September 20, 2016

The Mark Richt Factor: "University of Miami Historic Announcement" is another victory.


We got our "Building U Champions'' press release today for what UM is billing as a "Historic Announcement.''

And it is that. 

The indoor practice facility has been written about repeatedly, but it's great that the Hurricanes are finally getting it going here with the megadonation by the Soffer Family, as reported Saturday night by our Barry Jackson and Peter Ariz.

The announcement is Friday evening at the Fontainebleau in MIami Beach. The event is not open to the public. 

Coach Mark Richt has pledged $1 million of his own money to help fund the facility, which greatly impressed his players when they learned of his generosity. 

We'll learn a lot more about the facility on Friday.

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, to be nationally televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.

It's not a coincidence that Richt's arrival in Coral Gables has already catapulted the football program to a happy place it hasn't been in years.  It's amazing how one man and what appears to be an excellent coaching staff can make a difference.



September 17, 2016

Statement game? Some Hurricanes fans likely think otherwise, but you bet it is.


BOONE, N.C. -- The Miami Hurricanes are the first Power 5 team in history to come into Kidd Brewer Stadium.

And what a reception they'll get.

I'm imagining this could be the loudest 35,000 or so fans that I've ever heard -- and I've been to a lot of college football games.

ESPN thinks it intriguing enough to choose as its noon game. Las Vegas thinks it'll be close enough to make the 25th-ranked team in the nation -- that's 2-0 Miami -- only a 4-point favorite as of Friday.

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.


September 14, 2016

Miami AD Blake James will "evaluate'' if Miami area could host relocated ACC championships

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."


Miami's Mark Richt: 'Something happened today. I'm not going to say exactly what...'


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.''



Breaking News: UM hoops star recruit Dewan Huell arrested

By Michelle Kaufman

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.


September 12, 2016

Hot off the Press: UM Hoops Schedule!

By Michelle Kaufman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full schedule:

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

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

Nov. 16 at UNF, 7 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Nov. 30 vs. Rutgers 7 p.m.

Dec. 3 vs. Wofford

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

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

Dec. 22 vs. George Washington, 7 p.m.

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

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

Jan. 4 at Syracuse, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 vs. Notre Dame, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Pitt, noon

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

Jan. 21 at Duke, TBA

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

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

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

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

Feb. 8 Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Louisville, TBA

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

Feb. 18 vs. Clemson, noon

Feb. 20 at Virginia, 7 p.m.

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

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

March 4 at FSU, 4 p.m.

March 7-11: ACC Tournament, Brooklyn, NY

September 11, 2016

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


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

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

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


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


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



September 08, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

Ariz: "Same thing with Courtel?"

Richt: "Yeah, same thing.'' 

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

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


FullSizeRender (57)

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

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

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






September 07, 2016

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



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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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




September 06, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From during our 15 minutes of media viewing:

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

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

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




September 05, 2016

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


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

Here's wishing Gordinier a fast and successful recovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.




September 04, 2016

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


Opening Statement…

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

On getting back to play-calling…

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

On his evaluation of the play of quarterback Brad Kaaya…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (thank you Cam Ghorbi)

September 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes true freshman Sam Bruce suspended three games


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

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

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

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

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

Game Day FINALLY. Notables for Miami Hurricanes against FAMU


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

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


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

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

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

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

***The game

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

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

    C. Linebackers * (see next listing)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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





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


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

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

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

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

Beirne was not set to dress for the FAMU game.

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



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


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

Wake up and it's game day.

That is, if he even could sleep at all.

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

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

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

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

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

Any birthday wishes for Brad

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

August 30, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








August 29, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




August 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 26, 2016

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

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

   Some quick hits from Richt after today’s practice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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