Baker goes in-depth on injury updates, roster construction, and recruiting

Baker goes in-depth on injury updates, roster construction, and recruiting

Stefan Adams
The Miami Hurricanes began spring practice hurting on the defensive side of the ball and particularly at LB, with Waynmon Steed, BJ Jennings, Sam Brooks, Tirek Austin-Cave, and Corey Flagg (plus safety Bubba Bolden) missing the only week of practice UM conducted in early March. Since then, the quarantines have changed how day-to-day life operates at Miami, but defensive coordinator Blake Baker has been pleased with the progress his injured players have made the past two months.

“It was a big concern for us not being able to get them to a doctor regularly,” Baker said. “But our physical therapist gets on Zoom and he’ll sometimes send me a video of Jennings or Steed. Truth be told, every guy we’ve had out with injury on the defensive side of the ball is probably to his estimation ahead of schedule. So that’s a tremendous accomplishment, a huge tribute to him and those kids. I’ll be honest, that was a big, big concern when this thing started, how this will all unfold. But he’s done a heck of a job.”

With UM looking to replace two 4-year starters at linebacker, Baker said he was encouraged by what redshirt freshman Avery Huff showed this spring and how the sophomore Brooks looked in his limited time on the field in 2019.

“Sam, when you talk about him having a much larger body of work when you go back to last season and how he developed, I’m really excited about his future, what he brings,” Baker said. “He’s really a smart, smart kid that is quiet by nature but it’s funny watching people’s personalities in my room kind of change, how much more vocal he’s become. For him to step into the bowl game, have 12 tackles, he really played out of his mind. There’s a bigger body of work compared to Avery.

“Avery is coming along nicely, has in my opinion further to go. But he brings a unique athletic ability, feel for the game. Those four days in spring ball, as fast as our offense goes, you can see the growth he was having in those four days. Both those guys will play a significant role in our defense next year. Both of those guys are long and can run. As good of a coach as some out there might think we are, we can’t coach speed.”

Bolden was starting to come on strong last season before he broke his ankle against FSU, and Baker expects the fully-recovered USC transfer to play a big role in the defense as a junior in 2020.

“He was recovering at a very fast pace and really for sure we would have got him the second half of spring,” Baker said of Bolden. “So I think he’ll be 100% ready to go for sure. We were just starting to see that glimpse of him last year, how good a player he can be. He’s much taller, longer than our other guys. Really does a great job with his hips, covering a lot of ground, and does it deceptively with how long he is. The sky is the limit for a guy like Bubba Bolden. With a full season and off-season, him getting comfortable we’ll see even bigger improvement out of him next year.”

With Trajan Bandy leaving early for the NFL, younger corners like sophomores Christian Williams and Te’Cory Couch will be relied upon more heavily in 2020; Williams actually began the spring running with the first team defense.

“That to me is the biggest difference from last year to this year defensively - I don’t know if anyone has a job secured, where last year when I got here, there were four, five, six guys that had played a lot,” Baker said. “If I remember correctly going back to those four days (of spring practice), I’m not sure Christian didn’t start two, maybe three out of the four days. He was having a great spring camp and TC (Couch) was doing a lot of good things too. The thing for me is the competition and amount of depth we have across the board is much greater than last year. Whenever guys feel they have a fair shake to compete for a job, they compete that much harder. I’m excited for those two, they’re nipping on the two older guys’ heels (juniors Al Blades and DJ Ivey).”

Baker also spoke on last season’s freshman defensive ends who both redshirted: Jahfari Harvey and Cam Williams.

“I think for sure when you talk about defensive end, right now [Harvey] is in the two-deep so he’s going to play,” Baker said. “He’s going to play a ton. He’s different than those other guys in a good way, is super twitched up. And he has a little bit different skillset than those other guys. When you talk about pure speed, he can run better than any of those other (DE's). He uses that to his strength, his speed to power. And he has really, really good hips.

“That’s something defensively we talked about with our four down personnel, being able to drop a defensive end in some situations and bring in a fourth or fifth rusher from another spot. He has a knack for that. I think Jahfari is going to have a big year next year, is going to contribute quite a bit to this defense.”

“Cam came in at 255 (pounds), but it was a lot of bad weight, is now at 225, 230,” said Baker. “He does some good things coming of the edge and really has a mean steak that you wouldn’t necessarily know talking to him in the hallway.”

According to Baker, the quarantines have led some Miami players to keep in shape in interesting ways and it’s been difficult from a coaching perspective to be more hands-off the past few weeks.

“Some players have a full weight set at home, but some have a broom stick with water jugs on the end,” Baker said. “It’ll be interesting to see what guys come in from a strength standpoint, but they all should be able to find 100 yards somewhere. Get out there and run and run and run.”

UM was luckily able to get most of their freshman class enrolled early for spring ball, but Baker says the planned summer arrivals will be a bit behind at least in terms of school credits.

“Right now, everything has kind of just been put on hold for those new guys because we can’t get in the office, we’re not allowed to work out with them,” Baker said. “We send them workouts, so it’s no different, just they’re not going to be able to get their six hours of summer school.”

