University of Miami

Manny Diaz on who ‘can’t live without’ being the Miami QB — and ‘puffy-eyed’ players

Yes, there will be a little something (or not so little something, knowing University of Miami football coach Manny Diaz) for the offense when it scores touchdowns in 2019. (Keep reading for that info.)

No, we still don’t know who the starting quarterback is, but we got an update from the coach.

Fall camp begins a week from Friday and Diaz had his first interview at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff early Thursday before he was to officially meet the media later Thursday — and it was on the radio with 560 WQAM host Joe Rose and “voice of the Hurricanes” Joe Zagacki.

Here’s some of what Diaz touched on Thursday in that 16 1/2-minute radio interview:

On the quarterback competition between N’Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams and Tate Martell: Rose asked, “How do you get three guys in a wide-open competition going into summer camp enough snaps to clearly find out who’s your quarterback for the [Aug. 24] opener against Florida?”

Diaz: “We’re going to gear some things in the way we practice the first two weeks to make sure everybody gets enough at-bats.” For example, explained Diaz, there may be two seven-on-seven drills going on at one time or quarterbacks doing drills at the same time at different parts of the fields.

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“Everybody on the football field understands, coaches, players people who fill the water bottles, everybody understands that we have to find a quarterback in the first two weeks. The good news is we think all three guys came out of spring as a possible contender for the job. Now we really want to find out who made that extra push in the summertime. I’m hoping that will be obvious when we return.

“It’s going to be the guy that has to have the job. You have to be compelled to be the quarterback at the University of Miami. You can’t live without it. The guy that can’t live without being the quarterback will probably end up being our quarterback.”

Are all the transfers on campus? Diaz: “Not yet. We’re still waiting on a couple of guys who are still clearing hurdles. ... They’ll be on the roster. [Safety] Bubba Bolden and [defensive lineman] Jaelan Phillips will not be on campus but that should be soon [after the others report a week from today]. Pretty sure the rest of the crew should be up and ready to go.’’

Biggest concerns besides quarterback: “Got to get continuity in our offense line. We’ve got more than five that can go in and help us in a game.” Diaz said the Canes still have to figure out the “final five.’’

He also mentioned defensive backs in that category.

Will there be a turnover chain for the offense, as Diaz has more than hinted at several times? “Those guys looked at me with these little puffy eyes like, ‘Coach, you’re our coach now, too.’... I’m not saying it’s going to be a chain, but here’s what I know. In 2016 we didn’t force enough turnovers, right? So, we’re like ‘Let’s get a chain.’

“Then in 2017 we led the nation in turnovers. It would be fun to lead the nation in touchdowns, right? That would be pretty cool. Hell, if we could finish second that would be cool. There may be something for the offense and then of course we’ll always have a different chain for the defense.

“You’ve gotta come to Orlando to find out.”

Also: Athletic director Blake James spoke on WQAM before Diaz and said there are currently no plans for a series with UCF, because if UM were to schedule one, the Canes would want a “two-for-one situation,’’ James said, meaning two games at UM and one at UCF. The Knights would rather have a series with one game at home and one game at UM.

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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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