September 04, 2016

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


Opening Statement…

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

On getting back to play-calling…

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

On his evaluation of the play of quarterback Brad Kaaya…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (thank you Cam Ghorbi)

September 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes true freshman Sam Bruce suspended three games


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

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

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

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

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

Game Day FINALLY. Notables for Miami Hurricanes against FAMU


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

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


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

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

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

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

***The game

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

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

    C. Linebackers * (see next listing)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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





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


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

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

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

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

Beirne was not set to dress for the FAMU game.

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



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


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

Wake up and it's game day.

That is, if he even could sleep at all.

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

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

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

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

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

Any birthday wishes for Brad

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

August 30, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








August 29, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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




August 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 26, 2016

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

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

   Some quick hits from Richt after today’s practice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 23, 2016

Miami DT Gerald Willis suspended for opener and LB Michael Pinckney back in "full'' action


***When coach Mark Richt was asked after Tuesday’s practice why Gerald Willis, who had a great scrimmage last week, was wearing a scout-team jersey, Richt said, “One of our issues is just numbers. We don’t have any D-linemen. So we have to rotate guys around to make it work.’’

     Another issue that Richt didn’t discuss was that Willis is suspended for the opener, as reported by Palm Beach Post and confirmed by the Herald through a source.

     That's obviously not the end of the world, as UM should be fine in the opener against FAMU. But it's obviously not good, either. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad is one of the players, in addition to linebacker Jermaine Grace and receiver Stacy Coley, who might receive a suspension to begin the season, in an alleged connection to the luxury car-rental case.

    Willis, a 6-4, 285-pound redshirt sophomore who sat out last season after transferring from Florida following various altercations and disciplinary problems, was a 2013 First-Team All-USA by USA Today out of Edna Karr High in New Orleans.   

  ***The Canes were finally in scout-team mode Tuesday, with players preparing for Wednesday’s third scrimmage since practice began Aug. 4.

    “I thought it was very well organized,’’ Richt said. “I have to give credit to the graduate assistant coaches and even the guys who were on the scout team. They did a really good job of getting lined up quickly and they gave us a good look.

    “For Day 1, it was excellent, and that’s not easy to do. That’s important, because tomorrow those same guys are going to be Florida A&M when we have our little practice game.’’

    ***Back in “full’’ action for the second straight day, according to Richt, was weak-side freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney, who has been working to mend an injured hamstring.

     Pinckney was the first-team weak-side backer, but redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier, who had been moved to weak-side in Pinckney’s absence, is battling the freshman for the starting spot.

    Richt said Darrion Owens, back this camp after sitting out almost all of last season with a torn ACL, “is not likely right now to be a starter, but we just want him to be healthy before he really goes full speed. I’m not saying Owens won’t get a crack at it before it’s over, but right now, that’s what it looks like – [a competition between Gordinier and Pinckney].

***Cornerback Ryan Mayes (shoulder) was limited Tuesday.

*** Freshman receiver Ahmmon Richards is still splitting first-team reps at the X – or split end – position, with Dayall Harris, Harris said. Richards has turf toe, which is a lingering, painful injury, and “missed some practices,’’ Richt said. He's still limited. “He’s not full speed yet, in my opinion. …It’s still bothering him some. Overall, I see him better than he was four or five days ago, so hopefully it keeps moving in the right direction.’’

***Harris praised senior wideout Stacy Coley, calling him “a total package. He’s a first-rounder for sure.’’

 ***Freshman receiver Sam Bruce had an allergic reaction and was not at practice Tuesday, Mark Richt confirmed, as he was checked by a doctor. “I just saw him – I think he’s fine. He had an allergic reaction to something and was just kind of getting swelled up in the mouth and throat areas, so we wanted to be sure he’s OK. He’s fine. It was not a medical emergency, but anytime a guy starts swelling up from some kind of allergic reaction, you have to be careful.’’

***Freshman receiver Dionte Mullins wore pads Tuesday. Harris said he looked sharp out there on Greentree Field. “He looks really good,’’ Harris said. “I can tell he’s a big-time playmaker. They’ve been working him in easy. He’s been getting reps with the threes, and coach put him in with the twos today. He’s playing at Z (flanker). He definitely will be a slot guy, but right now they’re trying to teach him the plays, trying to make him learn a little more of the offense before they just plug him in.’’

***Quarterback Brad Kaaya said he’s “real excited’’ about the opener. “These guys have been ready to play for a while now. Coach Richt was even telling me last week, saying how he wished he played this weekend, because he just can’t wait to get out there. At this point it’s a lot of review, not much about adding new plays.

   “We might add a few wrinkles here and there. The guys are just ready to get after and I’m looking forward to it.’’

*** Safeties Jamal Carter and Rayshawn Jenkins, offensive guard Danny Isidora and receiver Coley are on the Senior Bowl preseason watch list.

***Quote of the Day by Richt, talking about the backup QB competition between Vincent Testaverde and Malik Rosier: "If somebody spits the bit or is not a guy who we can trust, we may roll somebody else into that spot."


