Practice Report: August 18th

The Miami football team held their first scrimmage today with a number of players standing out. Their are plenty of position battles going on leading up to the opener on September 6th. Shuffling the depth chart and re-evaluating players will be done in the next few days.

HEAD COACH LARRY COKER

The morning practice began at 8:30 a.m. and the team was in shells. The practice lasted two hours.

"We had pretty good work today," said Coker in regards to the morning practice. "We had guys running around pretty well. We will have a scrimmage in the afternoon and I think they are anxious for that. I like what I see and we just have to get guys on the field. It was a good morning was good for us.

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

"This was a good day for us," Miami head coach Larry Coker said. "It looks to me like we came out of this scrimmage injury free, and the guys played pretty hard. We had a fairly long practice this morning and they were a little tired, but they should be tired. This is two-a-days and if they are not tired, we are not doing a very good job coaching. You are seeing some guys making some plays."

Coker was glad to get the team in more game-like situations.

"I am encouraged by today because it is our first live scrimmage we have had," Coker said. "We are pretty physical in practice, but having a scrimmage where it all counts things can change a bit. We are on track. We just need to make sure we have the right people on the field and work on our conditioning."

WEATHER REPORT

Morning Practice
Temperature: 84°F
Humidity: 77%
Heat Index: 94°F
Wind: 0 mph
Cloud Cover: Mostly Cloudy

Afternoon Practice
Temperature: 87°F
Humidity: 72%
Heat Index: 99°F
Wind: 6 mph
Cloud Cover: Cloudy

QUARTERBACKS

In the scrimmage Brock Berlin had a number of overthrows, but avoiding the terrible mistakes. He appears to be more confident even though sometimes the results don't go the way he hopes.

With the first unit in the first 12 play series Berlin completed 3-7 passes for 41 yards. Three of the incompletions were overthown with two of them being when he rolled out to the right. The other incompletion was on the money, but was dropped. He was 3-4 on third downs.

Kyle Wright has an arm. If you have not seen him throw a football, take time to watch. He has improved his poise in the pocket and his confidence in his ability to make plays at the collegiate level.

Derrick Crudup has been solid the past few days of practice, but did not do anything spectacular today. While on the second unit the offensive line had some penalties and never really got on track.

All three players were given time with the first unit—something that has not happened very often this fall.

Kirby Freeman did a nice job of leading his unit to a touchdown including a number of tough throws while avoiding heavy pressure from the defensive line. He is a very quick quarterback—he is quick with his footwork, arm speed, delivery, and is making quicker decisions. This is a very good sign for a young quarterback adjusting to the college speed. If he can continue to play fast he will have an easier transition playing at a higher level than with third and fourth-string players.

Most of the passes attempted in the scrimmage were targeted towards tight ends and backs out of the backfield. Last year the team tended to go away from the receivers and it is not a good to start that trend before the season begins.

"We still have to throw the ball better," Coker said. "We have to get the ball downfield. We need to get the ball to the wide outs. We learned a lot today and it was a pretty important day for us."

RUNNING BACKS

Tyrone Moss has impressed coach Soldinger with his performance this fall claiming Tyrone is working and trying harder and is becoming a more mature player. Drawing praise from Soldinger is not something Tyrone has not in the past so this is very encouraging news to hear Soldinger "very pleased" with Tyrone.

Frank Gore got some reps at tailback and the defense did not take it easy on him. They came with a lot of speed and tenacity. Every hit makes you cringe and hope he is okay especially a big hit by Glenn Sharpe on a short run by Gore.

Moss and Gore are expected to be a duo in the backfield as opposed to having one as the featured back. Soldinger likes to rotate his backs if possible and this year he might have the chance. The two have improved their respect for each other over the past year and are ready to do whatever it takes to win.

"I think there is a little bit of rivalry there," Coker said. "There is also a lot of respect and friendship there too. I think Tyrone really respects Frank. Frank has really grown to respect Tyrone. I think they both think that this will be kind of fun this year. I think it will be a healthy situation for us. I think competition is good. It just makes you better.

Andrew Johnson has a very good scrimmage breaking off a big run to the right running off the guard and utilizing his speed to get into the secondary. He is a special player with good size, speed, and has shown a good burst through the hole.

