December 11, 2013

Nine Canes named to Coaches' All-ACC team

Nine Miami Hurricanes were selected to the 2013 All-ACC Football team by the league’s 14 head coaches, the ACC announced Wednesday. Miami’s first- and second-team All-ACC selections mirrored those selections made by ACSMA last week.

Junior LB Denzel Perryman and graduate P Pat O’Donnell were both named to the first team. Sophomore RB Duke Johnson, senior WR Allen Hurns and senior OG Brandon Linder were named to the second team.

Senior QB Stephen Morris, a third-team All-ACC selection by ACSMA, was named to the coaches’ All-ACC third team and was joined by senior OT Seantrel Henderson, junior C Shane McDermott and freshman specialist Stacy Coley.

Henderson, McDermott and Coley were All-ACC honorable mention by ACSMA.

Perryman, who has started all 12 games at linebacker, leads the Hurricanes defense with 104 total tackles – 65 solo stops – along with 5.0 tackles for loss. Perryman, who was honorable mention All-ACC by ACSMA and the league’s coaches in 2012, has tallied 10+ tackles in six games this season.

O’Donnell ranks third nationally with a 47.3 yards-per-punt average, which leads the ACC by nearly 3.0 yards per kick. O’Donnell has 20 punts of 50+ yards to his credit and 17 that have landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Despite missing the last four games of the season with a fractured ankle, Johnson collected second-team All-ACC honors after rushing for 920 yards and six TDs. He was averaging 115.0 rushing yards per game before his season-ending injury. He averaged 174.1 all-purpose yards per contest.

Hurns is currently enjoying one of the greatest receiving seasons in program history. The senior leads Miami in both receptions (60) and receiving yards (1,138). He is only the fourth player with a 1,000-yard receiving season in school history and 19 yards shy of breaking the school single-season receiving yards mark. Currently, Hurns ranks seventh in Miami history in both career receptions (119) and career receiving yards (1,867) and eighth in career receiving TDs (14).

Linder, a preseason All-ACC selection, helped anchor Miami’s offensive line that paved the way for the Hurricanes to average 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.9 points per game. Miami’s offense scored 40+ points five times in 2013.

Miami’s four third-team selections were led by Morris, who has thrown for 2,868 yards and 21 TDs through 12 games. For the second straight season, Morris has posted four 300-yard passing games. The Miami native ranks third all-time in Miami history with 7,736 passing yards and 49 passing TDs. Morris is the only QB this season to throw a 50+ yard pass in nine different games.

Joining Morris on the third team were Henderson and McDermott, who were part of an offensive line that allowed only 13 sacks in 12 games – tied for the fewest in the ACC. Coley is the only FBS player this season to score a TD four ways: rushing, receiving, punt return and kick return.

No. 25 Miami (9-3) will play No. 18/16 Louisville (11-1) in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando. Tickets, which are priced at $77 and $82, can be purchased through the UM Ticket Office online at CanesTix.com, in-person at BankUnited Center (M-F 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) or by phone at 1-800-GO-CANES.

Miami is also hosting BankUnited #CanesFest Family Friday Bowl Practice from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Cobb Stadium. Admission is free. Sebastian the Ibis, Miami cheerleaders and the Sunsations will be at practice. Bounce houses will be on site for the kids, who can also take their photo with Santa. The Hurricanes will also be collecting toys for "Toys For Tots". Fans in attendance will also have the chance to purchase Russell Athletic Bowl tickets.

December 08, 2013

So, what do you think of the Teddy vs. The Canes Bowl (AKA Russell Athletic Bowl)? Should be fun.

Sounds like a movie: Teddy vs. The Canes.

At one time, Teddy Bridgewater was committed to the Miami Hurricanes. Now he's committed to beating the Hurricanes.

Bridgewater, a Miami Northwestern product who now stars as the Louisville Cardinals' quarterback, will lead the Cardinals against Miami at 6:45 p.m. Dec. 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

They'll officially announce the matchup in about half an hour. The game will be played at the Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Eighteenth-ranked Louisville (16th in USA Today coaches' poll) is 11-1 and 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference.

Miami, ranked 25th in the USA Today coaches' poll, is 9-3 and 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami leads this series 9-1, but lost 31-7 the last time they played the Cardinals in Louisville in 2006. 

Bridgewater pulled his commitment from Miami after former UM coach Randy Shannon was fired. He followed his Miami Northwestern teammate and favorite receiver Eli Rogers to Louisville.

Bridgewater's mother was unhappy with the way Hurricanes fans reacted to her son decommitting from UM before he made Louisville his choice.

Regardless, Bridgewater is a great talent, and as repeatedly witnessed in his three seasons at Louisville, has a knack for creating good situations out of bad ones on the field.

Last season, Bridgewater threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns as the then-No. 21 Cardinals upset third-ranked Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl.

The Cards have 23 players on their roster from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Talk about a South Florida pipeline.

If the Canes can pull this one off, it would definitely bolster recruiting efforts.

So, what's your take? Will you travel to Orlando for the game?

 Do you like the matchup?

I definitely like the matchup, and the storylines.

And just in case you didn't know, Miami plays Louisville next season, when the Cards join the ACC as a member of the Atlantic Division. They'll replace Maryland. The game date has not yet been announced.

Miami is allotted 13,500 tickets for the Russell Athletic Bowl. Tickets are priced at $77 and $82 and can be purchased through the UM Ticket Office online at CanesTix.com, in-person at BankUnited Center (M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or by phone at 1-800-GO CANES.

 

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Al Golden after the Hurricanes' first bowl practice in three years. Practice No. 2 is today.

Below is exactly what Al Golden said after Saturday's first bowl practice in three years. He'll be out recruiting instead of with the Hurricanes when the bowl announcement is made at about 8:45 tonight. Golden said he regrets not being able to be with his players.

The Canes have another football practice this morning at 11. It's at Cobb Stadium on campus and open to the public. After today's practice, fans can go see the men's basketball team (5-4) take on Virginia Tech (6-3) in UM's first ACC game of the season. The hoops game is at 12:30 p.m. at BankUnited Center.

 AL GOLDEN AFTER CANES' FIRST BOWL PRACTICE

"We got a lot done. We were out there for an hour 40 but it was a great tempo. We probably rested 25, 26 guys, so guys who had high play counts we rested and put the pressure on some of the younger guys to step up. I was pleased with the effort, and we’ll come out here tomorrow and get another good one and then we’ll get ready for exams.

Extra significance waiting three years for this one shot?

(Laughing) "Man, it felt great. It was unbelievable. The whole week felt great. I didn’t answer one question about the NCAA. We got a great recruiting group in here today. I didn’t get one guy on the list all week. They just took care of business. I know they’re excited about going to the postseason and growing and learning. All the young guys came out here today. You could see it. They were giving good effort. It was hot, but they gave great effort.

 "These two days we’re going to take care a lot of the vets. And next weekend we’re going to get going. Youll see everybody out here starting Friday night at 5 O’Clock. It should really ramp up another couple notches because those guys are two weeks rested."

 On practice being open:

"It’s great. Obviously we’ve been waiting for the postseason and there’s really nothing to these. We’re not trying anything new or we’re not hiding anything. No trick plays or anything like that. It’s just about getting better.

 "They understand. We’re grateful to the seniors. We’re going to try like heck – I think you see the attitude today. We’re going to try like heck to send them out the first 10-win team in a decade. We’re grateful for all they endured and what they went through to get us to where we are and everybody else had got to carry the torch now, everybody else  has to move forward, including the guys on the official visit.

"I don’t think I will be [with the players Sunday night for the bowl announcement] only because the new recruiting calendar has really squeezed us. It’s unfortunate. I would love to be. But it sounds like I’m going to have to be on the road because we’re dead a week from [Sunday]. I would love for them to be together."

How important are these bowl practices for young guys’ development?

"Huge. We haven’t had it. We’re going to be able to look at the film and some guys really stepped up. You guys see it. A catch here. A play there. Somebody has got their mind right for practice. A guy like Alex Gall, man, he had his mind right, we started him. He responded. I thought Taylor Gadbois is the same way. Jermaine Grace made some plays, D'Mauri Jones. It’s just exciting to see some of those guys step up, [such as] Jelani Hamilton."

 How is Ladarius Gunter (neck) doing?

"He’s good. He missed some time so we wanted to practice him today. He’s fine."

Have you spent time thinking of bowl opponents?

"Not a second. This is about us getting better right now. We didn’t do anything with them all week. They lifted a little bit so we could maintain some structure. They went to school, they took care of study hall. That’s what it’s about right now. Take care of exams, control what we can control and then when we find out where we’re going we’ll get ready. 

Anthony Chickillo is wearing a boot. What's wrong? 

"[It's a] little toe deal. We just have to be careful. I suspect he’ll be out here Friday. Tests were negative there and he should be back soon."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

December 06, 2013

Louisville has accepted invitation to Orlando's Russell Athletic Bowl. Will Canes be there, too?

So, it's now official. The Louisville Cardinals is heading to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, to be played Dec. 28 at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando.

Will quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami product who graduated from Northwestern High and was once committed to the Miami Hurricanes, face the team he grew up loving?

We won't know until Sunday. I still think Miami has a good shot of heading to Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to face an SEC opponent. ESPN likes the ratings that the Canes bring, and something about the Canes and the SEC makes it a good draw.

Either way, both bowls could be fun games. Future ACC team Louisville, with Teddy (and former UM defensive line coach Clint Hurtt) would make for an intriguing matchup as well.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

Here's the story posted by Matt Repchak of FCSports & The Russell Athletic Bowl:

The Louisville Cardinals have accepted an invitation to play in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl. This year’s edition of the game will take place on December 28th at Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium at 6:45 p.m., and will be televised nationally by ESPN.

"Russell Athletic is thrilled that the Louisville Cardinals will complete their outstanding season by appearing in the Russell Athletic Bowl," said Gary Barfield, Senior Vice President, Russell Athletic. "We are eager to find out on Sunday who Louisville will be facing in what is sure to be an exciting game."

Louisville heads to Orlando for the first time after posting its second-straight 10-win season, capped by a 31-24 overtime win at Cincinnati tonight. It becomes the third team in bowl history to enter the game with double-digit wins (Boston College (10), 2007 Champs Sports Bowl; Alabama (10), 1991 Blockbuster Bowl). The previous two teams each went on to win the bowl game and finish with an 11-win campaign.

The Cardinals return junior QB Teddy Bridgewater, who already ranks third in Louisville history in passing yards and fourth in career touchdowns.

The Louisville defense has stymied the opposition all year long. The unit ranks second in total defense in the FBS, allowing only 242.5 yards per game and third in scoring defense, surrendering just 11.4 points per game. The Cardinals also rank in the top five nationally in rushing defense, passing defense, turnover margin and third down conversion percentage.

"We're excited to host a ranked, one-loss Louisville team for the first time in the Russell Athletic Bowl,” said Steve Hogan. “It has built a powerful fan following and we look forward to rolling out the red carpet for Orlando Bowl Week."

Head coach Charlie Strong is an impressive 36-15 with the Cardinals, leading them to two conference championships and bowl appearances now in each of his four seasons. Louisville can earn at least a share of its third straight conference championship with a UCF loss on Saturday.

 

 

December 04, 2013

Central star RB Dalvin Cook signs grant-in aid agreement with Miami, but it's not a done deal yet

Miami Central standout Dalvin Cook, ranked as the No. 2 running back in the country by 247Sports, signed a grant-in aid agreement with the Hurricanes Wednesday along with teammates Joseph Yearby and Trevor Darling.

But before you go throwing a party Hurricanes fans,  understand this doesn't mean Cook, still a University of Florida commitment, will definitely be a part of Miami's 2014 signing class along with Yearby and Darling (longtime UM verbal commitments).

All this means is UM is now obligated to honor their scholarships, unlike the scenario for a traditional recruit who offers a non-binding verbal commitment. All three players are not tied to UM and could enroll elsewhere or sign a binding letter of intent with a different school as well. 

On the plus side, UM is no longer limited by NCAA regulations that restrict in-person contact with Cook. That includes phone calls and home visits.

Cook (5-11, 190) met with UM coaches earlier this week and told Miami Herald High School Sports Writer Andre Fernandez the experience was "eye-opening" because he finally got a chance to sit down and really see how strongly UM wants him.

"In person you really see what people are all about," Cook said. "I think there is definitely a strong possibility Joe and I still end up playing together at the next level." 

Cook also is still strongly considering Florida State. Central coach Roland Smith said Wednesday night at practice he wouldn't be surprised if Cook also signed a financial aid agreement with the Seminoles and Gators if he hadn't already.

Central is preparing for a Class 6A state semifinal showdown this week against Daytona Beach Mainland. Yearby, who is close with Cook, was lost for the season last week and had surgery Wednesday for a broken right fibula. Yearby told The Miami Herald he expects to be ready for spring football.

All three players plan on enrolling in college in January.

ESPN's BCS guru Brad Edwards: "The buzz I'm hearing right now" is that Chick-fil-A "likes Duke.''

I just asked Brad Edwards, the BCS expert for ESPN, if Florida State beats Duke, which team does he think the Chick-fil-A Bowl would choose for its Dec. 31 game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

"The buzz I’m hearing right now is that they like Duke,'' Edwards said on a conference call. "I think the fact that Miami does not have a great track record of traveling a lot of fans to bowl games plays into that. Duke still is going to be the team that has the better season, they had the better record, they beat Miami head to head. I would think If they don’t believe that there’s going to be a tremendous difference in attendance between the two, that duke would be the direction to go."

"Even if Duke is crushed?" I asked.

"Yeah, you know here’s the thing,'' Edwards said. "With Duke" (he laughed right here), "I’m half-joking to say this, getting crushed is something Duke fans are quite accustomed to. I don’t think it would take the air out of the Duke fan base to get crushed by Florida State the same way it would for a lot of fan bases to get crushed in a conference championship game. This is a dream season for Duke regardless what happenes Saturday.

 "Look at what Florida State did to them a year ago and that was a Florida State team that was not even as good as this year’s team. I bet most Duke fans are expecting to get crushed in this game. If they’re still in it at halftime maybe they’ll start to believe and hope and all that, but I don’t think anything that can happen Saturday night is going to cause fewer Duke fans to be interested in a bowl game like it would for a lot of fan bases."

I was told today by the bowl that the ACC and SEC teams each are allotted a maximum of 18,500 tickets (though there's a minimum amount they have to buy, and it's fewer than that). The game is already sold out, and Chick-fil-A officials are confident they'll fill the seats regardless of who plays in the game -- especially if they get a decent SEC draw (think Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M, or a UM-Georgia game). But Edwards still is projecting Duke over Miami.

"Yes there’s certainly the name factor you don’t get with Duke,'' Edwards said, "but there’s still the possibility that Duke could be ranked. They’re 20. Everybody is expecting them to lose the game so it’s not like people are going to kill them on their ballots for losing to Florida. They could get a ranked team with Duke. They definitely will get a 10-win team, which is something they wouldn’t have with Miami."

Note that Miami is 9-3.

"I can see it both ways,'' Edwards concluded. "I don’t  know for sure that’s what they'll do. But that’s just what I’m hearing, that as of right now, Duke would be the choice for Chick-fil-A."

ESPN (and I'm not talking about Brad Edwards) will have a part to play in this as well. The station wants a good game, so I still don't think it's a done deal either way.

We'll all just have to wait, regardless.

Edwards believes the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 in Orlando will take Miami if the Chick-fil-A does not. But if something really wacky happens, you never know. 

El Paso, anyone?  

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

December 03, 2013

Very cool idea: Miami Hurricanes will open first five bowl practices to public. Will you be there?

(PLEASE NOTE THAT UM HAS CHANGED THIS SUNDAY'S PRACTICE TO 11 A.M. UNTIL 12:45 P.M. (ORIGINALLY WAS FROM 3 TO 5 P.M.)

It has been a very long time since Miami has opened a string of practices to the public, so it's great to see that the Canes will open their first five bowl practices, beginning this weekend and continuing next weekend.

What do you think? Will you make it to any of the practices? Bring your kids (or parents) or grandkids?

You can bet there will be no secrets unveiled during those practices, but what a great way to bring fans into their world during a festive time of year.

Here's the release:

 CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes football team will open its first five bowl practices to the public. Miami (9-3, 5-3 ACC) will begin bowl preparations this weekend as the Hurricanes gear up for its first bowl game since 2010.

 Miami’s first two bowl practices will be Saturday (1-2:45 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.). The Canes’ final three open bowl practices will be Fri., Dec. 13 (5-7 p.m.); Sat., Dec. 14 (1-2:45 p.m.); and Sun., Dec. 15 (1-2:45 p.m.). All five practices will be held at Cobb Stadium adjacent to the GreenTree Practice Fields.

 For practices Dec. 7-8 and 14-15, fans can park in any of the green, gray and yellow lots near the Hecht Athletic Center and Cobb Stadium. For the Fri., Dec. 13, practice, fans can park in the Ponce Garage. Those attending the open practices must enter Cobb Stadium through the entrance along San Amaro Drive.

 Miami finished the regular season with nine wins – the most by a Hurricanes team since 2009. The Canes will find out their postseason destination later this week.

