A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday:
▪ Who were UM’s standouts this spring, heading into Saturday’s noon spring game in Orlando?
Coach Manny Diaz cited six players this week: Fullback Realus George (he has refined his body and will have a role in Dan Enos’ offense); receiver Mark Pope (is playing faster, making big plays and improving in his learning of route concepts); Gil Frierson (his move from cornerback to striker has been beneficial); Defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (has really come on strong the past three weeks after starting spring practice on the third team; was with the starters on Thursday); Safety Gurvan Hall (will compete with Amari Carter and Bubba Bolden for two starting safety jobs this summer) and Cornerback DJ Ivey (for much of the past two weeks has been perhaps the best of the young cornerbacks competing to start opposite veteran Trajan Bandy).
Asked the spring MVPs on defense, defensive coordinator Blake Baker said Thursday that “the guys that have been really consistent” are linebackers Shaq Quarterman and Mike Pinckney.
Among surprises, Baker named Ivey (“starting to really show up”) and Frierson at cornerback and striker, respectively, and then cited Jon Ford and Nesta Silvera on the defensive line, while adding that Tyreic Martin –who hasn’t contributed much in two seasons — “is doing some good things inside … I think we have a solid group in there [at defensive tackle, with Pat Bethel also a key part]. They’ve been a pleasant surprise.”
▪ With UM having lost its three top backup linebackers to injuries, Baker said Pat Joyner — who moved from linebacker to defensive end as a freshman last season — will again be back at linebacker playing MIKE and WILL in the spring game.
“I think he can fill a role there for us,” Baker said.
Baker intends to have freshman Sam Brooks play MIKE and freshman Avery Huff play WILL, at least initially this summer. He expects both summer arrivals to play immediately this fall.
▪ With Brevin Jordan missing substantial time this spring with a sprained knee, tight ends coach Stephen Field said “not having Brevin has been good for the other guys to get reps and I’ve been really impressed with Mike Irvin and Will [Mallory] …
“Will takes tough coaching, understands when he messes up, tries to fix those mistakes. ... [Irvin] has been quiet, humble, wanting to get better. Him and Will have a great chemistry together, and they both love the offense.”
Field said Dan Enos’ system is “a tight end friendly offense.” And Field said Jordan, who’s taking part in team meetings, is“going to be fine. Right now we’re keeping him out, but he’ll be fine.”
▪ Running back DeeJay Dallas said he must become better at not trying to turn every run into a big play.
“At times I find myself trying to do so much,” he told Joe Zagacki on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline. “I have to not look for the big play every down, not think about turning every run into seven points. Just taking what the defense gives me.”
What he really likes about Enos’ offense is UM is now “getting athletes in space and letting us do what we do best.”
Dallas said the defense, consistently in practice, has “thrown everything but the kitchen sink [at the offense]. Their whole system is in. Our system we’re just learning. But that’s no excuse” for offensive inefficiency.
He said Diaz is “the perfect guy for the job. Coach Diaz said we’re not in a rebuilding phase.”
▪ UM, working to raise money for its athletic program, is offering this deal: If you pay $5000, you get a seat named after you in the Edgerrin James meeting room used by players and coaches.
“We have a bunch of seats to name in the Edgerrin James club,” athletic director Blake James said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline this week. “It’s a room that gets used a lot by the team.”
UM, incidentally, will hold a Hurricane Club event, with Diaz addressing fans, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday inside Camping World Stadium. Cost is $50 for Hurricane Club members, $75 for non-members.
▪ Quick hits: UM’s Gerald Willis took a “30” visit with the Arizona Cardinals this week after previously visiting with the Dallas Cowboys, who like him…. UM’s Joe Jackson took 30 visits with Arizona, New Orleans, Tennessee and Oakland… Andy Vaughn, UM’s new director of player personnel, said something very similar to UM’s popular annual Paradise camp for recruits will be held in late June… Vaughn said UM is monitoring the transfer portal daily. The Canes are expected to explore help potentially on the offensive line and linebacker.