Lashlee, Baker discuss VT comeback, developing roster

Lashlee, Baker discuss VT comeback, developing roster

Stefan Adams
Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has had his name in the middle of the rumor mill in terms of the upcoming head coaching carousel that happens every offseason, and he was asked on Monday to give his thoughts on that.

“Honest truth, that’s the first I’ve really heard of it,” Lashlee said. “This is the time of year those things swirl every year. If in fact that’s the case, it’s a compliment to our players, assistant coaches, the program coach (Manny) Diaz is building and I’m really happy to be a part of. Miami’s a destination spot, this is a great place to be and I really am enjoying the process of building this program to what coach Diaz’s vision is for it. I love our whole staff, the players, what we’re trying to build on offense. It’s a process, we’re nowhere close to where we want to be.”

While Lashlee admitted that becoming a head coach has always been a dream of his, he also isn’t trying to look too far into the future at the expense of the present.

“You have to be where your feet are, none of that other stuff really matters,” Lashlee said. “I’m really excited about what we’re building. I’m really committed to that… I’m having more fun here than I ever have. That matters. If certain people, their only drive in life is to be a head coach, I get it. That’s not me. My family is the most important thing to me, helping these players here, getting this program where it’s supposed to go. That’s where my sole focus is.”

This past weekend, the Canes moved to 7-1 with a win over Virginia Tech despite an inconsistent offensive performance, especially from the OL, which gave up 6 sacks.

“The O-Line, when it goes really bad there it’s bad,” Lashlee said. “On film, we were flat. We didn’t play well offensively. It was across the board. We were doing some really uncharacteristic things. We weren’t as explosive as we’ve been, but we didn’t turn the ball over, possessed the ball for a long time. And the way our defense was playing, that gave us a chance. Sometimes not enough is made of when you find ways to win - winning is a habit. You have to find ways to win.”

After missing the first 7 games of the year recovering from a knee injury, OL Navaughn Donaldson started to practice last week and was available on an emergency basis vs. VT with most of Miami’s backups on the OL out with COVID.

“It’ll be good to have him the rest of the year,” Lashlee said of Donaldson. “He fits at guard but is good enough to play center, right tackle.”

The team ended up not using Donaldson in the game, and the starters on the OL played the entire way. Freshman OL Chris Washington was also available, but Lashlee feels he is not yet ready to be thrown into the fire.

“Chris Washington has a lot of promise, needs a year in the weight room to get ready to play, his long-term opportunity is good. He’s just not ready,” Lashlee said.

As for the starters on the OL, Lashlee has been pleased with what he’s seen from C Corey Gaynor and LT Zion Nelson.

“Zion is playing at a high level since the Florida State game,” Lashlee said. “He’s really settled in. Corey gives you everything he’s got, the leader up front.”

RG DJ Scaife came into the year as Miami’s most proven lineman, but he has arguably struggled the most of anyone in the starting five in 2020.

“You can’t single one guy out,” Lashlee said. “It’s a collective unit. We weren’t our best, weren’t ourselves, were off.”

With 63 rushing yards vs. the Hokies, RB Cam’Ron Harris had his best output since week 2 vs. Louisville, and the run game totaled 131 yards. Still, the Canes lacked big plays on the ground, as their longest run went for 15 yards and the team averaged 2.7 ypc.

“We didn’t make anything explosive happen,” Lashlee said. “About all I can say is we gutted it out, but it wasn’t our best effort.”


**Defensive coordinator Blake Baker’s unit got off to a slow start vs. Virginia Tech this weekend, but was able to turn it on midway through the third quarter: the Canes shutout the Hokies during the last 21 minutes of the game, including on VT’s final three drives with the defense having to protect a 1-point Miami lead.

“Our last six games, we’ve only allowed a total of 17 points in the fourth quarter,” Baker said. “More than anything, our guys, they’re getting better and better every week. There are some times a team like Virginia will come out and has done stuff we had not seen from them all season long. NC State came out, they were hot, making high execution plays.

“At the end of the day, our guys really have bought into playing as one heartbeat and playing together. They fight, they scrap, and when it all comes together, you see the result of that in the third and especially the fourth quarter this year. For a variety of reasons, we get off to a little bit of a slow start, can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, it’s different every game. They see when they play together and all 11 guys are doing their job how great of a defense we can be.”

