August 10, 2016

Here's the Heat's regular-season schedule; 1 p.m. Thursday UM nuggets; Wednesday night nuggets: Some Dolphins that are impressing; New info on UM RBs; Marlins issues surface; So Flo's Olympic ratings

Here's the Heat's regular-season schedule that was just released, and there are only 5 games on national TV: the home game against Dwyane Wade and the Bulls Nov. 10 (as we previously reported) on TNT; a TNT Feb. 27 game at Dallas; plus ESPN games home against Indiana Dec. 14, at Chicago Jan. 27 and at Orlando March 3.

Oct. 26;at Orlando; 7 p.m.

Oct. 28;Charlotte; 8 p.m. 

Oct. 30;San Antonio; 6 p.m. 

Nov. 1;Sacramento; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 4;at Toronto; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 7;at Oklahoma City; 7 p.m. 

Nov. 10;Chicago; 8 p.m. (TNT) 

Nov. 12;Utah; 8 p.m. 

Nov. 14;at San Antonio; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 15;Atlanta; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 17;Milwaukee; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 19;at Washington; 7 p.m. 

Nov. 21;at Philadelphia; 7 p.m. 

Nov. 23;at Detroit; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 25;at Memphis; 7 p.m. 

Nov. 26;Memphis 8 p.m. 

Nov. 28;Boston; 7:30 p.m. 

Nov. 30;at Denver; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 1;at Utah; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 3;at Portland; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 6;New York; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 7;at Atlanta; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 9;at Cleveland; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 10;at Chicago; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 12;Washington; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 14;Indiana; 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Dec. 16;L.A. Clippers; 8 p.m. 

Dec. 18;Boston; 6 p.m. 

Dec. 20;Orlando; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 22;L.A. Lakers; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 23;at New Orleans; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 27;Oklahoma City; 7:30 p.m. 

Dec. 29;at Charlotte; 7 p.m. 

Dec. 30;at Boston; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 1;Detroit; 6 p.m. 

Jan. 3;at Phoenix; 7 p.m. 

Jan. 4;at Sacramento; 7:30 p.m. 

Jan. 6;at L.A. Lakers; 7:30 p.m. 

Jan. 8;at L.A. Clippers; 12:30 p.m. 

Jan. 10;at Golden State; 7:30 p.m. 

Jan. 13;at Milwaukee; 7 p.m. 

Jan. 17;Houston; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 19;Dallas; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 21;Milwaukee; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 23;Golden State; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25;at Brooklyn; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;at Chicago; 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Jan. 28;Detroit; 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 30;Brooklyn; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1;Atlanta; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4;Philadelphia; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 6;at Minnesota; 7 p.m.

Feb. 8;at Milwaukee; 7 p.m.

Feb. 10;at Brooklyn; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11;at Philadelphia; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13;Orlando; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 15;at Houston; 7 p.m.

Feb. 24;at Atlanta; 8 p.m.

Feb. 25;Indiana; 8 p.m.

Feb. 27;at Dallas; 8:30 p.m. (TNT)

March 1;Philadelphia; 7:30 p.m.

March 3;at Orlando; 7 p.m. (ESPN)

March 4;Cleveland; 8 p.m.

March 6;at Cleveland; 7 p.m.

March 8;Charlotte; 7:30 p.m.

March 11;Toronto; 8 p.m.

March 12;at Indiana; 6 p.m.

March 15;New Orleans; 7:30 p.m.

March 17;Minnesota; 8 p.m.

March 19;Portland; 6 p.m.

March 21;Phoenix; 7:30 p.m.

March 23;Toronto; 7:30 p.m.

March 26;at Boston; 6 p.m.

March 28;at Detroit; 7:30 p.m.

March 29;at New York; 7:30 p.m.

March 31;New York; 8 p.m.

April 2;Denver; 6 p.m.

April 5;at Charlotte; 7 p.m.

April 7;at Toronto; 7:30 p.m.

April 8;at Washington; 7 p.m.

April 10;Cleveland; 7:30 p.m.

April 12;Washington; 7:30 p.m.








Lots of UM football on a Thursday afternoon:

• At this point, people inside the football program will be surprised if Al Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace are not disciplined for their role in taking luxury rental cars in exchange for unspecified benefits to the South Beach car rental dealer who gave them the cars. 

