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Freshmen stand out again in Scrimmage #2 for Canes
Freshmen stand out again in Scrimmage #2 for Canes
May 22, 2024 10:47 PM

After a very telling and exciting Fall scrimmage last weekend, the Canes were back at it again on Saturday night with another one. Coach Manny Diaz provided the following notes in a mini press-conference afterwards.

Diaz felt as if the defense dominated the first half, which was contrary to the first scrimmage, and attributed it to the defensive line.

“You could see the addition of some of the guys coming back on the defensive line and that added an overall edge to their play,” Diaz mentioned. “Quincy and Jaelan were both very disruptive. Getting Jon Ford back, just a lot of guys creating havoc there in the backfield and creating some negative plays.”

“…We had very few negative plays in the first scrimmage and it seemed like there are a lot more tonight.”

He went on to say that the offense responded to the adversity well and proceeded to piece together a few touchdown drives, but not without a few hiccups in the process.

“Overall, though, it was much, much too sloppy of a scrimmage; much sloppier than the first scrimmage.” Diaz noted more penalties, which were very limited in the first scrimmage.

Diaz raved about junior RB Cam Harris, calling his performance “fantastic”. Harris was limited in the first scrimmage but he made his presence known when he got the ball.

While on the topic of running backs, Diaz also mentioned freshmen backs Donald Chaney and Jaylan Knighton, who followed up the first scrimmage with solid performances on Saturday.

“I think after their plays a week ago sometimes you have a tendency to want to hit a grand slam with no one on base…I think once they started trusting their cuts and just sticking to north-south runners, once they cleared that front line now they can use their explosion.”

One big takeaway is that not one, but two freshman wide receivers filled the stat line. Xavier Restrepo, who’s expected to see the field this season, caught five passes for 79 yards while Keyshawn Smith had three catches for 53 yards. Both also added a touchdown each.

After sitting out the first scrimmage, Brevin Jordan found himself getting back into the groove, catching four passes while Larry Hodges added 45 receiving yards and one touchdown.

DISRUPTIVE DEFENSE

The name of the game for the past four seasons has always been defense for the Canes, and Diaz was excited about the defense stepping up. Miami may be without highly-regarded freshman safety Avantae Williams in 2020 but another one stepped up in this scrimmage.

The defense forced three turnovers, two of them by way of Brian Balom. The freshman forced one fumble and intercepted a pass, all while leading the D with seven tackles. CB Te’Cory Couch forced the other one via interception.

The front 7 also made an impact, as redshirt-freshman LB Avery Huff added five tackles and a couple of sacks, while DE Jahfari Harvey had six tackles. LB Corey Flagg added a fumble recovery.

Coach Diaz mentioned that his goal for practice this week is to tack on the adversity and see who responds the best.

“We’ve got to be able to extend these drives, especially in the heat. During training camp, we’re going in the evening a lot. We’ve got to get on Greentree…we’ve just got to continue to push our guys through this week and make it really, really hard on them, make it really difficult on them and really find out…who we can count on to go compete against UAB.”

MY TAKEAWAY

My biggest takeaway from this scrimmage is easily the standout performances from the freshmen. Restrepo has always been seen as a guy that will easily fit into that speedy slot role, much similar to what Braxton Berrios was. Keyshawn Smith was a guy who barely made it to Miami for the spring semester and scouts thought he was a diamond in the rough. Huff redshirted last season and it seems like he’s ready to go if he’s finding a way to get a couple of sacks. I thought Balom wouldn’t see the field this year but if he’s capable of having performances like that, coaches might find a way to put him in the safety rotation.

KEY STAT LINES

QB D’Eriq King: 95 passing yards, 2 TD’s

RB Cam Harris: 13 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD, 5 catches, 2 receiving TD’s

RB Jaylan Knighton & Donald Chaney Jr.: 40+ yards, 1 TD each

WR Xavier Restrepo: 5 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD

WR Keyshawn Smith: 3 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD

TE Brevin Jordan: 4 catches

TE Larry Hodges: 45 receiving yards, 1 TD

DE Jahfari Harvey: 6 tackles

LB Avery Huff: 5 tackles, 2 sacks

LB Corey Flagg: fumble recovery

CB Te’Cory Couch: 1 INT

S Brian Balom: 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF

Keep it locked to 5 Reasons Sports for the latest in your Miami Hurricanes coverage.

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