomas ever was, with a 61.1 completion percentage, but at the same time more turnover prone, if that is can be believed, with 11 picks through seven games. He didn’t have any interceptions for the first time last week at Pitt, although he was bailed out on a bad pick in the end zone by a roughing the passer penalty.

The thing is: he hasn’t had much help, at least not all the time on the ground. And when that happens, Tech becomes very one-dimensional and even easier to stop on offense. I don’t think the Hokies will all of a sudden get their ground game producing 180 yards a game overnight, and even Brewer this week said Tech will likely have to use its short passing game, with lots of screens, to offset that lack of a ground game. If that’s the case, I’d expect quite a few passes Thursday night. The Hokies want to be balanced between the pass and run, but they see that short passing game as an extension of the ground game. I think Brewer will throw it quite a bit. Just how effective he is? That’s a flip of the coin at this point.


SMD: The Hokies rushed for 26 yards at Pitt last week, but made some subsequent changes on the offensive line. How do you think that will help this week against a Hurricanes defense that has struggled against the run in its losses?


AB: I think Tech had to do something. That something was inserting 6-foot-6, 301-pound redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller, a former defensive lineman, into the starting lineup at left guard. He’s one of the strongest players on the team, part of a younger group that has been trying to get the mental side of things to catch up to its physical traits. He had his best game at Pitt, and the Hokies moved the ball better when he was in the game, but he’s still very raw. He’s far from a finished product.

That kind of goes for all of Virginia Tech’s ground game. Williams and the injured McKenzie are both true freshmen. Two linemen are sophomores and Teller a redshirt freshman. It was a rushing attack that averaged under 120 yards a game last year, among the worst figures in Frank Beamer’s time in Blacksburg. That number is better this year, up around 153 yards per game this year, but it still hasn’t been consistent. During the Ohio State-East Carolina-Georgia Tech stretch, the Hokies didn’t finish with more than 127 rushing yards in a game. Even in their 171-yard effort against North Carolina, they averaged only 3.0 yards per carry. So it’s been the No. 1 issue for Virginia Tech since offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler took the reins before the 2013 season. I think that group’s better, and certainly so with Williams healthy and Teller in the lineup, but it’s still not something the Hokies can rely on to win them games like they did even as recently as 2011.


SMD: Virginia Tech has been prone to allowing long passing plays this season. How will the Hokies' defense match up against a UM offense that has hit quite a few home runs?


That’s a concern. As I mentioned before, Facyson isn’t playing right now, and he was a big part of the team’s success at defending the pass last year. Kendall Fuller is a legit corner on the other side, as good as the Hokies have had in years, and Chuck Clark is emerging on the other side, but Tech has been bad against the deep ball. The Hokies have given up 24 passes of 20 yards or more, ranking 78th nationally. They’ve allowed 15 passing plays of 30 or more yards, which ranks 115th nationally. The big plays have really been the one thing holding this defense back. Safeties Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner are seniors, but they too have been victimized this year. Given Miami’s speed, that’s certainly a concern.

Even in last year’s 42-24 Hokies win, Virginia Tech gave up passing touchdowns of 81 and 84 yards to the ‘Canes. And that was when Miami didn’t have Duke Johnson to occupy the defenders’ minds. The key might be the pass rush. The Hokies’ 28 sacks are tied for second nationally. Even without Maddy, they’ve been able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Brad Kaaya’s young, so I’d imagine Foster will try to rattle him and stop those big passing plays before they have a chance to develop.


SMD: This is the second time since 1993 that Virginia Tech has three or more losses before November. Is this just a temporary blip or has the program genuinely declined?


AB: That’s that multi-million dollar question at Virginia Tech right now. Beamer turned the Hokies into what they are today. Nobody denies that. But with each loss, I think there’s more and more of the distinct minority that starts to wonder whether at 68 years old if he can turn things around. Tech won 10 games or more from 2004-11, a mainstay in the ACC championship game, but the Hokies have gone 19-14 since then, with no Coastal Division titles to their credit. So obviously there’s been a decline, and even Beamer has admitted that the Hokies perhaps got complacent during their run of 10-win seasons. But he did go about making major changes to the offense before the start of the 2013 season, demoting offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, firing two coaches and bringing in Loeffler and two others. It’s not a radical change in terms of offensive philosophy -- if anything, Tech wants to return to its roots of running the ball -- but it’s been a significant undertaking to turn things around, especially on an offensive line that had its share of issues that aren’t a quick fix.

I think the changes, if given enough time, will take root and produce a better offense than what the Hokies had for a long time in the mid- to late-2000’s. It's a very young group, with most of the starting lineup underclassmen and a good percentage of the roster freshmen or sophomores. The question is if new athletic director Whit Babcock will have the kind of patience that will allow a slow turnaround to happen. There’s been no indication that he wants to change anything, but another 7-5 or 6-6 season can change peoples’ opinions very quick. Beamer just signed an extension through the 2018 season, although I think that was largely ceremonial as an aid to recruiting. I think Tech will need to start showing some headway in turning things around either this year or the next or the questions about whether Beamer should be able to dictate his own exit will only intensify.

October 21, 2014

Just released by Miami Hurricanes: UM baseball schedule for 2015. Here it is.

MORRIS UNVEILS 2015 BASEBALL SCHEDULE 
Canes have 35 games at The Light this spring


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (courtesy of Hurricanes) – 
One day after his team officially opened fall practice, University of Miami head baseball coach Jim Morris unveiled the Hurricanes’ 2015 baseball schedule Tuesday.

Miami, the reigning ACC Regular Season Champions, will embark on a 55-game schedule that includes 35 home games inside Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The Hurricanes finished the 2014 season with a 44-19 overall record and ranked as the top team with a 24-6 mark in conference play.

Miami earned one of 16 NCAA Tournament Regional host sites, extending the longest active postseason streak in college athletics to 42 consecutive years. Miami has not missed the postseason since 1972.

The Hurricanes will open the season with their annual preseason festivities: the First Pitch Banquet (Feb. 5) as well as FanFest and the Alumni Game (Feb. 7).

In addition to a challenging 30-game ACC slate, Miami has a nonconference schedule which features Sunshine State foes Florida (Feb. 20-22), FAU (Feb 18, April 8 & April 22), FGCU (March 4 & March 18), and UCF (April 15), among others.

“Baseball in general is very good in this state – it’s a good state with great players,” Morris said. “Add those midweek games in with our ACC games, and it’s a tough schedule…one of the tougher ones in the country.”

Miami opens conference play with a trip to ACC newcomer Louisville (March 6-8). After hosting Pittsburgh last season in their first year in the conference, Miami will travel to Pittsburgh for the first time to play the Panthers May 2-3.

Other ACC series include home sets with NC State (March 13-15), Duke (April 3-5), Virginia Tech (April 10-12), Florida State (April 24-26) and Georgia Tech (May 14-16). Away conference series include Wake Forest (March 20-22), North Carolina (March 27-29) and Virginia (April 17-19).

“The conference was already very, very good, before we added programs like Louisville, Pitt and Notre Dame,” Morris said. “All three programs are very good. Just having the ACC games on your schedule will make it one of the tougher schedules in the country.”

The ACC Baseball Championship is scheduled for May 20-24 in Durham, N.C.

To view the entire 2015 Miami Hurricanes Baseball schedule, click HERE.

For more from Miami Hurricanes Baseball, follow @CanesBaseball on Twitter or @TheUBaseball on Instagram.

Miami Hurricane Duke Johnson, all eyes on Virginia Tech, likely pretty amped for road trip to Blacksburg

Duke Johnson (and his fellow offensive skill-position teammates) must be licking his chops right now for Thursday's game at Virginia Tech (4-3, 1-2 ACC), though he'd never admit it. He's pure business, and pure focus.

But if he keeps up with his football surroundings (and the Twitter world), he'd have realized by now that Virginia Tech middle linebacker and leading tackler Chase Williams "has been ruled out with a knee injury suffered at Pitt Last week,'' according to our friend and Roanoke Times Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter

Chase  Williams has 54 tackles this season (8.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks, two pass breakups, 15 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

His replacement, redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka, will get his first career start against the Hurricanes. Motuapuaka has six tackles in six games, one quarterback hurry and a recovered fumble.

 Motuapuaka (pronounced mo-TOO-uh-poo-WAH-kuh) is listed as 6-0 and 231 pounds. He sustained a fractured right scapula (shoulder blade) in late spring practice that required surgery.

  He was listed by Rivals.com as the No. 20 inside linebacker in the country (from Salem High in Virginia Beach) when he signed with the Hokies.

 The Hokies also will be without All-ACC defensive tackle Luther Maddy, who has a knee injury -- though Maddy had only played in four games this season, his last game Sept. 20 against Georgia Tech. Maddy, a senior, graduated from Atlantic HIgh in Delray Beach.

  Virginia Tech's defense is ranked 20th in the nation. Its rushing defense, 30th (allowing an average of 123.3 ground yards per game).

  Johnson rushed for a season-high 162 yards in his last game against Cincinnati. HIs next 100-yard game will tie him for fourth all-time with former Hurricane James Jackson.

   Johnson's freshman protégé Joseph Yearby is averaging 7.4 yards a carry, with 325 yards on 43 carries. 

    "Probably going to be the most explosive offense we've seen today, right now,'' well-respected VT defensive coordinator Bud Foster told VT reporters Monday after practice. "You've got two dynamic tailbacks in Johnson and Yearby. You've got [WR Phillip] Dorsett -- he's like a track champion.

    "...They've got a young quarterback, but he's improving and growing each week and has got a live arm, throws a nice deep ball.''

*** On the other side of the ball...

     UM's rushing-challenged defense will go up against a Virginia Tech offense that rushed for 26 yards last Thursday night in a loss at Pittsburgh and converted 2 of 14 third downs.

   "This is the first time in a long time you kind of felt the similarities of what we we did last year,'' VT offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler told Newport News, Va., Daily Press beat writer Norm Wood (Aside: Thanks for warning me via Twitter to bring a warm coat) and the other Hokies reporters. "You didn't run it, you weren't good on third down and you stumbled in the red [zone].''

    However, Virginia Tech running back Marshawn Williams, who missed last game with a sprained ankle, told VT reporters Monday that he expects to play against MIami.

   The Hokies were without their top three running backs last Thursday, including Shai McKenzie (torn ACL) and Trey Edmunds (broken clavicle). 

    Williams has 362 rushing yards and three touchdowns in six games this season.

    I'm sure the Hokies will be pumped to be back playing in front of their fans at Lane Stadium, a very loud and intimidating place to play (and projected to be in the low 40s temperature-wise during the game), and that they are determined not to repeat their regrettable performance on national television.

    UM, on the other hand, still hasn't won a road game. And no matter how down the Hokies are this season, this game would constitute a big win for UM (also 4-3, 1-2), given the venue and tenuous situation with the Coastal Divison and how UM is still in the hunt for a division title.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 18, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' RT Gadbois out for season, Goudis & Regula to undergo surgery Monday

 

***The UM football team returned to the practice field on Saturday as the bye week reached its conclusion.

Ray Lewis III was not at practice Saturday after he wasn’t present for the Cincinnati game last Saturday.

“He didn’t practice, but his status on this team has not changed,” coach Al Golden said. “There’s nothing wrong. His status hasn’t changed, and that’s it.”

Lewis, a redshirt freshman cornerback, has not played in a college game. 

***The Hurricanes' offensive line is still undermanned going into a Thursday-night game at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois, who hurt his knee (along with his backup Kc McDermott) against Duke, was seen participating in warm-up drills at Saturday’s practice with a brace on his left knee. But that wasn’t indicative of the state of his recovery.

“Looks like it’s going to be season-ending,” Golden said of Gadbois. “That’s the way it looks right now.”

The news on McDermott was slightly better.

“He’s not ready for this week, but it’s not season-ending at this point, so hopefully he’ll continue to make progress,” Golden said.

Kicker Matt Goudis (back) will have surgery on Monday. He hadn’t played since the second game of the season against Florida A&M. Goudis has already used one medical redshirt with UM, but Golden will pursue a second one and thinks he would qualify.

