University of Miami

UM’s Manny Diaz at halftime: ‘We’re going to win this game.’

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz looks over the field as the Miami Hurricanes hold practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz looks over the field as the Miami Hurricanes hold practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World.

University of Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was not going to let his Hurricanes be denied.

And he told them as such.

At halftime, with the Hurricanes losing 16-10, Diaz went into the locker room and wrote, “We’re going to win this game.”

As simple as that.

“That’s one thing we all love about Coach Diaz,” linebacker Shaquille Quarterman said. “His passion to win is unmatched. We did what he said we were going to do.”

With the help of a suddenly fierce, aggressive defense, the Hurricanes went on to defeat Toledo 52-30 after three weeks of not playing because of the upheaval caused by Hurricane Irma.

“Overall, I think we did a good job,” said defensive end Trent Harris, who led the Canes with two sacks. “We just didn’t do the best we could. We had a lot of mental errors out there.”

But Diaz, a tough guy to impress, couldn’t have been prouder.

“It was important that we believed it,” Diaz said of the message he wrote. “It was important that we felt like for as much adversity as we faced to be only down by six and to realize that we were just one stop, one score away from being in the lead, which is in essence what happened, I want to say this: As a coach you can write [things] down, but the players have to go out and make it happen.

“We were having a hard time the second quarter of putting 11 functioning defensive football players on the field because of getting back to just the conditioning level of being able to play in a game. We couldn’t think straight. We couldn’t play a base coverage. We could hardly do anything there for probably the second half of the second quarter. A lot of that was self-inflicted because of staying on the field on third downs. You’re looking at halftime, you’re telling them the path back and how we’re going to win the football game. But for those guys to go out and take control of the third quarter,” he said, pointing to the nine-day layoff before UM practiced, “is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen from the sideline.”

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt talks about quarterback Malik Rosier's slow start in their victory over the Toledo Rockets Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

Quarterman, who had four tackles, said the Canes (2-0) “had no doubt” they would come back in the second half.

“I think they thought they were going to shock the world,” Quarterman said of Toledo. “By halftime, I guess they thought they did. But little did they know...We don’t quit until the clock hits 0:00.’”

In total, Toledo, with one of the highest scoring offenses in the nation coming into the game, converted 13 of 23 third-down attempts, while UM only converted 3 of 9.

Sophomore cornerback Malek Young and sophomore defensive end Joe Jackson had career-high seven tackles apiece.

The Rockets, led by talented quarterback Logan Woodside (28 of 48 for 342 yards and three touchdowns), rushed for only 85 yards...

Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton talks about how he begged the coaches for another play so he could break 200 yards in their victory over the Toledo Rockets.

THIS AND THAT

▪ UM outgained Toledo 399 to 133 yards in the second half. The Canes finished with nine tackles for loss and four sacks...

▪ Mark Walton’s 204 rushing yards tied Willis McGahee for the sixth-most in a single game in UM history....With his 44-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Walton recorded his 26th career rushing score. He is nine rushing touchdowns behind UM all-time leader Stephen McGuire (1989-92), who has 35.

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