Four days after Miami ended spring practice, coach Mark Richt joined fellow Atlantic Coast Conference football coaches – and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly – in the league’s annual spring football teleconference.
Richt, who came to Miami after 15 years as the head coach of Southeastern Conference member Georgia, was asked about quarterback Brad Kaaya’s progress, how his players responded to the new staff, what stuck out for him as he settled in as UM’s coach – and, oh yes, that little Notre Dame matchup this Oct. 29 in South Bend, Indiana.
Kelly, the Notre Dame head coach who joined the teleconference, was also asked by the Miami Herald about the upcoming Canes at Irish matchup and if he were looking forward to it. Note that Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in every sport except football, which is still independent, and ice hockey, which will join the Big Ten in 2017-18.
“We always look towards the Miami game as one that has some very good tradition to it,’’ said Kelly, whose Irish, ranked 11th at the end of last season, finished 10-3 with losses at Clemson (24-22), at Stanford (38-36) and against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl (44-28). “And [we have] a lot of respect for Miami’s tradition and certainly the games that have been played have been great ones. So, yeah, there’s always the attention paid to it by our players and our alumni base.
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UM finished 8-5 last season.
“For them coming here, I think it will rekindle that great matchup between Lou] Holtz and Jimmy Johnson,’’ Kelly said. “And I think that that’s going to be one that is hyped up pretty big.
“But they’re different teams and they’re different coaches. I know Mark – great respect for him and the program that he’s run for so many years. He’s going to do the same thing at Miami. It will be a little bit different – different coaches, different styles of teams. But still, when it’s the U and Notre Dame, it will kind of take a life of its own from coast to coast.”
The last time the two teams met in South Bend was on Oct. 20, 1990, when No. 6 Notre Dame beat No. 2 Miami 29-20. UM finished the season 10-2, its only other loss the opener at BYU.
The Irish lead the series 16-7-1.
“Well, I quite frankly haven’t even thought that far down the road yet,’’ Richt said Wednesday. “I know it will be an exciting time for everybody, and hopefully we have a team that’s worthy of playing on that day. Our goal is just to try and get better on a daily basis throughout the summer and throughout the fall camp and hopefully by the time we get there even though I don’t know what number game it is – by then we should have played enough to be ready to compete.
“Hopefully we’re healthy enough and executing well enough to make it a good ball game.”
Other Richt comments Wednesday:
▪ On Kaaya: “He’s super coachable, super teachable. You know when you cover something in a meeting and then you take it to the field, a lot of times guys will lose it in that little transition. He’s able to take stuff from the meeting to the field as good as anybody I’ve been around.’’
▪ On what stuck out to him at Miami: “Well, it was hot,’’ he said, laughing. “Early March and it’s still smoking hot at 8 O’Clock, 9 O’Clock, 10 O’Clock in the morning.’’
▪ On the Hurricanes getting accustomed to different staff: “We’re trying to make it very structured and defined as to what we consider full-speed play and what we consider a loaf, and if guys are loafing we’re going to discipline them and get them to rise to the level of play that we’re asking.’’