UM said that fans "should be aware'' that the Green and RV tailgating lots will now open at 4 p.m., while the Blue, Maroon, Yellow, Purple and Orange lots will open at 5 p.m.
"Any individuals who do not have a ticket to the game, or do not have a ticket waiting at will call or on a pass list, will not be permitted to enter the tailgating area at Hard Rock Stadium,'' a UM press release said.
Also, "as part of the efforts to assist in the aftermath of the hurricane, both schools will present a check for $50,000 prior to the game for hurricane relief. In addition, fans are encouraged to aid in the relief effort and will be provided opportunities in the stadium to support the effort.''
Players will wear a specially designed helmet sticker with the state of Florida covered by the Red Cross logo.
With the Florida State Seminoles arriving safely by plane in Fort Lauderdale on Friday morning, and Hurricane Matthew beyond South Florida as it worked its way up the Southeast Coast, Miami officials were at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday morning preparing for Saturday’s 8:14 p.m. kickoff between No. 10 UM (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) and No. 23 FSU (3-2, 0-2).
For those who don’t have tickets, now would be a good time to get the few remaining, as the game is expected to be a sellout.
The stadium’s recent renovations reduced the seating capacity to about 65,000 – and Hurricanesports.com had a smattering remaining, most of them single seats in various locations.
Stubhub.com also had seats available from $124.99 to about $650 on Thursday afternoon.
According to UM’s media guide, of the 38 largest home crowds for Miami football games, 11 of them were for FSU games – including the largest crowd of 81,927 to watch the No. 1 Hurricanes defeat the No. 9 Seminoles 28-27 in the Orange Bowl.
UM drew 75,115 in 2010, 73,328 in 2012 and 76,530 in 2014 for Florida State games to the stadium now known as Hard Rock.
The Hurricanes averaged 47,560 in paid attendance at home games last season, though the real number of seats occupied was far fewer.
This year, UM drew 60,703 fans to the opener against FAMU that marked the start of the Mark Richt era on Sept. 3; and 57,123 to the second game against FAU.
<bullet> Also Friday, the state of Florida notified the presidents of both universities that the Florida Highway Patrol “will not provide the traditional escorts for the football game’’ this weekend.
“All state law enforcement will be doing hurricane response and recovery,’’ said Jackie Schutz, Governor Rick Scott’s communications director.
Scott urged people to avoid driving through areas still under evacuation and FSU has issued a warning to students and fans not to travel.
“People need to be careful,’’ Schutz said. “There’s still a major Category 3 storm going up the coast.’’
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.
The University of Miami issued a weather-related release late Wednesday afternoon that the No. 23 Florida State at No. 10 Miami football game, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, was still set to be played.
“With Hurricane Matthew expected to sideswipe the state Thursday and Friday,’’ the release said, “officials are monitoring the system and its impact on the game.”
UM athletic director Blake James said the school is “monitoring Hurricane Matthew’’ and is “in constant contact with stadium personnel. We are hopeful that the impact of Hurricane Matthew will be minimal and the game between the Hurricanes and Seminoles will be played as planned.’’
Miami cancelled classes and all school activities as of 5 p.m. Wednesday and through Friday because of the situation.
UM coach Mark Richt indicated the Dolphins would allow his team to practice in their indoor bubble, but it was only for certain times, and whether they do or not would depend on the both of their schedules.
“If we need to, we’ll find a place to go inside and get some work done,’’ Richt said on the ACC teleconference Wednesday. “I hope the storm doesn’t get to the point where everybody has to evacuate town, which I don’t anticipate from what I hear. So I think we’ll be fine.
“[Thursday] we’re uncertain if we’ll get a practice in at all. We usually don’t practice on Friday but we may practice Friday morning because we don’t play until Saturday night.”
FSU, which usually travels to its road games on Thursday night, will likely have to wait until Friday to get to Miami.
“It looks like the worst of it may hit Thursday night in Miami,’’ Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “So we may have to wait until Friday morning before we go down. That’s our thoughts right now, but we don’t know.
“We’re still getting updates as it goes. We don’t want to take our kids down there while the worst part is there.’’
The Hurricanes will likely get some needed defensive help against Georgia Tech.
UM coach Mark Richt indicated DT Anthony Moten (shoulder), DT Courtel Jenkins (knee surgery), LB Darrion Owens (back from reconstructive knee surgery but apparently had some type of undisclosed issue, per Richt to WQAM on Monday) and CB Adrian Colbert (knee surgery) would all play Saturday at noon.
