The first question to Mark Richt on Sunday’s day-after-Toledo teleconference was about redshirt senior cornerback Dee Delaney‘s “tough” transition from FCS The Citadel to UM.
“He’s still learning the ins and outs of what we do,” Richt said. “We feel he’s in a good place. He has not played perfect, but everybody at all positions has struggled. He’s at a position that’s more visible than most, and I guess there’s more interest in him because he’s a transfer.
“We think he’s doing a good job. We believe in him and we’re going to continue to play him.”
* On star running back Mark Walton, who set a career mark in rushing yards (204) despite missing a large chunk of the game with an ankle injury: “We think he’ll be playing this week. We don’t think there’s much doubt about that.” Richt will rest Walton (left ankle) Sunday and expects him to be ready for Tuesday’s practice, “unless there’s some sort of setback.”
* Richt didn’t note any other players who were injured. Asked about redshirt junior defensive end Demetrius Jackson, a key reserve who missed the game for an undisclosed reason, Richt said he’s “not 100 percent sure but we expect him to play this week.”
There was no word on Ahmmon Richards‘ status, but Richt previously said the star wideout was making progress from a serious hamstring strain. Richards could make his 2017 debut this week.
* UM will practice normally this week, even though it is playing Friday at 7 p.m. on the road (at Duke, which is 4-0. The game is on ESPN). The Hurricanes will take Monday off from practice, as usual, but Richt said the team may hold meetings if UM’s NCAA compliance department gives the OK. They may take Saturday fully off.
* Small things that went right against Toledo: Senior left tackle Kc McDermott, Richt said, had “the most knockdowns” of any offensive lineman. Richt liked how tight end Chris Herndon made contested catches. He also noted UM’s downfield blocking “did a super job” on runs and catches.
* Defensively, the Hurricanes’ pass coverage struggled against Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside, but Richt said, “We looked like our Miami defense normally does against the run. We felt good about that.” The kicking game and punt protection was “outstanding,” he said, and UM “covered kicks better.”
* UM is 62nd nationally in third-down offense (41.18 percent) and a woeful 128th (of 130 FBS teams) in third-down defense (52.50). Richt has noticed.
“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is do a better job on third downs on both sides of the ball,” he said.
Penalties (112th in yards per game) remain a major bugaboo for the Hurricanes.
* Richt praised Duke coach David Cutcliffe, calling him “maybe the very best college coach when it comes to quarterback training that there is.” Quarterback Daniel Jones, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound dual-threat, is “very smart,” Richt said.
The first thing Richt noticed about Duke’s defense on tape is “how well they tackle and how hard they play. … They’re winning. They’re well-coached. It’ll be at their house. It’ll be a Friday night game and I bet the atmosphere is going to be great.”
* Richt said he watched the 2015 Miami-Duke game — you remember, the one with “The Return” — but not the whole thing. While he was evaluating the contenders for the starting quaterback job, asked his staff for a cut-up of every drop-back throw Malik Rosier made in that game, so he could evaluate his new quarterback.
He’s aware of how the game ended.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I saw all that. I thought it was a miracle.”