Practice Report: August 16th

The Hurricane football team held their first of four two-a-day practices for the fall season in preparation for the opener on September 6th against Florida State. Practices are still open to the public through August 20th.

HEAD COACH LARRY COKER

The morning practice began at 8:30 a.m. and the team was in shells. The practice lasted one hour and 40 minutes.

"This is our first two-a-day practice and guys really flew around," Coker said. "We got better today. It was a real pleasure to have Mike Barber, a former NFL player and Lance Leggett's high school coach, here today. Also, Randall Cunningham was here and spoke to our team. It was a pleasure to have a good workout with guys like that around.

"His message was inspirational," said Coker. "I just asked him to come talk to the team. He had some good messages. I like to do that because they get tired of hearing me talk and the rest of the position coaches."

The afternoon practice began at 3:30 p.m. and the team was in pads. The practice lasted about two hours.

"We got a little bit of a break today with the overcast weather," Coker said. "It was a good day with a lot of situational things and third-down work. Again, we are still working on us, trying to get better as a football team fundamentally. This was the first day of two-a-day practices and I thought the guys pushed through it pretty well."

"We are not ready to beat anybody yet," Coker said. "We are too inconsistent on offense and making penalties. We are protecting the ball better. We have open receivers, at times, and we don't make plays. We have enough time for receivers to get open and they don't. That part of us is a concern. We had four alignment problems on defense this morning. I like where we are--I like the attitude and the athleticism. To say this is where we should be at this point is probably accurate because we still have a number of days before we play a game."

WEATHER REPORT

Morning Practice
Temperature: 85°F
Humidity: 77%
Heat Index: 94°F
Wind: 7 mph
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy

Afternoon Practice
Temperature: 88°F
Humidity: 61%
Heat Index: 95°F
Wind: 8 mph
Cloud Cover: Mostly Cloudy

QUARTERBACKS

Derrick Crudup has been impressing the head coach.

"I have been really pleased with Derrick," Coker said. "He has been mainly with the twos and has a better supporting cast (than Wright). I think we have to mix that up a bit to give Kyle a chance to go with the twos or the ones to see a little better supporting cast. I have been really, really pleased with Derrick's progress. I have been pleased with Kyle too, but sometimes he hasn't had the opportunities to get the ball off sometimes with his unit."

There is still no rush to name a number two guy, but within the next couple of days the coaches will re-evaluate the team and where they are. Depth charts could change and possibly position changes.

RUNNING BACKS

Tyrone Moss practiced today and looked good including a long run up the sideline. He has underrated speed and assuming his shoulder does not continue to bother him he is on track for a solid season.

Talib Humphrey attempted to catch a ball in the end zone, but it just missed his outstretched hands. Not many fullbacks will stretch out for a pass over their shoulder and not many have that ability. If healthy, Humphrey should be able to get some much-needed yards in key spots during games this fall. Assuming all is well he will be the starter in the opener against Florida State.

Frank Gore was back practicing today and had some nice runs.

"He looked good and I was very encouraged with Frank," said Coker.

Derron Thomas had the best day amongst the freshmen backs showing off his agility and speed to the outside. He is running through the holes with a mission as opposed to waiting until they open or dancing around defensive linemen. The coaching staff has been impressed with his attitude.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Lance Leggett has shown he has the tools to make plays at the collegiate level. He has great speed, good hands, and the ability to go up to make catches. Assuming he is healthy for the season he will be playing this year as opposed to redshirting.

"He is a solid, solid guy and he has shown he has been able to get up and get balls," said wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson. "He looks like he has gotten a little bit faster this year too."

"I just see him as a good playmaker," Johnson said. "He has long strides, but he is just a playmaker. He looks like a young Randy Moss—the way he runs like a gazelle. It is almost poetry watching him run. He can go up and get the ball—I like guys that can go up and get the ball.

Lance is a quiet guy—something his coach enjoys.

"He is a great kid and doesn't say much," Johnson said. "I don't have too many in the group that don't."

There are a lot of small things Leggett is working on improving for his game that he was able to get away with in high school.

"In high school you know you could look back until the quarterback holds the ball," Leggett said. "But here they don't want you to look back. They want you to look up. That is something I need to work on."

"I need to keep working on the little things," said Leggett.

TIGHT ENDS

Brandon Sebald has moved from tight end to right tackle leaving the Hurricanes with only three tight ends: Kevin Everett, Greg Olsen, and Buck Ortega.

"Brandon is a team guy—always has been," said tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. "He just wants to win. We just have to have him on the field wherever he can helps us win. If you tell Brandon to line up at receiver he will do it. At 6-6 and 260 pounds running in the high 4.6's—he can play a lot of different places. I expect an immediate impact from him."

Olsen immediately becomes the number two tight end behind Everett and has had a very good fall thus far.

"Just watching tape when he pulled in that corner ball and I don't know how many tight ends in the country would catch that ball," Cristobal said. "He has Spiderman hands--all of those guys do for the most part. Playing tight end here you have to do a lot of things. He is getting better on a daily basis and he is going to keep competing."

Ortega will be continued to be used as an h-back.

"Buck has always been a very good route-runner," Cristobal said. "He understands the game having been a quarterback. He is a great weight room guy and even more than that—he is a natural strength guy. We always tell him that if he ever grows into his hands he is going to be 280 pounds. He does an unbelievable job with his footwork, his pad level, and most importantly with his hands. He is an excellent technical player. With the added 15 pounds in the weight room that makes him a pretty effective guy."

