Practice Report: August 12th

It was a hot afternoon in South Florida and the Miami football team was out in the heat gearing up for the 2004 season. There were a number of players dealing with muscle cramps and other heat related issues. With the threat of a tropical storm coming in the next few days of practices could be altered.

HEAD COACH LARRY COKER

"The intensity picked up a little bit today," Coker said. "It was the first day in partial pads, what we call shells. We are still learning how to practice. We have a lot of young guys, and that is something we have to do everyday and improve on everyday. I think today we took a step forward."

With the South Florida heat blazing and the humidity it is important to make sure all players have enough water and avoid serious exhaustion.

"I think there is a fine line of how hard to push them," Coker said. "We take breaks and we have water on the field. We weigh in and weigh out. We take all of the precautions. Again it is hot and it is humid and guys with not much body fat tend to cramp up. Not many linemen cramp up, but the receivers tend to.

A number of players suffered from muscle cramps today due to the heat, but they should all be fine tomorrow.

"We really didn't have too many out today," Coker said. "They were in and missed a part of practice, but most of them were in. Obviously, we would like to have everyone healthy because other guys have to have a few extra reps."

"There is nothing serious going on," Coker said "All of these guys will be fine."

WEATHER REPORT

Temperature: 88°F
Humidity: 75%
Heat Index: 101°F
Wind: 8 mph
Cloud Cover: Mostly Cloudy

QUARTERBACKS

Brock Berlin is feeling more comfortable with the team after his first year as the starting quarterback. His play on the field has been solid and he is happy with the progress of the offense in the first three days of practice.

"Everyone is doing good," Berlin said. "We are out here working hard and guys are running around making plays getting better and better. It was definitely a little different with some of the receivers that were out today, but the first day of pads guys were bouncing around a little more."

Coker offered his opinion on Berlin.

"I don't see greatness, but I think he is really solid," Coker said. "He is running the offense well and that is the thing I like to see and that is the thing he needs to do for us to be successful."

Does Berlin have greatness in him?

"I don't know if we have greatness," Coker said. "That will be determined as the season goes on. Was he a great player last year—no. Kenny Dorsey was not a great player and again he had some moments where he made things happen. That is the thing that we have the opportunity to have happen this year is to make some plays."

The battle for the number two quarterback has not been settled or determined at this point, but both players have impressed the head coach.

"I have been very pleased with both Kyle Wright and Derrick Crudup," Coker said. "These guys have done a very nice job. Derrick, to me, looks more poised, tougher, and more confident. I think he sees an opportunity for himself to play. I have been very encouraged by their progress."

Coker has no intentions of naming a number two guy until they need to go to a guy. It might be the day before the opener or it might be the when the team needs to put a guy in.

The plan is still for Kirby Freeman to redshirt this season.

RUNNING BACKS

Quadtrine Hill is still trying to make his mark as a tailback this year as opposed to fullback—a position he has started at the last two years. Hill is one of the better students inside the classroom and his work ethic translates onto the field.

"We know he can play fullback," Coker said. "He is our third running back right now behind Frank Gore and Tyrone Moss. I see some things that really excite me just like with some of the other guys. He has done some nice things running the ball and catching the ball. His effort has been outstanding. If he continues to play well he will get some playing time."

Charlie Jones appears to have the edge over the two fellow freshmen Derron Thomas and Andrew Johnson. He is a smart player and gets through the hole without any wasted movements. Johnson has a solid frame and has shown good speed. Thomas appears to dance a little bit more than coach Soldinger prefers, but is still learning the position.

At this point in time they are not ready to contribute, but are continuing to work hard to learn the position and what it takes to be a Hurricane.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Today was a day that reminded people of last fall. Ryan Moore, Darnell Jenkins, Roscoe Parrish, and Sinorice Moss all missed portions of today's practice with various injuries. Parrish did not participate in any drills and the others appeared to battle muscle cramps. The determination of the injuries was not determined.

Jenkins has shown the ability to make big plays in the spring and now here again in the fall. It is no secret that he is poised for a breakout season this year.

"Darnell is one of those guys that is a playmaker," Coker said. "He is doing a great job of making things happen. He is a very talented kid and has the knack of making things happen."

There is another player with the ability to make plays that has caught Coker's eye

"I think Lance Leggett has that ability too," Coker said. "He has nice height and good speed. He has really made some nice plays.

Khalil Jones received a lot of reps with the loss of the upperclassmen. He is adjusting to the college game and needs to be more consistent with catching the football.

TIGHT ENDS

Kevin Everett, Brandon Sebald, Buck Ortega, and Greg Olsen are consistently proving to be a solid group of blockers and receivers. New position coach Mario Cristobal has his guys making crisp routes and working hard until the end of the play.

Sebald thinks very highly of the unit.

"We are doing awesome," Sebald said. "As a unit I think we are the best group of country."

Although they are doing well he knows they have room for improvement.

