A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
• Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has identified yet another way the turnover chain appears to be helping Miami.
“There is no doubt it does seem it does have an effect for whatever reason when we get the first one, then second one is not going to be far off. And it feels almost it has a similar effect in a negative way to the other team,” Diaz said.
“All week, it is probably such a major point of emphasis for them to not turn the ball over and they talk about how they’re not going to turn it over. Then all of a sudden when a turnover occurs, it seems they are suffering a letdown as much as we’re benefitting from a boost by getting our first turnover of the game. They’ve obviously been coming in bunches.
“It feel like when a team turns over the ball for the first time in a game, it gets better for us and worse for them.”
• With Charles Perry out for the season, freshman De’Andre Wilder will assume a larger role.
Wilder, Darrion Owens and Mike Smith now stand as the primary backup linebackers behind Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud.
“Wilder has been training for this moment,” Diaz said. “He adds an element of speed, which you want. Got to be stout to be able to play the run and tackle and agile enough to go out there and be out where all the wideouts are. We have been impressed with him since he’s been here. We tell these guys you never know when your chance is going to come. And here it is.”
• Jon Garvin is ahead of fellow freshman defensive end DJ Johnson, but UM believes both will be terrific players.
Of Johnson, Diaz said: “He’s not far away. We’re aware we’re losing two great senior ends in Chad Thomas and Trent Harris. Certainly athletically, for a man his size who can run is special and unique. Defensive end, even Joe Jackson a year ago, Joe had to play because of our numbers.
“Remember last year we were inventing defensive ends midway through the season. The position has become so hard now because of what people are doing in the run game. It’s understanding all the different ways when you have to play the dive and when you have to play the quarterback. The more he gets comfortable with that, he’ll make a major impact on our team.”
• UM has five corners worthy of playing - Malek Young, Michael Jackson, Trajan Bandy, Dee Delaney and Jhavonte Dean - and the challenge is getting them all time.
All five played defensive snaps against Notre Dame, with Young and Jackson continuing to start and Bandy (who returned an interception for a touchdown) continuing to emerge to the point that he needs to be on the field much of the time when UM plays three cornerbacks.
Delaney did good work in the run game last week.
“A lot of times it’s what’s our game plan, what the challenge is the other team presents,” Diaz said of how the decision is made to allocate snaps among the cornerbacks. “We like all five guys. All five have a little different skills sets. Is it more of a man week? More of a zone week? Guys who are more experience have more ability to handle the more adjustments. That’s what goes into it.”
• What has pleasantly surprised Diaz is “the way we’re playing in the back end. The way the guys in the back end stepped up relative to their experience.”... Diaz said of UM being ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings: “I don’t think it really matters. You still have to beat Virginia. The fact they have rankings in the middle of the season is for a matter of argument and discussion. It really doesn’t serve a purpose.”
• Travis Homer continues to exceed all expectations, and for perspective, consider this: Among backs with at least 100 carries nationally, only six are averaging more than Homer’s 6.7 per carry.
• Receiver Lawrence Cager hasn’t been a big factor this year (10 catches, 141 yards), but his Notre Dame game was a highlight, with two catches for 45 yards, including a terrific 28-yard grab.
Mark Richt believes he’s fully back from the knee injury that sidelined him all of last season.
“He looks like he’s confident in the knee,” Richt said. “Cager made a couple nice plays. Braxton Berrios and Chris Herndon have been constants. Everyone else is finding a way to make plays.”