UM football Notebook

Miami Hurricanes trying to ‘enjoy the journey’ this spring

 

mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

They filmed their own Harlem Shake video and have spent all spring bobbing their heads to music throughout practice.

Thursday morning the fun continued for the Miami Hurricanes as coach Al Golden ended practice by having his offensive and defensive linemen line up and try to catch a simulated punt from a jugs machine.

After 10 embarrassing and rip-roaring moments of laughter, defensive lineman Luther Robinson saved the team from sprints with a bobbling catch and a 50-yard dash and dive into the end zone with a happy team chasing him.

“We capture that film now, hold it until the perfect time to show them,” Golden said with a smile. “All those guys who think they’re great athletes, AAU basketball players, the truth is revealed.”

As tough as the past two years have been with an NCAA investigation hanging over the program’s head and players getting themselves suspended with off-the-field issues, Golden said he has allowed the team to cut loose a little this spring because they’ve earned it.

“This is a very mature team,” Golden said. “Every year is different. These guys go to work and they make it fun. They make it fun because they’re where they need to be. There is not a lot of list guys [in trouble]. They got a purpose and a focus about them. When you have that you can really enjoy the journey.”

Tight end Beau Sandland, one of the Hurricanes’ prized new additions, said he has been blown away by how much fun Golden and his staff have had this spring — while also getting the important work done they need to get done.

“I’m so happy I’m here right now,” Sandland said. “Coach Golden’s been in our shoes. He played tight end, played in the league. He knows how tough it is. The vast majority of teams aren’t going to have a three-day weekend on Easter and a barbeque. You saw there at the end we were supposed to run and he gave us every opportunity at the end to not make us run. It’s definitely exciting to have a real close-knit team.”

Part of that closeness, Golden pointed out, is built by having the team’s out-of-state players such as Sandland spend Easter weekend with their Florida-native teammates. Inside the team’s locker room, Sandland said, is a list dubbed: “No Player Left Behind.”

“Our parents are great,” Golden said. “ Kacy Rodgers’ mom and Duke Johnson’s mom cooked for players last Thanksgiving. Parents step up and say bring so-and-so over and will cook for them and spend the weekend and it’s fun.”

• Hundreds of local recruits and coaches attended Thursday’s practice and were treated to a barbecue with the team afterward.

“It’s great,” Golden said. “What can be more revealing, an honest look at your program than having them watch you coach, interact with the players? We must have had 400, 500 people out here today including coaches, family.”

THIS AND THAT

• Golden said the areas of improvement he wants to see in the team’s next scrimmage a week from Friday in Naples is “goal-line offense and short-yard offense.”

“We didn’t finish drives as well as we needed to,” he said. “Our tackling needs to improve dramatically on defense. I thought we did a much better job on defense of eliminating the explosive plays. But we didn’t get the ball down the field enough on offense either.”

• Golden said the biggest surprise of the spring at tight end has been redshirt freshman Jake O’Donnell.

“Now you’re talking about five guys competing for playing time,” Golden said. “It’s raised Clive [Walford’s] game. It’s raised Asante [Cleveland’s] game. I said last week Asante is having as good a spring as anybody. It gives us a chance to go with two tight ends on the field or in Clive’s case deploy him, flex him out and get him the football more than we have the last two years.”

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