August 28, 2015

UPDATE: Miami Hurricanes' CaneFest still on, but will be scaled down and moved inside if it rains


While South Floridians watch the constant updates on Tropical Storm Erika, the University of Miami has made contingency plans for its annual CanesFest fan celebration, scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday outside at Greentree Practice Field, Cobb Stadium and the UM Sports Hall of Fame.

If it rains, UM confirmed that the event will be considerably scaled down, and football players would sign autographs from 4 to 5 p.m. inside the Wellness Center's  "Centre Court'' -- one of the center's indoor basketball courts.

Football coaches will sign autographs in the lobby of the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.

Fans who want to get football autographs must pick up a voucher to gain access for the autograph session. In case of rain, vouchers will be distributed from 3-3:45 p.m. at the Wellness Center, 1241 Dickinson Drive, Coral Gables, 33146. 

The UM Sports Hall of Fame, adjacent to the Hecht Athletic Center, still plans to remain open from 3 to 7 p.m. 

If the weather is clear, the event will be held outside at Greentree Field, where autograph vouchers would be available from 3-3:45 p.m. In that case, the interactive games and other activities involving other UM sports would continue as usual.  


August 26, 2015

Update on Miami Hurricanes running back Gus Edwards missing second day of practice -- where was he?



Great news for Hurricanes fans regarding running back Gus Edwards. He is, indeed, in a boot, but coach Al Golden indicated it is not a long-term injury and he is "day to day.''

So where has he been the past two days? Getting treatment after treatment after treatment...

Golden said Edwards' foot has "a bruise on the top. Everything [the medical testing] is negative.What we've learned is the best way to heal them is not to have them out here aggravating it. We put them in the boot, progress the healing and get them 19 treatments a day.''

"Just making sure he's getting the treatment he needs and massages and just making sure there is no swelling in there. He's doing really well and we'll see where he's at tomorrow and the next day. Everybody goes in a boot.''

Golden said the injury occurred during Saturday night's scrimmage.

Does the coach anticipate Edwards being out for a while?

"If he was out I would tell you. He's day-to-day right now and he's doing good.''

Golden said linebacker Juwon Young, who the coach previously said sprained the bottom of his foot, "is getting healthy and seeing where it goes. He's doing good though. [Cornerback Ryan] Mayes (hamstring), too -- same situation."

### Good news on the injury front confirmed: Both WR Braxton Berrios (hamstring) and WR Malcolm Lewis (undisclosed) practiced today. "So, just to summarize,'' Golden said, "Mayes and Young we got a little time. Gus is probably more of the immediate [return]. Mayes and Young, it may be a little bit more time.''

 ### Golden said on the defensive line: "It's hard to say anyone has had a better camp than [rush end] Trent [Harris]. Trent is faster than he was a year ago. He's stronger. He's much more sudden. He's a very smart young man. He plays the defense really well and he doesn't make mistakes. He's a very unselfish kid. We've just got to keep getting Trent to lead. Trent has had an excellent camp.

"...Demetrius (Jackson), Quan [Muhammad], that's a heck of a battle there. Scotty Patchan on the other end. We always mix those guys up on the speed, which is our five DB package, which you play more and more in college football.''

 ### Golden on if the players know who has won starting jobs? "No, we've got a long way to go. For the majority of the positions, it's going to take until next week for sure -- at least."

 ### I asked offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu if he is excited about the season opener Sept. 5 against Bethune Cookman. His response (try to imagine the Nigerian accent):

"We are fired up! Fired up, bro! We are excited, like so excited. The coaches are, the community is, our fans are, our opponents are, everybody is excited, and so are we -- even the birds, you can see them flying around singing."



Just came in from our 15 minutes of Miami Hurricanes practice viewing Wednesday and running back Gus Edwards was not at practice for the second consecutive day.

 Edwards, a 6-2, 230-pound junior nicknamed “Gus the Bus” for his strong body and bruising style, was also not at practice Tuesday morning during the 15 minutes of media viewing.

 We heard rumors yesterday of him being seen with a boot on his left leg, but I have not been able to confirm that. Let's see what coach Al Golden, who did not talk to us yesterday after practice, says after today's session. The Hurricanes in the past have put players in boots to immobilize the foot or ankle for even minor injuries.

    Either way, that is obviously not a good sign for the Canes, who have not released a depth chart this preseason but did have Edwards as the No. 1 back in the last depth chart it released at the end of spring practice.

    Miami’s all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson left after last season and was drafted in the third round by Cleveland.

    UM begins its season Sept. 5 at home against Bethune-Cookman.

    After Saturday's scrimmage, offensive coordinator James Coley said there were “some nicks on some guys.’’

    “For me,’’ Coley continued, “health means there were no major injuries. Just some guys that we’ve got to see if we can get them ready by next week. It was physical out there. Guys were hitting.’’

   Edwards, out of Tottenville High in Staten Island, N.Y., was the Canes’ third leading rusher last season, rushing for 349 yards on 61 carries, a 5.7-yard-per-carry average. He scored six touchdowns.

   If Edwards should be out for an extended period of time, Miami still has the following three-headed running attack:

   # Sophomore Joe Yearby, the returning leading rusher with 509 yards and one touchdown on 86 carries, a 5.9-yard-per-carry average.

  # Sophomore Trayone Gray, who played in six games and ran only six times for 24 yards and a touchdown.

  # Freshman Mark Walton, a four-star runner out of Miami Booker T. Washington High who rushed for 1,472 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior. He chose Miami over Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina.

    Walton and Edwards scored short-yardage touchdowns Saturday in the scrimmage.

### The good news Wednesday: Slot receivers Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios, previously in red or yellow jerseys worn by injured players, were in regular jerseys at practice.



August 24, 2015

News flash: Miami Hurricanes just told QB Gray Crow they have found a spot for him and he can return to practice


Wow. That was fast.

According to a source close to Gray Crow:

Saturday, redshirt junior quarterback Crow was told by a UM staff member that there was not a roster spot for him and he likely would not be participating in fall practice -- but to stay tuned until a final decision.

