September 12, 2014

Canes defensive end Quan Muhammad suspended for season by university

Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad will not play football for the Miami Hurricanes in 2014 and his future with the program is cloudy.

UM's top recruit in its 2013 signing class has been suspended from the university for the fall semester after he got into an altercation with another student last spring. According to our Barry Jackson, Hurricanes coaches aren't happy with the decision made above the athletic department and hopes Muhammad will choose to return next semester.

Coach Al Golden held Muhammad out of the team's first two games and thus Muhammad will not lose a year of eligibility. Muhammad cannot attend classes until the suspension is lifted after the fall term. 

Muhammad, who had two sacks last season and played in all 13 games, posted the following photo and message on his Instagram account on Thursday night.

Photo

UM Hurricanes DE Muhammad suspended for season -- no longer enrolled

University of Miami defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad is no longer enrolled at Miami, as he has been suspended for the season and will not be allowed to play football  or attend classes for the fall semester of 2014, a UM spokesperson said Friday afternoon.

UM will allow him to return to school next semester, if he chooses, but it is not yet known if Muhammad will do that or transfer to another school.

     “Al-Quadin Muhammad is not currently enrolled for the fall semester and will not be participating in athletics,’’ UM spokesperson Margot Winick said.

 Muhammad is being punished for a confrontation with a roommate that left the roommate with a broken nose, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. The incident happened several months ago, and the former roommate has since graduated.

The UM football staff isn't happy with this decision, according to two sources. 

 The decision was made by the UM administration, not the athletic department. 

Muhammad told UM that he hit the roommate in self-defense, according to a UM athletic department employee, who said there were conflicting statements when witnesses were interviewed.

UM coach Al Golden held Muhammad out of UM's first two games.

"He's sorely missed,'' Golden said Tuesday. "He's a great kid. He's one of our leaders. He's a competitor. So, again, it's a difficult situation and we're all just letting it run the proper course or proper channels if you will.''

  On Wednesday, Golden added that he would not play Muhammad until there was a resolution of the situation.

Muhammad, 6-4 and 242 pounds, was a four-star prospect coming out of Don Bosco High in New Jersey, rated the nation's No. 3 weakside linebacker prospect. He played in all 13 games and had eight tackles and two sacks as a freshman.

If Muhammad chooses to return to UM, he would have three seasons of NCAAA eligibility remaining. The 2014 season would count as a redshirt year. 

He's the second four-star prospect UM has lost this week (with Muhammad, at least for a semester). Safety Kiy Hester transferred to Rutgers because of a family medical issue.

 

BARRY JACKSON AND SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

September 11, 2014

Receiver Stacy Coley to miss Saturday's game against Arkansas State

The Miami Hurricanes offense will be without one of its most dangerous weapons Saturday when Arkansas State (1-1) visits Sun Life Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Sophomore receiver Stacy Coley, battling a right shoulder injury, has been ruled out for the game according to UM's injury report which was released Thursday afternoon. He had been in a red non-contact jersey at practice all week.

A dangerous return man, Coley led the team with 1,491 all-purpose yards last season and finished with 33 catches for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. Coley had three catches for nine yards in the opener against Louisville, but didn't start against Florida A&M Saturday or make any catches the Rattlers. Coley did return three punts against Florida A&M -- his last was a 16-yard return late in the first half.

Receiver Rashawn Scott (clavicle) was the only other player listed on UM's injury report. Scott has yet to play this season, but coach Al Golden said Scott could be close to a return soon. 

September 10, 2014

UM Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis was hurting, & more news

  Matt Goudis came into the FAMU game having connected on nine consecutive field goals – until he missed two of four attempts against the Rattlers, a 45-yarder short of the goal posts and a 32-yarder.

   He connected on 20- and 23-yard attempts.

   Goudis has been recovering from an offseason back injury, and it turns out the misses were connected to a physical ailment, Hurricanes coach Al Golden said. He didn’t say whether that ailment was the original issue with Goudis’ back, but he does believe the problem was corrected earlier this week with the help of a doctor.

    The coach said he is hoping he doesn’t have to play freshman kicker Michael Badgley this season. He said Badgley, a 5-10, 180-pound freshman from Summit, N.J., is “doing a really good job’’ and he hopes to redshirt him.

    “Matt encountered some issues on Saturday that I think have been resolved,’’ Golden said. “He’s gone to the doctor…and we think we have the discomfort part of that resolved and he’s been kicking really well. Lord willing he’ll be able to get past that. He needs a little luck here.

   “As you know, Matt is a real good kicker. He just had some discomfort that was hard to deal Saturday night.”

 ***Stacey Coley still out

  Wide receiver Stacy Coley (shoulder) attended practice Wednesday, but did not participate, Golden said. The coach said he’ll “make a determination’’ Thursday as to whether he’ll play Saturday. Usually players do not compete if they haven’t practiced by Wednesday.

   “We’re just being really careful with it,’’ Golden said. “He is starting to do some running and things of that nature."

***Muhammad issue still unresolved

   Sounds like defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad might miss his third consecutive game Saturday. Golden indicated that the off-field issue with Muhammad was not resolved as of late morning Wednesday. “It’s a private issue right now…,’’ Golden said. “s soon as we get resolution we’ll pass it on to you guys. We don’t have that right now. Until that time I’m going to hold him out.’’

   Muhammad has been practicing.

 ***Are you big enough?

  A reporter told Golden that “the Arkansas State coach said you’re the biggest team that they’re going to face all year. I know that’s something you’ve strived to get to, to be the physical, dominating presence. Are you there yet?”

  Replied the coach, “No, we’re not. You guys know.”

  Golden noted with a laugh that media members “throw lines in the water all the time.’’   

            “We’ve just got to keep building,’’ he said. “Do I like our depth in certain positions?  “Yeah, our safeties are rotating in freely right now; defensive line, we’re rotating more guys than we have been. But we’re not where we want to be yet in terms of size and strength at every position.’’

*** Any depth chart changes Golden knows are coming?

“I don’t know,'' he said. "The corners are still battling. [LB Jermaine] Grace is still battling there for a little bit more time. I don’t know how that’s going to end up tomorrow.”

    The coach said Taylor Gadbois is still battling with Kc McDermott at right tackle, and Alex Gall and Danny Isidora are still battling at right guard. He said wide receivers Herb Waters, Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Lewis are still battling with Phillip Dorsett.

  “We’ve got to have another practice to see who’s sharp and see who’s on it and try to eliminate any defects, any mental errors and then we’ll select a team for Saturday."

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 09, 2014

News, notes and quotes from Al Golden's press conference regarding Canes QBs, Muhammad and more

Hurricanes coach Al Golden hosted his weekly press conference Tuesday and discussed many topics.

His thoughts on Saturday's opponent Arkansas State: "This is a three-time conference champ. Really good, very active team. Very aggressive team. Special teams are excellent right now. Got a couple blocks. Their net punting is excellent. Field goal kicker [Luke] Ferguson is doing a great job. They'll throw some exotics in there. They'll make you work on the special teams. We're working very hard on that.

"On offense, everything starts with [quarterback Fredi] Knighton for them. The best quarterback, runner we've faced. We're going to have to be disciplined in the pull game, read option game. But he can throw it. He does do a good job throwing it. He'll get the ball on the perimeter. They'll move the pocket with him. That's what makes him difficult. They have a good running back in [Michael] Gordon. And this [J.D.] McKissic is just catching a ton of balls. They want to score. They want to go high-tempo. They make you want to cover sideline to sideline with the perimeter game and move the pocket. Getting the screen game to the perimeter, make you run. It's going to be a great challenge on that side of that ball. We're going to have to be disciplined in our ability to tackle the quarterback inside. Also, set good edges and tackle them in space. When they get in space they're very difficult."

"On defense, top 20 in a lot of different categories. I think they're number three in turnovers and sixth in sacks. Everything for me starts up the middle. Safeties all veterans, all starters, very active. Very good tacklers. Number 48 [Qushaun] Lee all the accolades precede him as we enter the game. You see why. Body strong just like Denzel [Perryman]. Strong, physical inside, yet fast enough to run on the perimeter. I really like what they're doing in the front. [Defensive lineman Dexter Blackmon] is really strong. He does a good job for them. Just a good active defense. I think eight returning starters. It's going to be a great challenge for us. Obviously they went into Knoxville and gave them everything they can handle [last Saturday]."

> Golden was asked if he will stick with Brad Kaaya at quarterback when Ryan Williams comes back.

"I'm not really going there," he said. "Right now Ryan is really doing well. He's really getting into shape. His movements are progressing. Separate deal right now. When that time comes then we'll deal with that competition and the reps and all that. Right now it's Brad and Jake until that time. We're just talking about something that's not part of the equation right now."

Golden said there are no thoughts at the moment for having Williams seek a medical redshirt. 

"That's not part of the discussion right now with him. His job is to get back," Golden said. "He's been working his tail off. Let's just see where that goes. But as of right now, Tuesday that's not part of the equation right now. As soon as we cross that next hump and we feel he can protect himself from a blitz, from all different angles and not have to premeditate where he's going and just react to it. And we all feel good about it. He feels good. The doctor feels good. [Offensive coordinator] James [Coley] feels good. Then we'll take that next step. But that's not in the discussion right now for sure. It's not on the table."

> Where does Golden think Kaaya needs to improve most? "There's a lot of different areas," Golden said. "For me to go into his deal would be like giving the game plan away. There's certain things we need to see him do a better job on. His poise is really good. His line of scrimmage demeanor is really good. We snapped the ball three times -- maybe four -- on them last week to get them offsides and I think only one time we got them offsides. That was the one we completed to Herb [Waters]. The other ones weren't very good. One resulted in a holding pattern. One resulted in an incomplete. The other in an interception, which kind of got him off track a little bit.

"We all have to do a better job. We have to protect better, catch the ball better. But there's certain things in terms of his mechanics and just trusting his feet. That's probably our biggest focus that I can share with you."

Is Kaaya holding onto the ball too long as offensive coordinator James Coley suggested Monday?  

"Again, James and I watch it all together," Golden said. "To me it's just what I said in terms of trusting his feet. So when his feet say it's time to get rid of it that means we got to go. From the second to third or third to fourth progression. A couple times the other night was really the first time we saw it. He started to scramble laterally rather than just trusting his feet and get it to his outlet whether it was his tight end or his back."

> Golden said it's been his decision to hold defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad out of UM's first two games. "Again, he's sorely missed," Golden said. "He's a great kid. He's one of our leaders. He's a competitor. So, again, it's a difficult situation and we're all just letting it run the proper course or proper channels if you will."

> Quarterback Kevin Olsen, suspended for the first two games, is third on the team's depth chart Golden said. Golden wanted to make it clear Olsen was "just paying for his sins awhile back."

"The suspension did not -- because it happened now -- doesn't reflect all the growth that he had," Golden said. "I just want to make sure we're clear on that. He's had a lot of growth here in the last half year, certainly the last four months. He's making a lot of progress and hopefully Kevin can continue to do that for us."

> Golden said he will redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier. As for other players who will redshirt, he's not ready to tie anybody else down because injuries can happen. 

"For a lot of the other guys it's too early," Golden said. "It's such a long season. I think you guys know there are some that haven't participated. The inference there is coach is leading toward redshirting. But for all those guys for me to come and say wholesale you're all redshirted, it's just too early. We got so much. We haven't even started the ACC Coastal yet in terms of that. So we have a long way to go from that standpoint."

> Receiver Stacy Coley was held out of Tuesday's practice to get treatment on his right shoulder. Coley wasn't targeted with any passes Saturday against Florida A&M and Golden said he would have a better idea Wednesday if Coley will play against Arkansas State.

> The Hurricanes have netted seven sacks, but no interceptions. Golden, though, isn't concerned. "We got to catch the ones they throw us," he said. "If we had a bunch of drops I would be worried. I'd like to have some interceptions. I just don't want to blow it out of proportion because we haven't had a lot of opportunities and we haven't dropped any or things of that nature. Certainly there's a couple in there we have to have a better break and make a play on the ball for sure."

> The right side of Miami's offensive line continues to be a work in progress. Golden said starters Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois are splitting reps with Alex Gall and freshman Kc McDermott at right guard and right tackle respectively this week in practice.

"I'm seeing a good competition," Golden said. "It will resolve itself. They will all get better in the process. We'll see who the starters are come Thursday. We'll have a good idea. Felt like Shane and Jon and Ereck had a good practice today and we got to keep developing Hunter Wells, Trevor and Nick. We got a good group. They're getting a lot of reps. We just got to keep moving him forward."

> Junior college transfer Michael Wyche is getting in better shape according to Golden. He played against Florida A&M and is pushing starter Calvin Heurtelou and freshman Courtel Jenkins for playing time at defensive tackle.

"For all that he was behind he's starting to catch up," Golden said of Wyche. "The good news there is that position looks a lot different. There's a lot more depth and we're getting a lot more factors, a lot more plays than we have been. That's positive. But there's no question the three of them are fighting like crazy for playing time right now."

> Golden said long-snapper Ronnie Regula has not lost his starting job after his bad snap led to a touchdown against FAMU Saturday. "I have a lot of confidence in him," he said. "Hadn't seen it before, hadn't seen it since. He went back into the game and to his credit  fired one back after that. It happens. Disappointing. But, Ronnie's doing great with it and has been doing great."

> Did anybody earn more playing time after Saturday's performance against FAMU?

"Stan Dobard for sure," Golden said. "Stan is really doing a good job especially at the point of attack. Braxton [Berrios], Joe Yearby for sure. I think Kc McDermott and Alex Gall both did a nice job. Herb [Waters] continues to do a good job. We got to get him to push Phillip [Dorsett] and Malcolm [Lewis] for playing time. On the defensive side, [Jermaine] Grace for sure. Grace prepared really well and deserves more playing time. Jamal Carter played better. So again, I think he'll be fighting even more now with Dallas [Crawford], Nantambu [Fentress], Deon [Bush at safety]. Darrion Owens did some really good things. That was good to see. Somebody mentioned Chad earlier. For sure, Chad. Grace really prepared hard for that game. Really prepared hard and it showed on game day. That's good."

> Not many kids in high school play in a 3-4 scheme. Has adjusting to UM's defense been difficult for some young guys?

"I wouldn't say it's complex," Golden said. "I think we're playing cohesively right now. We're unified. As I look around college football, every week whether it's Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or just go around everybody is playing the same defense right now. Everybody is playing a 3-4 - whether it's a 4-3 playing odd fronts or a 3-4 playing even fronts. We've kind of morphed into 3-4 personnel that's playing a lot kick down fronts throughout the game as far as zone pressures and things of that nature. The way it is in college football anymore with the read option or the pull game, a lot of people are playing odd fronts. The NFL is doing that as well versus those quarterbacks they're seeing. In terms of it being difficult. It's not difficult. Everybody has to communicate and be on the same page. And we got a great challenge this week for our defense. We better be on the same page. We better have two quarterback players. We better leverage the scheme game and perimeter game. And we better make tackles in the open field."

> What did Golden have to say about UM President Donna Shalala's impending resignation at the end of the 2014-15 school year?

"It's a sad day," Golden said. "Donna has been nothing but embracing for me and my family since we've been here. You kind of grow close with somebody when you go through the adversity we went through together. That was not an easy time for her or for me. I said during that time I don't know how you can have a better leader in your corner during that adversity. What she has done here speaks for itself. It's amazing. It's an amazing University. The campus is incredible. That's her legacy. Her legacy is all around us. We should all be so lucky to leave that kind of legacy. Just watch out whoever she's going up against next. Whether it's in politics or whatever. She's a competitor. She's brilliant. She can cut through it, makes things simple. Obviously somebody that will be missed here."

September 08, 2014

Safety Kiy Hester is given his release from Miami Hurricanes

  UM football coach Al Golden announced after Monday’s practice that freshman safety Kiy

Hester was released from the football team.

 “He’s got a personal issue at home,” Golden said. “In fairness to the kid, I want to leave it at that.

Kiy is a great kid. He’s got an issue at home that he’s dealing with and we released him.”

Hester was a 4-star recruit out of DePaul Catholic High in Wayne, N.J. before enrolling at UM in

May. The release now allows him to transfer to another school closer to his home.

*** Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who has not participated in either of the

team’s first two games, was seen at practice on Monday as a full participant.

*** Also a full participant in practice Monday was Denzel Perryman (shoulder), who left Saturday’s

game against Florida A&M early. Receiver Stacy Coley, also dealing with shoulder issues, was wearing a

red no-contact jersey.

*** Golden said that receivert Rashawn Scot (clavicle) is making progress in recovery from an injury

in camp.

“I don’t think it’s going to be this week, but he’s got a chance moving forward,” he said.

*** Braxton Berrios earned an orange jersey – worn by team leaders on offense – for practice

Monday after his six-catch, 63-yard game on Saturday. Also wearing orange was Duke Johnson,

Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers and Shane McDermott.

*** The defenders wearing black jerseys at Mondays practice were Denzel Perryman, Thurston

Armbrister, Anthony Chickillo, Deon Bush, Dallas Crawford and punter Justin Vogel.

DAVID FURONES

September 06, 2014

Notes, quotes and observations following Miami's 41-7 win over FAMU

In the five days since the Louisville loss, Hurricanes fans and former players  unleashed quite a bit of venom. The complaints: poor offensive play-calling, shaky offensive line play, and scheme adjustments that have long been needed on defense.

It’s hard to tell if Saturday night’s 41-7 win over Florida A&M will get them off the coaching staff’s back considering there was a mixed bag of results against a Football Championship Subdivision team.  

But some observations and reactions nonetheless:

> The Hurricanes started the same offensive line Saturday they did at Louisville, but right tackle Taylor Gadbois was replaced on the third series by freshman Kc McDermott. The two split series the rest of the way before the second and third team made its way into the game to end the third quarter.

UM, which ran for only 90 yards at Louisville, finished with 198 yards on the ground and Joe Yearby shined in the second half (95 yards on 14 carries).

The Canes had their best success running the ball in the first half behind its veteran left side of the offensive line. Duke Johnson ran behind left tackle Ereck Flowers and left guard Jonathan Feliciano when he broke free on a 55-yard run. Gus Edwards later scored on a 15-yard run behind that same side. It looks like when the Canes to run it will be behind those guys.

> Freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya took deeper shots downfield than he did at Louisville, but wasn’t always sharp. He threw two interceptions and finished 12-of-22 for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He is building some nice chemistry though with freshman receiver Braxton Berrios. The two connected on a big fourth down conversion in the second half.

“I thought Brad made some really nice throws,” coach Al Golden said. “I think it's unfortunate we snapped the ball three times thinking we had them offsides. One was incomplete. The other was an interception. That wasn't good there.

“We like to keep the ball outside the numbers there on the go route [on the interception intended for Herb Waters]. He brought it inside, brought the corner into the play. But there were some heck of a throws there too. I thought we did a pretty job protecting him versus all the zone pressure. Brad is going to continue to make progress and grow.”

Kaaya loves throwing to Berrios. Even though Berrios was still recovering from his ACL injury when Kaaya arrived in late May and the two didn't start working together until July, Kaaya said of Berrios: "Braxton is a really good man-to-man receiver. He's a good route runner. He's a guy that I look for on third down if it's man coverage. This is a guy I can really rely on."

> Junior cornerback Tracy Howard and senior Ladarius Gunter were beaten in coverage in the secondary. It wasn’t the result of playing far off the line of scrimmage. Both simply lost their receivers downfield. Miami fans won’t be happy to know linebacker Raphael Kirby was lined up against a slot receiver on third down early in the game (a constant complaint). UM didn’t get burned though on the play.

Coach Al Golden seemed pleased with the defensive effort overall. UM held FAMU to only five first downs, 25 yards rushing and 89 passing. 

“Last week we had 72 plays,” Golden said. “That's probably 800 reps. Out of those reps on defense we only had 15 mental errors. They challenged each other this week to have less than that. They're cohesive right now. Everybody is fitting in the right gaps. We let up a couple deep ones we got to do a better job of playing the ball down the field. But we're keeping the quarterback in the pocket. We're tackling better. The defensive line -- we're playing more of those guys and getting more production for sure.”

> Receiver Phillip Dorsett was impressive. He had three catches for 44 yards and scored twice. He caught Kaaya’s first touchdown pass from four yards out and then split two defenders in the back of the end zone to make a diving 32-yard touchdown catch late in the first half.

"I know I had a post [route], and I thought because of the look they gave, I thought the play was dead," Dorsett said. "I wasn’t supposed to get the ball on that play. When I saw the ball go up in the air, the only thing I thought was I was going to catch it. No matter where I am, no matter who hits me, just catch the ball.”

What did Dorsett think stood out for Kaaya Saturday? “I would say his poise," he said. "He looked like he was ready this game. We made a pact as an offense…to not let the defensive players touch him this game. He looked a lot more comfortable back there. We said we were going to rally around him, because he’s our quarterback, and that’s what we have to do.”

> Sophomore Walter Tucker became the first Hurricane since Devin Hester (2005) to play on both offense and defense in a game. Tucker saw action at middle linebacker when Denzel Perryman left the game in the third quarter.