Also having season-ending surgery on Monday will be long snapper Ronald Regula (knee). The surgery finalizes the career for the senior.

Frank Gabriel will take over long-snapping duties.

“He’s been doing it all along. He does it for us all the time,” Golden said of Gabriel. “He’ll just step into that role.”

Golden also says he has Dallas Crawford and Corn Elder ready to take care of long snaps behind Gabriel, with Nick Linder, Shane McDermott and Joe Brown at short snapper.

On what the bye week did for his team, Golden said, “I think the guys got rested up. We needed that. Guys got caught up on their schoolwork and everything and came out and had a good practice.”

 DAVID FURONES

October 17, 2014

University of Miami Hurricane Club surpasses $100 million in donations toward Momentum2 campaign

 

The University of Miami Athletics Department announced earlier this week that the Hurricane Club, which raises money for UM athletics, has surpassed the $100 million mark "as part of the institution-wide Momentum2 (M2) Campaign."

The M2 campaign began in 2008, after UM athletics raised $83 million in the original Momentum campaign from 2000-2007, according to UM.

The M2 has a goal of raising $1.6 billion for the entire university. The athletic department's portion of the M2 campaign, dubbed Building Champions, has a goal of $125 million --behind only the Miller School of Medicine, UM's medical school.

"Hurricane Club members have made a major statement in their support of Miami Athletics,'' UM athletic director Blake James said. 

During the newest M2 campaign, the Hurricanes have received five gifts of at least $1 million and 80 gifts of at least $100,000, UM associate athletic director for development Jesse Marks said Friday.

"We received a $100,000 gift Thursday toward the Football Victory Fund -- the $7 million campaign that paid for the UM practice fields and new student-athlete dining hall. Our next step in the Victory Fund process is adding lights to the practice field.''

The Hurricane Club annual membership has grown from 4,400 to just under 8,000 since  2010, when Marks arrived back at UM for his second stint and James arrived for his third stint.

"Our success is a testament to our strong brand and all of our great supporters investing their philanthropic dollars in support of our dedicated student-athletes,'' Marks said.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

October 15, 2014

News: kicker Matt Goudis, snapper/fb Ronnie Regula "out for season'' -- will require surgery

It's official, per Al Golden.

I just asked Golden on the Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference the status of injured long snapper/reserve fullback Ronnie Regula.

He said Regula "is out for the season,'' and former starting kicker Matt Goudis "is out for the season,'' and that "both of them will require surgery.''

Regula's injury has not been disclosed, but Golden said on Monday that it was "significant.'' Regula was helped off the field Saturday in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati with what appeared to be a right-leg (knee? Haven't been told) injury.

Regula is a 6-2, 240-pound senior walk-on out of Miami Palmetto High. Not sure if this means his career is over. Will check. 

Goudis, a redshirt junior, has been plagued by a back injury since the offseason. Last season he connected on 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and all 57 of his extra points.

This season, apparently kicking in pain, Goudis was 4 of 6 on field-goal attempts and made all six of his extra points. He has not played since FAMU.

I'm pretty sure UM coaches will apply for a medical waiver for Goudis, to see if he can come back as a junior next season.

Right tackle Taylor Gadbois (knee) "appears to be making progress -- we won't know until Saturday or Sunday,'' the coach said.

Golden said "practice went really well'' Wednesday. "Guys had a good attitude. It was some good on good, meaning Miami on Miami and then a little bit of an introduction to Virginia Tech as well.'' 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

October 13, 2014

Canes healing up, but not fast enough for kicker Matt Goudis and recently hurt Ronnie Regula

At first Al Golden wanted to redshirt Mike Badgley. Now it appears that junior kicker Matt Goudis, instead, will be the one who might be sitting out this year.

 Golden indicated in a teleconference Monday that he'll make a decision very soon about whether Goudis will play at all this season. Goudis is a redshirt junior, but UM can still apply for a medical waiver.

Goudis had an offseason back injury that put him in too much pain when he kicked. Coming into the FAMU game Sept. 6 -- the second game of the season -- Goudis had made nine straight field goals. He then missed two of four attempts against the Rattlers.

Last season, Goudis hit 13 of 17 field goals and all 57 of his extra points.

“I wish I had more on Matt right now,” Golden said Monday, indicating that his physical ailment “is just absolutely hindering his return.

“It’s slower than we thought. We’re entering that realm where redshirting is a possibility … Unless he can get cleared here this week, it’s something that we’re going to have to examine.”


As for long snapper/backup fullback Ronnie Regula, a senior walk-on, his undisclosed injury (right leg) is "significant,'' Golden said Monday. “I don’t know what it all entails yet. Once we figure that out we’ll release that.”

Regula is a 6-2, 240-pounder out of Miami Palmetto High. He has played in six games and will be replaced by junior snapper Frank Gabriel.


Golden still hopes former starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois (knee) will return to practice before Virginia Tech. That game, in Blacksburg, kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, and will be televised by ESPN.
 
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

Canes hit ACC trifecta with these three Players of the Week...

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today its Players of the Week, and three Hurricanes are included.

  Phillip Dorsett is the ACC Receiver of the Week, Tyriq McCord is the ACC Co-Linebacker of the Week and quarterback Brad Kaaya is the ACC Rookie of the Week.

   Duke Johnson, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries Saturday, was not named to the list. Instead, Offensive Back of the Week honors went to Marquise Williams of UNC. Quarterback Williams became the first ACC player since 2000 to throw a touchdown pass and record touchdowns running and receiving in the same game twice in a career. He was 24 of 41 for 303 yards passing and rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 18 carries at Notre Dame.

   For UM, Dorsett, a senior, caught three passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns vs. Cincinnati. His 79-yard touchdown catch was the longest of his career. He now leads UM with 550 receving yards.

   Linebacker McCord had two tackles, one sack, a tackle-for-loss, a pass breakup and one cool, wacky interception returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

  And Rookie of the Week Kaaya surpassed 200 yards for the fifth consecutive game. He threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for his first career touchdown. Kaaya has now thrown multiple TDs in every home game. He completed passes to seven different receivers in the victory.

  Also, congratulations to tight end Clive Walford, who is on the John Mackey Award Mid-Season Watch List announced Monday by the Mackey Award Selection Committee. 

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

     

October 11, 2014

Post-game Canes audio from Saturday's 55-34 win over Cincinnati

Here is the post-game audio from Saturday's 55-34 win over Cincinnati:

Coach Al Golden

Running back Duke Johnson

Cornerback Ladarius Gunter

Linebacker Tyriq McCord

Quarterback Brad Kaaya

Receiver Phillip Dorsett

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

The Hurricanes (3-3) host Cincinnati (2-2) at noon today at Sun Life Stadium. As usual, feel free to participate in our live chat below.

PRE-GAME NOTES

> Shortly after 10 a.m. this morning a plane flying a banner that read: "Fire Al Golden Save The U" flew twice around the stadium.

> Kc McDermott update: Hurricanes freshman right tackle Kc McDermott was on crutches with his teammates on the field during pregame warmups, his left knee wrapped with what appeared to be an elasticized brace.

McDermott’s dad, Randy, said before the game that Kc was doing well and did not sustain any type of ACL injury when he was hurt against Duke two weeks ago.

Doctors are determining over time whether McDermott will need surgery. Randy McDermott did not specify the injury, but said if he does have surgery, the recovery time is expected to be three months. He said he just wishes that his two sons – including senior center Shane McDermott – could play at least one more game together.

COVER IT LIVE

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Cincinnati: Oct. 11, 2014
 

October 10, 2014

Breaking it down: Cincinnati Bearcats at Miami Hurricanes

CINCINNATI (2-2) AT MIAMI (3-3)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: Noon, Sun Life Stadium, FoxSports Florida, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami leads 10-1.

> Counting stars - Miami: Canes have 3 five-star recruits (RB Duke Johnson, CB Tracy Howard, DE Chad Thomas), 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 - Cincinnati: Bearcats have one five-star recruit (QB Gunner Kiel), one four-star recruits (MLB Jeff Luc), 27 three-star recruits (14 on defens), 14 two-star recruits (8 on offense) and 2 no-star recruits (offense) on their depth chart. Among that group, two are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: LT Eric Lefeld (5th-6th RD) and Luc (7th RD-FA).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois (left leg) and Kc McDermott (left leg), kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Cincinnati star quarterback Gunner Kiel (bruised ribs) threw some passes late in the week and will travel with the team, but it's not expected that he'll play a heavy role or at all. Coach Tommy Tuberville told ESPN his quarterback is at about "60 to 70 percent arm strength... can't throw out routes, and right now he's a pretty good ways away from being the same Gunner for him to be successful." He said it would be a game-time decision. RB Hosey Williams (knee) is out.

> Background: The Bearcats lost 50-28 at Ohio State and 41-14 last week at home versus Memphis and enter Saturday's game on a two-game skid. Their defense ranks 114th in points allowed (37.3 average), 123rd versus the run (255.25 yards per game), 121st against the pass (306.5) and 127th in total defense (561.8). Miami is 3-0 at home this season.  

> Cincinnati offense versus Miami defense: If Kiel is healthy and plays it changes the complexion of the game because he's one of the nation's best passers. He ranks 8th nationally in passer efficiency with 15 touchdowns and three interception, 60.7 completion percentage and 1,257 yards. He's spread the ball around to 13 different receivers with 6-1, 190-pound junior Chris Moore (11 catches, 340 yards, 5 TDs), 6-6, 195-pound junior MeKale McKay (15 catches, 315 yards, 4 TDs) and 5-9, 174-pound junior Shaq Washington (18 catches, 168 yards, 1 TD) serving as primary targets. Despite shuffling starters due to injury through three games, the Cincinnati offensive line has allowed just five sacks all season. Third-string running back Rod Moore (16 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD) will anchor the nation's 113th-best running game (103.5 yards). Backup quarterback Munchie Legaux (6-5, 200, Sr.) has plenty of experience and will handle the passing duties if Kiel isn't able to go as expected. Junior Jarred Evans (6-2, 190) will enter to run the ball in wildcat formations. 

For Miami, this will be the first time all season they'll face a pass-oriented, pass-first attack. Two weeks ago against Duke, the Hurricanes did a fine job shutting down Anthony Boone (22 of 51, 179 yards, 2 INTs). Kiel, though, is a lot better than Boone and any other quarterback the Hurricanes have faced. To date, UM has produced 13 sacks with linebacker Thurston Armbrister leading the way with five.

> Miami offense versus Cincinnati defense: As mentioned above, the Bearcats defense has been horrendous but starting cornerback Adrian Witty (Deerfield Beach High) is expected back this week after missing the last three games. Senior defensive end Terrell Hartsfield (6-3, 246) leads the team with three sacks. 

Miami's offense is the worst in the country at converting on third down and Cincinnati is the worst at stopping teams. A healthy running game might do the Hurricanes good this week considering Cincinnati has given up 679 yards and five touchdowns on the ground over their last eight quarters. Then again, attacking the Bearcats through the air isn't a bad idea either. Cincinnati has given up 11 passing touchdowns and produced just one interception and is yielding a 65.4 percent completion percentage. 

> Special teams: Cincinnati freshman kicker Andrew Gantz is 2-for-3 on attempts with a long of 34 yards. Punter Sam Geraci is averging only 36.4 yards per punt, but has a long of 55. The Bearcats have allowed just two kickoff returns longer than 30 yards (UM has just one longer than 30 yards). They've only allowed opponents to attempt a return 3 of the 23 times they've punted. The return game isn't very good either. Kick returner Johnny Holton is averaging only 20.4 yards a return and has a long of 36. Washington has returned two punts for a total of 11 yards. UM, the most explosive kick return team in the nation last year with 13 returns of 30 yards or more, is looking to break out this week.

> Prediction: Miami 48, Cincinnati 24. If Kiel plays and is healthy the score will be a lot closer, but I don't expect that to happen. Duke Johnson (2,492 career rushing yards) should pass Clinton Portis (2,523 career rushing yards) for fourth on the all-time list quickly and have a very productive day against a Bearcats defense that simply can't stop the run.