August 20, 2016

Per Miami Herald's Barry Jackson: star Miami WR Stacy Coley investigated in car-rental case

Stacy coley

Following is what our Barry Jackson just reported on Miami football star receiver Stacy Coley, who has not been made available to talk to us all fall camp:

"2 pm Saturday: UM's investigation into players who might have used cars from a South Beach luxury car rental agency, in exchange for future promises, has expanded and now includes UM receiver Stacy Coley, according to a source with direct knowledge. As we have previously reported, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace also are being investigated by UM for using cars from South Beach Exotic Rentals. UM, not the NCAA, is handling the investigation. UM has declined to say if any of the players will be suspended. Some UM players are expecting short suspensions for the players, but it remains unclear if that will happen. UM is still in the process of determing what, if any, discipline will be doled out."

As Canes fans know, Stacy Coley is without question one of the major talents on this offense, and without him the offense will be diminished. That's not to say he's getting suspended. I don't know right now. But it doesn't seem promising if indeed he is involved in this situation.

Coley, who has had an excellent fall camp, according to UM coach Mark Richt, chose to return to Miami for his senior season instead of entering the NFL Draft, giving the Hurricanes a major boost. The 6-1, 195-pound senior from Pompano Beach (Northeast High) played in 11 games last season. He had 47 catches for 689 yards and four touchdowns. He has 1,464 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.

In this past Wednesday night's scrimmage, Coley had five catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Hard to replace that type of talent.




Miami scrimmage: Kaaya (4 TDs, 395 yds); Willis (5 tackles, 2 sacks); Coley (5 catches for 125, 2 TD) shine


 Mark Richt promised -- and delivered.

The Miami coach said after Wednesday night's scrimmage that he didn't immediately have stats and he would give them to us at another time.

Today was that day.

Here are some of the highlights:


PASSING: Kaaya, 21 of 34 for 395 yards, 4 TDs and one interception.

Backups: Malik Rosier was 3 of 7 for 19 yards and 1 TD; Vincent Testaverde was 4 of 8 for 42 yards; Evan Shirreffs was 2 of 3 for 4 yards; Jack Allison was 0 of 6 with interception.

 RUSHING: Mark Walton, 8 for 39 (4.9 average); Joe Yearby, 2 for 20 (10 average); Gus Edwards. 15 for 57 (3.8); Travis Homer, 6 for 50 (8.3). Rosier, 2 rushes for 22 yards; Testaverde, 1 for 6. Shirreffs, 3 for 22. 

RECEIVING: Stacy Coley, 5 catches for 125 yards, 2 TD; Braxton Berrios, 3 for 87 and TD called back; Dayall Harris, 5 for 79, 2 TD (1 called back); Sam Bruce, 2 for 18; Darrell Langham, 2 for 17. 


TACKLES: Gerald Willis, 5; Jermaine Grace, 5; Michael Jackson, 5; R.J. McIntosh, 4; Romeo Finley, 4; Shaq Quarterman, 3; Jaquan Johnson, 3;  Al-Quadin Muhammad: 2.

SACKS: Willis, 2; Grace, Demetrius Jackson and Quan Johnson: 1 apiece.

BREAKUPS: Adrian Colbert and Malek Young led the team with two apiece.

On defense, second-team tackle Gerald Willis, a Florida transfer who is eligible to play this season and was going against the first teamers (and second-teamers when he subbed in with the first team in passing situations, per CanesInsight) during the scrimmage, was a definite standout.

On offense, the Brad Kaaya connection with Coley, Berrios and Harris is key this season. Canes fans should be meditating to a "Stay-Healthy-Brad" mantra repeatedly this season.  

*** RB Trayone Gray, who tore his ACL last week, will undergo surgery on his knee Monday.

***WR Ahmmon Richards, the talented freshman who has turf toe, was out of practice to take care of a personal issue and will be back Monday, Richt said.

*** Weak-side linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring) was working out on the sideline "but is not quite ready'' yet, Richt said. "If he was a true freshman without spring ball, I doubt we'd be thinking a whole lot about trying to get him ready. But he showed enough in the spring that we think he can play at this level. He's a pretty sharp kid. We just have to get him healthy.''

*** Safeties coach Ephraim Banda named three safeties who are working in nickel and dime packages: Rayshawn Jenkins, Jaquan Johnson and Jamal Carter. Cornerback Corn Elder also works nickel.

*** Elder said returners for punts and/or kicks include himself, Coley, Malcolm Lewis, Berrios, Bruce and Richards. "We're just working on catching punts and catching kicks,'' Elder said. 

*** The Canes have off Sunday. Saturday was considered the last day of preseason camp, as school begins Monday and next week the Hurricane first-teamers will start working against the scout team. 


August 19, 2016

Canes backup QB battle down to Rosier, Testaverde; notes on the OL, freshman Dionte 'Jingle Joints' Mullins

And then there were two.

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt announced Friday the backup quarterback job will be won either by redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, Brad Kaaya's backup last season, or redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde, a walk-on and transfer from Texas Tech.

Redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, who had been taking second team snaps for most of camp, did not make the cut. Kaaya later revealed Shirreffs has been dealing with an injury on his throwing hand since the start of camp. Meanwhile, several players said it's expected highly-touted freshman Jack Allison will redshirt this coming season.

Richt plans to spend the final two weeks leading up to the team's Sept. 3 season opener letting Rosier and Testaverde split all of the second team reps. He said the battle to get into the final two was "a very tight race."