> Golden said Perryman, receiver Stacy Coley and Duke Johnson were all held out. He doesn't think there are any injuries. Perryman was standing on the sideline with ice on his right shoulder.

> Golden said quarterback Kevin Olsen, the starter leaving the spring after the Ryan Williams injury, is done serving his suspension.

> Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad did not play, but was on the sideline in uniform.

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. FAMU Rattlers

The Canes (0-1, 0-1 ACC) are set to kickoff their home opener against the Florida A&M Rattlers (0-1) at 7 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

Feel free to participate in our cover it live discussion.

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes vs. FAMU: Sep. 6, 2014
 


Can't see the live blog? Click here

September 05, 2014

UM & FIU's first game back together at Sun Life Sept. 22, 2018

 The Hurricanes and Golden Panthers are officially back to being buddies.

UM and FIU's second post-brawl football game (and first since 2007) is set for Sept. 22, 2018 at Sun Life Stadium, where the Hurricanes will be the host.

The second game, in which the Panthers will be host, is at a site to be determined in November of 2019 -- possibly Marlins Park.

Athletic directors Blake James (UM) and Pete Garcia (FIU) joined their school's presidents -- Donna Shalala (UM) and Mark Rosenberg (FIU) -- at the press conference this morning at the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence on UM's campus.

No other sports have renewed competition between the schools, but James and Shalala said the schools intend to initiate that as soon as possible. James called it "a partnership in all of our sports going forward scheduling competitions.

"While we don't have other dates to announce in other sports today, Pete [Garcia] and I have agreed that in all of our programs, we will continue to work to schedule each other, because of our belief in the great things it brings to the student-athletes at both Florida International University and the University of Miami."

  No UM teams currently play FIU teams.

  Garcia said the 2019 game site is still open. He said Sun Life Stadium and Marlins Park are options. 

"...To schedule a crosstown rival is something that makes sense for us,'' James said. "In a day and age where expenses in college athletics continue to escalate, one of those big expenses being the cost of travel, from a financial perspective, this was a relationship that I thought made a lot of sense on many different levels."

   Garcia noted that the financial arrangement between the two schools is "basically reciprocal. I know for football it's $500,000 when we play at their place and $500,00 when they play at our home place. Basically, the financial arrangements are going to be a wash. But the benefit is all the travel and getting on a plane and hotel rooms, and everything else, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings for each institution, where we could better utilize that money on our student athletes.''

     Said Shalala: "President Rosenberg and I have spent a lot of time selling Miami as a great college town and this is just another step in that direction. We already cooperate on community health care initiatives with Jackson Memorial Hospital and we collaborate on the study of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union among other things. ...Our community expects this of us.

  "This is a great college town but the colleges and universities working together is important to our community and therefore I'm absolutely delighted that our crosstown sister institution and the University of Miami will be playing each other, not just in football but in other sports.

  "I want the whole community to embrace the pride that we have in intercollegiate athletics in doing the right thing in our communities. And we hope that the community and the fans and the alumni will attend the matchups. We expect to be able to fill the stadiums..."

  Rosenberg echoed those sentiments.

  "President Shalala and I both know this is what the community wanted. We're universities that are family oriented and community centered and there's nothing better than to renew this incredible rivalry, this incredible relationship in this way. Everywhere you look in this community you'll see evidence of the presence of the University of Miami and FIU, and there's no reason we shouldn't have this collaboration in this form."

   Garcia, who graduated from UM and worked there as a senior associate athletic director and recruiting coordinator, said the two schools will also  "partner up and talk and try to bring events down to South Florida, whether it be an NCAA basketball regional, or whatever it is, we'll work together to bring more events that this community can be proud of. This will be for all our sports.'' 

  The last time and second time the two football teams ever faced each other, in 2007, UM defeated FIU 23-9 in the orange Bowl.

 The first time they played each other, in October of 2006, UM won 35-0. The story, however, was a massive brawl that eupted with nine minutes to go in the third quarter. The game resulted in the dismissal of two FIU players, indefinite suspensions of 16 FIU players, one-game suspensions for 12 UM players and one indefinite UM suspension.  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

September 04, 2014

Live Canes chat today at 1 p.m.

LINK TO CHAT PAGE

September 03, 2014

Canes defensive effort at Louisville "a floor" and "a good place to start" but not elite

Denzel Perryman gave me a look like he had seen an alien.

Was this the best defensive effort you guys have put forth in a while?

"It was pretty impressive, but I don't think it's the best we've ever played," Perryman said giving me that look. "Last year when we played Florida we had errors in that game as well, but we got the ball back a lot. This game, I was impressed with the defense. We just have to improve in our pass coverage."

Impressive is probably the right word to use, but only because we're comparing it to the nightmarish defense the Canes have played over the last two seasons.

On Tuesday, the day after Miami's 31-13 loss to Louisville, coach Al Golden threw the word "elite" around after he said the defense forced three-and-outs on half of the dozen series they were in on. Truth is it was five three-and-outs (two count were first play turnovers). But we got his point. It was elite for the Hurricanes. They don't usually get off the field quickly.

Coach Mark D'Onofrio's group gave up 24 points, 336 yards (206 passing, 130 rushing) and 21 first downs on 71 plays. Louisville piled up 17 points and 157 of those yards on their final three possessions. Miami's offense controlled the clock for only 14 plays and 5 minutes and 59 seconds during that stretch.

Last year, against seven FBS winning programs (and we're assuming Louisville will be one this year to make the comparison), UM's defense gave up an average of 35.9 points, 509.3 yards (295 passing, 214.9 rushing) and average of 25.2 first downs.

So, by the numbers alone the Canes were vastly better (11 points, 173 yards and four first downs fewer) against Louisville than they were against winning teams last year. Miami never produced more than two sacks against those aforementioned winning teams last year. They had four Monday night. 

UM also forced two fumbles deep in Louisville territory. UM didn't force any turnovers against Virginia Tech, Duke and Louisville -- their last three losses of the season.

What did Mark D'Onofrio think of his defense at Louisville? He called it "a floor" and "a good place to start." And I agree.

"The first game there's always positives and things you could have done better," he said. "At the end of the day we didn't do enough to win the game and that's really what my assessment is.

"But from a positive standpoint obviously [five] three-and-outs out of 12 series is really good. And two of them one-and-outs, you know. That's what we want, take the ball away. So that part was good. 

"I thought the tackling was good... especially for an opener. That's a good place to start. Again, those things should be improving every week. I thought the defensive line played well. Things that have to improve, the third down defense and red zone defense, giving up touchdowns. We want to give up field goals down there, get takeaways. That has to improve. And we had an opportunity in the fourth quarter we had them second and long, let them off the hook, didn't get the ball back. That's kind of a rough overall assessment."

D'Onofrio said he played nine defensive backs, nine defensive linemen and five linebackers. He saw fewer mental errors.

Among the first timers to see real playing time were defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins and Calvin Heurtelou, defensive ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris and linebacker Darrion Owens.

"To get those guys in in that environment is a real plus for us moving forward," D'Onofrio said. "[Anthony] Chickillo I thought played a really nice game, really did a nice job. [Ufomba) Kamalu I thought played the best he played this year including the scrimmages. I thought the nose tackles really gave us some good play - Calvin and Courtel were kind of a two-man deal in there. Calvin got 36 snaps and Courtel had 26 in his first game. And I thought they showed up, you know. They were physical at the point of attack, pushed the pocket in the pass game and made some plays. Courtel split a double team on the first play of his career, made a play. So as far as the D line goes, those are the guys that stood out.

"And then Perryman and [Thurston] Armbrister at linebacker. And [Deon] Bush and Dallas Crawford in the secondary. Antonio Crawford I thought played a good game as well. Those are the guys that stand out to me."

 > So why are guys like Tyriq McCord at the rush linebacker spot still dropping into coverage? 

"Those guys have certain drops but they're never the deep player," D'Onofrio said. "It just all depends on the coverage and what the receivers do. Sometimes they have a responsibility where they have to take a wheel route, those sort of things. But they're always an underneath defender if we're dropping in zone."

> How close is Mike Wyche to getting on the field to provide more depth at defensive tackle? Not close enough for D'Onofrio's taste. "At the end of the day, he's on the clock," D'Onofrio said. "He got here and his weight has come down and he's got himself in a better position. But he's got to continue to learn and continue to get in shape."

> Golden said Wednesday Miami's offense was "22 points below where we want to be at a minimum."

If Brad Kaaya and Duke Johnson and the rest of Miami's offense can put up 35 points a game they should win a lot of games with this better version of a defense. Remember I said better. Not great or elite.

Practice after opening loss: "Good,'' but "disappointment" & "a lot of regret''

University of Miami football practice was affected because of a lightning delay Wednesday, so reporters did not have the customary 15 minutes of viewing.

However, UM did try to get us out there, and while we were waiting to see if we could get through the gates to Greentree Field, I did notice that as far as I could see, there were no Hurricanes in the orange jerseys that are given to players on offense who are doing well or considered first-teamers.

Please note that we were standing very far away, but I did not notice anyone in orange.

I did notice a few players in the coveted black jerseys given to outstanding defensive players. The few I noticed included safety Dallas Crawford, defensive end Anthony Chickillo, safety Deon Bush, linebacker Thurston Armbrister and tackle Calvin Heurtelou. There might have been more.

 After practice, Al Golden spoke to us for about five minutes.

InsidetheU reported Tuesday that freshman safety Kiy Hester, who had to go back home to Wayne, NJ to tend to a family matter that apparently involves an illness, would be seeking a release from UM to transfer somewhere closer to home -- possibly Rutgers. 

When asked about the situation, Golden said, "Kiy Hester is working through a personal problem and I’ll release that when…it’s a personal family deal. When we have resolution there, I’ll release that.”

Golden was then asked, Is there a chance he could leave the program?

“He’s got a personal issue,'' the coach said. "In deference to him and his family, and respect that, and that’s it. I can’t say it enough. I know you guys have to chase down rumors. I don’t like to deal in the rumor world. When it’s official one way or the other, we’ll make an announcement or go from there.”

As for defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who did not play Monday, I saw him in uniform at practice speaking with defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.

Golden has not elaborated on the talk about Muhammad possibly being suspended for Louisville. The coach was asked Tuesday in the day-after teleconference if a report that said Muhammad did not play against Louisville "because of a conduct issue that needs to be resolved" was accurate. 

Replied Golden: “That was my decision not to play him last night. As I say, with all these instances, if a young man is going to be suspended or is suspended from the University or athletic department it will come from [the sports information office] or it will come from [athletic director] Blake James. … I have a responsibility that we handle everything the right way. It was my decision not to play him. If there’s anything from a suspension standpoint we will release it to you guys.’’

I asked D'Onofrio today if he expected Muhammad to play this Saturday.

 “I’m not going to comment on that,” D’Onofrio said.

 I asked the coach how Muhammad is doing in practice.

 “He’s doing great.”

 Golden said the Canes' first practice Wednesday since the game was "good,'' but there was plenty of regret.

  "You know they left plays out there, so however that manifests itself – whether it’s  regret, disappointment, not discouragement, but there’s disappointment; there’s a lot of regret... Duke’s long catch, first-and-goal there; so, that’s three first-and-goals inside the 10, right, and I think we got three points out of that; kickoff returns – one guy out of the lane and a safety go back door on us; there are other plays, obviously, but those ones bring the most regret, for sure.’’

   Talk about regret, we talked to senior defensive linemen Shane McDermott (center) and Jon Feliciano (left guard) about the deficient play of the offenseive line. They were not happy about it.

   "We just didn't execute,'' McDermott said. "They played a great game against us. We just had to execute better.''

   Feliciano: "They just beat us. They did better than we did. We lost the game for our team. That's the first time since I've been here that I feel like we were the reason we lost.''

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

September 02, 2014

Canes freshman QB Brad Kaaya talks about his first college start

Canes freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya finished 17 of 29 for 174 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in Miami's 31-13 loss to Louisville on Monday night.

Here is what he talked about when it was over...

Q: What was it like?

A: "I felt that the first few series they were pretty good series. We just didn’t execute as a whole. I felt like there are a lot of places to get better at just in every position."

Q: Did you feel overwhelmed at any time?

"No, not at all. I was in the game." 

Q: How do you rate your performance?

A: "There are always things to get better at. I did some good things. I did some bad things. But I just feel like there are always places to improve." 

Q: How did it feel to play a college football game?

A: "It felt good. I mean, it’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was 5 years old. It felt pretty awesome. Win or lose, it still felt good to get out there."

Q: What is the next step for you?

A: "Just go back and watch film and see what we all need to get better at, myself included." 

Q: What did it mean for you to win starting job?

A: "For me, all the other quarterbacks I competed with, they’re all great quarterbacks. It felt good that coach was confident in me and my ability to help us win and I thank him for that." 

Q: Was it more than you dreamed of when you arrived or you wanted to be starter?

A: "I always planned to be the starting quarterback. I never really second-guessed myself. That was my goal."

Q: What did Louisville do well against you guys?

A: "They just played hard. They just played physical. They brought some late blitzes on us. But outside of that they just played as hard as possible." 

Q: Talk about the pass to Stacy he fumbled and lost inside the 20?

A: "All I saw was they were still moving guys on and off the field. They had, I don’t know how many guys were on the field. But there was one guy out there. We tagged a quick hitch pass. It was a little low and that killed the momentum right there." 

Q: Did you think you’d get the flag? Is that why you rushed it?

A: "Yeah, I mean I just wanted to get the ball out. they were shuffling guys on and off the field. There were still guys running on and running off. I just wanted to get out there. There was one cornerback standing there and no one else."

Q: Did anyone say anything to officials that they had too many guys on field?

A: "I don’t know." 

Q: Your first touchdown pass -- how did it feel?

A: "It felt good to get the first one out of the way. Of course I wanted to score many more, throw many more touchdowns. That’s my plan."

Q: You had success with the play action pass with Clive Walford and Phillip Dorsett

A: "I just feel like after awhile they keyed on Duke a little bit and I felt like that opened up some guys downfield. He’s such a good athlete that a lot of guys attract to him."

Q: The eight, nine guys in box for a lot of the game, how tough did it make it?

A: "It was pretty hard. They came out with some funky coverages and alignments. They game-planned well."

Q: Was there a lot they did you didn’t expect?

A: "No. We came in with our gameplan. It was all what we expected but we just had to execute."

Q: Any former Canes reach out during the week? 

A: "No one really. I just talked to my parents and friends of the family."

Q: Coach said he expects you to progress. How does it go for you now preparing?

A: "I think just playing my first game I feel like it’s good to get the feeling. I’ve never played a college football game before. Just good to get that feeling. Game day is a lot different from practice. There are a lot of things you learn in the game that you can’t really experience in practice because you haven’t played yet. I feel like over the next couple days and the next couple of weeks that will help me."

Q: Does anything change with your preparation?

A: "Nope. There’s a plan, coach got it and we all stick to it."

Post-game audio, quotes from Canes coach Al Golden following the Louisville loss

AUDIO: AL GOLDEN RECAPS MONDAY NIGHT'S 31-13 LOSS AT LOUISVILLE

Q: What do you make of the way Brad Kaaya played tonight?

A: "He's a tough kid. He's courageous. Tough environment for him to open up his career. I don't think we did a good enough job protecting him. Obviously, he made some good throws, and some that, clearly, he would want back. So again, it's a tough position for him to be in, but I think he's going to make a lot of progress in the next four or five days. He's going to learn a lot from that -- being in that environment, being in that experience. Again, we didn't do a good enough job protecting him. We did not do a good enough job protecting a first start quarterback." 

Q: With the veterans on the offensive line are you surprised that they didn't protect Brad enough?

A: "Again we go right to the offensive line. There's more to it than that. There's a multitude of reasons. Whether its running backs, the offensive line, maybe just a couple different times calling a different play. Secure protection a little bit better. As I just told the team, too many errors in that game against a good team in a tough environment to win. That starts with me. Everyone has to be accountable. We all have to look in the mirror, take care of business, watch film and take care of business." 

Q: They were putting eight, sometimes nine guys in the box. That had to make a difference correct?

A: "We knew it was coming. Obviously, they were going to go after Brad with that. We were starting to find some cracks in there. We just didn't finish good enough. And  then they started to get the lead and move ahead. Defense got us the ball twice within the ten. We didn't convert there. Then we had an illegal man downfield on the play that Duke gets us inside the five. Then they return a kick. So it's tough to overcome those errors, plus some of the other penalties. Plus we weren't good enough on offense." 

Q: How much did the coaching staff have to squeeze the playbook because Kaaya was young?

A: "There are no excuses. They played better than we did. We didn't execute and the thing that's disturbing as the head coach are just errors that we haven't seen -- like the illegal man down field on the Duke pass. On Brad's lateral throw. Again, he's a very bright kid. So he just saw man uncovered out there and he kind of rushed the pass and ended up throwing it backwards. Again, really bright kid. Sees it. Just made an error on the throw. Obviously we had a chance to score points there and we did not do that. That was tough."

Q: Third down conversions continue to be a problem.

A: "It's just a totally different scenario and a different team now so I think we need to focus on what we are doing now with Brad. Again, I thought that they did an excellent job of stopping the run early in the game and forcing us into some third and longs. Then we got behind and you're playing catch-up. It's hard to convert in those situations. We didn't convert in the short yardage play. That was disappointing. Again, no excuses. We have a lot of things we need to fix starting with me and the coaches. We'll start on that here tonight on the way back and get with the guys on Wednesday. We don't have a lot of time to sit around. We have to get better."

Q: Duke and the running game got better in the fourth quarter.

A: "There were stretches on defense too. Again, when you talk too much after a loss like that you end up saying the wrong things. That's the truth. There's a lot things in here we can build on. But, just too many errors to overcome in an environment I don't think they've lost but once in the last couple years."

Q: How is Denzel Perryman doing?

A: "It was a cramp. He should be okay. I think right now we're healthy. But we'll see."

September 01, 2014

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Louisville Cardinals

LOUISVILLE -- It's Game Day!

The Canes are 3 1/2 point underdogs against Louisville, who shredded them 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December. But things have changed quite a bit in the nine months since.

Please feel free to participate in our Cover It Live discussion when it starts at 7 p.m. here on the blog. Kickoff is at 8 p.m.

 

Live Blog Miami Hurricanes at Louisville Cardinals
 

August 31, 2014

Breaking down Monday night's Canes opener at Louisville on paper

A look at Monday night's showdown between Miami and Louisville on paper.

> WHEN THE CANES RUN THE BALL: The Cardinals led the nation in rushing defense last season (80.69 yards) and held the Hurricanes to a season-low 14 rushing yards on 28 attempts in a 36-9 blowout in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Part of those abysmal numbers were attributed to four sacks on Canes quarterback Stephen Morris. Monday night's matchup will be a little different for a pair of reasons: Duke Johnson will get a crack at the Cardinals (he was injured for the bowl game) and Louisville is replacing seven starters on defense. UM returns three starters on its offensive line -- left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jon Feliciano and center Shane McDermott. In addition to only having two returning starters in the front seven, Louisville has switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Homestead High graduate James Burgess Jr., whose father played for the Hurricanes, and Miami Norland grad Keith Brown, a former teammate of Johnson's state championship team in 2011, are the two returning starters at inside linebacker for Louisville. Former defensive ends Deiontrez Mount (6-5, 243) and Lorenzo Mauldin (6-4, 252) are starting at outside linebacker. If UM wins this battle they’ve got a chance to win the game. Edge: Even.

> WHEN MIAMI THROWS THE BALL: Brad Kaaya will become only the second true freshman quarterback in the last 35 years to start for the Hurricanes in a season opener. The good news for Miami: he's got a strong cast of receivers loaded with experience including the speedy Phillip Dorsett, who didn't play in last year's bowl game. Louisville has to replace two starters at safety including Jets first round pick Calvin Pryor. But there is speed and plenty of talent from South Florida around including former Miami Central standout Charles Gaines (22 tackles, 5 INTs in 2013), senior Andew Johnson (Miami Southridge), junior Gerod Holliman (Southridge) and freshman Trumaine Washington (Killian). In the bowl game, Louisville held UM to a season-low 160 yards passing. I expect a better game for the Canes throwing the ball because of Johnson's presence in the backfield alone. But this is still a tough spot for Kaaya. Edge: Even.

> WHEN LOUISVILLE RUNS THE BALL: The Cardinals bring back four starters on the offensive line: 6-4, 304-pound right guard Jake Smith (38 career starts), 6-2, 312-pound left guard John Miller (34 starts), 6-6, 326-pound left tackle Jamon Brown (27 starts) and 6-5, 305-pound right tackle Ryan Mack (12 starts). With Teddy Bridgewater scorching the Canes for 447 yards and three scores in the bowl game, bruising tailback Dominique Brown (6-2, 241) didn't have much of the workload on his shoulders. He was still limited to 42 yards on 16 carries as the Hurricanes held Louisville to only 107 yards on the ground, one of their better performances of the 2013 season. Leading tackler Denzel Perryman has moved to  middle linebacker for the Hurricanes, who will rely upon him plenty to anchor a run defense which hasn't been very good for awhile. If new Louisville running back Michael Dyer (5-9, 212) is healthy enough to play he probably tips the scale the Cardinals way. Edge: Even.

