The Miami Hurricanes held its final practice of the spring at the Greentree Practice Fields Thursday, completing its 14th session in anticipation of closing out the month-long training with a “live scrimmage” Saturday.
>>> The scrimmage – or de facto spring game – will be held at Boca Raton High School Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the event will not be open to the public but the media will be allowed to watch and provide commentary.
Miami head coach Mark Richt spoke Tuesday about the decision to have the final practice and scrimmage in Boca.
>>> Though Richt was born in Nebraska and his family spent time in Colorado, his family moved to South Florida in 1973 and he ended up becoming a highly decorated high school quarterback for the Bobcats before going to college at the University of Miami.
CMR said Tuesday that he hasn’t stepped on Boca Raton’s campus in quite some time, but said that he plans on taking advantage of the weekend trip by hitting up a couple of his favorite eateries while he’s in town.
>>> Jerry’s Pizza is no longer open, but Fran’s Chicken Haven is a four-and-a-half star rated restaurant on Yelp and is located at 1925 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33432.
Lunch is on you, coach.
>>> As far as the way Saturday’s scrimmage will go, Richt said that he plans on it resembling a live game as much as possible.
>>> After Thursday’s practice, coordinators Thomas Brown and Manny Diaz spoke to the media as did a handful of players.
Quarterbacks Malik Rosier and Evan Shirreffs both spoke Thursday.
Personal sources have continued to confirm that Rosier and Shirreffs have been splitting the reps with the Canes’ No. 1 offense for the majority of the spring.
Rosier confirmed it Thursday.
>>> The redshirt junior is easily the most experienced quarterback in the group. However, he nor any of the other quarterbacks have been able to work consistently well enough to truly put a stake in the claim of being UM’s next starting quarterback.
Besides his experience, Rosier is arguably the most athletic quarterback in the group – until N’Kosi Perry arrives next month – but that still hasn’t been enough for him to separate from Shirreffs at the top of the heap.
>>> Consistency has been a trigger word for the quarterback battle. Which signal caller would be the most consistent day in and day out, and show the requisite leadership skills to take command of this potentially potent Canes offense.
Coach Brown said he has noticed that the returning quarterbacks have taken strides in their leadership this spring.
“They’ve been more vocal,” Brown said. “Last year they were competing for a spot, but obviously in the back of their minds they knew they were going to be the backup to Brad [Kaaya]. This year, with them knowing that it is a wide open job and they have an opportunity – they know that it’s ‘going to be on you to decide whether or not you step up to the challenge or let someone else beat you out’, it has made those guys answer the bell.”
>>> Personal sources have praised the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Shirreffs for his attention to detail and overall intelligence as a quarterback, but have also said that he still has plenty of room to grow and is even with Rosier – with that his play is still too uneven.
Listening to the general consensus from the UM fan base, Shirreffs is kind of the “forgotten man”.
With continued updates saying that Richt doesn’t have an idea of the quarterback rotation yet and his words Tuesday that he’s not opposed to shuffling the QB deck during the season because there’s “no established guy”, the legion’s clamor for Perry to play right away seems to get stronger by the day.
>>> Shirreffs was asked about being the “odd man out” – from the fan’s perspective – Thursday.
Getting the attention of coaches is the most important thing at the end of the day. Also, if Shirreffs does become the “new sheriff in town” and he performs well, fans will know his name and support him fully.
>>> This reporter was curious as to how the five quarterbacks competing for the starting job were handling the balance of “wanting to be the starter” with “being a good teammate”.
It is encouraging Shirreffs to respond that way. Even though they are in competition with one another, the ultimate goal – as Shirreffs said – is for the University of Miami to win games. And the quarterback who shows himself to be the guy that will put the Canes in position to win games, should be supported by everyone.
>>> The big noise coming from Tuesday’s practice was Mark Walton’s “not wanting to be babied” and wanting to carry the ball more during these spring practices.
Coach Brown, who played running back for Richt at Georgia, added his perspective on Walton’s comments.
Walton may not be able to fully see it right now, but his coaches are setting him up for potential success in the professional ranks. Walton’s ability to carry and catch the ball is evident, what will lift his status on his way to the NFL and potentially keep him there – is his being a “complete back”, and that means being able to pass block.
>>> When asked about which receiver and tight end has made the biggest strides this spring, Brown singled out a player that personal sources have raved about for the better part of two weeks.
“Darrell Langham has really stood out,” Brown said. “Last year I think it was more of a mental deal with him…getting him to play as big as he is and having confidence. He’s not the most dynamic from a speed standpoint, but has the size to be a ‘bully type’ receiver.”
“He has been a great surprise in the wide receiver room…he’s probably stood out almost every single time that we’ve stepped on the football field,” Brown added. “He’s playing like he is a big man, he’s not playing like he’s 5-foot-8 – my height – trying to play receiver. He’s using his size and length to overpower defensive backs to make plays.”
The tight end he picked was sophomore Michael Irvin II.
“Tight end wise, Irvin has probably made the biggest jump…he’s been consistent about knowing what to do – how to get lined up and executing the stuff we asked him to do,” Brown said.
>>> Junior defensive back Michael Jackson spoke Thursday. He confirmed once again that he and sophomore Malek Young have been running as the No. 1 cornerbacks.
Jackson said that he “probably has two or three interceptions this spring” and that he could have had more had he not dropped the ball.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jackson essentially has one practice to show coaches what he can do, before JUCO signee Jhavonte Dean, graduate transfer Dee Delaney and Trajan Bandy – all of whom are highly regarded cornerbacks – make their way to Coral Gables.
>>> While Miami is waiting on the cornerback cavalry to ride in, they have a more solid situation at safety.
On multiple occasions this spring, converted safety Sheldrick Redwine has received praise for his successful transition and solid play in the defensive backfield.
Two weeks ago, it was Redwine’s former position coach Mike Rumph that called him “one of the top 11 guys on defense”, Thursday it was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz speaking on the 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior.
>>> Redwine’s fellow safety, his high school teammate and his roommate Jaquan Johnson also spoke about the bond they share and how it has helped them work together in the defensive backfield.