Defense dominates in spring game

In the last big event for Miami football fans before the season starts Sept. 4 against Florida State, the defense defeated the offense 31-14 in the annual Spring Game Saturday at the Orange Bowl.

The score was not a true indication of the defense’s dominance of the offense, which only had one extended drive in the first half after the clock had been stopped in order to give them sufficient time to complete a drive.

“Normally this always happens,” senior defensive end Bryan Pata said. “During the spring, the defense always wins. It’s nothing new; the fans should know it happens every year.”

Injuries have hampered the growing process of the offense. Tyrone Moss and Darnell Jenkins missed the game with knee and ankle injuries, respectively.

“The main thing is we have got to get everyone back healthy and have a great summer,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “We have a lot of work to do offensively.”

Starting quarterback Kyle Wright completed eight of 14 passes for 45 yards. However, no pass completion by any of the four quarterbacks went for more then nine yards.

Kirby Freeman completed only 6 of 17 throws totaling 26 yards with two interceptions, one each by Lovon Ponder and Bruce Johnson.

On the positive side, Freeman did show his speed when the play was not there, gaining 25 yards on four carries.

“He handled himself well, he knew what to do with the football,” Coker said.

The running game looked better than the passing game. Charlie Jones continued his solid work from the end of last season, averaging 4.2 yards per carry on nine attempts.

The only flashy run of the game came from Derron Thomas. His 30-yard run at the tail end of the game fooled a mix of starters and second-team defenders. Thomas only totaled 17 yards on his other 13 carries, however.

The offense was handcuffed by a desire to not show much of what the team was going to be working on.

“We can’t show everything,” Kenny Phillips said. “There are a lot of things when practice is closed that we can’t show out here.”

Brian Monroe looked like the biggest playmaker on offense-not for his punting, but rather his tryout at wide receiver. Monroe only made one catch, but his speed was helping him get separation on a few missed throws by the quarterbacks.

“I think he has an opportunity,” Coker said. “He is really close to being a good receiver. I think you will see him get better throughout the summer.”

The biggest question from the spring game is whether the defense is that good or if the offense is that bad.

“I think it is going to be the best defense that Miami ever had,” Pata said.

Denis Brown can be contacted at