> WHEN LOUISVILLE THROWS THE BALL: New sophomore starting quarterback Will Gardner threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville's spring game and with offensive guru Bobby Petrino now in charge the feeling is the Cardinals won't skip a beat without Bridgewater. As ESPN analyst Lee Corso says -- not so fast my friend. Leading receiver DeVante Parker, who scorched Miami for nine catches, 142 yards and a touchdown, will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season with a broken bone in his left foot. That puts the onus on senior Eli Rogers (Miami Northwestern graduate) and tight end Gerald Christian to step up against the Hurricanes, who finished 59th in opposing quarterback rating last season. Except for injured safety Rayshawn Jenkins, UM returns its entire starting secondary and is hungry to make up for last year's bowl embarrassment. Edge: Even.

> SPECIAL TEAMS: Both teams have plenty of explosiveness in the return game. Cardinals punter Ryan Johnson, a three-year starter, averaged 41.2 yards a punt and had 11 land inside the 20 in 2013. Kicker John Wallace connected on 20-of-24 field goal attempts and was a perfect 9-for-9 from 30-39 yards. He is a perfect 16-of-16 for his career from that distance. UM's new punter is sophomore walk-on transfer Justin Vogel, who has yet to punt in a college game. Kicker Matt Goudis is back after going 13-of-17 on field goals in 2013, but he's not 100 percent healthy. Edge: Louisville.

> COACHING: Whether he's been at Louisville, Arkansas or Western Kentucky, Petrino's offenses have always been among the nation's best. He's 83-30 in nine seasons as a college head coach and inherits a program for the first time in his career that is already good. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spent his last four years at Georgia where the Bulldogs averaged 33 sacks a season over the last three years and ranked in the Top 36 in scoring defense every season but last. Canes coach Al Golden (58-53 in nine seasons) brings back all but one coach from last season and finally has the NCAA cloud in the rear view mirror for the first time in his tenure in Coral Gables. In the end, Petrino's track record is better than Golden's and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. Edge: Louisville.

PREDICTION: Louisville 34, UM 27

August 30, 2014

UM finally says QB Kevin Olsen suspended for Louisville -- and some "extremity" information.

The Hurricanes sent reporters this email a little bit ago:

Good morning,

Here is the University of Miami football injury report heading into Monday’s game against the University of Louisville.

Out:

Rashawn Scott - Upper Extremity 

NOTE FROM SMD: Translation: shoulder/clavicle.

-----

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

Kevin Olsen – Suspended for Violation of Team Standards.

NOTE FROM SMD: We've known this for several weeks now, but I'm glad UM finally announced it. The "Team Standards'' part is a new phrase. Also, we reported that this suspension is for "at least'' one game. The next couple of games (Florida A&M and Arkansas State) are at home and should be a lot easier, before the Canes travel for Sept. 20 game at Nebraska.

 Also, I find it curious that quarterback Ryan Williams is not on the injury report. I know he's traveling, and I guess he'll dress out, but wouldn't they say he's "Out?'' if he absolutely, positively could not see any action. At this point I have no idea. I do not think Ryan Williams will play, or is ready to play. 

 Coach Al Golden told us yesterday that Ryan was going "for leadership, and he knows the offense better than anybody so he’s good to have on gameday.''

 And we had this conversation with Ryan earlier in the week, when a reporter asked him if any games were ruled out by the doctors. 

Williams: “I mean, I tried my hardest to be ready for this game. I guess it wasn’t physically possible. I’m just going to take it week by week and when I can come back, I will.”

No specific date then?

Williams: “No specific date, no.”

Stay tuned.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

The freshman QB experience and where Brad Kaaya fits into college football and UM history

ATLANTA -- The average college football fan hears the term "freshman starting quarterback" and hardly flinches anymore.

After all, look at what Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston did in their first years under center. They  won the Heisman, and Winston led Florida State to the national title in January.

But lumping every freshman starting quarterback into the same category is a mistake. And that certainly applies for University of Miami freshman Brad Kaaya, who will make his debut Monday night at Louisville and join Jacory Harris (2008) as the only the true freshmen over the last 35 years to start the season opener for the Hurricanes.

Ken Dorsey didn't do it (he started the last three regular season games as a true freshman). Jim Kelly didn't do it (he made his first career start in the eighth game of the season at Penn State). And Bernie Kosar didn't do it. He, like Winston and Manziel, had the benefit of a redshirt season to learn Miami's offense before leading UM to its first national title in 1983.

Kaaya obviously won't have a year of apprenticeship under his belt. And unlike a bunch of other true freshmen who have found their way under center recently throughout college football, Kaaya doesn't even have the added experience of having enrolled early and participated in spring football.

He's only been at UM since the end of May when the first session of summer classes began in Coral Gables.

Over the last five years, a total of 34 true freshmen have started a game and attempted at least 100 passes for a school in a major conference (FootballStudyHall.com did the research from 2008-2012 and I looked up last year's numbers). Of that group, only nine started the season opener. The majority of those true freshmen enrolled in college early including two of the three who did it last year -- former Texas Tech walk-on Baker Mayfield (who has since transferred to Oklahoma) and Cal's Jared Goff.

Penn State's Christian Hackenberg, who started all 12 games for the Nittany Lions last year as a true freshman and went 7-5 as a starter before being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, enrolled in college in late June. He might be the only example of someone who got into school later than Kaaya and started right away.

While Winston, Manziel, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Boise State's Kellen Moore, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, Georgia's Aaron Murray, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota all had tremendous success as redshirt freshmen, most true freshmen have endured growing pains.

The good news for Kaaya -- and Miami fans -- there is some history of true freshmen having success.

Back in 1985, Jamelle Holieway became the first and only true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title after being pressed into duty when Troy Aikman was lost for the season in a 27-14 loss to the Hurricanes in Norman.

More recent examples include:

> Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor took over as the starter three games into the 2008 season and went 8-2, completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,942 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished with a quarterback rating of 145.6. Pryor was not an early enrollee.

> Baylor's Robert Griffin III enrolled early in college and put up a quarterback rating of 142.0 after coming off the bench four drives into his first season and taking the starting job from there. Baylor went 4-7 with Griffin, who threw for 2,394 yards and 28 touchdowns and eventually went on to win the Heisman a couple years later.

> USC's Matt Barkley led a top five-ranked team in 2009 from the start to a 9-3 record. He completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns and 2,697 yards finishing with a QB rating of 131.3. Barkley was an early enrollee. 

> Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater started the final 10 games of his true freshman season and went 5-5, completing 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards, 14 TDs and 12 picks. Bridgewater was an early enrollee.

> In 2009, Rutgers' Tom Savage started 11 games and went 8-3, completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 2,106 yards and 15 touchdowns. Savage was an early enrollee.

> And just this past year, Texas Tech started a pair of true freshman -- Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb -- and went 8-5. Both were early enrollees. 

> Houston's John O'Korn, a former St. Thomas Aquinas standout, meanwhile, took over as a starter three games into the 2013 season and went 6-5. He was the named the American Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Year after setting the Houston freshman record for touchdowns (28) and completions (259). O'Korn was a summer enrollee.

Something else for Kaaya can lean on aside from history: his backups.

Seniors Jake Heaps and Ryan Williams both started as true freshman for BYU and Memphis, respectively. Heaps became the starter the fourth game of the season and went 6-4. Williams became the starter the third game of the season and went 1-9.

What has coach Al Golden told Kaaya to do with all the hype surrounding his start opening night?

"Just keep ignoring, keep blocking it all out," Golden said. "I think he's mature in that sense. He'll do it. Again, expectations are just like what they sound -- external.

"He's playing to a standard right now and not really worried about anybody's expectations. He competed everyday for the starting job. He won it outright. I think that's all he's worried about it -- performing and taking care of all the little things as we get closer to the game. We need the whole offense to rally around him and keep him poised, keep him relaxed and not worry about the outside."

August 29, 2014

Which QBs are making the trip to Louisville? Al Golden's last pregame chat.

Just spoke to Hurricanes coach Al Golden before the Canes close up shop (at least from the media) and get ready to head to Louisville for the big game at 8 p.m. Monday.

What you need to know:

*** The four quarterbacks making the trip are starter Brad Kaaya, backup Jake Heaps, Ryan Williams and true freshman Malik Rosier. "

   Golden said Williams, still recuperating from a torn ACL sustained in early April, is traveling "as a captain and leader, that kind of role,'' Golden said. "...Ryan is there for leadership and he knows the offense better than anybody so he’s good to have on gameday."

*** The freshmen playing special teams will include Trayone Gray for starters, and "Oh, my goodness, there’s a whole bunch of them --[Ryan] Mayes for sure, Darrion Owens, Juwon Young -- God, there are so many.''

  Golden was then asked if Tyre Brady would play special teams? "They’re on the depth, whether or not that actually unfolds on game day…  Brady’s ready, [Darrell] Langham’s ready.. right now they’re all traveling. we’ll evaluate all that tonight, select the final traveling squad, kind of set the depth and go from there."

  ***Walter Tucker will get in the game at fullback and on special teams, and maybe on defense.

    Golden: "The order for him will be fullback, special teams and then defense. He’ll definitely see action on offense and special teams and he’s close on defense. That selection is going to be made here, to be honest with you based on how he and Juwon performed and then who won the special teams jobs. That’s how we’ll work that."

 *** Golden is still not revealing the starters at right tackle, cornerback and safety.

  On right tackle -- "[Jon] Feliciano can play out there, [Taylor] Gadbois can play out there, [Trevor] Darling can play out there and [Kc] McDermott can play out there. We’re going to keep rotating all those guys out there. There will be probably two in the game at that position.''

    And safety? "That will be determined out here. It would be silly of me to sit here and select it right now without making sure I go back and evaluate the tape and give everybody a fair opportunity."

   How did Gadbois look?  "Taylor looked much better. There’s really good competition there. Nobody can relax. I thought [right guard] Danny Isidora has had a good week. Obviously the center [Shane McDermott] and left guard [Feliciano] and left tackle [Ereck Flowers] have been really experienced veterans for us. I think all the guys contributing at right tackle are doing well, it’s just hard to figure out who’s the starter and who’s going to come in next."

  *** Kicker Matt Goudis was never in the punting competition because of his back ailment earlier in the summer, but Justin Vogel earned the kickoff spot because he's been better in practice.

    "We pulled him back from punting because of that,'' Golden said of Goudis. "And to be honest with you, Vogel has been doing better at kickoffs right now. He’s healthy now. There was some weakness. I expect him to be ready to go game day. Everybody is behind Vogel right now at kickoffs."

   ***Nantambu Fentress, as defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said recently, is playing safety now and special teams. 

 *** Receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder/clavicle) went to the doctor recently, but Golden gave very few specifics on his recovery status.

   "He’s doing good,'' the coach said. "I don’t know what his recovery. I know he just met with the doctor and they said he’s recovering well. What that means I don’t know. So it would be crazy for me to comment on it."

  That's it, folks. Have a happy weekend enjoying all that football. Can't believe it's back!

   The Hurricanes are now officially in hibernation until Louisville.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN   

August 28, 2014

Canes notes: Vogel wins punting job, will handle kickoffs too; Chickillo talks Louisville rematch (video)

Al Golden (COMPLETE AUDIO OF GOLDEN'S PRESS CONFERENCE THURSDAY) wasn't ready to reveal a final depth chart or tell us who has won the remaining position battles up for grabs (secondary, right tackle), but we did learn Thursday at least who will be handling kickoffs and punts.

Walk-on sophomore Justin Vogel, a transfer from Florida, said Golden informed him a couple days ago he'll be handling punts at Louisville Monday night. Vogel said he also climbed to the top of the depth chart -- the one only players and coaches have had a chance to see -- on kickoffs.

"I've always been No. 2 on kickoffs, but I had a really good day on Tuesday," Vogel said. "I had always been hitting them here and there. But then we did our game plan, scheme and I just hit a couple of really good kicks. Coach [Golden] was like do it again the next day. So I replicated it again. That moved me up to first team."

Freshman walk-on Michael Badgley is backing Vogel up on kickoffs. Redshirt senior Ricky Carroll is behind Vogel on punts.

"They judge all of it," Vogel said of the competition for the kicking jobs. "First off [on punts] they want to make sure the operations aren't slow. No matter how good your kick is if the operation is bad you're kick is getting blocked. So it has to be off under in under two seconds. Coach Golden wants is 43 yards, 4.3-second hang [time]. I've been averaging around that. I've kicked better than that too."

GOLDEN TALKS TEAM

> So what is happening with some of the remaining position battles yet to be determined?

"We're still going," Golden said. "For some of them it's too early to call. I like our depth at a lot of positions. Obviously some of them are settled like Denzel [Perryman] and Chick [Anthony Chickillo]. But if you look at the back four, the secondary, those guys are fighting. Thurston [Armbrister] has had a good camp, [Raphael] Kirby seems to be back now from his ailment. On the other side [Taylor] Gadbois and KC [McDermott] and Trevor (Darling) are all still in the mix at tackle. We'll see more of [Chris] Herndon and Jake O'Donnell now and Ron Regula as a third or fourth tight end. The tailbacks are the same as all camp and Brad [Kaaya]. We'll probably play six or seven wide receivers as well."

> Golden yet again reiterated that sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad will play in Monday's opener. Muhammad was back at practice Thursday morning after missing Tuesday's practice to deal with what Golden referred to as a personal issue.

> Golden said the only freshman who will be counted on in a major role is quarterback Brad Kaaya

"The last few years we were counting on so many young guys before they had the opportunity to learn the system or ready to go. We're playing a lot of young guys but they're not in significant roles, they don't have to shoulder the burden," Golden said. "Obviously Brad is the one outlier in this instance. The good news with Brad is he has a veteran line in front of him, a nice complement of veteran guys."

Asked if there is plan to play senior transfer Jake Heaps, Golden said: "No."

Asked if Kaaya struggles if Heaps would replace him, Golden said: "No. He's our quarterback. He's going to do great, execute really well, has been doing really well. Brad's worked really hard over the last 16 weeks, has earned this job and that's it. There were no qualifiers here ever. He's the exception this year in terms of a freshman that has to start."

What is it about Kaaya that gives Golden so much confidence in him? "I don't know," he said. "All I can say is really sharp. First of all not many mechanical flaws. And then the young man went and lost 20 pounds so you weren't dealing with mechanics and something physiological in terms of condition. And whatever he learned via videotape or book transferred to the field spatially, conceptually. Plus a young man who's a great example for everyone else. He gave up a lot socially, a lot of his time to continue to work hard, ask the right questions, fix his flaws. He has a long way to go as a quarterback, as we all do, but he really worked hard mentally and physically to put himself in this position."

Did Golden think Kaaya would start from Day 1? "No," he said. "We thought he'd compete, but we took a lot of roads since April 4 [the day Ryan Williams tore his ACL] to get to this point. I sleep well at night knowing we have two guys we can run at quarterback right now without Ryan being in the mix yet."

> On Wednesday night Miami landed a commitment from Kaaya's former high school teammate, four-star offensive tackle Bar Milo. Golden was asked how having a kid like Kaaya helps UM's recruiting efforts.

"Your greatest recruiters are the young men that are in your program because they're the ones that know how you treat them every day, what the values are," Golden said. "When you start getting that endorsement, the testimony they give to the local kids, that gives a lot more weight than any feedback a coach has in a recruiting setting. It's good. We're seeing more of that. Guys are proud of what we're building at the University of Miami. It's exciting for us."

VIDEO INTERVIEWS

> I was able to catch up with Vogel and defensive end Anthony Chickillo and record their interviews on video.

Chickillo talked a lot about facing Louisville's offensive line which returns four starts, game planning for new coach Bobby Petrino's offense and what it's going to be like facing a Louisville team that trash talked a whole lot in the bowl game.

August 27, 2014

Another "Welcome to the U:" Kaaya 4-star OT teammate commits

The Brad Kaaya pipeline is paying dividend for the Miami Hurricanes.

West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade four-star offensive tackle Bar Milo – class of 2015 – committed to the University of Miami on Wednesday night.

Kaaya, the true freshman starting quarterback for the Hurricanes, recently graduated from Chaminade.

Milo, 6-6 and 300 pounds, told Rivals.com on Monday that “regardless of where I commit I promised my parents I’d keep my recruitment open and not be fully committed. But where I commit, that’s where I plan on going. I’d just stay open.’’ Milo added that “he’s taking into consideration’’ that his parents don’t want him to go too far from home.

His other finalists were Washington, Nebraska and ArizonaState.

Milo attended ‘U’ Day on an unofficial visit Aug 10. He watched the Canes practice and told 247Sports.com that Kaaya was “fantastic. He only says good things about Miami – how fantastic he’s been treated and how it’s a family atmosphere. He thinks it would be a great fit for me.’’

Milo is ranked the 32nd best offensive tackle by Rivals and the 26th in 247Sports’ composite rankings.

He is the seventh offensive lineman to commit for 2015, a class that now has 23 commits, according to 247Sports. On Tuesday, Under-Armour All-American kicker Andrew Galitz decommitted from Miami and committed to Baylor.

“I have officially decommited from the University of Miami,’’ he posted on Twitter. “I would like to thank the coaching staff for recruiting me.’’

If he follows through and signs with UM, Milo would be the third Hurricane out of West Hills Chaminade. Kicker Matt Goudis also went there.    

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Hot off the press: ACC announces '15 men's hoops schedule

ACC Announces 2015 Men's Hoops Schedule

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami opens it 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against reigning league champion Virginia on Jan. 3 in Coral Gables, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced today.

 

In the 2014-15 campaign, Miami will host three Atlantic Coast Conference opponents that finished in the Top 25 in 2014, including preseason No. 7 North Carolina (Feb. 28), league newcomer No. 10 Louisville (Feb. 3) and No. 12 Virginia (Jan. 3). The Canes will travel to preseason No. 2 Duke (Jan. 13) and No. 21 Pittsburgh (March 4).

 

“The ACC in my mind is the best basketball conference in the country. Every night you are playing against a Top 20 or Top 10 team in the country,” said Larrañaga. “Whether you are at home or on the road, you had better be at your best, or you will be defeated.”

 

Miami will play eight games on the ESPN body of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU), one game on CBS, three on the ACC Network and six will be aired on the ACC’s regional sports network (RSN), which consists Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Florida, Sun Sports, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Midwest, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, NESN, YES Network, MSG Network and ROOT Sports.

 

“We have such a demanding non-conference schedule because of the number of games we are going to play in such a short period of time. We are going to find out right away how well prepared we are for the ACC,” added Larrañaga. “This is going to be a very challenging team with nine new players. They are going to be asked to bond and play well together very very quickly. That’s why the trip to Spain was so important to us.”

 

The Canes start the conference season with two at home and two on the road, as UM hosts Virginia Jan. 3 on ESPN 2 and Boston College (Jan. 10), then hits the road for a pair of ESPN or ESPN2 televised matchups against Duke (Jan. 13) and Notre Dame (Jan. 17). Following a home outing against NC State on Jan. 22, Miami travels to Syracuse, N.Y. to face the Orange on Jan. 24, a game that will be on ESPN or ESPN2. Miami wraps up the month with a home matchup with Georgia Tech on Jan. 28.

 

The Canes play nine games in February, five of which are at the BankUnited Center. UM opens the second month at Florida State on Feb. 1, then is in Coral Gables Feb. 3 and Feb. 8 to face Louisville and Clemson, respectively. Miami’s next three of four games are on the road as the Canes go to Wake Forest (Feb. 11) and Boston College (Feb. 15), are home for Virginia Tech (Feb. 18), then travel to Louisville Feb. 21, for an ESPN or ESPN2 game. The Canes conclude the home portion of the schedule with home matchups against Florida State (Feb. 25) and North Carolina (Feb. 28).

 

Miami’s two games in March are on the road, as the Canes play at Pittsburgh (March 4) and at Virginia Tech (March 7).

 

The ACC Tournament will be held at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum March 10-14.

 

In 2015-16, Miami will play home and away against Virginia, Florida State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech and will host Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. UM will play on the road against North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Boston College that season.

 

The 2014-15 season will be the first year of a 12-year schedule rotation during which teams that are not partners play five years at home only, five years on the road only, and two years both home and road. The past two conference schedules were “one-offs” due to an increase from 16 to 18 conference games and conference expansion, respectively.

 

This season will mark the third in which each ACC team will play an 18-game conference schedule. With Louisville joining the ACC on July 1, nine of the conference’s 15 teams will enter next season having made postseason appearances in 2013-14, including seven teams that took part in NCAA Tournament play this past year.

 

The ACC’s collective non-losing streak in the NCAA Tournament reached 27 years in 2013-14, by far the longest stretch in the nation. The ACC has had at least one team ranked among the Top 10 of the final Associated Press poll for 54 consecutive years.

 

For the latest information on the Miami Hurricanes, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @CanesHoops. For the most accurate and up to date information delivered to your phone, download the official Miami Hurricanes app for your Droid or iPhone.

 

Date

Opponent

Location

TV

Time

Nov. 6

Eckerd College (exhibition)

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 14

Howard

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 17

at Florida

Gainesville, Fla.

