A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Monday:
▪ Here’s one encouraging development this month: The freshmen tight ends have at least shown signs that they can handle the increased workload in the wake of Michael Irvin’s knee injury that will sideline him four months.
Brevin Jordan took every first-team snap in Saturday’s scrimmage, playing a position similar to the one Chris Herndon played last year.
“Brevin flashed a whole lot [in that scrimmage],” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown told WQAM’s Joe Rose on Monday. “He made some big time plays. He looked really, really good.”
Brown calls Jordan “the most mature freshman we have. He’s been very impressive.”
Of course, playing LSU is a lot different than facing UM’s No. 2 defense — as Jordan did Saturday — but the early returns on Jordan are positive.
Brown said freshman tight end Will Mallory also made some nice catches in the scrimmage.
Brown called running back Trayone Gray the biggest surprise of camp, noting that he’s still No. 3 on the depth chart behind Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. But Brown mentioned Jordan as the second-biggest surprise, in terms of how ready he is to play.
▪ I asked Diaz if Pat Bethel will be UM’s starting defensive tackle alongside Gerald Willis or if Tito Odenigbo and Jon Ford are still in the mix.
“We are not ready to say who’s first yet,” Diaz said. “We continue to be impressed with Tito, but that will probably be one of the final decisions we make. Pat Bethel continues to do everything [defensive line coach] Jess Simpson asked and has really been a different guy than what he was a year ago.”
▪ Cornerback Jhavonte Dean, who had two interceptions in Saturday’s scrimmage, is “doing a good job being physical point of attack,” Diaz said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger through our strength staff,” Diaz said. “His coverage has not always been great, his coverage is really getting better, more consistent. A lot is understanding the defense, being able to rotate through the different calls. He really played well Saturday; should do wonders for his confidence.”
▪ Diaz, with big picture comments on the team’s depth: “Defensive end, we know we have depth there. Defensive tackle, we talked about that battle going into last week. We need to play eight up front. Question is, what is rep count, 50-50, 60-40, 80-20? Is it sub only when necessary? We say, hey that’s up to you to decide how much you play.
“Linebacker we feel like we have more depth than we’ve had. We love our depth at inside linebacker. The development of [freshman cornerbacks] DJ Ivey and Al Blades in this training camp has made us feel better about our depth at corner situation. The development of Rob Knowles — a different guy than what he was a year ago. We feel better about our safety position, along with Amari Carter and Gurvan Hall getting more action.
But in spite of all that, he has concerns. “We would like the feeling we can bring 22 guys into the game and not have a dropoff and we may not be there yet,” Diaz said. “The one unit for the most part played like the ones. The twos played like the twos and the threes played like the threes. You wish the twos would play more like ones at times and some of them do but collectively gave up way too many big plays for our liking.”
▪ Brown said receiver Evidence Njoku “has come on strong” and “made some big-time catches” in the scrimmage … Jeff Thomas said he dropped multiple passes early in the scrimmage but then caught a 20-yard crossing route from Malik Rosier for a touchdown.
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