Sunday, Crow was told by an assistant coach that he, indeed, would not be participating in fall practice and thus, would not dress for games.

Within the last hour, however, UM apparently had a change of heart and told Crow he could report for fall practice.

He has not yet competed in fall camp, but has been on the roster and in the media guide all along.

Here's my recent blog from today that preceded this update: Click here

Stay tuned.




Quarterback Gray Crow not expected to wear a Miami Hurricanes uniform again


University of Miami quarterback Gray Crow, a 6-3, 224-pound redshirt junior from Clearwater, will not dress out for games this season, according to a source. He was told as such by UM in the past couple of days, the source said.

He has not competed in fall camp, but as of Monday afternoon, was still listed on the roster and in the media guide.

The source said Crow, 21, is still attending Miami on an athletic scholarship. He is expected to graduate in December with a political science major and then take the LSAT and apply to law school.

Crow, listed as 6-3 and 224 pounds, played in two games his redshirt freshman season, completing six of eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown against Savannah State.

A three-star prospect out of Clearwater Countryside when he came to UM in January of 2012 to participate in spring ball, Crow was moved to fullback/H-back last season, but was moved back to quarterback when Kevin Olsen was dismissed from the program.

“The idea behind the move back in July was give him an opportunity to play, based on our depth at quarterback,'' coach Al Golden said in mid-September of 2014. "We were hoping he could help us at H-back, at fullback, at long-snapper or in some way on special teams. He talked to us [Tuesday] and we moved him back.”

In the spring game, Crow led one long drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to walk-on Clayton Turner.

For whatever reasons, the coaches didn't appreciate Crow. I have a feeling he'll be a great lawyer. He already is a first-class young man.





Art Kehoe names University of Miami's starting five on offensive line


The depth chart still hadn't been released, but University of Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe named the starters on his O-line Monday on 560 WQAM.

"Right now it looks like Trevor Darling at left tackle, Alex Gall at left guard, Nick Linder at center, Danny Isidora at right guard and Sunny Odogwu (No. 66 above in photo) at right tackle,'' Kehoe said.

"But we're going to play [tackle] Kc McDermott a bunch and [center] Hunter Knighton and [guard] Joe Brown has really come on, and [guard] Hunter Wells. We've built some strong depth there and that's been the case with a lot of positions on our team.

"I love this team that we're coaching and I can't wait to play a game,'' Kehoe said.

The Hurricanes lost three starting tackles to the NFL, one of them first-round New York Giants tackle Ereck Flowers. The others: fourth-round Oakland Raiders draft pick Jon Feliciano, UM's former left guard; and former UM center Shane McDermott, an undrafted free agent.

Odogwu, listed as 6-8 and 322 pounds, is a Nigerian who didn't play football until his senior year of high school. He saw action in nine games last year in a reserve role, and struggled with penalties and sometimes controlling his emotions. Teammates and coaches say he is much improved going into 2015.

McDermott, a sophomore who underwent surgery after tearing an MCL against Duke, got into four games as a freshman last season, and was thought to be a favorite vying for a starting position going into fall camp.  

Linder started four games at left guard last season, Isidora started all 13 games at right guard and Darling started the last five games at right tackle.

Gall saw action in five games, but has never started.


August 22, 2015

"Tough decisions'' for Al Golden after final fall scrimmage for Miami Hurricanes

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   Two weeks before the start of the season and just minutes after the Miami Hurricanes finished their second and final scrimmage of fall camp – delayed about 10 minutes Saturday night because of rain and lightning – Al Golden sounded as undecided about starting lineups as he did before the scrimmage.

   “There are going to be some tough decisions, no question,’’ Golden said. “But we’ve got a long, long way to go here... Wherever you are when we start the week, that’s just the starting point.

    “We’re too far out to put the brakes on.’’

    Here’s what came out in bits and pieces from coaches and a handful of players after the closed scrimmage, which lasted three quarters at Greentree Field  and except for the shortened length, was handled like a regulation game:

  • The defense had two sacks – both by defensive tackle Anthony Moten and only one on starter Brad Kaaya – fewer in total than the first scrimmage the week before.
  • There were no turnovers, unlike at least one fumble and two interceptions last week.
  • Freshman tailback Mark Walton and junior Gus Edwards each scored short-yardage touchdowns.
  • Junior receiver Stacy Coley is making a case to start after last year’s season-long slump, scoring a “50-plus-yard” touchdown, maybe more, according to fellow receiver Herb Waters, who also had a good night.
  • Redshirt freshman receiver Darrell Langham and tight end David Njoku scored as well, but slot receivers Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios sat out with injuries.
  • Danny Isidora, who started 12 games last season at first-team right guard, worked much of the night at first-team right tackle, with Trevor Darling at left tackle, Alex Gall at left guard, Nick Linder at center and Joe Brown at right guard.

      “Guys, that [No. 1] defense is good,’’ offensive coordinator James Coley said. “They’ve got really good players up front. We have to scrap. And when we scrap with those guys every now and then we get some bad ball – meaning we have some penalties. We’ve got to really grab those guys because they’re big, they’re strong and they’re fast.’’

   Said defensive end Chad Thomas: “We had a good attitude today. We made some plays. Tonight Anthony Moten was getting in the backfield a lot. He was the best at his technique.’’

   Thomas also praised rush end Al-Quadin Muhammad: “I saw him out there laying out for plays. That motivated a lot of D-lineman just watching Quan go out there setting the edges.’’

    Lineman Ufomba Kamalu said he was the only one "going both ways, end and tackle. He lauded guard Joe Brown for progressing since last year. "When he first got here he wasn't as good. He's come a long way. Kamalu also said Isidora did very well at tackle. "He had really good kicks today.''

     What did James Coley know after the scrimmage that he didn’t know Friday?

   “We’ve got four quarterbacks that can go into the game and play. Our guys were very aggressive. I didn’t see a lot of mental errors. I saw guys that were aggressive with their throws make good decisions and move very well in the pocket. I’m very high on that group right now.’’