"As an offense we just need to come together," Sebald said. "Our coaches had a long talk with us about that. We are screwing up on a few little things that take time and we just needs reps at."

Buck Ortega is continuing to show he can be a threat at tight end when he gets in.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

One of the most talked about guys in the off-season was Tony Tella. He was a reserve lineman last year and was not expected to be big contributor this year with the progress of other guards. However, he moved from tackle to guard in the spring and has not looked back since being put in with the first unit. He is slated to be the starting left guard.

" I know more role is different this year," Tella said. "I feel a lot more comfortable at guard because I am a lot more physical and I like to pull."

Tella has been happy with the progress of the first unit and pointed out heat has been a factor in practice over the past three days.

"We are doing well as an offensive line," Tella said. "I think we are doing good. We are slowly getting there. We have some time until the first game to really gel together, but I think we are getting there. We are opening up holes for the running game. It has been real hot these last couple of days with the humidity, but today was a little better with a breeze."

Another player to watch is Tyler McMeans from Lackawanna Junior College. McMeans has picked up the offense quickly since arriving on campus in the spring and has been making a solid adjustment. If he continues to learn the offense he could become the sixth lineman.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Baraka Atkins is looking very smooth in his play over the past few days. He is consistently putting pressure on the offensive line and he is another player poised for a big season. Tackle Orien Harris is on everyone's radar and deservedly so, but don't forget about Atkins.

Santonio Thomas looks ready for his senior season. Known as a steady run-blocker he will be counted on for more snaps this season and expected to make plays. So far he has been healthy—something he has dealt with in the past.

If Harris or Thomas go down with an injury look for Kareem Brown to make an impact. Brown showed he can make plays when given the opportunity last season and has been a steady performer in fall practices.

LINEBACKERS

Willie Williams, who has been playing middle linebacker, made a couple of big hits in practice today drawing noise from the crowd. When asked if Williams was supposed to hit that hard in regards to only being in shells.

"Yeah he is supposed to hit that hard," Coker said. "Those young linebackers are very impressive. It was just a good solid hit that was high, but it was clean. There was nothing wrong with it."

Is he excited about that kind of hit?

"What excites me when you see guys that are playmakers," Coker said. "Sometimes you coach technique and all of that, but sometimes you just have to have guys that make plays. That is exciting."

Glenn Cook moved from the middle to strongside in the spring and has been adjusting well to the new position.

"I made a comfortable switch in the spring," Cook said. "I adjusted pretty fast to it. I will just play wherever they need me to play."

He has been happy with the progress of the linebackers so far in the first three days of practice.

"We know we are going to make mistakes," Cook said. "We just have to go and correct them. As far as effort goes we are putting forth good effort. We came out with a lot of intensity on the first day. From the first group to the third group we are all having our moments—the young guys have made some mistakes, but for the most part we are playing real hard.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Devin Hester has been making a nice adjustment to the cornerback position and appears to have settled in better than he did the first day. He had been working out as a cornerback throughout the summer, but it is different once you get on the practice field. Antrel Rolle has praised the young defensive back with his skill and ability and one thing to keep in mind about Hester is that his teammates want to see him do well. He is one of the more respected players on the team and they all are aware of his talent.

Brandon Meriweather has been doing a nice job at the free safety position and he is guy that will benefit when the pads come on. He is known as a good tackler and his biggest strength is his ball skills. When paired with Greg Threat the two become well aware of each other and where they will be on the field. The more reps they get the more prepared they will be for the season.

INJURY REPORT

RB Frank Gore is recovering from a torn ACL (October 2) and ran well today. Assuming the next few days go well he will be in full pads on Saturday with the rest of the team.
Status: Day-to-day

WR Sinorice Moss tweaked his knee that he had off-season knee surgery on and had a noticeable limp walking off the field. His knee bothered him in the spring and it doesn't appear to be at 100% just yet.
Status: Status unknown

WR Roscoe Parrish was held out of practice today with a sore knee—the same knee he had a knee scope on last season. He will be kept out of practices periodically throughout the fall.
Status: Day-to-day

OL Rashad Butler had ice on his left ankle as he walked off at the end of practice. It does not appear to be serious, but there was no immediate prognosis after practice.
Status: Status unknown

CB Kelly Jennings had a knee scope in the off-season and is continually being guarded. There is no rush to get him back into the full swing of things. They don't want to lose him for the opener as the starting cornerback and his knee feels close to 100%.
Status: Day-to-day

CB Glenn Sharpe is recovering from a torn ACL (November 8) and did not participate in all drills. Assuming the next few days go well he will be in full pads on Saturday with the rest of the team.
Status: Day-to-day

CB Terrell Walden did not practice due to a torn ACL (April 8) he suffered during spring practices. He will not practice anytime soon and is a long shot to play this season.
Status: Out two to five months

NEXT PRACTICE

Friday, August 13th, 3:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com.

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