Mark Richt on state of Miami Hurricanes program: ‘We’re not dominant’

Mark Richt on the sidelines during a 2017 game. (Getty Images)

[Tuesday morning practice updates, injury report]

[Hester, Gore, Coker among 2018 UMSHoF class]

CORAL GABLES — Miami is one of eight unbeaten teams left, entering Saturday’s date with Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ESPN). Is there belief in the locker room they can win it all?

“I don’t know,” Mark Richt said. “We’re excited about winning. We are trying to establish that mindset of winning and doing the things it takes to win. But we’re not a dominant football team. We’re a very, very solid football team that’s fighting like mad just to win the close battles, is where we are right now. A lot of positive things are happening through the adversity that we’ve been able to overcome to this point.”

“You’re not a top-10 program unless you’re a top-10 program at the end of the year,” Richt said when asked if his team is ahead of schedule. “We’re not at the point where we can just line up and impose our will on people. … We’re not lining up and whipping people and having margins of victory that are comfortable. We have to battle every week.” He added that UM is “moving in the right direction,” but needs to keep recruiting well. UM has won two close games to this point — it lost three last year.

Richt: We were ranked 10th last year and lost four in a row. We became unranked. … Were we really a top-10 team at that moment? I don’t know if we were or not.”

More nuggets from Richt’s Tuesday press conference:

 * Richt on Frank Gore and Devin Hester, new UM Sports Hall of Famers: “Rock stars.” He said he also has a “lot of respect” for inductee Larry Coker. “Just more excellence from our football program, things to try to somehow live up to.”

* “Obviously,” Richt said of Syracuse, “what happened last Friday was pretty remarkable.” Syracuse, routed by Clemson in 2016, beat the defending national champs at home. “They play with their hair on fire.” He said Syracuse will “be inspired, there’s no doubt about that.” Coach Dino Babers is “teaching his team to be great, and they’re believing it.”

* Richt praising the fans: “We couldn’t even hear our own cadence” at the end of the Georgia Tech game.

* Captains this week for Miami: Darrell Langham, Jaquan Johnson, Kendrick Norton and Michael Badgley.

* Richt on Langham: “He’s earned the right as much as anybody on the offense” to “be that guy.” He was a third-stringer entering the FSU week, made the winning catch, put up 100 yards and a game-saving catch last week. Langham’s on-field production had been “sometimes yes, sometimes no” before this spring, when he began to gain more confidence. He’s now “catching it, tucking it and expecting to get yards after the catch. … That’s the next phase of being a big-time player.”

* Richt has Miami in a good place in his second year.  What helps coaches succeed in Year 2? One of the reasons: players “really, truly understanding what coach wants, and getting guys around them to do it,” Richt said.


Miami-Syracuse 2017

[At midseason, laying out Miami’s Playoff path]

[Richt Monday: Rosier needs to settle down]

[Miami in top-10 for 1st time since ’13]

[Langham, Badgley honored; UNC a noon kick]

[Sunday evening post-GT injury updates]

[After Clemson upset, Syracuse hungry for UM]

More Miami-Georgia Tech

[5 things | Analysis | UM player, coach reaction]

[Post photo gallery | Live blog | Pregame scenes, video]

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