Mark Richt nearly giddy about promise of Miami’s incoming freshmen

Hurricanes coach Mark Richt is ecstatic about the potential of wide receiver Mark Pope and many more of Miami’s incoming freshmen. (Youtube)

Mark Richt can’t stop the notifications from popping up on his phone.

“Seven more days,” pings one message.

“Five more days,” comes the next, a couple days later.

They’re not reminders from his offseason calendar, but text messages from his freshmen. They’re telling him they can’t wait for this weekend, when, according to a UM spokesman, the remainder of Miami’s yet-to-enroll freshmen are expected to report to campus.

Expected to arrive on campus: running back Camron Davis, fullback Realus George, wide receivers Mark Pope and Marquez Ezzard, tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, offensive guard Cleveland Reed, defensive tackles Nesta Silvera and Jordan Miller, linebacker Patrick Joyner, cornerbacks Nigel Bethel and Al Blades Jr. and kicker Bubba Baxa.

Miami’s coach has never been the giddy sort. But Richt, speaking by phone on Wednesday, was more than a little eager about the potential of Pope, a five-star prospect according to Rivals, of Jordan, the No. 1-ranked prep tight end in the country, and of others.

“We’re going to look a lot different,” said Richt, who is 19-7 in two seasons at UM. “We’re going to have a lot more depth than we had a year ago. We had some good ballplayers offensively, but there wasn’t a lot of depth in some spots. By the end of the year we were kind of limping a little bit.”

A surprise November setback at Pittsburgh spoiled Miami’s 10-0 start. Losses in the ACC title game – 38-3 to Clemson – and the Orange Bowl – 34-24 to Wisconsin – further exposed the Hurricanes’ issues on offense, the area in which Richt specializes. By the end of the year, he was calling plays without his top receiver (Ahmmon Richards), tight end (Chris Herndon) and running back (Mark Walton), all felled by leg injuries. Miami also lacked a fullback, which left Richt unable to call some of the power plays he ran effectively during his Georgia days.

“If Realus George is who I think he is – that’s a big-time, legit fullback – that changes your ability to run a two-back offense and short-yardage and goal-line looks a lot different,” Richt said. “You’ve got these two tight ends coming in (Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory). If they’re who we think they are, all of a sudden we can run possibly a little bit of 12 personnel like we did with (David) Njoku and (Chris) Herndon (in 2016).

“I’m excited about it for sure. We’re going to have a little bit more diversity in our personnel groupings, and have enough guys that can make plays. You can play a bunch of guys and keep them fresh. It’s going to make a difference on how hard you can play on any given down. You can tell them, play hard. If you get tired a little bit, we’ll throw another guy in there for a little while and he’ll go hard. You’ll get back in there in a minute, so be ready. I’m all for playing a bunch of guys – more than we did in the past, I can tell you that.”

Richt has a vision for the 2018 team, more than four months before the Canes open the year Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas, against LSU.

“I think we’ll have a bunch of guys that will embrace that we have multiple guys that can get it done,” he said, “and just be excited about everybody’s success — together, instead of ‘I’m trying to guard my playing time.’ I think we’ll have a good morale that way.”

Miami Hurricanes football: The 10 most intriguing spring storylines

 

Everyone wants to know if N’Kosi Perry has what it takes to be Miami’s quarterback, or if Malik Rosier will hold onto the starting job. (Miami Herald)

[Diaz: Gerald Willis ‘gets it’]
[Scouting reports on Miami’s EE freshmen]

Whether they’re a fresh-faced newcomer or established Hurricanes upperclassman, Jaquan Johnson has no problem sticking his nose in their business. Just ask Shaq Quarterman, by now a well-known name.

“I tell him, ‘You were a freshman All-American. That’s enough for you, huh. That’s all you want,’” Johnson said in a mocking tone, referring to the linebacker’s breakout 2016 season.

Johnson, a safety, has been eagerly awaiting this spring. He has been a contributor since the day he stepped on campus from Miami-Killian High in January 2015. He played on special teams early, earned a starting spot as a junior, and now, as a senior, he is ready to be the tone-setter for UM’s defense.

His play backs up his aspirations. Johnson (four interceptions, team-high 96 tackles) earned national recognition last year as one of 15 semifinalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, and was a major reason UM led the nation in takeaways (30).