 @MIAMIHURRICANES OPEN BOWL PRACTICE SCHEDULE

Saturday, Dec. 7                   1-2:45 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 8                      11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 13                     5-7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 14                 1-2:45 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 15                   1-2:45 p.m.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

December 02, 2013

Pat O'Donnell & Denzel Perryman earn first-team All-ACC honors -- here's the complete list of honorees

HOT OFF THE PRESS:

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Six Miami Hurricanes were named to the 2013 All-ACC Football teams, announced Monday by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). The 2013 All-ACC teams were voted on by 65 ACSMA members.

Junior LB Denzel Perryman and graduate P Pat O’Donnell were both named to the first team. Sophomore RB Duke Johnson, senior WR Allen Hurns and senior OG Brandon Linder were named to the second team, while senior QB Stephen Morris was selected to the third team.

Perryman, who has started all 12 games at linebacker, leads the Hurricanes defense with 104 total tackles – 65 solo stops – along with 5.0 tackles for loss. Perryman, who was honorable mention All-ACC by ACSMA in 2012, has tallied 10+ tackles in six games this season.

O’Donnell, who was named ACC Specialist of the Week on Monday for his career-first forced fumble in a road win at Pitt, ranks third nationally with a 47.3 yards-per-punt average, which leads the ACC by nearly 3.0 yards per kick. O’Donnell has 20 punts of 50+ yards to his credit and 17 that have landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Despite missing the last four games of the season with a fractured ankle, Johnson collected second-team All-ACC honors after rushing for 920 yards and six TDs. He was averaging 115.0 rushing yards per game before his season-ending injury. He averaged 174.1 all-purpose yards per contest.

Hurns is currently enjoying one of the greatest receiving seasons in program history. The senior leads Miami in both receptions (60) and receiving yards (1,138). He is only the fourth player with a 1,000-yard receiving season in school history and 19 yards shy of breaking the school single-season receiving yards mark. Currently, Hurns ranks seventh in Miami history in both career receptions (119) and career receiving yards (1,867) and eighth in career receiving TDs (14).

Linder, a preseason All-ACC selection, helped anchor Miami’s offensive line that paved the way for the Hurricanes to average 446.8 yards of total offense and 35.9 points per game. Miami’s offense scored 40+ points five times in 2013.

Miami’s lone third-team selection was Morris, who has thrown for 2,868 yards and 21 TDs through 12 games. For the second straight season, Morris has posted four 300-yard passing games. The Miami native ranks third all-time in Miami history with 7,736 passing yards and 49 passing TDs. Morris is the only QB this season to throw a 50+ yard pass in nine different games.

Five Miami Hurricanes collected honorable mention All-ACC from ACSMA – senior OT Seantrel Henderson, junior OG Jon Feliciano, sophomore CB Tracy Howard, sophomore S Deon Bush and freshman specialist Stacy Coley.

Miami (9-3, 5-3 ACC) finished the regular season with nine wins – the most by a Hurricanes team since 2009. The Canes will play in a bowl game this season and await their postseason destination later this week.

MIAMI HURRICANES ON 2013 ALL-ACC FOOTBALL TEAM (ACSMA)

FIRST TEAM

LB – Denzel Perryman, Miami, 6-0, 236, Coral Gables, Fla. (124)

P - Pat O’Donnell, Miami, 6-5, 222, Gr., Lake Worth, Fla. (135)

SECOND TEAM

RB – Duke Johnson, Miami, 5-9, 194, So., Miami, Fla. (104)

WR – Allen Hurns, Miami, 6-3, 195, Sr., Miami, Fla. (102) 
G – Brandon Linder, Miami, 6-6, 317, Sr., Southwest Ranches, Fla. (80)

THIRD TEAM

QB – Stephen Morris, Miami, 6-2, 214, Sr., Miami, Fla. (24)

HONORABLE MENTION (20 or more points)

OT – Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (34)

OG – Jon Feliciano, OG, Miami (20)

CB – Tracy Howard, CB, Miami (30)

S – Deon Bush, S, Miami (20)

SP – Stacy Coley, SP, Miami (22)

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

2013 All-ACC Football Team
First Team
Offense
QB – Jameis Winston, Florida State, 6-4, 225, Fr.-R, Bessemer, Ala. (191)
RB – Andre Williams, Boston College, 6-0, 220, Sr., Schnecksville, Pa. (195)
RB – Devonta Freeman, Florida State, 5-9, 203, Jr., Miami, Fla. (126)
WR – Sammy Watkins, Clemson, 6-1, 205, Jr., Fort Myers, Fla. (191)
WR - Jamison Crowder, Duke, 5-9, 175, Jr., Monroe, N.C. (172)
WR – Rashad Greene, Florida State, 6-0, 180, Jr., Albany, Ga. (126)
TE - Eric Ebron, North Carolina, 6-4, 245, Jr., Greensboro, N.C. (178)
T- Cameron Erving, Florida State, 6-6, 320, Jr.-R, Moultrie, Ga. (148)
T- James Hurst, North Carolina, 6-7, 305, Sr., Plainfield, Ind. (118)
G- Tre’ Jackson, Florida State, 6-4, 330, Jr., Jesup, Ga., (160)
G-Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech. 6-1. 305, Jr., Columbia, Tenn.  (96)
C- Bryan Stork, Florida State, 6-4, 298, Sr.-R, Vero Beach, Fla. (181)
Defense
DE - Vic Beasley, Clemson, 6-3, 225, Jr-R.., Adairsville, Ga. (161)
DE - Kareem Martin, North Carolina,  6-6, 265, Sr., Roanoke Rapids, N.C. (159)
DT -  Aaron Donald, Pitt, 6-0, 275, Sr., Pittsburgh, Pa. (171)
DT – Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest, 5-11, 250, Sr.-R, Wylie, Texas (156)
LB - Kelby Brown, Duke, 6-2, 220, Jr.-R, Matthews, N.C. (146)
LB – Denzel Perryman, Miami, 6-0, 236, Jr.,  Coral Gables, Fla. (124)
LB – Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College, 6-1, 215, Sr., Norwalk, Conn. (123)
CB – Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State, 5-8, 190, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (172)
CB – Ross Cockrell, Duke, 6-0, 180, Sr.-R, Waxhaw, N.C. (145)
S – Anthony Harris, Virginia, 6-1, 185, Jr., Chesterfield, Va. (142)
S – Jeremy Cash, Duke, 6-2, 210, So.-R, Plantation, Fla. (129)
Special Teams
PK - Nate Freese, Boston College, 6-0, 185, Sr., Strongsville, Ohio (124)
P - Pat O’Donnell, Miami, 6-5, 222, Gr., Lake Worth, Fla. (135)
SP - Ryan Switzer, North Carolina, 5-10, 175, Fr., Charleston, W.Va. (155) 

Second Team
Offense
QB - Tajh Boyd, Clemson, 6-1, 225, Sr.-R, Hampton, Va. (132)
RB – Kevin Parks, Virginia, 5-8, 205, Jr.-R,  Salisbury, N.C. (117)
RB - Duke Johnson, Miami, 5-9, 194, So., Miami, Fla. (104)
WR – Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest, 5-11, 190, Sr.-R, Clarksville, Md. (102)
WR - Allen Hurns, Miami, 6-3, 195, Sr., Miami, Fla. (102)
WR – Tyler Boyd, Pitt, 6-2, 185, Fr., Alexandria, Va. (100)
TE - Nick O’Leary, Florida State, 6-3, 246, Jr., Palm Beach, Fla. (126)
T- Brandon Thomas, Clemson, 6-3, 305, Gr.-R, Spartanburg, S.C. (104)
T- Matt Patchan, Boston College, 6-6, 304, Sr., Tampa, Fla. (92)
G- Laken Tomlinson, Duke, 6-3, 320, Jr.-R, Chicago, Ill. (90)
G- Brandon Linder, Miami, 6-6, 317, Sr., Southwest Ranches, Fla. (80)
C- Macky MacPherson, Syracuse, 6-2, 280, Sr., Syracuse, N.Y. (61)
Defense
DE – Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech, 6-3, 242, Sr., Washington, D.C. (121)
DE – Kenny Anunike, Duke, 6-5, 260, Sr.-R, Galena, Ohio (98)
DT – Timmy Jernigan, Florida State, 6-2, 294, Jr., Lake City, Fla. (124)
DT – Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 306, Sr., Highland Springs, Va. (73)
LB – Telvin Smith, Florida State, 6-3, 218, Sr., Valdosta, Ga. (105)
LB - Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech, 6-1, 236, Sr.-R, Oakton, Va. (93)
LB – Christian Jones, Florida State, 6-4, 232, Sr., Winter Park, Fla. (83)
CB – Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, 5-11, 180, Fr., Baltimore, Md. (91)
CB – Bashaud Breeland, Clemson, 6-0, 195, Jr.-R, Allendale, S.C. (69)
S – Terrence Brooks, Florida State, 5-11, 200, Sr., Dunnellon, Fla. (97)
S – Tre Boston, North Carolina, 6-1, 205, Sr., Fort Myers, Fla. (86)
Special Teams
PK - Roberto Aguayo, Florida State, 6-1, 208, Fr.-R, Mascotte, Fla. (123)
P – A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech, 6-1, 190, So., Terre Haute, Ind. (79)
SP - Jamison Crowder, Duke, 5-9, 175, Jr., Monroe, N.C. (80)

Third Team
Offense
QB – Stephen Morris, Miami, 6-2, 214, Sr., Miami, Fla. (24)
RB – Roderick McDowell, Clemson, 5-9, 195, Gr.-R, Sumter, S.C. (85)
RB –Jerome Smith, Syracuse, 6-0, 217, Sr., Bear, Del. (53)
WR – Devin Street, Pitt, 6-4, 190, Sr.-R, Bethlehem, Pa. (80)
WR – Alex Amidon, Boston College, 5-11, 186, Sr., Greenfield, Mass. (70)
WR - Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State, 6-5, 238. So.-R, Belle Glade, Fla. (68)
TE – Braxton Deaver, Duke, 6-5, 240, Jr.-R, Charlotte, N.C. (51)
T- Perry Simmons,  Duke, 6-5, 300, Sr.-R, Raleigh, N.C. (80)
T- Morgan Moses, Virginia, 6-6, 325, Sr., Richmond, Va. (76)
G – Tyler Shatley, Clemson, 6-3, 295, Sr.-R, Icard, S.C. (65)
G- Josue Matias, Florida State, 6-6, 322, Jr. , Union City, N.J. (57)
C- Andy Gallik, Boston College, 6-3, 300, Jr.-R, Evergreen Park, Ill. (52)
Defense
DE – Kasim Edebali, Boston College, 6-2, 258, Sr.-R, Hamburg, Germany (65)
DE – Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State, 6-3, 285, So., Gautier, Miss. (56)
DT – Jay Bromley, Syracuse, 6-4, 293, Sr., Jamaica, N.Y. (68)
DT – Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech, 6-1, 288, Jr., Delray Beach, Fla. (56)
LB - Steele Divitto, Boston College, 6-3, 238, Sr., Ridgefield, Conn. (78)
LB - Stephone Anthony, Clemson, 6-3, 235, Jr., Polkton, N.C. (73)
LB – Spencer Shuey, Clemson, 6-3, 230, Gr.-R, Charlotte, N.C. (57)
CB – Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 193, Sr., Baltimore, Md. (58)
CB – Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech, 6-2, 173, Fr., Newnan, Ga. (53)
S – Durell Eskridge, Syracuse, 6-3, 202, So., Miami, Fla. (53)
S - Nate Andrews, Florida State, 6-0, 208, Fr., Fairhope, Ala. (44)
Special Teams
PK- Chandler Cantnazaro, Clemson 6-2, 195, Gr.-R, Greenville, S.C. (69)
P - Will Monday, Duke, 6-4, 210, So.-R, Flowery Branch, Ga. (73)
SP - DeVon Edwards, Duke, 5-9, 185, Fr.-R, Covington, Ga. (57)

Honorable Mention
(20 or more points)
RB
Robert Godhigh, RB, Georgia Tech (39)
David Sims, RB, Georgia Tech (29)
James Wilder, Jr., RB, Florida State (23)

WR
Kenny Shaw, WR, Florida State (46)
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson (34)
Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina (33)
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (21)

OT
Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (34)
Bobby Hart, OT, Florida State (30)
Sean Hickey, OT, Syracuse (29)
Ian White, OT, Boston College (27)

OG
Andrew Miller, OG, Virginia Tech, (53)
Will Jackson, OG, Georgia Tech, (35)
Matt Rotheram, OG, Pitt (22)
Jon Feliciano, OG, Miami (20)

C
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina (28)
David Wang, C, Virginia Tech (21)

DE
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech (42)

DT
Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson (39)
Brent Urban, DT, Virginia (21)

LB
Robert Caldwell, LB, NC State (51)
Marcus Whitfield, LB, Maryland (45)
Marquis Spruill, LB, Syracuse (31)
Terrance Smith, LB, Florida State  (26)
Norkeithus Otis, LB, North Carolina (22)
Cole Farrand, LB, Maryland (22)

CB
Tracy Howard, CB, Miami (30)
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State (25)
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (22)
Jabari Price, CB, North Carolina (20)

S
Ray Vinopal, S, Pitt (30)
Jason Hendricks, S, Pitt (29)
Ryan Janvion, S, Wake Forest (28)
Kyshoen Jarrett, S, Virginia Tech (23)
Deon Bush, S, Miami (20)

PK
Niklas Sade, PK, NC State (37)
Ross Martin, PK, Duke (26)

P
Tommy Hibbard, P, North Carolina (26)

SP
Stacy Coley, SP, Miami (22)

Stacy Coley and Pat O'Donnell earn shares of ACC Player of the Week honors for game at Pittsburgh

 

Congratulations to Hurricanes punter Pat O'Donnell and receiver Stacy Coley for earning ACC Player of the Week honors in the final week of the regular season. Both have been stellar this season for UM. Considering Coley is a freshman and there's still a learning curve (yes, he has dropped some passes), he should end up being one of the best UM has had.

And what else can you say about Pat O'Donnell? The young man is an amazing talent, and it is a shame that he wasn't even named among the semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, let alone the three finalists.

Here's what the ACC sent us:

SPECIALIST– Pat O’Donnell, Miami, Gr., 6-5, 220, P, Lake Worth, Fla.

O’Donnell booted four punts for a 44.2-yard average, including three kicks inside Pitt’s 20-yard line, in Miami’s 41-31 road win at Pitt. However, O’Donnell’s biggest play occurred on the opening kickoff ,when the graduate punter forced a Pitt fumble which was recovered by Miami’s Garrett Kidd. O’Donnell’s first career forced fumble resulted in the first of three Stacy Coley touchdowns in the Miami win.

  CO-ROOKIE – Stacy Coley, Miami, Fr., WR, 6-1, 180, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Coley accumulated 171 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Miami’s 41-31 road win at Pitt. Coley hauled in two receiving touchdowns and later posted a rushing score  to his total. Coley now has touchdowns in three straight games. He finished with three catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers, while rushing for a 73-yard TD in the second quarter. With his 73-yard touchdown run, Coley became the only FBS player in 2013 to record a touchdown via receiving, rushing, punt return and kickoff return. He is the third Miami freshman in the past 20 years to record 10-plus touchdowns in his rookie campaign, joining Clinton Portis (1999) and Duke Johnson (2012).

NOTE: UM has not sent us a schedule for the upcoming practices. There is no availability until at least late in the week or the weekend.

HERE ARE THE OTHER ACC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

 CO-OFFENSIVE BACK – Anthony Boone, Duke, Jr.-R, QB, 6-0, 230, Weddington, N.C.

 Boone completed 23-of-34 passes (.677) for 274 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 20th-ranked Blue Devils’ 27-25 Coastal Division-clinching win over North Carolina. Boone engineered Duke’s game-winning drive in the fourth quarter – an 11-play, 66-yard march that resulted in Ross Martin’s 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left. On the afternoon, Boone directed a Duke offense that committed no turnovers and allowed no sacks while rolling up 27 first downs and 461 total yards (187 rushing and 274 passing). Duke entered the week converting an ACC-low 25.3 percent on third down, but Boone led the Blue Devils to an 8-of-15 conversion rate (.533) versus UNC.

 CO-OFFENSIVE BACK/CO-ROOKIE – Jameis Winston, Florida State, Fr.-R, QB, 6-4, 225, Bessemer, Ala.

 Winston threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns in leading Florida State to a 37-7 win at Florida on Saturday. Winston became the first opposing quarterback to pass for 300 yards in over three years – a 42-game stretch – against the Gators. Florida entered the game ranked third in the nation in passing defense, allowing 157.7 yards per game, and had given up a nation-low five passing touchdowns all season. By halftime, Winston had already totaled 208 yards passing – his eighth 200-yard first half of the season – and two scores. On the day, Winston set a new FSU single-season record for passing touchdowns (35), breaking the old mark of 33 set in 2000 by Chris Weinke, and recorded his sixth 300-yard passing game of the season as FSU’s 30-point victory was the largest by the Seminoles ever versus Florida in Gainesville.

 CO-OFFENSIVE BACK – C.J. Brown, Maryland, Jr.-R, QB, 6-3, 210, Cranberry Twp., Pa.