"All I know is that these guys are ready to step up and play," said Cristobal

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Today's First Unit: LT Winston LG Morse/Tella C Rodriguez RG Myers RT Wimbs

I thought the offensive line really took a nice step up today," Coker said. "I think the young tackles, Chris Rutledge and Tyrone Byrd, are doing well—I like both of those guys. The offensive line is really starting to step it up. We are not there yet and as coach Kehoe would say, ‘we have miles to go before we sleep.' Rutledge and Byrd are two good young players.

Brandon Sebald has switched from tight end to right tackle and is on the second unit behind Cyrim Wimbs.

"At first, I was a little bit shocked," Sebald said of the move. "But coach explained to me that is was something that would help out the team and I didn't mind doing that. Down the road it might be better for me in the future as far as my goals I have."

Having a close bond with a position group happens all the time in college football especially at the tight end position with only a handful of guys at a given time.

"It is a little different now because the tight end were a very tight-knit group," Sebald said. "I worked out with them all summer, but I am still right next to them on the field and we still hang out off the field. The offensive line is pretty much the same in that way too being close in everything."

He is currently 6-foot-6 and weighs 260-265 pounds and typically most collegiate linemen weigh more. Right now he is the smallest lineman on the team.

"Gaining weight was one of the issues that I was concerned with," Sebald said. "When you think about it as a tight end I went up against the same guys. If it was anything inside it was mainly a double-team. As far as weight goes I am going to try and put on a little weight slowly, but surely throughout two-a-days. After that I will try and get up a little bit."

Tyler McMeans is playing alongside Sebald at right guard and is continuing to show he is one of the most aggressive players on the team.

"It has been a pretty good first week," McMeans said. "It is my first week of camp at the University of Miami. It has been really good for me. They moved me in as a guard from tackle and I am more familiar with that. Everything is coming along. the main thing I want to make sure of is to progress every day."

McMeans arrived on campus in the spring from Lackawanna Junior College.

"Physically and mentally is a lot different now," McMeans said. "I think the biggest thing is mentally being more comfortable. I can walk up to the line of scrimmage and know what is going on--I don't have to ask. I can go through the plays smoother without making any errors or penalties."

He is one of those guys that just wants to learn and learn quickly. Right when he arrived on campus he immediately began asking questions about the plays, technique, what to do next, etc.

"You will pick up on it eventually—everyone will," McMeans said. "It depends upon how fast you pick it up. In my case I want to pick it up in one day, but obviously that is not going to happen. I want to learn and be aware of what is going on."

He is impressed with the offensive line so far.

"I think our offensive line is great," McMeans said. "We are a tight-knit group. The thing I like the most is that we are all aggressive. That is the biggest key to being an offensive lineman. You have to have that attitude to play the position."

He definitely has the attitude.

Tony Tella hurt his knee on Friday and missed the last two days of practice. He split time today on the first unit with Derrick Morse at left guard and had on a thick knee brace.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

"Obviously as the days go on we are getting more complicated with our scheme," said defensive line coach Greg Mark "I like the way our defense is communicating right now. Our defensive linemen are communicating well right now pointing out the things they are saying whether it is a defensive call or what they are seeing out of the offense with their formations. We have put ourselves in the situation where every day we are going to work on fundamentals. I will wait until we get into the season until I get more technical with our linemen. We really want to get a good base and I think our guys are working hard in that respect and the little things that are going to make a difference during the season."

Teaching the fundamentals are something Mark constantly stresses each year.

"That is definitely the basis every year," Mark said. "But how many days you can start into camp that you can start progressing into technical things and more scheme-related things depends on the group. Obviously it is a situation where we as once we start seeing the technique we want on a consistent basis then we will move forward. It is nothing unusual, but it is just the emphasis we have right now."

LINEBACKERS

Middle linebacker Leon Williams did a good job of his lane assignments in stopping the run and his back-up Jon Beason showed a lot of intensity today in on a number of tackles.

When the team goes to a nickel formation Tavares Gooden and Roger McIntosh become the lone linebackers with Williams departing. Both Gooden and McIntosh are extremely fast to the outside and can cover a lot of ground.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Devin Hester recorded an interception today on a deep pass today although it was not one of the better days for the unit.

Antrel Rolle has been very well and doing a good job of instructing the younger players. When in nickel situations he covers the slot receiver because of his versatility. Recently in practice he has came off the line with a blitz—something defensive coordinator Randy Shannon could use quite a bit this year.

Safeties Greg Threat and Brandon Meriweather are still doing well against the run in on the tackles, but they are holding back on making the big hit, which is good for the team although they would like to have game-type situations in practice.

INJURY REPORT

TE Kevin Everett was held out of practice today with a hip flexor.
Status: Day-to-day

WR Ryan Moore was held out of practice in the afternoon with a sore hamstring. It is not a pulled hamstring. He had problems with his hamstring last year at this time although it is unknown if it is the same leg. Hamstring injuries can linger and it is not good to see him bothered by it right now.
Status: Unknown

OL Rashad Butler reportedly sprained his left ankle on Thursday and has not practiced the last four days. Today he was in a full cast with crutches as opposed to a walking boot he had been in previous days.
Status: Unknown

CB Terrell Walden is not participating in fall practices due to a torn ACL he suffered during the spring. He is a longshot to play this season.
Status: Out two to five months

NEXT PRACTICE

Tuesday, August 17th, 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.

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