Barry Jackson

UM to its backup running back: Hey, look up!; Hurricanes chatter

Travis Homer (24) takes a handoff from quarterback Evan Shirreffs (16) as University of Miami opens fall football camp at Greentree Field on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.
Travis Homer (24) takes a handoff from quarterback Evan Shirreffs (16) as University of Miami opens fall football camp at Greentree Field on Tuesday, August 1, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of non-hurricane UM notes as the Hurricanes determine what to do with this weekend’s game at Arkansas State:

• UM loves what it has seen from No. 2 running back Travis Homer. But coaches want him to keep his head up. Literally.

Through one week, Homer ranks 19th in major college football in yards per carry, at 9.8.

He impresses everyone with his 108 yards on 11 carries against Bethune Cookman.

“He is what I thought he was,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “I saw him all last fall, all spring, all fall camp - I’ve seen it, he’s a tough dude and he played tough, played behind his pads, was physical. Has to do a better job keeping his head up, scared me and a couple of people at times. I had that bad habit, so I’m going to try my best to use my experience and help him break from it. It was good to be able to see him keep some balance and have some good runs.”

Does Brown have a feel for how many carries a game Homer can handle?

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “Travis is also playing on special teams now, was a key guy for us last year - is a starter on two special teams and a backup on two others.”

• Brown on Trayone Gray, who had three carries for 25 yards late in the game: “It was good to see [him] get in there at the end, he did a really good job of being what he is. He’s a one-cut downhill guy. I’m always on him about playing as big as he is, because when he learns to play behind his pad and use his full force at 235 pounds he’s going to be a load to bring down.”

• But don’t expect freshman Robert Burns to help anytime soon. He has been out for months with a shoulder injury.

“Burns has a way to go still,” Brown said. “He’s in my meetings. I tell him I expect him to know what’s going on, take notes, take coaching. I’m not ruling him out at all, have to see how he progresses.”

• UM coaches were very upset about the penalties Saturday (8 for 83).

“It’s a mental thing, and it’s embarrassing the fact we had six penalties [on offense],’ Brown said. “Most of them occurred in the red zone, really took us out of some scoring opportunities.

“I think the mindset should be every single game, every single snap - make the defense prove they can beat us every single time instead or us hurting ourselves. Two years ago we were the most penalized team in the country and we can’t go back to that. … No mental errors, no pre-snap penalties, no post-snap, lazy holding penalties. We have to do a better job of that.”

• Mark Richt, reviewing Malik Rosier’s performance on WQAM: “I liked the fact that most of the time he was going to the right guys for the right reason,” Richt said. “He was accurate for the most part, a couple of deep balls we just have to put in play. We have a rule - if our player doesn’t have a better chance to catch the ball than the other guy then we didn’t throw it well. We have to do a little bit better getting the ball in play, especially a couple of our bigger guys - make sure it’s in the frame of their body.

“Not one ball was thrown in harm’s way. When he did run he had good ball security … A lot of good things happened for Malik.”

Richt said Ahmmon Richards, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury, “is much closer to playing” but isn’t automatic for Saturday’s game.

• UM rookie cornerback Corn Elder’s rookie season with the Carolina Panthers is already over; he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and is not eligible to return this season.

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