Hurricanes Roundup 8/19/04

- Running backs coach Don Soldinger longs for the days when the general public was convinced that the backup tailback he put out on the field for the Miami Hurricanes was better than the team's starter.

That usually was the consensus when James Jackson came in for Edgerrin James, when Clinton Portis relieved Jackson and when Frank Gore gave Portis a breather.

For the past two seasons, injuries have made the Hurricanes abandon their old tailback-by-committee philosophy, but Soldinger plans on reviving it -- in some fashion -- with his top two or three performers this season.

The goal is keep all of UM's ball carriers hungry and fresh, allowing them to feed off one another.

"When you get in there you have to make your opportunities count, because you're not going to get as many as you did in the past," said junior Quadtrine Hill, who had the best showing in Wednesday's scrimmage, gaining 41 yards on six carries.

While Hill stood out Wednesday, it's the contrasting styles of Gore, a shifty runner, and Tyrone Moss, who relies more on power, that should provide the Hurricanes their most intimidating one-two punch.

"It's going to be hard stopping both guys," Soldinger said. "If those two guys are healthy throughout the whole season, look out."

According to Soldinger, Gore, whose return from his second ACL injury appears ahead of schedule, has looked "phenomenal" this fall. As for Moss -- who has been limited a bit by a shoulder strain --he's finally worked his way out of Soldinger's doghouse after having his work ethic questioned last spring.

"I'm very pleased with Tyrone -- you know me, I wouldn't tell you that if I wasn't," Soldinger said. "Maybe the light's gone on for him."

Moss, a former standout at Ely High School, has improved his pass protection, is making less mental mistakes and appears ready to become a starter, but that's only if he can hold off Gore, the incumbent.

Gore said he envisions Moss wearing down defenses with his inside running, then he enters the game and breaks off a big gain like the one's he contributed as Portis' backup in his freshman season, when he averaged 9.1 yards per carry.

"There's a little rivalry there, but a lot of respect and friendship," coach Larry Coker said. "Tyrone really respects Frank, and Frank's really grown to respect Tyrone."

Coker often compares Gore and Moss' competition to the one he watched when he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State when a young Barry Sander was pushing Thurman Thomas for playing time.

"Competition is good," Coker said. "It just makes you better and sometimes a younger guy can learn from that veteran player."

Hill, the former fullback who Coker said has had an excellent fall playing tailback, is what Soldinger labeled as his "ace."

"Think I'm out of [cards] then, bam," Soldinger said, "I throw out the ace."

Because injuries have depleted Miami's platoon of tailbacks in the past, Soldinger intends on getting at least one of his three true freshmen -- Charlie Jones, Andrew Johnson and Derron Thomas -- ready to play immediately.

Who it will be hasn't been decided yet, but the best blocker will likely be the first to play.

However, Coker said there's a possibility all three will see action this season, and Soldinger agrees.

"You never know what's going to happen," Soldinger said. "I've never been through a whole season where all my guys are healthy. I tell them all `You get prepared like you're the starter,' because you never know."

- The Miami football practiced twice on Wednesday, with a two-hour session in both the morning and afternoon at the Greentree Practice Facility.

The morning practice was in shells, while the afternoon session was in full pads. Miami spent the final hour and 15 minutes of the afternoon practice in a team scrimmage.

"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."

- All four quarterbacks struggled in Wednesday's scrimmage, as they weren't allowed a lot of time to throw the ball because of the pressure from the defensive line. Notably, right tackle Cyrim Wimbs, filling in for the injured Rashad Butler (ankle), performed poorly on pass protection.

Coker said UM will work on moving the quarterback out of the pocket more to adjust.

Most of the passes completed were caught by the tight ends.

Cornerback Antrel Rolle managed the lone interception of the scrimmage, picking off a Brock Berlin pass intended for Roscoe Parrish.

- Several Hurricanes stood out to Coker during Wednesday scrimmage.

"You see some guys making plays," Coker said. "We still have to throw the ball better and get it down field. You see Jonathan Beason on defense obviously making plays. Offensively, the tight ends are going to be a good position for us, but we still have to get the ball to the wide outs more.

"All-in-all, I think we are going to learn a lot from today, and today was a pretty important day for us," Coker added.

The Hurricanes are scheduled to practice once on Thursday, at 3:30 p.m. Tomorrow's workouts are open to the public.

Miami opens the regular season on Monday night, Sept. 6 against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. For more ticket information visit or call 1-800-GO-CANES.

- Starting center Joel Rodriguez sat out both practice sessions with a sore left knee. ...

TE Kevin Everett (hip flexor) was held out of the scrimmage. ...

LG Tony Tella, bothered by a knee injury, participated in the scrimmage.

- SCHEDULE CHANGE: Media should note the following three schedule changes: The team scrimmage in the Orange Bowl has been changed to Thursday, Aug. 26 (it is closed to the media). On Friday, Aug. 27, a practice is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. (first 30 minutes and last 15 minutes open to media). And on Saturday, Aug. 28, the team will practice at 3:30 p.m. (first 30 minutes and last 15 minutes open to media).

By The Source
Aug 19, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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