Sept. 27, 2007

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – – The University of Miami football team practiced for the final time Thursday afternoon, as the team continued preparing for Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener at home against Duke.

“We had a good practice today,” UM head coach Randy Shannon said. “Every time these guys step out on the field for practice, they have to compete. We have to have competition. If these guys don’t want to practice the right, we’ll make decisions and make changes. If they are doing it the right way, we’ll keep practicing the right way.”

Freshman wide receiver Jermaine McKenzie has progressed from his neck injury suffered in a car accident over the summer. McKenzie is now able to wear a helmet but not take contact. “The only thing he’s going to do for another week or two is wear the helmet,” Shannon said. “He doesn’t have the strength in his injury to be moving too much. We just have to go through the process of him getting healthy and getting used to the shoulder pads and the running again.”

Shannon also said he expects safety Lovon Ponder to return in a week. He also said that changes have been made to the kickoff coverage team, where at least six new faces will be used against Duke. Shannon also said defensive tackle Josh Holmes and linebacker Romeo Davis will return from injuries for the Duke game.

Miami will hold a walkthrough at the Greentree Practice Fields Friday afternoon before departing for the team hotel. Kickoff in the Orange Bowl on Saturday is scheduled for noon.