A day after Miami mowed down FAU in a game that started out shaky for the Hurricanes but ended up as a convincing 38-10 victory, Hurricanes coach Mark Richt was asked about his next opponent: former FCS school Appalachian State.
App State (1-1), nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, North Carolina, is the school that caused college football hysteria when it defeated No. 5 Michigan at Ann Arbor in the 2007 season opener — en route to the Mountaineers’ third consecutive FCS national title.
“Do you talk to your guys about not taking them lightly?’’ UM coach Mark Richt was asked.
“How can you take this team lightly?” an incredulous Richt answered. “How can anybody who knows football take this team lightly? We don’t even have to say that to our guys. They’ve seen the film. They watched them play against Tennessee. They know.
“It’s really almost an insult to have to answer the question. Not being rude to you, but this is a really good football team and everybody knows it and we’re geared up to try to do the best we can to play great that day.’’
The Mountaineers met then-No. 9 Tennessee (now No. 15) in the season opener, losing in overtime after missing an extra point earlier in the game. On Saturday, App State (11-2 in Sun Belt Conference in 2015) defeated Old Dominion 31-7.
The game kicks off at noon and will be televised by ESPN, further proof that it will certainly draw attention.
Richt said part of the offense’s challenges in the passing game against FAU was because quarterback Brad Kaaya didn’t always drop deep enough in the pocket. He said UM’s “tackles got bull-rushed a couple times and just got squeezed in the pocket and made it uncomfortable in there for Brad. He had to move out of the pocket one time.”
“But there were a couple times we probably didn’t have a deep enough drop,” Richt added. “At least one of those is just because of how I coached it. ... You’ve got to get back, set your point and then step up in the pocket. And if you don’t get deep enough to begin with, and you move up, it feels like the pocket is coming up in your face. Some of those things we’ve got to iron out. That’s coaching. It’s our job to get it right, and we’ll get it done.’’
TOO MANY PENALTIES
UM fans know far too well how the Hurricanes were plagued by penalties in 2015 — last in the nation in penalty yardage (1,087) and penalties per game (9.1 average). After a positive showing in the opener (six penalties for 54 yards), the Hurricanes were penalized nine times for 90 yards.
Richt said he believes some of the holding penalties being called downfield were because of “aggressive blocking.’’
“I’m not saying that our guys aren’t grabbing jerseys here and there,’’ he said, “but for the most part our guys are blocking so good downfield [that] people are not used to seeing that. ... They called a chop block and after looking at the tape I don’t believe that was a chop block,’’ Richt said of the first-quarter penalty on linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling. “There are some things you don’t always agree with, but there are still too many.”
RANKED BY COACHES
The respect is inching up for the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes entered the Amway Coaches’ Poll as the nation’s No. 25 college football team Sunday.
Last week, the Canes (2-0) were the first team out of that poll, in essence, the team with the most points otherwise at what would be considered No. 26.
The Canes stayed at No. 25 in the AP Poll.
▪ Richt said Saturday night that he thought “most everybody’’ made it out of the game “without any kind of injury that would cost them playing time.’’ Regarding any injury situations Sunday, the coach said, “I think we’re in good shape. I appreciate you asking.’’