The Hurricanes will conduct a “practice game” on Wednesday morning in order to prepare for next Saturday’s season-opener against Florida A&M (6 p.m., ESPN3.com).
The nitty-gritty details of the scrimmage — the third of the preseason — and some other news and notes from Tuesday’s practice:
The scrimmage — which is closed to the public and media — will be conducted like the second half a game between Miami’s first-string offense and defense and a scout team mimicking the tendencies of Florida A&M. This is the first time Miami’s starters on offense and defense have been on the same team, not opposing each other in practice.
Richt said the pregame warmup, game clock, play clock, punting and kicking and special teams substitutions (such as punt team, field goal, extra point and punt block unit) will be like a game simulation. The coaches that would be in the booth on game day will stand on a lift Miami uses for video scouting. Coaches will wear headsets, just like a real game.
The first-team defense will tackle offensive scout team players to the ground, though the scout team will not tackle Miami’s first-stringers (so, no teeing off on Brad Kaaya if given the chance).
“Then we’ll get every situation and play it as it comes,” Richt said, noting that he may give the scout team offense — “FAMU” — a few first downs to keep the defense engaged. Any situations Miami didn’t get to drill in the scrimmage will be re-racked two days later in a follow-up scrimmage.
The battles that could be sorted out in the scrimmage include …
- Backup quarterback: Richt said he’s looking for redshirt sophomores Vincent Testaverde (read Hal Habib’s feature on him) and Malik Rosier (Hal’s quick-hitter on him) to remain calm. “If someone spits the bit or is not a guy who we can trust, we may roll somebody else into that spot,” Richt said. “We’re still competing, but we’re getting close.”
- Weak-side linebacker: Freshman Michael Pinckney, who had platelet-rich plasma therapy on his injured hamstring 10 days ago, has been limited for much of camp. Redshirt freshman Jamie Gordinier is running ahead of redshirt sophomore Darrion Owens. “I’d say [Owens] is not likely right now to be a starter, but we just want him to be healthy before he really goes full speed. I’m not saying Owens won’t get a crack at it before it’s over.”
- Fourth cornerback: Sophomore Michael Jackson has the role right now, according to program sources, but freshman Malek Young may get a crack at it. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Mayes (practiced Tuesday, but dealing with a left shoulder injury) has impressed wide receiver Dayall Harris, who named him one of the toughest corners he’s faced. “Mayes has been very, very patient on a lot of routes,” Harris said.
- Third wide receiver: Harris is competing with freshman Ahmmon Richards at split end (X receiver), behind the top pair of Stacy Coley (flanker, or Z) and Braxton Berrios (slot, Y). Harris on Richards, who practiced Tuesday despite a case of turf toe that limited him last week: “He’s timid on it, but he’ll be ready for the season.” Malcolm Lewis has made an impact in his final UM camp and will push for playing time.
- Punt and kick returners: Miami has been working Coley, Berrios, Lewis and Corn Elder at punt returner, and a list of names including running backs Gus Edwards and Mark Walton and freshmen Sam Bruce, Malek Young and Richards at kick returner. The scrimmage will help sort out whom Miami will use most.
Another interesting observation from Harris, on freshman receiver Dionte Mullins (who is now practicing in pads after the NCAA-mandated acclimation period): “He looks really good. I can tell that he’s a big-time playmaker. Yesterday we did one-on-ones, and yesterday he had a couple big catches. He dove for one, stretched out for one. He’s real athletic. And fast.”
Click here for more on how Miami’s freshmen are faring, and which are expected to redshirt this season.
Coley’s NFL draft projection, according to Harris: “Stacy’s fast, he’s very smooth, gets in and out of his routes. He’s the total package. He’s a first-rounder for sure.”
Receiver Darrell Langham, Richt said, is “moving in the right direction,” but it’s apparent Richards is already ahead of him. “I hope he plays for us,” Richt said. “We don’t have enough depth not to play him, but I don’t want to play him because we have to, I want to play him because he has earned it.”
Kicker Michael Badgley on consistently excellent punter Justin Vogel: “Coach Richt loves watching the punt period. Bombs all day. It’s fun to watch.”
Badgley, who reports that he’s “bigger, stronger [and] more confident,” said winning the Lou Groza Award (top kicker) isn’t his main goal (he was a semifinalist last year). “I want to win,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. One game at a time. I want to win an ACC championship and I want to win a national title. That’s the goal.”
Berrios revealed his impressive classroom streak of straight-As – which dates back to middle school – continues to this day. He’s taken 33 college classes without a B.
“In college football, we’re in a position where people look up to us,” said Berrios, a junior studying entrepreneurship who plans to graduate in the spring and pursue a master’s degree. “People think we’re bigger than we are. Now, if I can get one person to look up and say, ‘Wow, he does all that and still gets good grades and still cares,’ then I encouraged them to do the same. So it’s really not about the A. It’s really about the principle of the A.”