Derron Thomas ran extremely well today. He uses a lot of moves in the backfield and sometimes they are unneeded. Today his agility paid off making a number of moves to break free from the defense including a touchdown run about 10 yards out.

"Derron is not as physically large or strong as the other two, has great quickness and good running skills," said Coker.

All three freshmen backs could potentially play this year according to Coker. Charlie Jones is the most mature and is picking up the pass blocking assignments the best giving him an edge over the other two. Johnson has shown the best running ability, which would leave you to believe he is second behind Jones in the pecking order. Right now Thomas is behind the other two in terms of ability and readiness, but did get some look at kick returner today.

Talib Humphrey has been getting the majority of the snaps at fullback this fall.

"Talib has done well," Coker said. "He is really trying to be a leader too. He is an older player. I think he is playing more physical. He has running skills too—not like Frank Gore—but still has running skills. I think good things are going to happen with him."

Today Kyle Cobia was in on a lot of plays with the first unit and Coker considers them both starters right now.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Today in the scrimmage they were able to get open only a few times and did not record a substantial number of passes ideal for an offense. Most of the passes were to the tight ends.

Roscoe Parrish is showing good moves after the catch, which should surprise no one. His agility is unmatched and ability to make plays will give the Hurricanes a viable threat whenever he is on the field.

With Parrish nursing a sore knee, Darnell Jenkins stepped up as the number two receiver alongside Ryan Moore.

Lance Leggett was used some on kick returns today.

Right now the receivers rank as follows: 1) Ryan Moore; 2) Roscoe Parrish; 3) Darnell Jenkins; 4) Sinorice Moss; 5) Akieem Jolla; 6) Lance Leggett; 7) Khalil Jones.

Guys to watch: Moss & Leggett

TIGHT ENDS

First off, I have to mention the play of walk-on Kurt Stange from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin who laid out super freshman Willie Williams on a run block drawing a large roar from the crowd as his teammates yelled "Stange" and "Todd Heap" from a distance. Also, the 6-foot-5 junior made a very nice catch on a pass thrown by Freeman.

Tired of hearing about the play of Greg Olsen? I am sure the defense is getting tired of hearing him make plays. The redshirt freshman from New Jersey is flat out getting the job done. He has been one of the most impressive players this fall regardless of position. With Kevin Everett nursing a hip flexor and sore shoulders Olsen has gotten a lot of reps with the first team and hasn't skipped a beat. Berlin is looking for Olsen to be open just like the other quarterbacks do when he is on the field. Today he wasn't as spectacular as he has been dropping a pass and not recording the number of receptions he has been. However, he was still doing a solid job in blocking.

Buck Ortega had a tough day today. He has been great this fall, but today with a large crowd watching on he dropped a few passes. Not to worry he is a hard-worker and will rebound the next day. Number 15 will make his fair share of catches over the next couple of weeks.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Top four units (*walk-on),

LT - LG - C - RG - RT
1: Winston – Tella – Wollschlager – Myers - Wimbs
2: Bain – Morse – Rochford – McMeans - Sebald
3: Rutledge - Garcia* - Napoli* – Pou - Kunz*
4: Byrd - St. Pierre - ? - ? - Bergman


Anthony Wollschlager has done an excellent job at center this fall and will likely remain the center until Joel Rodriguez is completely healthy. Chris Myers has the ability to move inside at center, but the team would rather go with Wollschlager at this point.

Tony Tella is practicing albeit occasionally getting in certain plays. When he is not in Derrick Morse has done more than a good job taking over. Tella is a possibility to move back at tackle, but prefers guard.

One player who has gotten lost in the shuffle is Alex Pou. He had a tough summer dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Today he made a great block sealing the defensive lineman giving Johnson a big hole to run through as he picked up nearly 20 yards on the play. He has his work cut out for him if he intends to pass a number of guards ahead of him.