 Brown accounted for five touchdowns (three rushing and two passing) for the second time this season in a 41-21 win over NC State. Brown rushed for a season-high 138 yards, which is the third-best rushing performance by a quarterback in school history, and averaged 9.2 yards per carry. His three touchdowns on the ground are the most by a Terrapin in a single game since 2010. He also passed for 259 yards, including a 53-yard scoring strike for Maryland’s first touchdown. It marked the third time this season Brown has passed for over 250 yards and rushed for over 100 yards.

 OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Andrew Miller, Virginia Tech, Sr.-R, LB, 6-4, 293, Bassett, Va.

 Playing in his final game against Virginia Tech’s in-state rival, Miller had perhaps the finest game of his career in Saturday’s 16-6 win at Virginia.  Miller played all 75 offensive snaps, grading out at 92 percent with a career-high 20 knockdown blocks as the Tech offensive line paved the way for nearly 150 yards on the ground by the running backs. He finished the regular season with an 86 percent grade and a team-high 115 knockdowns, 56 more than his closest teammate.

 RECEIVER – Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State,-So. -R., WR, 6-5, 238, Belle Glade, Fla.

 Benjamin became the first Seminole in 10 years to tally 200 yards receiving in a game and single handedly outgained the Gators’ entire offense in Saturday’s 37-7 win at Florida. Benjamin’s 212 receiving yards are the most in a game in the ACC in 2013, and the three touchdown receptions tied the ACC high for the season. Benjamin’s first touchdown put FSU ahead 10-0 in the second quarter when he broke three tackles en route to a 45-yard score. The Gators entered the game with the nation’s No. 3 pass defense, allowing just 157.7 per game, and had given up only five passing touchdowns all season, but were unable to slow down Benjamin, who had 108 yards and two scores before halftime. 

 DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech, Sr. DE, 6-3, 242, Washington, D.C..

 Attaochu recorded a career-high 4.0 sacks – the third-most single-game sacks in Georgia Tech history – in a double-overtime loss to Georgia on Saturday. Attaochu, who also had eight tackles and a pass break-up, tied the Yellow Jacket all-time career sack record of 31.0, which ranks fifth in ACC history.

 LINEBACKER – Matt Robinson, Maryland, Jr, LB, 6-4, 230, Columbia, Md.

 Robinson finished with a career-high 17 tackles, the second-highest total for a Terp this season, including a personal-best 3.5 tackles for loss in Saturday’s 41-21 road win at NC State. He also registered a half-sack and one pass break-up.

 DEFENSIVE BACK –Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech, Fr., CB, 5-11, 180, Baltimore, Md.

 Fuller was a lockdown corner all day for the Hokies in shutting down the Virginia offense in Virginia Tech’s 16-6 win. He had a career-high eight tackles and four pass break-ups to go along with a half-sack and his team-leading and Tech freshman record sixth interception of the year.

  SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 30, 2013

Duke beats Carolina, heads to ACC Title game; UM shifts focus to final exams, bowl practices, recruiting

Al Golden said he wasn't going to lose his mind Saturday scoreboard watching or "become a slave to the TV for seven hours" to see if the University of Miami would get the help it needed to reach next weekend's ACC championship game.

Duke made sure the agonizing only lasted three and a half hours for everyone else who bleeds orange and green.

The Blue Devils, who beat Miami for the first time since 1976 two weeks ago in Durham, punched their ticket to Charlotte and a date with second-ranked Florida State Saturday afternoon thanks to a late 27-yard field goal in a 27-25 win at North Carolina.

Had Duke lost and Virginia upset rival Virginia Tech, UM would have began preparing for a rematch with the Seminoles Monday. Instead, the focus for the Hurricanes (9-3) now shifts to final exams, a few days off and the team's first trip to a bowl game since Golden was hired in December 2010.

> Golden said "it's tough to quantify" what missing 30 to 35 December practices under self-imposed bowl bans did to hurt the program over the last two years and he's definitely looking forward to having them this year.

"Having all the [recruits] in South Florida come watch bowl practice and watch us operate and be around our team and players," will be big for the program moving forward, Golden said. Getting to 10 victories with a bowl win -- at likely either the Chick-Fil-A in Atlanta (Dec. 31) or the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando (Dec. 28) -- is also important, Golden said.

> What did Golden like and not like about Friday's effort in chilly Pittsburgh?

"The kids competed; they had a great attitude," Golden said. "It meant something to them which is so important. I think we’ve all seen instances where it’s like, all right, nobody cares. We’re not in this bowl game or that bowl game. Or we’re letting external influences impact our judgment or our attitude or how we play. That didn’t happen [Friday], which was awesome. They wanted to finish on a positive note."

Golden cited Miami's continuing woes on third down (UM was 4 of 11 on offense; 6 of 14 on defense), special teams breakdowns on kick return and kickoff coverage, and a few instances of poor tackling as negatives in the Pitt win. He did, though, credit linebacker Denzel Perryman, safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Deon Bush and cornerback Antonio Crawford as having better tackling performances Friday.

"There are so many things we have to fix and continue to fix," Golden said. "One of our goals in the postseason is clearly to push a lot of young players along that have not had the benefit of this time of year -- to be pushed at this time of year."

> Golden said UM came out healthy from the Pitt game and he expects cornerback Ladarius Gunter and defensive end Dwayne Hoilett, who missed Friday's game, to return for bowl practices. Linebacker Alex Figueroa, who has missed UM's last three games, could return but must be cleared by a doctor.

"If we were playing next Saturday Fig would not be ready," Golden said. "There’s a good chance for the bowl game. That would be awesome for him and great for him to have that opportunity."

> Golden said freshman running back Gus Edwards is "practicing better and starting to become more comfortable" in Miami's system. Edwards ran 11 times for 64 yards and a touchdown Friday.

"We can’t live in the past but there’s a young man that missed however many practices in training camp, a good bunch of them," Golden said. "Gus is a young man that is really going to continue to improve. He should be fresh. His play count is  not as high as Brandon Linder or Clive Walford or some of those guys. He should bring some energy to us and we expect him to continue to improve.

"He’s got deceptive speed but I thought he did a great job with his vision and his lateral cuts [Friday]. He really made the right cuts. He stayed with his cuts, he didn’t freelance at all. And when he got to the second level he made some guys miss. We’ve got to continue to get his pads down and get that stiff arm going but we’re hopeful that Gus will continue to improve."

November 29, 2013

UM's regular season ends today in bitter-cold Pittsburgh with Coastal title still in play. Will it be a happy ending?

PITTSBURGH -- It's hard to believe that today is the last regular-season game for the Hurricanes.

Where did the season go?

It feels like yesterday that Howard Schnellenberger was talking to all of us just before kickoff at the opener on Aug. 30th.

Now it's down to Pittsburgh, at Pittsburgh, in the bitter-cold of Heinz Field.

Miami opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and is now a 2-point favorite, from what I just saw. 

To me, this game is so important because it will cast an overall impression on the season. If the Hurricanes win, they'll have rebounded admirably from that ugly three-game losing streak at FSU (expected), against Virginia Tech (not expected) and at Duke (not expected).

A UM victory also would put Miami in prime position for a decent bowl, such as the Chick-fil-A -- and better yet, for a chance to win the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference should North Carolina beat Duke tomorrow and should Virginia beat Virginia Tech.

I just don't see Virginia beating Virginia Tech, though it's a rivalry game and it is at UVA. However, if all the stars align for the Hurricane, they would meet FSU again in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 7 in Charlotte. Can you imagine that?

If the Canes lose, suddenly the 7-0 start is completely overshadowed by ending the season with four losses in five games. The bowl situation becomes murkier, too.

Pittsburgh has won its last two of three games, starting with a 28-21 victory Nov. 9 at home on national television (ABC) against Notre Dame in its coldest home conditions (windy, with temperatures in the 40s) until today (kickoff expected to be in low 30s, dropping to mid-to-high 20s by end). The next week the Panthers lost at home to UNC 34-27. Last Saturday, Pitt beat Syracuse 17-16 on the road.

 PItt's total offense and rushing offense are poor statistically. But it has two talented receivers in senior Devin Street (51 catches for 854 yards and seven touchdowns this season) and freshman Tyler Boyd (68 catches for 903 yards and six touchowns). Street, however, hurt his ankle against North Carolina and his elbow at Syracuse and, per Pittsburgh-Post Gazette beat writer Sam Werner, was limited this week in practice. So, we'll see if and how much Street plays today.

 The Hurricanes' biggest obstacle in this game is expected to be defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a 6-0, 285-pound senior who is a finalist for just about every national defensive award out there. He is an amazing talent, shedding blocks with ease. 

"Aaron Donald has been a one-man wrecking crew,'' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.

Donald leads the nation in tackles for loss, ranks 10th in sacks and 11th in forced fumbles. His blocked PAT last week at Syracuse made the difference in Pitt's 17-16 victory.

The question is, can UM's offensive line hold him off? It's very doubtful UM C Shane McDermott can do it alone.

If the Canes can hold off Donald and hold onto the ball despite the cold, they should win this game.

We'll see.

Happy day-after Thanksgiving to all of you. Enjoy the game.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Pitt Panthers

Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Susan Miller Degnan is up in chilly Pittsburgh to cover today's game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ABC. Feel free to participate in today's live blog as usual.

November 27, 2013

Coach Al Golden speaks on ACC Teleconference about weather & other topics heading into Pittsburgh

Coach AL Golden spoke on the ACC Teleconference this morning, and the first question involved the pre-winter blast of extremely cold weather forecast for Pittsburgh. It's snowing there today, I'm told, and it will be clear for the game with temperatures that start at about 31 and head into the high teens at night. The sun will set early into the game, and any wind converging with the three rivers toward the open end of the stadium will undoubtedly make it brutally cold conditions for both teams, but especially daunting, obviouslly, for the Hurricanes.

Here's Golden's transcription:


COACH GOLDEN: We're in the middle of
our preparation, getting ready to go to Pittsburgh,
first time seeing them as a coastal opponent.
Great challenge for us, great opportunity.
With that I'll open it up to any questions
that you have.

Q. Obviously major weather issues on
the East Coast today. I know it's 48 hours
before you play. I know the Miami Dolphins
were famous for not performing well in cold
weather. Have you seen your team in adverse
weather conditions before? Probably going to
be cold Friday. Is that a concern going up
there in these conditions?


COACH GOLDEN: I think more than a
concern, I think it's a challenge. It's a challenge to
the way we want to operate. It's a challenge to our

mindset. I don't think there's any question. It's a
challenge to everything that we want to be as a
football program.
We want to be a team that's
process-oriented. We want to be a team that
focuses on two-acres and a ball and blocks out
everything externally. In this case the weather is
one of those external challenges.
It's going to be a great challenge to our
team's mindset, mentality and their commitment to
each other for four hours on Friday.

Q. I know the passing game is very
important to you guys. If it's tough conditions
like that, how big an adjustment do you have to
make offensively to perform?


COACH GOLDEN: Well, again, I think we
all know it's going to be tough conditions. It's going
to be tough conditions for both sides. We just
cannot allow any excuses to come into the game.
We got to make sure we're throwing the
ball well. We got to make sure we're catching the
ball well. We have to protect the ball when we're
running it.
I don't think there's any question that we
cannot allow an excuse mentality to creep in here
because at the end of the day it's going to come
down to protecting the ball well and finding a
running game against obviously the great Pitt
defensive front and connecting on the passes that
you throw. We can't have a lot of incomplete balls
because it's cold, windy, whatever the case may
be.

We know there's going to be elements that
are going to be a challenge on Friday. We have to
accept the challenge and execute regardless.

Q. You started out 7-0, ranked 7.
Things haven't gone well since then. Has it
been a product of better competition or things
you're not doing now that you were doing
earlier?


COACH GOLDEN: Again, it's always a
function of us. Some of the things perhaps we
were doing better earlier in the year, like taking the
ball away, playing better red zone defense.
Certainly we did that better against Virginia this
past week. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to
do those things.
It can't be about the opponent ever. It's
got to be about the things that we're doing and
what we're not doing. We haven't converted as 
well as we needed to on offense or third down.
That's really hurt our time of possession and left
our defense out there.
All three units are responsible. We have to
continue to play better. Hopefully we'll play better
than we played last week, as well.

Q. Last week there was talk about
Dorsett possibly playing. Are you still holding
out hope he'll be able to play Friday?


COACH GOLDEN: I still am holding out
hope. Can I say right now definitively? I can't. I
wish I could. He'll be practicing today. I think the
biggest thing is that he feels comfortable and
confident. If we see that today, we'll move forward.
Ultimately it will be the young man's decision
because medically he's cleared.

Q. Their guy Aaron Donald is one of
the best. Can you talk about the problem he
presents.


COACH GOLDEN: Again, when you see
players like this, you admire them. Obviously you
have to deal with them on game day, which you
have to find ways to do that.
You just admire players like this because
he's just not a talented kid, he's a skilled kid. He's
a young man that knows how to play double-teams
really well and he plays with a motor, of course.
They move him around to get him in the right
position to rush the passer. He's got excellent
pass-rush skills, as well.
Again, I think this young man has really
worked hard at his craft. I think that's the thing I
admire about him. He's taken his talent and
cultivated it into skill. The result is a heck of a
football player, one that's going to be a great
challenge for our offensive line.

Q. Tell me about your guys. Make a
case for a couple of your guys.


COACH GOLDEN: Again, you always
hear about who you leave out. I think I'm on
record as saying that [Brandon] Linder is playing at a really,
really high level right now. I'll leave it at that. The
rest of it, you guys have to sort it out and evaluate
it. I'm record on that one, so I stand behind that
one. I think Brandon Linder is playing an elite level
of football right now at offensive line.

Q. I know you play Friday, your fate in
the Coastal Division will be up in the air. If you
win the game, you still have a chance. I guess
you become a UNC and Virginia fan on Saturday. 

COACH GOLDEN: Again, we're just trying
to prepare and execute today and get better
tomorrow, obviously play well against Pitt. The
rest of it will take care of itself, will sort itself out.
It's really important for us to play well this
week and try to get win number nine, then we'll
move forward as a program. If we have the good
fortune on Saturday, we'll go forward from there.
For us to speculate on any of that is just
premature. It's really about playing better this
week than we did last week and getting ready for a
Pitt team on the road.

Q. If Duke wins, that game is at noon,
are you worried your kids might drop off a little
bit, put their heads down a little bit because
they can't win the coastal?


COACH GOLDEN: Duke's game is
Saturday.

Q. I apologize.


COACH GOLDEN: We'll be there Friday,
too. You're good. I thought I was going to play a doubleheader (laughter). 

Everybody have a great Thanksgiving.

 

November 26, 2013

Hurricanes deliver Thanksgiving dinner to Overtown church

Six Hurricanes players and several coaches’ wives delivered 48 turkey dinners and other traditional non-perishable Thanksgiving food items Tuesday afternoon to the Greater Mercy Missionary Baptist Church in Overtown.

Players delivering Thanksgiving meals included: backup quarterback Ryan Williams, receiver Herb Waters, defensive tackle Justin Renfrow and walk-on linebacker Akil Craig, walk-on defensive back Alex Irastorza and walk-on defensive back Hugo Delapenha Jr. Director of Player Development Ryan McNamee organized the trip along with Kelly Golden, Diona Kehoe, Valerie McNamee and Inika Vance.

Pastor Willie Williams greeted players as they arrived Tuesday afternoon and was very appreciative of the Hurricanes’ special delivery. All 48 Thanksgiving dinners were handed out within an hour.

> UM coach Al Golden said receivers Phillip Dorsett (knee) and cornerback Artie Burns (ankle), two players coming back from injury, looked good during Tuesday's light practice.

> Golden said he's "struggling a little bit" with why punter Pat O'Donnell is not a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. O'Donnell, a fifth-year transfer from Cincinnati, is averaging 47.6 yards a punt this season, second-best in the nation.

"Pat's a great kid, always locked in, very processed oriented, always out here working on his game," Golden said. "Blame the offense or blame me for not putting the punt team out there enough."

Golden said O'Donnell is in the mix to be named team MVP at the end of the year. Golden said he's never named a punter team MVP in the before.

November 25, 2013

News and notes from Monday: Injury updates, D'Onofrio talks defense, more

With the Hurricanes preparing for the season finale Friday afternoon in chilly Pittsburgh we got our only chance on Monday to talk to players and coaches -- aside from Al Golden -- before the game.

> The big news of the day is that cornerbacks Corn Elder and Nate Dortch are lost for the season. Golden had told us Saturday after the win against Virginia both were significant injuries. He wouldn't elaborate more on Monday, but Elder tweeted that he had a small tear in his meniscus. He was spotted walking around campus on crutches and with his right leg in a large brace.

"Disappointed for both of them because both were really starting to come on and both would have benefitted greatly from the [bowl] preparation moving forward," Golden said. "I also feel badly for Corn because I know he was anxious to play basketball."

Could they be back in time for the spring? "It'll be a couple of months for both of them," Golden said. "I don't want to jump ahead. The doctor is going to see where it's at and hopefully what it is what we believe it is and it will be a couple months' injury for both of them."

The good news? Freshman Artie Burns, who missed the Virginia game with an ankle, "looked really good" Monday according to Golden. 