October 08, 2014

Canes receiver Rashawn Scott could seek medical redshirt for this season

Coach Al Golden said injured receiver Rashawn Scott is entertaining the thought of seeking a medical redshirt for this season. The 6-3, 205-pound senior injured his shoulder/clavicle during a scrimmage in fall camp and has yet to play a down this season.

"Starting with him, we're all disappointed in the progress of it," Golden said of the injury. "But again, it was, as I said, an exotic injury. It was unique. It was an injury we just don't really see. So we didn't know. The doctors have been very -- I don't want to say conservative, but prudent in terms of hey before we put you out there you've got to be ready to go. He hasn't been ready to go. So, I don't foresee him being ready to go this week. We'll reevaluate next week."

Golden said because of the depth Miami has at receiver -- and the fact several young players have stepped up -- it would make sense for Scott to sit out.

"We're going to do what's best for Rashawn," Golden said. "But make no mistake he's been working hard. He's been trying to get back. We're just being very cautious with it. It's a tricky little deal up here in this area that we generally only see in automobile accidents. That's all I can share with you."

Scott finished the 2012 second on the team in receiving with 35 catches for 512 yards and three scores before missing the final three games of the year. He played in just four games last year.

> Kicker Matt Goudis, who hasn't played since the second game of the season, is coming along slower with his back injury than the team thought he would. "I can't diagnose it other than it doesn't look like he's going to require surgery," Golden said. "It's just about him getting it stronger and him getting comfortable to go in the game."

> Even though Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday he doesn't expect his star quarterback Gunner Kiel (bruised ribs) to play this week against the Hurricanes, Golden said UM is still preparing like he's going to play. Redshirt sophomore Gray Crow has been emulating Kiel for Miami's scout team offense this week.

"Our job is to handle our team and get ready for all three possibilities that we can see at quarterback and the looks that accompany them," Golden said. "Sometimes you go out there pregame and they’re there, sometimes they’re not. But we’re gonna have to be ready well before pregame to be able to handle whatever they’re gonna throw at us.”

Hurricanes entertain Make-A-Wish third grader from South Carolina

The Miami Hurricanes had a special guest at Wednesday's practice.

Carter Hucks, a third-grader from Charleston, S.C. who is fighting a life-threatening disease, was granted his wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is getting to spend a few days with the Hurricanes and his favorite player Duke Johnson.

Wearing a No. 8 jersey just like Johnson but with his own last name across the back of it, Hucks ran out onto Greentree Practice Field Wednesday morning alongside UM's players and got to experience what the players do on game days. 

UM made Wednesday's practice extra special for Hucks. They brought out the inflatable helmet the team uses at Sun Life Stadium, cheerleaders and the school band, and had Hucks run out through a tunnel of smoke.

Hucks later played catch with receiver Phillip Dorsett, caught passes from backup quarterback Jake Heaps, and he even got to tackle cornerback Tracy Howard. Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu (6-8, 324) ended practice by carrying Hucks off the field on his shoulders.

"Just a great day and hopefully a great three days coming up for he and his family," coach Al Golden said. "We're excited to welcome him. He went to meetings. He got taped up, put pads on. We're excited for Carter and he's having a great day right now.

"He's entering a stage or a battle in his life where he needs this. He needs happy moments. He needs people supporting him and everything. I hope our kids get as much out of it as they are giving to him, in terms of appreciation and understanding where we are and keep perspective. I'm happy that he's with us this week for his sake. But I also think our guys are getting a lot from it as well."

Carter's father Derrick grew up a Hurricanes fan in the 1990s and early 2000s and called it a thrill to be out on the same practice field where Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee and many other greats practiced. His son played football growing up, but hasn't this year because he's battling Fanconi Anemia (a genetic defect in a cluster of proteins responsible for DNA repair. As a result, the majority of FA patients develop cancer, most often acute myelogenous leukemia, and 90 percent develop bone marrow failure).

Derrick, accompanied by his wife Jesse, told local TV station CBS-4 the experience at UM has been great for the entire family.

"Because of things with his health, I think being out here, seeing the guys running around, moving around it reminds him of the things he used to do," Derrick said. "I think that's a big spirit booster for [Carter]. I think it reminds him after this procedure is done he'll be able to get back to being who he is. 

"I was making a joke that hopefully by the time this whole procedure is over the next time he's in Coach Golden's office he's here to commit to playing his next four, five years at the University of Miami. This is a stepping stone in that direction with the whole procedure he's going to go through. I would love to see him out here. It's good to see him out here running around and what he could possibly be."

The Hurricanes have entertained other children with special needs in the past, but Golden said this is the first time they've had a kid from the Make-A-Wish foundation. 

"Our players do a great job with that," Golden said. "Duke and Denzel [Perryman] have been with him most of the morning. Duke took him to meetings. We got him fitted for equipment. It's been pretty cool. Again, they're Canes fans from South Carolina and this is what the young man wanted to do. So I'm glad we can do it. He's not going to shake us yet. We got two more days and then game day. He'll be a Hurricane by the end of the week."

October 07, 2014

Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel expected to miss Saturday's game against Canes, plus other notes from Tuesday

Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, the nation's top-rated pro-style quarterback recruit in 2012 who threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns in a loss at Ohio State on Sept. 27, is expected to miss Saturday's game against the Hurricanes with bruised ribs.

"I don't see him playing," Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville told Cincinnati.com on Tuesday. "He's not much better than he was [when he was hurt in last Saturday's 41-14 loss to Memphis]. I'm not going to put him out there if he's not close to 100 percent."

Cincinnati (2-2) will instead turn to fifth-year senior Munchie Legaux (6-5, 200), who has played in 33 games over parts of five seasons. Legaux has a career completion percentage of 51.6 and has thrown for 2,904 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Junior college transfer Jarred Evans (6-2, 190) is used often in Wildcat formations, UM coach Al Golden said.

Kiel isn't the only offensive leader hurt. Tuberville said senior tailback Hosey Williams (Miami Southridge) will be out a month with a knee injury. Senior Rod Moore (5-10, 176) had 65 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries at Memphis last week and will now carry the load in the backfield.

Defensively, the Bearcats are a mess. They rank dead last in third down defense (55 percent conversion rate), are giving up 37.3 points per game (114th out of 128 FBS programs), 255.2 rushing yards per game (134rd), 306.5 passing yards (121st) and rank 127th in total defense (561.8).

Starting cornerback Adrian Witty (Deerfield Beach) has missed three straight games.

> As for the Hurricanes, Golden said it looks like starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois, who injured his left knee in the win over Duke two weeks ago, could be back in time for the Virginia Tech game on Oct. 23.

"[Backup right tackle] Kc [McDermott] would probably be a little bit after that," Golden said. "That’s the way we’re proceeding right now. Hopefully Taylor will back at the end of next week."

> Freshman Nick Linder made the start at left guard at Georgia Tech and was in on all 44 plays snaps for UM. Golden said the plan was to move fifth-year senior Jonathan Feliciano back over to left guard and give freshman Trevor Darling some snaps at right tackle but the opportunity never presented itself because Georgia Tech possessed the ball for over 40 minutes.

"Nick is a leverage guy, he’s very strong," Golden said. "He played strong the other night. He’s scrappy. He’ll find a way to get to the second level. He did a really good job there, but it’s tough to compare him to [older brother and former Hurricane] Brandon [Linder]. Brandon is so much longer, a little bit different player."

> What is Golden's assessment of freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya (the nation's 36th rated passer) at the midway point of the season?

"I think he’s doing really well," Golden said. "I know he would like to have a couple throws back, I don’t think there’s any question about it. I think he’s doing really well. He’s poised, he’s distributing the football really well, and he’s gone into some big time environments and answered the ball. I’ve been around first-year starters in my career that couldn’t do what he’s doing right now, even though they’re maybe starting later in their career. He knows what he needs to fix and we can’t…you’ve never heard me say he’s a freshman quarterback, because that can’t be part of our thinking, that it’s okay to throw interceptions. It’s not okay. He’s our starting quarterback, so it’s not okay to throw interceptions. Find your outlet, or find a way to protect the ball, but we can’t throw interceptions."

> Why does former freshman All-American receiver Stacy Coley continue to be invisible in Miami's offense?

"I'll answer your question without comparing him to anybody else," Golden said. "We have to get [Coley] going. We have to do a better job as a staff getting him going. He has to do a better job on the details everyday. Obviously, the [drop against] Duke could have sparked it for him, could have got it going for him. We didn't come through there. But we need his explosiveness. We need it. Having said that, Malcolm [Lewis], Herb [Waters], Phillip [Dorsett] have all picked up for him. But we would love to get him going. We're going to have to find ways to get him the ball, to get his rhythm. I don't want to say confidence because I think he's a confident kid. I think he's working hard again. I think he's focused. I don't want him to press. He's just got to relax. We got to find ways to get him the ball and then get him going. But, coaches have to do a better job. Stacy's got to do a better job everyday in practice. And Stacy's got to do a better job just focusing on the little details and I think collectively we can get this fixed."

> Golden passed on the question when asked if fifth-year senior Ryan Williams is seeking a medical redshirt. "That's going to be above me," Golden said. "[Ryan is] doing good. He's working with the twos with Jake [Heaps] back and forth. Is he 100 percent yet? No, he's not. But he' doing good and he's getting better, no question."

LATEST DEPTH CHART

Offense

QB: Brad Kaaya, 6-4, 209, Fr. | Jake Heaps, 6-1, 208, Gr. | Ryan Williams, 6-5, 222, R-Sr.
RB: Duke Johnson, 5-9, 206, Sr. | Joe Yearby, 5-9, 192, Fr. OR Gus Edwards, 6-2, 230, So.
FB: Walter Tucker, 6-0, 226, So. | Ronald Regula, 6-2, 240, Sr. 
WR: Phillip Dorsett, 5-10 ,187, Sr. | Malcolm Lewis, 6-0, 189, R-So.
WR: Herb Waters, 6-2, 198, So. | Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So.
Slot: Braxton Berrios, 5-9, 183, Fr. | Malcolm Lewis, 6-0 ,189, R-So.
TE: Clive Walford, 6-4, 258, R-Sr. | Standish Dobard, 6-4, 255, So.
LT: Ereck Flowers, 6-6, 324, Jr. | Trevor Darling, 6-5, 310, Fr.
LG: Nick Linder, 6-3, 290, Fr. OR Hunter Wells, 6-6, 312, R-So.
C: Shane McDermott, 6-4, 300, R-Sr. | Nick Linder, 6-3, 290, Fr.
RG: Daniel Isidora, 6-4, 318, R-So. | Alex Gall 6-5, 305, So.
RT: Jon Feliciano, 6-5, 316, Sr. | Sunny Odogwu 6-8, 312, R-Fr.

Defense

DE: Anthony Chickillo, 6-4, 282, Sr. | Chad Thomas 6-5, 265, Fr.
DT: Calvin Heurtelou, 6-3, 315, Jr. | Courtel Jenkins 6-1, 315, Fr.
DT: Olsen Pierre, 6-5, 300, Sr. | Ufomba Kamalu 6-6, 295, Jr. | Anthony Moten, 6-4, 295, Fr.
DE: Tyriq McCord, 6-3, 248, Jr. | Trent Harris 6-2, 238, Fr.
SLB: Thurston Armbrister 6-3, 241, Sr. | Darrion Owens, 6-3, 235, Fr.
MLB: Denzel Perryman 6-0 ,242, Sr. | Juwon Young, 6-2, 240, Fr.
WLB: Raphael Kirby 6-1, 238, Jr. | Jermaine Grace, 6-1, 212, So.
CB: Artie Burns, 6-0, 196, So. | Tracy Howard, 5-11, 188, Jr.
CB: Ladarius Gunter, 6-2, 192, Sr. | Corn Elder 5-10, 188, So.
S: Deon Bush 6-1, 198, Jr. | Jamal Carter, 6-1, 213, So.
S: Nantambu Akil-Fentress 5-9, 200, Sr. | Dallas Crawford, 5-10, 196, R-Jr.

