allCanesBlog guest columnist Scott Alan Salomon breaks down the first week of Miami Hurricanes’ fall practice as head coach Al Golden and squad gear up for the kickoff of the 2015 football season.
The Canes had a good week of practice which included a full-scale scrimmage and the Canes are now concentrating on various position battles while trying to stay healthy as they get ready for the season opener on September 5 against Bethune-Cookman.
Miami coach Al Golden said that the squad will monitor the players and their output through the use of advanced technology and see which players need a breather and he will see to it that they get it in a timely fashion.
“It’s a fine line,” Golden said. “We have the GPS to monitor them now and again, this is our second day back since the scrimmage. During that stretch of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, they only had 30 to 40 reps,” Golden said after practice on Sunday morning. “So, that’s a lot of healing time there and we got this next little push – a little break before we get to the next scrimmage. So, you got to balance it, but when it’s time to go, we got to go.”
Defensive lineman Chad Thomas said that the team’s training staff is to be credited for keeping the team happy and healthy as camp continues on a daily basis. While other teams are having key players miss practice with bumps and bruises, the Canes medical staff is keeping the team above par.
“There’s knicks and knacks,” Thomas said. “Obviously, we play football and we’re deep into camp so we’re going to have body aches and stuff. Coach is taking care of us. A lot of us are going to see [Head Athletic Trainer] Vinny [Scavo]. We’re staying in the training room, trying to get our body right for the next practice – we can’t give up. So, you just got to keep a good mindset and ignore the knicks and knacks right now.”
Golden said that rest is the key for players at this time of camp and he is moving ahead with the players, and the guys that missed time last season, on their own schedules and is monitoring their every move.
“The transition back happens a long time ago, whether it’s May, June, July, whatever. This is just the next phase of it. So, again, those guys are fully integrated right now and we don’t treat them any different than anybody else,” Golden said. “If somebody has something that we have to be careful with, then we’ll do that. But right now, we’re in pretty good shape.”
Miami receiver Herb Waters, who battled injuries the last few years, said that the receiving corps came out of the scrimmage healthy and that they are looking forward to the season starting.
“There’s always room for improvement – There’s assignments, blocking techniques,” Waters said. “I really want to improve as a receiver corps because weren’t how I wanted them to be.”
Rashawn Scott said that he was happy to get out there and challenge and that the competition was tough. He said that the competition was more powerful in the fall camp than it was in the spring.
“It was a great feeling. We still did the little things here and there, but it felt a lot better than what we did in the spring. So, it was a great scrimmage,” Scott said. “A group that’s looking to do well. That’s all we want to do. With [Wide Receivers Coach Kevin Beard], that’s all he makes you want to do. He gives you the picture and even though we’re tired, he just keeps pushing us. That’s all we want. That’s what we want to see a coach doing for us.”
The scrimmage also brought out competition at the running back position and Walter Tucker, who this time last season saw action at middle linebacker, said that the position is growing and that the players are getting ready to do battle.
“I feel like we’re tighter than last year. I feel like we’re more of a family – we have good bonding,” Tucker said. “Competition-wise, [Running Backs] Coach [Tim] Ice [Harris] always wants us to compete and that’s what we always do. Even though, we’re competing, we always tell each other that we have to step it up in this drill and that drill. But, we also have competition in that room.”
Tucker said that the corps is looking to see how much they can get out of each player and that no one immune from being graded. There is a level of expectation that each back must reach.
“Well, we keep going because we want to push each other to the limit we’ve never reached before and each day is a new limit,” Tucker said. “Coach Ice goes over that every day, so it’s really just on us. It’s our turn.”
Offensive coordinator James Coley said that he saw a lot at the scrimmage that the anticipated. He credited Brad Kaaya with having a good scrimmage.
“I thought that there were guys that are who they are. I thought that Brad [Kaaya] was who he is. He was very poised. He was extremely accurate. I thought that Braxton [Berrios] made a bunch of plays. I thought that once the offensive line settled, they started to show their potential,” Coley said. “They’re going against a good defense front. So, early, it’s always an initial shock when you first come out to practice. But as the day goes on, they get adjusted a little bit and it’s a maturing process for them. I like the way they’re maturing to be honest with you.”
On the offensive line, KC McDermott has been working at right tackle and is looking forward to making that his permanent home for the rest of fall camp and hopes to start the season on the depth chart as the starting right tackle.
“Yeah, that’s what they told me I was at today. They told me I was the starting right tackle. Obviously, nothing’s set. We’re still focused on our team and our team goals, and it’s a team effort. So, Sunny [Odogwu]’s helping me, I’m helping Sunny. I’m helping Trevor [Darling], Trevor’s helping me. The same goes for all of the young guys,” McDermott said. “This is how we work as a team. It’s not going to down anybody. It’s not going to put anybody up. It’s just who we are and it’s just what we’re going to do, and we’re going to take care of each other first.”
Coley has been telling the team that they will have a lot more fun on offense this season and it appears as though they are going to open the playbook for Kaaya and let him run the offensive assault with all four batteries loaded in the power pack.
“He tells us every day. We do a lot of quarterback/O-line meetings now and now we get to actually see what’s in his mind and what he’s thinking. It makes us better and it makes us more intelligent. That’s a tribute to him and his smarts, because it’s like we’re getting a tube directly to his mind – sucking in the juice,” McDermott said.
“That’s what’s making us more intelligent. We’ve [also] spent a lot of time in the off-season as an offensive line – in the film room, we took extra days, we spent extra time, up there, in the film room, taking care of everything. We went over and watched last season’s tapes and we made sure that we called different things out that we should have called last year, and we’re making sure that we’re not going to be make those same mistake this year.”