Practice Report: August 14th

The Miami Hurricanes held their first practice in pads in front of a nice crowd on Saturday afternoon. In concluded the first week of practices and only three more weeks of practice until the season opener on September 6th.

HEAD COACH LARRY COKER

Today was the first day in full pads and concluding the first week of fall practices.

"Today was another good day," Coker said. "I think we made some big plays on offense and had some opportunities to make some big plays. I think the big thing you see is the inconsistencies and some mistakes with some exchange problems and snap problems. That will happen with being tired and mental fatigue. That is something we have to fight through especially this time of year.

With some players held out of practice it opens up reps for other players.

"We had some guys nicked up, but the positive part of that is we got some young guys some opportunities and reps for them to get better," said Coker.

WEATHER REPORT

Temperature: 90°F
Humidity: 65%
Heat Index: 102°F
Wind: 14 mph
Cloud Cover: Mostly Cloudy

QUARTERBACKS

The quarterbacks looked good on a number of throws especially on deep throws, which is an encouraging sign. Today there was a lot of pressure put on them by the defensive line, but they did not buckle and throw up an unnecessary touchdown.

Derrick Crudup made a real nice play to Sinorice Moss showing off his arm and agility to avoid the defense. Also, after throwing for a touchdown he drew a lot of praise from the coaching staff including coach Coker who gave him a chest bump often performed by two players after a big play.

Kyle Wight showed off his arm on a touchdown pass to walk-on Stanley Pasley after stepping up in the pocket. Wright also had good speed to the outside as the defensive linemen flushed him out.

Kirby Freeman has been very active in talking with and applauding the team for good plays even when he is not in there. He did not get very many reps today, but he knows and understands his role in 2004—redshirt and learn.

Brock Berlin had a good day hitting his necessary targets and avoiding bad mistakes. He still has a very accurate arm and good velocity behind his throws. One of the most improved aspects in his game is his confidence. He appears ready for the season and ready for a solid year.

RUNNING BACKS

Frank Gore was the main story of practice today. After suffering a torn ACL last October he has worked hard throughout the off-season in order to be ready for the 2004 season opener. He expects to play and so does Coker.

"There is no doubt about it (he will play)," Coker said. "From what I have seen unless there is a major setback. It is still several weeks away until FSU, but right now Frank looks good to me."

Today while working on redzone offense Berlin found Gore in the middle of the field and he split the defense to go in for a score drawing a big applause from the fans in attendance.

"It was fun being back out there with the team against some contact to see where I am at," Gore said. "I am trying to make cuts out there. It feels good to show my team that I have been working hard all summer because they are depending on me this year. I was happy to be out there."

Berlin also was happy to see Gore out there especially seeing him hit a very small hole on the left side breaking through and running all the way downfield for a score. Would he have scored it on a defense playing all out—hard to tell, but it was encouraging to see.

"He has looked good and he has looked strong out there," Berlin said. "He has been rehabbing all summer and he is coming along well. With a guy like that back there it makes it real easy on the quarterback."

Playing with confidence is a big thing in order for players to be successful. According to Coker he is confident.

"He is having a lot of fun and is playing with a lot of confidence," Coker said. "Where he is at in his career he should be playing with confidence. I really see more confidence in his knees now than I did a year ago when he was just coming back from one knee surgery."

Andrew Johnson, a freshman from Pittsburgh, has impressed the coaches and looks good out there. He is excited to be a Hurricane and ready for the challenge ahead of him.

"It feels a little rough out there," Johnson said. "It is just like any top program in the country. It is going to be a lot harder than it was before. I feel like I am doing good--working on everything I am supposed to be doing and getting things done."

The biggest difference is the speed of the players, which he was ready for.

"The speed of the players is the biggest difference," Johnson said. "You expect that coming to the team when you have 60 high school all-Americans already on the team."

Throughout the last couple of practices the team has spent a lot of time working on the running game. The team will eliminate the receivers and just call a series of run plays. There has been a lot of heavy hitting lately and Johnson has enjoyed it.

"It is part of the game—that is what you do to win games against teams like Florida State," Johnson said. "When you have the best team in the country and go up against the best defense in the country then you prepare for those types of games. That is why it feels like slow motion against other teams."

Recently the coaches have commented on how all three freshmen are having a lot of fun out there. Johnson took time to comment on that.

"We are having a lot of fun out here," he said. "It is part of the game and everyone is having a lot of fun. When you aren't having fun that is when it gets bad for you. When you are having fun that is when things come easy for you."

Sounds easy enough.

Quadtrine Hill had some nice runs today hitting holes with determination and power. His speed through the holes has been encouraging to see from a player who has spent most of his time at fullback.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Sinorice Moss had a solid day after dealing with cramps earlier in the week and having his knee bother him a bit. He caught three real nice passes including a deep ball blowing by the cornerback for a touchdown. The 5-foot-8 receiver is best known for his quickness and agility and made a play on the right sideline during redzone offense. He took the pass and made a sharp cut to the inside and then bounced outside taking it in for a score.

"It feels real good to be in the rotation again," Moss said. "I am trying to be that guy for the team that makes big plays."

He was happy with what he saw today with the receivers.

"Today was the first day in pads," Moss said. "It was real rigorous and tough. As receivers we came out with the mindset of when a play is called we are going to make big plays—like you saw today. A lot of receivers made some big plays. We just came out and did what we had to do.

Ryan Moore is very athletic and has shown more of an ability to go up to catch passes especially over the middle. Last year he had a hurt shoulder, which limited his ability to go up and get passes and it does take time for younger players to feel comfortable making yourself vulnerable for the big hit. He is quietly becoming a very good receiver and should have a very good year this year.