Special teams

K: Michael Badgley, 5-10, 180, Fr. | Matt Goudis, 6-0, 170, Jr.
P: Justin Vogel, 6-4, 210, So. | Ricky Carroll, 6-3, 198, R-Sr.
KO: Michael Badgley, 5-10, 180, Fr. | Justin Vogel 6-4, 210, So.
H: Dallas Crawford 5-10, 196, R-Jr. | Justin Vogel 6-4, 210, So.
LS: Ronnie Regula 6-2, 240, Sr. | Frank Gabriel 6-3, 215, Jr.
PR: Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So. | Braxton Berrios 5-9, 183, Fr. | Phillip Dorsett 5-10, 187, Sr.
KR: Stacy Coley, 6-3, 185, So. | Phillip Dorsett 5-10, 185, Sr.

Trying to decipher coach Al Golden's explanation of the Canes' defensive struggles, adjustments

Fans want answers.

Reporters want to provide them.

Coaches -- well, they are coaches. And so the process doesn't always work out.

Tuesday, I tossed a question Al Golden's way that I thought was pretty direct and to the point regarding how easy it's become over the years to run on his defense -- even when the opponent makes it clear that's the intention.

**************

Me: Al, your last two losses -- on the road at Nebraska and Georgia Tech -- were against teams that, let's face it, are one-dimensional. Everyone knows Nebraska and Georgia Tech run the ball. Why weren't you guys able to stop it?

Golden: "Okay, so, where Georgia Tech beats you is they beat you on the perimeter, they beat you with the toss play, they beat you when you're not paying attention to the quarterback on the alley and then they beat you on the X play to Smelter, who has three games of 100 yards. That's where they beat you. Now, we have to do a better job stopping the dive. The dive is five times to get 25 yards. Those other plays are one shots. So, there's a lot of little nuances in there we didn't do a good job on there. That they obviously utilized against us. I think the Georgia Tech deal is a lot different than the Nebraska deal. May look the same to you. Completely different. Georgia Tech, whatever calls we make, whatever front, coverage, pressure we use is gone now. It's gone. We use it once a year. Where we lost the game against Georgia Tech is we didn't get off the field on third down. We didn't take the ball away. It's as simple as that. We didn't get off the field on third down when we pushed them into those downs and distances. We didn't take the ball away. If they ran for 285 yards -- and again it's different than Nebraska. Nobody wanted Nebraska to run for that many yards. Trust me. But as you're playing Georgia Tech it's a little bit different. Does that make sense to you?"

Me: Well, not really, but I nodded so you can continue your train of thought.

"Again, I look at those two different things completely different in terms of how you go into the game. There's absolutely no excuse for what happened in Nebraska. Again, I'm responsible for it at the end of the day. Me. But in terms of Georgia Tech, we just didn't do a good enough job and we let some [explosive] runs occur, which we hadn't been letting. The year before we let one big one happen. It hadn't been as big an issue as it was last year."

**************

I'd like to tell you there's an answer to my question. But it doesn't feel like it.

What did I decipher from that?

1. Golden thinks it's unfair to cluster Georgia Tech and Nebraska into the same one-dimensional category because the Yellow Jackets run the triple option and the Cornhuskers run a spread, read option. Never mind the fact Georgia Tech threw it just seven times and ran it 65 times against Miami; and Nebraska ran it 54 times and threw it 13 times.

2. Maybe it's just me, but Golden made it seem like he prefers his defense be chopped up slowly rather than in one big chunk. Thus the reason we see safeties and linebackers playing so far off the ball.

3. Al wants me to trust him.

**************

Veteran Hurricanes reporter and Canesport editor Gary Ferman followed my lead two questions later and directed a more specific question regarding the photos floating around on Twitter of Miami's linebackers and safeties playing well off the ball in certain situations like 3rd and goal from the 2 and 3rd-and-2 at midfield at Georgia Tech.

Ferman: You guys have obviously been struggling and that puts just an incredible microscope on everything you’re doing. Play by play people are looking at it, they’re stopping screens, they’re taking pictures of screens and posting them. In the world of social media now it’s going viral. They’ll look and say, like third and 2 play in both games, in Nebraska and GT, they’ll take a snap screen and they’ll show Denzel Perryman, for example, lined up 7 yards off the ball on third-and-1 or third-and-2 and the play will get converted and obviously that just opens up a snowstorm of critique and criticism and everything else. What would be the explanation for things like that that might be contributing to the struggles that you guys are having in situations like that in getting off the ball on third down. When you loaded up the line of scrimmage in that game the other night you were pretty successful from what I remember in most cases? 

Golden: "So, Denzel’s depth is a function of the defense. So, depending on what we’re doing with our defensive tackles, [Perryman's] first gap may be outside of those guys. So he’s got to get to six yards. He should have never been seven [yards back] in the game, Gary. He was. And we tried to get him to move up during the game. We want him at six yards so he can scrape into the C gap. Any tighter than that and you’re getting cut by the guards constantly all game. If we want to play without a Mike, we can move him up to three yards and he’ll be on the ground the whole game – and I’ve seen teams do that. In terms of the Georgia Tech game, that was designed. He’s designed to be there. And you know the tackles and perhaps one of the OLBs who was blitzing is responsible for the dive. Many times he’s responsible for the dive but there are many times when we’re asking him to scrape fast because one of the OLBs are coming. Gary, I have no idea living in your world what picture [surfing Twitter] that was, but if he was back... I guess what I’m saying to you is we move him back in certain instances because we’re bringing one of the OLBs and that his first gap would be outside the OLB. I don’t know which play you’re talking about, but the last two years we beat that team, whatever, the last three years, running the same stuff. We got takeaways, we got third down stops, we got a fourth-down stop. And the offense in both years was I think 50-percent last year on third down, 60-something the year before out in Atlanta. That makes it a markedly different game, makes it markedly different. You’ve got to beat that team as a team. We didn’t play well enough on defense, we didn’t get off the field on defense and then the offense and special teams didn’t help the defense."

**************

What did I decipher from that response?

1. Miami opted to not make middle linebacker Denzel Perryman primarily responsible for stopping the dive. Their approach was letting outside linebackers try and bring down Georgia Tech B-Back Zack Laskey. Golden felt if they brought Perryman closer to the line of scrimmage he would have been devoured by the Yellow Jackets' center (which he was anyway).

2. Until last Saturday, Golden believes his defensive philosophy against Georgia Tech had worked because UM got turnovers and more third down stops and his offense played better than it did. So basically, he went to war in Atlanta with the same plan he had used in previous years (nevermind the fact Paul Johnson had two weeks to prepare and create new wrinkles) and the Canes were beaten. 

**************

I went on the Joe Rose show Tuesday morning to talk Canes. Here's the link to the interview with Joe.

October 06, 2014

UM to honor school's 2015 Hall of Fame Class at Saturday's game against Cincinnati

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2015 class of inductees.

Headlining the group are two-time Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams as well as football stars Jonathan Vilma, Kevin Patrick, Rusty Medearis, Winston Moss and the late Sean Taylor. Rounding out the class are College Baseball Hall of Fame member Alex Fernandez, NCAA Champion diver Chris Mantilla, basketball star Kym Hope and former football assistant coach Rob Chudzinski.

This year's class will be formally introduced at halftime of the Miami-Cincinnati game on Saturday as part of the "Hall of Fame Game" ceremonies. Inductees will enter the UMSHoF following the 47th Annual Induction Banquet, which will be held in April 2015.

“This is an impressive class that reflects the highest level of athletic talent representative of The U,” said K.C. Jones, president of the UMSHoF and member of the 2008 class. “We look forward to introducing the class at the upcoming Cincinnati game and hosting our induction ceremony at the banquet in the spring.”

The UMSHoF was founded in 1966 by eight Dade County Circuit Court judges, all Miami alumni, who wanted to establish an organization that would recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who excelled at their sport and brought acclaim to the university through their achievements and championships.

Duke Johnson, Denzel Perryman still trying to lead UM out of mediocrity

Everybody wants to leave behind something -- a fingerprint, a path, a tradition.

Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman, Miami's offensive and defensive leaders, committed themselves to doing that for the Hurricanes four years ago when Randy Shannon was still the head coach. They stuck with that idea even when Shannon was fired. Why? Because they loved their city and they loved The U.

Much like Lamar Miller and Sean Spence, Johnson and Perryman bought into a new coach when things weren't going well, and vowed to be the spark plugs to help turn UM around. 

And yet, now, at the midway point of Perryman's fourth and final season (probably Johnson's last year here too), Johnson and Perryman sit in the same spot the guys before them once did: stuck in neutral and with a frustrated fan base (former players included) demanding the head coach's head.

NCAA mess or not, it's hard for anyone to stomach what's happened here since Miami's last BCS Bowl appearance in 2003. Whether the man leading the charge for UM on Saturdays has been dressed in a green polo shirt or wears a spiffy orange tie, mediocrity's reign in Coral Gables has continued.

The records make it crystal clear how little progress has been made on the field since Larry Coker was fired: Shannon was 24-19 (13-14 in the ACC) after 3 1/2 seasons at UM (he finished 3-3 before being fired); Al Golden is 25-18 (14-13 in the ACC) through his first 3 1/2 years. He's one win better. That's it. 

You can make a strong argument Golden had it harder when he inherited UM from Shannon. After all, he was blind sided by an NCAA mess his first day on the job -- one that happened right under Shannon's nose. Golden had to deal with it his first three years on the job.

But the truth is nobody cares about that anymore. Not when you look at the level of talent both have had under their control. Both men inherited and brought in enough talent to be better than average in a very mediocre power conference. 

And thus that brings me back to Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman -- the latest versions of Miller and Spence. They are two home-grown kids who signed with Miami with the idea they would do big things. They've done so individually, but haven't been able to put an end to the team's run of mediocrity.

On Monday, there was no practice at UM. Much like Golden did after the Nebraska loss, he gave his team a day off to rest and recover from the latest disappointment. Johnson and Perryman were made available to us (the media) to discuss what's next for the 3-3 Hurricanes as the second half of the season looms. 

At this point, all I really wanted to ask Perryman and Johnson is what is motivating this team (it's on field leaders at least) when they know they face an uphill battle at winning the Coastal Division and playing in a BCS Bowl game. Do they still feel like they can change the culture at The U and pull the program out of mediocrity? Or have they accepted it?

“When you plan on changing a university you don't do it in one year," Johnson responded. "It's something that takes time. Yeah, we're 3-3 right now, but I still think we still have a lot we can accomplish, there are still things out there that we still can reach. Just at least get us back to our winning ways and get us to the Coastal [Division] championship. So there are still things out there we can reach, still goals we can reach. I wouldn't say that our season is over."

"Like Duke said, there's still a lot out things we can accomplish whether we've lost three games or not," Perryman said. "Last year, in the regular season, we lost three games. Like he said, there's disappointment with the guys, but I'm going to talk the team today and [Tuesday], see where their minds at and stuff like that so we can turn this thing around."

Johnson, who won a state championship at Miami Norland, hates losing. I know he, Perryman and the rest of Miami's junior and senior leaders are not going to allow anyone to quit. They have too much pride -- and NFL scouts to try and impress.

The real question now is if UM's recruits will start seeing this program for what it is, and stop believing they can be the ones to turn things around under Golden. After all, how many times can kids in South Florida see talents like Miller, Spence, Perryman and Johnson walk through Miami's doors and see a team that is average? Sooner or later, the sales pitch stops working.

> For those of you interested, I joined WQAM morning show host Orlando Alzugaray on the Big O Show today to talk Canes. Here is a link to the audio.

October 04, 2014

Notes, quotes and quick observations after the Canes' 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech

If Al Golden's seat wasn't hot before it's hard to imagine it isn't hot now.

Miami fans have been clamoring and complaining for a long time now about Miami's defense and the way it is coached. Players and coaches have said over and over again it's about player execution and not the scheme. But how can you honestly argue it isn't scheme related when we've seen pictures like the ones below for years and not just on Saturday night?

