By the time the Miami Hurricanes run through their smoke on Saturday afternoon, it will have been three weeks since they played a game.
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, UM canceled a game at Arkansas State and postponed its prime time showdown with the rival Florida State Seminoles.
Now practicing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World, coach Mark Richt says his guys are getting back into game shape — “they’re in better shape than I thought they would be” — after so much time off because of the storm.
“The goal was when we got to Orlando was to get these guys rested — they were exhausted — and get them fed right,” Richt told the Joe Rose Show on 560-AM during his weekly hit on Monday morning.
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“Then you get ready to start thinking about football again. They have to get ready to be play football again. And I think we’re in pretty good shape there and by the time we play, we’ll be ready.”
Richt didn’t rip into those who criticized him and the Hurricanes for canceling their game at Arkansas State a few days before Irma hit South Florida.
Miami called the game on Wednesday with players and coaches getting to the work of preparing for a storm with their families.
A few days later, Florida State and Miami agreed to move its game to Oct. 8 as both teams shared an off week.
“I would hope that people who made comments like that, at least after the fact, see how important it is,” Richt said. “We could have been playing a game in Arkansas while our families are home getting torn apart. There was no way I was going to subject our coaches, our staff and our players through that sort of thing.
“I think it’s very dangerous to play football when your mind isn’t on your business. I didn’t want our players coming to me saying ‘what the heck are we doing here playing a game while my family is going through this.’ We did did what was right and figured when it was time to play football again, we would.”
Miami (1-0) hasn’t played since opening with a ho-hum win over Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2 and now get a Toledo team which is 3-0 after beating Tulsa 54-51 on Saturday.
The Rockets have been putting some points on the board this season as their lowest point output of the season was 37 points on Sept. 9 at Nevada.
“You have to be able to tackle, No. 1,” Richt said. “When a team has that much offense, they tend to get the ball out to guys in space. Your perimeter guys have to be able to get guys on the ground. You have to be able to pressure the quarterback, make the guy uncomfortable. And our offense has to score, get the ball into the end zone because that team can points on the board.”
After Saturday’s game, the Hurricanes won’t be back at Hard Rock Stadium for a few weeks as they travel to Duke and Florida State on successive weeks.
Richt said he hoped a lot of Miami fans showed up on Saturday but said he understood if other things they were dealing with were a priority.
“I know there is a lot going on with our fanbase and sometimes a football game can make everyone feel normal again,” Richt said.
“I’m hoping people can come, but if they don’t, I understand it. We’ll be blessed for anyone who comes and we’ll be happy to see them out there.”
UP NEXT FOR THE CANES
Toledo Rockets (3-0) at Miami Hurricanes (1-0)
▪ When, where: 3:30 p.m.; Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens.
▪ TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM-560.