He prods defensive tackle Gerald Willis — “You going to be able to go hard every snap? You tired?” he asks — and relishes weight-room battles with fellow rising senior defensive backs Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson. He gets after linebackers Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud.

“I want them to challenge me as well,” Johnson said. “Those guys respond like, ‘You don’t even understand.’ They’re trying to reestablish themselves. They tell me, ‘I don’t have a name.’ I’ll just be like, ‘Oh, you big time. You big time, huh?’ They like to bark back at me. They’re responding.”

New players on campus, familiar faces in new roles — here are 10 storylines to watch beginning Tuesday, when the Hurricanes open spring drills in Coral Gables:

1. Will Malik Rosier keep his spot? 

What do football teams value most? Stability at quarterback. In most cases, redshirt senior who won 10 games and took his team to the Orange Bowl would be celebrated as a sure thing, one of the top players in his conference.

It speaks to both Malik Rosier’s apparent limitations and N’Kosi Perry’s apparent potential that we’re here, writing about how intriguing that battle should be for Miami’s starting job.

In his first year as a starter, Rosier set a program record for total touchdowns (32) but struggled with his accuracy. His 44.9 completion percentage in UM’s final three games, all losses, are why many are eager to see what Perry, a redshirt freshman with scrambling ability and a strong arm, can do. Same goes for fellow redshirt freshman Cade Weldon and early enrollee Jarren Williams.

Mark Richt has said the job is Rosier’s, but he’ll have to prove himself all over again. Will Perry (or someone else) make it clear they’re a better choice?

2. Is the defensive line still a strength?

It was some kind of offseason for what was, last year, Miami’s best position group.

The Hurricanes led the nation in sacks per game and were fourth in tackles for loss, but lost six scholarship defensive linemen. That includes three starters: End Chad Thomas, who graduated, and tackles Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh, who turned pro a year early. Additionally, freshman end DJ Johnson, a former four-star recruit, transferred to Oregon and two valuable reserves (tackle Anthony Moten and end Trent Harris) graduated. Oh, and Craig Kuligowski – widely considered the nation’s best D-line coach – bolted for Alabama.

That leaves a host of questions. Can Willis, who sat out 2017 for what UM called personal reasons, stay healthy and productive in his final season? How is redshirt senior end Demetrius Jackson coming along after November knee surgery? What about Scott Patchan, seemingly forever dogged by knee injuries?

How rapidly can promising sophomore end Jonathan Garvin – whom fellow end Joe Jackson calls “a freak of nature” – and 6-5, 300-pound tackle Jon Ford develop ? Can Joe Jackson, productive in his first two seasons with lots of talent around him, handle a heavier load? How capable is junior Pat Bethel? What about 6-6 early enrollee Greg Rousseau?

Will UM leave the spring waiting for summer additions (four-star recruit Nesta Silvera, three-star Jordan Miller and graduate transfer Tito Odenigbo, all tackles) or feel OK with the group it has? Is the end position deep enough? Spring will bring some of the answers.

3. What effect will Jess Simpson have?

Kuligowski’s replacement is a former Atlanta Falcons defensive assistant who spent more than two decades as a successful Georgia high school coach. He takes over a  Joe Jackson, arguably his brightest talent, seems encouraged.

“It’s been good,” Jackson said.  “He has a lot of good insight. He’s very talkative, but he knows his stuff, knows what he’s doing. We’re just keeping an open mind, trying to take in whatever he has to offer. … That’s how it is. A coach could be there one minute, gone the next. All I have to do is just adjust and take in whatever he has to offer. He’s going to make me better whether I like it or not.”

That has, so far, included “techniques about coming off the ball, having the right hand placement, and how efficient we have to be when you’re trying to get off the block and read the pass key or the run key,” Jackson said.

“What he emphasizes, we’re going to execute. The scheme is already set and we already know the plays.”

4. Can Lorenzo Lingard establish himself early?

He’s the highest-rated Miami recruit since Seantrel Henderson in 2010, according to Rivals’ rankings, and the most heralded running back since Duke Johnson in 2012. Lingard, a slashing runner, has the type of gamebreaking speed the Canes need in the post-Mark Walton era.

Miami ended last year with the NFL-bound Walton hurt, and Travis Homer (1,185 yards from scrimmage, nine touchdowns) and DeeJay Dallas as their 1 and 2. Lingard will wear No. 1, but can he fill that role as a true freshman, or will he come along more slowly? (We also want to know if he has a touchdown celebration as cool as Homer’s.) Redshirt freshman Robert Burns and redshirt senior Trayone Gray need to show they belong, especially with four-star Camron Davis (and fullback Realus George) arriving this summer.

