Hurricanes Roundup 8/29/04

Compiled from a variety of sources throughout the day

- Two projected starters, right tackle Rashad Butler and left guard Tony Tella, have been classified as doubtful for the Sept. 6 season-opener against Florida State, and UM is running out of promising players to plug into their spots after trying nearly half a dozen line combinations over the past two weeks.

The offensive line was yet again eaten up by the defense's pass rush during Thursday's scrimmage at the Orange Bowl. To counteract the problem, the coaches have shifted the offensive line yet again, promoting two unproven backups, junior college transfer Tyler McMeans and former Pompano Ely standout Andrew Bain. Both players are short on experience -- both have yet to play a game at the Division I-A college level. But both also present the greatest upside and were working as starters Friday.

"It's a concern," Coker said. "This is Florida State. They've got the best defensive line in the country every year. That's not going to change.

"We'll compete and play hard. The thing it won't be is touchdown right, touchdown left. First downs will be critical, and we'll have to somehow make sure our backs have some creases to run through."

Butler and Tella, both juniors, were two of the Hurricanes' more athletic linemen. But a slight fracture in Butler's left ankle, presently in a cast, and two injuries (a knee sprain and back spasms) for Tella have limited their participation this fall.

Bain, previously working at left tackle, is filling in for Tella. McMeans has taken over the starting spot at right guard while Chris Myers, a two-year starter, moves over to play tackle.

"When you have some injuries you've got to plug in some people, but in the long run this is going to make us better," Coker said. "Are we where we need to be? No. But can we get there? I believe we can."

- Freshman linebacker Willie Williams, who had surgery Wednesday to repair the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, has begun his rehab.

"Anytime a player gets injured, you're concerned, especially a young player because maybe he's never been injured and now he's thinking, `Why me,'" Coker said. "But his spirits are good."

- Hurricanes coach Larry Coker was disappointed when a thunderstorm forced the cancellation of Saturday's scrimmage.

It's one practice less in preparing for Florida State on Sept. 6.

"Everything we do, we feel like there's a purpose and a time, and this was a good focusing time for us," Coker said. "This was a situation where we need to practice today, but you take what you get. But we'll make it up next week and move forward."

Coker also was somewhat philosophical.

"The beauty of it is, we do have some extra time," said Coker, who had delayed the start of practice, trying to wait out the storm. "We don't play this Friday or Saturday. We do have the two extra days.

"Today was more of a situational scrimmage, with things you see in a game such as a kickoff after a safety, such as taking a safety, all those special situations you don't do a thousand times, but you need to make sure they're covered.

"This was not going to be a real physical-type day, but more of a learning-type day for us, a 60-minute workout with a lot of different situations."

Coker said the team will practice situational plays Tuesday. He also expects all of the starting positions will be set by Wednesday. Senior Kyle Cobia, competing for the fullback spot with senior Talib Humphrey, is likely to be on the field at the Orange Bowl with the first-team.

"Humphrey and Cobia are both very equal," Coker said. "I think Cobia would be the first team today, but Humphrey is definitely is going to play."

The starting offensive line, where players have been shuffled during practices and scrimmages, may take more time to firm up.

"We've got some guys who have some injuries -- Tony Tella [back and knee] for one, Rashad Butler [ankle] for another," Coker said. "If those guys can get back and get healthy, it'd change the situation drastically.

"We're getting more set. Tyler McMeans we've been really impressed with. Andrew Bain's done a really nice job. It does allow some flexibility there."

With a little more than a week before UM takes on FSU, Coker and his players have two different time frames.

"It's a week from Monday, and that to them is like 50 years in the future," Coker said. "It's like you're waiting for Christmas as a kid.

"For the coaches, it's going to be here before you know it. It's going to get here fast. That's why each of these days is going to be special to us. We need the work, so it's disappointing when you miss a day like this."

- The Miami football team practiced in shells for almost two hours on Friday afternoon at the Greentree Practices Fields, not including a 30-minute interruption due to lighting about 45 minutes into practice.

"This was really a good day for us today, a corrections day," head coach Larry Coker said. "We had a little delay with the lightning, but we were able to get back out on the practice fields, and we had a good day."

The Hurricanes spent most of the Friday practice focusing on corrections after a 60-play scrimmage at the Orange Bowl Thursday night.

"We worked on a lot of different things last night," Coker said. "We worked a lot of kicking situations and special situations, and we learned a lot. There are a lot of things we need to get corrected to have an opportunity to beat Florida State."

The Hurricanes are scheduled for a 3:30 practice Saturday at the Greentree Practice Fields. All Hurricanes' practices are closed to the public for the remainder of the year.

- The University of Miami athletic department announces that Miami-Florida State individual tickets are sold out.

Fans wishing to see the Miami-FSU match-up on September 6th may still witness the rivalry game by purchasing a limited number of reserved season tickets and a limited number of general admission season tickets. Reserved season tickets are $265 and general admission season tickets are $150.

Log onto to or call 305-284-CANES from Dade County 1-800-GO-CANES to order Hurricane Football season tickets. U Football. More than a Game.

- Former St. Thomas Aquinas standout Mark Gent is being pushed for his kickoff duties by walk-on Francesco Zampogna, whose ability to consistently put his kicks into the end zone during Thursday's scrimmage caught Coker's eye. Miami will chart their performance in practice this week.

- Tight end Greg Olson is working as the long snapper, replacing the departed Chris Harvey, who handled the role for a number of years.

- GameWorks announced that they are hosting the rivalry event to kick off the University of Miami football season. The "Big Bad Buck Off," a mechanical bull riding competition, will pit University of Miami fans against traveling Florida State fans.

The event will take place on Saturday, September 4th at the GameWorks location in South Miami, beginning at 9 PM. There will be several contests for fans, including a Slow Ride, Fast Buck and Fan Fanatic competitions. Great drink specials and footage from previous FSU and UM match ups will be played on all TV monitors in the venue. Prizes will be given out to the winning fans.

"Everyone is driving down, looking for something to do during the big weekend," stated Kim Neubecker, Director of Marketing for GameWorks. "The Big Bad Buck Off gives those fans a chance to get together in one place, hang out and show their school spirit."

GameWorks, which was chosen to host the official watch parties for the 2004-05 Miami Hurricane football season, is the total entertainment experience, consisting of a full-service restaurant, a high-energy bar and interactive games and attractions. Since its first location premiered in 1997, GameWorks has opened 14 venues throughout the United States. There are also a growing number of international GameWorks venues.

By The Source
Aug 29, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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