"Well, there's a difference between pain and an injury,'' Richt said. "Everybody has something. Usually everybody by now has something that hurts a little bit and some guys have things that hurt a little bit more than others. But almost always with those kind of injuries, when the adrenaline pumps and the blood flows in a game you tend to not feel much of anything.
"If the adrenaline is pumping and their blood is pumping and they're hobbling around, then we'll get them out of the game."
Is Adrian Colbert back?
"Adrian has practiced every day for a while now. I don't know if he's 100 percent, but he's 100 percent going to play.''
Here's Miami coach Mark Richt's opening statement from his weekly press conference on Tuesday to discuss the next opponent -- Georgia Tech. Richt is 13-2 against Georgia Tech as the former Georgia head coach and 6-2 against current GT coach Paul Johnson.
Richt noted the two losses (2008 and 2014), and, as a coach who loves to run, he has plenty of respect for Johnson.
“We’re getting ready to play Georgia Tech, we all know that. We’ll be in Atlanta on Saturday at high noon. That’s probably a good thing - we’re used to waking up early, so that shouldn’t be a shock to our system. We’re playing Coach [Paul] Johnson and his offensive system again, and his teams have historically done a great job. They’re probably top five [team] in America in rushing during the time Johnson has been there, the last seven years. They’re just good at what they do.
“It all does start with the quarterback, Justin Thomas. Like most offenses, if you have a quarterback who can run your system well, you have a chance to move the ball and put points on the board. He does a great job. He’s thrown for 364 yards already and run for 144 – he’s their second-leading rusher right now. Outstanding player. I think the thing you say about him, he’s very tough, mentally and physically. He can bring a team back from being behind. He did it, really in Game 1 [against Boston College], I guess. He’s done it before in his career. Certainly he did it one of the years I was at Georgia, a couple years back. He made some beautiful plays and set them up for a field goal and took the game into overtime because of his athleticism and his ability to throw the football. He is an outstanding player.
Marcus Marshall was their leading rusher last year, he had 650 yards. Last year against us he had 74 yards, had a big day. I coached his brother over there, Keith Marshall, at Georgia, so I know the family. J.J. Green is another guy I coached at Georgia, who’s now over there doing a good job, he’s an ‘A back’ for them. Their leading receiver is Ricky Jeune. He has seven catches for 108 yards and averaging about 15 yards per catch, which is pretty typical. [Brad] Stewart is their No. 2 guy.”
Up front, their center [Freddie] Burden, I guess this will be his 30th career start. He has the most experience up front. I know [Shamire] Devine is a guy that while I was at Georgia, I tried to recruit and got beat there in the recruiting process. He’s a massive guy, 6-foot-7, 370 pounds, and a really talented guy. I know he got banged up a little bit last week, so I don’t know how he’s doing. It’s an outstanding system and Coach [Johnson] does it as good as anybody.
“Ted Roof on defense has the 15th scoring defense in America, they’re doing a wonderful job there…up front he has three returning starters coming back: No. 42 [KeShun Freeman], No. 91 [Patrick Gamble] and No. 41 [Rod Rook-Chungong]. Most good defenses start out with a front four that can play ball and penetrate and do those things, and they do a good job of that. [P.J.] Davis, the linebacker, he is the most experienced linebacker coming back. He was the leading tackler last year - had 77 tackles. He’s No. 2 on the team with 24 tackles right now, so he kind of heads up that group. Their leading tackler is No. 14, Corey Griffin, their safety - he has 25 tackles and he does a good job. They don’t show Lawrence Austin as a starter in their base defense, but when they’re in their nickel defense, he’s their nickel. He plays a bunch. Everybody is playing three-receiver sets. He’s really a starter, the way we see it.
“It’s the first conference game. It’s very crucial for us in that regard. Everybody in the Coastal is trying to win it, us being one of them. It’s very important to us for a lot of reasons, but that’s probably the most important reason.”
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (with thanks to UM's Camron Ghorbi)
Nine former college athletes have been selected as finalists for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award and will be honored at an awards dinner Oct. 16 in Indianapolis.
The 2016 Woman of the Year will be named at that event.
Three women from each NCAA division were selected. Their college careers are highlighted by outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.
The finalists were chosen from 30 Woman of the Year honorees who will be recognized during the event. This group of 30 includes 10 honorees from each NCAA division and represents a range of sports. Schools nominated 517 college athletes for the 2016 award.