ESPNU

7 p.m.

ESPN Charleston Classic (Charleston, S.C.)

Nov. 20

Drexel

Charleston, S.C.

ESPNU

3 p.m.

Nov. 21

Akron/Southern Cal

Charleston, S.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 23

Penn State/South Carolina/Cornell/Charlotte

Charleston, S.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 25

at Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C.

TBA

TBA

Nov. 28

South Alabama

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 2

Illinois

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPN2/U

9 p.m.

Dec. 6

UW-Green Bay

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 8

Savannah State

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 19

Eastern Kentucky

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Dec. 22

vs. Providence  (at Barclays Center, N.Y.)

Barclay’s Center

TBA

TBA

Dec. 30

College of Charleston

Coral Gables, Fla.

TBA

TBA

Jan. 3

Virginia

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPN2

2/4:30 p.m.

Jan. 10

Boston College

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

4 p.m.

Jan. 13

at Duke

Durham, N.C.

ESPNU

9 p.m.

Jan. 17

at Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Ind.

ESPN/2

2 p.m.

Jan. 22

NC State

Coral Gables, Fla.

ACCN

8 p.m.

Jan. 24

at Syracuse

Syracuse, N.Y.

ESPN/2

4 p.m.

Jan. 28

Georgia Tech

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

9 p.m.

Feb. 1

at Florida State

Tallahassee, Fla.

ESPNU

12:30 p.m.

Feb. 3

Louisville

Coral Gables, Fla.

ACCN

8 p.m.

Feb. 8

Clemson

Coral Gables, Fla.

ESPNU

6:30 p.m.

Feb. 11

at Wake Forest

Winston-Salem, N.C.

RSN

7 p.m.

Feb. 15

at Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

ESPNU

6:30 p.m.

Feb. 18

Virginia Tech

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

7 p.m.

Feb. 21

at Louisville

Louisville, K.Y.

ESPN/2

2 p.m.

Feb. 25

Florida State

Coral Gables, Fla.

RSN

9 p.m.

Feb. 28

North Carolina

Coral Gables, Fla.

CBS

2 p.m.

March 4

at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pa.

RSN

8 p.m.

March 7

at Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Va.

RSN

Noon

ACC Tournament, Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

March 10

First Round

 

 

 

March 11

Second Round

 

 

 

March 12

Quarterfinals

 

 

 

March 13

Semifinals

 

 

 

March 14

Finals

 

 

 

 

 

-www.HurricaneSports.com-

 

Al Golden just spoke on ACC Coaches' Teleconference. Here he is...

You guys have two prime-time games in first 20 games of season. In recruiting how much do you still talk about Miami being a national brand and obviously somebody that is still attracted to networks?

GOLDEN:  “From our recruiting realm, young people understand that and the high school communities around the countries understand that. That’s one of the reasons that we can still attract nationally, but yet at the same time make sure we’re paying close attention regionally and locally for sure. In terms of our guys on the team, they’re just focused on this week and worrying about Louisville. The rest of it will take care of itself.’’

 How is Duke Johnson doing? Is he ready for Louisville?

 GOLDEN: “Duke has been doing good. He’s had a great recovery. There are no signs of fatigue or anything. He’s much stronger. He’s retained his quickness, he’s posted his fastest 40 since he’s been here back in July. Duke is ready to go.”

 NOTE: Golden also talked about Brad Kaaya being the starter and all the veterans he has around him.

 Al, a couple of your players have told the media down there they felt disrespected by the way Louisville played the second half of the game, maybe thinking they ran up the score. Do you find any sense of extra motivation from players given what happened at the bowl game?

 GOLDEN: “No, not at all. Louisville played really well. They had an exceptional team. They only lost a couple times in two years. That was a great team [that] played really well. But no, in terms of our program and their program, this is a different team for both and clearly we have to take care of our business, not worry about anybody else’s.”

 When Golden was asked about what it was about Kaaya’s play since beginning of August that made him decide to go with him as his quarterback, he said, “His completion percentage was excellent. He did a great job at the line of scrimmage. That’s probably where we got the most confidence from him, just his overall depth and understanding of what we were trying to get done and his ability to get us in the right play at the line of scrimmage. Without that, it would be hard to name him the starter. But he certainly demonstrated to us all training camp that it certainly wasn’t going to big for him and we’re excited for him.’’

 From what you’ve seen of Petrino offenses in the past on film, what is it about that Petrino system that makes them traditionally so prolific with him as the coach?

 GOLDEN: “He does a great job, no question about it, with multiple formations and tempo, high completion percentage and probably what goes under the radar the ability to run the football in addition – a two headed monster if you will. Those are things we have to adjust to and be prepared for going into this game.’’

 The defense this year has looked really good this year in camp, despite having a few younger players. What are your expectations of the defense and how good can the unit be this year?

 GOLDEN:  “That’s the challenge we have to answer. We can talk about it all we want, but at the end of the day there’s a great challenge. I thought they improved in the spring, I thought they started to play together a lot more. I thought there was more harmony. I think our tackling was better. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about going out there and proving it and what better opportunity [than] to go against a prolific offense that Louisville has.’’

 Any plan for which players on the right side of the offensive line will start and what rotation will be used?

 GOLDEN: “Danny Isidora, a young man who played for us [at right guard] last year, he’s been the starter since spring there. That hasn’t changed. And then Taylor Gadbois, Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling, all of those guys have seen action at right tackle and we’ll let that play out this week to see who the starter is.’’

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

August 26, 2014

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino talks injuries, Canes, Kaaya, Duke and more

Louisville's pre-game press conference took place Tuesday afternoon and he are several topics coach Bobby Petrino touched on related to the Hurricanes before Monday night's opener.

> Louisville's best receiver DeVante Parker, injured in practice last Friday, will miss Monday's game after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot. Parker is expected to miss six to eight weeks. 

“He’s a tremendous player, and what we just have do is guys have to step up and perform. I think we’re fortunate in the situation we’re in that we have a lot of experienced players. We’ve got Eli Rogers, we’ve got Michaelee [Harris], we’ve got Kai De La Cruz, Matt Milton, James Quick, guys that have played in games and made plays. And certainly they’re all going to have to contribute, we’re going to have to rely on our tight ends and running backs, so you’re never going to replace a guy like DeVante with just one guy. You’ve got to do it collectively with all the weapons that we have stepping up and making more plays.”

Will the injury to Parker restrict Louisville's offense?

"It’ll change things around. I don’t know if restriction is the right word. Certainly when you miss a guy like that, we’re going to be a little bit different. Like I said, we’re not going to have one guy step in and say “OK, you’re now DeVante.” We’ve got to be able to utilize the weapons that we have, the things they do well, mix the ball around, get guys in a position where they can make plays.”

> The health and availability of running back Michael Dyer (bruised quadriceps) remains in question. “Michael has not progressed as well and we had th0ught he would initially. He still has some swelling in there, he’s not been able to get back out on the field yet. I think here, today, tomorrow are big days to see if he’ll be available for the game. He has made progress and he has gotten better, particularly the last part of the week last week, but we’re yet to see if he’ll be available for the game.”

> Petrino said he and his coaching staff have gathered plenty of film on freshman starting quarterback Brad Kaaya.

“We’ve got his high school film," Petrino said. "We studied his high school film. He’s a big guy, he makes a lot of good throws, he looks like a guy that gets the ball out of his hand quick, has a quick release. In the video that we watched, he’s not like a run-around guy and he’s more of a pocket passer. But he was impressive in his high school video.”

> Louisville didn't face Duke Johnson in last year's 36-9 blowout win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They will this time.

“He’s a really good player,"  He’s somebody that we have to contain. We’ve got to do a good job of setting edges with our outside linebackers and defensive ends. Our safeties are going to have a to do a good job coming downhill and tackling, and we’ve got to get 11 guys to the ball. I think that’s the biggest thing when you watch him is that we’re going to have to run full speed to the ball because he’s a guy that can take it the distance.”

> Would Petrino rather be coaching the losing team in a bowl game rematch?

“No I would rather be coaching the team I’m coaching right now. And I wasn’t part of that either," he said. "I think that’s the thing that we’ve tried to make sure our players understand. They’re two completely different teams. We have a different offense, different defense, they have a different quarterback. They do have the same defensive coordinator and some of the same guys back on defense. But it’s totally two different teams, and it’s going to be a battle. We have to go out there and perform well, play with great intensity and try to find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter.”

Canes DE Quan Muhammad misses practice Tuesday to deal with personal issue, Golden said

Sophomore defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, expected to be one of the team's top pass rushers this coming season, was noticeably absent from Tuesday's Hurricanes practice.

But there is no reason for fans to be alarmed. Apparently, it wasn't unexcused.

"He's got something on campus he's dealing with right now. It's personal in nature," Golden said. "We'll have him back here by [pause] he's probably in class right now."

Will Muhammad play in the opener? "Absolutely," Golden said. 

MORE NEWS AND NOTES FROM TUESDAY

> Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen (6-3, 200) was out there in a scout team jersey. So, no, he hasn't transferred.

> A total 15 players on offense were wearing orange jerseys (designated for starters): tight ends Standish Dobard and Clive Walford, running backs Gus Edwards and Duke Johnson, fullback Ronald Regula, receivers Malcolm Lewis, Phillip Dorsett and Stacy Coley and offensive linemen Kc McDermott, Shane McDermott, Jon Feliciano, Trevor Darling, Ereck Flowers, Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois

> A total of seven players on defense were wearing black jerseys (designated for starters): Cornerbacks Corn Elder and Ladarius Gunter, safeties Nantambu Fentress and Dallas Crawford, defensive linemen Olsen Pierre and Anthony Chickillo and linebacker Denzel Perryman.

> Junior defensive tackle Corey King remained in a yellow non-contact jersey. He was in one Monday, too.

> Gadbois, competing for the starting right tackle job with freshman Kc McDermott, said he took all the first team reps Tuesday with McDermott backing him up. It was the first time this week Gadbois said he took all the reps. McDermott and him had been splitting the reps.

"I assume the battle never stops," Gadbois said. "I'm just going to keep pushing forward with what I've got to do. I took all the reps with the ones and he took the reps with the twos [Tuesday]. Whatever. Coach's call. But like I said when we go to Louisville I'll be the starter."

> The cornerback position continues to be a hot battle.

Corn Elder said he continues to get most of the reps at field corner with Tracy Howard working in with him. At the boundary corner, it's Ladarius Gunter leading the way with Artie Burns getting some reps. 

"I think a lot of guys are getting used to competing and not worrying about the end result," Golden said. "They're just trying to get better. Obviously our team will get better if we keep doing that. We have a group there -- certainly five -- we'll rotate into the game and a lot of guys fighting for that nickel spot too."

> Quarterback Ryan Williams will travel with UM to Louisville, but won't play. Williams, who said his surgically repaired right knee was about 85 percent on Monday, has not been cleared for contact, Golden said, but "he's cleared to progress what he's confident with." 

"To say he's ready for middle dog blitz at him or the ability to step up with somebody coming at him those are all things that have to be determined by the doctor no question about it," Golden said. "He's making progress. We're pleased with how he's progressing. But at the end of the day it's going to be a medical decision and a decision Ryan has to make in conjunction with the medical staff, training staff and his family."

August 25, 2014

Backups Williams, Heaps talk and more notes from Canes practice

A day after it was announced true freshman Brad Kaaya had been named Miami's starting quarterback, the guys backing him up -- seniors Ryan Williams and Jake Heaps -- talked about the situation.

> Asked if Kaaya was keeping his seat warm, Williams smirked and said: "I mean, they couldn’t sit around and wait for me, I guess. I’m hurt. I didn’t think I was going to play Week 1. Didn’t really expect to. The recovery’s been a long time, but it’s still been faster than a lot of people. They had to move on. They couldn’t wait around and see if I could play or not. Glad for Brad. He had a great camp. I think he’s very smart. I think he can get the job done.”

Williams, who started as a true freshman for Memphis back in 2010 and lost 56-0 at Louisville during a 1-11 season, will be making the road trip with the Canes next week even though he won't be physically ready to play. Coach Al Golden said he's taking Williams because he wants his leadership there.

With redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen suspended for at least the opener, freshman Malik Rosier will also probably be making the trip, Golden said, as the team's third quarterback behind Heaps.

“It’s a big confidence-booster," Williams said of being on the travel roster. "Just means that I’m there to help my team regardless of the situation. Even though I can’t play, I’ll still be there to talk with Brad on the sideline and the other players on the sideline regardless of what happens.

“I did a lot of that last year. Me and Stephen would talk about everything, every drive, every play, really. So I don’t expect any different this year.” 

> Williams said his surgically repaired right knee is about 85 percent. In camp, Williams participated in 7-on-7 work and "did a little bit of team stuff one day," but he still hasn't been into full-speed reps very much.

Williams said he is "just trying to get moving on it and throwing on the run and getting the cutting down and all that stuff” and hopes to get into more team drills soon. But there is no timetable for a return. 

> Heaps, who transferred in from Kansas with the hopes of being Miami's starting quarterback when Williams went down in April, said Monday he's not considering transferring after losing out to Kaaya. 

"I'm happy to be here," Heaps said. "I don't have regrets being here. This is a great opportunity and we'll just see what happens the rest of the season. All we know is we're getting ready for game one and we're excited for it.

"For me, it's just about keeping my head up,  just continuing to work hard and practice hard and be a team guy. When my team needs me I'll be ready. That's all I can do at this point."

Heaps missed UM's second scrimmage with what Golden said was elbow soreness. But it appears it was a little more than soreness. Williams called what happened to Heaps "an unfortunate accident in practice."

Still, neither backup quarterback said they felt Heaps missing the scrimmage factored into Kaaya winning the starting job.

"It wasn’t like my arm got tired or anything like that," Heaps said. "I won’t really get into the details of it, but it was something that I just needed to have some time to recover from.

"So I don't think [that was a factor]. I think it was over a period of camp and a full evaluation. I don't think one day makes or breaks you. But me not being out there, I would have loved to be out there with my team and be in the game situation and compete out there. It would have been better than not being out, but I don't think it was the deciding factor."

Said Williams: "I didn’t think it really hurt his chances. Brad had a great camp, it wasn’t like he was given it for no reason.”

MORE NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden said sophomore walk-on Justin Vogel, a transfer from Florida, had a really good day punting Monday. It appears safe to say he's leading in the race for the job over senior Ricky Carroll. Vogel apparently is also impressing on kickoffs.

"It comes at a good time," Golden said "Tomorrow is a big special teams day."

> Six players on the offensive line -- including sophomore Taylor Gadbois -- were wearing orange starter jerseys Monday, and Golden said he isn't sure who is going to be in the starting five. 

"But I feel like we have a rotation now," Golden said. "Kc [McDermott] is making progress. Alex Gall is making progress. Trevor Darling. We're definitely in a better position than we were at the beginning of camp and certainly coming out spring ball. 

Golden said a lot of jobs will remain up for grabs all the way up until Saturday's practice. 

"A lot of those jobs -- it's all the game within the game," Golden said. "You guys maybe don't see the guy coming in on short yardage and one guy leaving. Well that job is up for grabs. Goalline that job is up from grabs. On the nickel those jobs are up for grabs. Those are all different jobs on defense. Offense the same thing. 21, 12, 11, 10 personnel. Empty package. Those are all up for grabs. We have a long way to go -- five more practices -- before that."

> Tight end Clive Walford said the veterans in UM's offense are all pushing to make Kaaya feel more comfortable in the huddle. 

"He's still kind of young," Walford said. "We're all trying to teach him when he calls a play in the huddle to make sure everybody knows the play, and before he snaps the ball to make sure everybody is set and the guys in motion are in motion. We're trying to stay on top of him with that. As soon as he messes up in the huddle the veteran guys correct him."

> Why does cornerback Tracy Howard think Kaaya won the starting job?

"I think it's his pocket presence," Howard said. "He has great footwork in the pocket. He has a natural feel. He does a great job stepping up and avoiding defenders in the pocket. He makes great decisions. You can't beat a guy who makes great decisions. He rarely makes bad decisions. I feel like before he'll throw an interception he'll throw it away. I just feel like he makes great decisions with the ball. He moves the ball down the field. He moves the sticks."

How is Kaaya's arm strength compared to Stephen Morris? "I feel like he's got good strength and he can get the job done. They're starting him for a reason. I feel like his strength is up to par."

Is Howard nervous about starting a true freshman at quarterback opening night? "No. I'm not nervous," Howard said. "I feel like he goes up against a good defense in practice every day. I feel like he handled himself very well. Not saying sometimes we didn't get the best of him. But he goes out there and makes plays. I feel like if he can do it against us he can do it against defense in the country."

> Even though freshman Darrion Owens is wearing a black jersey in practice, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said nothing is official yet in terms of him getting the starting nod over Thurston Armbrister at strongside linebacker. 

> D'Onofrio said Antonio Crawford, Howard and Corn Elder are the three players competing at nickel corner. "We’ve got some flexibility there as far as the combination there," he said. "Obviously they all play corner as well."

Early morning Monday for Miami Hurricanes

The Miami Hurricanes were already doing their walk-through by 7 a.m. this morning.

Afterward, we got to watch the first 15 minutes of practice. 

It's definitely game-week for the opener a week from tonight at Louisville, but it's also something else today for the Hurricanes: the first day of college classes.

Think Brad Kaaya, the new starting quarterback, has a lot on his mind?

Coach Al Golden was on the Joe Rose show on 560 WQAM this morning, and said he wanted to get a really early start for the kids today so they could have the whole day in front of them to focus on school.

 How much do you think they think about school during the day, vs. football?

 Anyway, you don't have to answer that.

Here's who I saw wearing the orange jerseys, in no particular order, for the offense (orange signifies first-team or the players who most recently performed well): RB Duke Johnson, OT Kc McDermott (he has been playing first-team RT), OG Danny Isidora, RB Gus Edwards, OT Taylor Gadbois, OT Ereck Flowers, WR Malcolm Lewis, FB Ronnie Regula, TE Standish Dobard, TE Clive Walford, WR Stacy Coley, WR Phillip Dorsett, C Shane McDermott, LG Jon Feliciano.

 Here's who I saw wearing the black jerseys, in no particular order, for the defense (black signifies first-team or the players who most recently performed well): DE Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE Anthony Chickillo, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Raphael Kirby, LB Darrion Owens (Al Golden lauded him today on the radio), S Dallas Crawford, CB Corn Elder, DT Olsen Pierre

  Glad to see S Deon Bush (green jersey, for defensive players who aren't in black) without any type of limited (yellow) jersey on. Deon has had his share of injuries over the past couple seasons and he is a real talent. He just needs to stay healthy.

  Also glad to see Gus the Bus in orange for the second consecutive day. He's a bull, and Canes need him to perform, too.

 A new player who is being added to the roster is Collin Alford, a running back who will wear No. 45. He played for Miami Columbus High (two-time All-Dade selection) and the Fighting Falcons of Fairmont State University in West Virginia (at least in 2011 and 2012), from what I looked up.

 ***TE Beau Sandland is transferring, according to Palm Beach Post, and even though Golden didn't respond to the question, saying he'll address the situation as soon as he talks to Sandland, it appears to be true. Sandland was not at practice this morning. That leaves Clive Walford and Standish Dobard as the go-to tight ends. 

** Kind of felt bad for Jake Heaps this morning. OL coach Art Kehoe was giving him crap for not getting a play off fast enough in very early drills. I like Heaps and I thought he'd be named the starter. But I have to give kudos to Al Golden and James Coley for not going the safe route and choosing the guy they think is ready for the moment.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

 

August 24, 2014

Brad Kaaya new starting QB for Miami Hurricanes

A true freshman will lead the way.

Finally, a week and a day before the University of Miami season opener at Louisville on Labor Day night, coach Al Golden named a starting quarterback -- and that quarterback is 18-year-old Brad Kaaya.

"Brad Kaaya will be the starter,'' Golden said, calling the decision "close'' as reporters began immediately posting the news on Twitter. "Jake understands exactly what he needs to do in terms of getting ready and supporting Brad, and Brad knows that the competition is going to continue.

   "We've got a long way to go in terms of the season. There's competition at every position.
   "It was a tight battle. It was a battle that none of us, including you guys, could have foresaw at the end of June or beginning of July or maybe even at the beginning of camp. I'm excited about that position.

   "In Ryan [William's] absence, those two had a great battle. Kevin Olsen really improved, so I'm excited about him. But right now, Brad nudged out Jake and he's our quarterback.''

   Golden said he made the decision this morning and told the media after practice Sunday that Kaaya "nudged out'' graduate transfer Jake Heaps, 23, who played his first two years at BYU, transferred to Kansas and spent the next two years there, and transferred again this summer to Miami.

  Kaaya will not be made available to the media until after the Louisville game, which is the usual policy for freshmen who haven't played  in a game. Heaps and Ryan Williams, who were both requested by media members, however, also were not made available to the media Sunday.

 

    UM offensive coordinator James Coley said the decision had nothing to do with the injury (elbow) that kept Heaps out of the second scrimmage.

