CORAL GABLES — Three topics of interest after Saturday’s practice, the fifth of camp and the official end of Week 1 of camp:
Richards returns: Sophomore wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was back in action after missing Friday’s drills. The Wellington High grad and returning freshman All-American missed one practice day after falling on his head while making a catch. UM determined Richards, one of its most important players, did not have a concussion. He participated fully, according to Mark Richt.
Linebacker Michael Pinckney, the sophomore standout dealing with a hamstring injury, and sophomore backup tight end Michael Irvin II (dehydration) remain out.
Clean competition coming? Saturday’s practice was the first in full pads, which made for an energetic practice.
That can also mean more aggression, to the point of drawing penalties. Those have been a major issue for Miami the last three seasons. UM was 116th nationally in penalty yards per game in 2016, which was an improvement over 2015, when it was dead last (128th). The Canes were 108th in 2014.
An early sign that this team might be able to turn it around: they’re listening to their coaches.
Miami won’t “tackle to the ground” in practices, though it now can per NCAA rules. Scrimmages are the only “live” practices (and Richt is still deciding whether to make quarterbacks live). He said Saturday that players are listening, and being precise in how they tackle.
Even though they’re competing for playing time, he said, they’re not being selfish.
“If I’m coaching a guy and he tackles somebody to the ground and he thinks I’m going to be impressed by it, it’s the complete opposite,” Richt said. “I’m not impressed by you, because you’re not coachable, you’re not teachable, and you’re probably selfish. We still have to do all this competition within the framework of team.
“Guys right now, as a whole, from what I see – if I see a quarterback make a good throw, I hear quarterbacks getting excited about it. If I see a wide receiver make a play, I see receivers getting excited about it – which is good. Even if it’s a young guy who might take a little bit of a guy’s playing time, possibly.
“I think we all know, also in the heat, you must have depth to play at the pace we want to play. If I’m a wide receiver, and I think I have to play 80 plays at the tempo we go, there’s no way. I think they can impress us by being coachable.”
Last year, Miami had a “points system” during an Oklahoma-like drill, “to say who won the drill, to try to get them excited about competing” every day in practice.
A good sign:
“We don’t have to keep score anymore,” Richt said.
“We’re practicing like we should practice. We’re competing like we should compete. … I’ve listened to some of their interviews, and that’s the word you hear all the time. They know.
“I told them this morning, before we started, I said, you have to get your mind right here for more than one reason. Number one, if you don’t get your mind right in practice, you’re going to get beat out by somebody. Or somebody across the ball is going to beat your tail. They’re going to whip you. And the other thing is the weather. You have to get your mind right for this weather. It’s hot, it’s humid and we know it. We’re pushing you. You have to have your mind right to do it. If you give in mentally, as an individual, then someone else sees it and decides to do the same thing. We can’t have that.
“There will be plays we’re watching, we’ll be so excited,” he said “I get excited about those plays this time of year, because when we do it right, I know with reps, we can do it right again. I know we can do it again. It’s when, if a guy can’t physically get the job done or our scheme doesn’t seem to be good offensively or defensively, I’m worried more about that than [if] you execute every time. What I like to see is, the times we do execute, ‘This is what it looks like, fellas.’ You show the team, ‘This is what it can be.’ If we execute on a consistent basis, on both sides of the ball, it’ll be a fun season for us.”
‘U Network’ launched: Richt officially launched his ‘U Network,’ which is similar to the organization he started at Georgia called the Paul Oliver Network. UM held an event at its Shalala Student Center, where Richt spoke to reporters.
The network is “designed for reunion, connection with all the former football alumni,” Richt said. “But it’s also designed to help people find work, if needed, start careers, change careers, whatever it may be. Or if you have a business, it’s just a way to meet new people that might be good contacts to help your business thrive, if you’ve already got something on.
“It’s also, maybe more than anything else, a way of saying, ‘we love you and we care about you.’ I’m talking about our former players and current players, knowing that this type of thing will be there for them when they finish.”
The ‘U Network’ will host job fairs with local businesses. As evidenced by this UM tweet, several partners are already on board.
Richt named the Paul Oliver Network after the former Georgia player, who committed suicide in 2013 after the end of his NFL career.
“It’s very important to me,” Richt said, “and our administration has been awesome in trying to help facilitate this.”
CANES CAMP 2017
Porter’s video recap, live chat
Perry ‘a passer, not just a thrower’
Injury updates: Burns could miss opener
Video: Perry runs through first drills
Day 1 practice notes: Perry batting third
Photos, videos: Practice footage, field under construction
10 big storylines, how to follow camp
Offseason features, news
A sit-down with Richt, Parts I-IV
Miami gearing up for QB battle
Perry learning, adjusting, impressing
UM’s offense will depend on Walton
Quarterman leading Miami’s defense
LBs motivated by UM’s ‘ghosts of greatness’
Richards hoping to be All-American
Berrios tired of hype
‘The Playmaker’ high on Richards
Winston: Perry’s going to be ‘really good’
Cager angling for a comeback
Richt on swag | Says ‘The U is back’
Richt has really strong sandwich takes
Willis takes leave | Gone: Mayes | Odogwu | Haskins
Other fun stuff
CanesFest set for Aug. 12
Analyzing the 2017 schedule
The Guide to Watching Miami Football
A visual history of Miami football stadiums
Exclusive look at UM’s new alternate jerseys
UM jersey numbers have meaning
The Glossary of Canes player nicknames
Thomas produces music for DJ Khaled
Fun facts from the 2017 media guide
Projecting Miami’s 2018 draft class
Miami’s over-under: 9 wins
UM picked to win the Coastal
Porter’s preseason All-ACC ballot, predictions