"The rest of the guys, I want them to keep competing," Richt said of his quarterbacks. "They're still in a lot of drill work...if somebody struggles in that two unit match, it might be someone [else] bumps in there. It's not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they're in the driver's seat right now. They'll get all the reps with the number twos.

"There were times when I would have said Evan [Shirreffs] is in that bunch. There were times where I would have said Jack [Allison] is in that two-man deal. It took a long time to get to this point. No one really was so consistent that I was like, 'This is a slam dunk.' All these guys, even the top two, they've not done everything like we want it done on a consistent basis. But they've shown flashes, and they're a little more solid, maybe, in their accuracy or the decision-making process. But, even today, a bad decision here and there that we just can't have. Now you're in that position, what are you going to do with it? You're getting the reps, what are you going to do with it? That's part of the exercise. Once a guy feels like it's down to two, what happens to him? Does he continue to focus and get better, or does he spit the bit?"

Richt remained consistent in saying Rosier has to do a better job of making the smart play and not trying to be a hero.

"I think Malik has a tendency to want to do something heroic," Richt said. "I keep telling him I don't need a hero, I need someone to run the system. I need someone to do what they're supposed to do on a down-by-down basis. There's two things that I'm teaching them - if there's a bad play, don't turn it into a catastrophe. In other words, sometimes we call a route and it's a one-high beater route, and we guess wrong. It ends up being two deep - well don't throw it into coverage. Throw the ball away. Or it's perfect coverage, but the guard gets beat by the three-technique [defensive tackle] and he's up in your face. Well, you might have to throw it away if you have time, or take a sack and protect the ball. Don't throw it under duress up in the air and let the ball get batted around and picked. Don't turn a bad play into a catastrophe. The other thing is, like I said before, most great plays are just a normal play that they do at an extraordinary time. Just be consistent in your reads, be consistent in your accuracy, be consistent in getting us in the right place, be consistent in declaring who the mike linebacker is and our run and passing game schemes to let everyone know who to block. Those are the things they have to do."

> Meanwhile, freshman receiver Dionte Mullins, cleared by the NCAA and UM on Thursday, practiced with his new teammates for the first time. Kaaya intimated Richt is a big fan of Mullins saying his coach refers to the freshman as "jingle joints."

"One play. He ran a little stop route. The ball was a little high, he snatched it, tucked it and turned up field, nice and smooth," Richt said of Mullins. "Looks like a really smooth athlete."

> Richt said he feels comfortable with about "six to seven" of team's offensive linemen being able to handle all assignments.

Who is in that group? We believe left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Kc McDermott, center Nick Linder, right guard Danny Isidora, right tackle Sunny Odogwu and backup interior linemen Alex Gall and tackle Tyree St. Louis.

"I'd say [there are] six or seven that are ready in all areas," Richt said. "[That's] assignment and just the skill set to get the job done, and being able to do it on a consistent enough basis to have some peace.

"The linemen are like quarterbacks  -- certain guys will show flashes of doing it right, but if you do it right three times in a row and on the fourth time you whiff a guy, you're going to get somebody hurt - a back or a quarterback. I think guys are a lot closer to being ready than we were when we started in the spring, for sure. I'd say about six or seven. There's other guys that at least know what to do, and you can function like that. If a linemen knows what to do, and puts his hat in the right spot, and he fights like mad, even if he's not dominating, you can function and play."

St. Louis has been taking first team reps at right tackle and some at left tackle throughout at camp and Gall, a senior, can play all three interior spots.

"It’s a little bit different," St. Louis said of playing left tackle. "I haven’t even really touched that position since my senior year of high school, especially going against some of the competition out here. But it’s the best thing for me to be able to play both, especially in college.”

> Redshirt freshman Bar Milo, a four-star recruit from the same high school as Kaaya out in California, said he's been moved from tackle to left guard in the last week. He admitted Friday he's struggled in camp, but feels like the move might be for the best.

"Earlier in training camp, I was having a rough time," Milo said. "I was having mental issues. I went to Coach [Richt] and told him, and I can’t thank him enough for how patient he has been with me. I haven’t been playing how I wanted to this training camp, but I’m starting to get back into that fun, festive mood that I’m usually in when I get on the field, taking pride in the protection. If I’m one of those seven people, I’m glad he can trust me. I think I have a long way to go to where he can actually rely on me to put me in a game if someone goes down, but I’m excited to see what happens.”

August 18, 2016

Mark Richt on scrimmage: 'We got our money's worth as coaches'



Mark Richt and a few players after Thursday's practice (plus a little video of Malcolm Lewis)

Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

"Very short and sweet practice today, day after the scrimmage. Tomorrow we're going to have a full fundamental day again, so we wanted to give them a little bit of a break. We basically did most everything we normally do, we just kind of condensed the time of it. We also had some orientation meetings with a lot of our freshmen today, so that's why we're doing it in this certain window. We had Dr. [Julio] Frenk address us and Blake James, our Athletics Director, address us - the entire athletic community, I think that was at nine o'clock this morning. We started a little later because of that. It worked out - this is just what we needed."

On the message from President Frenk…

"Just how much he appreciates athletics as it relates to a university setting, and our responsibility to do things right - do things within the NCAA, ACC and university policy. Let's work together. We are a community, we are the U Family. That was mainly the message. He thanked everybody for our hard work, but also, 'help keep us accountable to doing things right.'"

