University of Miami

FSU who? UM’s Mark Richt has enough to ponder about Arkansas State

Miami Hurricanes defensive linemen Joe Jackson (99) and Anthony Moten (95) defend against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, September 2, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes defensive linemen Joe Jackson (99) and Anthony Moten (95) defend against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, September 2, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

If you thought the Miami Hurricanes’ defense looked a bit shaky at times Saturday against Bethune-Cookman, don’t look now, but Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen, who lit up Nebraska on Saturday night with 415 passing yards at the home of the Huskers, will be back on his own turf in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to face UM at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

And whatever you do, if you wear the orange and green and play for the Hurricanes (1-0), don’t look ahead one week to Florida State (0-1), which lost standout quarterback Deondre Francois on Saturday to a season-ending knee injury against Alabama and faces the Canes on Sept. 16.

“If anybody thinks about FSU, we’ll be a sad bunch of football players and coaches,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said Sunday night. “We play an excellent team this week, and that’s who we’re going to focus on right now.’’

The Red Wolves came one play shy of forcing overtime when on the final play of the game, Hansen’s pass “grazed past the outstretched fingers of wide receiver Kendrick Edwards,’’ the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, “…before bouncing against the wall just past the end zone.’’

Nebraska escaped 43-36 against the Sun Belt’s Red Wolves (0-1), but not before Hansen had torched Nebraska with 68 passes, completing 46 of them to nine receivers.

Miami Hurricanes talks about the game after the University of Miami game against Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, September 2, 2017.

Richt, who calls Miami’s offense and coaches quarterbacks along with his son, Jon, said he had seen about “a half’’ of Arkansas State’s defense against the Nebraska offense.

“Very fast, physical athletic bunch,’’ he said. “Played with a high amount of energy as you would imagine. … They play a lot of man coverage, get their safeties involved in stopping the run game a good bit. … They play hard.

“I saw them put a lot of points on the board, but I didn’t watch them offensively. [Defensive coordinator] Manny [Diaz] said they go at breakneck speed and try to get you tired, try to get you out of position.’’

Against the Hurricanes, the Wildcats on Saturday passed for 229 yards and exposed some early weaknesses in UM’s secondary — not to mention scoring 13 points that the Canes’ defense didn’t like at all.

Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman noted that “the fact that they did put up points against us brings us back down to earth. Since the offseason the media and everybody else was saying how great this defense is.’’

▪ Richt said All-American receiver Ahmmon Richards, who is recuperating from a pulled hamstring and didn’t play Saturday, will start at Arkansas State if he is healthy.

“Just gotta see where he is,’’ Richt said. “With a hamstring he’s either all the way in or all the way out. There’s no much in between on that. You can’t kind of work your way in. Everybody has to practice the same speed.’’

When asked if the Hurricanes got out of the game generally healthy, the coach indicated that situation was positive.

“Normally, [head trainer Vinny Scavo] would have said something to me by now if something came up. Last night he just kind of said, ‘Thumbs up. Everybody’s good.’ “I don’t think we had any issues in that game at all.’’

▪ The team is off Monday.

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