Don’t tell University of Miami defensive end Chad Thomas that Saturday is the last of 15 NCAA-designated spring football practices of 2016.
“I don’t think of it as a practice,’’ said Thomas. “That’s a game, for real. There are going to be a lot of people watching. Our last scrimmage was good, but we could have made more plays.’’
The 2016 UM spring game is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, where thousands of fans – including up to 200 former football players returning to watch their young counterparts — can take part in festivities that include a team autograph-signing session from noon to 1 p.m.
UM coach Mark Richt acknowledged Thursday that the spring game will have more importance than any other spring practice in establishing a future depth chart going into fall camp.
“It does to me,’’ Richt said. “I think it does to the coaches. It’s the closest thing to a real game, and it is a game, but it is not real in that we’re not kicking off and we’re punting without a rush and we’re doing some things that are not normal in that regard.
“We play 12-minute quarters. So, it’s not exactly a game, but it’s close. And there are going to be a good many fans three to add a little pressure to it.’’
Richt already has divided the team into orange and green squads, with quarterback Brad Kaaya playing for the green and the four other quarterbacks playing for the orange.
“It’s going to be our No. 1 offense with our No. 2 and 3 defense vs. the No. 1 defense with the No. 2 and 3 offense,’’ Richt said. “We’ll split the coaching staff – some offense on each sideline, some defensive coaches on each sideline.’’
The coach said the ball will likely be spotted at the 25-yard line. “We’ll punt the ball, but we won’t rush the punt.’’ He said the kickers will get to attempt field goals, but UM later clarified that the attempts will not be part of the game itself.
Gates open at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the parking lot open at 8 a.m. for tailgating. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase 2016 season tickets.
Keep in mind that if you want autographs, you must claim a voucher by lining up at 11 a.m. outside the main entrances to Lockhart Stadium. Fans must be in line no later than 12:30 p.m. for autographs. Each voucher entitles you to one signed poster, which will be distributed free. Nothing else can be autographed.
Defensive end Demetrius Jackson said he’s excited about Saturday.
“We have a great coaching staff that is going to let us display our talent,’’ Jackson said. “Just waiting to go out there and let it loose.’’
University of Miami spring football game
When/Where: 2 p.m. (parking lot opens at 8 a.m. and gates open at 11) Lockhart Stadium, 1350 NW 55th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309.
Broadcast: ESPN3, 560WQAM, WVUM 90.5.
More: Go to HurricaneSports.com