Coral Gables, FL— Looking to rebound after the last minute loss to Florida State on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium, the No. 16 Miami Hurricanes have to quickly regroup as ACC Coastal opponent, North Carolina, comes to town. This game likely has far more significance to the overall season success for the Hurricanes, though fans would disagree and probably consider the Florida State game more important.
Rivalry games are like that.
But Mark Richt’s goal is to win a championships.
He cans start by winning the ACC Coastal, something no Miami team has done since joining the league on July 1, 2004.
Today when speaking to the media, coach Mark Richt was focused. He displayed the confidence of a coach who had been in big games before and things didn’t go his way but knowing there are other games ahead.
“It’s going to be a big one for both teams. I’m looking forward to our fan base being as jacked up as they were last week.”
The home crowd at Hard Rock Stadium was fired up on Saturday. They were chanting, screaming and even yelling at officials. Miami will need their fans to cheer them on and perhaps recognizing the past when teams have had close let downs, Richt urged the fans not to give up on the team, realizing that this game is really important for the season.
THE SCOUTING REPORT ON NORTH CAROLINA
On offense: They have one guard, [Caleb] Peterson, who has 42 career starts. Their center has 32 career starts. Another tackle, , has 43 career starts. So a lot of veterans up front. As far as the wide receiver position, they’re loaded. Most of them are big and tall and long and lanky and very capable. I know Bug Howard was a guy we recruited at Georgia and we did not get him. He’s 6-5, 220 [pounds] already. I can’t believe he’s already a senior. [Ryan] Switzer is the guy who is kind of taken ([Jon] Hecking) everybody by storm with a bunch of catches. He already has a career in five games, basically – 49 catches already, almost 600 yards and a couple of TDs. He’s really done well. Mitch Trubisky, their quarterback, I know he has had at least three games of over 400 yards and really running their system great. They’re spreading it out, they’re going quick. They’re doing a lot of run-pass option stuff which really stresses your defense, just getting lined up and ready to play. Without [Jamal] Carter being there, it just adds to it for us. Guys are just going to have to step up and really do a great job of playing hall.
On the defense, Coach Chizik has them going there too. He has a very veteran secondary – 32 starts, 26 stat, 33 starts, 18 starts – back on the back end. Really an outstanding bunch. They know what they’re doing, and they do a great job of not giving up the big play. We’re going to have to do a good job of driving the field. That’s what happens when you play a defense like this. You have to be consistent. You have to keep getting first downs. You can’t have any self-inflicted wounds. That’s what we’re going to have to get done there. They do rely on their front four and there are usually two linebackers in a three-receiver set to handle the run game. It’s usually not a heavy box when it comes to numbers, but it’s heavy when you look at personnel they have and the job that they do. They obviously can play one-high and bring pressure and do things like that, which they do a good bit as well. But they play a lot of two-shell stuff where we’ll have to do a good job of running the football.”
Special Teams: “At the kicking position, their kicker is 6-for-9 – 67 percent – and has made 25 of 26 PATs. Their punter [Tom] Sheldon has a 43-yard average. Switzer, you don’t have to say a lot about him as a return man – he’s one of the best in America. I know he had a big one against us last year. Then their kick return man [T.J.] Logan is averaging 27.2 yards per return and had a long, 95-yard touchdown return on their kickoff team. As far as their specials are concerned, they do a lot of different things. They really make you think, even if it’s an extra point – some swinging gate stuff – and also a lot of things even covering kicks and trying to figure out who’s who and figuring who to block. They do a good job disguising that as well. We have our work cut out for us there.
ON TEAM HEALTH – THE HURRICANES
-QB Brad Kaaya, “threw a lot better than I thought he would throw,” said Richt. “I really don’t think there’s an issue. He practiced the whole day, did a good job.” Richt’s comments were made based on reports that Kaaya was dinged up pretty bad. He took some big hits in the game versus Florida State. There was talk of him missing several days of practice this week.
“If you play quarterback, you’re going to get hit. Should you get hit by an unblocked guy on the first game of the game? No. He did get hit. But that’s what pocket passers do,” said Richt of his junior quarterback.
-DE Chad Thomas suffered an injury to his hand. He was seen wearing a club in practice. Richt says he’ll be fine and noted all lineman who play any significant time in football have issues with their hands. “It’s a physical sport,” he said. Thomas injured the hand during the first half of the FSU game but battled through it after leaving the game momentarily to get attention.
Others: Gerald Willis will be out against UNC as well as OL Sunny Odogwu who will have a lower leg surgery. Richt says he’s not sure how long he will be out but it will be “a while”. Odogwu’s back up is Tyree St. Louis who has played a bunch already. Sunny didn’t participate in the spring ball because he was coming off the knee issues. Even in games, Tyree had been subbing in all season. He should be ready to go. Behind St. Louis, Richt’s unsure of who would see time should he go down or need a break. “We are probably more at an experimental stage. We’ve got to decide who fills in there.”
How the team responded to the loss: “Everybody was in the tank when it was over. It’s not a happy locker room, we weren’t in there celebrating. We fought hard, there is some honor in that. We know this is a results driven sport. We have championship games, we keep score…winning is very important.”
On kicker Michael Badgley: “He was bummed out. When you make 72 extra points in a row, people yawned, so what?” Richt summarized his comments on the missed Extra Point that lead to the 20-19 loss to Florida State by saying there was blame to go around. “We did have penetration, thought the snap wasn’t great. Kick was down and to the left,”
On what ultimately lead to the loss: “Every play was the most important play of the day. You could look at a bunch of plays. Every single play was important.”
ON THE DISMISSAL OF SAM BRUCE, FRESHMAN WR
Reciever numbers can be solved with this next class. It just creates another opportunity with another recruit. Freshman can come in an play (as you see with Ahmmon Richards). He did a great job learning what to do. It’s always sad to have to part ways. I do wish the very best for Sam. I think Sam is going to get it right.
ON ANY POTENTIAL ‘HANGOVER’ FROM THE FSU GAME AS IN PAST SEASONS
“I didn’t see a lot of energy on offense to be honest with you. Had to do a lot of up downs in practice. Because of that we ran after time. We kept them after practice. I let them know how I felt about it. It’s not uncommon that guys will struggle, you need to get a little incentive. We didn’t practice great in the beginning. It was more like, we might have had a great play, but then we had another play where one guy didn’t do something right.”
Because of the depth we have in this program right now, you can’t get enough fast ball against our offense (versus the scout team). We just don’t have the depth right now.
Miami will play North Carolina (4-1) Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium at 3:30 PM EST. The game will be on (ABC/ES.PN2)