Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya will have a different view in front of him on the football field Saturday at University of Virginia.
That view: the backside of senior Alex Gall, who will get his first start at center to replace usual starter Nick Linder.
“It’s just a different butt to get snaps from,’’ Kaaya said with a grin Tuesday after practice, when asked about the change. “Just different in that sense. But I think he did a good job filling in for Nick. It was good to see him get out there and get some reps and step up and do his job. It was awesome to see. He finally got his shot and I think he did just fine.”
Linder, a junior who has an ailing shoulder, has started 26 consecutive games at UM, including four at guard his freshman season, all 13 at center last year and all nine this season.
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Gall, 6-5 and 305 pounds, said he hasn’t played much this season, and is excited for his opportunity.
“I’ve been around here for a while and know that things happen, injuries happen,’’ Gall said. “When your number is called, you have to go in and you have to perform.
“… It’s something that I practiced for all season — since camp and all summer and spring. So, it’s not that I’m not ready for it.”
Last game, Gall was ready. He played the second half in a standout performance by the offensive line against Pittsburgh, especially in light of the line having allowed 13 sacks the previous two games.
The Canes, who generated 534 yards of total offense against Pitt, allowed only one sack.
“Coach [Mark] Richt has us take snaps with about five different centers every single day before practice,’’ Kaaya said, when asked about the chemistry aspect between quarterback and center. “We spend about 15 minutes doing that. So I don’t think there should be any worries in that aspect.”
Richt said Tuesday that “things went fine’’ for Gall in UM’s 51-28 victory Saturday. “Pre-practice every day we do quarterback-center exchange. ... The other thing, too, is we want each center to snap it in the same spot. We want each quarterback to put his hand placement in the exact same spot. We want the cadence to be very rhythmic, so if a new quarterback comes in, it doesn’t blow everything up, or if a new center comes in, it doesn’t blow things up.’’
One of Gall’s biggest moments last season was getting to start at guard at Cincinnati. He grew up 20 minutes northeast of the university, from which his mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles graduated. But that game didn’t turn out so well, and this Saturday is one the Canes hope to dominate against the Cavaliers, who, despite being 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are tied for 35th nationally in sacks, with 23.
Miami (5-4, 2-3) is tied for 80th nationally after having given up 21 sacks.
Gall said playing center is “a lot different’’ from guard. “The physical aspect is different — a different stance and everything, that’s a little bit of a challenge. But the mental game is a lot different now because of the new offense. Now you’re controlling everybody. You’re not just getting the call and moving with your tackle. You’re moving everybody and getting everybody in line.”
He said he’s more flexible than last year, and has the advantage of “feeling comfortable at all three interiors.”
“… A lot of credit goes to [offensive line] coach [Stacy] Searels,” Gall said. “He has been keeping on us, coaching us, getting us all working together better. Now we’re starting to mesh and get it back where it needs to be, back to where we were in the beginning when we were rolling, and now I think we’re going to get back on that roll again.”
▪ Former starting defensive end Demetrius Jackson, who injured his left knee against North Carolina and has missed the past three games, returned to practice Tuesday.