The constant battle to get the roster as close as possible to the 85 scholarship ceiling has been made more difficult in recent years by the relaxing of transfer restrictions, but Baker feels UM is making progress in this area overall.

“From an overall standpoint, our depth and our numbers are better than they were last year,” Baker said. “As a defensive staff, we’re kind of deciphering exactly what we want that ‘striker’ body-type or position to be. And we can predicate our defense and design our defense based on what his skill set holds most. We have to get maybe a little bit deeper in that category from what we’re looking for. But overall from a numbers standpoint, a great job managing the roster. Our numbers are in pretty good shape on that side of the ball.”

Since Baker joined the Miami staff at the beginning of last year, the former Louisiana Tech DC has leaned heavily on his Louisiana connections and has hit the state hard, and Baker expanded on what he looks for in players when recruiting to UM.

“Guys that can run, documented speed,” Baker said. “Some of the guys we signed last year, Marcus Clarke had a documented 4.5 time at one of the combines and his film backed it up. We have to do a good job trusting our own evaluations. Some recruiting services may not agree with it, but we have to trust what our eyes tell us. You see `Oh he’s a 4-star, a 5-star,’ but is he really that much better than a 3-star off what your eyes are telling you? That’s something we take a lot of pride in, I can tell you that.”
 

Comments (143)

The Miami Hurricanes began spring practice hurting on the defensive side of the ball and particularly at LB, with Waynmon Steed, BJ Jennings, Sam Brooks, Tirek Austin-Cave, and Corey Flagg (plus safety Bubba Bolden) missing the only week of practice UM conducted in early March. Since then, the quarantines have changed how day-to-day life operates at Miami, but defensive coordinator Blake Baker has been pleased with the progress his injured players have made the past two months.

“It was a big concern for us not being able to get them to a doctor regularly,” Baker said. “But our physical therapist gets on Zoom and he’ll sometimes send me a video of Jennings or Steed. Truth be told, every guy we’ve had out with injury on the defensive side of the ball is probably to his estimation ahead of schedule. So that’s a tremendous accomplishment, a huge tribute to him and those kids. I’ll be honest, that was a big, big concern when this thing started, how this will all unfold. But he’s done a heck of a job.”

With UM looking to replace two 4-year starters at linebacker, Baker said he was encouraged by what redshirt freshman Avery Huff showed this spring and how the sophomore Brooks looked in his limited time on the field in 2019.

“Sam, when you talk about him having a much larger body of work when you go back to last season and how he developed, I’m really excited about his future, what he brings,” Baker said. “He’s really a smart, smart kid that is quiet by nature but it’s funny watching people’s personalities in my room kind of change, how much more vocal he’s become. For him to step into the bowl game, have 12 tackles, he really played out of his mind. There’s a bigger body of work compared to Avery.

“Avery is coming along nicely, has in my opinion further to go. But he brings a unique athletic ability, feel for the game. Those four days in spring ball, as fast as our offense goes, you can see the growth he was having in those four days. Both those guys will play a significant role in our defense next year. Both of those guys are long and can run. As good of a coach as some out there might think we are, we can’t coach speed.”

Bolden was starting to come on strong last season before he broke his ankle against FSU, and Baker expects the fully-recovered USC transfer to play a big role in the defense as a junior in 2020.

“He was recovering at a very fast pace and really for sure we would have got him the second half of spring,” Baker said of Bolden. “So I think he’ll be 100% ready to go for sure. We were just starting to see that glimpse of him last year, how good a player he can be. He’s much taller, longer than our other guys. Really does a great job with his hips, covering a lot of ground, and does it deceptively with how long he is. The sky is the limit for a guy like Bubba Bolden. With a full season and off-season, him getting comfortable we’ll see even bigger improvement out of him next year.”

With Trajan Bandy leaving early for the NFL, younger corners like sophomores Christian Williams and Te’Cory Couch will be relied upon more heavily in 2020; Williams actually began the spring running with the first team defense.

“That to me is the biggest difference from last year to this year defensively - I don’t know if anyone has a job secured, where last year when I got here, there were four, five, six guys that had played a lot,” Baker said. “If I remember correctly going back to those four days (of spring practice), I’m not sure Christian didn’t start two, maybe three out of the four days. He was having a great spring camp and TC (Couch) was doing a lot of good things too. The thing for me is the competition and amount of depth we have across the board is much greater than last year. Whenever guys feel they have a fair shake to compete for a job, they compete that much harder. I’m excited for those two, they’re nipping on the two older guys’ heels (juniors Al Blades and DJ Ivey).”

Baker also spoke on last season’s freshman defensive ends who both redshirted: Jahfari Harvey and Cam Williams.

“I think for sure when you talk about defensive end, right now [Harvey] is in the two-deep so he’s going to play,” Baker said. “He’s going to play a ton. He’s different than those other guys in a good way, is super twitched up. And he has a little bit different skillset than those other guys. When you talk about pure speed, he can run better than any of those other (DE's). He uses that to his strength, his speed to power. And he has really, really good hips.