  "I thought that Jake did a great job this camp and I just thought that, you know, Kaaya towards the end here really pulled away and started getting really comfortable, and like I've been saying, he's not your regular freshman, right?'' Coley said. "He's not a freshman anymore, he's the starting quarterback at the University.     "He's really embraced it. There's no hiccups.

   "It was tough early coming in. Down maybe the last eight to 10 days you saw him get a lot [more] comfortable out here with the players and with the speed of the game.''

   Kaaya, 6-4 and 206 pounds, is from West Hills, Calif. and was an All-American at West Hills Chaminade College Preporatory.  Kaaya led Chaminade to a 23-3 record as a starter and threw for a school-record 3,855 yards during a state-championship senior season, and has impressed everyone this fall camp.

Heaps, 6-1 and 210 pounds, came out of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., as a Parade All-American ranked the nation's No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com. He completed 219 of 383 passes in all 13 games his freshman season at BYU, good for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns, with nine interceptions, setting nearly every BYU freshman record.

But last season at Kansas he completed only 49 percent of his passes for 1,414 yards, with eight touchdowns and 10 picks.

  Golden said Kaaya "has come along great'' in terms of progressing with his communication skills and being more vocal. "He's really maturing. We're putting him in a tough environment every day in terms of the music [UM blasts at practice]. I think the biggest thing now is to get him to... because we don't have our whole offense in for the opener, he'll improve by leaps and bounds in the next three or four days."

 What was Heap's reaction?

  "They were both very positive,'' Golden said. "I don't want to get too much into the personal stuff in terms of protecting our privacy. But obviously both are really positive guys, they've been great the entire competition and they know it's an ongoing thing. It's all about performance and execution. That's where we are today. Brad is the starter going into the opener and Jake knows he needs to support the starter and get ready to go.''

   What does this mean for Williams, the fifth-year senior who would have been the starter had he not torn his ACL in April?

   "Ryan, as I said all along, that's a medical issue right now,'' Golden said. "When it's not a medical issue anymore and he can do everything that we need our quarterbacks to do,then we'll look at it in every angle and see what's best for our football team. But right now that's not part of the equation. His health right now, his strength, his ability to rehab and return is paramount for him. Once he does that we'll evaluate the situation.''

   Kaaya did not come to UM for spring football, which makes this decision even more impressive.

   "The biggest thing was we saw how much he was devoted to it, how many sacrifices he made, how well he learned and how it translated to the field,'' Golden said. "A guy can be good in the film room or be good out of the book and then it doesn't translate. But it has translated here. We've put him in very tough situations. 

   "We've put him under the gun, his completion percentage is good, he's protected the ball really well, he can articulate the offense, he's very poised. At the end of the day, as I told him, he's our quarterback. He's not a freshman quarterback, he's the University of Miami quarterback.''

   Golden said this is the first time in his career he's starting a true freshman at quarterback.

  And this will be the first time that a true freshman quarterback starts for the Hurricanes in an opener since Jacory Harris was anointed in 2008. Harris' selection was the result of former quarterback Robert Marve being arrested on a misdemeanor charge in Coconut Grove, and thus suspended for the opener.

The 2008 opener was against Division I-AA Charleston Southern, which UM throttled 52-7. 

The Canes finished 7-6 in 2008, with Marve and Harris sharing reps during games.

Louisville, which embarrassed the Hurricanes 36-9 this past December, is in the "others receiving votes'' category in the Associated Press poll -- equal to a ranking of 31, while UM would be ranked 39th in the AP.

UM coach Al Golden said he will not allow Kaaya to speak to the media until after he plays his first game.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

August 22, 2014

New high for Canes' season-ticket sales at Sun Life. Oh, you want FSU tickets? Read this.

   The Hurricanes have sold more than 31,000 season tickets this season – “more than we’ve ever sold since we moved to Sun Life Stadium in 2008,’’ said Chris Freet, UM’s senior associate athletic director for communications, marketing and sales. "We're really pleased, really excited." 

   There are 27,000 seats in the lower Sun Life bowl, and the Canes have sold 95-percent of the seats that aren’t allocated to students (5,500), visiting teams (about 800) and recruits and high school coaches (about 1,500), Freet said.

   The capacity of Sun Life is 75,000, but goes down to 67,000 when the four corners are covered with tarp.

    Last year the Canes sold 29,917 season tickets, Freet said.

   "The impact of the Florida game on the schedule last season was fantastic and we've only played the Gators at home once every 10 years historically,'' Freet said. "This year, with Florida State on the schedule, which comes in every two years, the fact that we're outpacing last year is really, really exciting for us in terms of growing our fan base No. 1 and the impact it will have on revenue for our department.''

FSU TICKETS

   Now, the more pressing issue for Canes fans: single-game tickets to FloridaState on Nov. 15 have already been sold out through the Hurricane Club, Freet said. The only way to still get a ticket to FSU is by buying a “mini-plan’’ that encompasses both the FSU and North Carolina (Nov. 1) games. The least expensive mini-plan is $108.00 for upper-bowl seats.

   The cheapest ticket Friday for the FSU game on StubHub.com was $112.89.

   Freet said the 1,500 tickets UM got for the Sept. 1 Louisville opener have been sold out.

  “What we heard from our fans is that it’s a difficult trip because they’d have to travel back on Tuesday, a work day,’’ he said.

   Freet added that there will be “a much larger group of UM fans at Nebraska’’ on Sept. 20. He did not specify how many seats have been allocated to the Canes.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 21, 2014

Canes cancel Friday practice, end camp

 

Apparently, the Miami Hurricanes don't need any more stinking training camp.

In an email sent out late Thursday night the University said Friday's practice had been canceled, essentially wrapping up camp. The Hurricanes will instead be off Friday and around to sign autographs Saturday from 4-7 p.m. at CanesFest.

Preparation for Louisville officially begins on Sunday when practice resumes.

 

Canes notebook: Denzel is back in black, Chickillo is refocused and Heurtelou ready to wreak havoc

Fans might be fretting over who gets chosen as Miami's starting quarterback for the season opener at Louisville, but the players hardly seem fazed.

"I'm kind of comfortable with all the quarterbacks," receiver Malcolm Lewis said Thursday. "It doesn't really matter who is throwing ball, just that someone throws the ball."

Lewis said senior transfer Jake Heaps and freshman Brad Kaaya continued to split the first team reps Thursday.

Asked if Heaps' absence in Monday's scrimmage (UM said he was resting his sore elbow) is a sign of something, Lewis responded: "I don't know what goes on in the quarterback room, but they're probably just giving him rest."

> Senior middle linebacker Denzel Perryman wasn't wearing a black starters jersey on Wednesday -- the first day back following Monday's scrimmage. But he was back in one Thursday morning.

"It feels good. I'm not going to lie," Perryman said. "I was in a green jersey Wednesday. That's based on my play in the second scrimmage. I didn't perform as well as I did in the first scrimmage. And, I picked it up in practice [Wednesday] and got my jersey back. I made a couple mistakes in the second scrimmage. Coach D asked me if I wasn't focused in the scrimmage. I was focused. I was just being overly aggressive and it caused me to make mistakes."

> Sophomore cornerback Corn Elder played well in the scrimmage and had a good day on Wednesday. "Yesterday was like his highlight film in the defensive meeting room," Perryman said. "He was breaking up passes, catching interceptions, left and right."

> Senior Anthony Chickillo tried to keep his discontent about having to play defensive tackle for the Hurricanes in third down situations last year under wraps. He tried to show a good face, tried to be a good teammate. But he's bought into the role now and he wants to have a big senior season.

"It helps a lot accepting what they're asking me to do," he said. "I came in here I was more of an edge guy and they asked me to do something I've never done before and anytime somebody asks you to do something you've never done before you're going to have resistance.

"When you've been doing it since high school and you did it really well, you think that's what you're going to do forever. That's not what the game of football is about. Football is doing whatever your team, coaches ask you to do. You do whatever for the benefit of the team. I'm just happy now I'm able to do what they're asking me to do at a high level."

Chickillo said he refocused himself back in January "when all the things about whether I was going to leave or come back happened." When the NFL told him he would only be a fourth or fifth round pick, he realized he needed to prove himself at Miami as a senior.

"I feel like for my size and my speed... I can go a lot higher than that," he said. "I've just got to go out there and make plays. I'm going to do well at the combine. But that's a long way away and I'm not worried about that now."

Chickillo said he's  watched some film on Louisville and knows the Labor Day Night challenge won't be easy.

"They've got a lot of veteran guys coming back on their o-line," he said. "Both their tackles are coming back. They've got a really good guard in Miller. They're going to be a really tough challenge for us. Teddy [Bridgewater] was a big piece for them. But Coach Petrino is a really smart football coach, a really good offensive mind. So, we know they're going to be ready for us and we've got to be ready for them."

> Chickillo said it stinks EA Sports did not come out with a video game this year for college football (in light of the Ed O'Bannon case). He and his teammates have been playing FIFA World Cup soccer in the interim.

> Defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou (6-3, 315) came into spring practice overweight and out of shape, but in fall camp he's been outstanding in the eyes of defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and his teammates.

"I figured out I'm one hell of a player in this 3-4 defense," Heurtelou said Thursday. "I realized I've made progress since I've been here since the spring. It was a new position for me. But I've done well the last three weeks."

Heurtelou said he played the three technique in junior college and adjusting to nose guard took some time for him. He arrived at Miami at 330 pounds, lost 25 pounds and then gained 10 pounds of muscle over the summer. He had the third most bench press reps (of 225 pounds) on the team (33) this summer. 

"Calvin's got a lot of energy, really strong guy," Chickillo said. "He comes to work everyday. He's just what you want inside. I'm really happy with Calvin's progress and he just needs to keep getting better."

 

News, notes and quotes from Thursday's practice

News and notes from Thursday's practice:

> Coach Al Golden cut practice at least an hour short because he said he thought "the humidity was catching up to us a little bit." Miami practiced twice on Wednesday after having an off day Tuesday.

> With junior Matt Goudis solidly in position to be Miami's kicker, the punter job remains a battle between walk-on senior Ricky Carroll and walk-on sophomore Justin Vogel. Golden said the team will have a  special teams scrimmage on Friday "that will determine a lot." 

"They're going back and forth," Golden said. "Will [Friday's special teams scrimmage] be the final? No. We have a lot of practices left. So, we might not even determine who the starters until next week."

Goudis has been trying to bounce back from a lower back issue. “He’s getting stronger," Golden said. "I think the biggest thing right now is there’s nothing ailing him in terms of pain. There’s no real medical condition. It’s just strength, and the way you build that back up is to kick, lift and do whatever you’ve got to do. Then you rest, let it heal and come back the next day. He’s making a lot of progress right now. He’s just got to keep doing that, have no setbacks. He’s doing well.”

> Golden said senior transfer Jake Heaps "was sharp" in Thursday's practice. Heaps was held out of Monday's scrimmage with a sore elbow, but continues to take first team reps alongside freshman Brad Kaaya.

"I thought he ran [the offense] really well," Golden said. "We threw some more deep balls perhaps than we have. When he didn’t have those, he came down, worked his progression. Thought he did a good job. Threw the ball well.”

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Wednesday the cornerback position remains the toughest position to narrow down in terms of starters. 

“[Wednesday's standouts were] Ladarius [Gunter], I think he’s really improving," Golden said. "Corn [Elder] probably had his best day [Wednesday]. Artie [Burns] did really well. We come back [Thursday], Antonio [Crawford] gets two interceptions and he looks better.

"It’s definitely a group that's competing, I think they all understand that – but it’s a good situation. They’re competing for both corner spots and then the starter on the nickel. We have a long way to go in terms of that, so we’ll see how that plays out. But we feel much better about our depth and competition.”

> Safety Deon Bush was in a yellow non-contact jersey Thursday. Golden said they were protecting Bush because he has "a little hamstring" issue. "If we were practicing this afternoon, he’d probably be ready to go, "Golden said. "He did significant amount of individual stuff and everything, but he’ll be fine.”

> Golden said he feels better about Miami's linebacker situation because senior Thurston Armbrister "is playing really well."

"Thurston’s playing really good football and Darrion Owens has been really consistent," he continued. "[Jermaine] Grace is active, which is nice. [Rapael] Kirby is back now. Juwon Young and [Walter Tucker] should be able to help us. It will be a good group – Tuck and Juwon and Grace have to keep hammering their alignment and their technique and all the little things, but clearly having Denzel and Kirby, veterans there, should help settle it down.”

> Senior Nantambu Fentress, who has seen time at weakside linebacker and safety in camp, will be on scholarship for the second year in a row, Golden said. Fentress was a walk-on who first received a scholarship last year. The scholarships are one-year renewable and Fentress said last Friday at media day he didn't know if he would receive on this year.

"He's been renewed," Golden said. "He's basically a starter. The only reason he doesn't start on every special teams is because we save him for all the other things he does. Nantambu is one of those guys. He's smart. He plays two positions. He's a tremendous leader for us and he's doing a great job for us on special teams."

Golden wouldn't reveal which other walk-ons have received scholarships. He said he usually keeps that private. Fentress, by the way, has spent the past two days working at safety.

> Freshman David Njoku is back at receiver after spending two days last week working at linebacker. 

"We think he's more inclined to be an offensive player," Golden said. "Just where he is right now in terms of his body and his makeup he would have to stay on Slim Fast for 4 years to stay at 230. I think he's going to develop into an H [back]. I think when we're talking on March 1st he'll be 250 pounds. So I think he's going to go the route of being an H. If he helps us at all this year it will be as an X receiver, low red zone, things of that nature."

> Golden said sophomore Al-Quadin Muhammad came out of Monday's scrimmage having earned a first team spot at rush end. Tyriq McCord and freshman Trent Harris continue to receive reps there behind him.

August 20, 2014

Only three Canes in first-team black jerseys Wednesday afternoon, but lots in first-team orange

Surprise, surprise.

The report we got after Monday's closed scrimmage mentioned several defensive players who made impressive plays. 

But when the media was permitted to watch the first 15 minutes of the afternoon session of Wednesday's practice (open practices have ended), only three players on the Hurricanes' defense were garbed in the black jerseys worn by first-team players.

They are cornerbacks Corn Elder and Artie Burns, and defensive end Anthony Chickillo

That means all-everything linebacker Denzel Perryman was wearing ordinary green for the first time this fall camp, as well as safety Dallas Crawford, and on and on.

Can't wait to hear what the coaches have to say on that. Sending a message, anyone?

"Denzel had an awesome first scrimmage and a pretty good second one,'' defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "Just making sure he sets the same standard that he can every time he's out there. I'm pleased with the linebacker group. Jermaine Grace had a really good scrimmage. Just got to finish a few more plays. Very productive, productive as anybody we had out there. I'm not unhappy with them, just as far as a black jersey, it's, 'Did you do your job and did you finish every play?' At the end of the day, it's a hard thing to get, is how we're making it.''

Many players, however, wore the first-team orange.

They are, in the order I spotted them, OL Jon Feliciano, WR Stacy Coley, OL Kc McDermott, WR Phillip Dorsett, OL Ereck Flowers, OL Danny Isidora, OL Alex Gall, TE Standish Dobard, RB Joseph Yearby, FB Ronnie Regula, OL Shane McDermott, RB Duke Johnson, WR Malcolm Lewis and TE Clive Walford.

As for your quarterbacks, they were all out there throwing during preliminary drills -- that includes graduate transfer Jake Heaps, who was accompanied by fellow scholarship quarterbacks Ryan Williams, Brad Kaaya, Kevin Olsen and Malik Rosier. The walk-ons were there, too.

Keep in mind that we only watch the first 15 minutes, then go inside.

 Heaps, listed with Kaaya as the co-starters on the depth chart, did not participate in Monday's scrimmage "to rest his arm,'' a UM report noted after the scrimmage.

  Today, Heaps did not wear an elasticized sleeve or any other protective device on his arm during that first afternoon portion we watched.

  Turns out, according to Golden, and Heaps did not disagree, that Heaps had a sore elbow on his throwing arm. Heaps wanted to compete in the scrimmage, but Golden, in consultation with the team doctor, wanted to rest him to play it safe. Golden said he will not penalize Heaps in the competition for sitting out that day.

   Heaps said he felt good today, and competed fully in both sessions. He also said he will continue to rehabilitate.

  

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

August 19, 2014

Hurricanes land huge commitment from Killian 4-star safety Jaquan Johnson

The Hurricanes landed one of the most prized safety recruits in the nation Tuesday night when Miami Killian's Jaquan Johnson called coaches to inform them he was committing to their 2015 signing class.

Johnson (5-11, 192) is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports.com and the ninth best safety in the nation. He's a three-time All-Dade First Team selection and a U.S. Army All-American.

Johnson told The Miami Herald last week his top five college choices were Miami, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina and Louisville and that he might be making a decision soon. He also told The Herald he planned on taking official visits to LSU, Alabama and Louisville during the season. 

There is no word yet if he still plans to, but Killian coach Cory Johnson said Jaquan, no relation, told him Johnson informed UM coaches "Coral Gables is where he plans to play his college football."

"He's going to walk in there trying to be the man right away," Cory Johnson said.

Johnson missed the first four games of his junior season at Killian last year with a lower back injury. He said he contemplated having surgery to shave a disc in his back but decided against it. Johnson said he still experiences some tightness in his back.

Johnson finished his junior season with 75 tackles, an interception, five fumble recoveries and eight catches for 122 yards and three scores. As a sophomore he collected 94 tackles, 7 INTs and ran 88 times for 646 yards and 17 touchdowns. As a freshman he had 45 tackles, two forced fumbles, 1 blocked field goal, 417 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns. He also scored on two touchdown catches.

"One thing I know about Quan is if you put the ladder up six feet higher than he can reach he's going to find a way to climb it," coach Johnson said. "He'll go as high as he can to get to the top of that ladder."

The Hurricanes have 23 commitments in the 2015 signing class. Johnson is one of six who is considered a four-star recruit.

August 18, 2014

Hurricanes' final fall scrimmage completed. 2 TD passes for Kaaya.

The Miami Hurricanes' second and final fall scrimmage, closed to the media and public, is over.

  NOTE: UM just sent message saying fifth-year senior quarterback Jake Heaps was "held out to rest his arm.'' Hmmm. Is his arm hurt? Is it just sore? This was a scrimmage, and a very important one at that. 

  I like the way Lindsay Bohlen, UM's Assistant Director of Football Operations/Recruiting described it in her tweet: "Monday Night Football for the Canes!"

 The next game is the real thing two weeks from tonight at Louisville.

Though we couldn't watch, the University of Miami's sports information staff generated a scrimmage report. 

Here's the UM report, while I work on a story for tomorrow's paper and to post online later.

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

 Yearby, Muhammad excel in second scrimmage

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Monday night was filled with football in Coral Gables as the Miami Hurricanes held their second scrimmage of #CanesCamp.

 The Canes were out on the Greentree Practice Fields for a two-hour scrimmage, and players on both sides of the ball wasted little time making an impression on the coaches and NFL scouts in attendance.

 The offense got on the scoreboard early as Matt Goudis hit a 38-yard field goal on the team's second series of the evening. Brad Kaaya added six more points when he connected with Stacy Coley on a three-yard touchdown pass. Kevin Olsen's nine-yard touchdown pass to Tyre Brady completed the first half scoring for the offense.

 Kaaya got the Hurricane offense into the end zone for the final time Monday night when he found fullback Walter Tucker in the end zone for a score from nine yards out.

 Several of Miami's running backs had impressive showing on Monday, led by freshman Joseph Yearby. The former Miami Central standout rushed for a team-high 71 yards, including a game-best 33-yard run. Duke Johnson, Gus Edwards and Trayone Gray also had several impressive runs.

 Fifteen different Canes caught a pass on Monday, with freshman Braxton Berrios leading the way with five catches for 48 yards. Seven Hurricanes has multiple catches and senior tight end Raphael Akpejiori recorded his first catch in a scrimmage.

 Linebacker Thurston Armbrister picked off a pass and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown, but the junior linebacker was not the only defensive standout on Monday night. Malik Mayweather also had an interception late in the first half, while senior linebacker Denzel Perryman delivered a loud and forceful hit on Edwards in the second half for a three-yard loss. Perryman finished the night with five tackles.

 Al-Quadin Muhammad was active in the backfield, recording two of Miami's seven sacks on Monday. Anthony Chickillo, Jermaine Grace, Ufomba Kamalu, Tyriq McCord and Darrion Owens also sacked the quarterback in Monday's scrimmage.

 The Hurricane defense finished the scrimmage with 10 tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two passes deflected at the line of scrimmage.

 

 Monday Night Football for the Canes! pic.twitter.com/ZZ6gM0rccs

The freshmen speak: Kaaya, Berrios, McDermott, Darling, Yearby, Gray, Thomas, Harris and Njoku

I got a chance last Friday during Media Day to talk to nine Hurricanes freshmen on film.

They were: Quarterback Brad Kaaya, receiver Braxton Berrios, offensive linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling, running backs Joe Yearby and Trayone Gray, defensive linemen Chad Thomas and Trent Harris and linebacker David Njoku.

As you know, we the media only get to talk with freshmen once during camp and this was our opportunity. Here is the playlist of interviews I shot.

