Miami Hurricanes’ Ahmmon Richards trying to hurdle injuries, inconsistency

Miami’s Ahmmon Richards (82) catches a second-quarter pass and leaps against the Syracuse defense at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

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CORAL GABLES — The defender readied to make the tackle, believing he stood a good chance of success. When Ahmmon Richards changed his mind, Rodney Williams altered his plans in kind. The Syracuse safety exploded from his crouch, thinking if the Miami receiver was going skyward, he would plant him in the ground.

Oh, no. He grabbed air, as Richards cleared Williams, 5-foot-10 and nearly upright, with a forward leap. He also grabbed a place on last weekend’s highlight reels.

Not only did Richards make that plyometric play, his stat line looked pretty good, too: 99 receiving yards on six catches. In the last four decades, the Hurricanes have averaged between four and five 100-yard receiving games per season, and he was a yard away. For most wideouts, it would have been a memorable day.

Richards can’t wait to forget.

“A bad game,” he called it.

Miami’s top pass-catcher, already slowed by a hamstring injury, tweaked his ankle against Syracuse. That was not his worst moment. He dropped three passes, and was spared a fourth in the official record because a penalty nullified the play.

“A lot of people are looking at me like, ‘What’s going on?'” Richards said Tuesday. “I’ve never had a game like that in my life. I don’t want to have that feeling again.”

The former Wellington High star, who last year broke Michael Irvin‘s 31-year-old UM record for receiving yards by a freshman (he had 934), is struggling to produce as a sophomore. Richards missed UM’s first two games and sat two weeks ago against Georgia Tech, as the Hurricanes tried to rest a hamstring strain dating to mid-August.

He hasn’t played enough to qualify for the ACC league leaderboard, but if he did, would own the second-best per-catch average (21.0 yards) and be third in yards per game (91.0; 273 yards on 13 catches and a touchdown).

In last week’s 27-19 win over the Orange, Richards couldn’t shake the rust.

“He’s anxious to play, and anxious to play great,” coach Mark Richt said. “He could have had 200 yards and three touchdowns, easily. Maybe more than that. But he didn’t. He didn’t. He’s a great player who was probably pressing a little bit to be great, and catch up for all of the things that he missed.”

One drop came in the end zone, where a defender knocked the ball out of his grasp. On the other two, he had little but green grass in front of him. Given his spectacular speed, he almost certainly would have proved Richt’s estimate correct.

“I know I would have had a lot,” Richards said. “I know that.”

Richards called his drops “a focus thing” and said his fundamentals lagged when he was tired. He was targeted on 11 passes, his heaviest workload of the year.

“Just got to stay focused throughout the game,” said Richards, who said his hamstring is OK — when he runs, anyway. When he walks, it tends to hurt.

“I made a few plays here and there, but I don’t look at that. I just look at the drops and I just have to get better.

“With an injury from the start and coming off of having a bad game, it’s just adversity and you just have to fight through it. Just stay positive.”

His roommate, quarterback Malik Rosier, helps him. During the game, Richards recalled being “blindsided by dropping a ball” and “kind of down on myself.” When he dropped his head on the bench, wondering if he “should even finish the game,” he said Rosier “lifted my head right back up.”

Offensive coordinator Thomas Brown thought that “for the most part, he’s fine,” and feels for any “speed guy” with a leg injury.

He agreed with Richards’ assessment: He wants him to “do a good job of locking in every single play.”

More Canes over here

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[Longest UM win streak in 15 years | 8th in polls]

 

 

 

 

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