   Said starter Brad Kaaya: "I feel like we executed pretty well. We moved the ball fast. We're cutting down a lot of our penalties and turnovers and just bad football. There's still stuff to work on, of course, but for the most part we came out and gotten a lot of things fixed and just ran really smooth.

   "I'm pretty confident in our guys. Everyone is working hard, and across the board everyone is touching the ball. We're just a hard team to scheme right now. Just a lot of guys making plays, a lot of guys stepping up." 

   Kaaya talked about Waters and Stacy Coley making "clutch plays.''

   Waters: "It went great. We just executed as always."

       James Coley lauded Gus Edwards for his “tough running,’’ and freshman Mark Walton and sophomore Joe Yearby for their “open-field stuff.’’

    The coach said “there were a couple runs” in which sophomore Trayone Gray “could have been lower in the goal-line area. I’m kind of down on him on that.”

   Coley mentioned that there were "some nicks on some guys'' during the scrimmage. "For me health means no major injuries,'' he said. 

     Golden said 11 of 12 freshmen played Saturday.

   “Once you get them out there in game tempo and you’re not babysitting them and overcoaching them… what we learned was who could handle those situations,” the coach said.

      Though it’s believed coaches have already decided much of their projected depth chart going into the Sept. 5 opener against Bethune-Cookman, Golden previously would not divulge any projected starters on offense other than quarterback Brad Kaaya.

    Senior receiver Rashawn Scott said he was impressed Saturday night by Stacy Coley, Herb Waters, Darrell Langham, Tyre Brady -- all of them. It's just one big old group that's all eating.''

    Said Scott of Stacy Coley:  "We caught the defense sleeping. We were just moving a little bit faster today. He broke out and that was the end of that. Touchdown.''

   *** Joe Yearby said this of his first-string  O-line: "They did pretty good. I love my line no matter if they mess up or not.''  And the second unit? "A lot of freshmen on there but they're coming along good.''

   On defense, coordinator Mark D’Onofrio indicated late in the week that senior middle linebacker Raphael Kirby and junior weak-side linebacker Jermaine Grace had wrapped up started jobs.

   D’Onofrio also previously said he considers veteran cornerbacks Artie Burns, Tracy Howard and Corn Elder as players who could each start. Scott, who was covered by the corners, mentioned all three of them -- "them boys played good. I saw a little bit of [Sheldrick] Redwine. He's getting a lot better. And Michael Jackson, he's doing a little better, too.''

 NOTE: Following the scrimmage, 6-5, 350-pound, three-star offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor of Cocoa High verbally committed to the Hurricanes.  He is in the Class of 2016.


August 21, 2015

Starting spots are on the line when the Canes participate in their final fall scrimmage

    The Hurricanes took Friday off, leading into one of the most important days of fall camp.

    At 6 p.m. Saturday, Miami will conduct its second and final scrimmage of camp, with coaches gathering Sunday – and maybe even late Saturday night – to create a depth chart.

   Coaches likely have a good idea of who they want where, but Saturday’s scrimmage  can make the difference in solidifying opinions – or shifting them in the case of tight competitions.

   “To say that it’s set – they’re still competing for it,’’ offensive coordinator James Coley said of the offensive line on 560 WQAM Friday morning. “We’re still challenging them to finish it off right. We have an idea... There are definitely spots [that are] filled. We just haven’t announced it.’’

    The scrimmage is closed to the public and media, and  Coley said players haven’t been told of any prospective final spots. Trevor Darling, Kc McDermott and Sunny Odogwu have been alternating at first-team tackle spots, Alex Gall was leading at left guard, with Nick Linder at center and Danny Isidora at right guard.

     “We’ve still got another scrimmage so it’s easy to move a guy out,’’ Coley reminded on WQAM. “That’s how tight the race is. After one scrimmage you say to yourself, ‘This guy might be the guy at left guard.’ Then after the scrimmage, you’re like, ‘Golly, this other guy kind of played better.’

    “They’re playing with a chip on their shoulder right now. Like, ‘Hey, everybody is saying we might be the weak link’ or everybody is saying, ‘Hey, you guys got a lot of guys to replace up front,’ and they’re practicing like it.’’

   Coach Al Golden said the scrimmage will be in a game format.

   “I’d like to stay between 30-35 [plays] at halftime, bring them in, bring them back out and try to get into the third quarter. …Just the notion of coming in, correcting whatever we need to correct [and] when you’re a little bit tired or uncomfortable, paying attention to detail from your coordinator and going out and executing.

    “We’re going to let them play.’’ 


August 19, 2015

UM president Julio Frenk attends Wednesday morning's Canes practice, talks to team

It was a presidential Wednesday morning at Greentree Practice Field.

New UM president Julio Frenk met with the team for about six minutes prior to the start of Wednesday's drills. First he spoke to the coaches and players. Then, he put on a Canes jersey (No. 1) and posed for photos with the seniors. He was given an autographed football from the team.

Frenk did not speak to reporters, but we did shoot pictures of his meeting with the players and team. 

I didn't notice it upon first glance, but Frenk was actually given an old Nike jersey. I'm sure once UM's new Adidas jerseys arrive it will be switched out.

Here's what Frenk tweeted out two days ago when he arrived on campus at UM for his first official day on the job.

For you football fans, I only noticed two players in red non-contact jerseys this morning. Those were receivers Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios.

There also was some interesting music selections being played. It sounded like someone raided the CD collection of running backs coach Tim "Ice" Harris.

August 18, 2015

Brad Kaaya has room to improve -- especially on 3rd down, in the 4th quarter and in the red zone

He's The Golden Boy from The Golden State.

He's Brad Kaaya, The Messiah.

He's what most Hurricanes fans are clinging to as THE REASON FOR HOPE this coming season.

That's an awful lot of pressure for a 19-year-old.

That pressure is only amplified when you consider Kaaya said good-bye to the all-time leading rusher in UM history (Duke Johnson), a starting left tackle who was a first round pick (Ereck Flowers), his favorite deep threat who was also a first round pick (Phillip Dorsett), and one of the most productive tight ends in UM history (Clive Walford).

