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Marsh’s Mailbag: Who Stood Out Most During Spring, Miami Defense, And Underrated Canes.

How likely is it Miami goes to the transfer portal for linebackers? And can the Canes defense be dominant again this year?

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the injuries to Waynmon Steed and Bradley Jennings Jr., how likely do you think it is we bring in a linebacker or two via the portal?

I wrote an article about this last Sunday, and talked about some potential linebackers Miami could bring in from the transfer portal, such as Rahyme Johnson from UCLA.

However, UM coaches have made it clear that they’re not going to bring in transfer players just because several have been injured this spring. I’d say it’s less than likely to happen, and expect incoming freshman like Sam Brooks or Avery Huff to play. It also looks as if Patrick Joyner, Jr. could be making the switch from defensive end to linebacker.

What does your gut tell you on who the QB will be?

Knew I couldn’t make it a week without having been asked about the quarterback situation. My gut is very unsure at this moment. Jarren Williams started off really hot, and then N’Kosi Perry has been taking the number-one reps lately and has improved, and now all of a sudden Tate Martell has a great week of practice. At this point, I'd still say it’s between Perry and Williams, and coaches have made it clear that no decision will be made on the starter until the fall.

Is the spring game going to be televised?

That’s a negative ghost-rider.

How’s our kicking/punting game looking?

Well as far as our kicking goes, Bubba Baxa is still a work-in-progress, and actually missed a 25-yard field goal in last weeks scrimmage, which isn’t good. Moving over to the punting situation, Miami will be without transfer Louis Hedley until the summer, but I'm much more confident in Hedley’s game right now than Baxa. I don’t think special teams gets talked about enough and it should, because in several cases last season, our kicking and punting game dug us in some deep holes, especially against LSU.

How worried should we be about the injuries suffered during the spring?

Guys like Brevin Jordan, Jeff Thomas, Brian Hightower and others have suffered injuries, but it shouldn’t effect them for the 2019 season. The only real injuries I'm a little concerned about is Waynmon Steed and Bradley Jennings Jr. , just because our depth at linebacker is running so scarce.

Who stuck out to you the most during spring practice?

That’s a great question, because several Canes really stepped up this spring, such as Jeremiah Payton and also Jarren Williams. I’m tempted to say Cam’Ron Harris, but I'm going to go with Gregory Rousseau, and the reason why is because he’s coming back from a season-ending injury he suffered last year. No doubt Harris has been very impressive, but for Greg to bounce back and stand out on one of the top defensive lines in the country, that’s something. Plus, he’s even gained recognition from former UM great Calais Campbell.

Who were the big name recruits this past week?

If you didn't know, Miami had some top-notch recruits in Coral Gables the past few days. First, number-one ranked linebacker in the nation Justin Flowe, from Upland (CA) attended the scrimmage on Saturday. Then, five-star quarterback Jake Garcia, from Narbonne (CA) took his visit to UM. Then finally, the top-rated tight end in America, Darnell Washington from Las Vegas took his visit as well.

Who do you think will be the starting five offensive lineman once the season starts?

Sheesh, that’s a million dollar question right there, the starting five they had on Saturday was something I wasn’t expecting, but here I go. I’ll say D.J. Scaife Jr. at left tackle, Zalon’Tae Hillery at left guard, a healthy Corey Gaynor at center, Navaughn Donaldson at right guard, and John Campbell, Jr. at right tackle.

Will Deejay Dallas be the starting running back at the start of the season? Or will Lorenzo Lingard and Cam’ron Harris challenge him?

I think so. Harris has been making tremendous strides, and Lingard is obviously extremely talented, but Deejay is the starter in the group. He’s experienced, and bigger than the other two guys. That’s not to say that Harris or Lingard won't get their fair share of carries though. I’m telling you guys, if the offensive line is able to do their part, this running back group can be elite.

Why do you hate Kyle Wright so much?

Can’t tell if it’s a bad thing or a good thing that people know my feelings about Kyle Wright. It’s not that I hate him, I think it’s idiotic to “hate” a collegiate player. When he was at UM, I was in my heyday of fanatical fanhood in fifth, sixth and seventh grade. It’s not entirely his fault, because his offensive line was absolutely horrendous, but he didn’t help himself either. I just remember losses like Virginia Tech or Florida State in 2006 and he was the quarterback, or 48-0 against Virginia in 2007. When you’re benched for Kirby Freeman, that’s when you know it’s bad.

Who’s the most underrated Hurricane in your lifetime?

I have several underrated Canes, but I'll just name two for now. My fan “lifetime” began around 2002. My first is receiver Kevin Beard, who was on those early 2000’s teams. Beard was a great WR who complimented Andre Johnson, and then took advantage of being a number-one target when Johnson left. Everyone remembers Brock Berlins performance against UF in 2003, Beard had seven catches for 164 plus a touchdown that game.

My second underrated Hurricane is running back Tyrone Moss. This South Florida native, who passed away tragically last year, was a beast at RB for Miami, and if he wasn’t plagued by injuries basically his entire career, I wouldn’t think of him as underrated at all. His 139-yard and three touchdown performance in a three-overtime victory at Clemson in 2005 still is brought up to this day.

Can the Miami defense be as dominant as they were last year?

150% they can! Miami again will have a great defense, though I think that it’ll be a little different. Last year, our pass defense was ranked number-one in the nation, while our rush defense was in the 40’s. I think in 2019 that’ll be switched, especially with losing all but one starter from last seasons secondary, and they’ll become better against the run. With the guys Miami has on the d-line, plus Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney at LB’s, the dominating Hurricanes defense is here to stay in 2019.

Which Miami team has underperformed the most in the past 15 years?

Since the program really fell off beginning in 2006, there’s been way too many underperforming teams at Miami. 2006 was very bad, a squad that had players like Jon Beason, Greg Olsen and Calais Campbell, but only went 7-6. 2010 was also a huge disappointment. Starting the season in the top-15 and ACC favorites, but stumble again to a 7-6 record. Finally, I'd also have to put 2018 in there, and I don't need to explain that disaster.

Does Mark Richt get a bad rep?

Well yes, obviously. Any head coach in America is bound to get some sort of a bad rep. Though with coach Richt it’s a tough situation. 2016 and 2017 were great years in terms of bringing Miami back to the national spotlight, and also his contribution to building the IPF. However, because 2018 was such a train-wreck, and because of his questionable handling of the quarterback situation, he’s looked at negatively by some Canes fans.