The Mark Richt Era Begins at UM
The Hurricanes are back. In the rankings, that is.
And they’re keeping it in perspective.
For the first time since the week of Nov. 10, 2013, the University of Miami is ranked by the Associated Press among the top 25 college football teams in the nation.
UM’s AP ranking, released Tuesday afternoon: No. 25 — bumping the Florida Gators down a notch to top the unranked AP teams in points.
As nice as that might feel, several Hurricanes were unfazed when told after practice that they could slip into the top 25.
“It feels good,’’ senior safety Jamal Carter said. “But it’s not where we want to be. We’re headed for, you know, to be No. 1. That’s what everybody is trying to be. So, we’re not satisfied with it.’’
Receiver Braxton Berrios, who scored on a 41-yard punt return Saturday in UM’s 70-3 opening-night win against FAMU, agreed it would be “a good feeling,’’ quickly adding, “but it’s nothing to get too happy about.
“It’s not like it’s our first time there. I mean, that should be the standard. That shouldn’t be something we get overjoyed about, and I don’t think we will.’’
Tailback Joseph Yearby, one of three UM tailbacks to rush for more than 100 yards apiece Saturday for the first time since 1987 — as a result putting the Canes No. 1 in the nation in rushing after one week — didn’t care at all about any ranking.
“It don’t mean anything to me, honestly. I just want to come out and help the team win,’’ Yearby said, calling the polls “overrated.’’
And this from cornerback Adrian Colbert, a graduate transfer who had one of UM’s two interceptions Saturday: “Rankings don’t matter at all. It just matters that we go out every week and play every opponent like they’re [No. 3] Florida State. We’ve got to win every week.”
In the Amway Coaches’ Poll that also was released Tuesday, UM is still unranked at, essentially, No. 26 — behind the Gators.
The Canes (1-0), who meet FAU (1-0) at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, were last ranked in the polls — No. 24 by the AP and No. 23 by the coaches — after losing to Virginia Tech 42-24 on Nov. 9, 2013. They then went to Duke the next Saturday and lost 48-30, dropping them out of either poll until Tuesday.
UM coach Mark Richt indicated that part of the reason he did not allow freshmen to talk to reporters Tuesday was to keep them focused instead of perhaps thinking that they’re better than they are after Saturday’s victory.
“The whole team is human, obviously,’’ Richt said. “When people say, ‘Wow, you did great. You did great. You did great,’ the more of that, the less they tend to focus and all of a sudden they start believing, ‘Man, I’m pretty good.’
“And when you start thinking you’re pretty good is when you get whupped. I’m just trying to slow down the train for a little bit.’
On Tuesday, the Canes had other concerns as they began to prepare for the Owls, who defeated Southern Illinois 38-30 in their opener. There’s a depleted defense, for instance, after the recent dismissals of two defensive stars and the season-ending knee injury Saturday to much-needed linebacker Jamie Gordinier.
Add to that the other ailing players on defense, such as backup defensive tackle Courtel Jenkins, who was injured in the fourth quarter Saturday and rode an exercise bike during practice using only his left leg; and linebacker Darrion Owens, who sustained a severe knee injury last year against FAU, underwent reconstructive knee surgery and still wasn’t ready to play Saturday; and defensive end Trent Harris, who wore a thickly padded cast on his left hand Tuesday after breaking it last week.
“Gordinier getting hurt early in the game, I mean it’s sad,’’ Richt said. “Anytime a guy gets hurt and can’t play the rest of the season — they work so hard. ... It’s heartbreaking.
“And then it also puts pressure on the rest of the team. ... We’ve lost depth across the board in defense and in special teams. Guys have to rise up, but it puts pressure on your second team, it puts pressure on your scout team, it puts pressure on your special teams.
“The more attrition you have the tougher it is for everybody to stay healthy.’’
▪ Richt said safety Jaquan Johnson, who had 4.5 tackles and a sack Saturday and was observing and practicing with the linebackers Tuesday, is a nickel back who “is basically a [strong-side linebacker]. Will he play in a two-receiver set? … If he has to he will. We’re in a lot of nickel anyway. We can play with just two linebackers in those situations.’’
▪ Defensive tackle Anthony Moten (shoulder) appeared to be practicing in the media’s 15-minute viewing period, but Richt did not comment on his status.