School: University of Miami (Florida)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Sport: Women’s swimming and diving
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Excerpt from personal statement:“Although my diving career is over, I am now taking a new plunge into another opportunity: research in the medical field. My next step is a Ph.D., followed by teaching and continued advocacy for young women to follow their passions. I therefore thank my collegiate career for making me the woman I am today, and for allowing me to continue to spread this strength to others around the world.”
Kara McCormack embraced her platform as a student-athlete as a way to lead others on her campus, in her community and on a global scale. The University of Miami (Florida) swimming and diving team captain served on the Atlantic Coast Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She also volunteered as a pen pal with children at a local elementary school, taking advantage of the opportunity to encourage young girls to pursue interests in math and science. In addition, she went on a trip to rural Vietnam as part of the Coach for College program, where she taught ninth-grade physics and encouraged kids to persevere and attend college.
McCormack made the dean’s list every semester and graduated with a nearly perfect grade-point average in mathematics. She earned three nods as a member of the all-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Team and received the ACC postgraduate scholarship in 2016. She was inducted into multiple honor societies on campus, and in 2016, was inducted in to the Iron Arrow Honor Society, which is the highest honor for a Miami student who exemplifies love of alma mater, character, leadership, scholarship, and humility. McCormack is now in the process of pursuing her doctorate in mathematics.
In 2013, McCormack was named the ACC Diver of the Year after winning the conference championship on the diving platform. The three-time College Swimming Coaches Association of America All-American qualified for the NCAA championships in 2016 in the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events. She also competed at the Olympics trials for USA Swimming in 2012.
The other nominees:
School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Conference: New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference
Sport: Women’s swimming and diving
Majors: Electrical engineering and computer science; biological engineering
Hometown: San Diego
School: Iowa State University
Conference: Big 12 Conference
Sport: Women’s track and field
Majors: Child, adult and family services; psychology
Hometown: Dover, Delaware
School: West Texas A&M University
Conference: Lone Star Conference
Sport: Women’s track and field
Major: Broadcasting and electronic media
Hometown: Amarillo, Texas
School: Limestone College
Conference: Conference Carolinas
Sport: Women’s basketball
Major: Professional biology/pre-dentistry, with a minor in chemistry
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
School: Carson-Newman University
Conference: South Atlantic Conference
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
School: Kenyon College
Conference: North Coast Athletic Conference
Sport: Women’s swimming and diving
Major: International studies, with a concentration in Islamic civilization and cultures, and a minor in Arabic
FONTAINEBLEAU Miami Beach (a nice place to be on a Friday night!) --After months of anticipation, the University of Miami finally unveiled plans for its yet-to-be-built "Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility," to be named in honor of the mother of lead donor and billionaire Jeffrey Soffer.
Soffer is a South Florida real estate developer and philanthropist who contributed $14 million of the $34 million that will be needed to begin construction -- of which $24 million has already been raised.
Have to give kudos to UM athletic director Blake James, who pulled off the unlikely MarkRicht hiring and has been a real plus for the Hurricanes in pretty much every area.
I know Carol Soffer from years ago, and she is a terrific woman. She has been a UM donor for athletics for more than 20 years. Really liked her sons I met tonight. Jeffrey Soffer seems like a super nice person. Hey, he gave up his money because his mother said UM athletics was the right way to go, and he publicly told her he loved her. As a mom (or son), you've got to like that.
Jeffrey said right away that he has never been to a UM football game but will make sure to attend his first game this season.
That first game, I'm pretty sure, will be Florida State.
Included in Miami's release on Friday:
"The 81,800-square-foot facility will feature two field-turf fields – one 80 yards long and an additional 40-yard field directly connecting to the Squillante Strength and Conditioning Center. The facility will be located on the current football practice grounds, and will feature interconnectivity to the Hecht Athletic Center and the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence.
The project includes a 20,000-square-foot football operations center with a mezzanine level that will house all of the football coaches’ office space with views overlooking the indoor fields. The football center will also feature six position meeting rooms, a head coach’s suite, three coaches’ conference rooms, a first-class football recruiting suite complete with lounges and meeting rooms, as well as a state-of-the-art video center."
UM is aiming for the facility to be completed by the summer of 2018.