> Ladarius Gunter, airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital on Saturday with a neck injury, was seen walking around campus in a neck brace. UM is keeping him out this week as he recovers, but there's a strong possibility he will be back for the bowl game. 

"He's around. He has a great attitude," Golden said. "[All the tests] are negative. It's just a function of him getting his confidence back, feeling comfortable and also the doctors clearing him."

> Miami had two 2014 commitments sign and return financial aid agreements on Monday with the school: blue-chip offensive lineman KC McDermott and receiver Braxton Berrios.

The NCAA recently made changes that allow a recruit on track to graduate early from high school to sign a financial-aid agreement as long as the participating college establishes that the player is enrolled in all coursework necessary to graduate high school at the midyear point.

The financial-aid agreement is not the same as a letter of intent, which binds a recruit to a college. The financial-aid agreement commits the university to provide a scholarship, but does not commit the prospect to accept. The benefit for UM? The Hurricanes are no longer restricted by NCAA rules that limit communication with a recruit.

Golden said he couldn't comment on any players who might have signed financial aid agreements because all documentation must first go through compliance and the league office. Golden said he would love to see an early signing day put it place and suggested around the holidays as the window (Dec. 22-Jan. 1).

"In a sense, we're almost circumventing something we've all wanted for a long time, an early signing day," Golden said of the new financial aid agreements. "It's kind of there. To some extent [this] does allow that to transpire. But I would be in favor of an early signing day. Fiscally it's the right thing to do. For all of us as institutions were going to save a lot of money. It clears up the pool for everybody who is a member institution.

> UM signed three fifth-year transfers last off-season: punter Pat O'Donnell and defensive linemen David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow.

Will Golden continue to take fifth-year senior transfers? Not if he doesn't have to.

"I want to get back to conventional recruiting," he said. "We would like to be back to manage our numbers and going through a normal recruiting cycle. This one, the penalty is already factored into this one. Next year, 2015, is the first one we won't have anything to deal with [in terms of the NCAA investigation]."

> Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said Miami's tackling effort against Virginia was the best performance of the season for his unit. They graded out at 93 percent. UM had graded out at 79 and 78 percent in its two previous losses to Virginia Tech and Duke.

"We're still a work in progress, fighting for consistency," D'Onofrio said. "They obviously ran for more yards than we wanted to. But at the end of the day we played almost 99 plays. You're going to have yards.

Virginia tallied 483 yards against UM, but 147 of those came on the final three drives of the game with UM already up 38-20 and playing a lot of prevent defense.

"The last three series we were playing soft the whole time," D'Onofrio said. "It's my job not to give up a bomb at that point and let them back in the game. We were getting there, hitting the quarterback, hitting him with a four-man rush and trying not to give up something deep. The snuck some runs in there, did some things. But you can't sit here and worry about the yards. You got to worry about the game. It's a play-by-play basis.

D'Onofrio said he thought Luther Robinson, Curtis Porter, Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre "were stout" along Miami's defensive line Saturday.

"To answer your question it wasn't them," D'Onofrio said of Miami's early struggles against Virginia (203 rushing yards).

> Gilbert, who returned a fumble 72 yards for a touchdown, admitted he was disappointed with how little he played early in the season and actually approached defensive line coach Jethro Franklin about more playing time after getting in on only seven snaps against Wake Forest.

"David played his best game. He gave us something, gave us some energy," D'Onofrio said. "He looked like he had a little more twitch to him. He was moving around a little bit better, gave us something in the pass rush game. We created some competition over there. Quan [Muhammad] went into the game before him. When he got his chance to go in the game he made something out of it. That's what competition does."

> D'Onofrio said sophomore outside linebacker Tyriq McCord did well with his expanded role Saturday (the first time all season he was in on first and second downs). But D'Onofrio said McCord still has a couple things he needs to improve on.

"He earned the right to get in there. He's got big play ability and he has the right tools to really be good in this defense," D'Onofrio said. "He's just got to make his mind up daily that he's got to improve, which he's done the last couple of weeks I don't see any reason [he won't]. He's got a world of potential and he's continuing to improve. Being able to play all those guys helped us."

> Offensive coordinator James Coley, whose unit produced only 304 yards (third fewest this season behind Florida and Florida State), said the Hurricanes left a lot of plays out on the field against the Cavaliers.

Miami has struggled on third down over their last four games, going a combined 17 of 52 (32.6 percent). UM's third-down conversion percentage this season (37.6) is slightly down from a year ago (39.4).

"It's been a tough deal the last couple weeks," Coley said. "We just got to execute. We got to do a better job. It starts with me. I got to do a better job coaching."

Quarterback Stephen Morris didn't have his best game either against Virginia.

"Sometimes when the weather is bad you got to overcome those things, make your plays and trust your teammates," Coley said. "I love his attitude. I love the way he's approaching practice, the message he's giving the younger guys with regards to here's where we're going; this is what's facing. He's been very professional and business like. I love it. I like where his mind is at."

> Coley remains hopeful receiver Phillip Dorsett will play this week, but cautioned Miami's practice Monday was light. "He looked good running out there," Coley said. "We'll find out more [Tuesday] when things heat up."

> Coley said freshman receiver Stacy Coley, one of only three receivers to catch a pass in Saturday's win, has really matured as the season has gone on.

"He's a smart guy. He processes when you're either criticizing or you're coaching him or hard on him," James Coley said. "He's not listening to how you're delivering your message. He's actually listening to what you're saying. Smart players do that. They get past the other stuff. That's where he's improved."

> Cornerback Tracy Howard was named the ACC's Co-Defensive Back of the Week. UM has now had eight different players honored by the ACC in its weekly awards.

Canes talk cold, Pitt, Thanksgiving and going bowling

Here are six video interviews I shot with Hurricanes players Monday as they prepare for the regular season finale at chilly Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.

November 24, 2013

Changes in the secondary highlight latest Canes depth chart

Injuries in the secondary and players returning from injury prompted changes in the latest Hurricanes depth chart released Sunday night by head coach Al Golden. Miami (8-3, 4-3 ACC) closes its regular-season slate Friday at Pitt (6-5, 3-4 ACC). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC.

On offense, redshirt freshman Danny Isidora is listed as the backup at right guard. Isidora made his Hurricanes debut during Saturday’s 45-26 Senior Day win over Virginia after missing the first 10 games of the season with a lower extremity injury.

Junior WR Phillip Dorsett, who returned to the depth chart last week at the Hurricanes’ second wideout position, is not on this week’s depth chart. Dorsett has missed the last five games with a lower extremity injury.

On the defensive side, sophomore Tracy Howard and freshman Artie Burns are listed as co-starters at left cornerback, while Burns, sophomore Antonio Crawford and senior Kacy Rodgers II are tri-starters at right cornerback. Miami will be without junior Ladarius Gunter and freshman Corn Elder who were injured against the Cavaliers.

UM's latest depth chart

November 23, 2013

Gunter released from hospital

An update from the University of Miami on junior DB Ladarius Gunter:

"Ladarius Gunter has been released from the hospital this evening following an upper extremity injury he suffered Saturday afternoon against Virginia. He will be able to play football again this season once he is fully healed."

Al Golden's post-game comments after the win over Virginia includes update on Gunter

Here is what Al Golden said after Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia.

On defensive changes in successful third quarter...

“If I’m not mistaken, their first first down was the penalty on [Rayshawn] Jenkins. They had a first down on the play and then we gave them 15 [yards]. We stopped the run good in the third quarter, and obviously 90 plays [means] we’re just not converting enough on offense. We’re not holding the ball enough to help the defense. Defense I thought really played their tails off with the takeaways and the way they played the third quarter.”

On the injury of cornerback Ladarius Gunter...

“Ladarius has been taken to Jackson [Memorial Hospital] for observation. We’re just being cautious. As soon as we learn something, we’ll share it with you guys. I don’t have anything other than that. He was moving everything, he was conscious. I don’t want to overstep my bounds here. That’s where we’re at with it now. Hopefully he’ll be okay.”

On the play of his team’s defense, which had four takeaways...

“It was big. Early in the year, we were counterpunching really well if the offense made a mistake or special teams made a mistake. During this stretch, we haven’t been counterpunching as well as we have needed to. I thought defense counterpunched so much better today. We made a mistake and they went out there and they had a different look than they’ve had. They didn’t get disappointed, they weren’t, ‘here we go again.’ It wasn’t that mentality. Obviously it’s been tough on the seniors and the team - the courage to keep mustering it up and all of that. The seniors have never been 8-3. They’ve never been 8-3. Now they’re 8-3 we have a tough road game against Pitt, try to end up with a win there, and obviously the seniors haven’t won a bowl game and have not been able to go to a bowl game the last two years. They want to finish up strong.”

On if his defense took criticism personally heading into Saturday’s game...

“I’m sure they did. I hope they did. But it’s not really a function of what’s being said outside - it’s those guys that go to work every day and their standard of what’s acceptable and what’s not. We tackled better, especially in the third quarter. We ran to the ball better. We looked like we had some more energy in our pass rush today. If we didn’t get a number of [sacks], we certainly hit the quarterback a number of times. Again, just too many plays - I want to say 45 or 46 plays at the half for defense. On offense, we have to do a better job. Nobody can be out there that long, we’re just not that deep.”

On still contending for a potential trip to the ACC Championship Game...

“We just have to worry about the Pitt game. We’re going up there, and I’ve seen a lot of Pitt the last couple of weeks because of the crossover games. They have some really effective players on defense, two wideouts that are talented. It’s going to be their last game – it’s going to be a tough environment. I hope we have a team that gets on the plane and is excited about that challenge. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We have to learn how to finish the season and I think everybody is excited because we get to go to practice and we get to move the program forward, finally. We have a lot of football left, and I know the seniors feel the same way.”

On the play of wide receiver Allen Hurns over the course of the season...

“He is a testament to what we want in our program. He doesn’t really say too much. He just works every day. I can’t underscore that enough. I don’t think anyone realizes he is having a great year – not having a good year, he’s having a great year. He is self-made. He is a leader. He’s the same guy every day. He’s consistent, playing with confidence. If we tell him to play him to play special teams, he’ll special teams. If we ask him to block, he’ll block. He’s constantly talking and thinking during the game of different scenarios and different pass routes. He is what we want. When you reach that level where you just go out and play. There has been a lot of work that has been put into it. I’m proud to say that he’s really a symbol of that for us.”

On the performance of quarterback Stephen Morris...

“I thought the one he threw to Allen [Hurns] late, he just threw it. I thought he was maybe aiming a little bit earlier, and trying to be exact. I don’t know if it was the rain, but you just have to throw it. He made plays when he had to, which was great. He is going to continue to improve. At least the discussion is not about his leg anymore - we did that for two months, for eight games. The last two games he has started to move around and protect himself better. We could have helped him out a couple of times – we had a couple of drops. He’ll get better. We don’t have a lot of time to get ready for Pitt, and we’re going to need his leadership and his experience."

On how much respect he has for the seniors, who played their final home game Saturday...

“Incredible amount. More than anybody can know. The standards and expectations are high at Miami, and that’s why we all come. That’s why we want to be a part of it. We never want to drop our expectations. But for these guys to go through what they went through, none of these guys were part of the problem, but every one of them was part of the solution. They took an issue that obviously was really bad. It was toxic. They paid a dear price. They adopted the problem as their own, and ultimately delivered us out of it. This is a big part of it. We have a long way to go before anyone here is satisfied. There are so many things we have to fix on the field – no one is satisfied. But these seniors have never been 8-3. Now they have a chance to go 9-3. To do it on the back end of what they’ve been through says a lot about them. Now we have to make sure we finish strong.”

On how excited he is for the seniors...

“I’m exhausted right now, just because it’s emotional for those guys. That’s why I try not to get involved before the game. We really saluted them Thursday night so it wasn’t right before the game Friday night. We paid our tributes to them, and a lot of them stepped up today. Whoever is better than Pat O’Donnell, I want to meet him. I was happy for him, for David Gilbert, Allen [Hurns], Stephen [Morris]. I can go on and on. Shayon [Green], Kacy Rodgers. A lot of those guys made plays when we needed them. I couldn’t be more proud of them. Now I want to make sure we stay focused and get ready for Pitt, and see if we can’t do something that we haven’t done in a while.”

On the injuries to cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder...

“It was all corners, which was one of the reasons we couldn’t sub. I think they’re significant injuries to Nate and Corn. I don’t know to what extent. It’s not like last week somebody gets a little pull or something and you know they’ll be back on Monday. It’s not like that. I will have a better idea when I talk to you guys tomorrow.”

Canes CB Ladarius Gunter carted off late in win over Virginia with neck injury

Hurricanes cornerback Ladarius Gunter was carted off the field late in Saturday's 45-26 win over Virginia with a neck injury. But according to early reports the injury does not appear to be life threatening or serious.

Gunter was hurt after attempting to make a tackle on Virginia's final score of the game. WQAM reported Gunter was hit in the jaw by a shoulder pad. He fell to the ground moments later and was surrounded by teammates and medical staff before they waved over for a cart to come and take Gunter off the field.

WQAM reported Gunter was being transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The flagship radio station also reported that coach Al Golden was heard telling his players: "He's okay. He's okay."

Stay tuned for updates.

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Cavaliers

The Hurricanes (7-3, 3-3 ACC) will attempt to end a three-game losing skid against woeful Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) this afternoon. Kickoff is at noon and the game can be seen on ESPNU.

November 21, 2013

Canes injury report released; video interviews with Hurns, Perryman

As expected receiver Phillip Dorsett (knee), cornerback Artie Burns (ankle), and linebacker Alex Figueroa (shoulder) were ruled out for Saturday's game when the injury report was released Thursday.

Here are a couple interviews from earlier this week with linebacker Denzel Perryman and receiver Allen Hurns.

November 20, 2013

Dorsett, Burns doubtful to play Saturday against Virginia; Golden talks recruiting

Although he's has been hopeful to get 2012-leading receiver Phillip Dorsett (MCL tear) back soon, UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday both Dorsett and freshman cornerback Artie Burns (ankle) appear doubtful for Saturday's home finale against Virginia.

Neither player has been fully integrated into practice this week, Golden said.

"If he feels good we're going to give it a run. But it's not where it needs to be right now," Golden said of Dorsett, who has missed four games after injuring his knee Oct. 17 at North Carolina.

"He's isolated right now. Until he can become integrated, avoid guys and make guys miss and protect himself we're not going to put him out there. When he's ready to do that we'll do it. But right now it looks doubtful."

> Receiver Herb Waters (groin) injured against Duke "has a chance" to play Saturday, Golden said. Golden lists Waters as probable.

Receiver Stacy Coley and freshman cornerback Corn Elder, who were in a non-contact jerseys earlier this week at practice are expected to play, Golden said.

> With three commitments since the NCAA sanctions were announced last month, Golden was asked Wednesday if he's noticed more interest from recruits since the penalties do not include any post-season bans and only the loss of nine scholarships over three years.

"Their response has been different," Golden said. "We've gotten three [commitments] since the announcement, which is unique this time of the year. Kids are getting ready for playoffs and things like that. So it's attributed to that, there's no question about that because mostly kids made the decision two months ago or are waiting until the holidays, visits. So that's positive for us.

"I think most of the interest from the younger guys is that it's behind us now and not getting hammered. Remember, the kids that are [high school] juniors, all they've ever known about the University of Miami is that we've been in trouble. Since they've been recruitable prospects we've been under probation. So it's good to have that behind us now. We have to move forward."

Golden said the Hurricanes were cut short last year on scholarships "for a variety of reasons" and the staff is now "trying to compensate this year by signing more than we did last year."

UM's class features 27 commitments and is ranked fourth nationally by Rivals.com.

Has the fact the defense looked so bad helped garner more interest from recruits who think the could help right away? Golden bristled at that question.

"We're going to continue to need help everywhere," Golden said. "People want to talk about the defense because all of us haven't executed well enough the last couple of weeks. So I answer that question now I'm saying that the kids we have aren't good enough. That's not the case. The case, as I've been saying, is we're going to continue to build until we have the depth to go through a whole season and there's no drop-off. That's a separate question all of us here who have worked today, that watched film -- all of us have to fix what's going on now."

> Golden has been steadfast in his support for his seniors and wasn't happy Tuesday when a reporter suggested the sudden emergence of freshmen and sophomores on the team's latest depth chart are a sign coaches are making a decision to play younger players.

"On the outside it's easy to sweep it under the rug and act like it's no big deal or it's over. It's not over. These guys have been through a lot," Golden said of his seniors. "They stood with us through a really tumultuous time. I think it's important that me, the staff, their teammates support them down the stretch.

"I keep getting the questions 'Are you going to go younger now that you lost a couple' No. We're not doing that. We're going to honor these seniors and push them to the finish line and help them do something they haven't done. They haven't been to a bowl game the last two years. We have to finish off strong and send them off strong."

November 19, 2013

Golden discusses defensive philosophy, other notes from Tuesday (w/video)

With his team on a three-game losing skid and his defense in the midst of one of the worst runs in school history, UM coach Al Golden continued to face questions Tuesday about defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, his scheme and the basic philosophy behind it.

Once again, Golden reiterated he signs off on everything the defense does.

