Discipline, competition in focus for Mark Richt during spring football

Spring football is here

Click the links for position-by-position looks at the Hurricanes entering spring ball, with thoughts on key battles and issues at each spot.

 QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST

* * *

When asked about his team in an interview taped about a month ago and aired last week on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline, Mark Richt said he didn’t know who was going to wind up playing a significant role.

“We’re kind of getting pecking order of what we’re seeing through the mat program,” Richt said. ” But we’ll start practicing and continue to decide how to stack and rack ‘em.”

He has a better idea today, and will have an even better idea tomorrow. The Hurricanes return to the field for spring practice at 9 a.m. Tuesday and competition is certain to be heated at every position.

Even quarterback, according to Richt.

“Really, everything’s open,” he said. “If someone can beat out Brad Kaaya, we’re going to be a better team.”

That proabably will not happen. But the new coach wants to make it clear that nothing is guaranteed during the 15 practices, which include an open scrimmage April 9 at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach and an April 16 spring game at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

RELATED: See Miami’s spring practice schedule

Richt said he is “starting from scratch on offense, defense and special teams,” and doesn’t want to move too quickly. He will direct the offense — and call the plays — and says things will be simple.

“My plan is, right now we’ll have six days of installation on offense,” he said. “Day 1 install on Tuesday, we’ll go with it. If we get to the next practice on Thursday and I feel like their heads are spinning, I’m not going to Day 2 installation. I want them to figure it out. Some people want to put it all in and when the dust settles, perfect it. I want them to have confidence in what we’re doing. If the spring game ends and we never got to install Day 6, so be it.”


He and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will keep things simple in scrimmages, calling basic plays against each other.

“I don’t want coaches to compete against coaches,” Richt said. “We’ve got to find out if guys can just play ball. I don’t want to see them confused. I want to see them knowing what they can do and see them certain. We don’t need to win the spring game, so to speak, against each other.”

It may be simple, but for players, it won’t be easy. Richt inherits a team that led the nation in penalties (9.3 for 84.2 yards per game, worst in both categories), to say nothing of their struggles stopping the run (102nd in rushing yards allowed per carry), generating backfield pressure (70th in sacks per game, 106th in tackles for loss), running the ball (102nd in yards per carry) and third down (107th in conversions).

Richt, who brought from Georgia his grueling “mat drills,” hoped to instill some necessary discipline during that offseason conditioning program. If one player messed up, the whole team had to re-do the drill.

“A couple guys decided that wasn’t for them,” he said, alluding to several players who transferred out, “which is very typical when change happens.”


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