University of Miami

Things got steamy at Miami practice, with scrimmage nearing. And about that O-line...

Enough with that indoor luxury.

The 10th session of the Miami Hurricanes’ football practice got a bit heated within the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility when coaches turned off the air conditioning and opened three massive hangar-type doors that sucked in the hot, humid air from Greentree Field.

“You mentioned the heat took a toll on players Saturday. In here, it feels a little different today,’’ a reporter told UM coach Manny Diaz on Tuesday. “Was that the calculated move and how did they respond today?”

“Yeah, we turned on the humidity machine today, but by design — and that’s OK. Because we want to get them to feel a little bit of the, you know, breathe a little less of the AC than what it’s been. They felt it, which is good. This is what we needed. We’ll do this again on Thursday, and that will get them ready for getting outside again on Saturday.’’

The Canes’ next scrimmage, free and open to the public, is at noon Saturday at Traz Power Stadium, 11380 NW 27th Ave, at Miami Dade College’s North Campus.

After the first scrimmage Saturday at Columbus High, Diaz reported that “execution” was “a long way from where we wanted it. You could see, being outside and dealing with the heat for the first time, it took its toll. It takes a toll mentally. All of a sudden you’re playing slower...it probably took us to the second half where it became more competitive.”

The Hurricanes have practiced indoors since the first of the 15 spring sessions began March 19, because Greentree Practice Field is being resodded.

We spoke to offensive coordinator Dan Enos today about, among other topics, the offense line. He didn’t seem overly enthused.

Enos regarding the line, which had usual left guard Navaughn Donaldson at center Tuesday because Corey Gaynor is injured and according to Diaz is day-to-day:

“We’ve been very inconsistent [on] the offensive line. We’ve been shuffling guys in and out of there. We’ve had some injuries. We had to move guard Donaldson to center on Saturday. He hasn’t played center all spring, but he did a tremendous job moving to center for us to allow us to scrimmage.

“But really there’s been no continuity, because we’ve just been trying to figure out who’s who. Who’s the guard, who’s the tackle, who’s the starter, who’s the 2? You with me? It’s been hard that way, especially with the defense doing as much as they’re doing. It’s been very difficult to get continuity. But we’ll benefit from all these things as we move forward.

“We had a true freshman [Zion Nelson] playing left tackle in the scrimmage Saturday, and he’s battling and doing things in there. But as I told him, he should be getting ready for the senior prom right now and we got him out here blocking one of the best defenses in the country.”

Nonetheless, Enos indicated that he believes with new O-line coach Butch Barry’s tutelage, the lineup will eventually prosper:

“Coach Barry is doing a tremendous job with these guys,’’ Enos said. “He is a technician. He is a fundamental, detailed football coach. He’s very disciplined. He’s a great teacher and he’s very demanding. And these guys will all benefit from his tutelage. I think at the end of the day we’re going to have an offensive line that we’re going to be very excited about.’’

Nelson, an early enrollee who has thoroughly impressed Diaz and company, also played left tackle Tuesday morning. He is a 6-5, 240-pound former three-star prospect out of Sumter (South Carolina) High School. The Hurricanes’ bio on Nelson says he chose Miami over offers from Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Campbell, Georgia Southern and Western Kentucky. The Canes apparently got a steal.

Sophomore DJ Scaife played at right guard Tuesday, with Kai-Leon Herbert at right tackle and Zalon’tae Hillery at left guard.

Sophomore receiver Mark Pope, rated a five-star talent when he graduated from Miami Southridge High, only had one catch last season. He stopped short of transferring, but admitted Tuesday that he had been “frustrated.”

“The stars don’t mean anything,’’ Pope said. “It’s coming in and competing. Last year was last year. I’m just focusing on this year.’’

Diaz noted that he was one of the players who has made great progress.

He “popped up with a real big play that was positive” in the first scrimmage, Diaz said. “He had a long touchdown catch in a one-minute situation.’’

UM tweeted out this week that it would not be streaming live the April 20 spring game from Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

If you are going to the spring game, UM is urging fans to register for free tickets, so the program has an idea of how many to expect. But the parking is not free. It’s $10 and they won’t accept credit cards.



“We can’t wait to welcome the Hurricanes and their fans back to Camping World Stadium,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said in a UM release. “Spring games provide a unique opportunity for fans to see their favorite players and coaches up close, and this event will give fans in Central Florida an exciting preview of what’s to come when Miami returns to face Florida in the Camping World Kickoff in August.”

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.
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