On any takeaways from the team’s second scrimmage…

"I think we got our money's worth as coaches. It was a pretty long scrimmage. I thought the players just gave it up - you go back and watch the tape, there's very little...I just don't see much loafing around. Usually somebody is dogging it out there and you have to get on them, but that part has been probably the most pleasing thing of camp, is the effort of these guys every day. A lot of it is coaching and being on the same page, and sending the same message every day.  Don't one day say this is okay and the next day you decide that you're going to get mad at it. Just be consistent. But as far as the scrimmage overall, I would say by tomorrow we'll give you the stats as our staff put them together. It's late news, but it might be interesting for the fans."

On which players he has seen take on leadership roles defensively…

"[Rayshawn] Jenkins definitely. I like what Corn [Elder] is doing. I'm watching guys practice hard and take coaching. Sometimes, when everybody is going hard and everybody is doing their thing, there's not a whole lot of work to lead. Like I'm saying, I don't have to get everybody to go. I don't see anybody feel like he has to grab his teammate and get them to go. They're all doing it, and I think they enjoy that. I think they respect each other enough to do that. It's early, it's the first year, I don't know how many games we'll win, but we're working hard and I'm proud of it, in that area."

On the improvement of the defense from a tackling perspective…

"There's no question. Tackling in the box, most everybody can tackle in the box. It's when people get out in space when you miss tackles. That's mostly defensive backs - safeties, corners - offensively, the goal is to block everybody but a safety or a backside corner on a stretch play...if you do break it out, somebody has to defeat a block and go close that space and corral that guy and get him on the ground. Usually you can't do that by yourself. You do that because of team hustle and taking proper angles. Just the approach of the open-field tackles have made a huge difference."

On if he gained any clarity on the back-up quarterback role

"Yeah, but I haven't told those guys yet. By tomorrow, we'll know who's at least battling or still in the battle. I won't name a No. 2, but I'll narrow it down."

On if he sees Darrion Owens playing in the season opener, and Michael Pinckney’s injury…

"I hope so. I don't know what [Darrion] used to look like. But he looks, still, he doesn't look like he's flying around, 100 percent full speed every snap. Maybe just kind of getting to trust it again. I don't know. Pinckney, I would hope yes. He's just had a hamstring issue that’s been bothering him.''

Some Of Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz's impressions after scrimmage

***On DT Gerald Willis: “That evaluation is ongoing. He knows the things he has to continue to work on. Part of it is the ability to make a play, and there’s also the issue of not being where you’re supposed to be and giving up plays. Sometimes your playing time in a way is not dependent on how much good you can do, it’s dependent on how little bad you can do. He’s one of those guys that is certainly trying to focus in on, first, not burning the house down before we worry about how we attack the other people.’’

***On scrimmage sacks: “I think it was five.”

***On what it was like for his first-team D-line to go after backup quarterbacks who had shed their no-contact jerseys and were allowed to be hit: “I think they thought there would be [more sacks], but fear is a great motivating factor, so that ball came out sometimes differently than it did before.’’

***On Jamie Gordinier, who is playing first-team weak-side linebacker in place of the injured  Michael Pinckney (hamstring): “The biggest thing with Jamie…is his confidence in himself. When you’re a young guy and you’re trying to learn everything and be perfect, that’s really hard. So, what we’re trying to talk to him about is, ‘Trust yourself. Let the game come to you. And just let it go.’ I think he’s got a really bright future. I think he’s physically gifted but it’s just at-bats, that’s all it is, and persistence will turn him into a good player.’’

***On freshman cornerback Malek Young: “He’s fast, and fast players know they’re fast, so that affects their confidence in terms of how they cover; and…he’s tough. He’s a willing tackler, so the arrow is pointing up on Malek Young.’’

Head coach Mark Richt said he’ll name the top two contenders for the backup quarterback job on Friday…The Canes practiced for about an hour Thursday on the heels of the scrimmage…UM President Julio Frenk addressed the team and athletics personnel in the morning…Richt praised Elder and safety Rayshawn Jenkins for their leadership roles on defense…Weak-side linebacker Darrion Owens has not played in either of the scrimmages. “I don’t know what [Darrion] used to look like,’’ Richt said, “but he doesn’t look like he’s flying around, 100-percent full speed every snap.’’…Richt said he is hoping Pinckney will be well enough to play in the opener.


Download IMG_2752

Linebacker Darrion Owens

On missing time due to knee injury…

“I love the game. I want to be out there. I wish I could be out there with them, playing along with them. I’ve been playing this since I’ve been young. It is hard, just watching them going out there. But it’s better than sitting in the training room, wondering what they’re doing. It’s still a good feeling to be out here with them.”

On what he gains from watching from the sideline…

“When you’re watching, I think I can see how certain people deal with certain situations, and how some younger guys grow up and step up to adversity.”

On the team’s trio of freshmen linebackers – Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud…

“They don’t act like freshmen. All the freshmen linebackers, I have a good relationship with them and all of them carry themselves not like usual freshmen would. They work hard, they have a good head on their shoulders…they’re going to have a great future. I’m excited to see them play this year and from now on. They’re all going to be great.”


