The Miami Hurricanes, in preparation for their season opening game against Florida Atlantic University on August 30th, hold their second preseason intra-squad scrimmage this afternoon. The predominant focus will be on the defense, who will certainly be under the microscope. In particular, how they tackle will receive particular emphasis.
Head coach Al Golden said Thursday that “we’ve got to get the tackling squared away fast because that will rear its head in the opening, there’s no question. And you don’t want to be a day late on that. A bad tackling performance in an opener can destroy you so we’re trying to take care of that.”
Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio also expressed concern about open field tackling, and expressed area for improvement but added that “pursuit of the ball” is also something he’s hoping his defense will do more in today’s scrimmage.
Today’s scrimmage will have more of a game like feel.
“What we’ll try to do is have orange on one side and white on the other, ” Coach Golden said yesterday. ”Again, there’s a sense of comfort if you just go offense and defense because if I’m the second team guard I’m looking at Linder, I’m just waiting for when coach calls me. When they’re on that side, and you’ve got a first until on each side the three’s got to be ready to go. Guys come out and they’ve got to go in. They’ve got to pay attention. But I think the biggest thing is that they learn how to go on and off the field with the sub patterns and it makes them think fast so it’s important for us.”
Offensively the Hurricanes feel pretty good about things with quarterback Stephen Morris standing out along with running back Duke Johnson. Both Morris and Johnson emphasized their continued growth on offense in today’s affair but coach Golden wants more production today.
“There’s no excuse for the completion percentage to be the way it is with the experience that we have, with the protection that we’re getting, and the type of Quarterback that we have leading us there’s no excuse for that. So that was disappointing and we’ve got to get it fixed. But as I said, I’m worried about everything right now. We have a long way to go as a team and there’s a lot of practices between now and game week.”
For Duke Johnson, the presumptive starter and pre-season award candidate for pretty much all offensive awards still wants to compete during today’s scrimmage.
“The first scrimmage was just to get them warmed up to what we’re going to be doing and how things are working and the other scrimmage is going out there and fighting for your position.”
Morris’ focus for improvement today will be consistency.
“We definitely need to improve on our completion percentage. I think that the best way to do that is just take what the defense is giving you and not force anything.”
The Hurricanes will also host class of 2015 recruits at “Junior Day” during today’s scrimmage. Notable attendees include defensive end Keivonnis ‘Big Red’ Davis and ATH Jovan Durante of Miami Jackson High School.
On Saturday, Hurricanes fans will enjoy attending CanesFest, a yearly event that introduces the community to the Hurricanes and the team signs autographs for fans at the BankUnited Center where Hurricanes Hoops play. It begins at 4 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m Saturday August 17th. The event is free and free parking is available in the BankUnited Center lots. Doors will open at 4 p.m. and the football team is expected to sign autographs and meet fans from 5-7 p.m.
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