As I've said on the radio and here many times -- it's not just defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio who deserves blame. This is the defense Al Golden approves of. 

These are the staggering numbers the Canes are racking up when it comes to coaching:

NOTES/QUOTES FROM THE GAME

> Georgia Tech finished 11-of-16 on money downs (3rd and 4th down). The Yellow Jackets dominated Miami's defense up front beating them up the gut and with option pitches. Georgia Tech simply made the plays when it needed to. None was bigger than a 3rd-and-16 conversion in the third quarter with a pass to a wide open Tony Zenon out of the backfield for a 30-yard gain. Thurston Armbrister had the coverage. Zenon was left wide open. Georgia Tech capped that drive with a touchdown that made it 28-17.

> Freshman Nick Linder started at left guard and did a good job. The offense line as a whole gave Kaaya plenty of time to throw. Georgia Tech had two sacks and three tackles for loss, but Duke Johnson (14 carries, 100 yards) and Joe Yearby (2 carries, 16 yards) averaged 7.25 yards per carry. So this wasn't on them.

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya finished 16 of 25 for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interception. The first pick was just a bad pass that looked like it was intended for Clive Walford got away from Kaaya. The second pick game late in the game in the fourth quarter when Miami was throwing into the end zone and Georgia Tech was sitting back in coverage. It wasn't his best game, but I don't put this on Kaaya.

> Al Golden to WQAM on the loss: "It is what it is. This game is over now. We have to regroup. I got to get the guys rested up and get them healthy. We have a big home this week against Cincinnati whose playing really well. Again, there's no time for excuses. There's no time for complaining. It's just about getting back up, lacing them back up and let's go. There's a lot of football left. Duke was 0-2 in the league I believe last year and they ended up winning it."

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

MIAMI (3-2) AT GEORGIA TECH (4-0)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Bobby Dodd Stadium, ESPN2, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami has won five in a row in the series, but still trails the overall series 10-9.

> Spread: Georgia Tech favored by 1 1/2

> For my breakdown and prediction for the game check out my previous blog. Feel free to participate in the chat below. Susan is in Atlanta to cover the game. I will be here at home watching on TV and providing stats and insight as the game goes along via Twitter.

 

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Georgia Tech: Oct. 4, 2014
 

October 03, 2014

Breaking it down: Miami Hurricanes at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

MIAMI (3-2) AT GEORGIA TECH (4-0)

> Kickoff, TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Bobby Dodd Stadium, ESPN2, WQAM (560 AM)

> History: Miami has won five in a row in the series, but still trails the overall series 10-9.

> Spread: Georgia Tech favored by 1 1/2

> 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 - Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets have no five-star recruits, 4 four-star recruits (two on each side), 40 three-star recruits (21 on offense), 5 two-star recruits (3 on defense) and 1 no-star recruit (offense) on their depth chart. Among that group, two are projected to be taken in next year's draft according to NFLDraftScout.com. Those are: SS Isaiah Johnson (6th RD) and WR Darren Waller (6th-7th RD).

> Injuries: Miami listed offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois (left leg) and Kc McDermott (left leg), kicker Matt Goudis (back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Georgia Tech has listed reserve defensive tackle Adrian Gardner (foot) as probable and walk-on redshirt freshman reserve quarterback Brady Swilling (hand) as out. Kicker Harrison Butker has been fighting through ankle pain.

> Background: The Yellow Jackets have had two weeks to prepare for the Hurricanes since winning on the road at Virginia Tech 27-24. UM coach Al Golden expects to see plenty of wrinkles from Georgia Tech's offense considering UM has won five in a row against them. Outside of the Virginia Tech win, Georgia Tech's other wins were 38-19 over Wofford, 38-21 at Tulane and 42-38 over Georgia Southern.  

> Georgia Tech offense versus Miami defense: This is going to be the fifth game in a row UM faces some form of the spread option. Of course as coach Golden pointed out this week this is the first opponent who adds a third element (the pitch) to the mix. So far, Georgia Tech has relied on 5-11, 189-pound speedy quarterback Justin Thomas (65 carries, 443 yards, 2 TDs) and 6-1, 218-pound B-Back Zach Laskey (61 carries, 316 yards, 2 TDs) to do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. Fifth-year seniors Charles Perkins (9 carries, 111 yards, 0 TDs), Tony Zenon (13 carries, 90 yards, 2 TDs) and Deon Hill (10 carries, 61 yards, 0 TDs) have been sprinkled in as big play options as A-Backs. Thomas rarely throws, but when he does it usually results in a big play with 6-3, 222-pound senior DeAndre Smelter, who leads the team with 14 catches for 339 yards and four scores. Georgia Tech's offense line, which specializes in cut blocks, has plenty of experience on the left side. Left tackle Bryan Chamberlain, a 6-4, 295-pound redshirt junior, has 12 starts under his belt. Redshirt junior Trey Braun (6-5, 294) has made 12 consecutive starts at left guard and senior right guard Shaquille Mason (6-1, 300) has made 29 career starts and is an All-American candidate.

Hurricanes defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio redeemed himself last week with a more aggressive approach and has won five games in a row against teams that run the Triple Option. But there is still reason for concern. After holding Georgia Tech to 134 yards on the ground and just seven points in 2011, Miami's defense has been giving up more and more yardage on the ground against Tech (287 yards, 5 TDs in 2012; 335 yards, 4 TDs in 2013). UM was down 17-7 after one quarter last year before turnovers helped stem the tide. With Georgia Tech driving early in the second quarter, Justin Renfrow hit quarterback Vad Lee and Jimmy Gaines recovered his fumble at the UM 21-yard line. Miami responded with 10 points to tie it at halftime. Miami then used two fourth quarter interceptions -- including a Ladarius Gunter 30-yard return for a score -- to salt away the win. Thomas has thrown just one interception on 65 attempts this season (he's completing 49.2 percent of his passes) and the Yellow Jackets have turned it over three times total on fumbles. Key stats to remember: Georgia Tech is converting on 3rd down at 56 percent (fifth-best nationally). UM ranks 55th in third down defense (36.36 percent). Denzel Perryman will have to lead the charge again for Miami. He had a team-leading 11 tackles last year as UM forced Georgia Tech into seven tackles for loss total in the win.

> Miami offense versus Georgia Tech defense: UM freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya played his first turnover free game of the season last week in the win over Duke and Golden says it will be paramount to UM's success he keeps playing turnover free. Georgia Tech has produced six interceptions already this season (tied for 20th most in FBS) and five of those picks have come inside their opponents' own 40-yard line. All seven turnovers Georgia Tech's defense has produced this season have led to 45 points. That said, the Yellow Jackets really haven't faced too many passing teams thus far (109 opposing pass attempts ranks 14th fewest) much less one as talented as UM's (263 yards, 12 TDs, 60.9 percent completion percentage). Part of that's because opponents have some pretty good success running the ball on the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech ranks 94th in rushing yards allowed per game (194.25) and the Jackets are surrendering 5.43 yards per carry (115th out of 128 FBS teams). Last year, UM ran for 227 yards and 7.3 per carry against Georgia Tech as it rolled up 551 yards of total offense on just 53 plays (10.4 average). Canes running back Duke Johnson, recovering from a sprained right ankle versus Duke, enters Saturday's game just 131 yards behind Clinton Portis for fifth on UM's all-time rushing list. He had his second-best career rushing game versus Georgia Tech last year (184 yards, 22 carries). True freshman Joseph Yearby had his best game last week against Duke and should get more work.

Of course, Miami's offensive line will look a little different this week with starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois and backup Kc McDermott out and veteran left guard Jonathan Feliciano now over at right tackle. Golden said true freshman Nick Linder, sophomore Alex Gall and junior Hunter Wells will all rotate in at the left guard spot this week and whoever plays the best will finish the game. Before the injury to Gadbois, Miami showed a tendency to run left behind left tackle Ereck Flowers and Feliciano. But this may even things out some. Golden said this week he wants to get both the struggling Stacy Coley and Phillip Dorsett (0 catches versus Duke) going. Two years ago, Dorsett lit up Georgia Tech in Atlanta (9 catches, 184 yards, 1 TD). Two of the five returning starters for Georgia Tech who faced UM last year -- linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and cornerback Chris Milton -- intercepted Stephen Morris in last year's game. The key for Miami's offense will be avoiding third-and-long situations (Hurricanes rank 124th out of 126 FBS programs) on third down conversions. Of course, Georgia Tech isn't very good on third-down defense (48.98, 118th out of 128 schools) either. So something has to give.

> Special teams: The Hurricanes are still waiting for the big return from somebody on kickoff and punts (longest for both is 29 yards). It probably won't happen this week. Georgia Tech hasn't allowed a punt return longer than 20 yards and just one kick return longer than 30. Tech's Chris Milton is one of the best kick blockers in the country. He has five blocks since the start of the 2013 season and has two blocks already this year. UM has had trouble with extra points, bad snaps and kickoff coverage (1 kick return for TD by Louisville). As far as the kicking game goes, Georgia Tech's Harrison Butker is 4-for-7 this year on field goals (1-of-4 from 30 to 39 yards; 2-for-2 from 40 to 49 yards) with a long of 46 yards. UM freshman walk-on Michael Badgley is 2-for-3 on attempts with a long of 34. Miami punter Justin Vogel (44.2 average, 10 fair catches, eight punts inside the 20 on 21 attempts) was named ACC co-special teams player of the week last week. Georgia Tech punter Ryan Rodwell is averaging 4.38 yards per punt with three fair catches, seven inside the 20 on 12 attempts.

> Prediction: Miami 41, Georgia Tech 24. There are plenty of reasons to have doubt: Is Duke Johnson's ankle really okay? Will UM's defense revert to its old ways? Georgia Tech has had two weeks to prepare. Bottomline: UM is a better team and Georgia Tech really isn't that good. This game is all about momentum. If Miami grabs it early -- as it did last week -- they should win.

October 02, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' injury report for Georgia Tech

Here's the injury report for Georgia Tech game:

 

Out For Game:

 


OT KC McDermott-Lower Extremity

 

OT Taylor Gadbois-Lower Extremity

 

K Matt Goudis –Lower Extremity

 

WR Rashawn Scott-Upper Extremity

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 01, 2014

Cancer survivor Jim Kelly to return to UM as honorary captain at homecoming

KELLY TO SERVE AS GRAND MARSHAL OF HOMECOMING

#KellyTough Green Out for game against North Carolina

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Cancer-free and #KellyTough, Hurricanes football great Jim Kelly will serve as Grand Marshal for the 2014 Alumni Weekend and Homecoming festivities on the University of Miami campus.

 Kelly will serve as Honorary Captain for the Homecoming football game against North Carolina, which will kick off on Nov. 1.

 “The University of Miami was and remains an important part of my life,” Kelly said. “My family and I are honored and we look forward to being Grand Marshal of the Homecoming Parade and Honorary Captain for the Homecoming game.”

 In conjunction with Kelly’s successful fight against cancer, the Homecoming game against the Tar Heels has been declared a “#KellyTough Green Out.” All Canes fans are encouraged to wear green to the game to show their support in the fight against cancer.

 “We are thrilled and thankful to welcome a Hurricane great home!” said Donna Arbide, Associate Vice President of the UM Alumni Association. “We expect a packed house of people eager to honor Jim and his family.”

Kelly, his wife Jill and their daughters Erin and Camryn will all be taking part in the exciting weekend of festivities, set for Oct. 31 – Nov. 1.

"We are thrilled and honored to welcome Jim, Jill, Erin and Camryn back to Miami, and we are so grateful that they can join us for Homecoming weekend,” Athletics Director Blake James said. “Jim represents everything that we strive to achieve at UM: excellence, character, compassion and strength. His remarkable life's journey is an inspiration for all of us."

A four-year letterman from 1979-1982, Kelly is widely credited with beginning a tradition at Miami that led the school to be known as “Quarterback U.” Kelly led Miami to its first bowl appearance in 14 years in 1981, guiding the Hurricanes to a Peach Bowl victory over Virginia Tech and earning Offensive MVP honors in the win.