Defensive Back Rayshawn Jenkins (above picture by SMD: Rayshawn with Jaquan Johnson)

On how the defense played in the second scrimmage…

“There were definitely some good plays, but then again, there were definitely bad plays. We still have room for improvement, but that’s what practice is for. We have jut about two weeks before the game, and we have to get some things fixed.”

On how the defense stands compared to this point in camps of the past few years…

“In my opinion, it’s definitely better than in recent years we’ve been here, but it’s still not where we want it to be. There’s some stuff, like I said, that we still need to clean up, and we’ll move from there.”

On if he has seen the defense get beat on big plays…

“Not at all. It’s just little stuff – techniques, guys are getting accustomed to this new defense. Just a lot of technique errors, footwork…we’ll get it down.”

On where he sees the strengths and weaknesses of the defense…

“Definitely tackling. We tackle really well. And competing, just as an overall group. Like I said, technique – there’s not very much we need to improve on, in my opinion.  Just bringing those younger guys along, because we’re going to need them at some point down the road.”


Linebacker Jamie Gordinier

On the aggressiveness of the defense…

“We just put in that new third down ‘prowler’ package. It’s exciting to get to the quarterback. It’s a lot of fun. We have guys lining up in all different sorts of places and once the ball is snapped, it’s just kind of letting loose and playing backyard football.”

On the challenges of camp…

“The coaches are setting a really high standard for us. We were doing some extra stuff after practice for things we didn’t do right in the scrimmage. Everyone is kind of sore and tired, but that shouldn’t stop us right now.”

On learning the new defensive scheme…

“It wasn’t very difficult picking this defense up. He made it simple for that reason, so we could pick it up a lot easier.”

 On his mentality as he’s worked with the first team…

“My mentality is to give it my all. If I mess up on one play, I need to know that I need to attack the next rep and not think about what I just did wrong.”


August 17, 2016

Scrimmage report: Mark Richt has backup QBs shed no-contact jerseys to see how they perform under duress


 The University of Miami had its second scrimmage of fall camp Wednesday night, but this time coach Mark Richt didn’t share the statistics that would have perhaps provided a  hint as to who, for instance, might be the backup quarterback to Brad Kaaya come the Sept. 3 opener against FAMU.

     The backup quarterback field will be narrowed to two contenders in the next couple of days, the coach said.

      This time around Richt left those backups for the ravenous first-team defensive linemen, exchanging the no-contact black jerseys the quarterbacks normally wear for the regular, full-contact orange ones that the rest of the offense wears.

     The coach did not say if, or how many times, the backups got sacked.

     “They were live,’’ Richt said of the backups, who include redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, true freshman Jack Allison and redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde. “Just wanted to see if they could make a play with their feet, or if they got hit, can they get back up and go play another snap? I got to see a little bit of that.

    “I will have within a day or two either a No. 2 or a Co-No. 2. I’m narrowing it down to two. I want to watch the tape and be sure. But I’m pretty sure I’ve got it narrowed down to two. Whether one is ahead of the other right now I don’t know. I may just split time with the twos for the rest of the way until we make a decision probably a week from now.

   “We’re getting closer.’’

    The scrimmage was delayed more than nine hours after lightning delays caused the Hurricanes to exit Greentree Field and head back into their building.

    “A lot of guys were laying it on the line today and tonight,’’ Richt said. “We had to wait all day for it. Thankfully we had no school so we could get the work in.’’

    Richt said starting quarterback Brad Kaaya, whose No. 1 offense played against the No. 2 defense, “played great” despite throwing an interception. He got sacked once, the coach said.

    “He had one play he turned into a catastrophe, which is not excusable,’’ Richt said. “Other than that, he played great…. I’m guessing Kaaya hit 80-percent of his passes. That’s my best guess.’’   

     Others whom Richt lauded were receivers Braxton Berrios and Stacy Coley and running backs Mark Walton and Gus Edwards. He said the latter two “made some really outstanding runs’’ and Coley “played great.’’

    “He’s been practicing very well,’’ Richt said of Coley. “He’s in better shape than he was in the spring, like most of them, and he’s had very little issues with injury…

      “The No. 1 unit for both sides really had their way, I would say. Offensive ones did great. Defensive ones did great. So that’s what you hope this time of year.’’

     Others praised by the coach: receiver Dayall Harris and tight end Chris Herndon. “Herndon made a nice catch and physically caught a ball short of the first down and kind of manhandled a defender to get [it],’’ Richt said, adding that receiver Darrell Langham also “made a nice play on the goal line with really tight coverage.’’

    Among the freshmen who played well, Richt said, were running back Travis Homer. “Travis has shown me that he is tough and smart – I think he’ll be a really good special teamer… We have three [tailbacks] ahead of him right now, but he has proven to be a guy that I think we’ll be able to count on this year. …We’re not going to be afraid to put him into a game.’’

    Fellow freshman standouts included cornerback Malek Young and linebacker Shaq Quarterman. Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring) did not participate.

    UM’s next scrimmage will be Aug. 24, when the format will have the No. 1 offense and defense playing “on the same team,’’ Richt said, in preparation for FAMU.


August 16, 2016

Trayone "Choc'' Gray sustains serious knee injury and is out for season


Trayone Gray, a popular 6-2, 225-pound Hurricanes reserve running back who goes by the nickname "Choc,'' has sustained a serious knee injury and is out for the season, a source confirmed on Tuesday night.