"I'm going to keep saying it, that I'm involved in every aspect of football here at the University of Miami," Golden said. "I'm responsible for it all. Right now we're not playing well enough collectively. Again we had some good performances the other night. I indicated those to you the other night on Sunday. But really collectively it's not good enough and I'm responsible for it."

What exactly is the philosophy behind this 3-4 scheme? And why does it seem like players are reading and reacting instead of being aggressive?

"There's never a day where we ever talk about read and react. That's not even a mention," Golden said. "Depending where you are on a defense you have a key and have to respond. That's defense. We want to be a 3-4 because a 3-4 lets you get more speed at linebacker, get in and out of over and under fronts. It allows you to play with four down or go to an odd front, allows you to have speed, allows you to attack more. Interceptions are up, takeaways are up, sacks are up. All that's up, but it's not good enough. So we have to continue to build it. We have to continue to build our depth, continue to develop kids. Obviously we want to attack, want to be a dynamic defense, a defense that can fly around and disrupt the passer and get tackles for loss. Otherwise you don't want to be in that configuration. Again, it hasn't been good enough. I want to own the fact it hasn't been good enough the last couple of weeks."

Why did Golden choose this style of defense?

"Because we didn't have a million defensive linemen," Golden said. "We didn't have 16 defensive linemen. For the real big guys, the noses, you only needed a couple of those. [Curtis] Porter, Earl Moore, we had to bring [Justin] Renfrow in to have enough to go through the season. We didn't have the depth on the defensive line. We had more linebackers, more guys like [Tyriq] McCord that were a hybrid guy. I think it was the best decision for us coming into this season and we'll continue to personnel it. But we're going to have to continue to improve and continue to build depth and move forward."

How important is scheme in relation to execution?

"At the end of the day you summed up any coordinator or any entity. You lay out what the philosophy is, what you're trying to execute and ultimately it comes down to the execution of it," Golden said. "It comes down to whether or not we're carrying out everything we need to do in those positions. The problem with our defense is you can get exposed if there's nine or 10 guys doing it right one play and one guys is not. No. 2 when you have issues you weaken other areas by trying to fix those. I don't think there's any question in my career I've seen just about every defense, been a part of a staff of any defense that you can have. Ultimately it comes down to the execution of what you're trying to get done on any single play. That's it at the end of the day. There's a million different things we can call. We look at that every day. We're evaluating that, we're evaluating our personnel, making sure we putting guys in position to execute and get their talent in the game."

Have you seen a difference in run defense in the 3-4 compared to the 4-3?

"I think we had more success early in the year by continuing to be multiple, by lining up in both, by pressuring out of both, and we'll continue to do that," Golden said. "We need more tackles for losses, more sacks. And we need more takeaways. All three of those can be tied together. We need that kind of output to return."

NEWS AND NOTES

> Golden said there will be personnel changes this week, but he didn't want to delve deeper into than what UM released in its depth chart late Sunday night.

He did say senior Justin Renfrow would play more at end so Curtis Porter and Earl Moore see more time at tackle. Golden also said sophomore Tyriq McCord has played well at strongside linebacker the past couple weeks.

"[Freshman] Corn Elder is on the depth chart now. He is going to get more reps," Golden said. "[Freshman] Jamal Carter got a lot of reps today. Some of those guys are earning reps and doing a good job in the roles that we're giving them. We'll see if they can't add spark us or add something to it.

Is Golden going younger on purpose to get those players more experience? He stayed away from saying that -- or upsetting his seniors.

"It has nothing to do with their age," Golden said. "The one thing I want everybody to know -- we're going to support the seniors through this. Because we lost a couple of games I'm not going to turn my back on the seniors that really stood with us through all this tumult. I'm not going to do it.

"But certain kids I mentioned, Jamal [Carter], [Al-Quadin] Muhammad, [Ufomba] Kamalu, Corn Elder, they're earning reps. And they're earning reps because they're producing. It's just like Stacy [Coley]. Stacy is producing on kick and punt returns so now he's going to earn more reps. It's not that were taking any reps from any seniors. Some of these guys have earned reps and we're going to give them an opportunity."

> Golden said if the Hurricanes played Wednesday receiver Phillip Dorsett would be listed as doubtful.

"We have to be careful not to go too fast," Golden said. "If he's not ready to go we're going to have to continue to have Rashawn [Scott] and Stacy [Coley] and Herb [Waters] and those guys step up and chase the rabbit - the rabbit right now is Allen Hurns, he's doing a great job for us."

As for the other players battling injuries: "[Offensive lineman] Danny [Isidora], it's positive he's in yellow. Stacy [Coley] has already been integrated, will be clear. Corn [Elder] is moving forward. Artie we had to protect today. We'll know more about Artie [Wednesday] and Phillip [Thursday]. [Receiver] Herb [Waters] was fine. We were on our seventh returner in the game, lost our returners, needed guys to step up and they did."

> What has Golden seen out of freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen?

"He's starting to understand," he said. "Every opportunity he's in the film room he needs to listen, learn, take notes. Every time we're in a team meeting, go in that environment on the road, he has to learn. He has to learn to give him the best chance to compete with Ryan [Williams]. We have a smart team, know where to go with the football. Ryan and Stephen [Morris], very fortunate they can talk football the way they talk. They watch film, have ideas and reasons why they're doing it. We need Kevin to develop into that as well. Our biggest concern with Kevin was adhering to a process and learning how to do it. Because at the end of the day, playing quarterback, that process has to be second nature."

VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio talks Duke mistakes

UM collecting canned food at Saturday's home finale against Virginia

UM is hosting a Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive during Saturday’s home finale against Virginia at Sun Life Stadium.

Collection bins will be located outside all four helixes (Gates B, D, F, and H) as well as gates C and G. Fans will be allowed to donate as much food as they want. All food donated will go directly to Feeding South Florida.

Part of the Feeding America network consisting of 202 food banks, Feeding South Florida is the largest of nine Feeding America food banks in the state of Florida, distributing almost 35 million pounds of food annually to 949,910 individuals in need of food assistance. FSF is the leading domestic hunger relief organization in South Florida, serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties through a network of nonprofit partner agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, group homes and other emergency food service programs.

Saturday's game will also kick off its "Uniendo La Familia" (Uniting the Family) campaign. During the celebration of the Hurricanes’ last home game, the Hurricanes will show their appreciation of the diversity within the South Florida community with an on-site concert featuring radio host celebrity, DJ Laz, and popular artist, Maffio, along with pre-game activities appropriate for all ages. The event will give attendees the opportunity to partake in a variety of family-fun activities, including an Instagram booth and photo opportunities.

To purchase tickets to Miami’s home finale, fans can order online at www.canestix.com, visit the UM Ticket Office at BankUnited Center (M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) or call 1-800-GO-CANES.

November 18, 2013

Is a youth movement about to get going on Canes defense? Looks like it on new depth chart

The University of Miami released a new depth chart late Sunday night after the team's third consecutive loss and as expected receiver Phillip Dorsett was back on it, an encouraging sign considering the Hurricanes could use all the help they can get.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all was that for the first time all season explosive sophomore Tyriq McCord was on it, listed as the co-starter with Thurston Armbrister at strong side line backer.

Also around and easy to spot on the two-deep: freshman defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad (backup to Shayon Green, hadn't seen him listed in weeks), freshman safety Jamal Carter (backup to Rayshawn Jenkins and Kacy Rodgers) and freshman cornerback Corn Elder (second team behind either junior Ladarius Gunter or freshman Artie Burns). Also, sophomore Deon Bush is now the clear-cut starter over senior AJ Highsmith at safety and sophomore Earl Moore is now listed as a backup to Curtis Porter at defensive tackle.

Which raises this question: is Al Golden ready to dump the old guys for the new guys? Sure has that aroma.

Obviously the depth chart is a mere piece of paper. Golden can ultimately do whatever he chooses and play whomever he chooses. But I'm taking this as a sign that now that the Canes really have no shot at the Coastal Division title and because the defense has been horrendous he's going to let some of the young guys get some real burn. Honestly it's one of the smartest things he can do at this point.

UM FB Depth_Chart 111713

November 17, 2013

Transcript of Dallas Crawford after UM loss to Duke

You lost 48-30 but had over 500 yards of offense. How difficult is that?

 

"We just look at it as another challenge. I didn’t even know we had that many yards. It gives us a good plateau to jump from. We see we can do it. We’ll focus on the little third downs that we missed, get back at it on Monday and see if we can fix our problem."

 

Did you know that Maryland had beaten Virginia Tech while you were playing, putting the Canes in control of their Coastal Division future?

 

"Myself personally I didn’t hear anything about it. I don’t know what happened but I didn’t hear it. About five minutes ago, after I got out of the shower. We weren’t really worried about that. We were just focused on taking care of Duke. Virginia Tech had no play on what happened."

 

So many things went well on offense -- you averaged six yards a carry and the passing game was clicking for a lot of the day but it seemed like things broke down on third down and maybe the offense buckled a little bit trying to play under so much pressure to score points?

 

“We have to just focus in. Third down is a critical down – the most important down. We have to focus in and pay attention to the small details. Usually when we watch film it’s just either one person out of their gap that usually causes the whole play to be off. We just got to watch film and fix it and keep going.”

 

What keeps you going now. You know you’re pretty much out of ACC race?

 

The seniors. The seniors. They put in a lot of work and have been through a lot. We just have to do this for the seniors. That’s our motivation right now.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

Here's the transcript of Coach Al Golden talking to reporters right after the Hurricanes lost to Duke

Al Golden on Saturday after 48-30 loss to Duke

On Duke’s interception, trailing 17-7 in the first half:

“You could say the momentum changed there. It was unfortunate because we had a chance for a completion, and they got the ball with some good field position. There were so many other things that we did wrong. It’s my responsibility. The penalties. We didn’t tackle well enough. We didn’t get enough red zone stops. It was really disappointing.”

 

On Miami’s re-evaluation of coaching defense:

“I think it’s fair to say we’re evaluating every component of [the team], every step of the way. That includes defense. There’s enough blame to go around in this game. We didn’t punt the ball well. We weren’t good on kickoff returns. We had too many penalties. We didn’t answer. We needed to answer them on offense, if it was going to turn into that kind of game, and we didn’t do it. It’s all three phases. The buck stops with me. I have to get it fixed.”

 

On commonalities through the last three Miami losses:

“I don’t know. Obviously we’re giving up too many points. That’s changing the way we play the game on offense. We had more penalties in the first quarter today than I think we had the last two weeks. We’ve been punting the ball well, but we didn’t punt the ball well [today]. There’s too many explosive runs. Too many missed tackles. We have to dig deep and look at everything and see what we can do better, and see what direction we want to go here, starting tomorrow.”

 

On the defense allowing 358 yards rushing:

“Disappointing, for sure. No excuses. Too many explosive plays on the ground. They weren’t throwing the ball very much. We didn’t make enough stops. They got into too many third-and-shorts and converted them.”

 

On Virginia Tech’s loss earlier in the day:

“Somebody mentioned something. That’s not going to change anything we do. We didn’t execute well enough. Give Duke credit. They played really well. They’re playing really well right now. We have to get back to work and improve … I think maybe the players were aware. I don’t know. I don’t know if they saw a score, or announced it, or what. I don’t know what happened. It’s immaterial. It’s really about executing, and we didn’t do that well enough. Duke did.”

 

On Duke’s two-quarterback system:

“In terms of them staying fresh, that was difficult. I don’t think there was much difference when each was in the game. They’re both running the ball well. Obviously they used a lot of running backs, and ran the ball well, and we didn’t tackle well enough and they wore us down.”

 

On Miami’s preparation coming into the game:

“We started well. We just aren’t doing a good enough job of answering on defense. When you get into this kind of game, you really need to be perfect on offense. We weren’t, they were. We had one turnover, they didn’t have any. Obviously we aren’t generating enough turnovers right now. We’re not creating short fields. There is no excuse. It’s my responsibility.”

 

On coaching methods to use following three consecutive losses:

“Obviously it’s the seniors’ last home game. I think it’s important to rally around those guys. They’ve been through a lot. It’s important that we respond. Virginia will be coming off a week off, so they’re going to be fresh. We need to get our guys healthy. We have a lot to play for. Obviously this team has not been able to go to a bowl game the last couple years. We have to get our minds right and finish the season. That’s my responsibility to get them focused and recentered and get going.”

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

Hurricanes receiver Herb Waters talks to the media, says the blame goes to everyone for loss to Duke

Sophomore receiver Herb Waters caught nine passes from Stephen Morris on Saturday for 116 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went 50 yards in Duke's 48-30 victory.

And Waters played with an injured groin during the game, said UM coach Al Golden. But Waters refused to pin the blame solely on the defense.

"Everybody’s down but we can’t be,'' Waters said Saturday night. "We’ve got plenty more ball to play. So we have to get back on Monday and get back to work.

 "We had a great week in practice. It’s just that we came out and missed some opportunities. Duke capitalized on a lot of opportunities."

 Reporter: "Herb, you’re going to look at the stats eventually and see you had 9 catches for 116 yards, you guys threw for 379 and had 565 yards of total offense and came up 18 points short. How much pressure is that on the offense? Obviously you’re under a lot of pressure to score a lot of points."

Waters: "With those kind of stats you’d probably think we’d overcome that with a victory. But like I said before, we missed out on some opportunities. Duke capitalized on some opportunities. You’ve got to get back to work. I’m pretty sure we’ll go over the film and fix what we messed up on."

 Reporter: "Third downs are a problem again – 5 of 15. Why is everything so good on first and second down but you struggle on third?"

 Waters: "To be honest, I don’t really know. I mean we practiced hard on third downs. We just didn’t execute on some of the plays that Coach [James] Coley called."

 Reporter: "Early in the game it was learned that Maryland beat Virginia Tech. Did you guys know about that?"

Waters:  "Yeah, it got out. I feel like if we wouldn’t have [known], we would have continued to play like how we’re supposed to play. I feel like we knew and some people let down. We’ve just got to get back to work and like we always say, keep everything on the outside and just keep grinding. In my opinion I feel like it would have been better had we had not known. I just feel like – lack of poise. We knew what we had at stake but we didn’t execute it. That’s why I feel like it would have been better if we did not know.’’

 Reporter: "How did you find out about the Virginia Tech game?"

 "To be honest I can’t really remember. I forgot who said what. It just leaked out. It is what is it. It was little by little."

 Reporter: "A couple of your teammates tweeted during the game that this was embarrassing. Would you say this defense is embarrassing for the team?"  Note: Waters was not told that the teammates were Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, both of whom didn't travel with the team because of injuries.

 Waters: “I mean if a couple of teammates tweeted that in the game then I feel like they don’t want it bad enough. If they’re teammates with everybody on the team, no matter what else they’re saying I have faith in all my teammates and everybody. It wasn’t just on the defense, it was on us; it was on special teams. Everybody didn’t come through how they’re supposed to. I give all full credit to Duke. They’re a great team and they just came out and played. They wanted it badly enough.’’

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

November 16, 2013

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes at Duke Blue Devils

Only three games left. The Hurricanes (7-2, 3-2 ACC) have a big one this afternoon at Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC). Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU.

You know the drill here.

November 15, 2013

Counting stars: Why Al Golden is still very much trying to rebuild the Miami Hurricanes

It's easy to argue second-ranked Florida State was a deeper and more talented team than the Hurricanes two weeks ago and ultimately that's as big a reason as any why the Seminoles turned a close game at haftime into a 41-14 rout.

And it clearly was. Go back and read the Counting Stars blog I did before the game it shows you the Seminoles were not only deeper but loaded with more overall blue-chip talent position-by-position.

What's been irking most fans about Miami's loss to Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) last weekend at home -- aside from the perceived poor coaching by defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio -- is that UM should be on par with the Hokies in terms of overall talent, if not loaded with more.

This Saturday afternoon's game at Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC) should be a case where the Hurricanes are clearly the more talented and deeper team. But the truth is the talent gap isn't as wide as one might believe.

Duke's starting lineup for instance features six three-star prospects on offense (QB Anthony Boone, RB Josh Snead, WR Jamison Crowder, LT Takoby Cofield, LG Dave Harding, RG Laken Tomlinson) and six on defense (S Jeremy Cash, CB Ross Cockrell, DE Justin Foxx, DE Kenny Anunike, LB Kelby Brown, LB David Helton). There's depth too with another dozen 3-star prospects as backups.

Virginia Tech's offense featured four 4-star prospects in the starting lineup (QB Logan Thomas, TB Trey Edmunds, WR DJ Coles, RT Brent Benedict) and five other 3-star prospects. The defense featured 5-star recruit Kendall Fuller at outside linebacker, four-star safety Kyshoen Jarrett and three-star recruits everywhere else. The only players considered hidden gems: LB Jack Tyler (no stars) and defensive tackle Luther Maddy (2-stars). The Hokies were also loaded with experience (309 career starts on defense and 149 on offense).

The recruiting star-system obviously isn't a perfect science. Some 5-star kids bomb and some two-star kids turn into gems. But what the system does tell you at least pretty clearly is how heavily recruited each player is.

Five-star recruits are blue-chippers with offers from many, if not all of the country's top BCS programs. Four-star recruits aren't far behind, and three-star recruits generally have between five to 10 offers from decent Division I programs. Two-star recruits and below are players considered reaches and usually players with only one or two legit offers to play at the FBS level.

