Posted: 3:33 pm Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Miami Hurricanes spring practice notes: Alex Figueroa (shoulder) leaves early; Clive Walford returns; Al Golden no fan of ‘Hannah Montana’
By Matt Porter
A few notes after a Wednesday practice coach Al Golden called “real competitive and fierce”:
* Sophomore linebacker Alex Figueroa, one of the brightest young talents on the Hurricanes’ defense, left practice early after aggravating a shoulder injury. Figueroa has had shoulder trouble in the last two years, and last season battled a torn labrum and a slight tear in his AC joint which caused him to miss the final four games. “I don’t have any reason to believe it’s severe,” Golden said. “We want to be prudent when it’s a reoccurring injury.”
* Senior defensive tackle Olsen Pierre missed his fourth consecutive practice with what Golden called “a head deal.” Golden said the team was also “being prudent” with Pierre’s injury. “He’s doing good,” Golden said. “He probably won’t make the scrimmage, but he’ll be good after that.”
* Saturday UM holds its first scrimmage, which is closed to the public. Golden said the goal was “putting them in all the situations we’ve been practicing,” such as backed-up, short-yardage, two-minute, goal-line, plus-territory and red-zone scenarios at a live tempo. “We’ve been quizzing them, and now it’s time to test them with no coaches out there.”
* No depth changes at quarterback heading into the scrimmage. As it has been all spring, Ryan Williams is the starter, Kevin Olsen the backup, Gray Crow the third-stringer. Golden said ideally, each quarterback would play 40 to 50 snaps in the scrimmage.
* Senior tight end Clive Walford (knee) was upgraded from a red jersey (no-contact) to yellow (limited) and responded well to a moderate workload. “Clive made progress today,” Golden said. “We’ll get him back out there Friday.”
* Wide receiver Malcolm Lewis, who started the spring in a red jersey and was limited in the last two practices, returned to full participation. Lewis struggled last season after returning from a gruesome dislocated ankle suffered in Sept. 2012. “He’s doing good,” Golden said. “His weight is down. He’s as healthy as he’s been in the while. I can see he’s got his spirit back.”
* Also in yellow: cornerbacks Nate Dortch and Corn Elder, both of whom are recovering from knee surgeries.
* Still in red: running backs Duke Johnson and Joseph Yearby, center Shane McDermott, receiver Braxton Berrios, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and cornerback Ladarius Gunter.
* Golden on sophomore receiver Stacy Coley, who continues to set the standard for others at his position: “To me, right now, they’re chasing Stacy,” Golden said. “He’s one of those guys you have to pull out. He’ll go as hard as he can for as long as he can. That’s a great trait to have. The great ones have that.
“A lot of those guys are trying to challenge him. He’s raised the level of play there. Everyone’s trying to catch his intensity and his preparation. We made a lot of progress. I thought D’Mauri [Jones] was good today. Obviously it’s great to have Malcolm and Herb [Waters] back out there. Phillip [Dorsett], he’s starting to get in his groove. He’s just got to keep going and keep improving.”
* Sophomore tight end Stan Dobard wore an orange (offensive team leader) jersey for the first time in his UM career. Dobard, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound physical blocker, has flashed a bit of playmaking ability this spring and produced a touchdown in 11-on-11 play. Golden said he’s hanging out with a group that includes leaders-in-training Jamal Carter, Artie Burns, Coley and Elder. “Guys that want to be football guys,” Golden said.
* The other players in orange were the same as the last few practices: Coley, left tackle Ereck Flowers, left guard Jonathan Feliciano, right guard Danny Isidora, running back Gus Edwards and kicker Matt Goudis.
* In black, denoting defensive team leaders: middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, cornerback Tracy Howard, strong-side linebackers Thurston Armbrister and Figueroa, weak-side linebacker Raphael Kirby and safety Carter. That’s the same collection as last practice.
* Several dozen recruits watched practice before attending a post-practice barbecue for the prospects. The media was not allowed to grab a bite [though let's be honest it should have been]. Golden and his staff will conduct an on-field clinic for local players and coaches as part of Friday’s practice, which is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m.
* Golden’s voice often turns raspy after practice and was especially so Wednesday. One reason: he shouts over some very loud music. But Golden said he’s going to lose his mind before he loses his voice – the sound crew at UM plays the same songs every day, and Golden’s tired of it. His least favorite of the bunch is the mind-numbingly repetitive “Hannah Montana” by Migos.
“I’ve got to get some NFL music or something,” he said. “They keep playing the same thing. I’m going to lose my mind. It’s the same … ‘Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana’ … Oh, my God. I just have such a headache after every practice. I need a little something better, some stadium music. We’re going to get that right by Friday, I promise you.”
Coincidentally, running back Walter Tucker made his own protest on social media the night before, standing up against Pharrell’s “Happy,” which is also played at every practice (Fellow running back Dallas Crawford said after practice he likes hearing that song).
As everything at a football practice must have some kind of teaching function or be discarded, Golden said the loud music does help to keep the players loose, and greatly helps with player-to-player signaling and non-verbal communication. He’d would just like to hear a few different tunes, though.
“My head is hurting right now,” he said. “Two hours straight of that, man …”