Barry Jackson

UM coaches acknowledge program needs more time before U is back

University of Miami Hurricanes defensive linemen Chad Thomas walks off the field after being injured in a play in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against FAU Owls, Sat., Sept. 10, 2016, in Miami Gardens.
University of Miami Hurricanes defensive linemen Chad Thomas walks off the field after being injured in a play in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against FAU Owls, Sat., Sept. 10, 2016, in Miami Gardens. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

A six-pack of UM nuggets on a Wednesday:

• Though UM’s probation from the Nevin Shapiro scandal ended in October, the effects of that and recruiting disappointments under the past coaching staff are still going to be felt somewhat for a while, apparently. At least that’s the view inside UM, with coaches - while blaming nobody publicly - acknowledging that UM isn’t close to optimal depth.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz - who today was named among 40 candidates for the Broyles award given to the nation’s top assistant coach - said his defense is a couple of recruiting classes away from achieving the depth he wants.

"It's probably two (classes away) realistically," Diaz said. "When you're still not able to redshirt and get those guys in your weight room - when you talk about freshmen and sophomores it's not just the experience they lack (but also their strength). ... We have to get a signing class now of guys that are ready to contribute early and then stack the 2018 class on top of that with guys that want to come in here and hit the ground running."

Diaz said recruiting is what will enable UM to be the program it wants to be.

"You have to recruit to the point where you can have a chance to win every football game regardless of your (injury) situation," Diaz said.

Mark Richt also was asked how close UM is to having the depth it wants.

“My guess is it would take a couple [of recruiting classes] to get the depth you are looking for,” he said. “We have 85 scholarships for the first time in a while, that in itself will help us … People talk about depth, you’re talking about guys that are able to play and ready to play. If everybody has 85 you have depth, but do you feel comfortable putting them in the game?

“At some positions we’ve been very fortunate not to get anyone banged up so it didn’t show up as a glaring need. But we’re one or two guys away at some positions that could get scary in a hurry.”

Richt also said he “wouldn’t put any timetable, limits to how quickly we can be champions in our division. I’m saying we’ll fight for that thing as soon as the season starts next year.”

• Diaz, asked about his senior defensive backs (Corn Elder, Adrian Colbert, Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter): "We changed the culture of the secondary where we want to be defined by our toughness and our tackling. The way that all those guys have embraced that has really been as important to anything in the development of our defense.

“The plays that they made that will be the hardest to replace aren't the spectacular plays, sometimes it's the unnoticed eight-yard gain where you don't do something right up front, the running back pops out of there, and wham! Here comes the safety to get the guy on the ground, it's second-and-two.

“In a game like that it's a throwaway, nobody even pays attention to that. There's a lot of plays like that in college football that become touchdowns. Mark Walton had two long runs running through safeties last weekend. You could argue that safety tackling was the difference in the game between the two teams. So they've understood that if you have a good tackling secondary it's hard to score points against you. We have not given up many points this year, and I think the secondary has a lot to say in that."

• Diaz, on the returning safeties other than Jaquan Johnson: “They're all guys that haven't played very much. They're sort of earning their stripes right now on special teams, so you'll see guys like Rob Knowles make a good tackle on a kickoff last week against NC State. Romeo Finley is becoming more comfortable with the defense every day. We have guys - Ced Wright - that really should have redshirted. Because of our depth situation they had to get pushed in there. But in the long run that experience will help them, and we'll need some guys in the secondary to step up immediately once we hit spring practice."

• UM has oral commitments from two quarterbacks who are mobile (N’Kosi Perry and Cade Weldon), and Richt acknowledged Wednesday that he expects more of a running element with the quarterback position in the future.

“I would think yes,” he said.

Junior Brad Kaaya hasn’t announced, or informed UM, if he’s turning pro. Clemson already has announced that junior QB Deshaun Watson is turning pro.

• Richt, on redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Allison: “Jack is getting a little bit of reps here and there in 7 on 7 drills, gets work on scout team, is also in meetings with quarterbacks getting a chance to learn everything. He’s been traveling most every game. All those experiences we think are important for his growth.”

Allison was named Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week.

UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said Allison needs to “continue to develop in our offense, continue to mature and learn from the guys around him. When you have older guys in front of you like a Brad Kaaya to learn from, it's a great tool for the young guys to learn from, especially at the quarterback spot. You get some mental reps so you make less mistakes when you get your opportunity."

• Richt on LSU transfer George Brown, a four-star offensive tackle who could start next season: “George has been getting a good amount of reps with the 2 offensive line. Getting work, getting coached by coach Searels, get him used to our system. Normally a guy that’s not eligible you wouldn’t get him reps with the No. 2 unit - it just shows how thin we are period.

“We’re trying to find some answers for the future. .. He has a ways to go physically, has to get stronger, things like that, but what’s been happening all year for him is invaluable.”

Here are links to my other two posts today: With lots of Dolphins nuggets, including a coach saying a veteran starter perhaps isn’t best suited to being a starter, please click here.

And for some new information on Chris Bosh and a potential Heat wrinkle with the salary cap and luxury tax, please click here.

Please follow me on Twitter for instant links (@flasportsbuzz) and happy Thanksgiving to all. We’ll have a couple posts on Thanksgiving, so check back then.

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