As I said in a blog earlier this week, the Richt era continues to soar. The No. 15 Canes (3-0) are off this weekend but next play at noon Oct. 1 at Georgia Tech (3-1), to be nationally televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Richt said tonight that Brad Kaaya's knee injury that he sustained during the Appalachian State game was a bone bruise and was healing day by day. He said the open week was helpful because it obviously has given it more time to heal.
Kaaya was great, as usual. First-class young man, so unassuming and forthright.
"It is awesome to actually get out and see the Hurricane Club members and meet the Soffer family,'' Kaaya told reporters. "In years past, people talked about the Board of Trustees, our alumni, our boosters. It all just sounds like up there somewhere in some castle, some secret meeting room.
“It’s nice to actually meet them and know they have our back and are giving their full support to us. It’s huge for me to see this. It’s a great day.’’
Here's my full, final-edition story that is now online and includes cool videos, photos, reaction and all the news: http://hrld.us/2dqdBjc.
The Mountaineers, famous for being giant slayers since bringing down fifth-ranked Michigan at the Big House to begin the 2007 season, are known for their fearlessness. They're the little team that could, and the little team that will, hope those who love underdogs and have a major distaste for the green and orange.
Hey, they almost and in my opinion should have beaten No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville in the season-opener. So, they're more than thinking, 'Why not Miami?'
Maybe it's just the mediocrity that I've gotten used to the past 10 years or so, but so many times when the Hurricanes could have made a statement that they were turning the corner, they didn't. They haven't won a bowl game since the 2006 season, which frankly, feels like an eternity. They usually fall in these hyped games.
So, whether or not Appalachian State is in the Sun Belt, whether or not the Mountaineers talk a lot bigger than they play, you better believe most of the country is waiting for the Hurricanes to fall Saturday. And that's why UM needs to make a statement to itself, if no one else, that this Mark Richt era is humming right along after Game No. 3 -- en route to a week off before the Canes travel to Atlanta to face the triple option attack of ACC Coastal Division foe Georgia Tech. That will be no easy task, especially for three true freshman linebackers.
I know that a win is a win is a win. But UM should have a lot better athletes than Appalachian State, and the victory should be decisive and clean.
I don't even know where to begin should the Mountaineers pull off the upset. We might have to all shut down our Twitter accounts.
For now, here are my keys to victory for the Hurricanes:
***Take the home crowd out of the game, the sooner the better. Thus, come out blazing and don't let up.
***Somehow manage to communicate amid the deafening noise. This might be a major challenge for the youngest Canes, though there are veterans on the offensive line, and as coach Mark Richt said Wednesday, "The noise affects one guy the most -- that's the quarterback. Does he have the poise to handle the noise? Does he have the poise to handle all the nonverbal communication? Does he have the poise to handle it when [fans] go ballistic the first time something good happens for their team? That's the biggest key of playing on the road, in my opinion. Brad has been through it. I'm not worried one bit about how Brad is going to react to anything that might come up.''
*** Stop Marcus Cox. This 5-10, 205-pound senior from Dacula, Ga., has run for three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and has eclipsed the 100-yard mark 24 times in his last 33 games.
***Pressure quarterback Taylor Lamb. This 6-2, 200-pound junior from Calhoun, Ga., has led the Mountaineers to an 18-7 record and threw for 2,387 yards and 31 touchdowns, with nine interceptions last season. He ran for another 436 yards and five touchdowns.
*** Run, Mark, Run. Run, Joe, Run. Run, Gus, Run. The Canes are sixth nationally in rushing offense, averaging 326 yards over two games. The Mountaineers, who lost in overtime at then-No. 9 Tennessee and defeated Old Dominion 31-7 last week, are 69th in rushing defense, having allowed an average of 142 rushing yards each game.
*** No interceptions for Brad Kaaya. He had two last week against FAU, which converted only one of them for three eventual points. It would likely be more costly Saturday.
On Monday, the NCAA announced it was moving seven of its championships from the state of North Carolina because of a controversial N.C. state law that requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates, per the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference voted to relocate its championships from North Carolina because of the same law.
"As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination,''the ACC Council of Presidents wrote in a statement. "Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the conference office.''
Enter the University of Miami.
UM athletic director Blake James said Wednesday that he would be interested in evaluating the idea of Miami or South Florida bidding to host one or more of the ACC title events.
The neutral-site ACC championships that will eventually be relocated:
Women's soccer, football, men's and women's swimming and diving, women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, women's golf, men's golf and baseball.