5. What will the offensive line look like? 

The Hurricanes return three starters: right tackle Tyree St. Louis and center Tyler Gauthier, both seniors-to-be, and right guard Navaughn Donaldson, last year an ESPN freshman All-American. It’s conceivable all three could be playing different positions in 2018.

Miami needs a left tackle and left guard after the graduation of Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling. St. Louis and redshirt freshman Kai-Leon Herbert could vie for the McDermott’s spot. Sophomore Corey Gaynor seems poised to play either center or left guard, with Gauthier taking the other place. If Donaldson doesn’t move to tackle, he could be an excellent right guard. The right tackle job, if St. Louis is moved, could be filled by a little-used veteran (redshirt junior George Brown Jr.) or a new face (perhaps early enrollee freshman Delone Scaife). Will these players leave room for graduate transfer Venzell Boulware (Tennessee) when he arrives post-spring?

Miami’s run game and pass protection has been inconsistent for several years. UM has recruited well in the last two seasons. Are those players ready to make an impact? Are UM’s upperclassmen more capable than they’ve previously shown?

6. Is either returning tight end starter-caliber? 

Miami is excited about four-star signees Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory. Coaches see them as a Chris Herndon-David Njoku combo: Jordan as a fleet-footed H-back and Mallory busting the seam from the slot.

Reinforcements are coming. But not until the summer.

This spring, junior Michael Irvin II and sophomore Brian Polendey must prove they’re worthy of playing time before that high-profile pair arrives. Irvin, the son of the Hall of Fame wide receiver, has soft hands but has been suspended for off-the-field issues. Polendey, a sophomore who saw brief action last season, needed to gain strength before seeing more.

7. Who earns targets this spring? 

Whomever emerges as the QB1 will have a lot of options at receiver, even without Ahmmon Richards for the time being.

The Canes have big-bodied veterans in Dayall Harris, Lawrence Cager and Darrell Langham. They have smaller, speeder sophomore standouts Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley. They have early enrollee freshmen with length in Brian Hightower and Daquris Wiggins. Don’t forget about 6-foot-6 Evidence Njoku, who should be ready for the spotlight after last year’s redshirt season.

With Richards targeting a summer return from knee surgery and freshmen Mark Pope — an elite talent — and Marquez Ezzard joining the fray, those currently on campus will try to show they deserve front-line roles.

“Last year the coaches didn’t always know who to trust,” Rosier said. “The group as a whole, the experience level is going up. There are a lot of guys with 12, 13 games of experience.”

8. How good are the second-unit linebackers? 

UM lost two depth pieces this offseason when would-be senior Darrion Owens transferred to Houston and promising, but oft-injured Jamie Gordnier stepped away from the game. That could mean more opportunity for sophomore De’Andre Wilder — a candidate to win the backup job behind McCloud at strong-side linebacker — and redshirt freshman Waynmon Steed (he has “opened eyes,” according to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, in his year on the sidelines), as well as sophomore Bradley Jennings. Will they prove more capable than seniors Charles Perry and Mike Smith? Four-star Patrick Joyner will add depth when he enrolls this summer.

Another wrinkle: UM’s new 10th assistant, Jonathan Patke, assumes a greater on-field and recruiting role. He will coach outside linebackers.

9. How will the secondary battles shake out?

Johnson, the safety, is still smarting over the way last year ended.

“We came out booming and we let the last three go,” he said. “The entire defense has a chip on our shoulder. Those last three games we lost, that was our fault.”

He has the right attitude. He and Redwine, his longtime pal from Killian High and the Richmond Heights area of Miami, could be one of the ACC’s better safety duos. Jackson, after a breakout season, looks like one of the starting corners. Malek Young’s career-ending neck injury and Dee Delaney’s graduation could open the door for Jhavonte Dean, Trajan Bandy or a talented newcomer to put his stamp on a spot (Gilbert Frierson and DJ Ivey enrolled early; Al Blades Jr. arrives this summer). Safeties Amari Carter and Derrick Smith, both sophomores, saw playing time as last year rolled on. The competition for backup jobs should be heated between them, freshman Gurvan Hall, and juniors-to-be Robert Knowles and Romeo Finley.