But hey, go get 'em Brad. Never mind you've got an offensive line with only 22 combined games of starting experience.

Kaaya, who turns 20 two days before the season-opener against Bethune-Cookman, certainly has the talent and smarts to become one of the best quarterbacks in Canes history. But he still has a lot of growing to do as a passer -- as do most of the guys around him on UM's offense.

There are three areas the best quarterbacks in the game separate themselves from the rest of the pack: third downs, the fourth quarter and the red zone. 

Kaaya, who led the ACC in quarterback efficiency (145.88) and touchdowns (26) last season and was one of only two freshmen in the country (Ohio State's J.T. Barrett was the other) to rank in the top 36 in QBR, needs to improve in all of those to truly become elite. 

An examination of the top 10 quarterbacks in QBR last season (Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Ohio State's Barrett, Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty, USC's Cody Kessler, Colorado State's Garret Grayson, Western Michigan's Zach Terrell, Alabama's Blake Sims, Baylor's Bryce Petty, Boise State's Bryce Petty, Georgia's Hutson Mason) as well as a few others taken in the NFL draft (Florida State's Jameis Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Oregon State's Sean Mannion) shows Kaaya's numbers in those three vital areas isn't up to par.


On third downs, where UM ranked 95th nationally as a team (36.81 conversion rate), Kaaya was 57 of 99 (57.6 percent) for 759 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions for a 134.61 rating. While those numbers weren't nearly as bad as Stephen Morris' in 2013 on third down (40-100, 664 yards, 3 TDs, 9 INTs, 87.68 rating), it wasn't as good as what Morris put up in 2012 (71 of 122 for 1,103 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 146.02 rating) or even Jacory Harris in 2011 (53 of 89 for 701 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs, 144.92 rating).

Of the 13 elite quarterbacks mentioned above, only Petty (125.08), Hedrick (117.92) and Mannion (123.23) had a lower QBR than Kaaya on third downs last season.

The ultimate goal on third down is to move the chains. Kaaya did so with his arm 35.4 percent of the time. Winston, by comparison, did it 47.3 percent of the time. Mariota did it 51.6 percent of the time and Sims led the nation at 52.6 percent.


It's pretty clear: Kaaya's worst quarter last season was the fourth quarter.

> First quarter stats: 69 of 104 (66.3 percent), 1,013 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs, 166.53 rating.

> Second quarter stats: 58 of 103 (56.3 percent), 851 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs, 150.67 rating.

> Third quarter stats: 49 of 87 (56.3 percent), 771 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs, 152.71 rating.

> Fourth quarter stats: 45 of 84 (53.6 percent), 563 yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 107.36 rating.

By comparison, Morris (both in 2013 and 2012) and Harris (2011) were better in the fourth quarter when they quarterbacked the Canes. Morris was 55 of 91 (60.4 percent) for 830 yards, 8 TDs, 0 INTs (166.07 QB rating) in 2012.

All 13 of the other quarterbacks mentioned above were also better than Kaaya in the fourth quarter last year. Mariota set the standard with a 197.9 rating in the fourth quarter (39 of 54, 596 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT). Petty, who hardly played in the fourth quarter (6 games), was the lowest among the group with a 125.44 rating (23 of 44, 313 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs).


The Hurricanes as a team ranked 105th out of 125 teams when it came to scoring touchdowns in the red zone last season. They found paydirt only 24 times in 47 trips (51 percent), a nine percent drop from 2013 when that team averaged four more points (33.8) per game than Kaaya's squad (29.2).

Kaaya's 46.8 completion percentage in the red zone likely played a big factor in that. He was only 29 of 62 with threw three interceptions inside the red zone (Morris combined to throw 3 INTs in his final two seasons at UM).

The only QB mentioned above whose QBR wasn't better than Kaaya's 130.91 rating in the red zone was Petty (129.06). All of them, though, had better completion percentages than Kaaya.

Kessler was an awe-inspiring 45 of 59 (76.3 percent) for 393 yards, 26 TDs and one INT in his red zone trips for an eye-opening 274.25 QB rating in the red zone.

Harris, who was ridiculed most of his career at UM, had a QB rating of 211.89 in the red zone in 2011. He was 18 of 32 for 106 yards, 13 TDs and 1 INT inside the opponents' 20-yard-line.

Tuesday morning fall camp report for the Miami Hurricanes


In our 15 minutes of viewing, there was good news -- at least compared to Sunday morning's viewing.

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Unlike Sunday, we didn't see anyone wearing red, no-contact jerseys.

But note that backup middle linebacker Juwon Young was not at practice. Juwon sprained the bottom of his foot, coach Al Golden told us last week and has missed the past three days of practice.

In limited-contact yellow Tuesday morning, the first of UM's third and final two-a-days:

*** First-team kicker Mike Badgley.

*** Defensive back Robert Knowles.

*** Possible first-team rush end Al-Quadin Muhammad.

*** Possible first-team slot receiver Braxton Berrios.

The Canes will begin their second two-a-day practice late this afternoon.







August 16, 2015

Former UF Gator Gerald Willis says he is working on emotional, communication issues & loving being a Hurricane

Former Gators defensive end Gerald Willis III – a five-star recruit by one service and four-star recruit by others – spoke to the media for the first, and likely, last time this season, since he can’t play in 2015 because of NCAA transfer rules.

 Willis, now a sophomore, was kicked off the Gators team at the end of the 2014 season for multiple team infractions. During the UF-FSU game in November, Willis, who was standing on the sideline, pushed FSU quarterback Jameis Winston in the facemask after Winston ran out of bounds. A penalty ensued, Willis was sent to the locker room and FSU scored five plays later.

 Willis also punched reserve UF quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg during a verbal confrontation in October regarding a pair of cleats, which brought police to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

 But Sunday he said he has never felt better than at UM. He is living off-campus with former high school teammate Stan Dobard, a Canes tight end, who is helping him adjust and stay on the straight and narrow. When asked what he does now when his button is pushed, he said, “Count to three.’’ He has taken a class to help him in that area, and UM is being very supportive and hands-on in guiding him in his adjustment off the football field – as well as on it.

