Miami Hurricanes tight end Clive Walford has repeatedly said he’s glad he returned for his senior season.
Walford is making it count, amassing 306 receiving yards and four touchdowns in seven games, second-most to fellow senior Phillip Dorsett, a wide receiver with 550 yards and six touchdowns.
The 6-4, 258-pound Walford, averaging 13.3 yards per touch, was named earlier in the week to the midseason watch list for the Mackey Award that goes to the nation’s top tight end. He is “having a phenomenal year,” UM coach Al Golden said Wednesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference coaches’ teleconference.
“This is the best he’s been catching the ball in traffic,” said Golden, who called Walford an outspoken leader. “His routes are precise, he’s finishing his stems really well in terms of coming back to the quarterback, he’s catching balls in traffic, he’s preparing like crazy. He’s been a very unselfish blocker and a guy that’s finishing.
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“Clive’s in a very good place right now. He’s continually getting better, and he’s been on that trend since about midway through last year.”
Last year Walford finished with 454 yards and two touchdowns.
Golden said he’ll be “tuning in like everybody else” to watch his next opponent, Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-1 ACC), play Pitt (3-3, 1-1) – both Coastal Division opponents – on Thursday night’s ESPN telecast.
“You’d be crazy not to watch it live,” Golden said. “We’ll work all day and come in the next day and watch the coaches’ tape. I might be making some mental notes during the game, but we’re not going to break it down during the game.”
He said that Friday he’ll begin to finish his game plan after he sees the Hokies in action.
“Once we get that final piece of the puzzle, we’ll finalize everything and go to work on Saturday.”
Golden said his coaches get in around 5:45 a.m. every day, so they won’t watch the game together.
“I can’t imagine we’re going to be here [Thursday] night at 8. We’ve got a good jump on [Virginia Tech]. Guys have been working like crazy. I’d prefer they watch it with their families.”
The Canes have lost all three games on the road this season: the opener against Louisville, and against Nebraska and Georgia Tech. When asked what the team has to do to reverse the trend, Golden said the losses don’t have anything to do with being away from home.
“It’s not something we really talk about. We’ve been prepared. The guys have had a good look.
“At Lincoln, [Nebraska], we move the ball right down and score, and at Georgia Tech we do the same thing. There are a lot of little details of why we didn’t win those games, but it wasn’t for the fact of being on the road.”
The coach said there’s nothing “that would indicate” there’s a road-game issue.
“It’s a great challenge for us. Our guys are going to be excited about going into that environment and they know what it entails and what you have to do to win. It’s not going to change our preparation. We know the type of team we’re going to play.”