CORAL GABLES — Updates from Mark Richt‘s weekly press conference, in advance of 11th-ranked Miami’s game against Georgia Tech (3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC):
* Richt, asked if he was able to practice normally given how hard-fought and physical the game against Florida State was: “We did everything. We have to do everything.” He said the scout-team was cut-blocking at full-speed and playing as fast as possible. “You can’t do a walk-through with assignments” against Georgia Tech. “You’ve got to defeat a block and make a tackle.”
* Richt, on Miami’s success in second halves: “I don’t know if we’ve made great adjustments, but we don’t panic” at halftime. “Relax and do what you’re supposed to do.” He noted cooler weather against Duke and FSU has helped Miami, which “lost some conditioning” during its Hurricane Irma-created 21-day layoff.
* Tuesday, he said, Miami had to battle through “heat and humidity, which is what we need.”
* Ahmmon Richards (hamstring) is “struggling … he’s not 100 percent.” Richt said he may play, though he took Tuesday off “to rest and try to heal down a little bit.” Darrell Langham may play more against the Jackets, given the potential absence of Richards, DeeJay Dallas (now a running back) and Dayall Harris (suspended for one more game). Clearly, his winning touchdown catch against FSU didn’t hurt his status with the offense.
Langham and cornerback Michael Jackson — another lightly recruited Al Golden signee who stuck it out — had to “create better practice habits,” and earned more playing time. He recalled wanting Langham and Lawrence Cager to “play big,” and be hard to guard because of their 6-4-and-change size. “If the quarterback places the ball where it needs to be placed, those guys can make plays.”
* Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said Travis Homer is in excellent shape and should have no issue taking on a Mark Walton-like workload. He noted he would have liked to see Trayone Gray step to the forefront earlier in his career — he is a redshirt junior with 33 career carries — but believes he can be a No. 2 back now. Crispian Atkins, a walk-on, and freshman Dallas would be competing for No. 3 time.
“Travis is a very serious young man,” Richt said. “He’s very businesslike. He knows what to do, he knows how to do it. He’s in unbelievable condition.” He said Homer demanded to cover kicks against FSU, even when coaches wanted to give him a break. Chris Herndon is the same way, he noted.
Richt said special teams will suffer a loss with Homer’s absence. Homer started on punt and kickoff return and coverage teams, or, every possible special teams role for his position.
* Navaughn Donaldson is “questionable” for the game with an ankle sprain, Richt said. He did not practice Tuesday. Sheldrick Redwine and Dee Delaney are “day-to-day,” he said. Braxton Berrios is “sore,” which is why he had a green (no-contact) jersey on.
“I know he was tired” in the fourth quarter against FSU, Richt said. “I know he was maybe even exhausted. But he knew we needed him and he knew he wanted to win badly. He is the best route-runner we’ve got. He’s understand the system the best, I would say. He could coach it, of all the guys, he could coach the position. He has the heat of a lion and he has earned the right to say anything he wants to his teammates and they all listen. They were always that way with him, but I think after this one, they’re like, ‘this guy is the real deal.’”
* Richt on Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson: “He doesn’t need a call sheet. He just watches the game and sees what to call.” Richt called Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall “incredible,” for what he did against Tennessee (249 yards, five touchdowns on 44 carries). Tech had 86 carries in that 41-40 loss to open the season.
* Richt said an 18-to-20-play Jackets drive shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. “When they’re backed up at their 10,” he said, it almost makes a team nervous, since that gives Tech more clock to drain.
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