The Hurricanes have had higher-ranked recruiting classes (15th in 2009; 16th in 2010; 36th in 2011; 9th in 2012; 20th in 2013) than Virginia Tech (23rd in 2009; 23rd in 2010; 33rd in 2011; 22nd in 2012; 23rd in 2013) and Duke (51st in 2009; 71st in 2010; 76th in 2011; 52nd in 2012; 67th in 2013) over the last five years according to Rivals.com.

But that only explains a small part of the story.

Miami signed 118 players over the last five seasons and 42 that helped make those classes Top 25-worthy ran into trouble at one point or another, cutting their careers at UM short. That's nearly 36 percent.

Some never or haven't made it into school, some transferred, some were forced out because of discipline issues and some had injuries they never recovered from. All the while for the past three years, UM has had to also deal with an NCAA cloud over its head.

SHANNON'S FINAL TWO CLASSES

A look back at Randy Shannon's last two recruiting classes (2009 and 2010) and Al Golden's first three (2011, 2012, 2013) better illustrate the point below.

> Of the 48 players Randy Shannon signed in his final two recruiting classes, three left early for the draft (Lamar Miller, Brandon Washington, Olivier Vernon all 4-star recruits) and three used up their eligibility (3-star TE Chase Ford, 4-star CB Brandon McGee and 4-star RB Mike James).

> The more eye-opening number? A total of 21 signees from those two classes either transferred or ran into academic or discipline issues. Two were 5-star recruits (defensive backs Ray-Ray Armstrong and Latwan Anderson) and another six were 4-star recruits (defensive tackle Tavadis Glenn, linebacker Travis Williams, offensive lineman Jermaine Johnson, defensive end Dyron Dye, defensive back Jamal Reid and running back Storm Johnson).

> Of the 21 players Shannon recruited still at UM, one is a 5-star recruit (OL Seantrel Henderson), four are 4-star recruits (OL Malcolm Bunche, RB Eduardo Clements, OL Brandon Linder and DT Luther Robinson), a dozen are 3-star recruits (QB Stephen Morris, WR Allen Hurns, OL Jon Feliciano, FB Maurice Hagens, C Shane McDermott, DE Shayon Green, S Kacy Rodgers, LB Tyrone Cornelius among the notables) and four are two-star recruits (TE Clive Walford, TE Asante Cleveland, LB Kelvin Cain, LB Jimmy Gaines).

> UM recruited 24 defensive players between 2009 and 2010. A total of 13 either transferred or ran into academic or discipline issues. Two are in the NFL (Brandon McGee, Olivier Vernon), six are still here serving as starters (Curtis Porter, Shayon Green, Tyrone Cornelius, Kacy Rodgers, Jimmy Gaines, AJ Highsmith) and three are career backups (Luther Robinson, David Perry, Kelvin Cain).

TRANSITION YEAR

Golden had six weeks after being named UM's coach in December 2010 to wrap up the Hurricanes 2011 signing class, which makes up UM's juniors and redshirt sophomore class. He reeled in 18 recruits including 13 on defense.

Only two were four-star prospects: defensive ends Anthony Chickillo (12.5 sacks in 30 career starts) and Jalen Grimble (transferred to Oregon State this fall).

Of the eight 3-star defensive recruits, one (Dallas Crawford) was switched to running back, five are no longer with the program (CB Thomas Finnie, LB Gionni Paul, DE Ricardo Williams, LB Eddie Johnson, LB Antonio Kinard) and only two start (LB Denzel Perryman, DE Olsen Pierre). The other recruits: defensive tackle Corey King, linebacker Thurston Armrbister and JUCO defensive tackle Darius Smith (graduated) were late additions and nowhere on the recruiting radar.

The other five recruits in the 2011 class were receivers Phillip Dorsett (3-star) and Rashawn Scott (3-star), running back Kevin Grooms (3-star, now at Marshall), JUCO punter Dalton Botts (now gone) and Matt Goudis (2-star, now 7 of 11 on FGs in 2013).

GOLDEN YEARS

Where Golden has finally begun to catchup is in his last two recruiting classes.

The Hurricanes signed 33 players in 2012 (at least three more than any other program in the country).

Of that group a dozen have made instant impacts either as starters or backups. Those are: five-star prospects RB Duke Johnson and CB Tracy Howard, four-star prospects LT Ereck Flowers, WR Malcolm Lewis, S Deon Bush, DE Jelani Hamilton, LB Raphael Kirby and DE Tyriq McCord and three 3-star additions WR Herb Waters, S Rayshawn Jenkins, CB Antonio Crawford and CB Ladarius Gunter.

Another 11 serve as reserves (all 3-star prospects): DE Dwayne Hoillett, WR D'Mauri Jones, QB Gray Crow, OL Danny Isidora, OL Taylor Gadbois, DE Dwayne Hoillett, DT Earl Moore, LB Jawand Blue, TE Jake O'Donnell, CB Nate Dortch and CB Larry Hope.

But another group of 10 either never got in, aren't here anymore or ended their football careers early. Among those: 4-star WR Angelo Jean-Louis (never got in) and WR Robert Lockhart (transfer) and 3-stars prospects WR Jontavious Carter (transfer), RB Danny Dillard (transfer), QB Preston Dewey (back), QB David Thompson (baseball only), CB Vernon Davis (West Virginia), DT Jacoby Briscoe, DT Dequan Ivery (Northeast Mississippi) and LB Josh Witt (concussions).

> The 2013 class featured 19 recruits including nine four-star recruits. But of that group, only 16 are physically at UM (ATH Ryheem Lockley, WR Derrick Griffin and LB Devante Bond aren't).

A group of seven are already in the two-deep: WR Stacy Coley (4-star), RB Gus Edwards (3-star), FB Walter Tucker (2-star), TE Beau Sandland (4-star), CB Corn Elder (4-star), DE Ufomba Kamalu (2-star), CB Artie Burns (4-star).

Another four play in reserve duty and on special teams: DE Quan Muhammad (4-star), DB Jamal Carter (4-star), LB Jermaine Grace (4-star) and OL Alex Gall (3-star).

And another five appear headed toward a redshirt: TE Standish Dobard (3-star), QB Kevin Olsen (4-star), CB Ray Lewis III (3-star), OL Sunny Odogwu (3-star) and OL Hunter Knighton (3-star).

TALENT EVALUATORS

Even if you believe UM's recent struggles have to do with poor coaching, player development or play-calling, you can't ignore the amount of attrition the Hurricanes have endured the last five years.

Just because UM has had decent recruiting class rankings the last five years doesn't mean the shelves are loaded with enough talent for this program to be "back."

I spoke to three different recruiting analysts Thursday who all said the same thing: Miami is not deep enough anywhere and the overall talent isn't good enough to be a legit contender this year. And it probably won't be for another year or two at least.

Why? In part because Golden was dealing with an NCAA mess and in trying to do so probably took some players early in the recruiting process that normally wouldn't be at UM if they were sanction-free. 

The 2014 class, however, appears to be the start to the road back. The defensive line haul is impressive. Brad Kaaya is considered by many to be UM's best quarterback recruit in some time. The offensive line is also very good.

What talent is here now is young and growing. The older talent? One could argue Golden and his staff tried to squeeze as much out of it as they could.

I spoke with Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net Wednesday. Who does he like among Miami's draft-eligible 2014 class of seniors and juniors?

"None of them really," he said. "I liked Morris a lot going into the season. He's shown some ability at times this year, but at other times he just makes passes and you scratch your head and say 'What the [heck] was that all about?' Too much inconsistency.

"Seantrel Henderson. He's the same thing to a much greater degree. Off the field issues. He just hasn't seemed to elevate his game.

"I do like Perryman a lot. The thing with him is going to be size, speed issues. I think Linder is going to be a late day steal. I think Linder in the right system can be a 10-year pro. I think he's going to be a guy drafted somewhere in the later rounds.

"I do like Jimmy Gaines. In the sense he's elevated his game, his head is in the right direction. Gaines you're thinking at best a late round pick or somebody who works his way onto the roster as a free agent. And then Allen Hurns, who is probably a last day guy. That's it."

Canes land commitment from 6-4, 203-pound, 3-star WR Tyre Brady of South Dade

Tyre Brady said he always used to tell his grandfather he was going to follow in the footsteps of Andre Johnson, his favorite player, and becoming a Hurricane.

Friday afternoon Brady made that dream a reality when he and his high school coach Nate Hudson called Hurricanes coaches as they were on their way to Duke to tell them he wanted to be their 29th commitment for the 2014 singing class.

UM receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll sent out his usual "Welcome To The U" alert around 12:30 p.m., shortly after Brady said Hurricanes coaches told him they were pumped to hear the news.

Rated a three-star recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports.com, Brady is a raw, but fast and big 6-4, 203-pound receiver. He said he was timed running the 40-yard dash at 4.44 seconds this summer when he participated in a football camp at Alabama. Brady said he chose UM over offers from Florida, Florida State, Arkansas and Ole Miss.

"It was a long time coming," Hudson said. "He has tremendous versatility, plays both ways for us. But this summer he really mastered the receiver position at camps. Not all high school guys come out well-polished and he has some things to work on. He has to improve adjusting to the football, route running can get a little sharper. Other than that, he hasn't disappointed us at all."

Brady, who has 24 catches for 412 yards and six touchdowns as well as two kick returns for touchdowns, is already a full qualifier according to Hudson and will enroll at UM in August. 

"They think I can come in and help right away," Brady said. "Me being the biggest receiver they'll have at 6-4, 203, that's what I want to do."

Talking Canes-Duke with Blue Devil Nation

Earlier this week I exchanged a few questions with Patrick Cacchio who covers Duke football for Blue Devil Nation. He asked me for my thoughts on the Canes and I asked him questions about Duke. 

HIS RESPONSES TO MY QUESTIONS...

1. It's amazing to see the turnaround Duke's program has made under David Cutcliffe. What has really been the key to the Blue Devils growing from being a bowl-eligible 6-6 team to now 7-2 and in the hunt for the Coastal Division crown?

"When Coach Cutcliffe arrived in Durham, he promised fans that the Blue Devils would feature a high-flying offense that put up points. The last two seasons, he's delivered on that promise, as Duke's spread offense averaged 31.5 points a year ago and have improved to 33.4 points per game so far this season. Surprisingly, though, it's the Blue Devil defense that has transformed this program from simply bowl-eligible to ACC contender. The strong play of the defense is even more surprising since Duke entered the season with four true freshmen on the two-deep in the secondary. In September, the Duke defense allowed 58 points to Pittsburgh in a bizarre shoot-out of a game. Since their first bye week, however, it's been a completely different story. Duke has allowed a total of 59 points in their last 5 games. Even after that shaky September, Duke boasts the nation's 32nd best scoring defense and the top red zone defense in the ACC. Though they have received opportunistic plays from the young secondary, the Blue Devil defense is led up front by 3 of the top 5 tacklers in the ACC - LB David Helton, LB Kelby Brown, and S Jeremy Cash. Special teams has contributed, as well, where the Blue Devils rank in the top 5 in the conference in punt returns, kick returns, punting, and kick coverage. While the offense has slumped, Duke has found a way to win with defense and special teams; it's that balance that makes this team a legitimate ACC Coastal Division threat."

2. What's the buzz been like in Durham this week for this game? Isn't that supposed to be basketball country? Or has this football team really won the town over this year?

"It's no secret that support for Duke Football has been lacking in recent years, but with a winning team and a chance to play for an ACC Championship, there's a distinct buzz on and around campus. Last week, as the Blue Devils hosted in-state rival NC State, Wallace Wade Stadium was packed with 32,000 fans mostly in Duke blue, helping to ensure the program's first winning season since 1994. Prior to the NC State game, however, attendance was down significantly this year for the Blue Devils. The University has invested a lot into the program, and during this offseason, significant upgrades to Wallace Wade Stadium to enhance the fan experience are expected. This season has seen nearby Wake Forest, UNC and NC State struggle, making the Blue Devils the best football story in the Triangle. While tickets are still available for Saturday's game, don't expect to see the half-empty stadium of years past."

3. I know the Canes have won nine in a row against Duke, but why do Miami fans need to be worried? Who is playing well for this Duke team right now?

"Miami is still the bigger and more talented team on paper, but the same could be said about the Blue Devils' last two opponents. Duke is playing with confidence as they take a five-game winning streak into Saturday's Coastal Division showdown. The Blue Devils have been carried by their strong play on defense and special teams. I expect to see LBs Kelby Brown and David Helton continue to wrack up tackles and slow the Hurricanes on the ground. Stephen Morris will have to make accurate throws against an opportunistic Duke secondary, who welcomes back All-ACC CB Ross Cockrell this week. That being said, I still think it's the Duke offense that will be most problematic for the Hurricanes. Anthony Boone has yet to lose a game as a starting quarterback, despite giving away 7 interceptions over his past two games. The Blue Devil offense is hungry for a breakout effort and will look to establish All-ACC WR Jamison Crowder early and often. Coach Cutcliffe has emphasized the need for Duke to do a better job of committing to the run, so I also expect to see a stronger effort from star sophomore Jela Duncan and company. Much like in recent years, I think this game ends up to be a high-scoring affair, and if recent history is any indicator for these two teams, a big special teams play or two may be the difference."

MY RESPONSES TO HIS QUESTIONS...

1. Miami enters Saturday's contest on a 2-game losing streak, having recently lost two of their top offensive weapons in WR Phillip Dorsett and RB Duke Johnson to season-ending injuries. Can this offense be as explosive without those two playmakers? What adjustments do you expect to see from QB Stephen Morris and the offensive staff?

"There's no question Miami's offense missed Duke Johnson last week against Virginia Tech. The Canes only ran for 28 yards on 24 attempts and could never really establish a running game, making them one dimensional. Stephen Morris actually played well against the Hokies. What hurt him were the drops by his receivers. They've actually had 11 combined drops in the last two weeks including a pair that would have gone for touchdowns. Allen Hurns has done a real nice job stepping up in Dorsett's absence. Freshman Stacy Coley has had his moments of brilliance. But there's no doubt this offense has missed Dorsett and Johnson and will miss them Saturday."

2. The Hurricanes' are holding opponents to just 23 points per game on the season, but are coming off a game where they allowed a struggling Virginia Tech team to put up 42 points and 549 yards of total offense. What is the source of their recent defensive struggles?

"I definitely feel like there was some carryover from the Florida State loss with Miami's defense. They can't afford to have any this week and know it. The biggest issues have been missed tackles and blown coverage assignments the last two weeks. Watch the film of the last six quarters and it's a horror show. The honest truth is this defense is average at best. What helped them mask their deficiencies for the first seven games of the season were turnovers and sacks. They also were much better on third down earlier this year. Over their last 3 games opponents are converting at a 60 percent clip against Miami. Over the first six games nobody did better than 40 percent against the Canes."

3. The Blue Devils have dropped 9 games in a row to the Hurricanes; entering this year's matchup, Duke and Miami both sit atop the ACC Coastal Division standings at 7-2. What do you expect to be the keys to victory on Saturday?

"Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. It's quite obvious both of these teams live and die with them. Last week, the two fumbles by Miami on special teams completely changed the momentum of the game. If the Canes win the turnover battle they will win this game. If they don't, Duke is going to end that nine-game losing streak."

November 14, 2013

Dorsett listed as doubtful on Canes injury report, sign he could be back soon

When Hurricanes 2012 leading-receiver Phillip Dorsett went down in a heap of pain Oct. 17 at North Carolina it looked ugly. A partially torn medial collateral ligament had him on crutches and was going to keep him out about four-to-six weeks.

Thursday, though, there was a pleasant surprise in UM's injury report when Dorsett was upgraded from out to doubtful for Saturday's game at Duke, a sign he could be ready to come back soon.

The Miami Herald learned last week Dorsett had been catching passes at practice. Quarterback Stephen Morris said Tuesday Dorsett was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey and was in pads at practice this week. But Morris also said Dorsett "has not been running or anything."

"I hope he's close. I really don't know the extent of how close," Morris said. "But I know whenever I'm in the treatment room he's always in there with me. He's doing a lot of good things. I know [trainer] Vinnie [Scavo] is really excited for him."

It's more likely Dorsett could be ready for the home finale against Virginia a week from Saturday.

> As expected, backup linebacker Alex Figueroa (shoulder) has been ruled out of Saturday's game at Duke.

Canes basketball announces four new signees; class rated 23rd nationally by Scout.com

With as many players as Jim Larrañaga lost from last year's Sweet 16 squad we all know it's probably going to be a long season filled with growing pains for the Hurricanes basketball team.

But at least the future got brighter Wednesday.

Thursday morning, UM announced the signing of four players -- Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda -- to National Letters of Intent.

The signing class is ranked No. 23 in the nation by Scout.com.

> A consensus Top 60 player, Newton is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard listed as the No. 55 player in ESPN’s Top 100 list. At Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia, Newton averaged 18.0 points per game last season, and has totaled more than 1,300 career points, helping Coach Carl Arrigale lead his team to three consecutive Catholic League championships. The incoming freshman has participated in the NBPA Top 100 Camp and LeBron James Skills Academy, and plays AAU ball for Team Final, the same squad as future Miami teammate Davon Reed. Newton, an offensive slasher with an innate ability to get to the rim, was also recruited by UCLA, Texas A&M and Minnesota.

