LAKE BUENA VISTA — Hurricane Irma gave Mark Walton a chance to be with his 6-month old daughter and her mother for an extended period of time.
That part he appreciated, Walton said Wednesday after the 14th-ranked University of Miami (1-0) practiced again at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to prepare for Toledo (3-0) on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. But frankly, Walton, like the other Hurricanes, are ready for some football.
UM will have a closed, light practice on Thursday morning, then head back to Miami.
“My family is great,’’ said Walton, a Miamian. “My family is safe. They made it out of the storm great. That’s the best thing about it. As long as my family is good, I’m good.
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“....When we were out of practice, it was all fun and games and everybody was enjoying time with their family. But I think everybody is focused and locked in and tuned in for this week.”
Walton said that during the long break he did “a lot of running so I was kind of in shape still,’’ he said. “I think the guys, everybody else is in shape, and we have our legs back and are ready to play Saturday.”
Walton ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the Sept. 2 season opener against Bethune-Cookman.
Like most of the other Hurricanes, he said the offense “started a little slow [at] the beginning of the week.”
“But as the week progressed,’’ Walton said, “we progressed our tempo. If we’re going to play at a [fast] tempo it will be hard to stop our offense.”
Walton mentioned that his backup, Travis Homer, who ran 103 yards in the opener, had a “lot of explosive runs’’ the entire week.
BACK TO JAX
Defensive tackle Kendrick Norton said he went back to Jacksonville to be his family “and make sure everything was situated there’’ during the hurricane. “It was fine in my area but I heard that some parts of Jacksonville got flooded pretty bad. It was raining a lot so I just did stuff in the house: pushups, situps.”
And tight end Chris Herndon said he went home to Norcross, Georgia, for UM’s first five days off before and during the storm.
“I was working out and conditioning and watching film early on Toledo,’’ Herndon said. “Upper body, stretching, a lot of legs. They feel good. They feel rested from the break. But [football is] back so I’m ready.”
Herndon was impressed with the younger players. “They didn’t come and treat it as some type of vacation or complete time off,’’ he said. “Coaches did give us some time off. I still saw some of them getting the work in and going over their playbook and making sure whenever we had optional lifts that they were there. I’m seeing a lot of focusing, a lot of effort.”
Sophomore wide receiver Ahmmon Richards is still questionable for Toledo, coach Mark Richt said. The hamstring pull was obviously a lot worse than most thought.
When asked how Richards seemed, Richt said, “Cautious, still. He did have a little bit of competitive repetition. He got a few plays against a defender in front of him. I think it was scout team work a little bit.
“ But he looks a little cautious, which is understandable. It was a severe pull. I mean, it’s been almost a month. That’s a long time for a pull. But when it happened, we were just thankful that when we did the MRI we didn’t have something worse than it was. We’re all being cautious, but on the other hand, somewhere down the line you’ve got to let it go. Hamstrings are the ones that you’ve just got to be careful with.”