Canes Convos: Johnson's speech rallies team at halftime, Willis on his dislocated finger

Canes Convos: Johnson's speech rallies team at halftime, Willis on his dislocated finger

Stefan Adams
Down 20-7 at halftime against the Seminoles, it was senior S Jaquan Johnson that gave the halftime speech to rally the troops in what Manny Diaz said was something that will be remembered for a long time.

“Well I just felt like we needed some type of spark,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t going our way and we were working hard, but things just weren’t going our way. I just reassured them we were going to win this game and have to believe in it.”

After missing 2 games with a hamstring injury, Johnson had 10 tackles in the contest against FSU. Johnson had never before missed a college game, so after 2 weeks away from the playing field, he was more than ready to return.

“It was great just being out there with the guys again,” Johnson said. “Even practicing that whole week just being out there and getting that bond back and flying around, having fun.

“It was really frustrating (not playing). I’ve never really encountered something like that. I haven’t missed a game in college. so it was a different feeling for me. The guys stuck around me and told me don’t worry about it, you’ll be back, things like that. A support system like that, you can’t really worry about that.”

Even though he feels fully healthy, his hamstring can still tighten up from time to time. Johnson came out of the FSU game in the first quarter for that reason and says he was working on the exercise bike throughout the entire game to stay loose. Will it be a problem next week vs. UVA?

“I don’t think it will be a problem at all,” Johnson said. “The trainers will have the best interest in mind for me. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do. I’m sure my body will be fine. As soon as it gets sore, the trainers take me over to do exercise, loosen it up again.”

Halfway through the season, Johnson has seen a few freshman standouts that have personally impressed him.

“Al Blades, he gets special teams player of the week every week,” Johnson said. “Brevin Jordan, on offense he’s making plays, blocking well. Dee Wiggins is a guy who down the field blocks. Once you see effort like that from a freshman, they make you want to play better.”


**Senior DT Gerald Willis
suffered a dislocated finger in the FSU game on Saturday after getting it caught in an opposing player's jersey.

“I looked at my hand, was like what the …?,” Willis said. “My bone popped out, it was crazy. Vinnie (Scavo, UM athletic trainer) popped it back in, man, that was probably the worst pain I’ve ever been in."

At first, Willis turned down treatment on the finger, but the pain increased after one drive back on the field.

“After I went out there for a drive I said, `Nah, I need it,’ so they put the numb stuff on it and that’s when I was alright,” Willis said.

While the pain still lingers, Willis has been practicing in full this week and will play against UVA.

“I have to get used to the pain, I’m going to be alright,” Willis said. “I’m going to be able to play with it. I’m not going to let no finger keep me from playing.”

In the past week, Willis has been named the Outland Trophy co-player of the month and also landed on the Bednarik Award watch list. Both distinctions honor the best defensive player in America.

“Man, it’s great,” Willis said. “I’m really happy my talent is being recognized worldwide and people are starting to notice what I can do. It’s a blessing and really happy that I got that honor.

“Sometimes it does feel like a dream and I have to pinch myself, but I’m just going to keep pushing. I’m just honored to be getting these awards. I’ll just keep doing it and keep pushing.”

Awards and recognition off the field end up bringing increased attention on the field.

“I just hope [opponents] give me a single block. I’ve never seen one,” Willis said. “They’ve been double-teaming me all year.”

Jaquan Johnson returned to the field after sitting out 2 games for a hamstring injury and gave a rousing halftime speech that helped spurred Miami’s comeback against FSU.

“Jaquan’s speech gave us motivation,” Willis said. “His speeches give us so much energy and so much like, we’re playing for each other. He brought up Malek Young and Ahmmon Richards, like those guys want to be out there as well and to play for them. His speech gave us a lot of momentum.”

On Ahmmon Richards’ career-ending neck injury: “I was in shock. Ahmmon’s supposed to be one of the greats. He’s supposed to be one of the guys I was supposed to tell my kids about, like, ‘we had Ahmmon Richards on my team. He was the best wide receiver I’ve ever seen.’ But I’ll continue to keep in him my prayers and I hope the best for Ahmmon.”

On Jon Garvin: “Jon’s great. I think he’s right behind me in TFLs,” Willis said. “We’re in a competition really. We’re in a race. The competition him and I have just brings so much out of us. We’re just trying to make the plays. John’s great and is a great player.”


**Even though they are only one year apart, sophomore defensive end Jon Garvin says Joe Jackson has been his mentor on the team from day 1.

“Joe, from the day I stepped on campus, (he was the) first person to say something to me,” Garvin said. “First person to walk me through everything, and really teach me. So, even like when I was doing things wrong out here and getting in trouble, I would go in (the film room) and watch him and see what he did. And basically copy it.”

It seems the student has surpassed the teacher, at least so far through the first half of the 2018 season. Garvin is top 5 in the country with 11.5 TFL and says he couldn’t be more pleased with his performance.