“Ja'Quan is a multipurpose guard who play both the one and two and be very effective at both. Ja'Quan is an outstanding scorer and will add a lot to our offensive arsenal next season. He hails from Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School in Philadelphia, which has produced a large number of high major Division I players,”  Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school.

> Palmer, a senior at St. John’s College High, is a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Washington, D.C. He helped his squad to a 20-win season by averaging 12 points, five rebounds and two assists as a junior. An offensive threat, Palmer can catch-and-shoot 3-pointers or score in transition. Palmer, who plays AAU ball for Team Takeover, was also recruited by Memphis, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Maryland. Palmer was coached by Sean McAloon at St. John’s College HS.

“James is one of the best three-point shooters we saw all last summer,” Larrañaga added. “He played for one of the best AAU programs in the country, Team Takeover, in Washington, D.C. He also plays at St. John's College High School of the WCAC, which is one of the toughest high school basketball leagues in the country.”

> Sherman, out of Duncanville, Texas, is a four-star prospect, according to ESPN and Scout.com. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward plays high school ball at Duncanville High, where he is coached by Kenny Boren. Scout.com lists Sherman as the No. 20 power forward in the country, and the No. 94 player overall. Sherman, who played his AAU seasons with Deron Williams Elite, chose Miami over Wichita State, North Texas and Weber State.

“Omar is the kind of front court player we were looking for,” Larrañaga said. “He is big and strong with a velvety soft touch. He can score with his back to the basket but can also shoot the three. He plays for Duncanville High School which is one of the best high school programs in Texas.”

> Cruz Uceda is a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward originally from Madrid, Spain, ranked No. 55 overall by ESPN. Cruz Uceda will be available to play a pair of seasons for Miami following his two years at Harcum College in Pennsylvania. At Harcum, he set the school record for rebounds in a season and has a chance to break the school’s career record for caroms. Cruz Uceda was also recruited by Marquette, Ohio State, Penn State and Villanova.

“Ivan is the perfect compliment to Omar. He is an excellent passer, but at 6-10, he too can play inside and outside. He is a strong rebounder, clever, and plays for a strong junior college program at Harcum College. We were searching for an experienced player to join our junior class and we believe we have found exactly that in Ivan,” concluded Larrañaga.

The four newcomers join an already talented 2014-15 class, which includes redshirt-freshman Deandre Burnett, who is out this season with an injury, and transfers Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, who are currently sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.

November 13, 2013

Canes freshman linebacker Alex Figueroa battling shoulder injury

The Hurricanes official injury report won't be coming out until Thursday, but it's guaranteed backup strongside linebacker Alex Figueroa is going to be on it.

The 6-3, 235-pound freshmen missed practice again Wednesday after being spotted during Tuesday's media viewing of practice with his left arm in a sling. 

"We're evaluating his shoulder again today and we'll know more by tomorrow and certainly by Friday," UM coach Al Golden said during his weekly appearance on the ACC Teleconference. "He did not practice again today and we're holding him out right now. We just want to make sure whatever the diagnosis is we go through the battery of tests he needs to and we're not going backwards there."

Figueroa, who started against Savannah State and South Florida, has played in all nine games for the Hurricanes. Coaches raved about him during fall camp and he's done a nice job on special teams and in his appearances, racking up 17 tackles and a sack on the season.

"We're very high on Alex," Golden said. "He needs to continue to learn how to prepare and play the game faster, [fix] the mental errors, a lot of the things we deal with freshmen. Sometimes we forget he's a freshman. He is a guy we're excited about and that has a great future."

> Junior linebacker Denzel Perryman, who leads the Hurricanes with 78 tackles, welcomed a daughter to the world on Tuesday morning. 

> Golden said freshmen Artie Burns and Corn Elder and sophomore Antonio Crawford "have been coming on" in practice "and earning some reps" at cornerback.

November 12, 2013

Golden says "Boo me" not Stephen Morris; Howard defends D'Onofrio (w/video)

As much as Al Golden would like to bunker down and ignore the heat coming from the outside after back-to-back losses, it's hard to ignore the criticism being directed at two people in particular these days: quarterback Stephen Morris and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio.

Golden went to bat for both Tuesday and so did a few players who aren't happy with all of the blame being placed on D'Onofrio's scheme and play-calling or all the boos and chants for backup Ryan Williams that were made Saturday night.

"I'm taking the responsibility for Saturday, not Stephen Morris," Golden said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.

"I'm directly responsible for special teams - that's three turnovers and they happened in succession which compounded each time. Stephen, if he was allotted to have 68 plays, would have had his best game of the year. He had 53 plays, scored 24 points against a team giving up 16 points. He had [more than] 300 yards passing, doubles what they've been giving up. He was 16 of 27 with five drops. He could have been 21 of 27. He averaged 20 yards a completion. He didn't have any turnovers. I just think it's unfair, especially given what he's been playing with, dealing with and playing with [a sprained ankle] for eight weeks now.

"Again, boo me, be frustrated with me. But Stephen Morris? He's done everything, including stand and fight here the last two years. He's our quarterback and he's our leader, and he has my support."

Although Morris and teammates Asante Cleveland and Maurice Hagens said they didn't hear the boos when UM's offense was on the field, cornerback Tracy Howard said he and UM's defense definitely heard them and it bothered them. Howard, who was teammates with Williams at Miramar and won a state championship with him, said the boos for Morris were disrespectful.

"That's disrespectful. That's a sign of unloyal fans," Howard said. "Every player is not going to be perfect. Everybody is going to have their ups and downs -- especially the quarterback. The fans want the team to be good. If the fans want us to produce and be good they can't boo the quarterback. They don't know how he will take it, if it will lower his confidence.

"But the thing with Stephen is he's strong. That don't get to him. He's internally driven. We heard it, but we just blocked it out. I don't know why they did that to Stephen. He's a good quarterback. That's disrespectful."

Howard also had words for those blaming his defensive coordinator for Miami's struggles the last few weeks.

""The fans outside, they see the players messing up so they are automatically going to blame it on the defensive coordinator," he said. "Because sometimes in football as a fan, they don't really know football. So when they see guys being cut loose they think `Oh, it's the defensive coordinator's fault.' Really it's the execution from the players. I think we have to do a better job of having his back in the games. Outside people, they don't really know what's going on, don't know football to be honest."

"I feel like coach D'Onofrio calls great games. It's up to the players to execute."

Howard said D'Onofrio is "a great teacher."

"He knows the game in and out," Howard said. "He's taught me a lot about football since I got here. I think he does a great job telling us what to do and where to be at. And not just him, all the coaches. They relay it to us the best way possible.

"I get mad because I feel like if anything he calls great games. To be honest the fans should be more loyal. When we were 7-0 they were all happy. Now they want him out on his back. But that's the way football goes. I understand it. I'm not mad or anything. But I feel like they're being too hard.

"They're saying all type of crazy things about him. They're acting like we're a .500 team or something. We're not a .500 team. I feel like he calls great games. If they really understood football they might understand that."

Golden said flatly any decisions made on defense, offense or special teams -- from scheme on down -- basically go through him.

"I wasn't listening when people loved him either," Golden said of the critics. "It's always about change. You asked what has changed on defense. It was the discipline in making tough decisions not to change, to stay with it and do all the little things. Do we need to play better on defense than we did last week? There's no question. Absolutely, no question. Did we put them -did we put them in the worst position you have to be in as a defensive coordinator [with the turnovers]? Absolutely we did that.

"If people are upset with a coach or position - because we got them all this week. We heard we've got to catch the ball better. We got every email you can get. At the end of the day it's my responsibility. There's nothing that goes on in this building that I do not approve or sign off on, co-sign. At the end of the day I know that we have to fix a lot of things. I'm as disappointed as anybody in that loss, equally disappointed in the way it transpired. It's important we continue the continuity, and just move forward, keep pushing forward. It hasn't been easy. As a staff and organization let's push forward. And we do have handcuffs off with recruiting. My first recruiting class was six weeks. The next two years were hell [with the NCAA investigation]. It's time to move forward. We got to stop talking about all this other stuff and start focusing on Duke."

UM hoping to raise $7 million for new practice field, dining hall and state of the art cold pools with Football Victory Fund

Athletic director Blake James is making a push to raise $7 million for a handful of new projects including an artificial surface lighted practice field, an athletic dining hall and a football recovery zone with four state of the art cold pools.

He's called it the Football Victory Fund.

“We have to invest in our football program with the needed resources to continue building champions. The Football Victory Fund will allow us to provide the necessary resources to win championships," James writes in the project handbook that will be placed in the hand of donors and athletic boosters.

The hand book describes each project as the following:

> The installation of an alternative artificial practice surface will provide a much needed resource for our football program. With this surface, we will install new field lighting that will allow our football program to practice at night, and provide increased flexibility in practice scheduling. Additionally, this field will ease wear on our natural grass fields and will simulate game surfaces in 30% of ACC Stadiums.

> The Student –Athlete Training Table (Dining Hall) will be a newly constructed 3,200 square foot specialized dining facility. This dining facility will be used by our 400+ student-athletes, and will be organized and designed to optimize their dietary needs. Featuring more than 170 seats and modernized U branding, this dining facility will provide proper nutritional supervision and guidance tailored specifically to each student-athlete which will maximize his or her peak performance.

> The construction of the Football Recovery Zone will consist of four Polar Pools capable of holding 14 student-athletes per pool. These state-of-the-art cold pools are necessary for the hot and humid climate of South Florida. They provide a safe, sanitary and efficient alternative to traditional cryotherapy, allowing our student-athletes to effectively cool down and recover after intense workouts and practices.

The Hurricanes recently raised $14.7 million to help fund the brand new Schwartz Center.

The 34,000-square-foot center includes a 10,800-square-foot Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson Locker Room and the Jonathan Vilma Players’ Lounge with oversized leather chairs with the “U’’ on every chair back, flat screen TVs in every direction, video games, cellphone charging stations in each locker and a nutrition bar with fruit, power drinks, and other snacks for athletes on the go.

Miami’s modernized training center — which services some 400 athletes — quadrupled in size to 12,000 square feet and now includes a dental chair for emergency mouth injuries, private physician’s examining room, and state-of-the-art rehab center that rivals most NFL facilities.

It also features hydraulic pools and a $70,000 anti-gravity treadmill that allows athletes to run at adjustable body weights to lessen stress on knees.

Miami Hurricanes release new depth chart for Duke. Few changes, and very minor ones at that.

  Here's the new UM depth chart for Saturday's Duke game (3:30 p.m., ESPNU).

The only changes: all four positions in the secondary have co-starters.

  WEEK 10 DEPTH CHART (as of Nov. 12, 2013)

OFFENSE (PRO)

WR 1 ALLEN HURNS 6-3, 195, Sr.
9 Malcolm Lewis 6-0, 187, So.
80 Rashawn Scott 6-2, 199, Jr.

LT 74 ERECK FLOWERS 6-6, 315, So.
79 Malcolm Bunche 6-7, 327, RJr.

LG 70 JON FELICIANO 6-5, 318, RJr.
79 Malcolm Bunche 6-7, 327, RJr.

C 62 SHANE McDERMOTT –OR– 6-4, 296, Jr.
75 JARED WHEELER 6-5, 319, Sr.

RG 65 BRANDON LINDER 6-6, 319, Sr.
75 Jared Wheeler 6-5, 319, Sr.

RT 77 SEANTREL HENDERSON 6-8, 345, Sr.
65 Brandon Linder 6-6, 319, Sr.

TE 46 CLIVE WALFORD 6-4, 259, RJr.
82 Asante Cleveland 6-5, 260, Sr.
85 Beau Sandland 6-6, 255, Jr.

FB 33 MAURICE HAGENS 5-11, 250, Sr.
44 Walter Tucker 6-0, 226, Fr.

QB 17 STEPHEN MORRIS 6-2, 218, Sr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 223, Jr.

RB 25 DALLAS CRAWFORD 5-10, 194, RSo.
23 Eduardo Clements –OR– 5-9, 192, Sr.
7 Gus Edwards 6-2, 225, Fr.

SLOT 6 HERB WATERS 6-2, 193, So.
9 Malcolm Lewis 6-0, 187, So.

WR 3 STACY COLEY –OR– 6-1, 180, Fr.
6 HERB WATERS 6-2, 193, So.

DEFENSE (4-3)

DE 71 ANTHONY CHICKILLO 6-4, 277, Jr.
90 Ufomba Kamalu 6-6, 285, Jr.

DT 96 CURTIS PORTER –OR– 6-1, 325, Sr.
78 JUSTIN RENFROW 6-6, 320, Sr.
72 Earl Moore 6-1, 304, So.

DT 91 OLSEN PIERRE 6-4, 305, Jr.
93 Luther Robinson 6-3, 296, RSr.

DE 51 SHAYON GREEN 6-3, 264, Sr.
11 David Gilbert 6-4, 256, Sr.

OLB 31 TYRONE CORNILEUS –OR– 6-2, 225, Sr.
36 ALEX FIGUEROA 6-3, 235, Fr.

MLB 59 JIMMY GAINES 6-3, 240, Sr.
56 Raphael Kirby 6-0, 235, So.

OLB 52 DENZEL PERRYMAN 6-0, 240, Jr.
34 Thurston Armbrister 6-3, 233, Jr.

CB 3 TRACY HOWARD –OR– 5-11, 184, So.
21 ANTONIO CRAWFORD 5-11, 187, So.

S 2 DEON BUSH –OR– 6-1, 203, So.
22 KACY RODGERS II 6-2, 212, Sr.

S 26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS –OR– 6-1, 208, So.
30 AJ HIGHSMITH 6-0, 208, Sr.

CB 37 LADARIUS GUNTER –OR– 6-2, 196, Jr.
1 ARTIE BURNS 6-0, 190, Fr.
29 Corn Elder 5-10, 173, Fr.

SPECIALISTS
P 16 PAT O’DONNELL 6-5, 220, Gr.
18 Matt Goudis 6-0, 172, So.

FG 18 MATT GOUDIS 6-0, 172, So.
16 Pat O’Donnell 6-5, 220, Gr.

KO 16 PAT O’DONNELL –OR– 6-5, 220, Gr.
18 MATT GOUDIS 6-0, 172, So.

H 16 PAT O’DONNELL 6-5, 220, Gr.
11 Ryan Williams 6-5, 223, Jr.

LS 57 SEAN MCNALLY 5-10, 200, RJr.
61 Paul Kelly 6-1, 255, RSr.

SS 61 PAUL KELLY 6-1, 255, RSr.
65 Brandon Linder 6-6, 319, Sr.

PR 3 STACY COLEY –AND– 6-1, 180, Fr.
25 DALLAS CRAWFORD 5-10, 196, RSo.

KR 3 STACY COLEY 6-1, 180, Fr.
1 ARTIE BURNS 6-0, 190, Fr.

November 11, 2013

VIDEO: Freshmen Coley, Edwards discuss struggles versus Virginia Tech, look ahead to Duke

Canes quarterback Stephen Morris ignoring boos, chants for backup Ryan Williams

He knows he's had an up-and-down season, thrown more interceptions than he's liked and been inconsistent at times. But Stephen Morris isn't letting any of it get to him.

In fact, he's been so focused on doing his job better he didn't even hear the boos or the chants for backup Ryan Williams during Saturday night's 42-24 loss to Virginia Tech.

"Seriously? For real?" Morris responded Monday when told the chants for Williams were being made as UM's offense struggled. "That's hilarious. I didn't hear that at all. I don't even know what to say to it. You know how Miami fans are. I'm not going to criticize them or praise the fans in any sort of way. It is what it is."

A year ago, Morris was viewed as a welcome replacement for the interception-prone Jacory Harris. Fans were chanting Morris' name often during Harris' troublesome times. In his first full season as a starter last year, Morris posted solid numbers, completing passes at a 58.5 percent clip for 3,345 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His QB rating was 138.07 (51st nationally).

This season, he's actually doing better in terms of completion percentage (58.9) and QB rating (148.8, 30th nationally) although he's thrown more interceptions (10) and has fewer touchdowns (14) and is averaging fewer yards per game (219.9) compared to last year (278.8). 

Where Morris has thrived really is the deep ball, completing 21 pass plays of 30 yards or more including a pair of career-long 81 and 84-yard touchdown passes in the loss to the Hokies. Overall, Morris ranks fifth nationally in pass plays of 30-yards or more. Last year's Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Baylor's Bryce Petty lead the nation with 28 pass plays of 30 yards or more.

Is it tough for his family to hear the boos?

"People are going to do what people want to do," Morris said. "They're not really concerned with that at all. My parents have tough skin. They've been through a lot themselves in the business world, seen the other side of people as well as myself. Playing quarterback, I could care less what people say. I don't read media, do Instagram or Twitter. I don't read that. I'm not into newspapers. I just put myself away from that."

UM coach Al Golden pointed out that in Saturday's loss receivers dropped five passes from Morris, who finished 16 of 29 for 324 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. UM also had six drops against FSU.

