Orlando, FL–The University of Miami has a lot of the line this afternoon. Getting to 9 wins while beating a nationally rated opponent is exactly what head coach Mark Richt needs to begin turning the tide in Coral Gables. Miami also has a chance to win its first bowl game in 10 years. In today’s Russell Athletic Bowl, the Hurricanes will face a top-25 West Virginia Mountaineer team that won’t be a push over. But a win could be a foundational building block, exactly what the Hurricanes need to propel them into 2017 and getting back to the Canes of old.
“Well, I think everybody wants to be great. I think a lot of guys came to Miami because of the tradition – the football tradition that has been established there. It is part of the reason why I am back. I mean, I am back partially because it is my alma mater, but more than that it is a team and a place that history has proven that you can be great there,” said Mark Richt yesterday.
“So, it means a lot to us, and we want to be who we are. We are not trying to be somebody from the past, but I think what we are striving for is excellence in everything we do. If we do that in all areas as coaches, players, administrators and everybody, then we will be as prominent as we have been in the past, and that is what we are all excited about, the future.”
The future looks bright. After a win today, the Hurricanes would next look to securing a top rated recruiting class. Currently, the Canes sit securely in the top 25 of classes but can use a boost by a few late prospects. But for now, the focus remains on West Virginia.
“The only thing I tell them is everything we do. We had 11 practices, so I told them every single practice, the main goal and function of the practice is to help prepare us to win the bowl game. It is not about preparing for next year. It is not about getting the young guys and scrimmage here and there. It is about, first of all, getting back to fundamentals: blocking, tackling. People that don’t – when you go to a bowl and haven’t played in a month; some guys lose their ability to tackle as well; some guys lose their ability to block as well. So, we worked hard on the fundamentals on the front end. Then as soon as we got about two or three days of that, we started game planning immediately. So, we have been game planning this game longer than any game of the season. I just tell them that the goal is to, when you are working, work hard. And everything we are doing is designed to get you prepared to have a chance to win this ball game and that’s the main thing for me.”