UM notebook

Men in black make statement for Miami Hurricanes defense

 
 
University of Miami defenders Tyriq McCord, (17) and Earl Moore (72) sack University of South Florida quarterback Steven Bench in the fourth quarter of their game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sept. 28, 2013.
University of Miami defenders Tyriq McCord, (17) and Earl Moore (72) sack University of South Florida quarterback Steven Bench in the fourth quarter of their game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sept. 28, 2013.
Al Diaz / Staff Photo

sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

Some new men in black graced Greentree Field on Tuesday, with some of the customary black-garbed Hurricanes wearing green.

Same for a few in orange — and white.

“We’ve had nothing but practices, and we had a scrimmage, which was the first time we were able to go live — a situational scrimmage, but we were moving the football and seeing how guys play the game,” said University of Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio after UM’s first open practice since Saturday’s closed scrimmage. “The black jerseys indicate when the lights came on who played to the level that we can with championships with.”

The new black-jersey wearers, signifying excellence (as the orange does for the offense): sophomore linebacker Jermaine Grace, sophomore cornerback Artie Burns, junior safety Dallas Crawford and junior nose tackle Earl Moore. They joined senior linebacker Denzel Perryman and junior linebacker Raphael Kirby, also in black.

“Jermaine made a lot of plays, and he didn’t make a lot of mental errors,” D’Onofrio said. “He probably made eight tackles so he was really productive.

“Dallas did what I knew he would do once the lights come on. He’s a physical guy and has a great feel for playing the game. For what he’s done in a 10-day period coming over to our side of the ball [from tailback] has been really remarkable.

“Earl has been steady. He has gotten better. Probably the last three or four practices have been really consistent for him. The light went on.”

D’Onofrio said Burns, who intercepted senior quarterback Ryan Williams in the scrimmage, “really rebounded” this spring after missing the first four practices because of track. “He was playing catch-up with everybody else … and he mastered all the techniques we were asking him to do. He played really good when he was pressed.”

Off the “it” list, at least on Tuesday, were junior cornerback Tracy Howard and sophomore linebacker Alex Figueroa — both of whom are expected to play major roles next season.

“Just not up to the standard in the scrimmage maybe that they’ve been at all along and that’s all we can go by,” D’Onofrio said. “At the end of the day, there’s something noticeably different about a scrimmage than a practice. It’s the closest we can get to a game situation.”

Junior linebacker Raphael Kirby played in the middle and at weak-side and also “showed up” Saturday, D’Onofrio said.

Offensively, Williams is still ahead of redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, with both improving, according to offensive coordinator James Coley and coach Al Golden.

Golden also mentioned Gray Crow as “chasing” Olsen.

The offensive players wearing the coveted orange jerseys Tuesday were tackles Ereck Flowers and Taylor Gadbois, receivers Rashawn Scott, D’Mauri Jones and Stacy Coley and tight end Standish Dobard.

Dobard was lauded by both James Coley and Golden, and Golden has repeatedly said that the young Coley, who led the team with 1,461 all-purpose yards last season, is setting the standard in just about every way for receivers.

Losing their orange jerseys Tuesday were tailback Gus Edwards, and guards Jon Feliciano and Danny Isidora.

James Coley said Edwards is “being challenged” by Walter Tucker, and had “a couple of plays” during the scrimmage in which he could have given better effort.

Injury report

Al-Quadin Muhammad injured his ankle (right) early in the scrimmage “and fought through it,” D’Onofrio said. He wore a red (non-contact) jersey in practice. Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre (concussion) is still out. Also in red: tailbacks Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby, cornerback Ladarius Gunter, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, center Shane McDermott and receiver/all-purpose freshman Braxton Berrios.

The Canes have their second scrimmage, also closed, on Friday.

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