 Kelly later led the NFL's Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

  

Gall, Linder and Wells competing for starting job at left guard; Duke Johnson "100 percent" Golden said

The battle to become UM’s starting left guard has become a three-horse race between freshman Nick Linder (6-3, 285), sophomore Alex Gall (6-5, 306) and junior Hunter Wells (6-6, 312), and coach Al Golden said Wednesday he's going to let it play out over the next 24-48 hours.

Last Saturday against Duke, it was Linder who replaced fifth-year senior Jonathan Feliciano at left guard when he was moved over to right tackle to fill-in for injured starter Taylor Gadbois in the fourth quarter.

Gall, who hasn't played since the Arkansas State game because of a back injury, finally practiced as a full participant on Wednesday, Golden said. Wells, meanwhile, is back with the team this week after serving a one-game suspension against Duke for a failed drug test. 

"Obviously, Alex was kind of the front-runner before the injury," Golden said. "I'm interested to see as I go in and watch [practice film] how he did  and how his conditioning is and all that. We'll see how it shakes out in the next 48 hours."

Golden said Linder, the younger brother of former Hurricane longtime starter Brandon Linder, is big enough and strong enough to physically handle the starting job even though he's the youngest of the three fighting for it. 

"He's gained weight since he's gotten here," said Golden, who estimates Linder weighs between 298 and 300 pounds now -- significantly more than his listed weight. "His 225-pound [bench press] test [score] is really good. His lower back and hip flexability is really good, his knee bend, and he's smart. He's on the right guys.

"I'm going to let it play out. You guys have known me long enough. I want to see it on the field. Whoever practices the best starts the game. Whoever plays the best finishes the game. We're going to look at that pretty intently here the next two hours."

For most of the season, UM's starting offensive line has taken the bulk of the snaps -- especially in big games. When backups have come in, it usually has been as part of the second unit in Miami's lopsided wins over Florida A&M and Arkansas State. Golden said Wednesday that will probably begin to change as the team starts to rotate backups with the first team more often. The left guard spot will probably see a high volume of rotation in particular Saturday at Georgia Tech, Golden said.

"I think I said to you before the last game we were getting ready for the rotation," Golden said. "I felt that way with [Anothny] Moten, Chad [Thomas] and [Michael] Wyche too and  I felt that way about Kc [McDermott on the offensive line]. Obviously, Gall would have been in the rotation the whole time. Same then with Nick and [Wells].

"We're ready. [The backups have taken] a lot of reps. [Against] Florida A&M and Arkansas State they took a lot of reps there. I've rotated them with the ones for the last two months. It is what it is. We need some guys to rally and step up. It's a part of football."

> After "protecting" Duke Johnson's sprained right ankle in Tuesday's practice, Golden said his star tailback "was great [Wednesday], 100 percent, ready to go."

> Who is the best receiver at creating yards after catch for the Hurricanes?

"I don't know. That's a good question," Golden said. "Obviously Duke would be in there. I think Herb [Waters] has done a good job with his yards after catch to be honest with you. And Stacy [Coley] should be. We need Stacy to do that for us. That's one of the challenges to him this week, getting back to doing that, having the confidence to do that -- all of those guys. I think Clive [Walford] has been pretty good at it too because he's so big. Joe Yearby has been good so far."

> Senior Phillip Dorsett was held without a catch against Duke, but Golden is hoping he'll bounce back this week with a big game against the Yellow Jackets. Dorsett has a history of scorching Georgia Tech. He had his best game last year (four catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) against them and exploded against the Yellow Jackets (nine catches, 184 yards, 1 TD) the last time Miami was in Atlanta.

"We didn't get him the ball enough last week, but he impacted the game by taking the top off and really being unselfish and blocking," Golden said. "But yes, we'd like to get him the ball more this week. Phillip is just one of a number of guys we have to get the ball to. Brad [Kaaya] is doing a great job distributing it, which we have to continue to do that. Hopefully, Phillip will be a big part of that."

> Golden said we can expect senior safety Nantambu Fentress to once again play an important role against Georgia Tech's triple option attack. Last year, Fentress had three tackles against the Yellow Jackets. "He plays linebacker for us in those situations and he does a really good job," Golden said. 

> It might feel like to the rest of us senior safety Dallas Crawford (17 tackles, 1 pass breakup) has been quiet this year, but Golden disagrees. 

"I think he's doing pretty darn good," Golden said. "Dallas has been playing a lot of football for us and has been physical. He's made a lot of big plays, certainly in the first two games. He's in the rotation right now. Deon [Bush] is a little bit ahead of him. [Dallas is] rotating with Jamal [Carter] and Fentress at the other spot. But no, he practices hard, he brings it on gameday. He's doing a good job on special. He's exactly what we want."

> Golden said the Hurricanes "are right around" 77 scholarships for the year, but "still working through it." Miami was docked nine scholarships over three years by the NCAA for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. It's likely Miami will opt to take its penalty as seven scholarships this year and one more each in 2015 and 2016.

September 30, 2014

Is the Hurricanes' success on defense simply a matter of trust? Players, coaches think so

Here is the longer version of my story running in Wednesday's paper

A week after playing so bad defensively at Nebraska that everyone in Mark D'Onofrio's meeting room probably deserved to be punished with push-ups, Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman was doing them for fun last Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Perryman dropped an interception in the fourth quarter and then dropped to the ground and gave his team 10. Refs flagged Perryman for unsportsmanlike conduct, but afterward he laughed about it.

"I've never seen a flag thrown for that," he said with a smile. "But it's alright."

Perryman and the Miami Hurricanes have been in a much better mood since redeeming themselves with a defensive-led 22-10 victory over defending Coastal Division champion Duke.

But is it safe to trust UM (3-2) has put its defensive mishaps permanently in the rear-view-mirror?

Can the Canes be trusted to avoid a relapse as they head to Atlanta Saturday night to take on unbeaten Georgia Tech (4-0)?

"You hope," D'Onofrio said Monday when asked if the 343 rushing yards 19th-ranked Nebraska (5-0) scorched the Hurricanes for was more of an aberration than the true identity of his defense (UM is ranked 14th in total defense, 19th in opposing passer efficiency and 46th in scoring defense).

"When we looked at the [Nebraska] tape we said, 'We're not far off. We just didn’t have a guy doing his job on every play,’” D’Onofrio continued. “You play a great back like that and you're not where you're supposed to be you can get exposed. So, I think the guys learned from that a lot. They focused in. I think the combination of that and the fact we didn't play very well last year against Duke -- I think the combination of the two -- got our focus where it needed to be, and the guys were locked in to execute and do their job. Hopefully it is a turning point and they'll see what we can do when we execute."

Although it was clear to many observers who watched Saturday's game that UM played more aggressively than it did at Nebraska (bringing safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, having cornerbacks play more press on Duke's receivers and setting the edge), both D'Onofrio and coach Al Golden said the only difference with UM's defense versus Duke was execution and energy, not scheme.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe and several of his players remarked after Saturday's game how physical the Hurricanes were on defense, how they played with a lot energy and did a great job tackling and making plays on the ball (UM had 10 pass breakups). 

Saturday marked only the seventh time in 38 games under D'Onofrio the Hurricanes defense held an FBS opponent to under 300 yards of offense and fewer than 100 rushing yards. 

Golden said UM’s defense was better, but said they've still got a long way to go. "I thought we played together," Golden said. "We executed. We communicated well. Our [mental errors] were down. Our explosives were down. I think the guys are starting to understand: it’s all or nothing. 

"It’s all-in, everybody executing the correct technique, trusting their training, nobody on their own, and be a band of brothers. They saw in that game on Saturday night. When they weren’t, when they had a defect, we got exploited. That’s what college football is about. You can get exploited quickly. They’re just going to come after you with yards and [explosive] plays if you’re not all together."

Players like Perryman and linebacker Tyriq McCord say maintaining trust – where each player on UM’s defense sticks to their assignments and gaps, and doesn't come off them to try and make a play – is ultimately the key to the Hurricanes' defensive success in this scheme.

Of course, building that trust is what has been the hard part for Golden and D'Onofrio. Most of the players they recruit don't play with that approach growing up. Each of them is asked to be a playmaker, whether its Pop Warner or high school.

"Honestly, the way I played in high school I saw a gap and I shot it," Perryman said. "It really wasn't like you had a responsibility. You really just get to the ball. In high school, I could say I was pretty much playing off the d-lineman and stuff like that. As far as pass coverage wise, I just used to drop straight back.

"Here, it’s more organized. You've got to be accountable to your teammates, and your teammates have to trust you, and you have to trust your teammates to do their job. Just do your job and plays will come to you. That's hard for some guys until they learn it, trust it. Against Nebraska, all guys were doing was running around and trying to make plays."

McCord agreed.

"For the average person who goes into our meeting room, you'll think Coach D is talking French," McCord said. "But there's so much that goes on behind it you just have to understand it. Being in this defense three years, he does a real good job. A lot of the times he puts us in the right position, puts us in the right play. If he doesn't, he'll tell us, he'll own it."

Having trust will once again prove critical this week against the Yellow Jackets, whose triple option offense is averaging 36.3 points and 292 yards rushing a game behind speedy quarterback Justin Thomas.

The Hurricanes have won five in a row against Georgia Tech, but each of the past three years the Hurricanes have been giving up more and more yards on the ground to the Yellow Jackets. The last two games were shootouts.

“It’s a tricky offense,” Perryman said. “Guys have just got to be disciplined and be gap-sound. That’s what it all comes down to.”

Update: UM Hurricanes OTs Gadbois & Kc McDermott definitely out for GT -- and more notes

 Hurricanes Coach Al Golden had his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Here's the injury update on offensive tackles Taylor Gadbois and his backup Kc McDermott, who each injured his left knee against Duke: 

Golden: "Right now we’re moving forward without Taylor and Kc. [Alex] Gall was better today, so he has an outside chance. But Trevor Darling, [Nick] Linder, [Hunter] Wells and Sunny Odogwu, those are our nine guys right now rotating in [along with usual starters Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers, Shane McDermott and Danny Isidora] –- [with] a little bit of Joe Brown. Those are the guys we’re getting ready to go in the game. We’ve already moved on in terms of practice and as we get information from the medical staff we’ll update that."

Golden said he doesn't know how long the linemen will be out, and still hasn't divulged the diagnosis for each.

 Status of running back Duke Johnson, who sprained his right ankle against Duke: "I think he’ll be fine. We’re just protecting it right now but I think he’ll be good to go by tomorrow."

  Will Yearby get more touches? "I don’t know,'' Golden said. "Joe did a great job last week and certainly warrants consideration for more but I think it’s going to depend on Duke and it’s going to be those three just as it has been, Gus [Edwards], Duke and Joe."

 Mark D'Onofrio has been really good at defending this offense, all the way back to Temple. The key?

"...Obviously facing it all the time No. 1. We faced it every year [at Temple and now Miami]. But you’ve got to make a lot of things happen. You need tackles for loss, you need some takeaways. He works hard at it and believes in what we’re doing. He also knows that we’re going to see some things this week that we didn’t see or have not seen, given the time off in the preparation and where it is in the season. It’s early in the season so they probably worked on it in the preseason a little bit plus the bye week. We’re going to have to be ready to improvise and adjust."

 On the return game, how can you improve?

"We’re working on it very hard. We have to coach it better, we have to execute it better, we have to give them a little bit more room to run and then the returners have to hit it. I would say all four of those are in play this week."

On freshman Trayone Gray:

"He’s doing great. He’s continuing to make progress with special teams. I think his conditioning is starting to really improve and he’s starting to get into a little bit of a groove. We just have got to keep pushing him along."

 On if Artie Burns will be involved more in the return game:

 "We’re thinking about all that. I got to coach it better, we’ve got to execute it better, we’ve got to hit it better and we’ve got to give them more room. Part of that is the coaching part of it. I gotta make sure that we give all the right guys an opportunity to do it."