"We will evaluate what opportunities are out there and see what makes sense for us to try to be part of the conversation going forward,'' James told the Miami Herald. "If there are events we can bring to South Florida I think it would be great for our institution, our students and our fans."
It's unlikely, however, that UM's home football field of Hard Rock Stadium could be chosen as the site of the ACC football championship, usually played at Bank of America Stadium. That wouldn't exactly be neutral should Miami win the Coastal Division and get in the ACC title game Dec. 4.
"There are a variety of stadiums the ACC will look at,'' James said. "As that is our home stadium, I would think most likely it probably wouldn’t be considered on top of the list. But if the conference felt it was good for the conference obviously it would be something we’d be very supportive of."
The ACC baseball tournament, which was May 24-29 this year at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, also brings in lots of folks over an extended period of days. The Marlins announced their 2017 schedule on Wednesday, and the Marlins have a homestand during most of that same time period next year.
"That’s why we need to evaluate everything and see what options are possibly out there for us to suggest to the ACC,'' James said, "and from there it would really be up to them to determine what’s best for the league."
Coach Mark Richt said after practice Wednesday that "something happened today -- I'm not going to say exactly what -- that, you know what, if it's loud, we have a problem."
That's because Miami's first road trip is Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium, where the capacity is a cozy 23,150 -- almost all of them for home team Appalachian State. ASU noted that temporary bleachers are being added to the stadium, plus some standing-room-only areas in the end zone which account for another 5,000 or so fans. We think the attendance will be well over 30,000. Small? Yes. Still loud? Yes.
"We have to make sure we know exactly what to do,'' Richt said. "That's why you practice. Something will pop up and you're like, 'I didn't think of that. I should have thought of that, but I didn't.' Anyway, those kinds of things happen. Good thing we still have tomorrow to iron it out.''
UM offensive line coach Stacy Searels was the Appalachian State line coach from 1994 to 2000. He knows first-hand how loud it can get.
"They'll be on top of you,'' Searels said. "They'll be very, very loud. And They will be very excited. And it will be an electric atmosphere. Anytime it's loud you've got to do a good job communicating.''
Quarterback Brad Kaaya said the Canes have "been working on all our silent cadences since the springtime.
"It's nothing new to us. There are not too many young guys on offense that I can think of. O-line, not going to be any young guys; running backs, they've all done it before and all know what to expect. I mean, [freshman wide receiver] Ahmmon [Richards], it's all signaled in to him. So he doesn't have to worry about that. He's just watching the ball.''
Dewan Huell of Norland High, the most celebrated University of Miami basketball recruit in recent years, was arrested for battery on Tuesday.
“I am aware of the reported incident involving Dewan Huell last night and we are still gathering information,” said UM athletic director Blake James. “I have very high expectations for all of our student-athletes, as I know Coach Larrañaga does for his team, and any misconduct will be addressed.”
Larranaga, reached by phone, said he just returned to town from recruiting and had not yet met with Huell.
"I just got back, and am planning to meet with Dewan and find out what happened," Larranaga said. "Dewan is a terrific kid and we will deal with this once we have all the information."
According to a police report obtained by Andy Slater of WINZ, Huell, 19, walked into his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room at FIU, found her in the closet with another man and attacked the man. Police say he grabbed the man by his shirt and dragged him out of the room, leaving him with scratches on his neck and chest.
Huell, who is 6-11 and 220 pounds, was to begin his freshman season with the Hurricanes next month. He was rated the nation’s No. 21 recruit by ESPN and played on three state championship teams with Norland. He averaged 19.2 points and 9.1 rebounds last season and was the Miami Herald 8A-6A Player of the Year.
Yes, yes, we know it's still early in the football season, so nobody's really thinking basketball yet.
But the ACC released the men's basketball schedule on Monday afternoon, so stop gushing over Mark Richt for just one moment and mark your calendars!
Miami will play at Virginia on Feb. 20 as part of ESPN's Big Monday schedule, and will also play four other games on ESPN/ESPN2: vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 12), at Duke (Jan. 21), at Louisville (Feb. 11), and at Virginia Tech (Feb. 27).
The Canes also have two CBS games: Jan. 28 against North Carolina and Feb. 25 against Duke.
Among Miami's home opponents are NCAA runner-up North Carolina, Notre Dame (Elite 8), and Duke (Sweet 16). The Hurricanes play road games at Syracuse, Virginia, Duke, Pitt, FSU, and Virginia Tech.