 Gray's injury, first reported by the Palm Beach Post, will result in his redshirting in 2016 and returning next season as a redshirt junior.

  Gray, who was a quarterback at Carol City High, ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries last year as the No. 3 back behind Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton. He had 24 yards and a touchdown on six carries his freshman season in 2014.

  Last year, Gus Edwards, now the No. 3 tailback, missed the season with a foot injury. With Edwards back and freshman Travis Homer in the mix, Gray had moved down the depth chart recently.

   In 2015 I asked Gray where he got his nickname.

   "Choc came from my mama,'' he said. "When I was a baby I didn’t really want no bottle or nothing. I just ate a lot of chocolate. No bottle. So she just named me chocolate. I just ate chocolate candy. I [didn't] like milk."

   Fans showed Gray plenty of love on Twitter after the news came out, and he clearly appreciated it.

   "Thanks for all the prayers I appreciate it everyone God bless,'' Gray posted on Twitter.


    His running backs coach, Thomas Brown, tweeted, "Praying for a speedy recovery for my man @Godschild_choc.''

 Praying for a speedy recovery for my man @Godschild__choc

   Gray wrote this back: "I'll b back soon coach thanks for making me realize it's bigger then just a ball n a field love u coach TB''

  I'll b back soon coach thanks for making me realize it's bigger then just a ball n a field love u coach TB

   Coach Mark Richt, who will address reporters Wednesday after UM's second scrimmage of preseason camp, commented Saturday after practice how well the Hurricanes had been doing injury-wise.

   “I don’t want to be bragging about anything because then things happen sometimes, but it’s been good overall, I think. There’s been nothing catastrophic, nothing season-ending.”

   Receiver Lawrence Cager tore his ACL just before camp began.

   Trayone is a good man and we all hope he comes back stronger than ever.



Another talented Miami WR injured, and Mark Richt wants No. 2 QB to emerge in scrimmage


Rain, rain went away…And unfortunately, so has another UM receiver, in a matter of speaking -- temporarily, that is.

Freshman talent Ahmmon Richards, who had been wowing his coaches and teammates as the probable starter at X-receiver, has turf toe, Richt said. Richards is limited in practice and because of the injury, has dropped down to second team for now. Taking his spot: Dayall Harris, who already was doing well.



(Remember that Lawrence Cager -- ACL tear --already put the Canes down a man at a position in which they were lacking depth from the start)

   “He hasn't been full speed,’’ Richt said of Richards. “He looked really, really good, and then I think it was a turf toe-type deal that he was kind of fighting through. He's really not what he was. Dayall [Harris] is ahead of everybody. [Darrell] Langham and Ahmmon, I would say, are probably battling for the next spot right now. If Ahmmon gets healthy, that may change. But we were teaching [Malcolm] Lewis a little bit of 'X' just in just never know what can happen with an injury. We had one more guy learning X that we thought could play, and that was Malcolm.

*** Senior Malcolm Lewis is still doing very well, according to the coach, and will get substantial playing time this season. We talked to Malcolm and he is feeling healthy and invigorated and ready to make his senior season count.

*** Dayall Harris, who told us on Tuesday that he pronounces his first name “dayELL,’’ said he has never been on a team with as much talent as the University of Miami’s. Remember, he first played at Ole Miss of the SEC. Score one for the ACC.

Dayall Harris 8-16-16

*** A funny moment in practice was when Richt said slot receiver Sam Bruce, a freshman, ran the wrong route – and then got thrown the football anyway and scored a touchdown.

     "He’s still learning,’’ Richt said of Bruce. “Still learning what to do - that's part of his issue. Just not being certain of what to do. Like the last play of red zone, he ran the wrong route. True to form, we tend to throw it to the guy who runs the wrong route, for some reason around here. The worst part of it was he scored. Maybe we invented penicillin right there - he's learning what to do [laughter]. The ball-catching, I would say he has pretty good ball skills.

"He has great quickness and speed. He has not unbelievable speed, but he has very good game speed. He competes. that's one thing I like about him. He's a little like [Braxton] Berrios, in that, at the end of the practice, he still got a lot of juice. He still goes fast, and some guys kind of run out of gas on a day like this, but he tends to be in the kind of condition where he can keep going."

 *** In closing for now, Canes receiver signee Dionte Mullins, whom was previously expected to arrive at camp by today, was not at practice. Last we heard, Mullins, who showed up for practice on Saturday, had not been academically cleared to enroll and join the team. The Canes need him.

 ***Practice started later than usual today, and it was shorter than usual because there’s a scrimmage Wednesday morning and coach Mark Richt said he “didn’t want to wear them completely out’’ before the scrimmage – not to mention there was a lightning delay “for about 20 minutes,’’ Richt said.

About five minutes after the media got out to Greentree Field for our customary 15 minutes of viewing, it started pouring South Florida style.

*** Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace practiced.

*** Richt said what he’s looking for in tomorrow’s scrimmage is… "The biggest thing for me and Jon [Richt, quarterbacks coach] in our room is, ‘Who is going to be the No. 2 quarterback?’ We need to find that out. That's the biggest question for me right now."