So barring a change of heart (which can never be ruled out), UM people are expecting discipline in terms of a game suspension if not more. The question is how extensive the discipline will be.

Let's be clear here: I am not reporting they definitely will be suspended. I am reporting that people inside the football program are expecting discipline/suspension, though those people are not the very few making the final decision.

Both remained on the roster as of noon today, though AQM missed practice for what Mark Richt called a personal reason. Richt expects him back Friday.

Our Susan Miller Degnan reported that Muhammad and Grace met with UM's compliance office Wednesday. After the Palm Beach Post reported there would be a disciplinary hearing for the two players, AD Blake James told Susan that there is "no disciplinary hearing pending." Check out SMD's report here

The issue apparently extends beyond receiving use of the luxury vehicles. It also concerns how candid at least one of the two players has been in discussing exactly what he did and who he knows and how much he knows.

As we first reported, the agency involved is South Beach Exotic Car Rentals. The company's owner, Juan Caballero, initially insisted to me, over several minutes, that he knows nothing about the UM football team and doesn't know the name of a single player. 

Caballero hasn't returned calls since, but his social media messages - posted on Canes message boards - suggest at least a familiarity with specific UM players.

If Grace misses time, that could mean UM starting three freshmen at linebackers - Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud.

Would that freak out Manny Diaz? "Since we've been here, we've had freshmen in our starting lineup," Diaz said. "To me, we don't have freshmen and sophomores. We don't have that luxury. On a normal college team, the difference with experience is they've been in a system for a long period. it's a unique situation for the young players to come into because everyone came in on equal ground."

Charles Perry, like McCloud, is also playing strongside behind Grace. And Darrion Owens and Jamie Gordinier are challenging Pinckney at weakside. Quarterman is the likely starter in the middle.

• Richt said "we plan on" receiver Dionte Mullins "being here." He's the only freshman who hasn't enrolled.

Freshman safety Cedric Wright arrived today and practiced. "It's going to be a crash course," Diaz said. "We need him because of our lack of depth [in the secondary]." 

• Sheldrick Redwine told me that he is taking the majority of first-team snaps opposite Corn Elder, with Adrian Colbert also getting some. "We alternate a little bit."

• Richt singled out right tackle Sunny Odogwu. "Sunny looks very good; that's a little bit of news. He's healthy. He looks quick. He's energized."

• Manny Diaz said Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton remain the team's top defensive tackles after the scrimmage. "Those guys are really playing well." But he said Gerald Willis, Courtel Jenkins and Anthony Moten also are playing well.

• This was absolutely eye-opening today, more evidence of the dramatically improved coaching: Demetrius Jackson, playing with his hand in the ground at defensive end, said "I am able to do things with my hands I couldn't do last year. [Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski] is bringing more skill to the game. He is a great coach exposing us to the next level. I trust him because of his resume."

Jackson said the previous staff never taught him how to use his hands. Stunning, and an indictment of that staff.

Diaz said today that "Demetrius has changed his body, can play more stoutly than he did in the spring."

• Though Jaquan Johnson forced two fumbles in the scrimmage, Diaz said he also made "two errors that kind of cost the framework of the defense. It's hard to make a mistake at safety and have the whole world not notice."

• Diaz said Ryan Mayes - competing for the No. 4 corner job - "has been performing every day." He had a pick in the scrimmage.

• Richt said on further review, Mayes did not return Brad Kaaya's interception for a touchdown. "Joe Yearby, of all people, turned and ran like a mad man and knocked him out of bounds."

• Diaz said defensive end "Trent Harris is smart, tough and relentless. He made plays yesterday sheer on his relentless effort."




Notes on a Wednesday night:

• Adam Gase gave an animated answer here today about why he doesn’t throw more deep balls. The Dolphins did complete at least two 25-plus yard passes in team drills Wednesday:

Matt Moore’s throw to receiver Leonte Carroo and running back Jay Ajayi’s lunging catch on a pass from Ryan Tannehill.

Gase said Ajayi’s outstretched catch “was great. It’s been like five years since I’ve seen a guy lay out for a ball in practice.”

Carroo has had a good camp and the Dolphins are eager to see more.

"He's been doing good,” Gase said. “He's been making some positive plays. His biggest thing is mentally, what are we going to do? Is he going to keep growing? Are we going to get stuck? Are we going to have that rookie wall hit? He's going to keep rolling on that."