UM's first exhibition game is vs. Barry at the BUC on Nov. 2. The first conference home game is Dec. 31 against NC State -- yes, New Year's Eve, but 4:30 p.m., so plenty of time to party afterward.
"We need to defend our home court again this season," said UM coach Jim Larranaga. "Our fans helped create an electric atmosphere and we are looking forward to having that home court advantage again this year."
The full schedule:
Nov. 2 vs. Barry (exhibition), 7 p.m.
Nov. 11 vs. Western Carolina, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 at UNF, 7 p.m.
Nov. 19 vs. Penn, 4 p.m.
Nov. 24 vs. Stanford, 2:30 p.m. in Orlando
Nov. 25 vs. Indiana State/Iowa State in Orlando
Nov. 27 vs. Florida/Gonzaga/Quinnipiac/Seton Hall in Orlando
***We aren't hallucinating. This 4-3, let's-slam-the-quarterback defense, brought to you by Manny Diaz, is the real deal.
The Canes, one of the worst teams in the nation last year in rushing defense, have allowed 22 and 47 yards, respectively, the past two weeks. They had three sacks last week and seven Saturday. That's 10 total, compared to 26 in all of 2015. They had 15 tackles for loss last week and 13 Saturday. That's 28 in two weeks, compared with 66 last season. They are madly aggressive, don't give up or give in, love to gang tackle and are clearly in great shape physically.
The three true freshman linebackers? Wow. Wow. Wow. Weak-side starter Michael Pinckney joins middle starter Shaq Quarterman as an absolute beast. He's fast, he's fearless and he definitely has that old-time swag and the talent to back it up. Pinckney led UM with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. UM fans better hope for them to stay healthy, because what's behind them is thin and inexperienced.Defensive linemen R.J. McIntosh, Demetrius Jackson, Chad Thomas and freshman Joe Jackson have been impressive, as has Kendrick Norton -- though he appeared to get hurt. And, kudos to Darrion Owens, who got two tackles in his first game back after a severe knee injury suffered exactly a year ago against FAU. Diaz said the return of Owens was the best thing about the defensive story Saturday.
*** Run, Canes, run! Miami has gone from 117th in the nation in rushing offense to a team that has to be among the top after the first couple games, with 373 yards last game (three 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987) and 279 Saturday among Mark Walton and Joe Yearby. Walton, a sophomore, is really agile, shifty, quick and strong. Last week he had a career-high 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Saturday he had 155 yards and four touchdowns running -- the first time that a Cane has rushed for four scores since Tyrone Moss did it against UNC in 2005. Joe Yearby added 121 yards and a touchdown Saturday on 20 carries. Walton averaged 9.1 yards a carry; Yearby, 6.1. Not sure why Gus Edwards didn't get in. Mark Richt praised Edwards and said on this particular night, the the other two did a good enough job. Bottom line: a running game is what will make it harder for defenses and take some pressure off Brad Kaaya and the passing game, which struggled Saturday, though Kaaya came back much stronger in the second half.
*** Cut out the penalties -- or else. Miami was last in the nation last year in penalties with 1,094 yards worth. In the opener the Canes were disciplined as well as dominant, committing only six penalties for 54 yards. On Saturday, they were flagged nine times for 90 yards. Keep making mistakes and it will definitely hurt them."Very disappointing,'' Richt said. "Some of them, there's no excuse whatsoever. We have to get better. I don't want this to be a recurring theme, but just not enough discipline, and I'm not doing a good enough job of sending the message, I guess.'' When the Canes start facing better teams, penalties (or lack thereof) could make a difference in a win or loss.
***If you thought the Canes' defense was in bad shape physically, it has gotten worse.
On Thursday night, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt confirmed to Miami Herald correspondent Peter Ariz and to two other reporters at a community park in Pembroke Pines, that defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins and cornerback AdrianColbert had medical procedures -- knee surgeries, though Richt didn't specify. The University of Miami had put out a press release saying Jenkins and Colbert had "lower extremity'' injuries and wouldn't play Saturday against FAU. When Ariz asked Richt about the report of Colbert "dealing with a knee issue," Richt said, "Yeah, he won't play for sure this week. Not a season-ending thing. It'll probably be a matter of days. I don't know how many days.''
Ariz: "Did he have to have a procedure?"
Richt: "Yeah, he got cleaned up.''
