After a blazing hot debut practice on Thursday that left several players cramping up, Mark Richt was encouraged by his team’s performance. On Friday, you could say he was pleased.
“Much better day of everybody handling the tempo, handling the heat, handling everything that we’re asking them to do,” he said. “I thought we practiced like champions today. We got to keep doing it, but it was a very good day in regards to that.”
What exactly does it mean to practice like a champion?
“Effort. Focus. Energy level,” he said. “Just doing what you’re coached to do, down after down.”
It wasn’t perfect — Richt wasn’t happy with penalties and assignments that some young players missed — but it was good.
“I know what it looks like to have the type of practice where you’re going to get better every day, and today was one of those,” Richt said. “Yesterday was close, but today was.”
Cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph, a member of the Hurricanes’ 2001 national championship team, has experienced his share of those. He said he sees the early signs of a high-level defense, but that’s not close to good enough.
“We’re looking back at the class of 1986, that great defense that did not win a championship. We’re looking at the 2001 defense,” he said. “We’re showing these guys that if you don’t have 17 sacks, or you don’t have 10 picks, you’re not that caliber of a player. We’re really humbling them.
“When they come out of practice and felt like they did good, we just shake our ‘No’ and tell them, ‘We expect y’all to be way up here.'”
It was another 90-degree day on Greentree, another day where the heat index soared into into the triple digits. Rumph saw players finishing drills through cramps, without complaining. That’s another good sign.
“We don’t say the word ‘hot,'” he said. “We don’t say the word ‘heat.’ We don’t say ‘caliente.’ We come out here and play football. And this is what we do down here in Miami.”
Personnel notes: Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney was limited by a “quad or a hamstring,” Richt said. “We don’t think it’s serious, but enough to where he wasn’t going full speed.” Pinckney, who opened camp as the first-string Will linebacker, was seen riding an exercise bike … Several players, including senior linebacker Jermaine Grace, missed practice because of exams. Friday was the final day of UM’s summer session … Defensive end Scott Patchan (knee) and fullback Gage Batten (foot) remain out and performed various conditioning drills.