The Hurricane’s defense put on a show for a crowd of about 4,000 people that came out to Ft. Lauderdale’s Lockhart Field Saturday night.
In Miami’s first open public practice of the spring, D.J. Williams and Sean Taylor both had interceptions and six other players combined for eight sacks during a 58-play scrimmage.
“We came out and set the tone and the tempo from the first series,” senior linebacker Jon Vilma said. “The offense was good. They got a couple plays on us, but I think we did good.”
The defensive success did not help the coaches in figuring out which quarterback will win the right to start. None of the quarterbacks looked particularly strong and no one has separated himself from anyone else during spring practice.
“We have a lot of work to do,” quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said. “We’ve got four guys and nobody is distancing themselves.”
Junior Brock Berlin started the scrimmage with the first team offense because junior Derrick Crudup started in the previous scrimmage.
Berlin struggled for most of the scrimmage, throwing two interceptions and completing just 2 of 8 throws. Berlin did however throw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Roscoe Parrish, who hauled in three receptions for 67 yards.
Of the four quarterbacks, red shirt freshman Mark Guillon may have helped his cause the most in completing 4 of 6 passes for 45 yards and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Tannard Davis.
Crudup completed 3 of 6 passes for 40 yards and freshman Kyle Wright connected on two of his four throws for nine yards in limited action.
The offensive line struggled with holding the defense at bay as sophomores Orien Harris and Javon Nanton, a walk-on, led the way with two sacks apiece. The sack total, however, may have looked inflated because the referees blew the whistle anytime the defense laid a hand on the quarterback.
“That was the only thing that was getting in my head,” Crudup said. “I feel like I would’ve broke some of those tackles…but that’s just the refs blowing the whistle and protecting the quarterbacks.”
The quarterbacks also struggled with the lack of healthy receivers. Former quarterback and linebacker Buck Ortega and walk-on defensive back Tannard Davis played at receiver to compensate for the plethora of injuries.
“It hurts all the quarterbacks a lot with the timing,” Crudup said. “Guys that played defense moved over [to receiver] and they really don’t know how to run routs, so you have to work with what you’ve got.”
Tailback Frank Gore started with the first team and ran for 30 yards on seven attempts. Gore tore the ACL in his right knee a little over a year ago, but he has taken part in full contact drills throughout spring practice.
Quadtrine Hill, last years starting fullback, also looked good running the ball, racking up 33 yards on 10 attempts. Hill has played at both full and tailback during spring practice.
“In my heart I’m a tailback, but whatever’s best for the team is what I’m going to play,” Hill said.
The ‘Canes have three practices this week before the Spring Game at the Orange Bowl on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Nate Johnson can be reached at NPJ44@aol.com