Ariz: "Same thing with Courtel?"
Richt: "Yeah, same thing.''
Then, Richt said: "Football is a contact sport... Neither one of these are too serious.''
The Palm Beach Post reported through a source Thursday that Colbert, a graduate transfer from Texas, tore the meniscus in his knee Wednesday "and could miss multiple weeks," adding later in another report that the injury wasn't as bad as originally thought; and that defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who we had reported wouldn't be playing, had surgery for a torn meniscus. Colbert had an interception that he ran back 46 yards to the FAMU 40 -- the second of his career -- in the opener. UM scored five plays later. Until now, all the injuries and/or dismissals had been among the D-line and linebackers. Sophomore Sheldrick Redwine is the player expected to replace Colbert, with other young corners available, such as Michael Jackson, the speedy Malek Young, Ryan Mayes and Terrance Henley.
*** Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who was dismissed from UM along with linebacker Jermaine Grace for what UM said was a violation of NCAA rules in relation to a Miami Beach luxury rental car company, has surfaced at Hampton University -- an FCS school.
Muhammad posted on Instagram a photo of a Hampton University football helmet but wrote about his former Canes. Ariz first reported of Muhammad's enrollment at the school, through a source, on his CanesInsight.com site. Hampton had still not added Muhammad to the football roster as of Thursday evening. Muhammad would not have to sit out a year with the football team, because the PIrates are not in the FBS.
"Sorry for the wait...'' he wrote. "...I lost a lot off people in the past couple weeks family love ones close ones friends people that I would have never thought in a million years would have turned there back on me but it is what it is guess what God and football not going anywhere every play I make I'm throwing up the U for them 305 boys S/O 2016 cane players. #AQM #8 #ALWAYSACANE #305 #973 #RichtEra.''
Receiver Sam Bruce is a name we haven't heard a lot of this camp because it was pretty much known he'd be suspended to start off the season.
But when UM coach Mark Richt was asked about Bruce on Wednesday after practice, Richt was effusive.
"Great, great practice player,'' Richt said. "Works hard. Brings a lot of energy. He's not getting as many reps as the other guys, so he's fresher. But when he gets his reps, he's going full-speed. He looks like a player. I would hope, by the time he gets in position to be in the game, that he'll know enough to play. I would think we'll be integrating him into the plan. Hopefully, where we'd feel comfortable, is he knows it all. But if not, we'll pick and choose some spots for him. He'll play."
DIONTE MULLINS REPORT
Richt said of fellow freshman receiver Dionte Mullins, the last player to arrive before classes began: "He's still learning. He does not know all the plays, to the point where I can just call a game and not worry about him. If he's in the game, I have to know and take care of him a little bit. And that's last Saturday. He'll get better this Saturday. Somewhere along the line, when we feel comfortable that he knows what to do, he'll play. Because he has got the ability."
TRENT HARRIS HAS ANOTHER TOOL (not really)
Defensive end “Toolbox Trent” Harris, one of Miami's most reliable players, is still practicing fully, though he has a broken left hand and said he was limited to “8 to 10’’ snaps Saturday in UM’s 70-3 victory over FAMU.
Harris is a 6-2, 250-pound junior from Winter Park who had 49 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery last year as a linebacker/rush end in UM’s former 3-4, read-and-react scheme. He played at least three positions in some games.
Now he’s wearing a giant, soft-padded wrapping -- a "club'' -- on the bare hand that was hit by a helmet during practice. He’ll be at it again Saturday against FAU (1-0).
“I don’t have a strong grip with it,’’ Harris, designated as the “Viper’’ on UM’s defense, said Wednesday. “All I can do is do my best. I’ve just got to play like it’s off and whatever happens, happens.’’
Though Harris had won the starting position after original starter Al-Quadin Muhammad was dismissed from the team, Demetrius Jackson got the nod for the opener. Jackson had five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one breakup and one quarterback hurry -- quite a performance.
Richt said on Wednesday that defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins (leg/knee) and Anthony Moten (shoulder) are questionable for FAU. Jenkins didn't practice Tuesday and wasn't even at practice during the media viewing Wednesday, so it seems unlikely he'll play. Moten was at practice the past two days.
Quick hits from coach Mark Richt's press conference today before FAU game:
***"Had a good practice. Full pads, a lot of run game. We did a good job. I thought the first half of practice was actually very good. I thought the second half of practice they started to break down a little bit – similar to our ball game. I think we to a slight degree lost a little focus."