 On punter Justin Vogel: 

 "Vogel has worked very hard. He’s very poised. It hasn’t all been perfect, but he’s always answered. When he’s had a punt that maybe isn’t as good as he wants it to be, he’s always answered. So from that standpoint, he’s given us a little mental toughness that maybe I didn’t know about him in the beginning. That’s great to see. Him and [Mike] Badgley are going to fight it out for the kickoffs this week. We’ve got to get more production from our kickoff.

"I thought our coverage was better. Maybe our coverage was the best it’s been last week. We just gotta get more hang and more depth on our kicks."

On kicker Matt Goudis: 

"Goudis is making progress but he was really behind when he was out medically. We’ve got to get him caught up. He’s still in the rehab phase right now." 

 On running back Joseph Yearby:

"He’s gotten better every week. The long pass he [caught] because he finished the play. That tells you a little something about his practice habits and really how hard Duke is pushing him in practice. With Joe, he runs very good tracks as a running back, as a zone runner. And he’s able to stay in there on the same track as the O-linemen and then split it. Joe is continuing to get better, his conditioning is really good. We’ve got to continue to get him stronger and gain weight but I’m really excited about Joe right now."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

 

September 29, 2014

D'Onofrio talks defensive improvements; Coley on third down struggles; injury updates and more

The Hurricanes returned to the practice field Monday following their important Coastal Division win over Duke last Saturday in jerseys and baseball caps, a relatively light workday as they begin preparing to face Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Here are some news, notes and observations:

> Coach Al Golden said he still had no updates on the injury status of starting right tackle Taylor Gadbois and backup Kc McDermott, but neither player was at practice Monday. 

> Fifth-year senior Jon Feliciano, who has made 38 career starts at UM (23 at left guard), was once again working with the first team at right tackle. Freshman Nick Linder was with the first team at left guard.

> Golden said the injuries to Gadbois and McDermott has created "a great opportunity" for Hunter Wells (back from suspension),  Linder, Trevor Darling and Sunny Odogwu to compete for playing time. He said Darling and Odogwu would backup Feliciano at right tackle.

> Golden said the reason  Linder replaced Feliciano at left guard when he moved over to right tackle in the fourth quarter Saturday was because Linder had a great week of practice last week.

"[In the game] I think nine out of 10 reps he scored nine plusses," Golden said. "That's not dissimilar to what we see in practice everyday. He brings a poise and a familiarity in there with those guys and it's good."

> Freshman defensive end Chad Thomas, who missed the Nebraska game because of back pain, got in for three plays Saturday against Duke, Golden said. Thomas said he was jumping up and down on the sideline against the Blue Devils and feels a lot better now. "I feel good," he said. "I'm ready to play."

> Running back Duke Johnson had his right foot heavily taped and was limping Monday after spraining his ankle against the Blue Devils. "Just precautionary," Golden said of the tape. "He'll be okay."

> Kicker Matt Goudis, who hasn't played since the Florida A&M game with a bad back, was at practice Monday. "I don't know where he's at yet," Golden said. "Today was just kind of a loose up day, get loose. We'll know more by [Tuesday] for sure."

> Golden said freshman walk-on kicker Michael Badgley, who has missed two extra points in two games, has to continue to improve. 

> Golden said punter Justin Vogel will compete with Badgley this week to handle kickoffs. UM ranks 101st in kickoff return defense (23.19 yard average) and has already allowed one return for a score for the first time in six years. "We've got to get the ball a little bit deeper on kickoffs so we can cover," Golden said.  

> Duke coach David Cutcliffe and several of his players remarked after Saturday's game about how physical the Hurricanes were on defense, how played with a lot energy and did a great job tackling and making plays on the ball. 

Quarterback Anthony Boone said Miami "had a great game plan and they came out executed very highly, made a lot of plays."

> Saturday marked only the seventh time in 38 games under Mark D'Onofrio the Hurricanes defense held an FBS opponent to under 300 yards total offense and fewer than 100 yards rushing. 

Golden said Miami's defense was better, but said they've still got a long way to go. "I thought we played together," Golden said. "We executed. We communicated well. Our [mental errors] were down. Our explosives were down. I think the guys are starting to understand: it’s all or nothing. 

"It really is. It’s all-in, everybody executing the correct technique, trusting their training, nobody on their own and be a band of brothers. They saw in that game on Saturday night, when they weren’t, when they had a defect, we got exploited. That’s what college football is anymore. I mean, it really is. You can get exploited quickly. They’re just going to come after you with yards and [explosive] plays if you’re not all together. I think we did a good job of settling down after that scoring drive that they had. And I think where we need help is protecting the ball on offense. The offense has got to help us with that, and then third-down conversions. Those two things are putting the defense in bad spots and we’ve got to help them."

> Receiver Stacy Coley's sophomore slump continued against Duke with a huge drop on what would have been an easy touchdown, but coaches aren't giving up on him yet. 

"I wish that didn’t happen the other night," Golden said. "[But] last time that happened [the FAU game last year] he came back with a vengeance. I expect him to come back with a vengeance."

After rolling up 1,468 all-purpose yards and scoring 10 touchdown last season on 67 touchdes (33 catches, 2 carries, 10 punt returns and 22 kick returns), has 257 all-purpose yards on 24 touches this season. Coley missed the Arkansas State game with a shoulder injury, but Golden said "he's healthy now, so let's throw that out."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley, who said last week his receiver was having trouble getting open, said he sat down with Stacy and showed him his drop was simply a matter of taking his eyes off the ball. 

"I know he feels bad about it," James Coley said. "It's a long season. There's a lot of plays to be made. We're not going to hesitate to dial him up on it [again]."

> The Hurricanes rank 124th out of 126 FBS teams on third down conversions (24.14 percent). Miami went 2-for-13 on third down against Duke. Coley said the key to improvement will be having more success on first and second down and not getting into third and long situations. 

Coley said in practice the last two weeks -- when the team does third down drills -- if somebody doesn't convert "they're off the field."

"We're putting an emphasis on it," Coley said. "It's important obviously because it sustains drives. We have goals we want to get to. The last two weeks [before Duke] were pretty good. We were above 50 percent. For us, if we get 10 third down opportunities and we're five out of 10 that's championship football across the country."

> Miami had 11 players on defense wearing black starter jerseys Monday: cornerbacks Ladarius Gunter and Corn Elder; safeties Nantambu Fentress and Deon Bush; linebackers Denzel Perryman, Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Tyriq McCord and defensive linemen Anthony Chickillo, Olsen Pierre and Ufomba Kamalu.

How good did it feel to see his bounce back from Nebraska?

"It felt great," defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "I was very happy for our players, coaches, everybody. Like I said whenever I talked to you guys last week after the last game 'There's no finger pointing, everybody take accountability for their part, let's just go back to work.'

"At the end of the day defensive football -- and I know I sound like a broken record -- it's about execution. When you don't execute, they make you pay. When you do execute, you look pretty good. We just did a better job. We executed a lot more this week. It wasn't really anything different other than better execution."

D'Onofrio said the one series UM's defense didn't execute Duke went right down the field and scored it's only touchdown. "We had about four or five freelance plays, and that happens," D'Onofrio said. "Today's [defensive] meeting [room] was no different than the one after Nebraska. It was just about teaching and presenting the facts. Here's what we gave up, here's what we gave them... when you give people free yards they move the ball. That one particular series [versus Duke] we did. Other than that, I thought we played pretty solid."

Was Nebraska a wake up call? Are we not going to see freelancing again? Do D'Onofrio's guys have it figured out now?

"You hope," D'Onofrio said. "I hope it was a turning point. I really do. That's what we said. When we got done with the game, when we looked at the [Nebraska] tape we said 'We're not far off.' We just don't have a guy doing his job on every play. We all see what kind of football team they are. They're continuing to move along and they're very good. You play a great back like that [in Ameer Abdullah] and you're not where you're supposed to be you can get exposed. 

"So, I think the guys learned from that a lot. They focused in. I think the combination of that and the fact we didn't play very well last year against Duke, I think the combination of the two, got our focus where it needed to be and the guys were locked in to execute and do their job. Hopefully it is a turning point and they'll see what we can do when we execute."

UM Canes' OTs Taylor Gadbois (injured), Kc McDermott (injured) not at practice -- and more

As expected, Hurricanes offensive right tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois were not at practice this morning in Coral Gables -- at least not in the 15 minutes we viewed.

UM coach Al Golden already told us yesterday evening that McDermott will miss the Georgia Tech game this Saturday in Atlanta. He said he wasn't sure about Gadbois.

Both sustained what appeared to be left-knee injuries during the Duke game Saturday.

Today during practice, usual left guard Jon Feliciano moved over to the right tackle spot, with freshman Nick Linder playing first-team left guard. Danny Isidora was still at starting right guard, with Ereck Flowers at starting left tackle.

 In practice this morning, offensive line coach Art Kehoe was mixing and matching linemen as the backups, though 6-8, 324-pound redshirt freshman Sunny Odogwu was in the second-team right tackle spot, with 6-6, 312-pound junior Hunter Wells (he was suspended this past game) playing backup left guard and backup center, The backup left tackle today was 6-5, 320-pound freshman Trevor Darling, who has played in two games this season.

  Joe Brown, a freshman from Paramount, Calif., was also practicing as a reserve right guard at times, when Isidora would shift to left guard.

 *** Wide receiver Rashawn Scott, who has yet to play this season as he recuperates from a clavicle injury, is still in a red, no-contact jersey.

*** The ACC announced this morning that the Cincinnati at UM game on Oct. 11 will kick off at noon -- UM's first noon game this season.

 

September 28, 2014

Al Golden speaks the day after UM Hurricanes' victory over Duke

Al Golden Sunday evening...

On UM defense:

"We still have got a long way to go. We made progress last night on defense, no question about it. I thought we tackled better. We clearly fit the quarterback runs better than we did the previous week. We got a number of pbu’s, so we were active around the football.''

On linebacker Jermaine Grace looking comfortable and having what appeared to be his best game as a Hurricane:

"You’re exactly right, he did. I think Jermaine really prepared hard. He answered the challenge last week which was awesome for him. He was very mature. He ended up playing 40 plays before special teams which was a good number and he graded out over 90 percent. And he had 7 ½ tackles and he didn’t miss any tackles. So Jermaine Grace prepared better, studied better, had a good look, was ready to go and then brought it to game day. Hopefully this will just be his floor and not his ceiling. Hopefully he’ll really respond this week and continue to grow and mature."

On the injuries of right offensive tackles Kc McDermott and Taylor Gadbois: 

"It’s really just those two and we will not have an answer for another two hours on those two. That’s all I have right now to be honest with you. Everybody else is good. We’ll be healthy. We’re just waiting for those two. But it does not look like Kc is going to make it this week irrespective of whatever the results are here in the next two hours."

On the plan going forward with the uncertainty of offensive linemen being injured: 

"Jon [Feliciano] can play tackle, Trevor Darling can play tackle. Nick Linder went into the game the other night and graded out 89 percent. So he did really well when he went in. And the irony there is Isidora played his best game so that was great to see, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Gadbois played well. Hopefully he’s not too serious and then we’ll see where Alex Gall is and obviously Hunter Wells will be available to us so we’ll go from there."

 On Brad Kaaya throwing no interception: 

"I think that was really important. One of the things we said to Brad after the game was that he never forced the ball. As it turned out he threw two touchdown passes. We had two others that were dropped if you will. And we had a third one that was an arguable call or questionable call or whatever. He did manage the game better and he didn’t turn it over, which is a great lesson to learn, not only to play against that team who obviously they weren’t letting up touchdown passes or they weren’t turning it over, but it’s a great lesson to learn before you have to go to play Georgia Tech because you can’t have that happen. So, real growth there and I thought the O-line did a good job protecting him. We’ve got to improve this week and clearly if we have some guys down we’re going to have to rally at the O-line."

 On a scout-team quarterback to prepare the Canes for the option of Georgia Tech:

"Malik Rosier is a tremendous athlete and somebody that is very good with the ball – handling the ball, his fakes, his ability to run. Can you ever duplicate it at the rate that Georgia Tech does? I don’t think anybody can. But that is the challenge that is this week. Certainly we don’t have time to relax or really think about last night’s win. It’s time to move on, especially on defense, because this is a great test for us."

