Miami Hurricanes erecting ‘great wall’ of linemen
08/27/2013 12:01 AM
02/27/2014 12:09 AM
Photos of the top six Miami offensive linemen grace the cover of the season’s first game notes package, marked by this Twitter hashtag: #GREATWALLOFCORALGABLES.
But even before the FAU game notes were distributed, Hurricanes coach Al Golden had changed the depth chart for the offensive line — shifting previous first-team left guard Jonathan Feliciano to starting right tackle, and previous starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, a senior, to Feliciano’s backup.
It appears that Malcolm Bunche will now be the starting left guard for the 8 p.m. opener Friday — unless, of course, Golden decides to change the lineup again, which he said could still happen.
Either way, Golden said, the seven offensive linemen who will see game action are 6-4, 296-pound center Shane McDermott, 6-6; 319-pound guard Brandon Linder; 6-5, 318-pound tackle/guard Feliciano; 6-6, 315-pound tackle Ereck Flowers; 6-7, 327-pound guard/tackle Bunche; 6-8, 332-pound Henderson; and 6-5, 319-pound backup center/guard Jared Wheeler.
“For me right now, we’re playing seven in the game,” Golden said Monday during his pregame news conference. “If [ Taylor] Gadbois can make progress this week, there will be eight in the game. There are five that start, but they are all going to play a lot.
“If it stays the way it is now, Seantrel will be the sixth man, Wheeler the seventh man and Gadbois the eighth man.”
Golden was asked if the starting lineup could change by Friday.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It might change right now. We’re going to go and watch the tape. If guys are still getting ME’s [mental errors] on things we put in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then certainly we can’t go into games with those kind of mistakes.”
Golden said that Henderson — USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year coming out of high school — draws more attention than the others.
“The reality is Seantrel generally brings a little bit more fanfare,” he said.
Among other positions, the coach mentioned receiver Rashawn Scott, who is third on the depth chart behind starter Allen Hurns and Stacy Coley, as now “practicing his tail off. He was not practicing at that level or competing at that level, and now he’s starting to turn the corner.”
He also praised outside linebacker Denzel Perryman as consistently improving the past several days.
Last season’s UM “unsung hero” award winner, fullback Maurice Hagens, is a favorite of Golden’s for his attitude, work ethic and ability to lay down a mean block.
The senior sat in the back of the room Monday and said he was completely satisfied with his role. The thick, muscular 250-pounder is mostly used as a blocker. He has eight career carries for 24 yards and 11 catches for 82 yards, but no touchdowns.
“If it comes it comes,” he said of his dream of a touchdown. “But I’m focused on getting this team better and making sure we win games.”
Playing both ways
Freshman Walter Tucker “could play linebacker or fullback,” Golden said, though Tucker recently began practicing with the running backs after Danny Dillard left the team. He is listed as the backup to Hagens. “It’s a question of, ‘Do we get someone nicked up on defense’ or ‘nicked up at running back?’
“We’re excited about Walter Tucker. We knew he was strong and explosive, but he changes direction really well. He’s very compact, explosive and athletic.”
This and that• Running back Gus Edwards, who missed several days of practice while his eligibility was being reviewed, has been practicing with the team, Golden said.
• Senior defensive tackle Curtis Porter has been “fighting a little back issue the last couple of days,” according to the coach.
• Though news of redshirt freshman receiver Jontavious Carter being off the roster was reported Saturday, Golden said Monday that Carter was dismissed from the team. He would not elaborate.