• You know who else has impressed me? Safety Walt Aikens, who on consecutive plays today stopped a running play in the backfield and then picked off Brandon Doughty.

“He's been doing a good job,” Gase said. “Obviously we know his value on special teams as well. The fact that he's showing up at safety as well, that's a bonus. We know we've got a guy that when we put him in on defense, he's going to make plays."

Aikens raised his weight from 205 to 220 and said “that’s a good weight for me. I’m feeling a lot stronger, a lot more power in my hips. Last year was a rough year for me so I had to make up for it on special teams.”

Aikens said defensive coordinator Vance Joseph “likes my size, my speed, my athleticism. He wants me to key in on the little things and said I’ll be fine.”

• The Dolphins would love if Jakeem Grant can seize the punt and kickoff return jobs.

When I asked Jarvis Landry if he wants to keep his hand in returns this season, he said: “I’m the starting returner so we’ll see how many reps I get in preseason. I will be excited to see what Jakeem Grant and other guys can do there.”

What would be the ideal amount of returns for him to do this season? “I don’t think there’s a number on it,” Landry said. “Like I told coaches, it gives me the opportunity to get the ball in my hands and make a play. It creates some energy.”

Grant, incidentally, dropped a punt today and has dropped a few during camp. But he also has cleanly caught a lot of them, too.

• I’m worried about the Dolphins’ linebacker depth. Linebacker Zach Vigil, who has missed all of camp, said this week that he doesn’t know when he will return from a back injury. He said the Dolphins are trying “every way possible” to solve the problem.

The Dolphins hope that a clear-cut fourth-best linebacker emerges among James Michael Johnson, Neville Hewitt and Spencer Paysinger. All have had their moments in camp.

Besides Vigil and new addition Chris Culliver (knee/PUP), also missing practice today were: cornerbacks Xavien Howard (knee) and Chimdi Chekwa (thigh), running back Kenyan Drake (hamstring), defensive linemen Earl Mitchell (calf) and Farrington Huguenin (ankle), tight end MarQueis Gray (leg) and offensive lineman Vinston Painter (knee).

• UM’s running back battle remained tight after today’s scrimmage. Mark Walton had 7 carries for 29 yards and a touchdown; Joe Yearby ran 4 times for 25 yards. Those two are neck-and-neck in the battle to start.

Gus Edwards, by the way, ran 7 times for 13 yards.

And what about speedy freshman Travis Homer? He ran for 22 yards on 7 carries but it’s difficult to see him playing much this season unless he really, really, really impresses.

Asked about Homer, running backs coach Thomas Brown said: “The best guy is going to play. He’s done a really good job of listening to the details and applying them in a practice setting. He’s a very intelligent football player. Little bit of a weird dude, but very intelligent. ... The biggest aspect is going to be pass protection.”

Brown is open to a running back by committee approach.

“I’ve played primarily two tailbacks, a third guy sparingly here and there,” Brown said. “It depends what guys can do to help us win football games….We have enough talent to be successful,” Brown said. “I don’t know if we have a great tailback yet; we haven’t played a game yet."

By the way, Trayone Gray appears to be in the back of the pack at running back. He had two carries for six yards today.

• Among reasons the Marlins --- who lost 1-0 to the Giants today --- have struggled offensively at times since the All-Star break:

1) The extended absence of Justin Bour, whose presence in the middle of the lineup is very important, as Don Mattingly said.

2) Marcell Ozuna, who hit .307 before the All-Star break, entered today at .205 since the break (18 for 88).

3) Derek Dietrich, who hit .303 before the break, entered today hitting .185 since (12 for 65). On the positive side, Christian Yelich has hit .354 since the break after hitting .317 before.

• So how are our Olympic ratings doing compared with the rest of the country? Through four nights, Miami-Fort Lauderdale was tied for 38th among 56 major markets in prime time ratings.

Our 14.6 average local prime time rating on NBC is more than three times what Heat regular-season games average (on cable) and slightly below what Dolphins games produce locally, on average.

For perspective, our Super Bowl rating for Denver-Carolina (38.1) ranked last among 56 metered markets. Our 6.5 average World Series rating for Royals-Mets last year tied for 43rdamong 56. Our NBA Finals ratings were fourth, topping an 18.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz