ACC: Gionni Paul

Miami Hurricanes

2012 record: 7-5

2012 conference record: 5-3, Coastal

Returning starters: Offense: 10; defense: 10; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Stephen Morris, RB Duke Johnson, DL Anthony Chickillo, LB Denzel Perryman

Key losses

RB Mike James, CB Brandon McGee, LB Gionni Paul, LB Eddie Johnson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Johnson* (947 yards, 10 TDs)
Passing: Morris* (245-of-421 for 3,345 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs)
Receiving: Phillip Dorsett* (842 yards, 4 TDs)
Tackles: Shayon Green* (67)
Sacks: Chickillo* (4)
Interceptions: McGee, Jimmy Gaines* (two each)

Spring answers

1. New coordinator, no problems. From the looks of things, it appears as if Miami has settled in quite nicely with new offensive coordinator James Coley. Stephen Morris had a great spring game, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns, and Duke Johnson had 120 yards on 10 carries. Seems as if both players are already in midseason form.

2. Malcolm Lewis is back. The Hurricanes also had one of the best stories of the spring when Lewis caught a 75-yard touchdown pass in the spring game -- his first appearance since a gruesome ankle injury against Georgia Tech cut his season short. His teammates ran out onto the field to mob him and celebrate his return. He should be a factor in the pass game this fall.

3. Henderson matures. Miami has been waiting on offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson to mature. His career in Miami has been rocky at best. But Henderson showed signs of maturation in this spring, drawing praise from teammates and coach Al Golden. He is firmly entrenched as the starting right tackle.

Fall questions

1. Defense. Everybody believes this group should be better this year with 10 starters returning. But these 10 starters also played pretty poorly at times last year. So which is it going to be? There were definite signs of growth this spring, but they have plenty to prove when the season begins.

2. Linebacker depth. Miami lost three linebackers this spring for off-the-field reasons (Gabe Terry, Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul). Paul and Johnson ranked third and fourth on the team in tackles last season, respectively. Neither participated in spring practice so the Hurricanes had a chance to develop younger players. But losing three linebackers is never good from a depth standpoint.

3. Open competitions remain. Three of the four starting jobs in the secondary remain up for grabs. Safety Deon Bush is the only one who has locked down a starting job. The others feature competition at one cornerback spot between Ladarius Gunter and Tracy Howard; the other cornerback spot between Antonio Crawford and Nate Dortch; and the other safety spot between AJ Highsmith and Rayshawn Jenkins.
Miami coach Al Golden said Thursday that backup linebacker Gabe Terry has been dismissed from the team, following the news last week that Terry was charged with felony marijuana possession.

Terry played as a backup last season, and previously served a suspension at the end of the year for undisclosed reasons.

"He was suspended before the incident,” Golden said on the ACC coaches' call. "We’ve separated and are going in another direction."

Terry is the third linebacker the Hurricanes have lost since the season ended. Eddie Johnson, who also was serving a suspension this spring, has decided to transfer to junior college. Gionni Paul mutually parted ways with the team in January. He had seven starts and 61 tackles last season, finishing third on the team.

Here are a few other newsworthy notes from the coaches' call:
  • Boston College coach Steve Addazio confirmed that defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey has received a sixth year of eligibility. Ramsey missed a majority of the last two seasons with various injuries. Addazio, however, says Ramsey is now healthy and seems thrilled with his potential. "He’s an elite defensive lineman," Addazio said. "He’s the kind of guy I was used to seeing in the SEC. He’s a guy that’s very physical, very powerful, he’s athletic and really was very disruptive in the spring so we have high expectations for him."
  • Syracuse coach Scott Shafer had one of the best lines of the entire call when asked about his quarterback competition between Terrel Hunt, Charley Loeb and John Kinder. "Someone asked me the other day if it's controversial," Shafer recalled. "I said, 'Hell yeah' we have a quarterback controversy. We don't know who we're starting yet."
  • North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said if the season began today, A.J. Blue would be his starting running back, replacing All-ACC performer Giovani Bernard. Fedora praised Blue's emergence as a team leader, but he also said Romar Morris had the best spring among the backs. At this point, it probably doesn't matter who starts. Both guys are going to see a lot of playing time. Watch out for freshman Khris Francis, too.

ACC announces players of the week

November, 12, 2012
Here are the ACC players of the week, as announced by the league office Monday.

OFFENSIVE BACK: Michael Rocco, QB, Virginia. Rocco completed 29 of 37 passes for 300 yards, four touchdowns, and had no interceptions to help Virginia to a 41-40 upset of Miami. Rocco tossed a 10-yard throw to TE Jake McGee in the back of the end zone with six seconds left to produce the go-ahead score for the Cavaliers. Rocco’s passing numbers included a school record streak of 18 consecutive completions and set new career highs in completions (29) and touchdowns (4). Virginia’s final drive saw Rocco direct the Cavaliers 87 yards in 2:32, converting two fourth downs during the drive. Rocco either passed or ran (one QB sneak) for all 87 yards during the drive.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Camden Wentz, C, NC State. Wentz tallied 13 knockdown blocks to help pave the way for the Wolfpack's 428 yards of total offense in the win over Wake Forest. Making his 36th consecutive start at center, Wentz was in for 86 snaps from scrimmage and posted the offensive line's top grade of 88 percent.

RECEIVER: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State. Greene turned a quick slant pass from quarterback EJ Manuel into the 39-yard game-winning touchdown with 40 seconds remaining in the Seminoles’ 28-22 win at Virginia Tech. Greene finished the night with six receptions for 125 yards -- his first 100-yard receiving game of the season -- and a pair of scores.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State. Carradine turned in one of the most productive games of his two-year career in leading the Seminoles with 11 tackles in their 28-22 road win at Virginia Tech. His career-high 11 tackles -- six solos and five assists -- also included his ninth sack and 10th tackle for loss of the season. Carradine has helped the Florida State defense climb to No. 1 nationally in total defense and rank among the top four in each major statistical category. Carradine is currently tied with linebacker Christian Jones for the team lead in tackles with 64.

CO-LINEBACKER: Quayshawn Nealy, Georgia Tech. Nealy registered a career-high two sacks to go with six tackles (four solo tackles) in Georgia Tech’s 68-50 win at North Carolina.

CO-LINEBACKER: Gionni Paul, Miami. Playing in place of injured Denzel Perryman, Paul tallied a career-high 14 tackles -- seven solo -- in Miami’s 41-40 loss at Virginia. It was his second double-digit tackle game of season, and his 14 stops are the most by Hurricane in a game this season.

CO-DEFENSIVE BACK – Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia. A week after his first start and earning ACC Player of the Week honors, Canady had another big game in Virginia’s 41-40 win over Miami. He came up with nine tackles, broke up one pass and forced a fumble that he recovered on the Virginia 2-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

CO-DEFENSIVE BACK: Dontae Johnson, CB, NC State. Johnson matched up against Wake Forest flanker Michael Campanero for most of the game in the Wolfpack’s 37-6 win over the Demon Deacons. In the game for 55 snaps from scrimmage, Johnson limited Campanero to five catches for just 14 yards, shy of his average of 8.5 receptions and 86.3 yards. He tallied five solo tackles, including a three-yard tackle for loss, and forced a fumble in the second half.

SPECIALIST: Jamal Golden, DB/KR, Georgia Tech. Golden returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown – his second kick return for a touchdown over the last three weeks – and he broke a school record with 230 kickoff return yards in Georgia Tech’s 68-50 win at North Carolina. Georgia Tech had not returned a kickoff for a touchdown from 1998 through 2011, but Golden has tied a Tech record with two kickoff returns for scores in one season. His 100-yard kick return on the opening kickoff of the second half was the longest scoring play in the Paul Johnson era.

ROOKIE: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami. Johnson rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 16 carries and also threw for a 9-yard touchdown -- his career-first pass -- in Miami’s 41-40 loss at Virginia. He has three 100-yard rushing games this season, including 100 or more yards in back-to-back games. Johnson amassed a Miami-record 368 all-purpose yards in the game which ranks as the fourth-most in ACC history. He registered 214 kick return yards on four tries, including a 95-yard kick return for a score, his second kick return for touchdown this season -- tied for most in school history. He became only the third FBS player since 2000 with a TD pass and a kickoff return for TD in the same game.

ACC players of the week

October, 1, 2012
Here are the ACC players of the week, as announced by the league office Monday.

Offensive back: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami. Morris threw for a Miami and ACC record 566 yards to lead the Hurricanes to a 44-37 win over NC State. The junior quarterback completed 26 of 49 passes, and recorded five touchdowns, tying five other Miami quarterbacks for the most in a single game and the first since Kyle Wright at Wake Forest in 2005. His fifth touchdown pass of the day was the game-winner, a 62-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining. It was his second scoring throw of more than 60 yards on the day. Morris registered 271 passing yards in the first quarter, becoming the fourth FBS player to throw for that many in a quarter since 2004. In his last two games, he has thrown for 1,002 yards.

Offensive lineman: Bryan Stork, OL, Florida State. Stork, the most experienced player on the Seminoles’ offensive front, posted his second consecutive outstanding performance of the season in the 30-17 win at South Florida. Stork graded out at 77 percent and had just one missed assignment while triggering all 67 snaps for the Florida State offense. He was not penalized and did not yield a sack in a performance that came on the heels of a career-best 95 percent grade against Clemson. The Seminoles rolled up 424 yards of total offense (242 pass, 182 rush) against the Bulls.

Reciever: Alex Amidon, WR, Boston College. Amidon caught eight passes for a career-high 193 yards and two touchdowns in Boston College’s 45-31 loss to Clemson, accounting for 52 percent of the team’s receiving yardage and 39 percent of its points. Additionally, the total marked the most receiving yards in a game for a Boston College player since Gerard Phelan had 226 receiving yards against Miami on Nov. 23, 1984. Saturday’s Boston College-Clemson game featured the top two single-game ACC receiving performances so far this fall; Amidon’s total was just 4 yards behind Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins’ 197-yard effort. Amidon has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in three games this fall, and ranks fourth among all FBS players in receiving yards per game (139.8).

Defensive Lineman: Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State. Carradine registered a team-high nine tackles, including 1.5 quarterback sacks and a forced fumble, as the Seminoles defeated South Florida. The Seminoles limited USF to 124 total yards after the first quarter en route to moving to 5-0 on the season. Carradine’s late third-quarter sack of USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd resulted in a fumble, which teammate Christian Jones scooped up and raced 12 yards into the end zone for the Seminoles’ final score of the game. Through five games, Carradine leads the Seminoles with 28 tackles and seven sacks, while his eight tackles for loss trails teammate Bjoern Werner by one. It is the second weekly honor of the season for Carradine.

Linebacker: Gionni Paul, Miami. Paul, making his first start at middle linebacker, tallied a forced fumble and career- and team-high 11 tackles, including eight solo stops, in Miami’s 44-37 win over NC State. Paul’s 11 tackles match his total in his first 11 career games.

Defensive back: Jordon Byas, S, Duke. Byas led Duke to a 34-27 road win over Wake Forest by recording a team-best and career-high 11 tackles. He also added one interception and half a sack -- both firsts of his career. Byas has helped Duke to a 4-1 start to the season, marking the best five-game opening to a season since the 1994 squad started 5-0 while matching the third-best five-game opening to a season since 1966 (5-0 in both 1988 and 1994; 4-1 in 1971, 1974 and 2012).

Specialist: Dustin Hopkins, K, Florida State. Hopkins missed an early field goal from 48 yards but made his final three attempts in a 30-17 win at South Florida. By converting from 26, 43 and 23 yards, Hopkins pushed his career field goal total to 69, which ranks second in Florida State and fourth in ACC history. With 12 points on the day, Hopkins also moved into sole possession of second place on the Florida State and ACC career scoring charts, with 377 points. He trails Florida State record holder Derek Schmidt and ACC record holder Nick Novak of Maryland by 16 points -- they both finished with 393 -- to become the all-time leader. Hopkins is also just eight points shy of moving into 10th place on the NCAA all-time scoring list.

Rookie: Eddie Johnson, LB, Miami. Johnson had seven tackles (six solo stops), one sack, two forced fumbles and one pass breakup in Miami’s 44-37 win over NC State. His six solo stops were second among Miami players and the seven tackles were third on the team.
Georgia Tech and Miami play an important Coastal Division game this Saturday with some pretty important implications for both teams.

While the Jackets looked great in a win over Virginia last week, they have fallen under a Miami spell of late. The Hurricanes have won three straight in the series, outscoring them 92-34. The highest point total Georgia Tech has put up in those three games -- 17.

Meanwhile, Miami sits 1-0 in the ACC but the Hurricanes are in major need of defensive improvement and consistency out of quarterback Stephen Morris, who has been up and down this season. Given the way both teams have played in three games, Georgia Tech has the edge on paper going into this one.

[+] EnlargeTevin Washington
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireTevin Washington is looking to help Georgia Tech stop Miami's recent dominance over the Yellow Jackets.
Did I mention the Miami spell?

“I think they’ve played well and we haven’t," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said this week when asked why Miami has won three straight. "We haven’t gotten off to good starts and have gotten behind. Down there a year ago, we kind of grinded it out and got back 14-7 on a long drive that took forever to get down there. In the last 50 seconds, they scored again to go up 21-7 at the half after they ran the kickoff back. We tried to play catch up. It’s important that we get off to a good start.”

That is exactly what Georgia Tech did last week in its 56-20 win over Virginia. When the first quarter was over, the Jackets led 21-7. At halftime, their lead grew to 35-7. Tevin Washington had three touchdown runs and a 70-yard touchdown pass to Zach Laskey, who has played well since entering the starting lineup a few weeks ago.

Johnson said David Sims will be back this week so both Sims and Laskey will see time at B-back. Orwin Smith played well last week, too, as Georgia Tech racked up 461 yards rushing. Consider Georgia Tech had 469 yards rushing the week before against FCS Presbyterian, and the Jackets have gained nearly 1,000 yards on the ground in two games.

Stopping the run has been a bugaboo for the Miami defense this year, as the Canes have allowed an average of 205.7 yards on the ground this season. The pass defense has not been much better, though priority No. 1 against Georgia Tech always is to stop the run, and Miami has done an excellent job of that in the past three games against the Jackets. Only once in those three games has Georgia Tech gone over 200 yards rushing -- in 2010. Last season, Georgia Tech had 134 yards on the ground and only 95 back in 2009.

But this Miami defense is young and depleted. Injuries have taken a major toll, and Miami will be without starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, who was hurt in the Bethune-Cookman game last week. Coach Al Golden knows how big this task is awaiting his team, but believes his players are up for the challenge.

So long as they step up to the challenge.

"What better challenge do you have than stopping the team that's the best at running the ball?" Golden said. "That's the way I approach it, I know that's the way the defensive coaches approach it. With Denzel down, we're going to need some guys to step up. Jimmy Gaines and Gionni Paul are going to have to step up. Some of those guys that have been on the field versus this look in the past -- Tyrone Cornileus, (Kelvin) Cain, Darius Smith, (Anthony) Chickillo, (Brandon) McGee are going to have to step up for us and play really well."
Miami starting linebacker Ramon Buchanan will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury and safety Vaughn Telemaque is out for this week's game against Bethune-Cookman with a left knee injury, according to The Associated Press.

They were injured in Saturday's 52-13 loss to Kansas State. Miami's defense has been an open door for opponents, and this obviously isn't going to help matters. It doesn't matter that they've got an FCS opponent at home this weekend: The Canes have two of the next three games on the road, including a trip to Coastal Division opponent Georgia Tech, and a date with Notre Dame in Soldier Field.

Coach Al Golden told reporters on Sunday that juniors Jimmy Gaines and Tyrone Cornileus are expected to compete for Buchanan's starting spot.

“Jimmy has made some progress,” Golden said, according to the Miami Herald. “He’s starting to play more snaps and feel healthier. Jimmy will certainly be in the mix there. Gionni Paul has to come through for us and Thurston Armbrister continues to make progress for us and of course Tyrone has been playing over there with Buck. Obviously Tyrone’s going to get a chance to be a starter, he’ll probably compete with Jimmy Gaines, but we need all of these guys to step up for sure.”
Miami released yet another spring depth chart heading into this past weekend. That's the third since a month ago, when coach Al Golden released a depth chart to spring practice.

A.J. Highsmith, who was the No. 1 strong safety when the previous depth chart was released a week earlier, is now listed as an "or" with Vaughn Telemaque. Gionni Paul and Tyrone Cornileus also have an "or" between them at one outside linebacker spot, as do Brandon McGee and Thomas Finnie at cornerback.

Sean Harvey has vaulted to the No. 1 fullback spot because of injuries.

The depth chart can be viewed in its entirety here.

Also worth noting is that quarterback Stephen Morris took reps in drills for the first time this spring, during the Hurricanes' 12th spring practice Thursday. Recovering from back surgery, Morris did not wear pads.
Andrea Adelson had a chance to sit down with Miami coach Al Golden during a recent visit to Coral Gables. Here is a little of what he had to say.

I know depth is an area of concern. How are you working to address that this spring?

Al Golden: Any time you’re bringing in a class of 33, that’s three starting units. Obviously, those guys are going to have an impact somewhere on your depth. You never want to have a year where you take six receivers or seven defensive backs, but the symmetry at those positions was not good. It was not vertical depth. It wasn’t fifth-year seniors, fourth-year seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, then incoming guys. It didn’t exist. So that was a blanket approach of trying to bring in a lot of guys to fix a depth issue. Between the depth and those guys challenging for playing time as starters, that’s going to improve our team. I’m not worried about playing young guys. We’ll find a way to get them in a game if they’re talented and they learn it and they’re in good condition. I don’t care whether they’re freshmen or seniors, I just need guys who want to execute.

You lost some senior leaders. How is that aspect of your team developing?

[+] EnlargeAl Golden
Robert Mayer/US PresswireCoach Al Golden has been impressed with the physicality of the linebacking corps this spring.
AG: So far it’s been good. Mike James and Eduardo Clements at running back, Stephen Morris at quarterback. (Brandon) Linder on the offensive line has been very good. David Perry at tight end has been a nice surprise for us. Allen Hurns at wideout has done a nice job with the leadership. Defensively, (Ramon) Buchanan will be a leader for us, Ray Armstrong will be a leader for us, Jimmy Gaines has been and will be a leader for us. It’s been positive in terms of that. We just have to continue to develop leaders and give them opportunities to lead.

How about some questions that have been answered about your defense so far?

AG: I think the one thing that jumped out in the (first scrimmage) is we had a lot of linebackers that played physical. So that part of it was good. Even the young guys, [Raphael] Kirby was physical, Gionni Paul was physical, Denzel [Perryman] was physical on top of [Tyrone] Cornileus and Jimmy Gaines and those guys. Seeing that was good. We tackled a lot better in Scrimmage 1 this year than Scrimmage 1 a year ago, which was important, and we’re still trying to develop our depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. Those are two positions we need to bolster this spring.

Speaking of the defensive line, you don't have many players with starts or experience. What do you want to see out of that group this spring?

AG: I want to see, like Curtis Porter, I’d like to see him take his game to the next level. Darius Smith has got to continue to improve. Then we’re going to have a host of other guys at the defensive tackle position that need to compete and improve their game. At defensive end, Shayon Green’s had a good spring for us so far, and really at defensive end, we’re going to have in addition to what we have right now, we’re going to have three defensive ends coming in that are going to have to compete for starting jobs and also add depth.

Right now, do you have any idea of what team you will have in the fall?

AG: We have a long way to go. I just think before these other 23 players come in, because 10 are here now, you have to assess where you are at every position and see how they come out of it. We have a long way to go to get through spring ball, and then from April 14 until Aug. 5 there’s a great opportunity for them to grow and develop. It’s too early to assess where we are right now as a team.

A year into the job, what are your impressions of coaching at Miami, a place where championships are always expected?

AG: We’re not at that level right now. The first order of business when you’re trying to fix something or you’re trying to build something is to recognize where you are and then to not only plot a course but then to follow that path, follow that strategy and execute it. I’m glad the standards are where they are, and I’m glad we produce NFL players, and I’m glad we have so many things to offer young people. It’s the reason why you take the job. But we can’t jump from where we are right now to there without taking all the steps we need to take in between. We’re just trying to implement our schemes and our system and follow the process on a daily basis.

Six Canes get an early start

May, 23, 2011
Six members of Miami's 2011 signing class have enrolled in the Summer I session and began classes on campus on May 18.

“We are excited to have the group of young men on campus for summer session,” coach Al Golden said in a prepared statement. “It is very advantageous to the guys who are here early. They get a feel for the ‘lay of the land,’ get to know their teammates and not only do they get a leg up on conditioning, but they begin the adjustment process sooner.”

Quarterback transfer Ryan Williams is among the six who have enrolled for summer. Williams joined the Hurricanes after spending the past year at the University of Memphis, where he started 10 of 13 games. A second transfer, Michael Williams, is also on campus this summer. Williams, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound defensive back, transferred from Wake Forest. He will add depth to the cornerback position and will be eligible to play immediately.

Receiver Phillip Dorsett (5-9, 170), linebacker Gionni Paul (6-0, 230), wide receiver Rashawn Scott (6-2, 198) and defensive tackle Darius Smith (6-2, 345) are also on campus this summer. Dorsett had 35 receptions for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior last year at St. Thomas Aquinas. Scott had 845 receiving yards, rushed for 945 yards and threw for 565 yards accounting for 31 total touchdowns as a senior.

Smith came to UM after spending two seasons at Lackawanna (Pa.) College and will compete as a junior in the fall. Paul racked up 155 tackles, two interceptions and four forced fumbles as a senior. Several more members of the 2011 class are expected to enroll during the second summer session which will begin on June 29.