On kickers Matt Goudis and Michael Badgley:

"[Goudis] had mentioned to us yesterday that he was going to try to kick tomorrow, so we’ll see what direction that goes. The extra-point [miss by Badgley] was a combination of penetration and a low kick.''  

So last week you have this incredibly pressure packed week and your kids rise to the occasion. How do you maintain that intensity this week?

 "It’s a tournament now. You have to maintain that. Part of that is the buildup. I don’t need them to be like that tomorrow. I need them to be focused tomorrow. I need them to be receptive. We need everybody, starting with me, we all need to check our egos. Look at everything, be accountable, don’t gloss anything over. Learn, prepare and as the week gets less physical on Wednesday night and Thursday and turns more to mental we need to start to play faster, play with more energy. There’s no letup for a long time right now. We’ve got to be mature right now and know that Georgia Tech is an excellent team and obvioulsy undefeated and we’re playing them there and we’ve got to get ready to go."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

AUDIO: Golden, players react to Canes 22-10 win over Duke

Here is what the Canes were talking about after Saturday night's 22-10 win over the Blue Devils.

Click on the link to listen to the audio

> Coach Al Golden

> Receiver Herb Waters

> Running back Duke Johnson

> Running back Joe Yearby

> Quarterback Brad Kaaya

> Linebacker Denzel Perryman

September 27, 2014

UM Canes offensive guard Hunter Wells suspended for Duke game

    Hurricanes’ backup offensive guard Hunter Wells has been suspended for the Duke game for failing a drug test, two sources familiar with the situation told the Miami Herald on Saturday.

   UM confirmed the suspension Saturday, saying Wells was suspended for "violating team rules.''

    Wells, a 6-6, 312-pound junior from Canton, Illinois, has been playing behind left guard Jon Feliciano – though Wells did not play last week at Nebraska.

    Wells is the second Hurricanes player to miss at least one game this season after a failed drug test. Quarterback Kevin Olsen, who is no longer on the team, missed the first two games of the season due to suspension.

    Wells played in the first three UM games.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Duke Blue Devils

The Hurricanes (2-2) will take on the Duke Blue Devils (4-0) in vital Coastal Division game at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The game can be seen on ESPN2. Feel free to tune in and participate in our chat.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. Duke: Sept. 27, 2014
 

September 26, 2014

Breaking it down: Canes-Blue Devils

DUKE (4-0) AT MIAMI (2-2)

> Kickoff, TV: 7:30 p.m., Sun Life Stadium, ESPN2 

> History: Miami leads the all-time series 9-2, but lost last year’s game in Durham, N.C. 48-30 after being outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

> Spread: Miami favored by 7

> 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 - Duke: Cornhuskers have no five-star recruits, 1 four-star recruits (RB Shaquille Powell), 30 three-star recruits (18 on offense) and 21 two-star recruits (13 on defense) on their depth chart. According to NFLDraftScout.com their NFL prospects for 2015 are WR Jamison Crowder (4th rounder) and OG Laken Tomlinson (3rd-4th rounder).

> Injuries: Miami listed backup guard Alex Gall, kicker Matt Goudis(back) and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) on the official injury report as being out. Duke backup quarterback Thomas Sirk (leg) was reportedly held out of practice this week with a muscle strain in his leg. Sirk is a big part of Duke’s running game as he comes off the bench and run read-option well. Starting defensive end Dezmond Johnson (leg) is out for the second straight week. The Blue Devils will get starting left guard Lucas Patrick back this week, which means Duke will have a completely healthy, veteran offensive line.

> Background: Duke has won 12 regular season games in a row. The Blue Devils’ only losses since in the last 12 months have come against eventual national champion Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A bowl. 

> Duke offense versus Miami defense: The Blue Devils, who own one of the most balanced offenses in the country (they’re averaging 230 yards passing and 260 rushing) have scored 30 or more points in five straight games and are looking to tie the school record of six 30-point games in a row this weekend. Duke is 27-9 under coach David Cutcliffe when it scores at least 30 points. Anthony Boone, a 6-foot, 225-pound redshirt senior, is 14-2 as a starter for the Blue Devils and a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Although Sirk may be out or limited in this game, Boone is more than capable of carving up the Canes defense and protecting the football (Duke has turned it over only twice this year). The Blue Devils also love to go for it on fourth down and are 8-of-12 this season. Receiver Jamison Crowder has 13 career 100-yard receiving games including an 8-catch, 203-yard, 2-TD performance versus UM back in 2012. True freshman running back Shaun Wilson ran for a school-record 245 yards in a win over Kansas this season and is averaging 14.43 yards a carry. Duke’s veteran offensive line, led by right guard Laken Tomlinson (43 starts) and left tackle Takoby Cofield (33 consecutive starts), has given up just four sacks and 11 negative plays all season.

The key for Miami will be trying to slow down Duke’s read-option attack. With last week’s embarrassing 343-yard outburst by Nebraska on the minds of the Hurricanes – and last year’s 358-yard breakout performance by Duke also there – UM doesn’t need much in the way of motivation. What the Canes need is better execution by its safeties in the alley ways (Deon Bush, Jamal Carter, Dallas Crawford), more of a push by its ends (Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre) and defensive tackles (Calvin Heurtelou vs. Tomlinson will be a battle to watch) and a lot fewer missed tackles by linebacker Denzel Perryman and company, who often times were guilty of trying to get a big hit instead of wrapping up. UM had no tackles for loss last week. That has to change this week. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio makes this week, if any. He and coach Al Golden said the Hurricanes brought blitzing safeties and corners on 60 percent of the snaps on first and second down to try and disrupt Nebraska. It obviously didn’t work. Safeties and corners were too deep. Will they be this week?

> Miami offense versus Duke defense: Quarterback Brad Kaaya continued to improve and grow last week at Nebraska, completing 28-of-42 attempt for 359 yards and three touchdown passes. Nebraska took away the deep ball and speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett for the most part, but Kaaya smartly took what the Cornhuskers gave him, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers including tight end Clive Walford plenty. What killed Miami in the end last week were three turnovers including an uncharacteristic and game-changing fumble by Duke Johnson that directly led to seven points for Nebraska. Like last week, UM can’t afford to turn the ball over. The offense basically has to play a near-perfect game to beat Duke and the offensive line has to continue to give Kaaya time to throw. They also need to do a better job running the football.

Duke, which returns five starters from last year’s defense including safety Jeremy Cash (Plantation High), ranks 92nd in run defense and has been more willing to give up yards on the ground than through the air. In fact, the Blue Devils have yet to give up a passing touchdown (only one of six teams in the country to do so). They’ve given up just 10 plays of 20 yards or more and have forced seven turnovers in the last eight quarters. Duke’s first four opponents were hardly tough, but they still did what they had to, holding them to a mere 11.5 points per game including just 16 second half points total, which shows you they make the right adjustments. Defensive tackle Jamal Bruce (6-1, 285), defensive end Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (6-4, 240) and middle linebacker David Helton (6-4, 240) are the backbone of the front six in the 4-2-5 formation.

> Special teams: Miami, awful on kickoff coverage through its first three games, played much better at Nebraska with more veterans involved in that unit. Walk-on freshman Michael Badgley booted an important 34-yard field goal against Nebraska and did a better job handling kickoffs for Miami. Justin Vogel's punting average of 44.7 ranks 18th nationally. Where the Hurricanes still haven’t had much of an impact is in the return game, something Golden acknowledged this week. Sophomore Stacy Coley, slowed by a shoulder injury, hasn’t returned a kick or a punt longer than 29 yards.

Duke, on the other hand, is one of only three FBS teams with two or more kickoff returns of 60 yards or more. Redshirt sophomore safety DeVon Edwards had a 61-yard return versus Troy and sophomore receiver Johnell Barnes brought one back 60 yards versus Elon. Duke blocked a field goal against Kansas and both its punter Will Monday and kicker Ross Martin are considered two of the best in the country at their position. Martin is the school’s all-time leading scorer, a perfect 6-for-6 on field goals with a career long of 53 yards and he’s made 82 consecutive extra points. Monday is averaging 42.1 yards a punt. He’s had three go longer than 50 yards and six pinned inside the 20.

> Prediction: Miami 45, Duke 41. Somehow, some way Miami is going to find a way to win this in wild fashion behind Kaaya and Johnson. 

September 24, 2014

Miami Hurricanes' injury update: Goudis, Gall, Scott are out for Duke -- and more.

    Hurricanes coach Al Golden indicated Wednesday during his pre-game news conference that receiver Rashawn Scott, backup offensive guard Alex Gall and kicker Matt Goudis are “not ready’’ to play Saturday against Duke (4-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).

   Scott, recovering from a clavicle (collarbone) injury, was expected to play sooner, the coach said.

    “I thought he’d be ready last week, so I’m disappointed he’s not ready this week,’’ Golden said. “We’re getting to that point of the season where we have to figure it out. We have a lot of football left, though, obviously. We haven’t kicked the ball off in the Coastal. We’ll see where that plays out this week.’’

   A source said Gall has issues with his back.

   Freshman defensive end Chad Thomas also had a back-related situation – severe spasms – that  kept him from traveling to Nebraska last week.

   Thomas has two tackles in three games.

   “He did a little more [Wednesday] and I’m hopeful that he’ll do even more tomorrow,’’ Golden said of Thomas. “Right now, we’re hopeful that he’ll be ready to go for Saturday. We need him. We need depth. He’s at a position where we don’t have a lot of depth and obviously, he was just starting to play really well for us when he got dinged up.

   “We’re still unsure of what event caused that – the spasms. We may never know. It might have been the gradual result of something. But he’s definitely doing better, he’s running better, good attitude [Wednesday], and he’s very smart.

    “I don’t think he’s going to get too far behind mentally, but we’re hopeful Chad will help us this week.’’

    The Hurricanes (2-2, 0-1) will go with freshman kicker Michael Badgley for the third consecutive game on Saturday.

     Goudis, a junior, has been in too much pain to kick. His injury is believed to be back-related.

   Badgley, 5-10 and 180 pounds, is a walk-on from Summit, N.J. He hit his only field-goal attempt – a 34-yarder – last Saturday at Nebraska. He has missed one extra point in 10 attempts.

    SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

      

Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball team dealt more bad news

 
The season is less than two months away, and the University of Miami men's basketball team was dealt another dose of bad news.
 
Ivan Cruz Uceda, a native of Spain and junior college transfer, will be ineligible for the first half of the season, Coach Jim Larrañaga announced Wednesday. His suspension, coupled with the loss of sophomore guard Davon Reed for four to six months following leg surgery, leaves the Canes with just nine scholarship players to start the season. Seven of them are newcomers to the roster.
 
Cruz Uceda is suspended due to an obscure NCAA rule that requires a student-athlete to enroll in college one year after high school graduation. Uceda turns 23 on Oct. 24, and played at Harcum (Pa.) College before signing with the Hurricanes.

"We feel very bad for Ivan,” said Larrañaga. “Sitting out half of the season is very tough on him and us. Ivan is working very hard to prepare himself for when he does become eligible.  He is an excellent rebounder and skilled big man.  It is unfortunate that he is being impacted in such a way. We will miss him greatly during the first half of the year." 

Cruz Uceda will be able to practice with the team, but will not be available to play until the game against Duke on Jan. 13 in Durham, N.C. At 6-10 and 240 pounds, he was expected to be a key rebounder for the Canes, and showed great promise during the team's exhibition tour in Spain -- averaging 11 rebounds per game.

At Harcum College, he averaged 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds last season. He was named to the All-National Tournament Team as he led his team to the NJCAA Division I National Semifinals. Cruz Uceda set school records for rebounds in a game (29) and career (635), and left the school as the fourth-highest scorer in Harcum history with 957 points.

Miami opens the 2014-15 season Nov. 6 with a home exhibition against Eckerd College. The regular season opens Nov. 14 against Howard.
 
MICHELLE KAUFMAN

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