Miami ran its first full-speed, in-pads, shoulder-contact practice of the fall on Saturday.
Left guard Kc McDermott said the Hurricanes’ defense “kicked our butts today” and has the edge early on in camp.
“Everybody needs to watch out for that defense,” McDermott said. “That’s going to be one of the top five defenses in the country this year. It’s great for us to be able to practice against them.”
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz believes Miami can climb in the rankings — UM ranked 86th in yards per play allowed last year — but only if they consistently play hard. He said his unit is “far ahead” of where it was in the spring, but no position group, or player, has arrived.
“But to their credit, they want it,” Diaz said. “This is a team that right now wants to be pushed hard and wants to see how good it can be.
“I’m encouraged what I’ve seen so far. As a whole what I’m impressed with is our knowledge of the scheme. There’s more communication pre-snap, guys are calling out, talking to each other. When do you talk? You talk when you’re confident.”
Coach Mark Richt said UM’s defense was “like a swarm” on Saturday. [They] definitely won the day,” Richt said, praising the cornerbacks in particular for “some really good-looking” interceptions.
“They looked like they were more excited about playing football today,” Richt said. “It started well for them and it just kept going.”
Richt liked how the offense “fought, competed, started to execute a little bit better as we went,” but the defense was “more physically tough.” It’s also effort: “If a receiver runs 70 yards down the field, there’s going to be the whole defense chasing his rear end for 70 yards.”
That’s a vital ingredient, and one that wasn’t always present across the board in prior years. Certainly not at a level that put the Hurricanes in contention for an ACC title.
One of those confident players Diaz mentioned, grad transfer cornerback Adrian Colbert, said the Hurricanes could have a “championship” unit.
“There’s always been talent there,” McDermott said. “It also takes a great coach, a great defensive mind to put them in the right places. They’re putting them in the right places. They’re dominating. They’re going to keep dominating. We’re going to step our game up, and we’re going to start dominating as well.”