University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who grew up in Miami and is the son of the former mayor, spoke about his experiences with Hurricane Irma and how it could affect his 14th-ranked Hurricanes (1-0) as they prepare for Toledo (3-0) at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
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Some of what he said:
“First, it’s about the people, everybody in the program making sure everybody was secure, safe with their families. Then the storm passes. What we understand being from South Floridians is the preparation that goes into a hurricane beforehand and how hard it is getting anything done before the storm. ...We had a couple days where we could get everything cleaned up and kind of get our houses somewhat back in order, but while all this is going on football is not going on. And you know the games were coming.
“Our administration in allowing us to be able to come here for a week, I don’t how we could have done it any other way now. It almost has a training camp feel. Just to get our minds back on playing a football game, because once you step off that train it’s hard, especially as a defense. You get into the rhythm of contact and hitting and things like that. you don’t do it for nine or 10 days, there’s just no manual for how to deal with that.”
Was there fear and anxiety when you pulled out of town?
“The strangest feeling I had is when we stayed with family’s house up the state and my wife and I we drove two cars. We get to the house and when we brought everything from the cars into the house all of a sudden in the back of my mind I was like ‘This might be everything we have.’
“It was like being a college student where you can pack your whole life into an automobile and that realization that I own two suitcases worth of stuff. That unknowing is part of what makes it so difficult. The way it turned out, even though it impacted a lot of lives, we know it could have been so much worse.”
So, Manny, what will it be like going three weeks without having played a game?
“It’s like opening the season again. That’s basically what we told them. It’s like playing in an opener all over again. It’s not just three weeks not playing, it’s three weeks after really playing one game, where really, we played very poorly on defense. You almost look at it as an opener again, with some of the same issues you have with opening games. You’re playing an opponent that is scoring points for fun and has now played a lot of ball so they’re into their season routine. They’ve improved every week and we have to kind of be in mid-season form Saturday at 3:30, no excuses.”