University of Miami offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry had their first opportunities at the Hurricanes game-week lectern Monday during an afternoon news conference.
Both were enthused about Friday’s 7 p.m. home opener against Miami of Ohio at Hard Rock Stadium.
Dawson, 46, known in the past for his pass-prolific air-raid offenses, came to UM in the offseason from Houston. There, during the past three seasons, his offenses ranked 13th in the nation with 87 passing touchdowns and 21st with 10,008 passing yards. Last year, Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune set an American Athletic Conference record with 40 passing touchdowns and ranked fifth in the nation with 313.4 passing yards per game.
Guidry, 52, spent the past two seasons at Marshall, which last season led the 130 FBS teams in third-down- conversion-percentage defense, was 19th in red-zone defense, sixth in scoring defense (16 points allowed per game), seventh in total defense (294.5 yards), fourth in rushing defense (93 yards), sixth in passes intercepted (18) and fifth in turnovers gained (29). His defenses are aggressive, with plenty of presnap movement.
Some comments from each during the news conference:
Dawson, on UM’s varied receivers and their timing, many of whom are expected to rotate: “It looks good. Our passing game is coming along. I’ve said this multiple times: We don’t have a 100-reception guy coming back. We’ve got to find out who our dudes are, and I think I have a good idea. But I’d like to be pleasantly surprised by some guys, too.
“Gotta make plays in games. That’s just the facts.’’
Dawson, on the run game: “We have a group of running backs that are really talented — probably one of the more talented groups we have. I feel good about multiple guys playing. It will be running back by committee. Somebody has got to run out there first, obviously, but we have multiple guys that can carry the rock.
“And balancing that? It’s pretty easy. If you’re having success, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not, change it.’’
Dawson, on tight end Jaleel Skinner: “Jaleel is a very athletic kid. He’s probably as far as routes and speed and all that stuff, really, really good. Jaleel just needs to gain weight and eat and work out. All the other stuff is pretty easy for him.”
Dawson said Elijah Arroyo, who had major knee surgery last season and was sidelined during most of the media’s limited viewing, “has been practicing as much as anybody else.”
Guidry, on his two-year stint in 2009-10 as the defensive backs coach at Miami of Ohio: “Being a Louisiana boy I didn’t really know much about Miami of Ohio. I remember watching Ben Roethlisberger in a bowl game one time. When I got the call to go there with Mike Haywood, I found out a lot about it and the cradle of coaches. You look at the wall and see all the coaches that have been there: Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler. And you see the assistants: Sean Payton, [Jim] Tressel coached there. It’s a who’s who as far as coaches.
“Really good institution, very good academically... We had a good football team. I enjoyed my stay there. I like Cincinnati and Cincinnati was close by. It was good to me.’’
Guidry, on the cornerbacks who have been in the mix and done well: “The Brown brothers [UCF transfer Davonte and freshman Damari), [Daryl] Porter, along with [Jaden] Davis, the [Ja’Dais] Richard kid. TC (Te’Cory Couch) is kind of playing the nickel right now but it’s been a revolving door. I think we’ll have to play all of them and find out through the year which ones are playing the best and go from there. But they all deserve the right to play.”
Guidry, on junior safety James Williams: “He’s a guy that can play a couple of positions — the boundary safety and SAM backer. He can create depth at another position, wherever it is. He’s playing boundary safety for us but he’ll play some SAM throughout the year. We’ll pick and choose what games he’ll play at outside linebacker and which ones he’ll be dedicated to playing back there at the safety position. It’s going to be game-by-game, how we feel about matchups, whether it’s a tight end we need to cover with an outside linebacker or do we want to blitz a bigger guy, because he’s bigger than all the SAM backers.”
Guidry, on Purdue transfer tackle Branson Deen: “Branson is real, real twitchy. He’s not a very tall guy, but he’s very powerful and fast. He’s probably in the best shape because he’s smaller than the rest of them, so he’ll probably be able to play the most reps. I think he’ll make a ton of plays this year rushing the passer and probably disrupt plays in the backfield with running backs.”
Guidry on defensive end Akheem Mesidor, who had been limited in fall camp: “He’s doing really well. We’ve kind of held him a little bit at times in camp, but he’s full go now. He looks fine to me. From what I saw on film last year, that’s what he looks like. I expect him to have a good year. Everything seems to be a go with him this week.’’
He also mentioned expected defensive end starter Nyjalik Kelly, who has “really stood out,’’ as well as freshman Rueben Bain, Chantz Williams and Jayden Wayne, all of whom will be part of the rotation.