University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes ‘much better team’ with ultra-fit ‘Iron Canes.’ Now comes next step

Miami Hurricanes players talk fall camp and next season

University of Miami players speak about the upcoming season after their session of 2019 fall football camp on Friday night, July 26, 2019.
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University of Miami players speak about the upcoming season after their session of 2019 fall football camp on Friday night, July 26, 2019.

One look at the newest version of the 2019 Miami Hurricanes and something jumps out immediately.

They’re ultra-fit and considerably stronger.

The veteran scholarship quarterbacks are especially impressive in their transformation, including redshirt sophomore Tate Martell and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams.

University of Miami coach Manny Diaz obviously knows that, as well as being aware of their increased strength between the ears in terms of lining up quicker and more efficiently and his Hurricanes being more cognizant ‘of the construct of the offense ... and defense because of all the problems our offense poses,’ coach Manny Diaz told reporters late Friday.

“What we learned is that coming off our summer program, physically we are in shape,’’ Diaz said. “We can handle anything that happened today. Mentally is more my concern. And that’s been our issue in the past of our consistency mentally and be able to stay with it, snap after snap, period after period. I thought we kind of let it go a little bit then I thought we finished well at the end.

“But that letting it go a little bit could be the difference of winning and losing a football game. So, they’re aware of that. In the summertime we try to build a physical backbone and one of the big points in this camp will be to build a mental backbone.”

Kudos to Hurricanes strength and conditioning coach David Feeley, who has done wonders with this group since arriving after Diaz was named head coach after last season.

“The summer has been different for everybody,’’ linebacker Shaq Quarterman said. “The new guys, this is their first, and probably will be their only strength and conditioning coach. This is my second, so having to adapt to this new strength program, it was something. Running on that track, the type of conditioning tests we went through — it was a great time, but you had to show up every day. We call it paying a bill every day and it costs to be great. Being great is being consistently good and he made sure that we understood that every day throughout the summer.”

Feeley and his Canes were featured last week on ESPN2 in a 30-minute episode of Gymratts. It was fun to watch and witness how Feeley gets every player involved in weight-lifting, a factor that Diaz pointed out last week.

“That’s a great thing that Feeley does,’’ Diaz said. “Little things, but the guys are always out there. Even when a guy is lifting, another guy is putting the weight on. You’re always doing something, so you’re connected to your teammate.

“... The best thing coach Feeley does is he never wavers off the standard. And that’s what happens a lot of times, things are new and it’s like, ‘we’re going to do this.’ Players are always watching and they’re watching to see if you kind of let the standard slide and once they do they can say, ‘OK, they were talking big at first.’ ’’

Added linebacker Mike Pinckney: “I know it was a tough decision for the coaches to even single out guys because we had guys make great improvements throughout. I’m really proud of the younger guys. They’ve got a great system going on, and I’m excited to see what they can do in that weight room coming up.’’

Here are Feeley’s “Iron Canes,’’ awarded for overall performance in strength and conditioning:

Linebacker Shaq Quarterman, safety Amari Carter, cornerback Al Blades, striker Romeo Finley, kicker Camden Price, offensive tackle Zion Nelson, tight end Brevin Jordan, running back DeeJay Dallas, quarterback Martell and receiver K.J. Osborn.

And the overall winner: defensive end Jonathan Garvin.

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.