 “I’m just happy I had a former teammate that plays for the U, Standish Dobard, and that’s one of the reasons I really came.  He made me feel at home. He introduced me to all of the guys and it just feels like another home to me.’’

  Willis said Dobard "helps me by staying focused, staying out of trouble, staying on my back all the time, texting me, making sure I’m good and going to class. …It means a lot that the guys are looking over my back and looking out for me.’’

  Willis and Dobard are from New Orleans and played at Edna Karr High School.

   He said he feels “something special’’ with the Canes. “This team is more like a family,’’ he said when asked to compare the UM and UF programs.

 “I’m talking to somebody everyday about my problems. If I do have a problem and issues, I talk to the coaches. I’m starting to get better at communications. I was [not communicating] at Florida.

 “I just matured. I’m playing with my future. This is my second opportunity and I just don’t want to mess it up.’’

 When his button is pushed? “I just count to three. You know? I just gotta walk away. I have to walk away. I can’t do what I did in the past. Even if it hurts me so bad I just gotta walk away. I’ve been doing some classes with that and I’ve been practicing.’’

  Willis, listed as 6-2 and 255, played in eight games as a true freshman last season. He had 14 tackles, two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble in the Birmingham Bowl. He also recovered a fumble.



New, updated Sunday Canes report: more players sidelined with injuries

   Miami coach Al Golden said Thursday-night that the Hurricanes escaped the first preseason scrimmage injury-free.

    But since then, the red, no-contact jerseys have been popping up a bit more. Granted, the Canes did practice twice Saturday. And some of it may be to protect players who are aching or have minor setbacks. But nonetheless, here are the players who wore red on another beautiful, but muggy, Sunday morning at Greentree Field:

  *** First-team tight end Stan Dobard. Golden said it’s hand.

  *** First-team kicker Mike Badgley. Golden said it’s his hip.

  *** Possible first-team rush end Al-Quadin Muhammad. Golden said it’s his hip.

  *** Safety Ryan Mayes (hamstring), who was in yellow, limited-contact jersey, yesterday and who was supposedly getting better, according to Golden.

  Here’s who was in yellow, limited-contact, jerseys this morning:

  *** Possible first-team slot receiver Braxton Berrios (hamstring, according to Golden yesterday).

  Juwon Young, Golden said Saturday, sprained the bottom of his foot, and did not practice again Sunday.

  I asked Golden what the balance was “between protecting guys from getting too sore and hurt and letting them go at it.’’

 Golden: “It’s a fine line. We have the GPS [system] to monitor them now and again, this is our second day back since the scrimmage, and during that stretch of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday they only had 30-40 reps. That’s a lot of healing time there and we got this next little push, and then a little break before we get to the next scrimmage. You’ve got to balance it, but when it’s time to go we’ve got to go.’’

 Golden said today in college “it’s not even remotely close’’ to what it used to be regarding contact. “We used to go two-a-days for 14 days straight. I think we have three two-a-days, and all the afternoon practices are in helmets. Every practice used to be in pads.’’


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S Ryan Mayes on left in red; LB Jermaine Grace to his right.

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WR Braxton Berrios.

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Ready for drill.

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L to R in orange: WRs Lawrence Cager, Darrell Langham, Tyre Brady and FB Walter Tucker.


Offensive linemen far right to left: Sunny Odogwu, Joe Brown, Jahair Jones.

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End of 15-minute viewing and the Canes are far, far away.



August 15, 2015

Canes DT Earl Moore has another reason to grind, and his entrepreneur mom has a "fan bag'' for U

 Hurricanes Nose tackle Earl Moore was redshirted last season, his third with the Hurricanes, which in and of itself should be a motivator. But now Moore has another reason to battle for playing time, and her name is Erin Marie Moore – born June 29.

      “I just recently had a daughter,’’ Moore said, saying he wants “to provide for her and do the best I can to give her the life that she deserves.

    “It gives you a whole new meaning of hustle. You’re not just hustling for yourself now.’’

   Moore, who graduated from Tampa Hillsborough High and is classified as a redshirt junior, has played in 23 games as a Hurricane, starting against North Carolina and Virginia Tech as a true freshman. In 2013 he played on special teams and as a reserve lineman, but recorded his career-first interception in a win over Savannah State.

 He said the year off the playing field was beneficial because it got him “to get focused on my weaknesses and things I can improve.”

   Moore, listed as 6-1, is up 10 pounds from his 295 when he came in as a freshman – but he looks much more fit. “I’m leaning up and getting my muscle,’’ he said.

    Moore said the entire defensive line did well Thursday in the scrimmage. “Our whole D-line as a whole hustled to the ball and made plays, giving them all they could handle.’’ 

    Moore said the other nose tackles are Mike Wyche, Calvin Heurtelou, Kendrick Norton, Ryan Fines and walk-on Colton Lynn. He said Heurtelou has gotten the most reps with the first team.




   And for all you fashion-conscious Canes fans, here’s a request on behalf of Moore’s mom, Cherrie Moore, who just started a new business that sells her “Fan-Bags,’’ customized tote-type bags made from new T-shirts that tout various sports teams or favorite players.

  “I put linings in them, fringes at the bottom, spice them up however people want them,'' Cherrie Moore said. "They have double handles so you can wear them over your shoulder.’’

    One bag she designed says “I’m a Miami Dolphins fan but I bleed orange and green.’’ She also has her "FOOTBALL MOM" bag with the green and orange U on it. Customers can put their favorite player's jersey number on the bag, or their name on it.

   She has also designed stadium-approved bags that are small enough to be permitted into stadiums if you don't want to carry a larger clear one.

     Cherrie’s business is called She already attended the Miami Dolphins Business Alliance trade show at Signature Grand in Davie.

     The bags are $32. 