10. What can we learn about Miami’s special teams?

All-ACC kicker Michael Badgley graduated, and UM won’t have one on scholarship until Texas three-star Bubba Baxa enrolls post-spring. Punter Zach Feagles, who struggled as a freshman, must improve. The Hurricanes are also looking for a punt returner after Braxton Berrios’ graduation.

 

Gould’s grades: Film review, scouting report on Miami Hurricanes freshman RB Lorenzo Lingard

Five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard is expected to be a big part of Miami’s offense in 2018. (247Sports)

[Get ready for an intense spring football QB battle]
[Richards hungry to win in 2018]
[Spring schedule | Counting UM’s scholarships]

On Tuesday, 10 true freshmen will hit Miami’s practice field for the first time. Before we see them live during spring drills, Post contributor Daniel Gould offers a scouting report for each player, plus a grade, a projection and other interesting tidbits.

Gould is a Dallas-based data analyst who has been charting UM games for four years and reviewing signing classes for the last six. His evaluations are mostly based on reviews of high school highlight films, which are readily available on sites like Hudl and YouTube. He grades players on a 10-to-5 scale, rating their current skills and projecting their potential:

10: five-star caliber now, eventual All-American and immediate impact player.
9: upper-tier four-star, All-ACC caliber.
8: mid-tier four-star, impactful multi-year starter without as high a ceiling.
7: lower four-star, solid starter but not someone to build around.
6: high three-star, a role player with physical limitations that prevent a full-time starting job.
5: mid-tier three-star, likely a project or a special-teamer.
Below 5: Not a scholarship-level player at Miami.

Leading up to March 20, we’ll post Gould’s takes on UM’s early enrollees — the players who will participate in spring ball — and then move onto those arriving in the summer.

Next up: running back Lorenzo Lingard, Miami’s highest-rated offensive recruit since Duke Johnson in 2012:

LORENZO LINGARD

Lingard

Gould’s grade: 10

Scouting report: “Good height at 6-0 with a build to get to 215 while keeping his elite speed. Slashing runner who gets upfield in an instant. Lowers his shoulder looking to run over would-be tacklers. Sets up blocks to cut inside or out and uses his quick feet to get through tight spaces. Often handed the ball near the line of scrimmage so initial vision wasn’t used much, but is very elusive on the second level and in the open field. Not much of a receiver downfield but more than adequate in the screen game. Needs to add strength to his lower half as he can struggle to drive defenders on contact. Solid run-blocker and can get aggressive in pass protection. Played mostly as a fullback in a Wing-T offense but has experience playing behind a fullback and in spread sets. Ran for more than 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns at more than 8.0 yards per carry as a senior (1,400-plus and 22 touchdowns as a junior. Army All-American. Enrolled for spring practice. Elite prospect who has all the tools to be a superstar running back at the next level.”

More on Lingard
Expectations high for Miami offensive signees
Lingard signs early with Miami, fun facts, bio
He won Florida player of the year award
How will offensive recruits fit in with UM?
Interview: Lingard at Paradise Camp
Five-star Lingard commits to Miami

More Gould’s Grades

Early enrolleesQB Williams | RB Lingard | WR Hightower | WR Wiggins | OL Scaife | OL Campbell | DE Rousseau | DB Frierson | CB Ivey | S HallSummer arrivals: RB Davis | FB George | WR Pope | WR Ezzard | TE Jordan | TE Mallory | OL Reed | DT Silvera | DT Miller | LB Joyner | CB Blades | CB Bethel | 2017 signing class

 

2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT
[Brown will be in uniform Thursday]
[A look at the state of Miami basketball]
[Loyola a trendy upset pick over UM]

Gould’s grades: Film review, scouting report on Miami Hurricanes freshman QB Jarren Williams

Jarren Williams (247Sports)

[Get ready for an intense spring football QB battle]
[Richards hungry to win in 2018]
[Spring schedule | Counting UM’s scholarships]

On Tuesday, 10 true freshmen will hit Miami’s practice field for the first time. Before we see them live during spring drills, Post contributor Daniel Gould offers a scouting report for each player, plus a grade, a projection and other interesting tidbits.

