Practice Report: 8/12

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The University of Miami football team practiced for two hours at the Greentree Practice Fields Friday morning, with the defense creating its usual havoc and the offense beginning to jell and make plays.

Practice was more balanced than in past days, thanks in large part to better offensive efficiency against a promising defense.

Miami's overall team improvement during the first six days and seven practices of the 2005 season has been better than expected. "I think we're a little ahead of where I thought we'd be, to be honest," head coach Larry Coker said. "We're in great condition and we're getting into football condition. I feel good about the progress we've made."

The offense responded better to defensive pressure, picking up yardage on intermediate routes during team sessions but still surrendering at times to stingy and opportunistic defensive plays. "It was a hot day, but our guys pushed through it well," Coker said. "We got better today. We had some guys who made some plays on defense and some guys who made some plays on offense. That's what you like to see."

The defense took advantage of some bad snaps in the first team session, giving the quarterbacks little chance to recover. Freshman safety Kenny Phillips stood out on defense with two interceptions and a constant presence around the ball.

Miami's offense saw quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman combine to go 7 of 8 during one stretch, with completions to Lance Leggett, Quadtrine Hill, Buck Ortega and DajLeon Farr.

"I thought the offense was much more efficient today," Coker said. "We made some mistakes, but efficiency is what you are looking for in the offense."

Friday's practice was a prelude to Saturday's scheduled scrimmage, which Coker expects will help spotlight areas that need improvement. "You can do all the individual work you have to," Coker said, "but until you play the game, some things are not exposed. We'll get some good tape of that tomorrow."

The Hurricanes will do some preliminary work before the scrimmage starts and student-athletes are put into live situations. UM's offense and defense will most likely clash for 30 scripted plays in addition to situational and special teams work.

Saturday's scrimmage is also the last practice open to fans and media in the 2005 preseason, a fact not lost on Coker and the players. "Personally, I like (having the fans come out)," Coker said. "Do the players notice it? You bet they do. They notice fans. That's why they come here, to be on television and play in front of the crowds here."

UM takes to the Greentree Practice Fields at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and the scheduled scrimmage will likely take place on the practice field closest to where fans are allowed to stand, Coker said.

Notes: Coker maintained the status quo on linebacker Rocky McIntosh's status, saying he thinks it will be a few days before McIntosh is ready to return from minor knee surgery. "I think he'll be ready," Coker said. "When he gets cleared, he'll be at practice."... Linebacker Tavares Gooden was in full pads Friday morning but had very limited participation.

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