Saturday post-practice Miami Hurricanes football update: more injury news included; tight battles; walk-on power


After a day off from practice to get treatment and heal their bodies following Thursday night's scrimmage, the Hurricanes were back at it for another two-a-day session Saturday at Greetree Field.

 I noticed three Canes wearing the yellow "limited contact" jerseys: safety Ryan Mayes (hamstring), safety Deon Bush (hamstring) and receiver Braxton Berrios (hamstring). 

 “So, Braxton and Deon, like hamstrings,’’ coach Al Golden said. “Just being careful… “

  Golden said Mayes was “making progress.’’

 Backup middle linebacker Juwon Young has a sprain on the bottom of his foot, Golden said, noting that freshman Jamie Gordinier is doing a good job temporarily playing in the middle to replace Young.

 “He’s doing good, playing [middle] and [strongside] for us,’’ Golden said of Gordinier. "He’s very bright. We got him at Mike right now because Juwon Young has a little foot injury we’re dealing with. We’ll see how it goes.’’

 “We’re going to have to be careful here for a little while until it really calms down,’’ Golden said of Young’s foot sprain.

 Also, linebacker Jermaine Grace had a brace on his right shoulder -- maybe from that hard-hitting "blitz sack'' he had during the scrimmage. “He’s OK,’’ Golden said.

 Freshman safety Jaquan Johnson (bone bruise/tendinitis according to Al Golden) was back in full force wearing a black jersey Saturday.


 The Canes practiced Kick returns, with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio overseeing, telling freshman Mark Walton he needed to be a lot louder with his calls, because the fans will be screaming and it will be hard to hear, he explained. Also returning kicks were Stacy Coley, Joe Yearby, Corn Elder and Berrios.


 Golden was effusive about the progression of UM’s walk-on program. Our walk-on program over the last two years has improved so much over that period. Those guys from 80 to 105 [scholarship numbers] are getting better and better and that’s helped, too. It’s made such a difference on our practice field just to have a roster of 114 consistently. Right now we have 125 guys for 114 spots on the team.

 *** Defensive linemen RJ [McIntosh] and Kendrick [Norton] have been rotating in with the [first team], whether they got in with the ones, maybe a couple plays here or there, they’ve been getting a lot of reps. [Cornerback Sheldrick] Redwine has been getting a lot of reps. I don’t know if they’re necessarily going with the ones, but there are times in practice where we do put them in there.

 ***Offensive tackle Kc McDermott said he played first-team right tackle in practice Saturday. Sunny Odogwu was the starting right tackle Thursday night at the scrimmage.

 *** Golden said it “took the coaches a lot longer’’ than usual to go over film and evaluate who stood out in the scrimmage, because so many players now are close in talent and vying for starting jobs .. “We’ve used 13 offensive linemen with the first and second teams,’’ he said. “The defensive line is as tight as it’s ever been in terms of competition – secondary, wideouts, tight ends, running  backs… We’ll see what the body of work is here this week.’’

 *** Tight end David Njoku caught a fade pass for a touchdown in the scrimmage. “David is doing good. He’s 240-something pounds now. He’s got good body control like a wideout. He’s getting tougher and stronger.

    “So, here’s an idea: Just think of Clive [Walford], when he was a sophomore, all that stuff, the ability to flex out and move and just kind of a lighter version. He’s doing a lot of those things, which helps us. But he’s tough enough to put him near the line of scrimmage and work.’’

   *** Offensive coordinator James Coley on Njoku Saturday: “He caught a fade for a touchdown. I think that was his only catch. I just want to see more from him, more from him during the scrimmage.”

    Continued Coley on Njoku: “He’s a great leaper, he’s explosive, he’s fast, he’s got great hands. I just want to see him in the course of a scrimmage take over, because he has the ability to be that type of force.’’

       *** The Golden Canes boosters, the first-team of UM athletics when it comes to giving generously, were allowed to watch practice Saturday. Thanks to Jesse Marks, associate athletics director for development, for that yummy and caffeine-filled cup of java!

 Here are some photos I took this morning from our first 15 minutes:

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High and tight for Mark Walton.

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Running to new drill


Offensive linemen

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Tight end David Njoku (86) with lots of defenders to the left


August 13, 2015

Miami Hurricanes complete first scrimmage -- everyone happy, especially Kendrick Norton.

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   With 23 days left to kick off the season, the Miami Hurricanes had their first preseason scrimmage Thursday night on campus at Cobb Stadium.

   The burning question: Who won?

    “The defense won,’’ quarterback Brad Kaaya said, before immediately adding, “The offense won.

    “It went back and forth. Both sides of the ball looked pretty good.’’

       Wearing their new Adidas practice uniforms – black for the defense and orange for the offense – the Canes, no matter how young, continued to make their push for substantial roles when Bethune-Cookman comes to Sun Life Stadium on Sept. 5.

     Miami closed the scrimmage to the public and media, but coach Al Golden, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and several players were made available afterward.

     Golden said no one was injured, and praised the players for being prepared enough to allow for a scrimmage this early in camp. Because of the Canes’ added depth as scholarship numbers improve, Golden said it was the first time he could play three units.

   The coach said Kaaya was challenged by a defense that “came after him’’ and “gave him a lot of looks, a lot of different fronts, multiple coverages.

   “I’m excited about Brad. We’ve got a long way to go though. We’ve got to clean up a lot of the bad balls,’’ he said .

   There were at least two interceptions – one picked off by safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who has returned after missing 2014 because of back surgery; and the other by walk-on defensive back Josh Johnson.

      Freshman nose tackle Kendrick Norton, the most talked about newcomer of early camp, forced a fumble Thursday.

   “It was a really smart play,’’ said Golden. “He just tracked the ball from behind and ripped it out. Obviously he’s well coached to do that as young as he is, and the wherewithal to do that in your first scrimmage is a good sign.’’

   D’Onofrio said that Norton, listed as 6-3 and 310 pounds, has lost 15 pounds since he arrived at UM.

    “He’s done an excellent job,’’ D’Onofrio said. “I’m very excited about Kendrick Norton.’’