“That’s something defensively we talked about with our four down personnel, being able to drop a defensive end in some situations and bring in a fourth or fifth rusher from another spot. He has a knack for that. I think Jahfari is going to have a big year next year, is going to contribute quite a bit to this defense.”

“Cam came in at 255 (pounds), but it was a lot of bad weight, is now at 225, 230,” said Baker. “He does some good things coming of the edge and really has a mean steak that you wouldn’t necessarily know talking to him in the hallway.”

According to Baker, the quarantines have led some Miami players to keep in shape in interesting ways and it’s been difficult from a coaching perspective to be more hands-off the past few weeks.

“Some players have a full weight set at home, but some have a broom stick with water jugs on the end,” Baker said. “It’ll be interesting to see what guys come in from a strength standpoint, but they all should be able to find 100 yards somewhere. Get out there and run and run and run.”

UM was luckily able to get most of their freshman class enrolled early for spring ball, but Baker says the planned summer arrivals will be a bit behind at least in terms of school credits.

“Right now, everything has kind of just been put on hold for those new guys because we can’t get in the office, we’re not allowed to work out with them,” Baker said. “We send them workouts, so it’s no different, just they’re not going to be able to get their six hours of summer school.”

The constant battle to get the roster as close as possible to the 85 scholarship ceiling has been made more difficult in recent years by the relaxing of transfer restrictions, but Baker feels UM is making progress in this area overall.

“From an overall standpoint, our depth and our numbers are better than they were last year,” Baker said. “As a defensive staff, we’re kind of deciphering exactly what we want that ‘striker’ body-type or position to be. And we can predicate our defense and design our defense based on what his skill set holds most. We have to get maybe a little bit deeper in that category from what we’re looking for. But overall from a numbers standpoint, a great job managing the roster. Our numbers are in pretty good shape on that side of the ball.”

Since Baker joined the Miami staff at the beginning of last year, the former Louisiana Tech DC has leaned heavily on his Louisiana connections and has hit the state hard, and Baker expanded on what he looks for in players when recruiting to UM.

“Guys that can run, documented speed,” Baker said. “Some of the guys we signed last year, Marcus Clarke had a documented 4.5 time at one of the combines and his film backed it up. We have to do a good job trusting our own evaluations. Some recruiting services may not agree with it, but we have to trust what our eyes tell us. You see `Oh he’s a 4-star, a 5-star,’ but is he really that much better than a 3-star off what your eyes are telling you? That’s something we take a lot of pride in, I can tell you that.”
Flake Faker is a mongoloid version of D'No.
 
That should put to rest rumors that Steed and Jennings are done with football.

Blake emphasizes that how smart Brooks is. Yet last year the coaches could not get him in place to play the Will and we were stuck playing a walk on. Epic fail on Patke.
 
That should put to rest rumors that Steed and Jennings are done with football.

Blake emphasizes that how smart Brooks is. Yet last year the coaches could not get him in place to play the Will and we were stuck playing a walk on. Epic fail on Patke.
This is true. Although I do wonder how much Brooks’ health played into that. He was clearly healthy enough by the bowl game. Was he healthy enough to learn with live reps in the summer and camp? Not sure. Either way, playing Ragone in any capacity is a fail.
 
That should put to rest rumors that Steed and Jennings are done with football.

Blake emphasizes that how smart Brooks is. Yet last year the coaches could not get him in place to play the Will and we were stuck playing a walk on. Epic fail on Patke.
Didn’t Steed’s pops come on here saying he’s out for spring but will be ready for summer? Anyways, need to have them back for depth. I do not want to see Ravioli get meaningful snaps ever again.
 
Our fans continue to set the bar for retards.
Look at this august body of muppets. 👆

Impressive array.

Your choice of the r word is very hurtful and ableist. My delicate feelings are stressed, dare I say I'm border melancholic.

PS Gooner should report you.
 
Didn’t Steed’s pops come on here saying he’s out for spring but will be ready for summer? Anyways, need to have them back for depth. I do not want to see Ravioli get meaningful snaps ever again.
Please no Ravioli lol
 
Man, Blake Baker is a fuckface. This guy couldn’t call a defense to save his life last year and thinks that things are going to turn around this year with the quarantine. Most importantly, he seems to think that the injured players are some how going to get better via ZOOM therapy. Get this imbecile the **** out of Miami, please.
 

2021 Commits

OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
OT
6'7"
255
Pompano Beach, FL
CB
5'10"
145
Miami, FL
TE
6'2"
205
Miami, FL
CB
5'11"
160
Fort Myers, FL
C
6'3"
280
Miami, FL
OLB
6'3"
205
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

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2020 Schedule

09/05
Temple
Miami Gardens, FL
09/12
Wagner
Miami Gardens, FL
09/17
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
09/26
Michigan State
East Lansing, MI
10/03
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/09
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
10/24
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
10/31
Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
11/07
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, GA
11/28
Duke
Miami Gardens, FL
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