University of Miami

Miami’s spring game Saturday is in Gators country. Here’s why UM coaches like the idea

Miami Hurricanes’ QB during spring practice session

Miami Hurricanes’ QBs in action during practice the final spring session in the indoor practice facility on Thursday, April 18, 2019.
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Miami Hurricanes’ QBs in action during practice the final spring session in the indoor practice facility on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

The University of Miami spring game will not be televised or streamed live on the Internet at noon Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

And considering the stadium is less than a two-hour drive from the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, home of UM’s season-opening opponent Gators on Aug. 24 at the same spring-game site, you never know who might show up wearing blue and orange.

No doubt about it. Orlando is Gators country.

“You know what? We’re going to be Hurricanes wherever we go,’’ said Canes cornerback coach Mike Rumph, who won a national championship with Miami in 2001 and knows all about the Gators-Canes rivalry. “We travel with a bunch of fans. I know what it is up there from recruiting. But maybe when we leave it might be Hurricane land.”

Be assured that Miami will not be giving away any secrets Saturday, not that they ever would in a spring game. Vanilla offense, basic defense.

“We’ll limit what we do,’’ defensive coordinator Blake Baker said. “Every spring game we don’t really show our hand. We’ll be simple. I just want to see them execute.”

UM defensive coordinator Blake Baker discusses the importance of the 2019 spring game on Saturday, April 20, in Orlando.

The coaching staff is using the spring game as a “dress rehearsal’’ for the opener in terms of getting to know the stadium, the field, the locker room, the hotel the night before and how things are done on a road trip.

“The setup will be very similar to what we’ve done the last two weeks where we’ll play a little bit of a minigame,’’ coach Manny Diaz said. “We’re trying to just introduce our guys into game situations as much as possible... The only thing that we add this week is a road trip, so... we’re going to get dressed the same locker room [in which] we’re going to be dressed in August, and we’re going to be on the same sideline.

“We know it’s going to ramp up on Aug. 24, but at least we’ll have been there and taken a few cuts in the on-deck circle.”

Diaz and offensive coordinator Dan Enos said this week that the 2019 starting quarterback will not be named until preseason camp. But don’t think that redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry, redshirt freshman Jarren Williams and redshirt sophomore transfer Tate Martell won’t have plenty of pressure on them Saturday, their final chance to perform before the team reconvenes with coaches in late July.

“We said if it’s obvious we’d do it,’’ Diaz said. “What has become obvious is they’re all improving, but there’s no way they have enough at-bats where somebody can jump out in front of the pack.’’

Diaz indicated all three scholarship quarterbacks will likely get the same amount of snaps Saturday.

“I get it. We all want to rank and assess or whatever,’’ Diaz said. “But no one right now is ready to play. So it doesn’t even matter what the ranking is right now. It’s like tasting the food before it’s out of the oven. It doesn’t matter what it looks like right now. It’s not ready yet.

“So to me, how do you get better? Reps. You’ve got to make sure everybody gets reps.”

The coach said the format “will be a game, very similar to what we’ve done. There will be an offense vs. a defense. We’ll figure out some way to make it a score.’’

Enos said he’s looking how his quarterbacks handle success. “I’m not talking about game to game. I’m talking about play to play. A guy might have three or four good plays in a row and that causes him sometimes to relax a little bit. And then that leads to a mistake... They have to learn how to clear the mechanism, if you will, every play and play the next play.”

UM cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph discusses on April 18 the importance of having the 2019 spring game in Orlando.

Rumph said he’s looking for his defensive backs “to set edges, be really stout on the run, show physicality, throw themselves around and give elite effort. “

“I think the X’s and O’s will be coached,’’ Rumph said. “I’ve done it for a couple of years now so I think I can catch them up on film study and on understanding what they’re doing. But I want to see them playing very hard for their teammates.”

Starting running back DeeJay Dallas was asked last weekend after the scrimmage at Traz Powell how important it is that fans show up at Camping World Stadium, which seats 65,000.

“Like Coach Diaz told us,’’ Dallas said, “no matter if it’s 10,000 or 100,000 people, we’re still going to go out there and do what we gotta do. But we want everybody to come out and support the Central Florida Canes. Come out and support us.”

Note that even though the spring game is free, parking is $10 at Camping World Stadium. Only cash will be accepted.

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Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.


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