A six-pack of UM notes as we approach UM-FSU on Saturday:
• Coach Mark Richt, appearing with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline on Tuesday, offered insight into one way he has changed as a coach:
“I had to do a better job of celebrating victories,” he said. “For me, personally, I’m always thankful, sometimes relieved [after a win], let’s go the next one. I don’t need to celebrate and jump as much for me as I do it for the guys. That was one other thing, when I decided to keep coaching [after Georgia replaced him], I’m going to make sure we have some fun.
“Players know football is mostly fun and sometimes it’s only fun when you win. So when you win, you have to celebrate. Here’s this old 57 year old dude getting your blood pumping in a game for boys and young men. You can get your job done without liking each other. You can get your job done without enjoying it… But it’s nice when you do like the guy next to you, when you have respect for the guy next to you.”
ESPN cameras caught Richt cursing against Duke, and Richt said: “I’m ashamed of a few things I’ve got to do better at. Most of the time I’m mad, I’m mad at me for not preparing me. If a guy doesn’t line up right, that’s coaching.”
Regarding certain penalties, Richt said: “It’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure everyone knows exactly where to line up. I called a play I called two years ago but didn’t rep before this game. When you don’t rep it, you get that result.”
Of Saturday’s game, he said: “I’m excited. These are the games everyone should be excited about. The nation likes to take a peek to see what’s going on with Florida State and Miami. It’s a game we know means so much to everybody. It’s going to be a battle royale for sure.”
• UM is hoping to expose FSU’s offensive line, as Wake Forest did in collecting five sacks on Saturday.
“I hope we can have that kind of production,” Richt said. “Hats off to Wake Forest’s defense, they did a super job. We feel we have a pretty good front seven - we have to prove it.”
Richt raved about FSU’s defense.
• UM has won eight consecutive games by an average of 21 points per game, going back to the last five of last season.
Richt cited these common denominators on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline:
“We’re playing some pretty good defense,” he said. “That helps a lot. We have to this point secured the ball pretty well. We really have done a good job securing the football as runners. We have had a couple picks. The two [Malik Rosier] threw were more an overthrow of a receiver than just a bad decision. We had a bad decision last week that could have or should have turned into a pick. But Malik for the most part hasn’t thrown the ball recklessly.”
Richt said Rosier made “maybe two” bad decisions “out of the whole game. If you have only those two problems in the whole game, you’ve done a great job.”
Has Rosier’s strong accuracy surprised Richt? “We saw it in practice,” Richt said on Hurricane Hotline. “We saw it in camp. He was very accurate. He won the job because he made good decisions and “was very accurate with decisions. The best play of the game to me was the little flag route he hit to Braxton [Berrios]. They disguised it pretty good.”
• Rosier’s acumen with the read option – and his ability to execute play fakes - has been very valuable.
Case in point was Travis Homer’s 40 yard run against Duke.
“We’re blocking everyone to the right,” Richt said. “We’ve got two guys off the edge – a safety and defensive end. When Malik hands the ball, he is going to make a quick movement as if he has the ball. The safety flinched for a fraction and that’s just enough for Homer to run by him and take it to the house. Ball fakes are so imporant when it comes to play action and zone reads and nakeds and bootlegs. When you hand the ball off, you want someone to be searching the quarterback.”
Richt said players get rewards for fakes that affect the play. “If they make a ball fake and it affects a defender, they get one in the bank,” Richt said, meaning it would offset required gassers for making an egregious mistake.
• UM loves how Malek Young played against Duke; he replaced Michael Jackson as the starting cornerback opposite Dee Delaney.
“Malek has earned the right to start,” Richt said. “He’s a very good cover guy, got great ball skills. He’s got a nose for the ball. There’s more to it than that. There’s a run that broke out that he got off a [blokcer] and made the tackle. Everyone else that tried to get him down couldn’t get him down.”
Richt also liked how Delaney and Jhavonte Dean played against Duke.
• ESPN assigned Dave Pasch and Greg McElroy to Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. UM-FSU game. It would been an ABC 8 p.m. game with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit if Hurricane Irma hadn’t forced postponement from Sept. 16.
ABC/ESPN instead opted to put Michigan-Michigan State in prime time on Saturday instead of UM-FSU.
Here’s my Tuesday post with everything notable Derek Jeter said in his first Marlins press conference today. Here’s my Tuesday post on new Dolphins starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and why Drew Brees made a point to go over to talk to him after Sunday’s game. And please check back later tonight for a Heat post.