Before 7:00 p.m. struck, the special teams unit took the field and worked out on their own. Fans, still shuffling in, watched Bubba Baxa drill field goals and put them over the net and off the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility. The fans also got their first look at Miami’s new punter and ESPN sensation Louis Hedley.
And he did not disappoint.
Hedley quickly became the fan favorite with booming kicks that brought cheers and applauses out of the Miami Hurricane faithful that came out on a Friday night to get a glimpse at the 2019 ‘Canes.
Unfortunately, their night was cut short after lightning moved the practice indoors after about a solid half hour (give or take) of practice.
The quarterback rotation was not really a surprise if you payed attention to the off-season workouts. Tate Martell got many of the first team reps, but N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams each got a chance to run with the ones as well.
The first team offensive line was: LT Zion Nelson, LG Navaughn Donaldson, C Corey Gaynor, RG DJ Scaife, and RT Kai Leon-Herbert. WR KJ Osborn, RB Deejay Dallas, WR Jeff Thomas, WR Dee Wiggins, and TE Brevin Jordan rounded out the first team.
On defense it looked like: DE Jon Garvin, DT Jon Ford DT Pat Bethel, DE Scott Patchan, MLB Shaq Quarterman, LB Mike Pinckney, Striker Romeo Finley, CB Trajan Bandy, CB Al Blades Jr., S Gurvan Hall, S Amari Carter
Newcomers DE Trevon Hill and DT Chigozie Nnoruka highlighted a very talented second team defensive line alongside DT Nesta Silvera and DE Greg Rousseau.
I was particularly impressed by Nnoruka. He flashed speed and explosiveness in a drill he was running with Blake Baker and Ephraim Banda.
The defense, as expected, is clearly ahead of the offense, but you can get a sense that the offense feels more comfortable in what they're doing and how they are going about it. Martell, in particular, looks much more comfortable throwing the football from when I saw him in the spring. I wasn't blown away by him, but he was much better.
The highlight of the day, in my opinion, was a pass he threw to Osborn that was perfectly placed.
Wow! Martell to KJ Osborn, who bring in the one-handed grab pic.twitter.com/IFlnyS6klw— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) July 27, 2019
He looked much more fluid as a passer although there were certainly mistakes. Scott Patchan batted a pass that stayed in the air long enough for him to bring it in for an interception. He also threw an interception to Derrick Smith once the lightning cleared and they took it back out to Greentree.
Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry didn't show anything that would lead me to believe that they took a step forward in this competition. Williams worked mostly with the third team offense when the teams broke off into 7-on-7 work and eventually moved over to 11-on-11, until the very end when they all came together.
Perry did make a nice throw to Dee Wiggins, who made an acrobatic catch to stay inbounds.
Great catch by Dee Wiggins on the opposite side of the field. Throw by Kosi pic.twitter.com/0gSSaYDcFs— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) July 27, 2019
And I want to shoutout freshman LB Sam Brooks, who seems like he can be an instant impact guy for Blake Baker and his defense. He is extremely quick and has great instincts. I felt like he played very well considering it was his first college football practice.
Freshman CB Christian Williams also made a nice play in 1-on-1 coverage against sophomore WR Brian Hightower
Fresh CB Christian Williams in coverage on sophomore Brian Hightower pic.twitter.com/iKbLXrnF1L— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) July 26, 2019
It was a good day of practice and the changing of conditions — from going outside to inside and back outside — was a minor challenge that the Canes had to overcome that actually impacted the practice.
Head coach Manny Diaz said that the energy was high when practice started and when they went inside, but saw it drop a little bit when they headed back out to Greentree the second time.
“What I saw today was that we had a really good summer” Diaz said in regards to their physical conditioning.
However, he mentioned that its not they're physical capabilities that he's worried about, it’s their mental strength. He said that a drop in energy like the one he saw tonight could be the difference in winning and losing a game.
More tomorrow. As always, Go Canes.