Jarren Williams Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes: The Good, Bad, and Ugly vs Gators

An early chance to prove they are “back” escapes the Hurricanes.

The Miami Hurricanes kicked off the 2019 season like their nickname implies, with ferocity and chaos.

With an in-state game against the hated Gators, an animal that lurks in the swamp beneath the surface.

Two teams engaged in high drama without aesthetic pleasantry or grace.

On the national stage, just like it should be.

Miami wasn’t expected to win by most or make a game of it by many.

But that is exactly what they did.

We can explore the coulda-woulda-shoulda all day, Canes fans have seen these game slip away too many times.

The Hurricanes had their chances but the game unraveled by their own hand.

There was some good.

Quite a bit of bad.

And holy shit was there a lot of ugly.

The Good

Jarren Williams took control of the starting quarterback position in fall camp and the decision looks like a home run.

The redshirt freshman looked ready and poised under the bright lights and under heavy fire.

He took 10 sacks behind an offensive line that was exploited against a barrage from the Gator front seven.

Time and time again he got up off the canvas, and had the team in position to win.

Williams avoided the big mistake, although he did put the ball on the ground late under duress.

He finished 19 for 30 for 214 yards with one touchdown and looked more calm and collected as the game progressed.

DeeJay Dallas had a solid game (12 carries, 95 yards, one touchdown) and his physical running style brutalized the Florida defense.

Overall however the rushing game struggled, only gaining 87 yards on a measly 2.7 YPC after sack yards on Williams factored in.

Brevin Jordan (five receptions, 88 yards, TD)  also had a breakout night and there are plenty of encouraging pieces on offense.

Cam Harris looks like a perfect compliment to Dallas and had a game changing run called back by penalty.

 

Another bright spot was the run defense which held Florida to just 52 yards on the ground.

Oh, and Turnover Chain 3.0, or 305, made its debut and Miami rocked the new ice on four occasions.

 

The Bad

A lot to cover here.

Mistakes riddled the opening game for Manny Diaz and his new coaching staff.

Delays of game and false starts took the life out of drives that weren’t killed by sacks.

Williams was running for his life against a constant barrage of blitzes.

Both teams were sloppy, combining for over 200 yards in penalties on the night.

Diaz was not pleased.

“There were a couple major blunders on special teams and the short fields right there really ended up being telling in a very low scoring game where everything mattered. I thought our guys played with a lot of courage. I think they played with a lot of effort. But it doesn’t matter because we lost the game. We did not come here to play with courage and effort. We came here to win the game and it’s not OK at the University of Miami ever to lose to the University of Florida. Everybody in that locker room feels the pain of that right now.”

Mistakes should be expected with a mostly new coaching staff and quarterback, but the mental lapses compiled at an alarming rate.

The players were not the only ones making mental mistakes though.

 

Officials cannot be blamed for the result but it definitely was not a stellar night for the zebras.

That being said the calls went for and against both teams so the impact is moot.

The Ugly

The big uglies lived up to that monicker in resounding fashion Saturday night.

Allowing double-digit sacks at this level is uncommon, a performance like this raises many questions.

Florida is an elite defense but the Miami front five looked like matadors out there.

Part of that has to also fall on Dan Enos and the play calling.

In the first half Williams got rid of the ball quickly but in the third quarter is when things started to get sideways.

A fumble by Jeff Thomas on a punt with Miami up 13-1o started to signal the beginning of the end. Florida took it the rest of the way and reclaimed a 17-13 advantage.

Florida outscored Miami 10-0 in that 15 minutes which segued into the fourth quarter from hell.

That quarter started out with a bang for the Hurricanes.

 

The Hurricanes missed their shot at the end

That power move put the Hurricanes back on top 20-17 but was ultimately false hope.

The next three drives ended with a missed field goal and two failures on fourth down,

Miami pulled out some tricks when Bubba Baxa ran for a first down on a fake field goal.

The play had offsetting penalties with a hold by Miami, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Florida gave the Hurricanes new life.

Which ended quickly.

Baxa missed a chip shot from 27 yards which proved costly as the Gators marched 80 yards in just four plays to retake the lead, one they would not relinquish.

Williams was sacked three times on the final drive, which also included a 15-yard chop block penalty.

Miami was gifted one last opportunity when the Gators were flagged for pass interference on 4th and 34.

How do you get to 4th and 34?

Illegal block penalty for 15 yards makes it 1st and 25

Pass to DeeJay loses one, 2nd and 26.

Williams sacked and fumbles, Dallas picks it up and gains four.

Third and 22, why not take a delay of game for five?

Third and 27, we like even numbers so give us a sack and a seven-yard loss.