DE Jaelan Phillips had the best game of his career against VT, recording 4.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks, as he and fellow starting DE Quincy Roche (1 TFL) played almost all the snaps vs. the Hokies.

“Unbelievable effort,” Baker said Phillips and Roche. “For those guys to play with the effort, neither one had a loaf when we went back and graded film. Sam Brooks played 72 snaps for us. A lot of guys understood what was at stake. Proud of the unit overall.”

As a result of Phillips and Roche playing most of the way, that left less playing time for DE Cameron Williams.

“Every kid wants to play more, is a competitor,” Baker said. “At the end of the day, we’re very up front with our guys, what the rotation will be… I know Cam wants to get in there more, does a fine job when he gets in there.”

Miami’s defense held the Hokies to 160 rush yards this weekend, which was 130 yards under their season average as the #4 rushing team in the country coming into the game.

“Stopping the run is all 11 players,” Baker said. “Linebacker play - BJ Jennings the last two weeks has had by far his best games as a Hurricane. I thought Sam Brooks played really well last week vs. Virginia Tech. It takes all 11, DJ Ivey sticking his nose in there. We still have to clean up some big runs.”

Baker and the rest of the staff gave CB Te’Cory Couch the first start of his career over Al Blades against VT, and Couch rewarded that confidence with an interception late in the fourth quarter, while narrowly missing a second pick as well.

“We told Al that Te’Cory was going to end up getting the nod, that (Blades) was going to be competing with DJ (Ivey)… (Couch) is awesome, man, a phenomenal football player,” Baker said. “The kids respond to him. That interception, everyone loves Te’Cory. They love how hard he works, he’s fearless. He is a grade ‘A’ competitor.”

With LB Zach McCloud out with COVID, LB Sam Brooks started and saw the most playing time of his career vs. VT, cashing in with a productive 7 tackles, a sack, and a PBU.

“He’s working to earn more and more playing time - he did an excellent job for us (on Saturday),” Baker said of Brooks. “He’s pushing every day in practice, the film room. If you produce, you’re going to play more and more.”

With DT Jared Harrison-Hunte out, DT Jon Ford (6 tackles) returned to the starting lineup a week after losing his first team role to Harrison-Hunte.

“Outstanding game, best game of the season, maybe best ever,” Baker said of Ford. “Low pad level, was productive. A week before had his job taken from him - you can mope or roll up your sleeves and go to work, and that’s what Jon did.”

S Bubba Bolden (3 tackles) has had less of an impact over the last few games, and in particular took a poor angle that resulted in Virginia Tech’s first TD of the day this weekend.

“The biggest thing with Bubba is just consistency,” Baker said. “He’s such an instinctive player, he presses too much sometimes to make a play. It’s (all about) relaxing, getting back into his groove and letting the plays come to him.”
 

Comments (31)

“Our last six games, we’ve only allowed a total of 17 points in the fourth quarter,” Baker said. “More than anything, our guys, they’re getting better and better every week. There are some times a team like Virginia will come out and has done stuff we had not seen from them all season long. NC State came out, they were hot, making high execution plays.

Say what you want about Baker I'm not a huge fan of his three down linemen every 3rd down but giving up just 17 points in the 4th quarter over the last 6 games is legit.
 
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If you're going to cherry pick a stat he picked a good one.

“Our last six games, we’ve only allowed a total of 17 points in the fourth quarter,”
 
“Our last six games, we’ve only allowed a total of 17 points in the fourth quarter,” Baker said. “More than anything, our guys, they’re getting better and better every week. There are some times a team like Virginia will come out and has done stuff we had not seen from them all season long. NC State came out, they were hot, making high execution plays.

Say what you want about Baker I'm not a huge fan of his three down linemen every 3rd down but giving up just 17 points in the 4th quarter over the 6 games is legit.
It is legit but the stat proves that our defense plays at a high level when they want to. It would even more impressive if Baker were able to get them focused, passionate and urgent for the other 3 quarters as well. He needs to find the disconnect, that stat proves there is one.
 
HC Diaz was on Hurricane Hotline tonight, and he was clear to mention that DC Baker made all the key defensive play calls in the second half
 
The 4th quarter of these games really boils down to flat out effort from the defensive line first, and playing more man coverage second. The motivation for all out effort up front seems to come and go. When they bring it, then the rest of the defense works. If we aren't collapsing the pocket, our entire identity on defense is shattered.
 