Gould is a Dallas-based data analyst who has been charting UM games for four years and reviewing signing classes for the last six. His evaluations are mostly based on reviews of high school highlight films, which are readily available on sites like Hudl and YouTube. He grades players on a 10-to-5 scale, rating them now and projecting what they could be once they reach their potential:

10: five-star caliber now, eventual All-American and immediate impact player.
9: upper-tier four-star, All-ACC caliber.
8: mid-tier four-star, impactful multi-year starter without as high a ceiling.
7: lower four-star, solid starter but not someone to build around.
6: high three-star, a role player with physical limitations that prevent a full-time starting job.
5: mid-tier three-star, likely a project or a special-teamer.
Below 5: Not a scholarship-level player at Miami.

Leading up to March 20, we’ll post Gould’s takes on UM’s early enrollees — the players who will participate in spring ball — and then move onto those arriving in the summer.

First up: quarterback Jarren Williams, who will get a shot to compete for the starting spot currently occupied by Malik Rosier:

JARREN WILLIAMS

Williams

Gould’s grade: 8

Scouting report: “Height is fine at 6-2 and has a good build. Good athlete with legit speed and some power as a runner. Has the arm strength to make the high degree of difficulty throws. Smooth, quick release that adds some height to his release point. Comfortable and stands tall in the pocket but will take off if he has a lane. Also has the ability to throw on the move and shows good vision rolling out. Has a tendency to throw late over the middle when scrambling. Makes multi-level reads and comes off his first target when necessary. Ball placement over the middle is inconsistent. Can get too wide on his dropbacks and doesn’t always use the best footwork. Former Kentucky commit who also visited Ohio State before committing to Miami. Played on a team at The Opening that included a number of the skilled position players in Miami’s signing class. A 60 percent passer in high school with 28 touchdowns and 4 interceptions as a senior. Added 10 touchdowns on the ground with more than 500 yards rushing. Army All-American. Athletic quarterback but isn’t just an athlete throwing the ball. Can be used on quarterback run plays but won’t be the focus of the run game. Will have a chance to compete for the starting position as a freshman since he is on campus for spring practice.”

More Williams

Expectations high for Miami offensive signees
Williams signs early with Miami, fun facts, bio
All-American QB Williams commits to Hurricanes

How will offensive recruits fit in with UM?
Williams competes in Army All-American game

More Gould’s Grades

Early enrolleesQB Williams | RB Lingard | WR Hightower | WR Wiggins | OL Scaife | OL Campbell | DE Rousseau | DB Frierson | CB Ivey | S HallSummer arrivals: RB Davis | FB George | WR Pope | WR Ezzard | TE Jordan | TE Mallory | OL Reed | DT Silvera | DT Miller | LB Joyner | CB Blades | CB Bethel | 2017 signing class

2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT
[Brown will be in uniform Thursday]
[A look at the state of Miami basketball]
[Loyola a trendy upset pick over UM]

Mark Richt on Malik Rosier’s sore shoulder, Virginia Tech, the Coastal, Miami’s OL woes

Mark Richt watches during the second half of Miami’s win over Georgia Tech on Oct. 14, 2017. (AP)

 

[Canes unbeaten, but drop in AP poll]

[Miami-VT: prime-time, nat’l TV]

[Randy Shannon is Florida’s interim coach]

Malik Rosier will rest his right (throwing) shoulder during Sunday’s practice, Mark Richt said.

“He did get his shoulder banged up,” Richt said of Rosier, who was injured and missed one series in Saturday’s 24-19 win at North Carolina. “It’s still sore today. He probably won’t throw today. We’ll probably get him going Tuesday.”

The ninth-ranked Hurricanes (7-0, 5-0 ACC) are off Monday and return to practice Tuesday. They host 13th-ranked Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1) at 8 p.m. Saturday (ABC), in a game that could decide the ACC Coastal.
Though Rosier threw for a career-high 356 yards against the Tar Heels, he struggled to find a rhythm. He finished 16-of-38, with three touchdowns and one interception (and was bailed out on another near-pick, called off because of pass interference). He had faulty protection at times, but it was hardly his best game.

“He struggled a few times with making decisions in the run game and decisions in the passing game,” said Richt, who hadn’t reviewed the film with his quarterback when he spoke to reporters Sunday. “He probably had more decisions that were not as clean than he did some of the other games going into the UNC game.

“One thing about him is, he’s very aware of our offensive system and how it works and the decisions that he should make and shouldn’t make. … He’ll self-correct it when he watches the tape. He’ll see.” 