*** Malik Rosier, last year’s No. 2 quarterback, said consistency is something that will be important for him tomorrow. He knows tomorrow is a big day. The other quarterback believed to be most in contention for the backup job, along with Rosier, is redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs. The two others: freshman Jack Allison and Vincent Testaverde.

*** Richt on the format of Wednesday’s scrimmage: "We're going to practice here, and have it similar to what we did last Wednesday [during the first scrimmage]. In other words, we'll have four drives with each unit - ones and twos - one is a minus-25 start [offense starts on 35-yard line], one is a minus-35 start, one is a 50-yard line start, one is a plus-40 start. We'll also sneak in a one-minute drill before the half. We'll also do our third and medium and third and long, which we did last time. We'll do a one-minute drill at the end of the game. We'll do an overtime, and we'll do two-point plays. We're adding basically some one-minute drills, overtime, instead of a plus-16 drive...kind of a red zone thing. We're going to practice an overtime session and we're going to practice two-point plays."

*** Richt on the offense having its best practice of camp Tuesday: "We placed the ball better, and guys made good catches for the most part. We had opportunities last time we were in the red zone. Last time we got together in the red zone, we had short yardage - which is third and two and third and one - and red zone. That means the offense should win that day, and we got beat. They stoned us, pretty much, in short yardage, or at least got a tie. You should win just about every one of those, with that kind of yardage. Then in the red zone, we didn't throw and catch at all. We pretty much called the same plays, we placed the ball better, the guys made catches, and it was just a better day because of that."

*** Among the guys on the exercise bikes today were K Mike Badgley, LS Jordan Butler, K Marco Baeza, P Jack Spicer (the special-teamers were just warming up); and FB Gage Batten (foot), DL Tyreic Martin (knee)


August 15, 2016

Richt: "The offense actually won the day today"

Through the first week-plus worth of camp it's often felt like the defense has been ahead of the offense.

That finally changed Monday.  

"The offense actually won the day today, which was great," said coach Mark Richt, who said the team went through a a lot fundamental work Monday after getting their first day off Sunday since camp began on Aug. 4. 

“It took the two [second string] offense to get three out of four on the very last drive against the No. 1 defense. That was huge for them. They haven't had a lot of success against the No. 1 defense. Much more competitive, really every day - the first couple of the days, the margin was pretty bad. But even when the defense has won the last day or two, it's been a tight, tight race. That's a good sign."

Still, Richt said, there were too many drops for Miami's receivers. He's also not getting the day-to-day consistency he wants.

"We're getting better," Richt said. "Even when you watch film, offensively, when you start out, you might have seven out of 11 [players] doing it right, and you get beat. When you get eight, nine, 10 out of 11 getting it right, you're getting closer but you still might end up losing that rep. When everybody starts doing it, that's when you start really clicking. I will say this, today, if we caught the ball when the ball was right in our hands - I'm talking about the tight end and wide receiver position - it would have been, not a landslide, but there would have been no drama at the end. We dropped too many balls today."

> No one has separated themselves yet in the kick or punt return game according to Richt. And that's apparently a good thing.

"I do think we have a good many guys that can be returners, we just have to decide," Richt said. "A lot of people want the most prolific return man, but I want the most dependable return man first. If he happens to be the most prolific, as a runner or a guy who can stick it in the end zone, great. But if he's great at that and doesn't field the ball well, or doesn’t secure the ball well, he won't be the guy. I want the most dependable guy. We're working so many guys, I don't even know what to tell you on that. The good news is, we have more than one or two or three guys that can do kick and punt return.

“Braxton [Berrios], Stacy [Coley], Malcolm [Lewis]...we're teaching Sam Bruce. Corn [Elder]. Then Mark Walton on kickoff return and Gus [Edwards] on kickoff return. I think Coley on kickoff return. Braxton and Corn...most of them double it up."

Richt said Edwards, a 6-1, 230-pound redshirt junior, is to serve as the "off-return man."

"But if the ball goes his way, he'll be returning it," Richt said.

> Richt continued to praise the play of the defense and the improved tackling he's seen since the spring.

"I just like the way the defense is playing, period," Richt said when asked about his defensive line. "I like how hard they're playing. I like the energy they're playing with. I definitely like what the front four is doing, but I like what all of them are doing. They've really impressed me. It's night and day on the effort level and the execution, especially open-field tackling - it's changed dramatically from the spring to the fall."

> Richt said redshirt sophomore cornerback Ryan Mayes is dealing with a left shoulder ailment. Mayes, competing for the No. 4 cornerback job, was on the stationary bike during the media portion of practice.

"Dinged it," Richt said. "I don't think it's any type of surgical deal. Just hurts right now."

Richt also said redshirt freshman safety Robert Knowles, who has been playing through a hand injury, will practice with a club on his hand.

> Richt said Wednesday's scrimmage -- the second of camp -- will continue to feature the first team offense and defense taking on the backups.

"In the spring we'll go ones versus ones," Richt said. "Part of it is, say you're in the season, and you're mostly scout-team work but will still do stuff against each other. Let's say we need Cover 2. We might ask Manny, 'With the twos, can you run some Cover 2 for the one offense?' Defense might need to see zone read. The scout team could do it okay, but you're No. 2 offense is going to give you a lot better look. The two offense and two defense tend to give a really good look. If there's something we do in our system, we'll call it that way, if that makes sense. That's a big part of it."

