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NOTEBOOK: Gators And ‘Canes Take Sides In Locker Room; Other Notes

Posted Sep 6, 2013

Saturday’s big game between in-state rivals leads to trash talk.



Miami Dolphins starting running back Lamar Miller and starting defensive end Olivier Vernon are having their voices drowned out preceding Saturday’s showdown between the University of Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators at Sun Life Stadium. 

Miller and Vernon are outnumbered, 4-2, by ex-Gators inside the team’s locker room and third-year center Mike Pouncey is the ringleader. Rookies Mike Gillislee, Calib Sturgis and Jelani Jenkins are more than happy to let Pouncey be the head trash talker when it comes to predicting the outcome of the game, and Pouncey is more than happy to oblige.

“We can’t bet cash so we bet little small stuff about carrying stuff off the field or paying for dinner or something,” said Pouncey, whose alma mater had much more recent success than that of Miller’s and Vernon’s. “They’ll be paying for a lot, though. I’ll tell you that much. It’s going to be a lot of trash talking, man. This locker room is so diverse with all different kind of teams and universities. Guys take a lot of pride in that. I know I do.”

Meanwhile, Vernon isn’t about to concede anything to Pouncey, Gillislee, Sturgis or Jenkins, especially since it’s a home game for the Hurricanes and on the same field the Dolphins call home. The Miami native who played his high school football within view of Sun Life Stadium is a bit more reserved, but he’s having fun with the rivalry.

“We’ve got some friendly bets,” Vernon said. “Hopefully we win. I get to hold Pouncey’s car for a week – just joking. He would have to think of something. I don’t think we're going to lose.”

Of course Pouncey has become the master of getting in the last word and took that opportunity again when reminded how many Florida players are on the Dolphins’ roster compared to Miami players.

“It’s a Gator locker room,” he said. “They want to win, they’re bringing the Gators in.”

All five players will be watching with interest on their charter flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cleveland.

FIRST ROAD GAME WAS MAPPED OUT IN ADVANCE

One benefit the Miami Dolphins generated from playing in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio was that it gave them a chance to have a dry run for this Sunday’s season opener at the Cleveland Browns.

“We try to make things familiar,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “One of the reasons we had the extra game, we’re staying in the same hotel we were at. Familiarity is an important part of being successful on the road, being comfortable.”

Of course no matter how much game film Philbin and his staff has broken down and how many times they have gone over in their head the route from the hotel to FirstEnergy Stadium, the unknown still exists. In the NFL, nothing helps increase the chances of winning more than preparation and repetition.

“There’s no magic to winning on the road. You’ve got to play good, sound, fundamental football. That’s what I told our guys,” said Philbin, who is opening on the road for the second consecutive season. “We’ve got to play fast, we’ve got to play decisive. We’ve got plenty of offense, defense and special teams. As I said to the team, we could play a doubleheader with all the stuff we’ve got in.”

Fortunately for the Dolphins, the NFL doesn’t do doubleheaders.

JORDAN ANXIOUS TO MAKE HIS DEBUT

Plenty of attention and expectations come with being the No. 3 overall pick of the NFL Draft and rookie defensive end Dion Jordan has gotten used to it already. But the former Oregon Duck has grown tired of waiting for that first regular-season game, and in 48 hours the wait will be over for him.

“I’m excited to get out there and see how we do as a team,” said Jordan, who showed flashes of his potential during the early part of the preseason. “This being my first game and the fact that it’s going to be in a good atmosphere, I’m just excited to get out there and compete.”

Jordan expects all of his family and friends to tune in to the television broadcast and be ready to hit the record button on their DVRs the moment he takes the field for the first time. He’s envisioned to some extent how his first play will go, but he just wants to walk away with a win his first game.

As for how will be measured by the fans and the media in addition to his coaches, Jordan has remained grounded and realistic.

“I understood when I got to this league no matter where I was going to be drafted that I was going to have to work for my spot in this locker room,” he said. “Just the fact that I was drafted so high obviously just humbles me and it just lets me know how appreciative I should be about the job that I have.”

THE LAST WORD

“He makes it easy on me. He sees things before I see them and he’s a great communicator. I’m happy to have that guy playing beside me.” – right guard John Jerry on new right tackle Tyson Clabo