Coach Speak: Hartley talks Irvin II injury, Baxa; Dugans will continue deep WR rotation

Coach Speak: Hartley talks Irvin II injury, Baxa; Dugans will continue deep WR rotation

And then there were three.

The big news coming out of fall camp today was that junior Michael Irvin II, the Canes projected starter at TE, will likely miss the regular season with a knee injury that will require a three-to-four month recovery. Now, Miami has only three TE’s left, two of which are true freshmen, and none have ever played a meaningful down at UM. It’s tight ends coach Todd Hartley’s job to get them all ready to play.

“It’s tough to see a kid go down, no matter who it is – especially one at your position,” Hartley said. “Michael was having a great camp. He had a great spring camp and he really, really had a great summer. I was really looking forward to seeing what he was going to do this fall. It’s still a possibility he could come back at the end.

“But it hurts us from a standpoint that he was the only tight end in the unit who has had meaningful game reps. Now you’re going out there with kids that you think are capable, but there’s no substitute for game experience. Then it kind of hurts you in practice, a little bit, from a rotation standpoint. But those young guys have to grow up. Now it’s sink or swim.”

When an important player in a position group goes down, the staff always gets together to discuss shuffling the roster and moving guys around to help the affected position. However, as of now, Hartley says the Canes will be sticking with the status quo at TE.

“We’re always discussing personnel changes, but right now I think we’re good with what we’ve got,” Hartley said. “The guys have gone through two full practices without Michael now and haven’t missed a beat, to be honest with you. The young guys just need to grow up and really be put into the fire probably a little bit sooner than we thought, but there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Along with sophomore Brian Polendey, it will be up to true freshman tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory to pick up the slack with Irvin II out. While Hartley knows it’s only been five practices, he’s been encouraged by how ready to play both rookies have been.

“Through five practices, they’ve kind of exceeded expectations, to be honest,” Hartley said on Jordan and Mallory. “Both of them need to just keep doing what they’re doing. They are a long ways away, but they are on track to be where they need to be.”

On Jordan: “A kid that has unbelievable athleticism. You saw that in high school. You come out here and he just has stuff that you can’t coach. He runs routes well. He has a good understanding of how to beat press [coverage], how to understand coverages, reading leverage and getting in and out of breaks. He’s an extremely gifted route-runner, but he’s also, for a young kid, he’s pretty good at the point of attack. A long way to go. It really is a benefit to him that he goes against our defensive line every day. He is right where I thought he’d be, if not further along."

On Mallory: “We didn’t really know what to expect from Mallory getting out here. You know his body type, and we knew what kind of role we had for him, but that kid is doing unbelievable. He’s really having a good camp, making a lot of plays and running and catching. The blocking stuff that we’ve put him in there with, he has really done a nice job.”

Taking care of the tights ends is only part of Hartley’s role on the staff. Hartley is also the special teams coordinator at UM and is preparing another true freshman for a key job on the team: projected starting kicker Bubba Baxa. And it’s so far, so good in that department: Hartley says Baxa has lived up to the hype in the first week of camp.

“He’s everything we thought he’d be,” Hartley said on Baxa. “Strong leg. The kid is composed, doesn’t falter in the moment. Put him in front of the defense, head coach, he’s answered. He’s doing a nice job.”

The Canes are also sorting through some talented weapons for the right to start on kickoff and punt returns. It seems two in particular are ahead of the pack, but UM is still working in others.

“Right now, Jeff Thomas and Deejay Dallas are so far ahead of everybody else it’s really a two man race,” Hartley said. “Mark Pope has showed up and done some nice things. Mike Harley is still back there. (Nigel) Bethel is back there a little bit.”


**After practice number 5 on Wednesday, Ron Dugans said he is planning on playing up to 8 receivers in his rotation this year, not much different from last season when Dugans was not afraid to mix and match his group at will.

However, UM’s receivers coach says nobody is locked into a starting role just yet.

“It’s a dogfight right now, it’s kind of up in the air,” Dugans said on who will start. “I tell these guys, ‘I don’t have a depth chart, I have an organizational chart.’ That’s how we’re doing the whole camp until someone breaks away…it’s open. I feel like right now, no one has just separated themselves, as far as the consistency part of it. That’s what I’m looking for – just being consistent.”

Running first team at the Z spot is receiver Lawrence Cager and Dugans talked about why the 6’5” junior is leading the way.

“Lawrence has done really [well]. He has done good for us,” Dugans said. “He has been physical. He has made some plays. He has missed a few [catches] that I wish he would have made. Overall he has done a good job for us.”

Pushing Cager at the Z is two freshmen in Mark Pope and Brian Hightower.

“[Pope] has done some really good things,” Dugans said. “His thing coming in was just confidence. He’s got to learn the plays and trust the coaching. He has done a really good job. He has shown some flashes. We’ve got [to get] him to be consistent. [Brian] Hightower has shown some flashes also.”

In the slot, Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley have been leading the way so far in camp, with Marquez Ezzard also seeing reps there. Dugans also intimated that Harley and Thomas could play on the outside if needed as well.

Dugans got a huge part of his crew back during fall camp as Ahmmon Richards returned to the field off knee surgery. Richards has already made his impact felt and one play in particular stuck out to Dugans.

“The first day of camp, we had one-on-ones against the [defensive backs] and it was in the red zone,” Dugans said. “[Richards] went up, I think it was Michael Jackson – I forgot who the DB was – and he went up, high-pointed the ball and almost one-handed. He came back down and it’s like ‘wow.’ I’m just glad to have him back.”