If you're going to cherry pick a stat he picked a good one.

“Our last six games, we’ve only allowed a total of 17 points in the fourth quarter,”
ROFL, when mofo's start searching & hollering out these kind of stats, that because that mofo knows alot of other area's are phucked up. Those 4th quarters stats, thecredit belongs and goes to the s&c coach feely, nice try tho blake baker!
 
It is legit but the stat proves that our defense plays at a high level when they want to. It would even more impressive if Baker were able to get them focused, passionate and urgent for the other 3 quarters as well. He needs to find the disconnect, that stat proves there is one.
What up man, baker over their talkin bout "slow starts" it's his mofo slow azz that keeps starting out slow, he's always coming out trying to see what the other team is doing first. What happens is, by the 4th quarter, our s&c kicks in, and our players adaptation to the opponents kicks in high gear thanks to no help from baker. The s&c coach is actually our d-co in the 4th!
 
What up man, baker over their talkin bout "slow starts" it's his mofo slow azz that keeps starting out slow, he's always coming out trying to see what the other team is doing first. What happens is, by the 4th quarter, our s&c kicks in, and our players adaptation to the opponents kicks in high gear thanks to no help from baker. The s&c coach is actually our d-co in the 4th!
Yea man, one of my issues with our staff is their selective stat sharing. It’s like they search 🔦 hard for a redeeming stat that is relevant and matters but it doesn’t excuse major inadequacy in other areas.

What’s bad is that these types of people sometimes stay complacent and won’t work to fix the other more glaring stats as long as they can find one that masks 🎭 it.

Not a good look for what kind of men they are.
 
Here we go with throwing out stats. "In the last 30 seconds of each quarter this year when raining we gave up zero points..."

How about just acknowledge you need to improve and you are working toward that goal. Always working to improve.
 
Yea man, one of my issues with our staff is their selective stat sharing. It’s like they search 🔦 hard for a redeeming stat that is relevant and matters but it doesn’t excuse major inadequacy in other areas.

What’s bad is that these types of people sometimes stay complacent and won’t work to fix the other more glaring stats as long as they can find one that masks 🎭 it.

Not a good look for what kind of men they are.
LOL, and we've seen this episode before, when the cherry picking of stats start comig to the forefront, we got coach diaz hiring his buddy to be the d-co, sounds familiar, the defense is in steady decline!
 
Why do we kill Baker and company when they falter but refuse to credit them when they bail out the offense like they did against PITT, UVA, VT?
 
Here we go with throwing out stats. "In the last 30 seconds of each quarter this year when raining we gave up zero points..."

How about just acknowledge you need to improve and you are working toward that goal. Always working to improve.
It's interesting listening to the language Lashlee uses juxtaposed to Baker's. I've noticed in previous games, regardless of results, Lashlee focuses on areas to improve while Baker focuses on accomplishments achieved (even if some feel forced). He also brings up surprises he didn't expect. Says a lot about their mind sets.

Baker's not coming across as confident and seems unsure of himself.
 
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Why do we kill Baker and company when they falter but refuse to credit them when they bail out the offense like they did against PITT, UVA, VT?
When the defense fails, it's usually a) the defense was not in proper alignment at the snap, b) the wrong personnel group/play was called, c) weren't prepared, watching film, were surprised by the offense, or d) played undisciplined/without focus in game situations. Take your pick.

When the offense fails, it's usually a lack of personnel or a talent issue.
 
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LOL, and we've seen this episode before, when the cherry picking of stats start comig to the forefront, we got coach diaz hiring his buddy to be the d-co, sounds familiar, the defense is in steady decline!
“The Penn State disgrace morons”?

Classic 😂
 
“At the end of the day, our guys really have bought into playing as one heartbeat"

Why does this make me think of a Gloria Estefan song?
 
What happened to Scaife? I agree that last year he was our best OL, and now he's absolutely terrible. Has he been playing hurt or is he just not able to adapt to the new blocking scheme? I've rarely seen an offensive lineman go from good to bad so fast (even Donaldson was somewhat serviceable as he declined).
 
Anyone catch when lash said donaldson could play right tackle? Lol did he watch that lsu game?
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
WR
5'9"
190
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 Senior, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

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