“It’s a big deal,” Garvin said. “A lot of times with things, especially like personal goals, we have to put it aside for the sake of the team. But when they come, they come. And I am going to be happy about it. You know, I’m celebrating after the game. But when we are out here practicing, it means nothing.”

Garvin is just one TFL behind Gerald Willis for the team lead and says the two have a friendly competition to see who can end up with more by the end of the year.

“It makes us - we are already going to fight hard - fight even harder,” Garvin said. “We are so joyful to see each other succeed and we are like, ‘He did it, let me try and get one too.’ Yeah, it is very friendly.”


**Although Miami’s offense had their hiccups against the Seminoles, senior CB Michael Jackson and the Miami secondary had no such issues vs. FSU. The Canes held FSU to just 130 yards passing on 31 attempts for the day, limiting the Noles’ big plays despite a variety of weapons.

“We just went out and played our standard of football,” Jackson said. “We stopped doing unnecessary stuff, getting outside of our character, and just played good Miami football.”

On Jaquan Johnson’s halftime speech: “That’s just Jaquan,” Jackson said. “Anytime anything goes wrong or right, he is always talking. He is always going to give us some type of knowledge. I don’t look at it as just speeches or like the Hollywood speeches. He is giving us actual knowledge. As a leader, you have to be a leader that can follow. So I am following what he is saying and then I am going to the younger guys and preaching the same thing he says.”

As UM readies for the Cavaliers this week, Jackson still remembers the problems UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his passing game gave Miami last season. New UVA QB Bryce Perkins can move the ball both through the air and on the ground, and Miami has struggled to stop running QB’s so far this season.

“They have a dual-threat quarterback,” Jackson said. “We have to stop two plays. If it is a pass, we have to stop his first, second, and maybe even a third look. And then once he tries to take off and run, we have got to stop that, too.”
 

Comments (10)

A lot of gems in the OP.

On Jaquan Johnson’s halftime speech: “That’s just Jaquan,” Jackson said. “Anytime anything goes wrong or right, he is always talking. He is always going to give us some type of knowledge. I don’t look at it as just speeches or like the Hollywood speeches. He is giving us actual knowledge. As a leader, you have to be a leader that can follow. So I am following what he is saying and then I am going to the younger guys and preaching the same thing he says.”
 
Willis is a flat out beast, no joke the guys getting paid at the next level and will be easily a 1st round selection. JJ too will do well at the next level also; he’s just too good not to get selected. Our defense really has a great amount of leaders on it, who hold the rest accountable to the standards the defense should be at Miami. I appreciate them doin so, it’s evident by the way the defense is playing and the ranking it’s received. Just hope 2019 we can continue on the trend this defense is setting at the U.
 
This my friends is the type of recruiting led by coach richt that is getting done. The selfish days/mindsets are not dominating the team and guys are back to actually playing for each other and happy for each others individual successes. The value of joe jackson passing down the knowledge to garvin helped to expediate his progress. Im not sure how good jade will turn out to be at DT, but he'll never lack for intensity and fight, if his mindset and tenacity rubs off on jordan miller, they both have great examples in front of them, gwIII, and a player like pat bethel giving it his all, we'll sorta be playing catch up at the d-tackle spot after this year, but we'll be okay.
 
This my friends is the type of recruiting led by coach richt that is getting done. The selfish days/mindsets are not dominating the team and guys are back to actually playing for each other and happy for each others individual successes. The value of joe jackson passing down the knowledge to garvin helped to expediate his progress. Im not sure how good jade will turn out to be at DT, but he'll never lack for intensity and fight, if his mindset and tenacity rubs off on jordan miller, they both have great examples in front of them, gwIII, and a player like pat bethel giving it his all, we'll sorta be playing catch up at the d-tackle spot after this year, but we'll be okay.

In the Golden era we always heard about players playing for themselves, which partly I understand bc they were being coRched by Al Golden. Completely different mentality instilled on these players under Coach Richt, it starts with him, but also the veterans that want to build the next player up to be as good or better than them.
 
All good stuff. To add to Calvin’s comments, keep an eye on Bethel. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he is a totally different player at seasons end comped to opener. You can see his confidence growing and the competition the DL has going on is how this Canes thing was built...

Go Canes!
 
Willis is becoming one of my favorite Canes of all time. Right up there with Gore, Irvin. Lewis ... well, there are quite a few, lol. But he's getting in that pantheon. I personally think he's a first rounder. We are going to miss him tremendously next season.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by Stylie
Medium
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by PhillDaCane
Certain

2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 14
09/19
Louisville
Louisville, KY
W 47 - 34
09/26
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
10/10
Clemson
Clemson, SC
10/17
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/24
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
11/06
NC State
Raleigh, NC
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
11/28
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
12/05
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
Top