More of what Richt said in his day-after teleconference Sunday evening:

* Richt said he tells his team this:

“‘One day, a Miami team will win the Coastal and represent in Charlotte. Are you the team?’ I don’t know. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

Miami can clinch the ACC Coastal if it beats Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech beats Virginia on Saturday.

“We talk about the Coastal every week,” Richt said. “That’s one of the only things you can control in college football, whether you win your division and win your league.”

What does Richt see in Virginia Tech? “They’re a great team. They’re coached extremely well. I think they’ve been underrated from the preseason. I think they are one of the better teams in America. They’re going to be a great challenge for us.”

* Richt has said several times in recent weeks that UM isn’t in a place where they can “line up and whip” teams. As long as Miami is winning, how much does Richt care how they’re playing?

“If you knew you were going to struggle every week in a lot of areas and still find a way to win every week,” he said, “it wouldn’t matter at all in the end. I think a lot of issues in these games are forgotten once you win and move on. It’s when you lose a game and those same issues pop up — and I’m talking about fans, and I’m talking about even the media at times. We as coaches, win or lose, we’re always trying to correct mistakes. … In the end, if you win, that’s the bottom line.

“Some third-down issues we’ve had, no doubt, but we also had three touchdown passes, and more than a few explosive plays. We’ve had our offense in big spurts and big chunks, rather than the type of drives that are maybe more comforting to me as a coach, our fan base, or our defense, for that matter. The bottom line is, we are making those plays, we are scoring touchdowns, we are finding a way to win. In the end, that’s what’s most important.”

* Right guard Navaughn Donaldson (sprained ankle) is “fine,” Richt said. “He played a good bit. We expected him to be fine.” As far as the offensive line as a whole, Richt sees “some great moments and some not-so-great moments,” he said. The protection on Rosier’s deep post to Jeff Thomas was “awesome,” but “we did not run block very well at all, in this last game in particular. We certainly need to get better in a hurry.”

* Richt noted surprise receiver Darrell Langham and Braxton Berrios have been bright spots. “I’m always happy when guys make a play they didn’t know they can make,” he said of Langham. Berrios has been “a major force in our offense … he’s coming through for us. Great playmaker, great punt returner.”

* Miami’s third-down issues stem from “a combination of things,” including protection, route-running, dropped balls and ball placement. “Sometimes we’ll hit a big shot,” he said, “and sometimes we haven’t made the throw or made the catch like we should.” UM dropped to 119th nationally in third-down conversions (30.68) after going 4-for-17 against UNC.

* UM didn’t score a point off four UNC turnovers last week. “We haven’t done a good enough job” in that area, Richt said.

* How does he keep UM’s energy up entering November? It’s a constant monitoring process, he said. He said he’s done walk-throughs rather than regular practices on Thursday, depending how his team feels. “Sometimes you need Thursday and Friday to get their legs fresh,” he said. “Anything you can do to keep them fresh and keep the morale up, it helps. It also helps that we’re winning.”

More Miami-UNC 

[5 things we learned: UNC edition]

[Players, Richt not pleased by performance]

[Rosier has shoulder trouble]

[Berrios wanted UNC to respect the ‘U’]

[Reaction videoGame blog | Pregame]

Ex-Miami Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon is Florida Gators interim coach

Randy Shannon runs onto to the field with the Hurricanes on Sept. 2, 2010. (Miami Herald)

[Canes unbeaten, but drop in AP poll]

[Miami-VT: prime-time, nat’l TV]

Randy Shannon will get another shot at Florida State.

The former Miami coach, who was 2-2 against the Seminoles in four seasons at UM, was named Florida’s interim coach following the Gators’ firing of Jim McElwain. UF announced the move Sunday evening, after multiple reports about McElwain’s dismissal and Shannon’s promotion. The Gators (3-4) have four games left this year.

Unless something unexpected happens, he won’t be the permanent coach. So, don’t expect a Shannon-Mark Richt duel when UF meets UM in Orlando to open the 2019 season.

Shannon, in his first season as UF’s defensive coordinator, was 28-22 at Miami from 2007-10. He was replaced by Al Golden, who was fired in Oct. 2015 and now coaches the Detroit Lions’ tight ends.

Shannon was a UM linebacker from 1985-88.

As Gators DC, Shannon already faced off against one former Miami interim coach this season: Larry Scott, who is Tennessee’s offensive coordinator. Scott served as Miami’s interim coach after Golden’s 2015 dismissal.

