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Miami Hurricanes

Bizarre’ Saturday saw Mark Richt back around Canes program

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
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It was already odd enough at the Miami Hurricanes were choosing to play their Spring football game in Orlando. Well, if a four-hour drive to the north in the middle of the state, instead of playing on campus or Hard Rock Stadium etc. raised an eyebrow, then, who “popped in” on his old team did a lot more than that.

That’s, because former coach Mark Richt made a surprise sudden appearance at Camping World Stadium.

It turns out that Richt was there, as part of being announced as a new analyst for the soon-to-debut ACC Television network that ESPN is putting together:

The network is obviously trying to gain credibility and traction with having “name” individuals talk about teams and the conference.

Bu,t it could not have been a more awkward deal to have Richt in the Press Box with the same Hurricanes media members that had been covering him and in some cases harpooning him, over the past three years.

And, this would include Richt’s handling of his quarterbacks with  “yo-yo games” between senior Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’kosi Perry to the point that it almost became comical. Then, speaking of comedy, it was something out of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, when Richt asked a group of the media out loud “who do you all think should be the starting QB?”

Seriously. That happened.

Obviously, Miami still has Perry and also now, Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, who looked good at times in the Spring game Saturday.

But the larger question is: will the Cannes under new coach and last year’s defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, take big steps if not this year? And, soon to be back in National Championship contention this season or by next?

To be fair, Rich had them on the verge at the end of the 2017 season after Miami upset Virginia Tech and Notre Dame to rise to the top 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings in late November. 

But, Miami fell apart with a losses to an awful Pittsburgh team in the regular season finale’. Then, Miami was stomped byy Clemson in the ACC title game and, eventually, beaten by Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

And that collapse carried over as a dark cloud into 2018 and as the Canes floundered and lost games, the outcry against the head coach intensified.

Eventually, it became obvious, the Richt was on shaky ground and when Diaz, left to take the Temple head coaching, many began to  publicly wonder on the airwaves and the internet, if that was a final blow to recruiting and with the defense that would be fatal to Richt’s tenure.

Next came the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, and Miami was a mess from beginning to end a blowout loss, again to Wisconsin. And in short order Rick had “retired:” and Diaz was suddenly back, as Miami’s head coach.

Give Richt credit, he said the right things in the press box in his new analyst role about the Cane’s program improving for the future with Diaz now in charge.

And, anyone that has covered or been around Richt, knows that he’s as genuine and loving of his players staff and everyone with his programs, as any coach you will find.

Still, it was weird to have him back around Miami, so soon after the crazy events of last December. And to further know,  know that he’ll be giving running commentary this fall on the ACC Network, as Miami succeeds or fails.

We got our first taste Saturday.

Miami Hurricanes

Will Canes turn things around in home opener?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The excitement behind first year Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz is quickly losing steam as the once ACC powerhouse has now found themselves as an unranked, middle of the pack team in their conference with an 0-2 record. Granted, they have had some bigger tests than most teams in the first two weeks of play, but still, there is too much talent on this team to have had such a lackluster start.

So, today has to be the day for Diaz to see some success as he heads into his first home game as the Canes head coach. Even if it’s against an FCS team, it will give the Canes the boost they need to turn the season around. They have a lot of young talent who can certainly bring Miami back to its state of prominence and there is still a lot to be hopeful for as they head into their first kickoff in Hard Rock Stadium this season.

History is certainly on Miami’s side. In their all time series with Bethune-Cookman University, Miami has a perfect 4-0 mark against the Wildcats, winning all four games by 3o points or more. Also, Miami has not lost a home opener since 2006, and have emerged victorious in its last 12 home openers, most recently, a shoutout 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State last season.

Amidst the two early losses, RS Freshman QB Jarren Williams has looked strong. In his first ever collegiate start against Top 10 ranked Florida, Williams finished 19-for-30 for 214 yards and 1 TD. He looked even better in week two against ACC opponent North Carolina, throwing for 309 yards on 30-for-39 passing with two touchdowns and no picks. He’ll likely put up even bigger numbers today against a significantly weaker defense. He’s now the ranked fourth among ACC Quarterbacks.

Williams also has strong targets in RB DeeJay Dallas who rushed for 107 yards on 14 carries, averaging 7.6 yards per rush vs. UNC, as well as TE Brevin Jordan who leads the team with 161 receiving yards (80.5 per game).

On the defensive end, Miami has one the best linebacker trios in college football right now with Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney & Shaq Quarterman. These three have started nearly every game together since arriving to University of Miami as early enrollees in 2016.

UM’s starting offensive line now has three freshman. True freshman LT Zion Nelson, redshirt freshman RT John Campbell, Jr. and true freshman Jakai Clark who made his first start against the Tar Heels. The young UM offensive line looked much improved in week two, but they still allowed four sacks and aren’t up to the caliber they need to be to be considered a solid offensive line. However, facing a FCS level opponent like Bethune-Cookman, the starting five on the offensive line should be able to grow confident together this week. 

Should Miami be upset with the way they’ve started this season, for sure. But, the 0-2 start does not have to reflect what the rest of the year will look like. This week is the perfect opportunity for the teams nine new starters so far this season to get more comfortable and build some confidence, and get the second string guys playing time to give the team more depth all around.

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Miami Hurricanes

Even with defeat Canes legend Irvin passionate about future

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI IS BACK!!!! Well, at least they are, according to Hurricanes legendary WR Michael Irvin and a social media post Monday morning.

First, Irvin was seen getting Canes fans hyped at a rally Friday night prior to Miami’s opening loss to rival Florida in Orlando Saturday night:

Irvin was also a guest on ESPN’s “College Gameday” show at Disney World and got very animated on Saturday morning with Gators legend/Heisman winner, Tim Tebow:

Well, despite the hype, the Hurricanes played a sloppy game with lots of penalties and turnovers. Some of this was to be expected with a first year head coach in Manny Diaz and a redshirt freshman QB making his first start in Jarren Williams. As we wrote though, Williams showed promise at times despite sacks and misfires, at times for the offense.

Well, Irvin was back on social media Monday (apparently after a morning workout) and wanted Canes fans to know he is encouraged and to keep that same energy even after the loss:

In the :60 post, Irvin made it very clear that the Canes “gave it to the Gators,” and he was so adamant about that, he even said it twice. He was also very encouraged about the way his team played, especially with multiple freshmen on the O-line and a young QB.

“If it weren’t for a few mistakes, the Canes would have walked away with the win!,” Irvin emphasized.

Irvin, who was a two time All American receiver for the Gators in the 80s, part of the 1987 National Championship team and later a Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Cowboys, was a good sport and congratulated the Gators. But, he did leave us with a great quote to end his speech,

“I don’t care what ya’ll say, we will never die. We will never quit, and we will never go anywhere. So, eat that on your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plate.”

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