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April 8, 2007
Orange vs. White, but defense wins Spring Game
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Today's Spring Game used a new format.
But it was the same old result: Defensive domination.
Coach Randy Shannon "drafted" two teams for today's scrimmage Orange vs. White.
The White team had Kirby Freeman at quarterback. Orange had Kyle Wright.
Calais Campbell was on Orange. Eric Moncur on White.
And so on and so forth. In the past the Canes would simply put the No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense, etc.
The pseudo-game today had lots of plays by the defense but not many by the offense.
The Orange team won, 7-0.
"Guys were competing the whole time," Shannon said. "And we had a two-minute drill that one offense scored on, then toward the end of the game there was another two-minute drill that they had a chance to score with a chance for overtime or go for two. So that's things we had a chance to do. We want to see guys compete the whole entire time. There were some lapses here and there, but when it comes down to it at the end it was competition."
There were only two first downs in the first quarter and the only score came in the final seconds of the first half when Kyle Wright lofted a perfect pass to Sam Shields in the left corner of the end zone.
"It was a fade route and I just concentrated on the ball and went up and got it," Shields said. "I thought there would be more than [just one touchdown], was very surprised. But our defense had some good plays."
The quarterback comparison?
Wright finished hitting on seven of 14 passes for 60 yards; Kirby Freeman completed eight of 19 passes for 117 yards.
Freeman tried to bring the White team back for a tying score at the end of the game, but a fourth-and-two pass from the opposing 12-yard line fell incomplete with 26.3 seconds remaining.
The running game never got untracked in the game. Javarris James rushed five times for one yard before leaving due to injury. He left the field afterward on crutches with his knee and ankle wrapped in bags of ice, but he returned to sign autographs and told fans he was fine.
"He's got an ankle sprain, I think," Shannon said. "I don't know what extent it is right now."
Charlie Jones carried 11 times for 39 yards; Derron Thomas rushed 16 times for 13 yards; and Kylan Robinson had 12 carries for 12 yards.
The longest run of the day was a 13-yard carry by Jones.
The top receiver was Khalil Jones with 54 yards receiving on three catches.
He had the biggest play of the day with a 41-yard grab over Carlos Armour.
"It was me against Carlos, basically set up," Jones said. "I wanted the ball, I went up and got it. As simple as that. I wanted it."
The defense finished with eight sacks, including three by Calais Campbell.
Campbell previously predicted he'd have five sacks.
"I started kind of slow, then got it turned on and then coach pulled me out, said, `Let the younger boys get the reps,'" Campbell said. "I think if I stayed in a little more I could have made a couple more plays. But it's all about getting better. We got better.
"My impression [from the spring] is that we're going to be real good this year, have a chance to win the national championship if we play hard, play together."
The defense had 14 tackles for losses in the game with an interception by Chavez Grant.
The leading tackler was Kenny Phillips, with eight.
He said of the lone touchdown that "They shouldn't have gotten that, but they did.
"The defense, the mindset is to dominate. Even though they split us up, the defense still came out on top and dominated. It was fun, all the guys were geeked up about it, and we came out and had fun."
Offensive lineman Andrew Bain said of the defense dominating the Spring Game that "I'm not disappointed at all. We did a lot of good things on offense. We went down there, ran a good two-minute drill, scored at touchdown. We had a mixed up offensive line, people were playing next to [different] people. There were continuity issues. The defense played well, played like they always do."
Players said not to judge the offense on one scrimmage in which the team didn't want to show many formations publicly.
"The offense showed us what they can do in practice, some days they totally dominated the defense," Phillips said. "They just couldn't show a lot of the new stuff we put in. There's nothing to worry about."
Each quarter was played with an eight-minute clock, and the first team to pass the 50-yard line was White in the second quarter with 1:57 remaining and that was only after coaches started the White offense at its own 46-yard line.
The game's only scoring drive came in the final two minutes of the first half when Kyle Wright led the Orange team on an 11-play, 70-yard drive.
The drive was highlighted by a 24-yard catch-and-run by Shields to the opposing 30-yard line and a 13-yard run to the five-yard line by Jones. Wright hooked up with Shields for a five-yard score with 5.5-seconds remaining in the first half. Shields went above Randy Phillips to make the catch.
"Sam Shields gets the ball, that boy's hard to tackle," Campbell said.
The White team came up with a big play on its opening second half possession when Freeman hooked up with Khalil Jones for a 41-yard gain. But Freeman was intercepted by Chavez Grant at the one-yard line on the next play.
White's only other substantial drive of the half was its final attempt to tie the game. Starting at its own 30 yard line, Freeman converted a third-and-11 and fourth-and-two to get the team into scoring range. But with a first-and-10 at the opposing 20-yard line, Freeman threw a pair of incomplete passes before he hooked up with DajLeon Farr for an eight yard gain. On fourth-and-two Tavares Gooden broke up a pass intended for Farr and the Orange team took over.
A run by Thomas ended the game.
"It feels good to win," Campbell said. "We get to eat first [at lunch as the reward]. It was all fun and games, competition, and I'm glad to prevail."
Phillips added, "They get to eat first, that's alright."
* Changes to the Orange and White lineups posted by CaneSport.com yesterday: Colin McCarthy and Doug Wiggins moved from the Orange team to White.
* Bruce Johnson played after missing the other practices this spring due to injury.
* QUOTE OF THE DAY: Khalil Jones on the new offense - "It's much more up-tempo, much more complex. The receivers and everybody on the field, at any moment everyone's open. So anyone can catch a ball at any given time rather than setting it on one specific player. It's open to every receiver, running back. The quarterback has a lot of things that he can do at any time. It's going to be a great offense for the University of Miami. We're going to light it up this year."
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