University of Miami

Canes explosive offense fueled by receiver Richards and tailback Walton

Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards talks about confidence

University of Miami freshman wide receiver talks about his confidence on Tues., Sept. 27, 2016 level entering the Georgia Tech game.
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University of Miami freshman wide receiver talks about his confidence on Tues., Sept. 27, 2016 level entering the Georgia Tech game.

That supposedly crucial drop by Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards in the third quarter of the Appalachian State game?

He has put it behind him, just like the 61-yard beauty he caught from Brad Kaaya two plays later and his 62-yard grab with an acrobatic spin escape the next series, both catches leading to touchdowns and a UM freshman-record 142 yards receiving.

We got the win,’’ Richards said Tuesday. “That’s all that really matters.’’

And Mark Walton’s 401 yards and seven touchdowns on 48 carries in three games, good for fifth nationally in rushing yards per game (133.7) and sixth in scoring per game (15 points)?

“We’ve got to take advantage of every chance we get the ball,’’ Walton said. “This coach is trusting us to run a lot.’’

The undefeated No. 14 Hurricanes (3-0), who play at Georgia Tech (3-1) at noon Saturday in their first Atlantic Coast Conference game, have scored 153 points in this young season.

They’re averaging 51 points, sixth best in the NCAA and second behind Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

They’ve outgained their opponents 1,542 to 652 yards.

One final stretch before huddle time at UM football practice Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016

Now, during a week that they’re preparing for the insidious triple option, it’s reassuring for the Hurricanes to know they have some firepower should those three true freshman starting linebackers get smoked now and then by Georgia Tech’s option attack.

“It gives us confidence as a defense,’’ safety Rayshawn Jenkins said of UM’s prolific offense. “We trust in them, they trust in us.’’

The Canes know they can score fast and know they can score big. Eleven of their 22 drives have been under two minutes, with five minutes being the longest. They already have seven plays of more than 50 yards, the same total as all of last season.

But the Yellow Jackets, who UM has beaten in six of their past seven meetings, thrive on eating up the clock with their running game — though this season they actually have controlled the ball a bit less than their opponents.

“In some ways that’s a blessing,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said of UM’s explosive offense. “If you get points, it’s great. If you go one-play drive, four-play drives and take 1:10 off the clock, and they go get a seven-minute drive, if you do that enough times, your defense is going to be on the field longer than it needs to be.’’

UM Hurricanes get limber on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016

Georgia Tech is 14th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 14.3 points a game, and second in red zone defense.

Said Richards: “That means whenever we do get the ball we’ve got to make plays. No missed assignments. Leave nothing on the field.’’

After the App State game, Richards was named ACC Co-Rookie of the Week along with Georgia Tech running back Dedrick Mills, who ran for 58 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt.

“I was really excited when it first happened but I’m just trying to move on from it, not let it build up in my head,’’ the 6-1, 192-pound Richards said, noting that it’s not hard to stay humble because his father called him after the last game “talking about the drop.’’

“He sees the good but he always looks at the bad things and reminds me of it,’’ the freshman said. “I would say he keeps me grounded.’’

Richt described Richards as “this guy who is pretty calm, reserved — a very well-spoken guy. Then, in the game, something gets into him. He loves the game so much that he’s a very fierce competitor. I like that about him.’’

Richards was asked if he felt he was ready to play against anybody.

“Ummm,’’ he said, seemingly confident but wary of sounding too much so. “We’re just going to have to see. I don’t want to make that statement. I’m confident of what coach has taught me. ... I just want to do better than I did last game.’’

PATCHAN RETURNS

Redshirt freshman defensive end Scott Patchan, “coming off an ACL [tear],’’ Richt said, “is being cleared to do drill work. He got a little work on the scout team and we’re just kind of breaking him in. We did [the same] thing with [linebacker] Darrion Owens, kind of work the scout team for a minute until he got comfortable with bodies around him. I don’t know if it will be this game or not, but it’s relatively soon that he’ll go.”

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