There you have it, the night for the Hurricanes in a nutshell.

Follow us on Twitter for more Miami Hurricanes @SportsWaveDave and @5ReasonsSports.

Check out the 5 Rings Canes podcast for exclusive coverage of the Hurricanes.

The Dolphins’ best blocker on the block?

We know the Dolphins are rebuilding. They’ve loaded up on draft picks and salary cap money for next offseason, and they’re still contemplating starting Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen, apparently, as clear a sign of tanking as any we’ve seen.

So naturally, they would be looking to offload some veterans for additional draft capital. Kiko Alonso? Sure. Reshad Jones? They’ve signaled that for a while. Kenny Stills? Well, that relationship seems to have soured for all the wrong reasons.

But Laremy Tunsil?

The only guy on this offensive line with a chance of keeping a passer alive?

Entering his prime?

All because he will be expensive — as elite left tackles should be?

Didn’t we just hear this about Xavien Howard, prior to the Dolphins’ top defensive player signing an extension? And isn’t Tunsil the Dolphins’ top offensive player?

But here we are, sort of….

Pro Football Network has some quality people, and they’ve been right on some things before. So this isn’t meant to say they’re making up this report.

I don’t believe they are. And trying to break news can suck. Trust us. You get played all the time. And sometimes you can’t report everything you want to. But it seems like a leverage play by someone, which is what happens in this business.

Trading Tunsil makes little to no sense, unless he’s engaging in an extended holdout, which he’s not. And our people shot it down pretty quickly.

Then the great Barry Jackson — we’re contractually obligated to say that — weighed in.

Jackson says that other teams have inquired about Tunsil, but that the Dolphins aren’t shopping him in any way. This is an important distinction that fans often forget. Just because another team asks about a player doesn’t mean the player will be moved, or that there’s even a chance he is moved. It means the player is good.

I’d expect Laremy Tunsil to be here a long time, to make sure that Dolphins quarterbacks live a long life.

 

Read more Dolphins news visiting our news and voices sections or visiting DolphinsMaven.com 

Three Matchups the Hurricanes can Exploit vs Gators

Week Zero is fast approaching as the Miami Hurricanes prepare to face the Florida Gators Saturday in Orlando.

The oddsmakers don’t love the Hurricanes in a neutral setting, but we all know how in-state rivalry games go.

Hurricanes – Gators: Game of the week

 

Here are three ways the Hurricanes can not only make a game of it, but steal a huge early season win.

The Hurricanes Pass Defense vs Felipe Franks

A once maligned position for the Gators has found some stability finally with Felipe Franks under center.

Franks made huge strides between his freshman and sophomore seasons and is expected to build on that again this year.

Where he has struggled historically is with accuracy, completing less than 57% of his passes for his career.

Franks does take care of the ball, only throwing six interceptions last year against 24 touchdowns.

On the other side of the coin is the Hurricanes pass defense, which last year was a major strength.

Manny Diaz’s defensive group was the best in college football in yards allowed per game in 2018.

They also led the nation in third down defense.

If the Miami defense can have some success on early downs, the pass rush should be able to generate pressure on Franks when it counts.

We all know what that means.

 

Gators Offensive Line is Suspect

That pass rush may have some success against a retooled Gators front five.

Florida lost four starters from last season and they will be put to the test right away.

The Gators only allowed 18 sacks last year, however with a lot of new moving parts there could be some early communication issues.

Miami will give Franks a lot of looks and you can bet there will be pressure on all levels, led by Jonathan Garvin on the defensive line.

Garvin comes off a breakout sophomore season with career bests in tackles (60) and sacks (5.5) along with two fumble recoveries.

We all know about the experienced and talented linebacker group, expect them to cause some confusion among the Gator front five.

Enos has a Plan for Jordan and Mallory

Another matchup the Hurricanes can exploit is the dual threats at tight end in Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory.

Dan Enos has brought in a system that gives the tight end group a lot of opportunities from multiple formations.

Florida has an excellent secondary led by cornerbacks CJ Henderson, Jr. and Marco Wilson, so Williams will have to be careful with the ball on the outside.

Thankfully for a new starting quarterback, the tight end combo of Jordan and Mallory are a nice safety net.

The Hurricanes will have to play a near perfect game to pull of the upset.

If Miami can keep the game close in the first half in a rivalry game, anything can happen.

Follow me on Twitter @SportsWaveDave. Tweet and at me saying who will win. Hurricanes or Gators?

Make sure to check out the 5 Rings Canes Podcast for exclusive Miami Hurricanes content.