    Offensively, Kaaya, who threw three touchdowns, said he hit receiver Rashawn Scott with a 60-yard post-route completion on fourth-and-1, tight end David Njoku with a fade pass, Braxton Berrios with multiple completions over the middle and Herb Waters with a touchdown.

    Backup quarterback Malik Rosier and freshman Evan Shirreffs also threw touchdowns.

   The defensive pressure was substantial according to multiple players, throwing off the offense at first.

    “I don’t feel like we were in game mode in the beginning, but as the scrimmage went on we picked it up,’’ tight end Stan Dobard said. “We had a couple of holding calls but that’s something we can fix.’’

    Did Golden feel separation anywhere?

   “No, it’s too early, because we mixed it up so much. We wanted to get a lot of looks…”

     Other highlights:

  • All four runners – Gus Edwards, Joe Yearby, Trayone Gray and Mark Walton rotated carries with the first- and second teams. Golden said they each had good runs, and Kaaya said Gray had an 80-yard touchdown called back because of a penalty.
  • Vincent Testaverde is the third-team quarterback. “He did really well,’’ Golden said. “He’s a smart player.’’
  •  The starting offensive line, left to right, according to players: Trevor Darling, Alex Gall, Nick Linder, Danny Isidora, Sunny Odogwu.




August 11, 2015

On first day of two-a-days, coach Al Golden lauds freshmen, says, 'Everybody gets opportunities to play at Miami.'

Today is the Hurricanes' first double practice session, also known as two-a-days.

Coach Al Golden and players spoke after Tuesday's first session, but will not be made available after the night session under the new lights at Greentree Field.

The Canes are preparing for their first preseason scrimmage on Thursday night at Greentree. The scrimmage is closed to the public and media

Golden said he was "extremely pleased'' with the freshmen this camp.

"Very mature group,'' he said. Again, I think part of that is the leadership we're getting from [Raphael] Kirby and Dallas [Crawford] and Brad [Kaaya] and those guys. Very focused. I don't know if there's a separation, but I think they're getting a lot of opportunities. I think you guys know me well enough by now to know that everybody gets opportunities to play at Miami. It's not... We don't just say, 'Hey, this is a locked position.' They're getting opportunities, they're getting a lot of reps, they're getting on film.

  "So, I think for us, we have to see what happens Thursday when the lights are on and who can react without the coaches.''

 Golden was asked about the progress of the defensive line, and praised two youngsters.

He said 6-3, 310-pound freshman defensive tackle Kendrick Norton (Jacksonville Trinity Christian) and 6-4, 270-pound freshman defensive end RJ McIntosh (Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons High) have really started to squeeze it from the bottom up and everybody knows they're here to mean business."

Defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, a 6-1, 314-pound sophomore, wore a red, no-contact jersey on Monday but practiced in a regular jersey on Tuesday. Golden cited his "maturity'' and said he was "a pro in terms of taking care of his business.

"Once you get in condition and you're more disciplined, the game kind of comes to you. You get your talent in the game. He's doing that now. He's still young, but he's in shape, he knows his stuff, and he's taking care of business off the field. That's allowing him to enjoy it and become process-oriented. Pleased with him."

Jenkins said the interior defensive linemen have improved since last year by lowering their pads more, using their hands more and "being more aggressive.'' He said his teammates consider the scrimmage "very important.''

"We treat it like a regular game day,'' Jenkins said. "It's an opportunity for guys to earn jobs.''




Miami Hurricanes hoops news just in. Transfer Rashad Muhammad signs with Canes.

From the University of Miami:


CORAL GABLES, Fla. – -- University of Miami head basketball coach Jim Larrañaga has completed his 2015-16 recruiting class with the signing of Rashad Muhammad, a transfer student-athlete from San Jose State University.

 Muhammad, a 6-foot-6-inch guard, will join the program this fall and have two years of eligibility remaining with the Hurricanes, but will sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

 "Rashad Muhammad is an outstanding shooter and scorer who averaged double figures at San Jose State in both his freshman and sophomore years,” Larrañaga said.

 At SJSU, Muhammad led the Spartans in scoring two straight seasons, with a 13.2 points-per-game average as a freshman, and 13.9 ppg in his second season. In two seasons at San Jose State, he started 25 of 58 games played and averaged 13.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.

 As a rookie, he set the Mountain West Conference freshman record for three pointers made in a season (75) and posted the second-highest mark for single-season three-pointers made at San Jose State. He scored in double figures in 22 of 31 games played and tallied 20+ points in five games, including his season-high 28 points twice, against both UC Davis and Colorado State.

 In his sophomore campaign, he scored in double digits 21 times and again posted five 20-point performances. He drained 59 more 3-pointers, moving him into third all-time at SJSU with 134 made from long range.

 A native of Las Vegas, Muhammad attended Bishop Gorman High, where he was ranked the No. 59 shooting guard in the nation by ESPN, and in 2013 was listed as a three-star player by ESPN, Future150, Rivals and Scout. At Bishop Gorman, he averaged 19 points per game his senior year, leading his team to a 29-3 record and No. 15 ranking in USA TODAY and ESPN polls. The Gaels won back-to-back Division I state championships with Muhammad, the younger brother of Minnesota Timberwolves player Shabazz Muhammad.

 “Over the last several years we have had great success with transfer student-athletes,” Larrañaga added. “Rashad extends a long line of outstanding players who have joined our program after two years of college experience, and we’re excited about his addition.”

 Muhammad will be Miami’s 10th transfer student-athlete to play for the Hurricanes in Larrañaga’s four seasons at Miami, a list which includes current players Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, Kamari Murphy and Ivan Cruz Uceda, and 2013 ACC Champions Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney Jones and Kenny Kadji.



August 10, 2015

Canes' sports information director ends practice Monday with catch, celebration

Canes football practices have ended in the past with an offensive or defensive linemen hauling in punts for the enjoyment of their teammates.

Monday, Hurricanes football sports information director and assistant athletic director for communications Tom Symonds got the call. Watch what happened below.