You want to talk about a player that goes full speed on every drill and every play. Just watch Jonathan St. Pierre. "JSP" has a motor and aggressiveness about him that is unmatched regardless of what he is being asked to do. It has been very apparent that the defensive players haven't been too fond of this overly aggressive player, but it is better to see him fired up about playing as opposed to going through the motions. He arrived in the spring working out at center, but seems to have settled in at left guard for the time being.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Quick, name a defensive linemen who could be a big factor in the team's success in 2004. Well, you are right. Pretty much every linemen that will get significant team could be a force this year. They have plenty of depth and guys ready to make an impact.

Orien Harris is the best one of the group, but is still relatively unknown outside of Coral Gables.

Santonio Thomas has been a load of a player to block this fall. If he stays healthy, watch out. Another defensive tackle coming on is Kareem Brown.

And those are just the tackles!

Throw in Baraka Atkins, Javon Nanton, Bryan Pata, and Thomas Carroll and you have yourself a solid seven.

Atkins and Nanton are getting most of the reps with the first unit, but Bryan Pata is really starting to come on drawing praise from Coker and offensive line coach Art Kehoe. He will challenge for a starting spot and if he does earn that job—don't expect him to lose it.

LINEBACKERS

If you haven't heard already Leon Williams is in jeopardy of losing his starting position. Jon Beason is hot on his trail and the coaching staff has let that be known.

"They are competing and we'll see what ends up happening in the end," said linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves. "It has been a good competition and both players have been working extremely hard."

Coker pointed out Beason for his performance in today's practice.

"You see Jonathan Beason on defense obviously making plays," said Coker. "I think Beason is really starting to come on which we expected."

Freshman Willie Williams, James Bryant, and Romeo Davis are getting better each day.

"They are coming along pretty good," Hargreaves said. "They are about where they probably should be. They are young guys trying to figure the whole thing out. They are trying to figure out the speed of the game as well as what we are trying to do. They are all working hard and I am pleased with all of them."

Coker agrees.

"I really think they are going to be a good group," Coker said. "I think Willie Williams, James Bryant, and Romeo Davis are pretty special.

Willie Williams was projected as a weakside linebacker, but has been the team's third-string middle linebacker throughout the fall.

"We know Willie can play weakside linebacker," Coker said. "If he is our best middle linebacker we have to see how he will do. We don't want to wait until halfway through the season and say ‘this guy is pretty good.' He is going to get work there. He has great size."

Bryant is playing strongside with Davis playing the weakside.

The two starting outside linebackers Tavares Gooden and Roger McIntosh are the two linebackers used in nickel situations, which will be used a lot against ACC competition since six or seven teams feature three-receiver/one back offenses.

"I think we have some good players there," Hargreaves said. "Roger McIntosh certainly has some experience and now he is going to take it to another level. Tavares Gooden is the same way. He is an athletic kid that we want to take another step towards being a great player."

With less than three weeks until the opener Hargreaves hopes his guys learn how to play with one another and be able to play off each other. That obviously comes with time.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Antrel Rolle made a great interception in the end zone after the pass was bobbled. He does not record as many interceptions as other top corners in the country, but consistently being around the ball will help.

The defensive backs blanketed the receivers today allowing very few catches.

According to Coker, Glenn Sharpe is back and challenging for the starting position currently held by Kelly Jennings. Jennings has been slowed by a knee injury and is one of the most experienced players on the entire defense. He has looked a bit rusty when he has returned.

Marcus Maxey is doing a good job of staying on his man and being physical. He is enjoying the switch to cornerback and would prefer stay there. Currently he is the third corner behind Rolle and Jennings and enters during nickel situations. Rolle plays the slot position when he is in and Jennings takes over if Rolle is off the field.

INJURY REPORT

RB Frank Gore was held out of some of the morning practice, but got some carries in the afternoon practice. He is recovering from a torn ACL.
Status: Day-to-day

OL Rashad Butler reportedly sprained his left ankle on Thursday and has not practiced the last six days. He is in a full cast with crutches.
Status: 3-7 days

OL Joel Rodriguez has a sore knee and did not practice today. If it was a game he probably could have played, but there is no rush to get him back with over two weeks until the opener.
Status: 1-3 days

CB George Timmons had ice around his ankle in the morning and did not practice in the afternoon, but was in uniform.
Status: 1-7 days

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

NEXT PRACTICE

Thursday, August 19th, 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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