August 16, 2014

Saturday report: Kaaya/Heaps share 1st-team reps; several players take rest, help teammates

Thank you to David Furones, the Miami Herald correspondent who covered UM practice today. Here are his observations. Story coming later.

By David Furones 

The UM football team returned to Greentree Practice Fields Saturday morning for another fall camp two-a-day. The morning session went for a relatively calm hour and a half — with offensive line coach Art Kehoe even scowling at big linemen for walking instead of jogging between drills — before intensity ramped up in 11-on-11 goal line drills to wrap up practice.

Defensive tackle Corey King was seen in a red jersey and wearing a boot on his right foot at Sunday’s practice.

“I don't think it's too bad because there was a chance he could go today," head coach Al Golden said.

Linebacker Raphael Kirby (undisclosed) and cornerback Artie Burns (right foot/ankle) were in yellow jerseys after wearing red on Friday.

“I think they’re progressing,” Golden said.

Golden gave several key Canes a non-injury day off on Saturday, allowing them to act as player-coaches during practice. Duke Johnson, Denzel Perryman, Anthony Chickillo, Shane McDermott, Ereck Flowers, Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios all watched on out of uniform and with whistles. Golden said he wanted to find out which players would step up with that group missing.

“If somebody goes down in the first quarter against Louisville, I don’t want to see that look that night. I want to see that look this morning,” Golden said. “All the guys that got pressed into action this morning and saw that that guy was not going to be playing, that’s the effect of it.

“We’re looking for that guy to say, ‘I’m ready. I’m prepared. My turn to step up.’ We’ll evaluate them like that. Braxton and Malcolm notwithstanding — although they are leaders — all the other guys are leaders, so I wanted to see who would replace the leaders.”

Who stepped up?

Golden listed Chad Thomas, Dallas Crawford and Clive Walford.

Overheard during drills, Golden said to Crawford, "Same guy every day, Dallas. I love it. I know you're hurting."

Rashawn Scott (shoulder/clavicle) watched practice with his right arm in a sling.

Brad Kaaya and Jake Heaps split first-team reps Saturday morning after Kaaya ran mostly with the ones on Thursday and Heaps on Friday. 

Gus Edwards ran in three touchdowns in goal-line drills that wrapped up Saturday’s practice after the defense stopped the offense on the first two reps. Two were in between the tackles and

“I wasn’t pleased with him early on today, but then he ran with more of a purpose,” Golden said. “Clearly that competition [with Joe Yearby for the No. 2 spot behind Johnson at running back] is escalating fast. I think Gus answered in the second half of practice.”

Thomas had a non-contact sack of Kaaya off play action on the first play of goal line.

Freshman linebacker Darrion Owens forced a fumble on Tyre Brady in earlier 11-on-11 action.

Following the afternoon session of Saturday’s two-a-day, the team has a day off on Sunday before the second scrimmage of the spring on Monday, another off day on Tuesday and returns to practice Wednesday.

August 15, 2014

Canes Media Day news and notes: Njoku position switch, injury updates, more

There is probably 20 blogs worth of content I can post here from today's media day event, but I'm going to go ahead and give you the fast and furious version as well video and audio clips.

Please come back for updates throughout the day.

> One of the first things we learned at Friday's practice was that freshman David Njoku was switched from receiver to linebacker. The Hurricanes have obviously been looking for help there since Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue were kicked off the team last month. Sophomore fullback Walter Tucker and senior walk-on safety Nantambu-Akil Fentress were the first two players coach Al Golden switched over from other positions as replacements. Njoku is now the third.

"David is kind of a hybrid for us," coach Al Golden said. "He's 230 pounds. So is he a Big X because he runs well and has explosiveness? Is he an H back? Or is he a SAM [strongside linebacker]? We wanted to take a look at him at SAM now because we know what his ball skills and movements are like. We want to look at his basic movements [at linebacker] because he has length and size. Like we tried Trayone Gray at tailback and it stuck. We're just trying to look at some guys at different spots."

Click on the video below to hear David's take on the switch. It seemed to me like right now he's trying to be a team player. Golden said the move was just a look. So it might be that Njoku moves back to receiver.

> Golden said offensive line depth was his number one concern coming into camp, but that position has made a lot of progress. So what about linebacker? "Tucker and Fentress playing linebacker has kind of fixed that depth issue," Golden said. "But we have to stay healthy."

> Receiver Rashawn Scott, who had been running with the first team, had his right arm in a sling during practice Friday. Golden said Thursday Scott injured his shoulder/clavicle. Golden said he still doesn't know how long Scott will be out, but said "it's not a season-ending deal."

"It's a little bit of an exotic injury, something that's not customary," Golden said. "But he's doing good. Obviously he was out there today coaching. He'll keep his conditioning up so he can return to action quickly. As I said, Rashawn was running with the 1s most of camp. So we'll get him back."

> Starting weakside linebacker Raphael Kirby (undisclosed) and cornerback Artie Burns (right foot) were in red non contact jerseys Friday. Golden said neither injury is serious and he expects both players back soon.

> Golden said freshman defensive lineman Chad Thomas is in the mix right now for first and second down reps and has taken a lot of starter reps on third down pass rushing packages (at defensive tackle). Thomas, Miami's most highly regarded prospect in the 2014 class, came in weighing 250 pounds and is now 260. Golden said he hasn't lost any of "twitch" with the added weight.

"He's a competitor and a leader," Golden said. "And he's not afraid to stand up for what's right. We've asked him to lead already as a freshman in certain segments. He comes out of a championship program. He's got an expectation and standard to win. He's got a will inside of him. He come to work everyday. I'm excited about him. He got a lot of reps today." 

Thomas said he's "acting like a starter," but would not be disappointed if he only play on third downs. Thomas said he's very comfortable playing tackle because he did it his entire senior year for national champion Miami Booker T. Washington. "I know how to rush [the passer] against a guard or a center," Thomas said. "It's easy."

> Golden had more praise for safety Dallas Crawford Friday. Asked how he's changed since the spring, Golden responded: "No comparison. Starting with his body. His lean muscle mass. His weight reduction. His fast twitch. His quickness. His attention to detail. How much more comfortable he is running the defense. I've said on multiple occasions playing safety in college football is almost as difficult as playing quarterback. You see a different formation just about every play. Every week you see a different offense. So, Dallas has made a commitment to his body, worked really hard and performed [in the scrimmage]."

> Senior transfer Jake Heaps took the majority of reps with the first team Friday after freshman Brad Kaaya had those reps Thursday.

Asked what sets Kaaya apart, Golden said: "The first thing that helped him was he came in at 228 and he's 206 now. So, he really leaned out. His endurance is good. His fast twitch is good. He's lighter on his feet, he's better in the pocket. So, again, strength and nutrition staff, tremendous job. That's No. 1.

"Number 2, he loves the game. I mean, everybody says you got to love football. This guy loves football and he's devoted all of his time to it. So he's given up a lot. We talk to our guys all the time about volition. Everybody is motivated right now to have a great season. What are you willing to give up? Well, he's given up a lot in terms of seeing the area, sightseeing, relaxing and all that to learn to the game. So he's made that commitment.

"And obviously he's blessed in terms of his length, his ability to see, and his arm down the field. I think the biggest thing I see with him right now is his ability to conceptualize the play and know where everybody is. So if he does get in trouble he knows where the tight end is going to be. He knows where his checkdown is going to be. So from that sense, it's a little bit of calmness that you don't normally see where its not just panic, sack. You see a progression and he knows where to go. His feet are telling him where to go with the ball and he's trust it."

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said the freshman rush end Trent Harris began to hit a wall this week in practice, but redeemed himself in Wednesday's scrimmage to hold off junior Tyriq McCord who had begun closing the gap. D'Onofrio said the reason Harris (6-2, 240) started camp with a defensive starter's black jersey was because of what he did during off-season workouts and conditioning, but he's kept it because he understands run fits and wraps up. That has been a problem for Miami's defense for years.

Harris said he came to UM in January weighing 222 pounds. He's now 14 pounds heavier and stronger. He said he increased his bench press reps of the NFL Combine testing standard of 225 pounds by seven to 14 or 15. 

> Freshman running back Trayone Gray (6-2, 197) scored on a 25-yard touchdown run in the scrimmage. "I took the opportunity to show what I got," Gray said. "I got the ball outside, made moves and got in the end zone. I showed coach I can run the ball. I'm still trying to work on my pocket, creating the pocket as a running back [for handoffs]."

Gray started camp a day late because he was awaiting academic clearance. Gray said he attended night school, virtual school and summer school to pass Geometry, Algebra and Physical Science. He said he raised his grade point average from a 2.1 to a 2.5 and finally got a good ACT score to get into Miami.

"I had to makeup a big gap," he said. "I worked out on the weekends. During the weekdays I would stay in, practice and do work for school, study. It was tough. Now, I'm ready to work, come in and make an impact for the team."

Gray said he has yet to take any snaps in the Wildcat formation, but coaches have hinted he will. He said he expects to get on the field somehow this season in "screen packages or outside packages."

> Freshman running back Joe Yearby is coming off right ankle surgery in December and said he feels like he's 90 percent. "I can cut on it and most of the things I used to do," said Yearby, who had a couple of impressive, long runs in Friday's practice. "But I still got to do a little bit more work to get it how it used to be."

Although he's listed at 5-9, 192 pounds, Yearby said he currently weighs 180 pounds. "I'm trying to get myself to 185 going into the season so I can take the impact and the pounding."

> Freshman receiver Braxton Berrios (5-9, 185) said he is feeling no ill-effects of his ACL injury. Berrios said an MRI at UM in January revealed he had completely torn his ACL. He said quarterback Ryan Williams, who tore his ACL in April, comes to him to ask him questions about his recovery from the surgery.

> Freshmen offensive linemen Trevor Darling (6-5, 320) and Kc McDermott (6-6, 305) both arrived in January and have become close friends -- even while competing against each other in camp for the starting right tackle job. Darling currently leads.

"Even though we're competing for the same job we're having fun while we're doing it," McDermott said. "We're not going to curse each other out or argue because one is starting over the other. We're good friends and we joke around with each other."

Offensive line coach Art Kehoe said it's safe to say Darling and McDermott, All-Americans from Miami Central and Palm Beach Central High Schools, have earned playing time this season and will be part of the rotation of 10 linemen the team intends to play.

Darling said he's shed about 15 pounds and six percent body fat since arriving at UM. He said he did 17 reps on the bench (225 pounds) and is considerably stronger, too.

McDermott, who passed on Notre Dame, said playing alongside his older brother, Shane, Miami's center has been an honor. "I love my brother and I couldn't imagine playing with anybody else other than him," the younger McDermott said. 

THE FRESHMEN TALK

August 14, 2014

Al Golden talks depth chart, injuries to Scott, Jenkins and a lot more

AUDIO: AL GOLDEN TALKS DEPTH CHART, INJURIES THURSDAY NIGHT

On the decision to narrow it down to two players at quarterback: “I’m pleased, I know it’s hard for everybody reading and watching, but I’m pleased with that group. That group in general has made as strong a progress as any group over the summer. Malik Rosier had a great summer, I think Kevin Olsen had a great summer and is as strong as he’s ever been, but right now, Brad and Jake are a little bit ahead of them. But we have a long way to go. We have one scrimmage, we’re going to have three more practices before the next one and obviously a lot of film. We’ll go from there. I’m not ruling out anybody else, but we really want to get a good look at these two and see where it goes.”

Q: Is it really a two horse race?

“I’m still looking at everybody. We’re more than two weeks out, but I think at some point, you have to at least allocate reps so we’ve got to be careful with that. We still want to develop everybody, we’re still going to make sure everybody gets reps. Then we have a little bit of an outlier in terms of Ryan and his progress. He’s doing really well. That’s where we’re at today. It’s by no means a two-man race, but those are 1-2 right now. That’s probably the best way to say it.”

Q: Is there any chance Ryan Williams can go full speed in the next two weeks? 

“There is a chance. There is a chance. Going full speed, and then being able to protect him against our first or second opponents, that’s a little bit different deal. That’s uncharted waters for us right now. He’s doing really well. I know he’s confident, I know he’s strong, nobody’s been more committed than him. I’m just being perfectly honest. This is not my call. This is his call, along with Dr. Kaplan. We’re going to continue to let him progress and let him work in like he has been. But he’s doing really well. It’s hard to say it any other way.”

Q: Does Williams' status make the quarterback situation fluid? 

“Tricky. Makes it tricky. Yup. Makes it tricky, because he had a really good spring. And he’s bright and he’s a leader, so yeah, it makes it tricky. But his return will be a good thing for the University of Miami. That’s how I look at it. His return, whenever it is, will be good for us. But again, it’s just, that’s why I’ve just taken on this one day at a time mantra. I’m not really worried about other than just how do we get the guys ready for practice tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock and see what tomorrow brings.”

Q: Is there one guy in front right now? 

“I don’t think so, that one’s too close to call. I thought Jake had a really good morning today. As you guys know, cause you hear it all the time when you’re watching those preseason games in the NFL, you really have to take into consideration who’s out there in each series and who they’re going against. It’s really hard to quantify that into a little sound byte for you. It’s really hard. But they were really…they were…Maybe Brad was a little bit ahead yesterday and Jake’s answered today, whatever the case may be, but they’re 1 and 2. Really either way right now, but they’re 1 and 2.”

Q: For anybody saying Kaaya is first because his name is listed first on the depth chart how would you respond?

“I’m not very good at the alphabet, I guess. First name, I don’t know. It’s just the way it shook out.”

Q: Still, you have to be pretty impressed that Kaaya’s been here a couple weeks and is already to that point?

“I feel the same way about Malik and Jake. Jake was here less time than those two guys. Now Jake has a little bit more conceptual knowledge and line of scrimmage experience and things of that nature, so Jake adjusted…but Malik and Brad, the commitment that they made this summer as incoming guys and as I said, the whole quarterback group in general, because I think Kevin Olsen had a great May, June, and July, he really came on strong. They’re into it. Would Brad be where he was right now if the NCAA didn’t change the rule, probably not. James got a little bit extra time, but that young man put in a lot of time, an inordinate amount of time on his own, him and Malik, and then Jake when he got here, we’re grateful because he’s in terms of Brad answering your question, he’s running the huddle, his reads are really good, and he’s got a lot of poise right now.”

Q: Why is Duke Johnson not on return duty?

“We’re going to continue to work him there. I was trying to get some guys some work there. How many guys did I end up putting there, four? It’s probably four and four right now. Kick return is - pretty fluid, and we’re fortunate. Phillip, Artie, Corn, Malcolm Lewis can do it. I know I’m missing --- Braxton’s been good. And then same thing, Duke obviously can do that too, punt returner too, I probably could have put four or five on there. Braxton’s on both those lists. He’s really good at it.”

Q: Why is receiver Rashawn Scott not listed on the depth chart?

“Yeah, so Rashawn has an injury and we really just need to see where he’s at before we move forward. Rashawn, as you guys know – so, again, I’m not as concerned, because you guys see the depth every day, with the shirts and everything, because you’re here every day, so I wasn’t as concerned – but I didn’t want to place him until we know the extent of his injury. As soon as we know exactly what that injury is, we’ll release it. But certainly he would have warranted a 1 or a 2, as he has all camp.”

Q: Happened before or after the scrimmage?

“In the scrimmage.”

Q: Any other injuries to report from the scrimmage?

“Uh, well Jenkins got injured – he’s had a chronic deal, and the way it looks right now, it’ll have to be the end of his season. Again, when I get more information on that, we’ll relay it. It’s been unfortunate. It’s just a chronic thing that they want to fix.”

Q: Scott injury minor or major?

“You know, I don’t know. We didn’t think it was major, but again, rather than put him out for an extended period of time, I just wanted to get the facts before we release it on that.”

Q: Back injury for Jenkins?

“Yes. Scott is like in the shoulder/clavicle area, and Jenkins is lower back.”

Q: Is Scott's injury the same  as last year?

“You know, it’s not. It’s not. Guys to be honest with you, as soon as we get everything gathered, we’ll be able to release it so we all know what it is. Hopefully it won’t be too long.”

Q: Dallas Crawford had a strong showing in scrimmage. Was his performance a sign of the way he’s transitioned?

“He’s physical. I think everybody on the team would say he’s one of our toughest players. He’s another guy who’s lost a lot of weight, his body looks different, he’s quicker than he has been. And he really studied the game worked on his transitions and everything. He played really well, really, really sound. There’s good competition there at the safety spot with Gayot and Hester, two young kids, of course Fentrees can go back there if we need him, he’s sort of in between now and then Bush, Jamal and him. But Dallas has made a difference back there with his leadership.”

Q: A lot of young guys in starting spots on the offensive line

"There's two things when I sat around like July 4th weekend -- the offensive line I was saying I was wondering where 8, 9 and 10 were going to come from. And we've been really, really pleasantly surprised here. Those guys have done a good job. Trevor Darling has really come on strong. Hunter Wells has been in the rotation with the 1s. I think Kc McDermott did an absolute overhaul on his body and came in with a great mindset. Maybe Joe Brown is the surprise of the camp. We knew when we recruited him he was strong. He played defense. He wasn't really an offensive guy. But, we have him listed at 318. You would take the over on that. He's probably 330, doing a really good job. Nick Linder is just as you would imagine he is. He's playing both guard and center for us. Tyler Grimsley. Those guys have all made a difference. And then going the other way, Gall, Hunter Williams, Taylor Gadbois and of course the vets. That's a position I'm excited about. Of course the position was quarterback. Those two things have have changed. The fortune on those two have been very positive. So, we'll see how well we can perform in the next couple days and then into the scrimmage."

Q: Jonathan Feliciano, Kc McDermott were held out some during camp. Did that affect their status on depth chart?

"They're all competing. Jon is going to play left and right guard and right tackle. We're in a mode right now. This afternoon I was going to rest Flowers. I was going to rest Duke. I was going to rest Shane. What you do is try to pull guys out so some other guys have to step up. So, in Kc and Jon's case, Trevor and Hunter and Alex Gall were given opportunities and they really responded really well. We're moving guys around, trying to build that depth. I really feel like we're going to end up with 10. I wouldn't have said that a month ago. I don't know who they are going to be yet. But certainly Jon and Kc are in the mix and can play both positions. Kc is going to work left and Taylor Gadbois is going to work right now and we're just going to keep mixing it up."

Q: Has Joe Yearby increased what you think he's going to be able to this season?

"I think that's fair. Just has to develop, understand what's expected everyday. That will come with maturity. I know Ice is doing a great job. And Duke has done a great job with that. He really had a good scrimmage. And he ran the ball hard. Did he outperform Gus in all the practices? No. Did he outperform Gus yesterday -- and that's a money ball for us -- and yes he did. But again, I thought Trayone Gray did a nice job. So, I think Gus is going to answer it. He started to answer it this morning. So we'll see how that develops. I really wanted to take Duke out of it today to see those other three guys step up."

Q: Does Joe Yearby's weight concern you?

"No. Who does he remind you of two years ago?"

Q: Does he remind you of that guy (Duke Johnson) two years ago?

"Well, you know, guys can play at that position. It's his running style. He's a spinner, a slasher, low center of gravity. He ran the ball hard between the tackles yesterday. He really did. Proud of him. It was a little bit overwhelming in the beginning. The tempo. He got sick the one night. He's been fighting steadily back. We just go to keep him going."

Q: How is Quan Muhammad?

"He's doing really good. That's a heck of a battle though. That's a good battle. Tyriq McCord, Quan. I thought Trent played really good yesterday when it looked like the other guys were going to jump on him. So, again,  that's the first depth chart. But that's been a fluid position. We're going to keep rotating there."

Q: Do you plan to wait until closer to the game to decide who the starters are for Louisville?

"What we're going to do is get it down to two at some positions and then we'll carry a third. At wide out you'll have a third guy because you use more wideouts. There will definitely be a cutdown day on that Tuesday. It's not going to be -- if I can liken it to the NFL roster -- not the final cut, but the one before that. It's like we're cutting it down and work with these guys, keep developing everybody else and get these guys the reps."

Q: Will you cut down the depth chart and announce starters the week of the game?

"No. Tuesday. Then there's here's our depth when the week is over."

Q: What has Trent Harris done to get in the mix?

"He doesn't make any mistakes. He's a hustler. He's tough. And there's something to be said. Like I always say this to offensive coaches -- offensive linemen that are smart and cover guys up and have a guy like Duke running behind them, that's half the battle. Trent's the same way on defense. If he's supposed to box the play he knows how to box it. If he's supposed to kick it to the will linebacker outside him he knows how to kick it. His pass rush is good. He's gained weight since the spring. Like a lot of the freshmen who came in midyear we're not looking at them as freshmen. He's done a good job. He really has."

Q: How close was Michael Wyche to making the depth chart?

"He's still got a long way to go from a conditioning standpoint. He got a little behind this summer. He had an achilles heel long before he even got to camp. That put him behind a little bit. The other guys were ahead of him physically from a conditioning standpoint. He made some really good plays. He just has to be able to do it for multiple series."

Q: Artie Burns limped off the field at practice. What is his status?

"They got him booted right now. But he'll be fine. Might it take another day? I don't know. We'll see. Hopefully he'll be out there in the morning. The rest today might have helped him. He got a lot of treatment. We'll see what he looks like in the morning."