 

 

It’s Jarren Williams’ Hurricanes now

Jarren Williams is the chosen one. For now…

For the past couple weeks, Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz made it seem like picking his first starting quarterback was like picking his first Pokemon.

He’s got three: Tate Martell (Charmander), N’Kosi Perry (Bulbasaur) and Jarren Williams (Squirtle). Each of them have different talents yet each of them can get you eight gym badges an into the Elite Four.

After the second scrimmage of fall camp, Diaz chose Williams and made it public through the team’s social media channel. This in turn vaulted Williams to the top of the pecking order and elevated him into the position of leader of the locker room.

“It’s the natural thing of having the confidence of the coaching staff and the team to know you’re the guy,” Diaz said. “Which is why we made the decision, it’s why we made it public, because we just felt that would far more superseded any value in making it a surprise on Saturday.”

Williams always had the confidence in himself necessary to become a starting quarterback. However being the starting quarterback didn’t automatically make him the leader of the team.

“Jarren has always been a leader,” Donaldson said. “Ever since he came in he’s been a vocal guy, trying to communicate with the whole offense, even the whole team, trying to get us on the same page. That’s what [offensive coordinator Dan Enos]  saw, I guess and he just took that stuff further now.”

“I feel like it’s a gradual process,” Williams said, “because throughout the summer and spring, my thing was I’m gonna show these guys that I’m gonna work and give everything I got for them. I go out there every day and I would give everything I had, empty the tank for them just to show them I’m gonna be a guy that you can rely on. So I feel like doing that time after time gradually built that leadership so that when I had the opportunity to be named starting quarterback, I was already in that leadership role.”

It almost didn’t came to be. Before the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl, Williams nearly transferred out of Miami. He chose to remain and even with extra competition coming in through the transfer portal and recruiting, he rose above it all and has earned his chance to lead the Hurricanes against the No. 8 Florida Gators.

“It’s very rewarding,” Williams said. “That really comes with me trusting God. I prayed about it and I know he would never lead me wrong.”

Williams said the turning point came when the team returned from an embarrassing bowl loss and Diaz quickly became the new head coach after Mark Richt announced his retirement.

“I feel like the whole mindset just started to change for everybody,” Williams said. 

Williams has received texts messages from former Miami quarterbacks Stephen Morris and Brad Kaaya encouraging him going into the biggest matchup of the season.

“They really just told me to be confident and be you,” Williams said. “This is the moment you prepared your whole life for. Don’t let the moment get too big for you.”

Navaughn Donaldson’s advice to Zion Nelson vs. Florida: “You’re not going to be as tired.”

Freshman offensive lineman Zion Nelson will be making his first career start at tackle when the Miami Hurricanes take on the No. 8 Florida Gators on Saturday in Orlando.

Nelson was rated by ESPN as a three-star prospect at the time he was recruited out of South Carolina. He was the No. 39th ranked player in the state by 247sports.com.

As a senior, Nelson was a key part of a 10-1 team at Sumter High School that finished the 2018 season in the Class 5A regional semifinals. Sun Belt Conference schools like Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina were among others to have sent Nelson recruiting offers before signing with the Canes.

Nelson graduated high school early and enrolled at the University of Miami in January at the start of the spring semester. He got an early jump on learning offensive coordinator Dan Enos’ system and said back in fall camp that he, “probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t been here in the spring.

His first test will likely be his biggest of the season. Fellow offensive lineman, Navaughn Donaldson, also started as a true freshman and offered sound advice during his media availability on Wednesday.

“I told Zion myself, the game is going to be slower than practice,” Donaldson said. “You’re not going to be as tired. I mean, there are going to be drives where you do get tired but it’s not going to be where you’re hellishly exhausted, like your have to hurry up. The game is a little slower than practice and I just told him to take your time and communicate. You’re gonna communicants and we’re going to work this out and it’s going to be a good game.”

Hurricanes’ Scott Patchan embodies father with jersey number

Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is entering his redshirt season looking to build on a junior year that saw him on the field for 12 of the team’s 13 games.

In honor of his Hurricane legacy, Patchan changed his jersey number from 19 to 71, which was worn by his father, Matt Patchan, who won two national championships at UM as an offensive tackle from 1983-87.

“It’s a great way to show him how much I appreciate him and respect him and I thank him for everything he’s done for me,” Patchan said. “I figured it’d be a good idea so I went ahead and did it. it was on my heart for a while but I’m glad I did.”

Patchan expects a big year in 2019 but he in fact did not become bigger to in order to reach his goals.

“I leaned out but stayed the same body weight,” Patchan said. “It’s nice because I don’t like carrying bad weight. I like to carry positive weight, a lot of muscle, not much fat.”