"We try not to use the weather as an excuse. It's tough, definitely tough," Morris said of the drops. "The good news is we have guys like Allen [Hurns], one of the best leaders on the team. I let Allen just talk to the receivers, let him encourage his guys, guys who dropped it, lift their sprits because it's disappointing for those guys. Like I've been saying, it happens."

Morris said Monday his troublesome ankle feels a lot better than it did before and it feels like its 100 percent.

"A lot of people really didn't know what was going on and that's how I like to keep it," Morris said. "I was trying to stay positive, do everything the training room told me to do. I was in everyday at 6 a.m., doing treatments. But when you go week in and week out with the same feeling, it's kind of depressing. But at the same time it is what it is - you have to push through it. I think that's what my lesson was to my teammates."

VIDEO: Golden, Coley after Monday's practice

November 10, 2013

Miami Hurricanes in free fall: UM drops to No. 24 in AP & No. 23 among coaches after 42-24 loss to VT

You and U knew this was coming.

On the heels of their 42-24 loss to Virginia Tech last night, the Miami Hurricanes have gone from a season-high No. 7 going into the Florida State game to No. 14 going into the Virginia Tech game to No. 24 as of this morning's new AP ranking and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Canes were ranked 11th in the BCS standings going into Virginia Tech. The new standings will be released tonight.

 It was nice while it lasted, but the Canes can't have performances like last night -- on national television no less -- and expect to keep the respect of voters and analysts and anyone who has seen them of late.

How much hope is there for the rest of the season? They travel to Durham, N.C. to face a Duke team (7-2, 3-2 ACC) that is winning and fighting in the Coastal Division, then return home to face lowly Virginia (the team that somehow manages to upset UM regularly), then go on the road for the regular-season finale at Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving.

Pitt beat Notre Dame last night.

Ouch.

The Canes will do all they can to keep this season from unraveling. But right about now, it doesn't look especially promising.

ACC ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS:

1.Florida State(9-0, 7-0)

2.Clemson(8-1, 6-1)

3.Syracuse(5-4, 3-2)

4.Boston College(5-4, 2-3)

5.Wake Forest(4-6, 2-5)

6.Maryland(5-4, 1-4)

7.NC State(3-6, 0-6)

ACC COASTAL DIVISION STANDINGS

1. Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2)

2. Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2)

3. Duke (7-2, 3-2)

4. Miami (7-2, 3-2)

5. North Carolina (4-5, 3-3)

6. Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3)

7. Virginia (2-8, 0-6)

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 09, 2013

VIDEO: D'Onofrio addresses defensive struggles against Virginia Tech; players react

Golden after loss to Virginia Tech: "Whatever I say is an excuse. At the end of the day, we have to fix it."

On the difficulties in fighting uphill after falling behind early...

“Huge. You can’t spot them 21 points like that. At the end of the day, we executed the punt return and kick-off return exactly what we wanted - one was 30 [yards], one was 50 [yards], and we fumbled both of them. Just inexcusable. We had a low snap and gave them a short field there, and now you’re playing uphill the whole time. They’re basically playing keep-away at that moment. We didn’t get off the field well enough on third down. We didn’t convert enough plays on offense. Just really disappointed in those mistakes.”

On lopsided time of possession in the first quarter affecting chances of success...

“There isn’t any question about it. We had two fumbles and basically what amounted to a fumble on the low snap that we were down on. To start out the game like that, I don’t think there’s anybody in this business that would see that coming. There’s just no way that should happen. I’m really disappointed there.”

On the general issues that he sees with his team’s defense...

“We didn’t get off the field enough on third down. We missed too many tackles - too many egregious third downs that they converted. Really against the odds plays for them that they converted, and we didn’t stop them enough in the red zone. Even with the mistakes that we aided them [with] in the half, I think we were still only in the 30’s going into halftime play-wise. Not that that’s great, but it’s not like it was 40 or 50 plays. Again, just really disappointed. We didn’t deserve to win. We didn’t protect the ball, a low snap, three big blunders to start the game, and as I just said to them, don’t let anyone say we weren’t ready, we weren’t focused. If everyone is blocking who they’re supposed to be and we return it 50 yards, we’re ready to play. We fumbled the ball. We had a good scheme and we fumbled the ball. We score early on a screen, we’re ready to play. Just really disappointing. It’s impossible to overcome those odds.”

On how the weather affected his team’s gameplan...

“None. Zero. Don’t let anyone say the rain affected those fumbles. They started to get in traffic, you have to cover that up, and the ball should be higher. Something we work on constantly. The ball was just too low, the point was down. I’m embarrassed by it, to be honest with you.”

On any systemic issues he sees with the defense...

“We need to help them on special teams and on offense. There are a lot of things we need to fix. We had too many guys open, we didn’t tackle well enough, we didn’t get off the field, we didn’t get a red-zone stop, and we didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback.”

On if the same issues that plagued the defense last week were recurring against Virginia Tech...

“The numbers would say yes. There were too many third-and-longs, too many against-the-odds third downs they converted. It was the function of two things: we blew a coverage – a man got free or cut a guy loose - lost leverage in the zone, or we didn’t tackle real well.”

On the play of the Virginia Tech wide receivers...

“We had some guys running free. We got out-leveraged a couple of times. As I said, we didn’t tackle. There’s no excuse. It has to be better, it wasn’t good enough, and it’s my responsibility to get it fixed.”

On what his team needs to do better offensively...

“We needed to get the ball. Obviously on the two occasions that we fumbled it, those two possessions certainly could help. We’re not good enough right now on third down. We’re not converting enough on third down with enough consistency, and obviously that’s an excellent defense we’re playing [against]. [When] you spot them 21 points, you’re fighting an uphill battle. It gets skewed when you make those kind of mistakes. It’s really tough. We didn’t convert enough of our shots down the field.”

On if he anticipates making any changes to his defensive scheme...

“We have to look at it. It would be premature to say we have to change things when we really had too many unforced errors, to be honest with you.”

On if the cushion for Virginia Tech wide receivers on third down was the product of mental errors...

“I know twice we got rubbed off and didn’t stay on our man, the other one we missed a tackle. We’re playing man [coverage] a couple of times, so it wasn’t like we weren’t being aggressive. We didn’t get it done. There’s no excuse. We’ll examine it, look at it, from top to bottom.”

On the Coastal Division race...

“We’re going to go to work tomorrow, like I just told the team. I’m going to be in there, getting back to work. They have to decide which direction they want to go – there’s a lot of football left. They have to get their minds right and move on. I don’t want to hear anything about last week’s game affecting this week’s game. We were ready to play. We did not take care of the football, and it really was the equivalent of three turnovers early in that game when you look at the two kick plays and the knee down. We didn’t tackle well enough, we didn’t get out of the field well enough, we didn’t get a red zone stop on defense. On offense, we didn’t run the ball well enough, we didn’t convert on third down, we didn’t hit the shots when we had them down the field, and we dropped a few [passes], to be honest with you.”

On the differences he sees from his team’s win against Florida to the loss against Virginia Tech...

“Whatever I say is an excuse. At the end of the day, we have to fix it. We have to go back to work and fix it. I’m not even going to go down that path. We’re all responsible for it, I’m responsible for it, and we’re going to go to work tomorrow on getting it fixed and getting this thing right, and do all the little things right to move forward and move the program forward. That’s what we have to all get going tomorrow.”

Gameday blog: Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

You know the drill. Kickoff at 7. Game is on ESPN. Vital to Coastal Division title hopes. Need I say more?

Homecoming helmet and jersey surprise tonight for Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech

The Hurricanes have unveiled a special helmet and jersey tonight for the Virginia Tech game at Homecoming.

The uniforms have been dubbed "The Smoke.''

The jersey is gray. The helmet is white, with a wide gray base, with a large orange-and-green U.

The last time I recall UM breaking out complete new unis -- a la Nike Pro Combat -- was guess when?

Nov. 20, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Canes, then ranked 24th, came into that game 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the ACC.

The unis: orange jerseys with green sleeves, orange pants with wide green stripes and green helmets with a prominent U on either side.  

Virginia Tech came into the game ranked 14th, with an 8-2 overall and 6-2 ACC record.

The Hokies won the game 31-17 and clinched the Coastal Division of the ACC.

I really liked those unis. I think I might have been the only one.

By the way, Miami will be getting a new uniform design for the 2014 season. It has not been revealed what they'll look like. 

HERE'S THE RELEASE SENT OUT BY UM ON THE UNIFORMS

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes unveiled a special uniform set named ‘The Smoke’ for Saturday’s Homecoming game vs. Virginia Tech at Sun Life Stadium.

#TheSmoke uniform features an anthracite jersey (grey) top and a Hydrographics designed helmet with grey smoke accents rising from the back base of the helmet that represents the Miami Hurricanes’ tradition of “running through the smoke” prior to every home game. The helmet is white matte with a gray smoke pattern around the back and is highlighted by chrome U decals and a metal gray facemask.

 “We’re excited to unveil a new alternative uniform for the Miami Hurricanes,” said Blake James, the Hurricanes’ Director of Athletics. “Along with the new basketball uniforms, it reaffirms our desire to be on the cutting edge with our great partners at Nike.”

 The Miami Hurricanes are the first team to wear his custom helmet design created by Hydographics in Oregon.

 The jersey is the same Nike Cordura design the Hurricanes currently wear, but it features the anthracite color and has “Deserve Victory” embroidered in the back neck yoke. The uniform was crafted by the same Nike designer who worked on the 2013 Minnesota Vikings, TCU Horned Frogs and Red Rivalry Texas & Oklahoma uniforms.

 

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 08, 2013

A view from the other side: five questions with Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter (The Roanoke Times and Virginian-Pilot)

Thanks to Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times for giving his perspective on Saturday's game. Follow him on Twitter at @AndyBitterVT. For Andy's sake and all the fans coming to UM's Homecoming game Saturday, hope the weather forecasters are wrong about rain for tomorrow night.

The questions and answers:

SMD: Logan Thomas has had eight turnovers the last two games, both VT losses. Is there any undercurrent for change by the Hokies?

 AB: There’s a growing sentiment among a minority of the fans that it’s time to move on from Logan Thomas, but you won’t hear that from his teammates or the coaching staff, who have backed the senior quarterback 100 percent. And probably rightfully so. Lost in the cries for change is the fact that Thomas still shoulders most of the offensive load, passing, obviously, but also rushing. He threw for 391 yards against Boston College and ran for a team-high 38. He accounted for 96 percent of the Hokies’ yards in that game. Earlier this year against Georgia Tech, he actually had more yards than the team had (other players accounted for negative yardage). His backup, Mark Leal, has never played meaningful minutes and doesn’t present a rushing threat, so thoughts of putting him in the game are more a fan’s fantasy than anything.

 Thomas can still be an effective quarterback if he doesn’t turn the ball over. When Tech won its first three ACC games, he didn’t have a turnover. In the two games the Hokies have lost, he’s had eight. It’s pretty black and white. It’s unrealistic to think that a guy who has 33 turnovers since the start of last season is all of a sudden going to completely eliminate them, but if he can eliminate them at key moments -- like last week’s pick six on a terrible throw off his back foot across the middle when the game was tied at 20-20 -- then the Hokies have a good enough defense to carry the team. He just needs to be smart with the ball, or at least smarter than he’s shown the last few weeks.

 

SMD: Does anything change for Virginia Tech’s defensive approach now that Duke Johnson is out (broken ankle) and Dallas Crawford is in at running back for Miami?

  AB: Talking to the coaches, they have a high respect for Crawford,too, so it doesn’t sound like the Hokies will do much different schematically from what they had intended on doing. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll change too much of what they’ve been doing all year, either. BC’s Andre Williams ran for 166 yards last week, but 62 of that came on one busted run at the end. His other 32 carries produced 102 yards, a 3.18 average, which is a number defensive coordinator Bud Foster would take in a second against the ACC’s leading rusher.

 Stopping the run has still been Virginia Tech’s forte. It ranks ninth nationally, allowing only 102.7 yards per game. Only three teams have topped the 100-yard mark against the Hokies this year, and one was Georgia Tech, which only ran for 129 yards, less than half its season average. There has to be at least some relief on the Hokies that they won’t have to face Johnson, who ran for 100 yards against them last year, although it might be a bigger deal on special teams, where he’s a huge factor and reeled off an 81-yard kick return in last year’s matchup. Tech’s players and coaches talk about Miami as though it’s an assembly of great running backs (which it is), so they’re not taking things lightly simply because the established star is out. “It seems like the next running back down there is just waiting to be star,” head coach Frank Beamer said.

 

SMD: Stephen Morris hasn’t been too careful with the ball. Will the Hokies, who specialize in pressuring the quarterback and intercepting passes, be licking their chops?

AB: It’s been mentioned this week that Morris can be rattled. And rattling QBs is Virginia Tech’s specialty. The Hokies have 28 sacks, which are ninth-most nationally, and 17 interceptions, which is second. So they’ll no doubt come after Morris with all they’ve got, especially considering how important it is to get the ball in favorable field position for its struggling offense.

 Granted, most teams know that that’s how Virginia Tech approaches things. Boston College was smart about it, putting its quarterback in max protect situations, rolling him away from pressure and rarely asking him to make any kind of throws downfield. The Eagles played that offense to a T and didn’t turn the ball over or allow a sack, which lessened the impact the Hokies’ defense could have on the game. I’d imagine Miami might try something similar, considering how turnover-prone Morris is. The Canes have a running game they can rely on. That’ll be key. The Hokies’ stated goal every week is to make teams one-dimensional by stopping the run, then go after the quarterback and force mistakes. Miami has to run it and throw it, or it will play into Tech’s hands.

 

SMD: Kicker Cody Journell has missed several field goals this year. Does Virginia Tech still have faith in him?

 AB: Somewhat surprisingly. Journell has had a strange year. He’s just 10-for-16 on field goals and had a stretch where he couldn’t hit anything. Yet he’s also won ACC Specialist of the Week honors twice in the last four weeks, first for going 4-for-5 with a career-long 48-yarder against Pittsburgh and last week for hitting from 56 and 47 against Boston College. But in between those games, he missed two 40-plus field goals against Duke that ultimately was the difference in the game.

 I don’t know if Hokies fans still trust him when he goes out there, but Beamer does. He’s showed a steadfast faith in the kicker throughout his struggles, against popular opinion, and was vindicated to a degree last week. Still, I think Journell is going to be a guy who could go back to his missing ways just as quickly as he regained his form. He just hasn’t been steady this year.

 He’ll continue to kick, though. Tech doesn’t have many other options. Ethan Keyserling stepped in during the Marshall game when Journell was serving a one-game suspension and went 0-for-3 (admittedly in a driving rain). Journell’s made big kicks before -- he had three game-winners last year -- and Beamer, the one who counts, thinks he can do it again. So he’ll be the guy.

 

SMD: The Hokies were 7-6 last year and are coming off losses to Duke and Boston College this year. Is there any hope Frank Beamer can get this team back to what it once was, winning 10 games a year?

 AB: It’ll be a process. When the Hokies were 6-1, everyone thought this team was back on its way to being the old Virginia Tech, which won 10 games for eight straight years prior to last season. Back-to-back losses to Duke and Boston College have brought fans back to reality. And the reality is, this is very much a work in progress. Even when the Hokies were building that 6-1 record, they did it without a ton of offense. They just weren’t turning the ball over, getting by on a very small margin of error. Not too much has changed the last few weeks, except the turnovers. And for a team that was just getting by, those were enough to put it on the wrong side of the final score.

 I think, given time, the overhaul to the offensive coaching staff the Hokies did last offseason, bringing in new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, will be a positive. But he’s not exactly working with a stacked deck this year. Yes, Thomas is a senior, but his oldest running back is a sophomore, three of his top four receivers are a sophomore, a redshirt freshman and a former walk-on, the tight end is a true freshman, as is the fullback, and the offensive line is inexperienced, with a true freshman starting at left tackle. So it’s a transition year, even with the headliner -- Thomas -- being a fifth-year senior.

 Until these new coaches can replenish the ranks through recruiting and build some experience, I don’t think Tech will get back to that 10-win plateau that became the norm for it for so long. But Foster’s defense is going to be a constant. It has been for nearly 20 years. If the offense can just show minimal improvement in its efficiency, the Hokies will continue to be a player in the ACC.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

November 07, 2013

Lamar Thomas, Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis headline 2014 UM Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Current Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Hurricanes football greats Clinton Portis and Lamar Thomas headline the UM Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014.

All eight members will be formally introduced at halftime of Miami’s home finale against Virginia on Saturday, Nov. 23.

The Class of 2014 also includes Heat forward James Jones (basketball, 1999-2003), Jeff Morrison (baseball, 1978-81), Wyllesheia Myrick (track, 1998-2002), Rio Ramirez (diving, 1997-99) and Javy Rodriguez (baseball, 1999-2002).

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1966 by eight Dade County Circuit Court judges, who wanted to establish an organization that would recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who excelled at their sport and brought acclaim to the University of Miami through achievements and championships.

With the addition of the eight newest members, the Sports Hall of Fame will increase to 282 honorees. The eight-member class will be inducted at the 46th annual UMSHoF Induction Banquet, which will be held April 10, 2014.

For more information on the banquet, fans can visit www.UMSportsHallofFame.com or call 305-284-2775.