*** On the season-ending injury to redshirt freshman linebacker Jamie Gordinier and what happens next: "Gordinier getting hurt early in the game, I mean it's sad. Anytime a guy gets hurt and can't play the rest of the season -- they work so hard...It's hearbreaking...And then it also puts pressure on the rest of the team...We've lost depth across the board in defense and in special teams. We hurt when guys get hurt...Guys have to rise up, but it puts pressure on your second team, it puts pressure on your scout team, it puts pressure on your special teams. The more attrition you have the tougher it is for everybody to stay healthy.''
*** On productive safety Jaquan Johnson observing and practicing with the linebackers today: "A nickel back is basically a SAM (strong-side) linebacker. That's basically what he is. So will he play that in a 2-receiver set? I don't know. If he has to he will. But a lot of people are three- and four-receiver sets, so we're in a lot of nickel anyway. We can play with just two linebackers in those situations.''
*** "Offensively, they go about as fast as a team can go,'' (on FAU) said Richt.
***Richt, when asked if he's kind of looking forward to more adverse situations this week: "(laughed) I mean, I'm human. I like it when I don't have to fret too much when I look at tape. These guys present a challenge... They have a lot of confidence in their cornerbacks. They play a lot of press...''
***"It was great to see [FB] Marquez [Williams] score the first touchdown of the year…We do believe in having a lead blocker, not every play."
***Richt on if he likes the local rivalry aspect: "There are a lot of teams in the state. You could play just about the whole schedule here in this state. I don't get too involved in making the decisions on the schedule... Tell me who we're going to play, where we're going to play and let's go...''
*** Richt on his decision not to allow freshmen to talk to the media today: "No freshmen today was basically a one-day decision made by me. The whole team is human obviously. When people say, 'Wow, you did great. You did great. You did great,' the more of that, the less they tend to focus and all of a sudden they start believing, 'Man, I'm pretty good.' And when you start thinking you're pretty good is when you get whupped...I'm just trying to help them focus...I'm just trying to slow down the train just for a little bit to let them settle a little bit.''
From during our 15 minutes of media viewing:
***Defensive end Trent Harris was practicing with a large, soft-padded cast on his broken left hand.
*** Sophomore safety Jaquan Johnson was observing and practicing with the linebackers. Richt said he's nickel back, and if UM has to, it can play with only two linebackers.
*** Defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who limped off the field in the fourth quarter against FAMU, was riding on an exercise bike -- without moving his right leg.
First of all, feeling bad for redshirt freshman linebacker Jamie Gordinier, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in his first college game. What a shame for him and for the already thin Hurricanes' defense, which had a great opener regardless.
Here's wishing Gordinier a fast and successful recovery.
With Gordinier, the weak-side backup to starter Michael Pinckney, out of commission, the new depth chart released Monday has Darrion Owens moving up as the backup for this Saturday's game against FAU.
Owens, a 6-3, 245-pound redshirt sophomore out of Orange Park Oakleaf (same school at which freshman middle linebacker Shaquille Quarterman played), tore his ACL early last season against FAU, and although he has been practicing, he hasn't been ready to play in a game.
On Aug. 23, a couple days before UM's practice game using scout teamers against the starters, coach Mark Richt was asked about the health of Owens. "I'd say [Owens] is not likely right now to be a starter,'' he said, "but we just want him to be healhty before he really goes full speed. I"m not saying Owens won't get a crack at it before it's over...''
Another depth-chart change: Defensive tackle Anthony Moten, who has an injured right shoulder and did not play in the opener, has been replaced by redshirt freshman Ryan Fines as the backup to R.J. McIntosh. Fines had two tackles and half a sack in his college debut Saturday.
Junior defensive end Trent Harris, who fractured his hand last week and was limited against FAMU, but was replaced by Demetrius Jackson as a starter in that game, is still listed as a starter.
Now, the very encouraging news: former five-star defensive tackle prospect Gerald Willis, a Florida transfer who sat out last year per NCAA rules and was suspended for FAMU, is back in the lineup behind Kendrick Norton. FAU would be Willis' first game as a Hurricane.
Courtel Jenkins, who backed up Norton in the opener and limped off the field in the fourth quarter, is no longer on the depth chart. Jenkins had a nice game with three tackles for loss. When Richt was asked Sunday for an update about Jenkins, he said he wouldn't know until today, UM's off day.