On freshman WR Dee Wiggins, Dugans is still hoping to see more: “You see him one time he looks like Jerry Rice. The next time you see him it’s like `What are we doing?’ It goes back to just being consistent.”
Joined
Jun 5, 2017
Messages
818
#3
Good to hear about Baxa, the non Michael Irvin II tight ends and the WRs; the injury is the only bummer.
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2013
Messages
327
#6
We need some tight ends. Pleased to hear the good news regarding the freshmen TE's.

Seriously, we need to work Langham at Tight End. We're pretty young, and thin there right now.

I'll eat my crow on Jordan. Yall didn't hear me say that.
 

Marcus4989

Redshirt Freshman
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
167
#7
We need some tight ends. Pleased to hear the good news regarding the freshmen TE's.

Seriously, we need to work Langham at Tight End. We're pretty young, and thin there right now.

I'll eat my crow on Jordan. Yall didn't hear me say that.
Crow on Jordan? You don't think he's a player....?
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
2,927
#10
Too much rotation at WR for my liking but if we are about to be down a tight end we might see some full 4 WR sets... in that case a two deep isn't terrible. It's also time to move Langham to TE and see if he can handle some of it... just thinking about ways to get him on the field. We have a need and he's lower end of our depth chart at WR so why not?
 
Joined
May 21, 2016
Messages
1,594
#11
Aside from the Irvin injury, this is pretty much all music to the ears, albeit about exactly what you expect to hear in fall camp.

I love the idea of having 8 talented WR's that can be rotating. Obviously, Richards is going to be on the field for 75-80% of offensive snaps, but WR's rotate all the time. The idea that we can be exchanging lethal for lethal and constantly be throwing different looks at the defense even with the same "personnel packages" is exciting. Moving the big guys and small/speedy guys around the field, constantly keeping defenses on their heels, sounds good to me...

I'd certainly much rather have that than to have to bring in Dayall Harris as our 3rd or 4th wr. If all of these guys are good enough to play, they should all play. It keeps them fresh, it keeps them involved in the game and rooting for and helping each other, and it keeps the competition up on Greentree. Now, they all still need to earn their snaps, but everyone who is earning those snaps and performing, should get the chance to make plays and score TD's.

Goodness sakes, I hope Hartley's not blowing smoke about Baxa.

Deejay and Thomas on kick returns sounds good to me. Hopefully, Thomas shows a little bit more patience and vision this year though. Can't help but feel like Pope is going to do some special things here. It's just gut, but my minds eye sees him being an exceptional punt returner this season. I know it's crazy to even think like this, but whenever I hear him described, I think of Antonio Brown, from a style of play standpoint.

I hope they're working with these TE's on blocking first. That's got to be #1 for them to be able to see the field. You get celebrated for the big catches, but you don't get out there unless you can block respectably first.
 
Joined
Jun 9, 2012
Messages
853
#12
On paper it makes sense, but I think the kid is too soft to play in the trenches. I would still use him as a TE in passing situations though.

Just our luck, they'll likely move someone like McCray to TE.

No talk of Langham?
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2012
Messages
5,069
#13
8 deep isn't going to happen. Just like the guys who really thought we were going 7 deep at DE last year. He will start out the season probably going 8 deep but as the season goes on (probably around the FSU game) he is shrinking that baby down to his best 5 and the other 3 are watching with the opportunity to snag a spot in the 5 if someone slips up like Cager did last year in the FSU game and Langham stole his reps after that for a while until Cager stole it back toward the end of the season.

I think he will play this like the show "The Four" on FOX. He will have his main rotation but if you slip, someone can come take your spot at any time during the year.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2012
Messages
623
#14
On paper it makes sense, but I think the kid is too soft to play in the trenches. I would still use him as a TE in passing situations though.

Just our luck, they'll likely move someone like McCray to TE.
I meant no mention AT ALL, not in the TE or WR part...…… odd
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2012
Messages
32,887
#15
Too much rotation at WR for my liking but if we are about to be down a tight end we might see some full 4 WR sets... in that case a two deep isn't terrible. It's also time to move Langham to TE and see if he can handle some of it... just thinking about ways to get him on the field. We have a need and he's lower end of our depth chart at WR so why not?
You know who else hates the idea of us rotating 7 or 8 super high-quality WRs? Opposing DBs. They’ll be dead in the 4th quarter after having chased those guys around.
 

Cane Dynasty

Thunderdome Survivor
Joined
Feb 27, 2013
Messages
16,529
#16
Next man up!
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2011
Messages
2,687
#19
You know who else hates the idea of us rotating 7 or 8 super high-quality WRs? Opposing DBs. They’ll be dead in the 4th quarter after having chased those guys around.
Im good with rotating that many guys if that means UM is running more spread sets(3,4 and even 5 wide at time) and even going up-tempo in certain situations
 
Last edited:

2019 Commits

WR
6'1"
186
Neptune Beach, FL
OT
6'5"
290
Belleview, FL
OLB
6'0"
200
Fort Lauderdale, FL
OLB
6'3"
200
Fort Lauderdale, FL
S
5'11"
195
Hollywood, FL
CB
5'10"
150
Hollywood, FL
OLB
6'2"
195
Miami, FL
DT
6'2"
280
Buford, GA
CB
6'0"
170
Opa Locka, FL
DT
6'4"
270
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Latest Predictions

by DangeRanger2
Medium
by Umbra
Low
by Umbra
Low
by Umbra
Certain
by Umbra
Low

2018 Schedule

09/02
LSU
Arlington, TX
09/08
Savannah State
Miami Gardens, FL
09/15
Toledo
Toledo, OH
09/22
FIU
Miami Gardens, FL
09/27
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
10/06
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
10/13
Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
10/26
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA
11/03
Duke
Miami Gardens, FL
11/10
Georgia Tech
Atlanta, GA
11/17
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/24
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
Top