Symonds, entering his second year at UM, said director of player development Joel Rodriguez asked him to partake in the punt return work after linemen Michael Wyche, Hunter Wells and Earl Moore each got a crack at it.

"Every squirrel finds a nut. I just got lucky," Symonds said. "I was excited man. It's not every day you catch a punt and celebrate with the team like that. We were just kind of hootering and hollering. The fact someone with my poor athletic ability caught a ball like that, it was more shock and awe then anything."

Golden not interested in speeding up UM's pace of play on offense; four RBs splitting carries equally

Al Golden said Monday he's "not interested" in speeding up Miami's offense this coming season.

What he wants is better execution on third down. 

"From our standpoint, just being a defensive coordinator, it’s much harder to defend multiple tempos than it is to defend one tempo," Golden said after his team's fifth practice of the fall Monday. "So, I believe in multiple tempos, multiple groupings and then obviously formulating accordingly. From that standpoint, we’re where we need to be going into the first scrimmage [Thursday] and we plan to utilize a bunch of different tempos."

A year after finishing 96th in third down conversion at a 35 percent clip, Miami moved up just one spot to 95 and converted at a 36.8 percent clip in 2014. Where they did improve was in time of possession, moving up from 120th in 2013 (25:58.62) to 79th in 2014 (29:16.54) -- and that consequently helped the defense improve its own total yardage numbers.

"For us, I thought our time of possession was good," Golden said. "I think we needed to convert a couple more on third down, which would have tilted it in our favor. And obviously, if you’re plus in the turnover ratio, that’s going to give you more time. I thought our pace was right where we wanted it to be.

"We mixed it up the way we wanted to. But no, that wasn’t the issue. We needed to convert on third and hold on to the ball more. That would have yielded some more time-of-possession and certainly more ball control."


Asked who has stood out through the first five days of camp, Golden responded: "We’re getting really good leadership from a lot of the veterans right now.

"Guys are drilling down on what they need to improve on. [Safety] Deon [Bush] is a great example of that. He’s much more vocal, much more demonstrative. He’s got really good command right now, so I’m really happy for him and the changes that he’s made.

"[Linebacker Raphael] Kirby was really locked in [Sunday] and [Monday]. [Cornerback Tracy Howard's] had a good mindset. On the offensive side, [quarterback Brad Kaaya's] been doing really well with his command on the line of scrimmage. There’s others. But again, they have a good approach right now. Everyone’s trying to fix a defect."


Golden said sophomore running back Joseph Yearby, who was suspended for the spring game, has been doing great in camp and has "a great mentality."

Golden said all four running backs -- Yearby, Gus Edwards, freshman Mark Walton and sophomore Trayone Gray -- are in a rotation. Nobody is getting more work than any others right now.

"Let’s say we get eight outside zones a day, or inside zones, whatever it is, we’re trying to get each of them two, irrespective of what line is in there or what quarterback is in there," he said. "We’re trying to make sure they get to see all the different plays. Those guys are interchangeable right now. I think Choc is showing his maturity and his conditioning. He’s running harder and better. And then Mark is really learning it. From that standpoint, we’re just going to let it run and see what happens here in the next 12 days or so."


Golden said the primary competition in the kicking game is on kickoffs and kickoff coverage. 

The Hurricanes ranked 117th in kickoff coverage return average (24.57) last year, a drastic drop from a year earlier when they ranked 31st (19.83). Golden said he prefers to have a kicker boot the ball through the end zone for touchbacks rather than kick the ball to a corner.

Sophomore kicker Michael Badgley and junior punter Justin Vogel shared kickoff duties last year and combined for only 23 touchbacks. Former punter Pat O'Donnell handled kickoff duties in 2013 and had 37 touchbacks.

"It was tough at this time last year," Golden said of his kicking and punting situation. "We didn’t know we weren’t going to have Matt Goudis. At this time last year we were hopeful he was going to return. Just thinking he was going to return and get stronger. It didn’t materialize. All of a sudden we were left with three spots – kickoff, field goal and punt – that we were trying to fix. It feels a lot different right now."

Golden said Frank Gabriel and Jordan Butler are sharing the long-snapping duties. "Those guys are mature, a lot more poised than it was a year ago for those two guys, so I’m pleased with that," he said.

Golden said sophomore Nick Linder, redshirt sophomore Hunter Knighton, and redshirt freshman Joe Brown are competing for the short-snap duties.  

Vogel is leading for the holder job, but redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier is also getting a look. 

> Golden said the competition for the rush end starting job as well as on nickel packages is wide open.

"Trent [Harris] is one of those guys from a coaching stanpoint, Trent gives you what you want every play," Golden said. "He's in great condition. He ran better than ever has. Quan [Muhammad], obviously missed alot of time. He's coming on strong, working hard, continuing to study the game, focusing on the little things. Demetrius [Jackson] is over there as well, and Patch [Scott Patchan]. In the nickel, there's a whole bunch of them competing."

> The Hurricanes will start two-a-days Tuesday. "Two-a-days is easier than a one-a-day," Golden said. "I think we're an hour and 45 in the morning and an hour and 40 all in the afternoon with a big break in between. It's easier to be honest with you. It's easier than to lift and meet, walk through and all that. The guys are surprised always on the first two-a-day how quickly the practices are over. It's going to go quick. If we do a two-a-day, it's going to go quick. We do run game and play action in the morning and then we do our drop back and two-minute stuff in the afternoon."

Monday morning: 15 minutes very, very, very far away


The Canes practiced on the natural-grass field again this morning, and it's so far away from us that you really can't see anything.

However, there were two Canes in red jerseys (injured, no contact), and they weren't safeties Jaquan Johnson (bone bruise/tendinitis) and Ryan Mayes (hamstring), who previously wore red but have been in yellow (limited) the past couple of days.

The red jerseyed Canes: defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins and reserve kicker Jon Semerene

If you haven't read my story in today's Miami Herald, you should. It will likely inspire you and put things in perspective. Click here for story.