Going back through the ranks of former Miami coaches: Larry Coker, now retired, is entering the UM Sports Hall of Fame next spring. Butch Davis, back in the game after a six-year absence, is 5-2 at FIU. Dennis Erickson, Jimmy Johnson and Howard Schnellenberger are retired.

More Miami-UNC 

[5 things we learned: UNC edition]

[Players, Richt not pleased by performance]

[Rosier has shoulder trouble]

[Berrios wanted UNC to respect the ‘U’]

[Reaction videoGame blog | Pregame]

Miami-Virginia Tech 2017: Prime-time, national TV game on tap

(Getty Images, Post illustration)

[5 things we learned: UNC edition]

[What Miami players, coaches said afterward]

[Video: Porter’s reaction from Chapel Hill]

[Rosier has shoulder trouble]

[Berrios wanted UNC to respect the ‘U’]

[Live updates, commentary from Miami-UNC]

[Pregame news, notes and photos]

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Hurricanes and Hokies will battle for ACC Coastal supremacy in prime time.

The game, which will put one team in the driver’s seat for the division title, is at Hard Rock Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday and will be shown on ABC, according to a tweet from Virginia Tech’s team account.

Both teams could be in the top 10 of both the Associated Press poll (usually released 2 p.m. Sunday) and the first College Football Playoff rankings (out Tuesday).

Miami (7-0, 5-0 ACC), which was ranked No. 8 by the AP before winning 24-19 at North Carolina, is the only unbeaten team left in the ACC and is one of four teams in Power 5 conferences without a loss. The others: Alabama, Georgia and Wisconsin.

No. 13 Virginia Tech (7-1, 3-1), whose only loss was a 31-17 setback Sept. 30 to Clemson, beat Duke 24-3 on Saturday. Since its loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech has beaten Boston College, UNC and Duke by a combined 106-20 score.

A Miami win would leave it needing to beat Virginia and win at Pittsburgh — the teams are a combined 9-8 (4-5) — to win the Coastal for the first since since joining the ACC in 2004.

A Virginia Tech win would give it a critical head-to-head tiebreaker over UM, entering a three-game finish at Georgia Tech, vs. Pittsburgh and at Virginia.

Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson entered Saturday leading the ACC in passer rating (157.88), having thrown for 1,832 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions on 64.2 percent passing. His top receiver, Cam Phillips, was second in the league in receiving yards per game (93.9) and touchdowns (six).

The Hokies and Hurricanes were ranked second and third, respectively, in the ACC in yards per play allowed (4.58 and 4.74). Miami was second in the league in yards per play gained (6.94) and Virginia Tech was sixth (5.90).

 

Miami-North Carolina 2017: Braxton Berrios wanted UNC to respect the ‘U’

CHAPEL HILL, NC – OCTOBER 28: Braxton Berrios #8 of the Miami Hurricanes makes a touchdown catch against Myles Wolfolk #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Miami won 24-19. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

[What Miami players, coaches said after UNC]

[Video: Porter’s reaction from Chapel Hill]

[Live updates, commentary from Miami-UNC]

[Pregame news, notes and photos]

[Rosier has shoulder trouble]

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Miami-North Carolina game was closer — and more heated — than expected.

After a 24-19 win that included a lot of post-whistle smack talk and some heated exchanges afterward, Miami receiver Braxton Berrios wanted to “make sure the ‘U’ was held up properly” after his 5-yard touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter.

“Very important, obviously,” he said. “It hasn’t really left my mind since we came up here two years ago and got embarrassed. Utterly embarrassed.”

He was referring to the 2015 Miami-UNC game at Kenan Stadium, when former Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams taunted the Hurricanes by displaying the program’s trademark U’ hand signal — made by holding palms up, thumbs together — and turning it down toward his waist. Teammate Ryan Switzer did the same.

That was part of a 59-21 blowout by UNC, which was on its way to that year’s ACC title game. Miami fired its coach three weeks before, and was bound for a

Berrios, a senior from nearby Raleigh, held the ‘U’ high in the air for several beats after his diving grab.

“When you lose a game and get disrespected like that, it sticks with you for a while,” Berrios said. “I told our receiver group, I was going to put it up properly.”

The teams jawed at each other during the game, and came together at midfield as the clock ran out.  Mark Richt and UNC coach Larry Fedora were shown on TV having an extended conversation after shaking hands.