He credit his improvements to first year strength and conditioning coach David Feeley, who head coach Manny Diaz brought over from Temple.

“What Scott Patchan does do on a daily basis is he monitors his weight,” Miami strength and conditioning coach David Feeley said, “and he’s not a 225-pound D-end and he’s not a 275-pound D-end. He’s kind of right in the middle. He’s a 250-pound guy and his motor is what makes him the athlete that he is.”

“The guy, first of all, has the most energy in the room every day on any given day of the week,” Patchan said. “He’s gonna push you each and every day. I love it because there’s a lot of name calling, getting you motivated, it’s just a great atmosphere to be in.”

Despite of the strides Patchan made in the weight room, he’s still miniature compared to his old man.

“He was like 300 pounds,” Patchan said. “He was only 6-4 but he’s a lot bigger than me. He was an offensive lineman so he had to be bigger.”

The Hurricanes will need a big game from Patchan if they’re going to upset the No. 8 Florida Gators on Saturday in Orlando.

Hurricanes’ Clay James strives towards perfection

After redshirting his freshman year, Clay James enters the 2019 season as the starting long snapper.

That might not seem like a big deal, but long snapping is a position that demands perfection.

James, who was the primary long snapper throughout his high school career in Cocoa, Fla., said that it takes long hours to achieve perfection in that position.

“A lot of people think it’s just like you go out and you snap a ball at practice or whatever,” James said. “It’s taken hours and hours and hours to get here.

“Perfection is the standard of being a long snapper,” he added. “You know you have no room for error. So being perfect is probably the toughest thing. A lot of guys would say pressure but I don’t know if that’s really as big of a thing as being perfect. Day in and day out, you literally have to be the same person each and every day.”

James said he added 30 pounds on his bench press over the summer but added that squats and power cleans translated to his position more.

“Everybody snaps different,” James said, “but the way I do it is I lock my knees as hard as possible and that’s how you generate power.”

Saturday’s matchup against No. 8 Florida at Orlando will be the beginning of James’ quest to perfection. 

Hurricanes’ Bubba Baxa back for more

Bubba Baxa said the opportunity to play for a great program and win a championship was why he came to Miami. Entering his sophomore season as the Hurricanes starting kicker, that opportunity has been realized.

“It was very helpful playing my first year,” Baxa said. “I have so much more confidence than I did last year. It’s like having that one year you get under your belt is a huge help to your next year, your next year and next year.”

Baxa hit the ground running as a freshman last year. His first kick came in the season opener against a Top-10 team in LSU at one of the biggest stadiums in the world, the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

“That’s my first college play ever, first field goal attempt ever,” Baxa said. “It’s really the most pressure I’ve felt.”

Baxa finished the 2018 season having made 9-of-12 field goal attempts with his longest being 47 yards. His sweet spot is within 30-39 yards, as he made 6-of-6 field goals. He also made 45-of-46 extra points.

Baxa’s last game in 2018 was at a bowl game against Wisconsin at Yankee Stadium, where he score the Hurricanes’ only three points. Playing football games in baseball stadiums has been a recent trend. The Hurricanes will play FIU at Marlins Park in November.

“It’s not that big of a difference,” Baxa said comparing kicking in a football field and baseball field. “Really what’s different is the grass, the baseball grass instead of football grass. It’s a little bit more slick but that’s really about it.”

Baxa said he’s improved a lot over the summer thanks to first year strength and conditioning coach David Feeley. He has increased his power clean max to to 250 lbs, 405 lbs at the squat rack and 255 lbs at bench press.

“I’m way stronger. I’ve lost some fat. I’ve gotten much faster,” Baxa said. “It’s everything what coach Feeley has done. It’s been awesome.”

The Hurricanes will need to see an improved Baxa starting Saturday against the No. 8 Florida Gators in Orlando.

Hurricanes’ Jimmy Murphy kicks off senior season at his favorite position, kickoff

Going into his redshirt senior season, Jimmy Murphy is one of the few players on the Miami Hurricanes that has made special teams his position.

“My favorite is kickoff,” said Murphy said. “Just go down there and do your assignment correct and make the tackle.”

A walk-on at the University of Miami after transferring from Wagner College, Murphy has been listed as a linebacker, a cornerback and currently a running back, but it’s in the special teams unit where he has made a name for himself.

HIs first appearance on the field for the Hurricanes was on kickoff in a 77-0 blowout over Savannah State in Week 2 of last season, earning the high praise of then head coach Mark Richt, who said after the game that “The second highlight was watching Jimmy Murphy cover kicks.”

Guys love him,” Richt said. “He’s a high-energy guy. He wants so badly to play for the Hurricanes and here he is doing it. A lot of people told him he will never step on the field for us and he did and he was knocking people around. Nobody could block him. Of course we can’t block him in practice either. He’s just a little jitterbug.”

When asked during the Hurricanes 2019 media day about his secret to success on special teams, Murphy attributed it to effort.

“I think just effort is a really, really big key to the year,” Murphy said. “Ray Lewis said it, himself. You can’t do anything without effort.”

Murphy takes pride in his performances on kickoffs and while he previously described it as simplistic as possible, he says special teams are beyond simple.

“I think there’s a lot that goes into it, “Murphy said, “a lot of prep that goes into special teams, a lot of discipline. People have to be in sync together. A lot of people think it’s just kickoff or a KOR, kickoff return. There’s a lot that goes into it. You have to do your 1/11th. That’s what we say say here. You got to do your one out of 11.”

Murphy said his favorite kickoff tackle came in a muddy home game against Duke last year. Not because of what happened during the play but the immediate aftermath.

“The tackle is whatever,” Murphy said. “What my favorite thing about it was how my team kind of came together for that occasion. I just love being here at the U.”

For the past two years Murphy was listed at 5-7, 195 pounds. This year he’s listed at 185 pounds and he credits the work of first year strength and conditioning coach David Feeley for his improvement.

“I just think he’s if not the smartest, one of the smartest people I know taking care of your bodies,” Murphy said. “I trust him, a hundred percent.”

Murphy said he’s faster now than before because of Feeley and he didn’t even know it until it was demonstrated to him.

“I never knew how fast we were running,” Murphy said. “He brought in the catapults and everything that we understood of how fast we were actually running. Everyone is trying to get 20 mph here every day in practice.”

The Hurricanes begin the 2019 season against the Florida Gators at Orlando on Saturday in a game with make-or-break implications. With the flip of a coin, Murphy might be one of the first 11 to usher it in with a newfound dash towards the ball.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, left, and Josh Rosen are still vying for the starting QB job with the Dolphins. (Photo/Tony Capobianco)

Flores: Dolphins QB may or may not be determined this week

DAVIE – The race to selecting the Dolphins’ starting quarterback is essentially a slog through the swamp.

That is the impression coach Brian Flores gave Monday as he reflected on the performances of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen in the second exhibition and looked ahead to Thursday’s next test.

Flores previously indicated Fitzpatrick will likely start against the Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium, but he said that doesn’t mean the veteran has won the job.

Based on his comments about the progress he saw from the quarterbacks over the past week in the practices and game at Tampa Bay, it’s evident he’s waiting for one of them to prove worthy of the starting role.

More from Maven: Rosen nothing special, but he should be Dolphins starter for now

Asked specifically about what Rosen, the upstart, needs to do to win the job, Flores said, “He can’t take as many sacks as he’s taking. He’s got to step up in the pocket. He’s got to have command of the offense. … He’s got to get the ball out quicker. He’s got to do all those things.

“I would say the same for Fitz and Jake [Rudock]. … At the end of the day, it’s about our offense moving the ball and putting points on the board.”

That was certainly lacking Friday against the Buccaneers. Flores gave a laundry list of reasons for that.

“We had some drops, we had some penalties, we had some negative plays in the run game. Sacks. Those are some things we need to clean up as a collective group,” Flores said.

Playing the entire first half, Rosen was sacked three times while completing 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards. The offense generated two field goals in the half.

An offensive line trying to find itself was partly to blame in the sacks. But as Flores pointed out, the quarterback’s decision making is a factor too.

In Rosen’s case, the second-year signal caller is still learning when to throw it and when to fold it.

“Sometimes the right play is to take a sack. You’ve got to know when the journey’s over,” Flores said. “Other times, you’ve got to get the ball out quicker. So there’s a fine line between all those things.

“Every play is a little bit different and each quarterback is a little bit different. But we don’t just want to take sack after sack after sack. We can help that by getting the ball out a little bit quicker, stepping up in the pocket. And that’s about footwork and fundamentals, and those are things we’ll be working on this week.”

Clearly, it would be in the Dolphins’ best interests for Rosen to win the quarterback job. He’s a young talent; they gave up a second-round draft pick to get him.

It is also apparent that Flores is challenging Rosen to show – not only the coaches but the team – that he has earned the privilege of starting. He hasn’t seen it yet.

That’s why, approaching the third exhibition game, which is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season, Flores wouldn’t say conclusively that he will know his starting quarterback after Thursday.

“Potentially we would be able to make that call. But we may not,” he said.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

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