Ten nuggets we’re hearing from UM’s closed spring football practices, which are about halfway completed:
• The quarterback play remains a work in progress, with some good moments but lots of inconsistency.
One observer says Jack Allison has looked good and throws with more authority than the other competitors. Malik Rosier knows the offense well, and his running ability is an asset, but inconsistency remains an issue.
Evan Shirreffs’ accuracy has been uneven. Cade Weldon is still learning the offense and behind several veterans.
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• The experiment of moving Sheldrick Redwine from corner to safety is going well; he’s a good tackler, which should make him a solid safety opposite Jaquan Johnson. He doesn’t have great speed for cornerback but his speed for safety is fine.
• UM loves how intelligent and alert new safety Amari Carter is, believing he won’t blow assignments. He also has very good instincts. Safety Robert Knowles also has been impressive at times.
• Freshman receiver DeeJay Dallas made two great catches Tuesday, has strong hands and can go up and snatch the ball. He’s going to be a very good player. Though Darrell Langham has improved some, his hands remain an issue.
• A UM official said Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh have been so impressive that there’s no reason they shouldn’t be UM’s best defensive tackle combo in many years.
• Linebacker Darrion Owens, who still has two years of eligibility remaining, has looked less hesitant two years removed from knee surgery. Coaches like his character, energy, length and physicality and he will be an asset as a fourth linebacker.
• Tight ends coach Todd Hartley said this week he is “really pleased” with Michael Irvin Jr.’s development and that he and fellow backup tight end Jovani Haskins – both suspended for the bowl game – have made “significant strides.”
Though early enrollee Brian Polendey is known mostly for strong blocking, a UM official said he’s a big target and catches the ball well. But Hartley said he has “a long way to go.”
Hartley said starter Chris Herndon can “be the best tight end in the country. He’s always been a great pass catcher [but] been overshadowed “ by departed David Njoku.
• As good as Joe Jackson was last season (8.5 sacks), one UM person said impressive early enrollee/ defensive end Jon Garvin has been better than Jackson was at a similar stage. Garvin has terrific pass-rush moves.
• Tyler Gauthier has been so impressive at center that it’s no longer automatic that Nick Linder will get his starting job back when he returns from injury.
• Braxton Berrios likely will remain the punt returner - “he was 11th in the country, I’ll take 11th in the country,” Hartley said – but the kick return job is wide open, with Dallas, receiver Dionte Mullins and perhaps summer arrivals Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley all warranting a look.