Observations, photos and video from Monday's Canes practice

We just got back inside from our 17-minute glimpse into Monday morning's practice.

Some quick notes: 

> The five guys on the stationary bike today (from left to right) were defensive lineman Scott Patchan (returning from knee surgery), linebacker Michael Pinckney (hamstring), fullback Gage Batten (returning from foot surgery), defensive lineman Tyreic Martin (recent knee injury) and cornerback Ryan Mayes (left arm).

Mayes, who was also on the bike Saturday, was not using his left arm while on the bike. His injury could become a big deal if serious. Mayes had an interception in Wednesday's scrimmage and is competing for the fourth cornerback spot.

> For the fourth consecutive day, the quarterback order behind Brad Kaaya was redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, freshman Jack Allison and redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde.

> Linebacker Jermaine Grace and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, part of the rental car investigation, were at practice again and working with the first team units as usual. 

> The guy who pulled up lame at the end of those running back drills was fullback Marquez Williams. Not sure if he got hit in the man parts or if he actually hurt himself. I'm pretty sure he continued the workout though.

> With Pinckney on the bike, Jamie Gordinier was running with the first team at weakside linebacker. 

> FYI, it looks like most of us in the media will be writing about the defensive line today. Coach Craig Kuligowski and four of his players -- Chad Thomas, RJ McIntosh, Gerald Willis and Demetrius Jackson -- are being made available after practice ends.

August 13, 2016

Miami Hurricanes' Saturday post-practice football report



Mark richt 8-13-16**Freshman DL Tyreic Martin's knee was bandaged and Mark Richt said after practice that he has a knee injury. "A knee,'' Richt said. "Non-surgical injury that will keep him out a little bit.''

*** Saturday was "more of a teaching day.''

*** On giving players off the second session of a two-a-day Friday afternoon: 

"To be honest with you, two things - obviously it is smoking hot out here and they've been working in the heat,'' Richt said. "But they've been working well in the heat. Usually by that time, it's Practice 11 or 12 - usually by Practice 10, there's at least one dud in there....just not giving effort, not giving us all they have. I just didn't see that yet. I thought they were working hard, I thought you could see they were fatigued. You want them to fight through fatigue, but you also want to be wise with soft tissue injuries and things of that nature. It looked like a good time to give them a little bit of a break."

*** On percentage of offense that has been installed:

  "At this point, 95 percent of installation is in. There will be a reduction when we get to game-planning. I say reduction of total [plays] - we're not going to put in every single play that we ran in the game plan. We'll pick and choose the things we like the best. And there may be a few plays that are specific for an opponent that might be added to it. Overall, let's just say hypothetically there's 100 plays that we've installed, we might have 50 going into a game, 50 of the 100 we've been working all along. And then maybe a couple here and there that are new because of what we see on tape."

*** On how the number of injuries compares with Richt's training camps in the past:

 "It has been very, very good to this point. Very few. We had one I.V. on a player and one I.V. on a coach - I won't say which coach [laughs]. I don't want to be bragging about anything because then things happen sometimes, but it's been good overall, I think. There's been nothing catastrophic, nothing season-ending. That's been good."

 ***On status of UM signee Dionte Mullins, a wide receiver who was on the sideline watching practice Saturday but still isn't enrolled:

"We're still very encouraged about his arrival. We think that's going to happen. We're anticipating that." (Please note that Dionte, when asked today if he would be at Canes practice Monday, told the Miami Herald -- "I haven't heard yet.''  See below)

On if he expects any late additions to the roster via transfer:

"If something popped up, possibly. But right now, there's nothing I would say is pending. Every once in a while, it's like, 'Hey, so and so, he's leaving, look at his tape, find out what kind of kid he is and see if he can fit.' There are still things stirring around the nation. There are some guys that are declaring, 'Hey, I'm a graduate transfer now and finally got a release.' I'd say don't hold your breath on that end, but don't be shocked if it does happen."

On his thoughts on the SEC transfer rule, (re Alabama transfer Maurice Smith being given permission to transfer to Alabama, though Richt wasn't asked about Smith specifically)….

"I didn't even listen. I guess you have to have a waiver in order to make that kind of transfer, is all I know. I kind of stayed out of that. I've unconditionally released any guy that ever wanted to leave, because I think life's too short. I would call the commissioner and say, 'The kid wants to go. Wherever he wants to go, let him go.' I think we had two kids go to Alabama, at least one went to Auburn, maybe two. But I don't put any limitations."



*** DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace practiced

*** Among those exercising on the bikes were CB Ryan Mayes, FB Gage Batten (foot), LB Michael Pinckney (hamstring), S Robert Knowles (right hand/finger), TE Stan Dobard (ankle). Some, such as Pinckney, might have just warmed up and then joined practice.

*** For the third consecutive day, the quarterback order behind Brad Kaaya: redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier, redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, freshman Jack Allison and redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde.

Dionte mullins 8-13-16

***Canes signee Dionte Mullins, a much-needed wide receiver, was on the sideline in street clothes. He still has not enrolled or joined the team. Mullins, who was finishing up his summer academics this week, told me he hasn’t heard yet, regarding whether or not he’ll be able to soon join the team.