When the team lines up three receivers Moore has been used in the slot the majority of the time. This gives the team options to throw a short out to pick up needed yards. Although he is a big receiver he has shown he is more of a possession receiver as opposed to a deep threat. In order to be a great receiver he needs to incorporate that part into his game, which is something he is looking forward to doing in 2004.

Walk-on Stanley Pasley caught a dart from Kyle Wright for a touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS

With Kevin Everett out today with a hip flexor, Greg Olsen, Brandon Sebald, and Buck Ortega had more reps. They worked a lot on their run blocking and so far they are looking good. Olsen had a real nice block sealing his man to the outside allowing the back to slice through the hole.

All tight ends want to make receptions, but getting them to learn how to be effective run blockers is important in the offensive scheme.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Today's First Unit: LT Winston LG Morse C Rodriguez RG Myers RT Wimbs
Out: Butler (ankle), Tella (knee)

Redshirt freshmen Derrick Morse and Cyrim Wimbs filled in on the first unit with two upperclassmen out and coach was happy with their progress.

"I think they are going to be pretty good," Coker said. "I really like what I saw there. They are going to get an opportunity to really step up because they are talented and smart with great size. If we can bring them along and they are ready we are not going to hold them back. Another thing we have is with those juniors that leave early is guys have to step in and play."

Wimbs did have his times in which he struggled allowing back-to-back sacks to Orien Harris and Baraka Atkins. He did bounce back and played better throughout practice.

Morse is a very aggressive player and you need that at guard. Regardless of how the play is developed or how it is drawn out sometimes it just doesn't go the way you plan. With an aggressive lineman he will make a block on someone if it is a busted play. So far he has done a nice job of filling in and assuming he can stay healthy he could really push Tella for the starting spot.

Eric Winston was a force today preventing the right ends from getting in on the quarterback. He has a great drop during pass protection and uses his hands well—two keys for being a left tackle.

There were some bad exchanges today at the center position with Joel Rodriguez and Anthony Wollschlager both struggling. Also, there were a number of false starts along the line prompting offensive coordinator Dan Werner to yell in disgust, "okay, everything is on one!"

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

They got after it today. By putting on the pads you can get a good grasp of how they are performing. They looked like they picked up right where they left off in the spring—good.

Baraka Atkins, Thomas Carroll, and Orien Harris all had strong penetration on the line numerous times. Atkins especially had a great day. He was all over the place. The Sarasota native was excited to put on the pads after a week without them and it showed today.

The young defensive linemen are still learning and improving, but most of all they are working hard and listening to the coaches.

LINEBACKERS

Roger "Rocky" McIntosh might as well been a running back today because he was in the backfield all day long. Number 50 must have thought the halfback leads were for him. Not only was he right there when the back got the ball, but he came with authority. He is not one to talk about himself very often, but did say it was nice to come up with some big plays.

"It is exciting to have a big hit," McIntosh said. "It gets the defense hyped and the offense backs down—that is what you want to do. You want to keep them down. You don't want them to have any life."

One reason why McIntosh wanted to come out with a solid day today is because he wasn't pleased with the play of the linebackers yesterday.

"Yesterday wasn't so good so we just came out with a better mindset to be ready from the get-go," said McIntosh.

Coker also pointed out McIntosh today when asked about his thoughts on the linebackers' play.

"I think those guys are really standing out especially Rocky McIntosh," Coker said. "He is making a lot of plays. He is very hard to block because he is so quick and reacts very well."

Jon Beason was also in on a number of tackles and showed good pursuit of the ball. He was not pleased in the least with offensive lineman Jonathan St. Pierre for getting his hands up and knocking Beason's helmet to the ground.

Ahh, the joy of watching football practice.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Defensive backs coach Tim Walton offered his thoughts on the play of his players after the first week of practice.

"The thing I am pleased with is the guys are playing hard," Walton said. "They are going to be a little rusty the first week, but guys are playing hard. The team is trying to do what we are asking them to do. They are making some plays and I am pleased with what I have seen so far."

The freshmen defensive backs Carlos Armour, Rashaun Jones, Lovon Ponder, Anthony Reddick, and George Timmons are adjusting to the college game.

"They have a long ways to go and a lot of things to work on," Walton said. "They are playing hard, trying, and flying around—that is all I can ask for right now. It will take a little time for those young guys to come around. If they can just get used to playing at this level, speed-wise, and compete hard."

Brandon Meriweather recorded an interception for the second straight day in the endzone picking off a Berlin pass. The encouraging part with the interception is that the play right before when he was not happy with his decision-making, he bounced back to make a big play—very encouraging to see from a first-year starter.

"It was a red-zone stop so I will take it," Meriweather said. "It wasn't on me—it was all on coach Shannon's scheme and all of the defensive linemen did their part. Greg Threat pushed and made him throw it high and I just came up with it."

INJURY REPORT

RB Tyrone Moss was bothered by a sore muscle in his shoulder again today after taking a hit in pass protection on Thursday. It does not appear to be serious, but it is not something they want to linger especially closer to the season.
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: Out one week

TE Kevin Everett was held out of practice today with a hip flexor. He also has been dealing with sore shoulders.
Status: Day-to-day

OL Rashad Butler sprained his left ankle on Thursday and did not practice today.
Status: Out 4-10 days

OL Tony Tella hurt his knee on Friday and did not practice today. It does not appear to be serious, nor will it require surgery.
Status: Unknown

CB Terrell Walden did not practice due to a torn ACL 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

Sunday, August 15th, 3:30 p.m. – It is open to the public.

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

Canes Time Top Stories