It's QB "Brad Kaaya OR Jake Heaps" on 1st UM depth chart

The moment we've all been waiting for... (drum roll please....)

The Hurricanes have released their first depth chart of the 2014 football season, and, as we expected, there is an "OR'' between quarterbacks Brad Kaaya and Jake Heaps.

BradkaayaThe surprise, at least to me, is that the true freshman Kaaya is listed first, followed by the graduate transfer Heaps.

Wow. I know they'll say it doesn't mean anything, but...does it?

I truly thought they'd have the "OR,'' but that the fifth-year QB Heaps would be listed first (either because he's the veteran or because of alphabetical order. Haha).

So does that mean Kaaya is the super-secret one to beat? Have no idea, really, other than he played with the first-team this morning in practice and is very impressive. 

I do know from the past that coaches like to light fires under players, and the depth chart is a good way to do it. 

Please keep in mind that the second scrimmage is Monday, also that the Canes have another practice session this afternoon and we'll get coaches after it's over.

No other quarterbacks -- zip -- are mentioned on the depth chart.

The only true freshmen listed as first-team on depth chart: Kaaya at QB, Trent Harris at DE and Trevor Darling at RT.

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

OFFENSE:

First-team QB: Brad Kaaya OR Jake Heaps.

First team RB: Duke Johnson, then Joe Yearby and Gus Edwards.

First-team O-linemen, left to right: Ereck Flowers, Hunter Wells (He's followed by Jon Feliciano), Shane McDermott, Danny Isidora and Trevor Darling.

Second-team O-linemen, left to right: Kc McDermott, Jon Feliciano, Alex Gall, Alex Gall (not a typo), Taylor Gadbois.

NOTE: Kc and Feliciano were wearing red jerseys recently, so maybe they're recuperating from injuries.

Third-team O-linemen, left to right: Just listed are center Nick Linder and Joe Brown at right guard.

First-team tight end: Standish Dobard, followed by Clive Walford and Beau Sandland

First-team fullback: walk-on Ronnie Regula OR Walter Tucker.

First team wideouts: Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Lewis, followed by Stacy Coley and Herb Waters. Braxton Berrios and Tyre Brady are third team. 

Missing from WR depth chart, and missing from today's morning practice: Rashawn Scott.

 DEFENSE:

First-team defensive ends: Anthony Chickillo and Trent Harris, followed by Chad Thomas OR Jelani Hamilton under Chickillo's name; and by Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad under Harris' name.

First-team tackles: Calvin Heurtelou and Olsen Pierre, followed by Earl Moore and Ufomba Kamalu.

First-team OLB: Thurston Armbrister and Raphael Kirby. Behind Thurston is Darrion Owens and behind Kirby is Nantambu-Akil Fentress OR Jermaine Grace.

First-team MLB: Denzel ''The Prez'' Perryman, followed by Walter ("two-way") Tucker OR Juwon Young.

 First team corners: Tracy Howard and Ladarius Gunter, with Corn Elder behind Tracy and Antonio Crawford OR Artie Burns behind Gunter.

 First-team safeties: Dallas Crawford and Deon Bush. Hugo Delapenha OR Marques Gayot behind Crawford and Jamal Carter behind Bush.

SPECIALISTS:

Punt returners, in order: Stacy Coley, Braxton Berrios, Phillip Dorsett and Corn Elder.

Kickoff returners, in order: Stacy Coley, Artie Burns, Braxton Berrios, Corn Elder.

Punter: Ricky Carroll OR Justin Vogel.

Field goals: Matt Goudis, followed by Michael Badgley and Jon Semerene.

Holder: Dallas Crawford, followed by Justin Vogel.

Long snapper: Frank Gabriel OR Ronnie Regula.

Short snapper: Frank Gabriel OR Ronnie Regula.

OUT FOR SEASON (Yes, you knew already): safety Rayshawn Jenkins.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 HERE IT IS, FOLKS:

 

OFFENSE

WR 4 PHILLIP DORSETT 5-10, 187, Sr.
3 Stacy Coley 6-3, 185, So.
83 Braxton Berrios 5-9, 183, Fr.

LT 74 ERECK FLOWERS 6-6, 324, Jr.
52 Kc McDermott 6-6, 305, Fr.

LG 64 HUNTER WELLS 6-6, 312, R-So.
70 Jon Feliciano 6-5, 316, Sr.

C 62 SHANE MCDERMOTT 6-4, 300, R-Sr.
67 Alex Gall 6-5, 305, So.
68 Nick Linder 6-3, 290, Fr.

RG 63 DANIEL ISIDORA 6-4, 318, R-So.
67 Alex Gall 6-5, 30, So.
55 Joe Brown 6-4, 318, Fr.

RT 73 TREVOR DARLING 6-5, 310, Fr.
76 Taylor Gadbois 6-8, 316, R-So.

TE 5 STANDISH DOBARD 6-4, 255, So.
46 Clive Walford 6-4, 258, R-Sr.
85 Beau Sandland 6-6, 260, Sr.

FB 39 RONALD REGULA -OR- 6-2, 240, Sr.
FB 44 WALTER TUCKER 6-0, 226, So.

QB 12 BRAD KAAYA -OR- 6-4, 209, Fr.
16 JAKE HEAPS 6-1, 208, Gr.

RB 8 DUKE JOHNSON 5-9, 206, Jr.
2 Joe Yearby 5-9, 192, Fr.
7 Gus Edwards 6-2, 230, So.

WR 9 MALCOLM LEWIS 6-0, 189, R-So.
6 Herb Waters 6-2, 198, Jr.
82 Tyre Brady 6-3, 200, Fr.

 DEFENSE

 DE 71 ANTHONY CHICKILLO 6-4, 282, Sr.

9 Chad Thomas -OR- 6-5, 265, Fr.
99 Jelani Hamilton 6-5, 290, Jr.

DT 93 CALVIN HEURTELOU 6-3, 315, Jr.
72 Earl Moore 6-1, 304, Jr.

DT 91 OLSEN PIERRE 6-5, 300, Sr.
47 Ufomba Kamalu 6-6, 295, Jr.

DE 33 TRENT HARRIS 6-2, 238, Fr.
17 Tyriq McCord 6-3, 248, Jr.
98 Al-Quadin Muhammad 6-4, 245, So.

OLB 34 THURSTON ARMBRISTER 6-3, 241, Sr.
58 Darrion Owens 6-3, 235, Fr.

MLB 52 DENZEL PERRYMAN 6-0, 242, Sr.
44 Walter Tucker -OR- 6-0, 226, So.
51 Juwon Young 6-2, 240, Fr.

OLB 56 RAPHAEL KIRBY 6-1, 238, Jr.
28 Nantambu-Akil Fentress -OR- 5-9, 200, Sr.
5 Jermaine Grace 6-1, 212, So.

CB 3 TRACY HOWARD 5-11, 188, Jr.
29 Corn Elder 5-10, 188, So.

S 2 DEON BUSH 6-1, 198, Jr.
6 Jamal Carter 6-1, 213, So.

S 25 DALLAS CRAWFORD 5-10, 196, R-Jr.
48 Hugo Delapenha Jr. -OR- 5-11, 193, R-Sr.
7 Marques Gayot 6-1, 205, Fr.

CB 37 LADARIUS GUNTER 6-2, 192, Sr.
21 Antonio Crawford -OR- 5-11, 191, Jr.
1 Artie Burns 6-0, 196, So.

 SPECIALISTS

P 27 RICKY CARROLL -OR- 6-3, 198, R-Sr.
16 JUSTIN VOGEL 6-4, 210, So.

FG 18 MATT GOUDIS 6-0, 170, Jr.
24 Michael Badgley 5-10, 180, Fr.
43 Jon Semerene 6-0, 205, Fr.

KO 43 JON SEMERENE -OR- 6-0, 205, Fr.
18 MATT GOUDIS -OR- 6-0, 170, Jr.
24 MICHAEL BADGLEY 5-10, 180, Fr.

H 25 DALLAS CRAWFORD 5-10, 196, R-Jr.
16 Justin Vogel 6-4, 210, So.

LS 55 FRANK GABRIEL -OR- 6-3, 215, Jr.
39 RONALD REGULA 6-2, 240, Sr.

SS 55 FRANK GABRIEL -OR- 6-3, 215, Jr.
SS 39 RONALD REGULA 6-2, 240, Sr.

PR 3 STACY COLEY 6-3, 185, So.
83 Braxton Berrios 5-9, 183, Fr.
4 Phillip Dorsett 5-10, 185, Sr.
29 Corn Elder 5-10, 188, So.

KR 3 STACY COLEY 6-3, 185, So.
1 Artie Burns 6-0, 196, So.
83 Braxton Berrios 5-9, 183, Fr.
29 Corn Elder 5-10, 188, So.

 

 

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins to have season-ending back surgery Monday; QB Kaaya runs with first team.

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who started 12 games last season and had 46 tackles, three interceptions and five pass breakups for the Hurricanes, will have season-ending back surgery on Monday, a source has told The Miami Herald.

Jenkins first posted the news late Wednesday night on his Facebook page: “Will not be playing this season but I wish my boys the best. I would do anything to be out there with them but everything happens for a reason.#MinorSetBackMajorComeBack”

The source said Jenkins injured his back lifting weights and was trying to play through the pain. Jenkins last practiced on Monday. The recovery following surgery is expected to take at least six months, the source said.

"That hurt. That hurt us big time," senior safety Dallas Crawford said. "But he's still going to be out here coaching us. He has a lot of game experience. So he can still help the team in a lot of ways. But we need him."

-- MANNY NAVARRO

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

FRESHMAN KAAYA TAKES FIRST TEAM REPS; PLAYERS TALK QB BATTLE

In Thursday's morning practice at Greentree Field -- one day after the first scrimmage -- quarterback Brad Kaaya went with the first team and Jake Heaps went with the second team. We were told that the first depth chart will be released later today. It is neck-and-neck for the starting quarterback spot between freshman Kaaya and graduate transfer Heaps.

"I feel like I did a good job of running the operation and completing passes but I think the biggest thing is continuing to get better, continuing to work on the overall operation and feeling comfortable with everything,'' Heaps said after practice. "At this point after yesterday and today’s practice this morning feeling good about where I’m at and the progress that I’ve made and now over the next few days this is really going to be a big push so we all need to get better as a team.

When told coaches would narrow the race to two frontrunners, Heaps said, "I’m not worried about that. I’m just going out there and focusing on me and every rep that I get and trying to make it count. What coach decides, what he ends up deciding, that’s out of my hands. All I can do is just go out there and execute the best I can."

 Dallas Crawford told us Kaaya threw the pass that he picked off and he returned 50 yards for a touchdown in the scrimmage. He said Heaps threw the other interception.

 Here's what Crawford said about Kaaya: “He goes through his progressions very well. He doesn’t panic. He has really good feet in the pocket. He doesn’t force anything. I joke with him all the time, I think he’s a junior college transfer or something. He doesn’t act like a freshman. Just the way he carries himself and calls the audibles at the line. He looked really good yesterday.” 

Crawford on Heaps: “Jake’s a leader. As soon as he stepped foot on campus, he’s been leading. He takes command of the offense as well. He looked good yesterday too. It’s a battle. They’re both going at it. They looked good yesterday.”

> Hurricanes RB Duke Johnson said he did not experience any soreness after Wednesday's scrimmage on his surgically repaired right ankle: "Everything was fine. Got in the ice tub. Woke up today feeling better than yesterday.''

Duke also said Brad Kaaya reads defenses "exceptionally well for a freshman,'' but that Jake Heaps is better in that regard. “His checks, his reads, everything is a lot faster and quicker than Brad’s.”

What does receiver Stacy Coley think of the quarterback competition?

"Everybody has their different skill set," Coley said. "Brad is really smart. Brad can just pick out the zones, coverages being run. He picks it up real quick. He's very calm. Since Day 1, he as really calm. He just got in his playbook and was ready to go.

"Jake's just a good motivator. All the quarterbacks are smart. He has a great deep ball, throws great slant routes. It's a good spiral. It comes at you fast. You can catch it on the run and keep going."

Linebacker Denzel Perryman gave us his take, too. What does Kaaya do well in Perryman's eyes? "He's great under pressure man," Perryman said. "I can't rattle that guy for nothing at all. I think nobody can."

What does Perryman like about Heaps? "The fact he's really short -- he's like my height -- and he can still get the job done. He's another one that can't be rattled."

> The players wearing first-team black this morning: DE Trent Harris, DL Anthony Chickillo, S Dallas Crawford, Lb Thurston Armbrister, weakside linebacker Nantambu-Akil Fentress (for the first time), LB Denzel Perryman, LB Raphael Kirby and CB Ladarius Gunter.

> The players wearing first-team orange this morning: G Hunter Wells, G Danny Isidora, TE Standish Dobard, TE Clive Walford, RB Joe Yearby, WR Phillip Dorsett, RB Duke Johnson, T Ereck Flowers, C Shane McDermott, T Trevor Darling and FB Ronnie Regula 

> What does Duke Johnson think of freshman RB Joseph Yearby wearing an orange jersey: "It says he's working hard. He came in ready to learn, ready to listen. He was ready to be ready. He came with a mindset that stuff in high school don't matter. I need these guys as much as they need me. Me and Gus Edwards have to teach him everything we know so he can come out here and be effective.

What's Yearby's next step? "Stay consistent," Johnson said. "That's the hardest thing for a freshman to do because that's something you're not used. You're not used to being out here all the long days, coming back for two-a-days. If he can be consistent he'll be fine." 

> Crawford forced a fumble by receiver Tyre Brady with a big hit in Wednesday's scrimmage. "I guess he ran a post and he was on the goalline and I hit him and he fumbled," Crawford said. "That's pretty much it. I usually don't think, I just react to the play."

> Crawford on Fentress, who is playing outside linebacker and a rover safety position: "We need him to be a big contributor. I don't know if anybody on the defensive side plays as fast he does. He runs from sideline to sideline. He's smart. He gives great effort and he's always where he needs to be. So, I mean, we're going to need to him big time this year."

> UM will be back this afternoon for another practice session. 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 13, 2014

Miami Hurricanes scrimmage report from UM folks (Please note that it was closed to media)

The scrimmage was closed, but UM sent some photos and a report.

It's in, and it appears that the defense did a great job, according to this UM report. Here's the University of Miami's report from the scrimmage this afternoon at Greentree Field:

 

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The competition was fierce on the Greentree Practice Fields Wednesday as the Miami Hurricanes held their first scrimmage of #CanesCamp. The Canes battled under the South Florida sunshine, opening practice with goal line situations before transitioning into a 12-series scrimmage that featured highlights on both sides of the ball.

Like he did six times in 2013, Duke Johnson rushed for a touchdown to get the Hurricanes' offense going in the goal line drills. Also finding the end zone were fellow running back Gus Edwards on a three-yard run and running back Walter Tucker, who scored on a pass from freshman Brad Kaaya.

Johnson made an almost immediate impact once the scrimmage started, juking past two defenders on a 21-yard run to give Miami a first down. On the next snap, the star running back went untouched for 54 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Johnson also was a threat in the passing game, taking his lone reception of the afternoon for a scrimmage-best 30 yards.

Jake Heaps, Isaac Hoza, Brad Kaaya, Kevin Olsen, Malik Rosier and Michael Welch all took snaps at quarterback on Wednesday.

Heaps used many different weapons to get the Canes moving on Wednesday, completing passes to five different receivers.

Kaaya had several impressive throws, including an 18-yard completion to Stacy Coley and a 27-yard strike thrown to Clive Walford. Five Canes – Coley, Walford, Tyre Brady, Malcolm Lewis and Herb Waters – had multiple receptions on Wednesday, while freshman Trayone Gray turned heads when he powered past defenders for a 25-yard touchdown run.

Miami's defense was active in the team's first scrimmage of #CanesCamp. The Hurricanes had seven pass deflections (four at the line of scrimmage), six tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble that was recovered by junior Tyriq McCord.

The Canes defense was particularly good on third down, routinely stopping the offense and getting off the field thanks to a combination of pressure on the quarterback, good coverage and sure tackling.

Senior safety Dallas Crawford was an impact player for the Hurricane defense, tallying five tackles and forcing the fumble that was recovered by McCord.

Crawford also picked off a pass and took it 50 yards for a touchdown to end Wednesday's action.

Junior cornerback Ladarius Gunter had Miami's first pick of the day, jumping an out route to stop the offense's momentum. Denzel Perryman was Miami's leading tackler with nine stops. The senior had three tackles for loss, including a huge hit on Joseph Yearby for a loss of two. Defensive lineman Ufomba Kamalu and linebacker Jermaine Grace each had a sack, while defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo, linebacker Thurston Armbrister and defensive backs Tracy Howard, Hugo Delapenha and Ryan Mayes had pass deflections.

 

Canes home run derby a tuneup for scrimmage? We think not. (Where's David Thompson when you need him?)

   The football Canes switched to baseball and a home-run derby on their day off Tuesday.

   All I can say is that Malik Rosier, who will be an outfielder for the Hurricanes come baseball season, puts most of the other Canes to shame (Anthony Chickillo, don't quit your day job). 

   Speaking of baseball, former UM quarterback  David Thompson tore it up in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer. 

  The regular season concluded with David, representing the Orleans Firebirds, hitting .331 (7th in league). He had 54 hits (4th), 29 RBI (4th) and 14 extra-base hits (5th). He led all batters in the East Division, was a starter on the All-Star team and was his team's MVP.
 
  Between the unexpected return of ace lefty Andy Suarez, Thompson's continued excellence and the eventual arrival of Rosier (one of four UM quarterbacks battling it out for playing time), UM baseball coach Jim Morris must be feeling optimistic this offseason.

  We'll be back as soon as we hear some news about today's football scrimmage, which is closed to the media and public.  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

 

 

August 12, 2014

Tomorrow is a big day for the future of UM football.

The Hurricanes' quarterback race is about to get real tight.

After Wednesday's first scrimmage, Al Golden and his assistant coaches at Miami will dissect the film, likely discuss it ad nauseum and put out a depth chart that reveals the two frontrunners.

Those two, whom it seems fairly evident will be Jake Heaps and Brad Kaaya -- or Brad Kaaya and Jake Heaps -- will get the bulk of the snaps with the first team until a starter likely is announced after next Monday's second scrimmage.

There is a point system, Coley said on Saturday, that helps determine the outcome, or at least plays a part in it.

“We are grading them,” Coley said Saturday. “Not only are they getting pluses and minuses, but they are getting points for certain things they do on the field, and they are getting points taken away for certain things they do … and we are searching for who has the highest number of points.”

We talked to Coley again on Monday. Here is some of what he had to say:
 
How much does it hurt when they throw a pick in practice?

 "It’s a negative point against them, so sacks and picks, if it’s caused by them, like a sack coverage is a negative on them, an interception is a negative on them. But they get points for other things as well, and it’s all within the point value that we have."

MY COMMENT: Just from observation, it appears that Jake Heaps has thrown more interceptions than Brad Kaaya, but I have not counted and have not seen every interception.

How tough is it going to be to narrow this down to 2 qbs after this scrimmage?

"Yeah, it’s going to be tough and it’s going to be tough going into the scrimmage with taking out the hot…If a guy has a hot hand and putting in the next guy. Even ask coaches. We want to win the scrimmage too. But we have to make sure that the guys get the reps that they get and we’re able to put enough on film that we can take upstairs and we can evaluate, we can grade and we can make decisions -- and the biggest thing is, make corrections so we can develop them."

Here are Coley's comments on Malik Rosier, who also will play baseball for UM: 

 "Malik does some good things as well. He came in  at the end of practice. He’s got such a strong arm and he’s such a great athlete. He’s right where he’s supposed to be, maybe a little ahead of where he’s supposed to be coming in and being a true freshman.

 "There are times like the end of practice right here where he showed some good stuff and fired some really great, accurate footballs and took control of the team." 

Are Kevin Olsen and Ryan Williams in the mix to be the top two?

 "Well, we’ve got to see with Ryan. There are certain things he can do, there are certain things he can’t do yet. There are certain things we’re not comfortable with him doing medically. Olsen is going to get his shot in the scrimmage as well."

AL GOLDEN'S COMMENTS FROM MONDAY ON SCRIMMAGE:

"It’s going to be ones-ones, twos-twos and situations, just spot the ball in all the areas of the field that we’re working right now to make sure we can respond the way we need them to respond without the coaching. So, we’ll do that. And then the second [scrimmage] is more up and down the field. Just play it."

Do you know which QB is going to start with the ones?

 "I don’t. We’re going to discuss that tomorrow and go from there."

Again, (as Golden would say) here's the head coach's comment about how close the quarterback competition has turned out: 

“Man, it’s tight. It’s tight. … It’s just unbelievable when you think about it. Couple weeks ago, it was three guys who we hadn’t seen, you know? Really. They squeezed it down pretty good. It’s a heck of a battle, and I’m excited by their work ethic, their commitment to this team, how much they’re learning and clearly, you guys know, there’s execution going on. The balls aren’t on the ground a lot. So that’s good. And uh, we’ll see how it plays out. I mean … I thought it was going to be a little easier to narrow it down to two by Thursday, but it’s going to be tricky. We’ll just play it by ear other the next three days and see what happens.”

 With Brad, is there anything he shows you that makes you think he couldn’t handle at Louisville?

 “Zero. Zero percent. Poise, maturity, confidence, self-assured. And you know, a guy that turned a program around in his league and won a whole bunch in a row. Good leader right now, finding the reads he needs to find. Doing what he needs to do. Good start for him. We’ll get the bullets flying on Wednesday. It’s going to be a great challenge for all our quarterbacks.”

 ***So, UM fans, you likely haven't seen any of the closed practices, but what in your gut would you LIKE to happen? Who would you like to be the starting quarterback at Louisville on Labor Day night while millions of people are watching on national television? (Yes, that would be very intimidating for any new UM starter, whether it be Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya).

 At first I was convinced it would be Jake Heaps. I'm still leaning toward thinking they'll pick Heaps. He has the experience playing major college football, a lot of it, and that's invaluable. But honestly, after watching Kaaya in action, it has made me not as certain. I think they'd love to redshirt Kaaya, and maybe use Rosier if they need him. Kaaya still has a lot of learning to do when it comes to analyzing complex blitzes or defensive schemes coming at him -- and I'm talking about coming at him during a game, the best teacher in the long run. But there's no doubt that if he stays healthy, he has a huge ceiling. Everything about Brad Kaaya screams "big future." Golden knows he needs to win this season, and if Kaaya is the one, then...

  Suffice it to say this scrimmage Wednesday will be important.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

August 11, 2014

Monday's two-a-days completed. Check out Al Golden's telling comments on the QB competition

     The Canes have their first day off Tuesday and will conduct their first scrimmage of camp Wednesday. After the scrimmage, which will be closed and in a controlled format, coaches will cut the quarterback competition down to two players, Golden said.

   Graduate transfer Jake Heaps and true freshman Brad Kaaya have taken most of the first-team reps, and are believed to be the two frontrunners for the starting job. Golden indicated Monday he’d have no qualms playing Kaaya in the opener at Louisville should he emerge the better performer. 

 How tight is QB battle going into that scrimmage?

 Golden: “Man, it’s tight. It’s tight. … It’s just unbelievable when you think about it. Couple weeks ago, it was three guys who we hadn’t seen, you know? Really. They squeezed it down pretty good. It’s a heck of a battle, and I’m excited by their work ethic, their commitment to this team, how much they’re learning and clearly, you guys know, there’s execution going on. The balls aren’t on the ground a lot. So that’s good. And we’ll see how it plays out. I mean … I thought it was going to be a little easier to narrow it down to two by Thursday, but it’s going to be tricky. We’ll just play it by ear over the next three days and see what happens.”

  With Brad, is there anything he shows you that makes you think he couldn’t handle at Louisville?

  Golden: "Zero. Zero percent. Poise, maturity, confidence, self-assured. And you know, a guy that turned a program around in his league and won a whole bunch in a row. Good leader right now, finding the reads he needs to find. Doing what he needs to do. Good start for him. We’ll get the bullets flying on Wednesday. It’s going to be a great challenge for all our quarterbacks.”

 ***  Despite the "Knock on wood'' phrase being tossed around freely Sunday while talking to Miami coach Al Golden and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio about no new injuries in fall camp the past week, the situation was less bright Monday morning -- the first session of this year's first two-a-day.

  Two first-team offensive linemen wore red jerseys in practice, signifying injuries and no contact.

   The players: freshman right tackle Kc McDermott, the younger brother of center Shane McDermott, and senior left guard Jon Feliciano.

   Taking their places were freshman Trevor Darling at right tackle and junior Hunter Wells at left guard. By the afternoon, Darling and Wells wore the orange jersey of first-teamers and McDermott and Felciano were still sidelined.

  *** Additionally, freshman running back Joe Yearby was accompanied off the field by trainer Vinny Scavo at 9:30 a.m.

    Yearby, who sustained a broken fibula above his left ankle Nov. 30, had a bag of ice taped to his left ankle and he missed the rest of the morning session, but was full go in the afternoon.

     “He did great this afternoon so he’s doing good,’’ Golden said. “We’re just going to make sure we’re prudent with it…He’s a little bit behind Duke [Johnson] in terms of when [the injury] took place. So, from that standpoint, he’s still trying to catch up. But he’s fine.’’ 

       ***The biggest celebration of the morning was enjoyed by the defense after linebacker Thurston Armbrister picked off Jake Heaps near the end of the morning sessLon. The ball was intended for receiver Malcolm Lewis

  ***Wearing the first-team black jerseys on the defense Monday morning: DE Anthony Chickillo, LB Raphael Kirby, DT Calvin Heurtelou (DT Earl Moore wasn't wearing the black Monday, nor were LB Darrion Owens and freshman DE Trent Harris), S Dallas Crawford, CB Antonio Crawford and LB Denzel Perryman

*** Wearing the first-team orange jerseys on the offense Monday morning: WR Phillip Dorsett, LT Ereck Flowers, RG Danny Isidora, FB Ronnie Regula, TE Beau Sandland, TE Clive Walford, WR Rashawn Scott, C Shane McDermott and RB Duke Johnson.  

*** First-team quarterbacks were Brad Kaaya and Jake Heaps, with Ryan Williams coming in for a short stint and even rolling out. Near the end of the morning session, Heaps threw two nice, deep consecutive completions to Dorsett and Sandland. Kaaya continues to look really good.

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 10, 2014

Sunday in Coral Gables -- last afternoon practice for a long time, maybe all season. Tomorrow, it's back to a.m.

  The Hurricanes had a closed practice Sunday for the first time this camp, as they hosted recruits on campus for much of the day. “U Day’’ included a barbecue and a chance for the recruits and their guests to watch practice and see what life is like as a Miami Hurricane.

       Golden was asked what message he was hoping to convey.

     “Just what a sharp contrast from a year ago,’’ he said. “Just, everything. How we approach everything. How we attack. How we’re back talking about who we are, instead of defending who we aren’t. It’s just different. …As bleak as it was a year ago, we’re so jacked up about everything right now.

    “That’s the message to the kids. I know they want to bring the ‘U’ back, so we’re excited that they’re here.’’

    Golden once again praised the players for a constructive practice.

    "Good effort today again. Good focus. Guys have been taking care of their bodies, getting good rest. I was really impressed with the way they came out this morning. Had a walkthrough this morning and not a lot of error repeats from yesterday. It was good. They took care of business last night.”

     The coach said he spends '' a good deal of time'' with special teams, but hasn't revealed a lot about specifics yet to the media. "I think what we do is kind of do the heavy installs for offense and defense in the beginning, and when we repeat them we increase the installations for special teams. We’re right about that time now where special teams is going to increase in terms of the meeting time, the walkthrough time and obviously the practice time.”

    ***Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio was asked how much more advanced he could now be with his defensive linemen, considering many of them are veterans.

   “Last year we did make a schematic change,'' he said. "We adapted to more of a 3-4 package that evolved -- still a hybrid package. We’re playing a lot of 4-3 concepts and all that kind of stuff. So now this is year two of that, with the type of guys that we’re looking for. So, you know, I think the guys, what we’re asking them to do fits their skillset.

"Certainly you have to be multiple, you have to be multiple for the different teams that you see. Some teams are going to try to pound you, some teams are going to try to spread you out; we have to play Georgia Tech with the option. We just try to recruit really good players and put them in position to do things that they do well. That doesn’t exclude anyone in the recruiting process. We can find a place for Jermaine Grace at 200 pounds at Will, and Nantambu Fentress at 195, then we have Denzel playing next to him at 245. It doesn’t exclude us from anybody in the recruiting process.”

 *** UM reported in its camp notebook that quarterback Brad Kaaya made “several highlight-worthy throws and “connected for first downs with receivers Stacy Coley and Malcolm Lewis and running back Duke Johnson. His most “impressive’’ throw, according to the report, was “a perfectly placed ball over the safety and into the hands of Herb Waters for a 25-yard gain.

*** Cornerback Tracy Howard ended an 11-on-11 period with an interception for a touchdown, the report said, while safety Jordan Tolson had a pick during seven-on-sevens. The quarterbacks were not named.

 *** Please be sure to read my story in tomorrow's paper (online tonight) about UM's new punters battling to replace Pat O'Donnell. O'Donnell's talent will be missed, and who knows what kind of difference that might make this season.

*** Practice Monday is at 8:20 a.m. It is closed to the public.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

August 09, 2014

First a.m. practice in the books: QB competition will be cut to 2 contenders after next week's scrimmage

Our talented intern Jacob Feldman (@JacobFeldman4) covered practice today at Greentree Field.

And he saw what everyone else has been seeing, that graduate transfer quarterback Jake Heaps and freshman Brad Kaaya are the two young men getting the bulk of the reps with the first team, and it appears the favorites going into the first scrimmage (closed) Wednesday.

 Jacob reported and transcribed some of what Coach Al Golden said after practice. Make sure to read his story on Dallas Crawford later today, and his notes from camp on the quarterbacks.

GOLDEN:

***On if players are starting to separate themselves:

"There are some guys that have played a lot and have a lot of experience, so those guys kind of separate themselves and you can maybe give them 3 reps and the other guy 5 in an 8 play period, but I would say a majority of our team is scratching and clawing right now to be honest with you. I dont think there is going to be that kind of separation until after the 2nd scrimmage. There are a lot of guys in the mix right now so there are a lot of jobs open."

***On the quarterback situation:

"I'd like to get it down to two (QBs) after the first one (scrimmage). I’d like to get it down to two and go from there as we get into game week. The first scrimmage is Wednesday, and the second one is Monday so there isn’t a lot of time, so if I can get it down to two and give them a lot of work between the first one and second one, we’ll go from there."

   Note that Golden said Kaaya was more vocal Saturday.

*** On WR Darrell Langham, whose first practice (in shorts and jersey and helmet, no pads) was Saturday:

   "We'll get [him] caught up -- get him in condition here, be careful with him in the beginning so he doesn't pull anything or get an injury.''

*** On what has impressed him about freshman right tackle Kc McDermott:

  "Kc's really good with his feet for a big man, and that’s what's allowing him to compete. He’s smart and he’s got great feet, and obviously the rest of that group has worked together for a long time so that’s the 5 right now. And we have 6, 7, and 8, which is one group and then the next group -- 9, 10, and 11 -- that’s how we are breaking it down right now."

  UM's starting offensive line is from left to right: tackle Ereck Flowers, guard Jon Feliciano, center Shane McDermott, guard Danny Isidora and McDermott. He confirmed that Hunter Wells, Alex Gall and Taylor Gadbois are the next three in line.

 Tomorrow's practice is closed to the media, but we will still conduct interviews in the late afternoon.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 08, 2014

More Kaaya, a little more Williams, lightning, Langham and................. it's Goudis!

HEAPS OF KAAYA (ON FRIDAY)

  It's still early in camp, but at least after four practices it seems that graduate transfer Jake Heaps and true freshman Brad Kaaya are the Nos. 1 and 1A leaders, respectively, in the quarterback race.

   Kaaya, the 6-4, 218-pounder out of West Hills, Calif. (Chaminade-Madonna), took the reins for much of Friday's practice as the first-team quarterback. He is poised, has a great release, nice touch and exudes confidence on the field.

   Golden, who has praised Kaaya all week, was asked what else he'd like to see from the young quarterback.

 “Just do what he’s doing,'' Golden replied. "Command of the huddle. Continue to be more vocal. I think that’s the one thing Jake Heaps is right now. He’s vocal. He’s not afraid to get into, get after other guys and communicate and be loud. We’ve got to continue to work with Brad and Kevin [Olsen] and Malik [Rosier] on that. So that was the challenge to Brad today, just continue to be more vocal. Obviously he’s learning a lot. We’ve got a lot going in on the front end.”

 *** Ryan Williams, slated to be the starting quarterback before he tore his ACL in April, was behind center for three plays during seven-on-seven drills Friday.

    "He’s making progress,'' Golden said of the fifth-year senior. "Again I keep knocking on wood, and I’m not being coy with you – I don’t know what it all means. All I know is, he’s having an unbelievable recovery. In terms of the bell curve, he’s on the high end of it. So it’s good.” 

IT'S GOUDIS!

   Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis, a junior who hit 13 of his 17 field-goal attempts last season, said he is feeling  better after injuring his back this summer, forcing him to “miss some time in the weight room and running.’’

    Goudis said now that he's back, he needs to build up his legs again.

   “I should be good to go and back by Louisville,’’ Goudis said of the Sept. 1 opener. “From missing some running, my legs are just a little tired, not as explosive, but I’m still hitting from 50. In four more weeks I should be good to go.’’

LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN   

     The Canes had their next-to-last afternoon practice of fall camp Friday, but their fourth consecutive session with a lightning delay.

     That streak could end Saturday, when they switch to a morning practice and don full pads for the first time.

     They go in the afternoon Sunday and then back to mornings Monday.

    “It’s almost comical,’’ Golden said, laughing, when he was told by a reporter that it was a short practice. “We only had one interruption today, so this was good. The kids fought through it, finished up their finals and papers this morning and got locked in. I’m proud of them. They did a great job this week. Great maturity, excellent leadership, good focus.’’

   Golden said he likes morning practices better.

   “Yeah, it’s good for their recovery,’’ he said. “It’s better for our meeting schedule and most importantly, it’s best in terms of the heat and everything.’’

 *** Wide receiver Darrell Langham, the only Hurricane who has not joined camp, was expected to arrive Friday night, Golden said.

*** The Canes will practice for the first time this camp in the morning on Saturday. They will also be in full pads for the first time.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   

Two-way Tucker not shying away from playing linebacker or fullback for Canes

When JaWand Blue and Alex Figueroa were arrested and booted off the team last month following their arrests on sexual battery, sophomore Walter Tucker said he had an idea coaches might ask him to move back to linebacker. 

Apparently, though, coaches didn't get around to it until Monday -- the day before camp started. 

"Basically [linebackers coach] Hurlie [Brown] called telling me to come to the office," Tucker said. "He asked if I minded playing linebacker. I was down for it."

Tucker (6-0, 218 pounds) is still down to play fullback, too. And as far as coach Al Golden is concerned, Tucker will.

Although he spent the first three days of camp at middle linebacker and will spend the rest of it shadowing starter and leading tackler Denzel Perryman, Tucker said he still expects to come in and block or carry the ball in short yardage situations as a fullback.

"It really shows that I'm an athlete," said Tucker, who said he still participates in team meetings with the running backs to stay fresh with that side of the ball. "In the past, when I was younger, I always played both sides of the ball.

"With the [defensive] scheme, things are coming along better than what it was last year. I also have DP there to help me. We always get together after practice and work on plays."

Tucker was a two-way star at Plantation American Heritage as well as a track star. He won a pair of state titles in the 110-meter hurdles and had the nation's fastest time as a senior at 13.89 seconds.

This summer, Tucker said he was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.4 seconds, squats 405 pounds, bench presses 330 pounds and produced 25 reps on the bench of the NFL Combine testing standard (225 pounds).

What does he like about middle linebacker? "Basically, you get all the action," he said. "You are the head hunter and you are also like the quarterback of the defense. You're in control."

Golden called Tucker explosive earlier this week. 

“He’s a 4.5 guy who’s 230,” Golden said. “He played a lot there last year and even a great deal before the bowl game, he took a lot of reps there. He’s got some stored up. Talking to [linebackers coach] [Brown], he was comfortable with his recall to this point.”

August 07, 2014

Notes from Thursday's Canes practice: Ice Harris talks becoming an assistant; Golden has high praise for Heaps

When Tim "Ice" Harris rejoined the Miami Hurricanes staff back in March as the assistant director of football operations, his plan was to finish his final year of college so he could put himself in position to become an assistant coach should a position open. 

That opportunity came a little earlier than  expected. When linebackers coach Micheal Barrow stepped away last week to go on sabbatical, coach Al Golden decided it was time to make Harris, who spent 24 years coaching in South Florida at the high school level, a full member of his coaching staff.

“God is good, you know?," Harris said Thursday after practice, his third day as UM's running backs coach. "He definitely sets things up for you when you least expect it, but if you do things the right way, you definitely get your blessings. It’s an awesome blessing and I’m so excited to be in the position that I’m in, and I’m running with it.

“This is something I’ve been waiting for my whole life, you know. The hard work that you put in doing things the right way at the high school level, developing young people and then to have an opportunity to be the running backs coach at the University of Miami, it’s a dream come true.”

Although it's not an NCAA requirement for a college coach to have a degree, it is a standard colleges want their coaches to meet. Harris, 48, said he's at the tail-end of completing his degree in business administration and is just "waiting on some grades, some final stuff to finish up." He said Thursday he thinks he'll be finishing school just before September starts. 

"It's going to be different and exciting [being on the other end of recruiting and going into high schools]," Harris said. "But one thing they're going to be able to see is when we talk about dreams and goals and stuff we always set out to do they can actually somebody of my magnitude, it doesn't matter how old you are, how long it takes, if you're doing things the right way dreams will come true because time will pass by."

Barrow was arguably Miami's best recruiter in South Florida. Harris said Golden still hasn't decided which areas he will absorb in recruiting, but it's hard to imagine a man who has coached at Miami High, Northwestern, Central and Booker T. Washington wouldn't be asked to try and corner the market in his backyard.

"He's a guy that a lot of families and players can relate to," running back Duke Johnson said. "Just to have him coaching us is exciting. Just knowing he comes from the area where I'm from and knows what it takes to be successful and he's going to install upon us to be successful. I'm just excited to see what he's going to bring and help us learn."

Harris, known for his expressive behavior on the sideline and not being one afraid to chew a player out, was asked if he might give offensive line coach Art Kehoe a run for the title for feistiest Canes assistant.

"Oh, no," Harris said. ""Art Kehoe, he's got me. He's a true veteran. I haven't caught up with him. [I'm] just going to focus on development. Whatever we have to do to get them to be developed -- take their talent and game to the next level, understanding this team's mission -- that's what I'm going to focus on."

GOLDEN HAS HIGH PRAISE FOR HEAPS

Golden had high praise for Jake Heaps Thursday, who again took the majority of reps with the first team at quarterback. Freshman Brad Kaaya also received work with the ones.

“Just a complete understanding, poise, experience, very coachable, not an error-repeater," Golden said. "Anything you correct, he gets fixed. Pleasure to work with right now.”

Told by a reporter Heaps seems to be making the extra effort to connect with his offensive line and teammates, Golden responded: “He’s that kind of guy. Glad he’s here. Mature, grateful, and doing a great job trying to bring it all together for us.”

Although he overthrew the speedy Stacy Coley and Phillip Dorsett on a pair of long passes, Heaps had several highlights on Thursday including a nine-yard touchdown pass during 11-on-11s. His most impressive throw was to sophomore Malcolm Lewis. Heaps showed nice touch on a corner route, delivering a perfect pass over the safety and for a 30-yard gain.

> Golden mentioned defensive linemen Chad Thomas, Anthony Moten and Demetrius Jackson as freshman who could all compete for playing time this season. He also said freshman Darrion Owens is fighting for a starting job as the strongside linebacker. Owens has been wearing a black jersey -- designated for starters -- the first three days of camp.

"We’ve got a long way to go, but certainly those guys are going to help us,” Golden said.

> Senior receiver Rashawn Scott, suspended twice in his career by Golden, was wearing an orange jersey (designated for offensive starters) Thursday for the first time in camp. What has Golden seen out of Scott lately?

“More maturity right now, more focus," he said. "He’s just got to stay with the structure, be around good people, keep making good decisions and he’ll allow his talent to come to the surface. I think that’s the biggest thing with Rashawn. He’s done a great job this summer. I’m proud of him. Clearly, he’s come back in the best shape of his life because he’s playing good football right now.”

> Why is Coley in a white, non-starter jersey?

“Stacy’s doing good," Golden said. "It’s just a deeper position than it was a year ago. It’s deeper and Tyre [Brady] and [Braxton Berrios] tightened it up for us. Again, Phillip healthy, Herb healthy, Malcolm healthy, much different group and Rashawn back, much different group."

> Freshman running back Joseph Yearby missed Wednesday's practice because he was sick the night before. Yearby was back at practice Thursday. "We were prudent with him," Golden said. "We held him out. We didn’t like where he was at at 2 o’clock, we held him out. That’s it. I’m moving on.”

> Thursday was the first day the Hurricanes donned shoulder pads in camp. Miami spent the previous two days in only helmets. The team will be in helmets and shoulder pads again Friday. They will move into full pads on Saturday.

AUDIO CENTER

Here is what the folks down at UM were talking about after Thursday's practice -- the third of the fall.

AUDIO: Al Golden talks about how Jake Heaps has looked in practice

AUDIO: Ice Harris talks about being hired as an assistant coach and what it means to him

AUDIO: Receiver Malcolm Lewis on his return from injury and Phillip Dorsett's eye-opening 40-time

AUDIO: Tight end Standish Dobard on his development and new teammate Raphael Akpejiori

AUDIO: Sophomore Walter Tucker discusses his move back to linebacker and his role as a two-way player