University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes vow to play for each other, coaches, in home finale

Said interim coach Larry Scott when asked about motivating his team. “You must have a pride about your work, who you are and who you want to become.”
Said interim coach Larry Scott when asked about motivating his team. “You must have a pride about your work, who you are and who you want to become.” AP

As the Hurricanes go into their regular-season home finale Saturday against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech, the motivation for playing with passion, as UM interim coach Larry Scott regularly promotes, might not be as simple as it has been the past 10 games.

That Coastal Division goal, espoused since the summer by the Miami players and coaches, died hard last Saturday at North Carolina, where the now-No. 17 Tar Heels trounced the Canes 59-21.

But UM players say they haven’t quit, haven’t lost all impetus to play well and represent their school and their close bond with one another. After all, it is Senior Day on Saturday, when the eldest Canes are accompanied onto the field by family members for a pregame ceremony that will be recalled as a bit sweeter should they end their final game at Sun life Stadium with a victory.

After facing the Yellow Jackets, who, despite being favored by two points, are having an uncharacteristically poor season at 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the ACC, the Hurricanes (6-4, 3-3) play Pittsburgh (7-3, 5-1) next Friday to close out the regular season.

UM sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya said “sending all the seniors off the right way’’ is one of the Hurricanes’ goals Saturday. But it’s not the only one.

“Playing for Coach Scott — all the coaches have really put their heart into making sure that we still develop, even after Coach [Al] Golden left,’’ Kaaya said. “It means a lot to the players. …We all committed to each other at the start of the season. That’s huge for us. That’s huge. You just can’t give up because things don’t go your way.

“This year, a lot of guys have bought in.’’

Scott, clearly a man who values the holistic approach to coaching, had drilled into his young players the “pride’’ factor, the “commitment’’ factor, the brotherhood factor – and the bowl factor.

“You must have a pride about your work, who you are and who you want to become,’’ Scott said, when asked about motivating his team. “When things happen in life, you can’t just shut down. You have to find a way to scratch, claw and get out of it. It’s more than just about football. It’s about the person you’re developing into.

“…As a team, you owe it to the guy on your left and your right to always make sure you’re giving it your best. …You’re a bowl team and you’ve worked your tail off. Now it’s about, ‘How do we become an eight-win team? We can’t get to eight without getting to seven. I think a very well-positioned 8-4 Miami team would probably find itself in a good situation.’’

First the Canes must get past the spread option attack – most famously known for its triple option – of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are seventh nationally in rushing offense, averaging 256.6 ground yards a game, and because of their scheme, don’t pass nearly as much.

“They’re going to pass, you just don’t know when,’’ said Miami cornerback Tracy Howard. “And they don’t come often, so you can’t sleep. That’s the biggest thing, staying focused and locked in.’’

The Canes’ run defense is ranked 105th, allowing 202.7 rushing yards a game. After five consecutive victories against Georgia Tech, Miami fell 28-17 in allowing 318 yards rushing and holding the ball 19:12 to the Yellow Jackets’ 40:48.

But if it becomes challenging for the Hurricanes to keep their focus Saturday, just imagine the plight of the Yellow Jackets, who concluded an 11-3 season in 2014 by defeating Mississippi State in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Georgia Tech has already been eliminated from playing in the postseason.

“Clearly our season has not gone the way we would have liked, and it’s kind of been a situation where we continued to make some critical errors at inopportune times,’’ Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “There’s no question Miami still has very good players and is a talented team. Hopefully we can finally put it together on both offense and defense for four quarters.’’

The Hurricanes hope they can do the same.

Saturday: Georgia Tech at Miami

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.; Sun Life Stadium.

TV/radio: CBS; WQAM 560; WURN 1020 (Spanish); WVUM 90.5 FM.

Favorite: Georgia Tech by 2 1/2.

Records: Georgia Tech 3-7 (1-6 ACC); Miami 6-4 (3-3 ACC).

Series: Georgia Tech leads 11-9.

Miami injuries: Questionable — DT Courtel Jenkins (undisclosed). Out — LB Raphael Kirby (knee); LB Marques Gayot (neck); LB Darrion Owens (knee); RB Gus Edwards (foot).

Georgia Tech injuries: Out — RB Mikell Lands-Davis (undisclosed); DL Adam Gotsis (knee); LB Beau Hankins (concussion); RB C.J. Leggett (knee); OL Chris Griffin (knee); RB Nate Cottrell (knee); RB Qua Searcy (ankle); RB Quaide Weimerskirch (foot); QB Tim Byerly (knee).

PROBABLE UM STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

15

Brad Kaaya

So.

DE

9

Chad Thomas

So.

RB

2

Joe Yearby

So.

NT

93

Calvin Heurtelou

Sr.

FB

40

Gage Batten

Jr.

DT

92

Courtel Jenkins

So.

WR

6

Herb Waters

Sr.

LB

35

Trent Harris

So.

WR

11

Rashawn Scott

Sr.

LB

51

Juwon Young

So.

TE

5

Standish Dobard

Jr.

LB

5

Jermaine Grace

Jr.

LT

73

Trevor Darling

So.

LB

8

A. Muhammad

So.

LG

52

Kc McDermott

So.

CB

3

Tracy Howard

Sr.

C

68

Nick Linder

So.

CB

1

Artie Burns

Jr.

RG

50

Daniel Isidora

Jr.

S

25

Dallas Crawford

Sr.

RT

66

Sunny Odogwu

So.

S

2

Deon Bush

Sr.

PK

15

Michael Badgley

So.

P

16

Justin Vogel

Jr.

PROBABLE GEORGIA TECH STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

5

Justin Thomas

Jr.

DE

42

KeShun Freeman

So.

BB

24

Marcus Allen

Jr.

DT

91

Patrick Gamble

Jr.

AB

49

Clinton Lynch

Fr.

NT

54

K. C.-Henderson

Fr.

AB

3

Isiah Willis

Jr.

DE

41

R. R.-Chungong

Jr.

WR

2

Ricky Jeune

So.

LB

35

Tyler Marcordes

Sr.

WR

83

Brad Stewart

Fr.

LB

40

P.J. Davis

Jr.

LT

65

Trey Klock

Fr.

LB

51

Brant Mitchell

Fr.

LG

78

Trey Braun

Sr.

CB

6

Chris Milton

Sr.

C

58

Freddie Burden

Jr.

CB

28

D.J. White

Sr.

RG

75

Errin Joe

Sr.

FS

12

Demond Smith

Sr.

RT

70

Will Bryan

Fr.

SS

4

Jamal Golden

Sr.

PK

87

Harrison Butker

Jr.

P

85

Ryan Rodwell

Jr.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments