The Miami Hurricanes walked into their first of two practices early this morning in Coral Gables. The team is said to be the the best shape, as a unit, in the two years under Al Golden and is now just trying to keep things moving in the right direction despite the rigors of camp and off the field distractions.
"Right now the kids are working, not a lot of complaining. The two-a-day schedule is actually better for the kids because they get about an hour and 45 minutes on the field and then they get a four hour break."
Golden emphasized during his media availability today, the need to be focused in each session and also for the intensity level of the second practice to be high.
"They know the morning is 'run emphasis' and the afternoon is a lot of third down...but you've got to bring the intensity in the afternoon. That will be really critical for our leadership to make sure that happens."
Leadership will be tested beginning today, but there's one thing that is clear that this team has plenty of. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch says "speed is not going to be an issue for this team," referring to the incoming freshmen and veteran players like wide receiver Allen Hurns. The work he's put in is garnering praise from all of his coaches and challenging the other players to step up. Phillip Dorsett is one such player who admittedly changed how hard he works after seeing Hurns' great example. It's for that reason that this team is performing at a much higher level, even facing two practices a day.
Coach Golden agrees.
"When the kids are putting in so much time in the off season now, you don't need to do as many as [two-a-days] you used to do. With this team, as opposed to last year, I feel like I'm pulling back."
Even still, injuries do happen. Duke Johnson who dawned a red, non-contact jersey, yesterday was back on the field as a full participant in practice. However, Seantrel Henderson spent practice session one in the weight room along with Eddie Johnson and Corey King. King is one guy who's been banged up much of the week.
"Some guys have to push through it, and do it when it's hard, be consistent and be the same guy everyday," said Golden of guys pushing through the grind of camp.
Ladarius Gunter is doing the best job of any corner according to his head coach. He comes to Miami as a junior college transfer with experience and he stood out in the spring with his play at the defensive back position. Tracy Howard is still impressing and in a black (starters) jersey and Golden mentioned that Vernon Davis has been a very pleasant surprise. The true freshmen out of Coral Reef High School in Miami was an after thought coming in to most Hurricanes fans after Howard and Columbus High's Deon Bush.
Asked to respond to news of an ESPN report that former Canes safety Ray Ray Armstrong, who was recently dismissed from the team, is planning to file an injunction for dismissal for no cause, Golden responded bluntly.
"I"m not going to discuss that whole deal. I'm just not going to discuss it." His first reply to a question raised about the possibility of another distraction implied that he didn't have much to do with the saga at all.
"I'm in the building 24/7 and engrossed in [coaching the team] so I'm sure whatever going on there is being handled by the administration."
-True freshmen OL Ereck Flowers is in the mix to be a starter at tackle. He was noted as being in the film room at 10 p.m. at night trying to get better by his head coach.
-Linebacker Thurston Armbister is getting rave reviews for his play in camp. He also had a strong spring practice period.