Day 1 Spring Practice Recap

In the immortal words of Miami Heat broadcaster and South Florida legend Jason Jackson, “It’s time to ball, y’all”. The Miami Hurricanes open up their 4-week spring football practice session this morning on the Greentree Practice. Under thr shadow of a 5-7 season last season, Coach Mario Cristobal and his new look staff come into spring ball with a renewed sense of hope and positivity.

During the open media session, we were only able to see the offense. Here are some practice notes:
– TVD obviously ran the first team drills and was his usual self. It was a nice sight to see. He was very accurate on his short and intermediate passes.

– Don Chaney Jr. participated in all the RB drills. Looked sharp and his cuts were quick and precise. He split the carries with Henry Parrish.
– Jacurri Brown struggled with accuracy a touch in the throwing drills. He has the talent and the size. He’s HUGE. He did impress with some of the individual accuracy drills, though.
– Jaleel Skinner has a chance to be a mismatch nightmare in this offense. From what I can tell, it looked like he was running some routes from split out in the slot position.
– I expect big time things from Isaiah Horton this season. He’s got great size and received a lot of praise from new Wide Receivers coach Kevin Beard on his crisp routes.
– Speaking of Kevin Beard…the number one word coming out of his mouth was “details”. He preached on how route running and making proper cuts was all about details.

– Uniform numbers for the true freshman and incoming transfers…WR Nathaniel Joseph 5, WR Robby Washington 12, LB Bobby Washington 17, QB Emory Williams 17, DL Jayden Wayne 18, DB Kaleb Spencer 23, LB Malik Bryant 24, DL Reuben Bain Jr. 44, OL Francis Mauigoa 61, OL Samson Okunlola 63, OL Antonio Tripp 71, TE Jackson Carver 85, TE Riley WIlliams 88, DL Collins Acheampong 96.

Here are some notes from the media interview sessions:

Coach Mario Cristobal:

Coach Cristobal opened his press conference by noting that accountability, improving culture and execution were things that stood out on Day 1.  He said that there are 20+ new guys in for spring and that the older players have done a great job getting them up to speed.

When asked about the new offensive scheme and coordinator Shannon Dawson, Coach Cristobal mentioned the down-hill running game and screen game, on top of the air raid game, are things that Coach Dawson brings to the table. Mentioned that there will be a significant difference in the passing game and that Dawson has been very collaborative with Coach Alex Mirabal and the offensive line in the running game. Noted that the biggest uptick in energy and enthusiasm is in the wide receivers room.

Coach Cristobal went on to say that Coach Lance Guidry’s defense is just different. He remembers how difficult it was to be able to plan for it. They play aggressive and finish plays well. Mario ended the press conference by saying that both Joe Salave’a and NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor will be coaching the Defensive Line. He also expects all the injured players to be ready for fall. He didn’t want to go player by player on the injury list but went out of way to mention that Akeem Mesidor will miss about half the spring and Leonard Taylor will miss all of the spring recovering from injuries.

We also got to hear from players Wesley Bissainthe, Jalen Rivers, Kamren Kinchens and Tyler Van Dyke. Here’s a quick summary on what stood out from what they said:

Wesley Bissainthe said that Coach Guidry is an awesome guy and brings a lot of energy. Line backers are being used in coverage a bit more than last season. Noted that he’s being more of a leader with the freshman LBs Robby Washington and Malik Bryant. Says that the focus on the culture is the players being there for one another and becoming more of a brotherhood.

Jalen Rivers says he started at left tackle today but Mirabal and Cristobal have them playing every position on the offensive line, having them focus on working together and gelling as a unit. Mentioned that the offense is quick and fast and their job in the offense is to move people. When asked about the new bodies on the offensive live, namely Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola, he stated that they’re here to work. Not afraid of the work and that they’re not slackers.

The first question asked to Kam Kinchens are about his jersey number change from 24 to 5. Say 5 is his favorite number and it’s a number he’s used since he was 6 year old, back to his peewee days. Noted that he and James Williams realize that they’re the leaders this season. That they can’t take steps backwards. Also mentioned that the freshmen are “dawgs” and went out of his way to single out Kaleb Spencer, saying that Spencer even gets on him during their 4th Quarter Program drills.

Tyler Van Dyke opened his press conference by saying that he’s 99% healthy and that if there was a game tomorrow he would play. Noted that Coach Dawson’s offense is fast, they throw the ball downfield and they run the ball well.

TVD said his decision to come back to Miami was based on his development. He thought Miami was his best chance for development. Mentioned that the offense fits the personnel pretty well but it’s all about execution. Said that the guys in the locker room are tired of being average. They want to just win games.

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About the Author: Tony Valdes

Tony Valdes was born and raised in A-Rod’s hood of Kendall, FL.  As a life-long, die-hard Canes, Dolphins and Marlins fan, his fandom has been tested on many occasions but his passion is always strong – thank God for the Heat.  Other passions include his family, his friends, music, good food and good drinking.  He is one of the Co-Hosts of the “Canes Call In” podcast.

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