Even though UNC lost, linebacker Cayson Collins had this to say to the Raleigh News & Observer: “We’ve got the No. 8 team in the country coming in, and personally, I don’t feel like they should have been No. 8.”

Noteworthy: Travis Homer’s fumble was the first of Miami’s season. … The teams combined for zero points off six turnovers. … Defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh‘s pass break-up was his sixth of the year, which ranks him top-15 among ACC players. McIntosh smiled broadly when informed of that fact afterward. “Pretty cool,” said the 6-foot-4, 290-pound NFL prospect, who tied Jaquan Johnson with a career-high 11 tackles. In the last five years, only two ACC defensive linemen have had more PBUs than McIntosh, a junior from Fort Lauderdale-Cardinal Gibbons High. Clemson’s Christian Wilkins had 10 last year, the most by an ACC D-lineman since at least 2008. Virginia’s Brent Urban had nine in 2013. Florida State’s Demarcus Christmas also had six last year. … Miami has seven interceptions in the last two weeks. It has not had seven since a two-game stretch against Duke and UNC in 2010.

Video: Postgame reaction after Miami-North Carolina 2017

(Facebook.com/PostOnMiamiHurricanes)

[What Miami players, coaches said after UNC]

[Live updates, commentary from Miami-UNC]

[Pregame news, notes and photos]

[Rosier has shoulder trouble]

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It was homecoming for North Carolina, though the stands were hardly packed to see it. Miami nearly got caught looking ahead to Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.

Breaking it all down from the turf at Kenan Stadium:

Miami-North Carolina 2017: What players, coaches said postgame

DURHAM, NC – SEPTEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Richt of the Miami Hurricanes watches on against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 29, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

[Live updates, commentary from Miami-UNC]

[Pregame news, notes and photos]

[Report:  Shoulder trouble for Rosier]

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — What Mark Richt and players said after Miami’s too-close win at UNC:

Richt: “A lot of good things happened. Not clean enough for me. We’ve got to get things ironed out.”

“I’ve done it too long to apologize for winning. We’ve won 12 in a row. … When it’s not clean as it should be, it’s bothersome. It hurts.”

* Did Miami look at UNC’s record and try to rest up for Virginia Tech? “Oh, I don’t know. Everybody’s human. You can’t hardly ignore people’s records and things of that nature. You try to tell them — I think everybody has a healthy respect for North Carolina. I really do.”

* Richt on Rosier’s shoulder injury: “He got it dinged up. We weren’t sure what he could do.” Rosier was getting treatment and didn’t talk to media. More on that situation here.

* He said Miami “dropped more center snaps this week in practice” than usual, and it showed up during the game.

* Jeff Thomas played flanker for the first time. He used to play slot. Mike Harley (sprained ankle) was slowed this week. Richt liked how he could use his “best three” — Thomas, Braxton Berrios and Ahmmon Richards — at the same time, with Berrios in the slot and Richards at the X. He thinks Thomas’ 101-yard game will be “great for his confidence. … Not everyone can run that fast.”

* Braxton Berrios wanted to “make sure the ‘U’ was held up properly” after his touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter. More on that, plus several other notes from the game, in this post.

* Berrios on the offensive struggles: “That seems to be the story of the year. It’s unacceptable. … Luckily the defense played their tails off again. They kept us in the game.”

“Everything fires in practice and we see it in practice. If we knew what it was, we’d fix it right now. … It might be just going out there and playing, stop worrying.”

The offense hasn’t had that conversation, Berrios said, but “maybe it’s something that needs to be addressed.”

* Left tackle Kc McDermott: “We did our job well enough to win the game,” but “we need to be better.” He said Miami “didn’t execute our plan very well.

“It’s not to our standard. We need to do better.”

* McDermott: “You’re proud to win. … You can’t [dwell] on the bad, but you can focus on the good and improve it in practice.”

* McDermott: “We celebrated like we normally do. … As an offense we felt a little bit down because we didn’t feel like we did what we needed to.”

* Jaquan Johnson opened his session with the media by saying he dedicated this game to his grandfather, a Mississippi-born Miami native who died this week. He said his family is “grieving.”

* Joe Jackson, who may have saved the game by forcing a late fumble: “I did nothing amazing. I happened to make a play.” Johnson, who recovered the fumble: “I jumped on it.”

* Johnson on the Turnover Chain: “We’re Miami. We’re trendsetters.”

* R.J.  McIntosh on Miami-Virginia Tech: “We’re all worked up about it.”