Coach Speak: Dugans and Banda break down yesterday's scrimmage

Coach Speak: Dugans and Banda break down yesterday's scrimmage

Stefan Adams
The Canes held their third and final scrimmage yesterday in the form of a simulated game, and Ron Dugans detailed what he was seeing from his wide receivers group in the action that took place at Miami Southridge High.

“I thought it went well,” Dugans said. “[Mike] Harley made a few plays for us. He caught a touchdown. Ahmmon [Richards] caught a touchdown. I thought they all did pretty [well]. [Darrell] Langham played well. [Lawrence] Cager has been consistent for us. I thought it went well. I was pleased with the first group. I thought they went out and handled business.”

The freshmen wide receiver group has earned plenty of praise from the staff so far this fall. However, trusting a true freshmen in crunch time is a different story, and Dugans seems to be willing to play two, maybe three, of the rookies against LSU.

“I’m not exactly sure, as far as the freshmen go,” Dugans said on who will play against LSU. “[Brian] Hightower has been doing well for us. He’s a guy that we can trust. [Mark] Pope has come along. Possibly [Dee] Wiggins, maybe [Marquez] Ezzard. As far as learning, knowing what to do on every play, being consistent and executing on every play – we have to be consistent at doing that, as far as all the young guys go. But for the most part, you’ve got Hightower and Pope sticking out, and Wiggins. Ezzard has been kind of up and down, but he’s going to be a really good football player.”

Dugans is known for spreading the reps across many different players in his rotation and the UM receivers coach makes sure he communicates the importance of being selfless to his position group.

“There’s only one ball. When they get on campus, I make sure they know that. When you play wide receiver, everybody wants the ball on every play. I try to get that [across], that’s one of our goals – be selfless, and not be a selfish football player, always wanting the ball.

“You come out of high school as a four- or five-star guy, you’re used to getting the ball every time. These guys are unselfish. When they see another guy making a play, they want to make a play also, but they’re excited for their teammates. I just try to get it [across] early – let these guys know that there’s only one ball, and if you pout, that’s not the best way to get the ball. You won’t even be on the field.”

**Miami safeties coach Ephraim Banda loved what he was able to see out of the defense in the simulated pressure situations of the final fall scrimmage yesterday.

“What I loved about the scrimmage is that we had a lot of different situations come up,” Banda said. “No matter what you practice, it’s a game-like situation that creates those opportunities. For us to get into those four-minute situations, those one-minute situations, and also see how our kids react, that’s what I loved and what I enjoyed most about it. You can’t get enough of that. You can’t do that enough.

“Coach Richt and Coach Diaz and Coach Brown have done a **** of a job all camp trying to create those opportunities. As a whole, even though we weren’t in pads, it was a mental strain. It put some pressure on us late in the game, which we need. I know our kids are tough, I know they’re physical on both sides of the ball, but it’s that pressure moment, it’s that ‘I have to do this correctly in this moment’…those are the things that you really enjoy seeing, and I thought our kids handled it, for the most part, pretty [well].”

A highly touted recruit, freshman safety Gurvan Hall has mainly been at the bottom of the safety depth chart this fall, relegated to the third team defense. For that to change, Banda says he must see Hall get it done on special teams first.

“I tell all the freshmen this – I know your desire is to run out there and play…but your number one job as a freshman here is to prove your toughness to the locker room. And you do that by playing great for Coach Hartley on special teams. Amari Carter did it, Jaquan Johnson did it, Rob Knowles did it, Romeo [Finley] did it… You’re not going to play for us on defense, until you do that.”

“That’s my expectation for Gurvan – I think for the most part, he’s done a good job trying to get on those teams. Defensively, I think he is learning how to practice. That’s the number one thing. He’s physical. He can really cover a lot of ground. Now he has to handle all the checks and things that come with playing safety. For me, I think the most encouraging thing is that Gurvan knows football. He has an awareness that will be good, we just have to grow that. I know fans are like, ‘put him in, put him in.’ But it’s not ‘add water, instant player.’ It takes time and development, which we will do.”

Many fans were predicting a huge jump from sophomore safety Amari Carter, with some even believing he would overtake returning senior starter Sheldrick Redwine to start next to Jaquan Johnson at safety. There’s still something lacking from Carter for Banda to fully trust him on the back line, though.

“The biggest thing with Amari, he’s starting to understand why,” Banda said. “At the beginning, it’s ‘I have to remember this’ and ‘I have to do that.’ Where Amari is starting to have some growth is understanding why I do this. The more he understands the ‘why,’ all of a sudden things will really start to open up for him. He is going through some things that every sophomore has gone through.”

In fact, many young players in Miami’s defense have had their issues understanding the mental side of the game and have had to wait their turn because of it.

“Jaquan Johnson had the same issue when [Rayshawn] Jenkins and [Jamal Carter] were ‘the guy’,” Banda said. “Quan was not the guy he is now at that point. A lot of the middle layer of our team is going through that, other kids like Trajan [Bandy] or Derrick Smith, those kinds of guys…they’re in that middle area and trying to work themselves through that. But what happens is you get through that, like Romeo [Finley] with Coach Patke – he has had those two years to go through all that process and he’s starting to become a big-time guy. Amari will get to that point.”

Comments (54)

Hightower is consistently the first name out of each offensive coach mouth when they are asked about the freshman receivers. Clearly the spring game was not an anomaly. Hightower, Pope, and Harley as backups.........****.
"...your number one job as a freshman here is to prove your toughness to the locker room."

A fcking men.

I know everybody thinks the new guys are always the best, but this is great. These kids should learn from the start that they have to earn PT. No matter how talented you are you need to earn it.
I love that we are finally getting talent that "HAS" to sit and learn and wait their turn, because we have ballers ahead of them that are playing. This is how a program should be run! We COMIN!!
Get ready to see #20 in the field
Underrated in all of this is how much the staff has been praising Redwine lately. It's been a solid week of every D coach saying he's lighting it up. Dominant back seven is really doing to help us in games if the DL struggles (which I don't expect them to).

Fast, talented, scary defense. Seems like the only really "weak links" are depth at DT and CB.
"...your number one job as a freshman here is to prove your toughness to the locker room."

A fcking men.

I know everybody thinks the new guys are always the best, but this is great. These kids should learn from the start that they have to earn PT. No matter how talented you are you need to earn it.

God **** Right! Antrel, ST26, Andre Johnson to name a few were ONLY special teamers their first year. We getting there boys!
I can't wait to see Finley in this striker role. He's been the surprise of camp on Defence imo.

I remember watching his high school tape after we started recruiting him late in the cycle. Beat Clemson for his signature.

He has the skill set Manny covets. The dude plays fast and tough. Great to hear he's caught up mentally to the college game.
I really dislike the fact that Finley, Knowles, and Langham are getting talked about so much. They really were not good last year.
Read somewhere that Amari Carter had high grades coming out of high school and has had a 4.0 or close to it at UM.
So he is certainly book smart and big congrats to him.
Found the coach’s comment to be ... interesting ... that football wise he’s working on and furthering his understanding of why the defense does what it does.
Langham and Finley are OK in my book, Knowles and Mike Smith need to stay off the ******* field when Miami is on defense