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Patke discusses progress of LB's, special teams this spring

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Stefan Adams

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Following Tuesday’s practice, Miami Hurricanes coach Jonathan Patke spoke to the media via Zoom to discuss his move from outside LB/strikers coach to inside LB coach over the offseason, and what he’s seen from his group early on in spring ball.

“I’m excited to be with the inside backers, has been a joy to be in that room,” Patke said. “We have a great group of young men.”

One of Patke’s biggest tasks this spring will be figuring out an answer to Miami’s struggles at the inside linebacker position after last year’s starters BJ Jennings and Zach McCloud underperformed. With McCloud now at defensive end and Jennings battling to stay with the ones, Patke could end up starting a new duo at the second level of Miami’s defense in 2021.

“Right now, it’s a constant rotation,” Patke said. “We have BJ, (Corey) Flagg at MIKE, those guys are rotating. Tirek Austin-Cave is running with the MIKE’s as well - his athleticism shows up, just learning, understanding the defense, what we’re trying to accomplish.

“At WILL, we have older guys and young guys behind them. You have Waynmon Steed who has been here a while, knows the defense, exactly what to do. Then Avery Huff coming along at WILL. He’s made great strides this spring, is standing out in my mind. He has really picked it up mentally and is getting aligned right, understanding what his job is.”

True freshman early enrollee Deshawn Troutman is also looking to work his way into the mix at WILL as well and has shown flashes according to Patke.

“He tackles, is not scared, made a lot of plays,” Patke said of Troutman.

Another option at WILL is sophomore Sam Brooks, who Patke mentioned is still getting treatment on a toe injury suffered last year.

“We know Sam can play, have to get him healthy, running full speed again,” Patke said. “He will be in the mix.”

Patke also returns as Miami’s special teams coordinator, leading a unit that had the best punter/kicker duo in the nation last season but struggled mightily advancing the ball in the return game. That’s why a key focus of the spring is finding a reliable returner, and Patke says Tyrique Stevenson, Xavier Restrepo, Charleston Rambo, and Mike Harley are all in the running at punt returner.

“We’re trying to find that guy at punt return, especially with the issues we had with that last year,” Patke said. “We have to address that issue. I like Tyrique back there right now - he’s smooth, natural, has done it in the past. And Restrepo is a natural punt returner as well. But it’s a constant battle.”

On kickoff return?

“I like Tyrique back there, Harley has been good, has a natural feel for everything. Restrepo, Jaylan Knighton, Don Chaney - kickoff return is more of an offensive play,” Patke said. “We’re looking for an electric guy back there. We’re trying to roll as many guys as we can back there.”

Kicker Jose Borregales, who won the Lou Groza Award at UM last season, left the program over the offseason to enter the NFL Draft, leaving a big hole to fill at the position in 2021 for Miami. To replace Jose, Patke kept it in the family and recruited early enrollee Andres “Andy” Borregales to step into the starting kicking job beginning this spring, with former walk-on sophomore Camden Price providing competition for the true freshman.

“Andy coming in is such an experienced kicker to be an early enrollee, feels like he’s an older guy,” Patke said. “He’s been with his brother so long, has kicked for so many years doing camps. He’s kicked off the ground in high school, is really above his time. Now it’s getting used to our protection, the cadence, a new holder. It’s a good competition right now. Competition breeds the best in all of us. They’re taking reps with each other. The room is good, he fits right in. Just like his brother, natural competitors.”
 

RightSaidFred

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We need a transfer at LB. Bad. I can't remember ever seeing so many jags on the linebacker roster at Miami. It's easily our weakest position on the whole team right now.

We need a difference maker to come in and take one spot.

And Jennings is not the answer. I don't know what the hell they're doing still giving him starting reps. And I'm not buying the Brooks and Huff hype you hear around here... not even a little. If they had something to show, they would have showed what they were gonna show already. They ain't it.

If it were me.... I'm grabbing a transfer and rolling with Flagg + the transfer + a striker.
 

Colombie

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I am actually more concerned about the Special Teams than LB.
With everybody coming back at LB someone will emerge as the alpha. One more year of being in the system, having Diaz now calling the plays and simply being in the Strength and conditioning program for another year will help things out.

Special teams need to improve greatly if we want to win the Coastal let alone compete with the Big Boys. Hopefully Stevenson and Rambo can just bring in the fresh new attitudes we need at Punt Returner. Everyone in house was just not mentally prepared to do it last year.

Borregales has it in his blood to be a great one but he is still a Frosh who has not kicked at this level. Hopefully it is a smooth transition and the pressure does not get to him early on in such a big game. It could have long lasting effects like Baxa.
 
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Cane47

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I thought you meant Patke for a second lol but I’m guessing you mean Tyrique.

A little vague on my part. It was meant for Patke — just wanted to post a tongue-in-cheek “ enjoy him while you can” comment. It’s similar to what posters did for Lashlee (but eventually we started losing) and now Artiside (presumably based primarily and prematurely IMO on all the energy he showed when he was miked up during one practice and one of his interviews —- if his position group gets torched no doubt the sentiment will change).
As to Patke I know he’s not going to be invited to holiday party’s by many on this board. I actually like him. Withou intending to get into a prolonged up and back on Patkes pluses, minuses,and qualifications (e.g. Patke sucks, blah, blah, blah) I did find it interesting that Corey Flagg - who granted, is just a football player and not a CiS poster, spoke very highly of him in a recent interview (and I’m sure some will find a way to minimize and disregard this )
 
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grover

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Can't believe we have Patke back as a position coach after having Travis Williams signed up for a New York minute. smh.

p.s., Please move Keontra to LB immediately.
 

MainLineCane

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Why in the actual Fvck would we have our best CB returning kicks?!?! No one else on the team can learn how to field and return a punt/kickoff?!?!

Unless he's head and shoulders above all the others AND a definite threat to take it to the house EVERYTIME he touches it....with our lack of quality depth at CB I wouldn't.


If he's just so-so..... let someone else be so-so back there
 

Gables Cane

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From a talent standpoint, LBs are the weakest position on the team. That falls squarely on Diaz, Baker (now gone) and Patke (to some extent).

Patke has a reputation of being a poor to mediocre recruiter; but he also has a reputation of being a very good teacher and developer of talent. I'm willing to give him a chance to see if he can make lemonade...
 
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