University of Miami

College football is better when UM, Notre Dame are elite, Richt says

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt on the sidelines as the University of Miami hosted Virginia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, November 4, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt on the sidelines as the University of Miami hosted Virginia Tech at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, November 4, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Mark Richt at his Tuesday news conference before Notre Dame:

Is college football better when Miami and Notre Dame are elite competitors?

“It is for us,’’ Richt said, laughing. “We like it when we’re competing in games like this late in the year that are that meaningful. It’s what you hope for, it’s what you work toward.

This Saturday night is going to be very meaningful for both teams.

▪ On whether sophomore receiver Dionte Mullins, who reportedly is no longer with UM, is still on the team: “With Dionte, he didn’t practice today. And if there’s something to report, I’ll report it, I promise you.”

▪ On the crowd at Virginia Tech: “That was so impressive to me and the players. It’s amazing what happens when everybody gets together and starts yelling at the same time.

“We’re figuring we’ll have a good crowd,” he said of this weekend, definitely an understatement.

▪ On Notre Dame: “Super hot team. Beating teams by big margins. One of the best defensive teams in the country. One of the best offensive teams in the country. Very well coached by Coach [Brian] Kelly and his staff.

“Offensive line probably best in America. I don’t think anybody would argue that. They’re paving the way. Over 300 yards a game rushing. This isn’t triple option football. It’s line up and physically move people off the ball and kick your tail type offensive line.

“[Running back] Josh Adams, already over 1,000 yards.

“Brandon Wimbush, the quarterback, 13 rushing TDs, almost 700 yards rushing. 11 TDs, only 2 picks. A true dual-threat guy. The difference between him and a lot of running QBs is how fast he is. He can truly take it to the house when he breaks out.

“Very explosive offense, very balanced offense, very dangerous quarterback.

▪ Defensively, one of the better teams in the country. It starts up fronts. A couple guys named Hayes. No. 93 and No. 9 are their edge rushers and are outstanding.

“Very, very veteran group. They play very physical, they’re sure tacklers, they don’t give up big plays. You’re going to have to earn it.”

Richt said UM hasn’t been very good at sustaining drives.

“We’ve hit some shots here and there and made some big plays. Every so often we’ll have a drive that lasts more than six, seven, eight plays. Their goal is to keep you from hitting the big run or big pass. Can you execute down the field and get in the red zone and score a touchdown against them? Not many people have been able to do that.

“That’s our challenge. We’re looking for the game and I know our fans are, too.”

UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown discusses Notre Dame and reviews his offense's improved play, but said it's still a work in progress.

RICHT’S THOUGHTS ON ...

▪  Rivalry when Richt was a player at UM: “I got my heart broken in South Bend one time. Well, actually, one time I went there and got knocked out and then another time I went there and got my heart broke. I think Blair Kiel was the quarterback and had a last-minute drive to… I think they set them in field-goal range to win it. But we lost that one, had a chance to win. I remember checking into a quarterback sneak on third or fourth down and getting stuffed and gave them the ball and they got a chance to go down and score. It’s a cool place to go to for sure. The tradition has been going on there for obviously over a hundred years.”

▪  College Football Playoff rankings: “I’ll probably look at it tonight because I think I’m on the show. They invited me to get on it. I think we already said yes to that, so I guess I’ll be paying attention. It’s like last week. If you win you move up. If you lose you move down. It’s really pretty simple right now.”

▪  The turnover chain: “We do like to have fun here. I think our guys are doing a great job enjoying it. I don’t see anybody taunting anybody. I don’t see anybody making fun of anybody else. I see them just enjoying the pure joy of making a big play and having your teammates and your fans celebrate with you. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

“How many kids are going to get a turnover chain for Christmas? I know the recruits like it, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good, clean fun. If we were 4-5 and had six turnovers I think people would probably make fun of it. But when you win things become cool sometimes.”

▪  Former safety great Ed Reed attending practice Tuesday and talking to the defense:

“We’ve got great former alum. It’s important to have guys that love the program that want to be around it. He’s going to be our honorary captain this week. It will be another mind-blowing résumé when I read out the things he’s done as a Hurricane and as a pro and as a person. When he speaks, our guys will be on the edge of their seats.

“I don’t know how many come. I usually get a list as to who’s coming back for this game. I’m sure there will be a bunch.”

▪  Defensive end Demetrius Jackson: I actually texted him today. I didn’t see him. From what I hear the surgery was successful and he’s in good spirits because he’s that kind of guy. He loves the lord and he trusts God with everything in his life. And he’s not bitter. He just understands that’s part of football and part of life.

“He was playing a lot of snaps for us and doing great things for us, so it’s not always easy to replace him. We do have some numbers at that position that’s helpful.”

▪  The atmosphere last Saturday and how it compares to others he’s seen over the years: “It was great. It was as good as any atmosphere you could hope for. Super loud. When you feel the noise it’s impressive. It’s just like if you’re at a concert and they have these big giant bass speakers and they’re hitting the bass and you kind of feel it.”

“There are a lot of great programs having wonderful fan bases and all that, but we won’t take a back seat to anybody on that”

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