A 12-pack of UM nuggets on a Tuesday:
• There’s one potential lineup change Saturday. Mark Richt said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline on Monday night that Hayden Mahoney graded out slightly better than Corey Gaynor at right guard against Georgia Tech, and Mahoney would be the starter Saturday against Syracuse if the decision had to be made now.
Gaynor started against Georgia Tech; Mahoney played later.
Both are filling in for Navaughn Donaldson, who is out indefinitely.
• I asked Richt that when he took the job, when did he think this could be a top 10 program and whether UM is ahead of schedule in his mind?
“You are not a top 10 program until the end of the year,” he said. “We were 10th [last year] and then lost four in a row. [At the end of the year,] we were top 20, a little bit relevant.”
But this, Richt said, is important to keep in mind:
“We’re not at the point where we can line up and impose our will on people,” he said. “Florida State was a battle royale to the tend. Georgia Tech was battle royale to the end. We are not lining up and whipping people. We have to battle people every week. We know it.
“We’re excited about winning and trying to establish that mindset. We’re not a dominant football team. We’re a very solid football team that is fighting like mad to win the close battles. That’s where we are right now
“I do think we’re moving in the right direction. We are getting where we need to get. But we need to recruit well. Without getting great players year in and year out, it’s going to be a battle. Last year, we had three close games and lost them all.”
• Several coaches, like Urban Meyer, have had great success their second seasons. Richt is experiencing that.
“Year one you establish your standards, you establish your way of doing things,” Richt said. “Even if you have seniors totally bought in, they still don’t know what you want yet. By year two, the next group of leaders knows the standard. The whole team knows it. It’s guys truly understanding what coach wants and not only doing it but getting players around them to do it.
“The good news is when they look around, they see guys doing it right. They say, do it like [Darrell] Langham, Shaq [Quarterman]... Travis Homer.”
• Richt, on how to get Malik Rosier to play better in games: “My goal is to create more adversity in practice. Practice more like a game. Give me tempo of a game. Don’t give me practice tempo. Give me game tempo. That’s what I need and that’s what I think will help.”
• Richt said someone who didn’t play last Saturday likely would play this Saturday. The sense is that’s Ahmmon Richards and Sheldrick Redwine; both practiced Tuesday.
Dee Delaney and Donaldson did not practice.
• Syracuse’s 27-24 win over Clemson certainly caught UM’s attention. “What happened last Friday was pretty remarkable,” Richt said. “It was so impressive to have that kind of a turnaround in that short of a time” - from losing 54-0 to Clemson in 2016 and beating them last Friday.
Besides having two of the nation’s three leading receivers, “their defense has improved by 14 points per game, which is a monster change,” Richt said. “They’re super fast and physical and bring it to you. They don’t sit back. They pressure the quarterback.”
• UM - in the last couple of weeks - wanted to get freshman receiver Jeff Thomas more involved because of his speed and explosiveness, and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt reminded Mark Richt that the Hurricanes got just the defensive matchup they wanted before the play in which Thomas caught a 70-yard pass against Georgia Tech.
“That’s been the thought process since Day 1 - try to find ways, not just him, but anybody that can help us make plays and progress as an offense, we’re trying to find ways to involve them in the offense,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “We tried to get the ball in his hands with the reverse” earlier against Georgia Tech.
• As far as freshman receiver Mike Harley goes, “other than a couple of mishaps, he’s pretty consistent,” Brown said. “He’ll continue to get better.”
• Deejay Dallas, moved from wide receiver to running back at least for now, continues to compete with Crispian Atkins for the No. 3 running back job behind Travis Homer and Trayone Gray.
Is Dallas ready to get carries? Brown hedged.
“The biggest thing about tailback is playing on third down and pass protection on first and second down,” Brown said. “I get nervous about putting a guy in the game and not knowing how the call is going to go. I don’t want to put him in a bad spot or the offense in a bad spot before he knows exactly what to do. He’s making great progress.”
• It’s time for everyone to stop underestimating Trent Harris, who can be overlooked because he plays on a line with more heralded players/recruits, including Chad Thomas.
He has been very good, both against the run and as a pass-rusher (4.5 sacks). “There’s no doubt the competition has risen since I’ve been here,” he said. “We push each other so everyone has gotten better.”
Coach Craig Kuligowski has helped Harris with “the way he teaches us to attack and get upfield,”Harris said. “If you attack and get upfield, the majority of the time you’re going to make a play and not be wrong.”
• Pat Bethel has added 35 pounds in 20 months, since enrolling, and is thriving at defensive tackle. The decision to move him from defensive end is another example of how this staff uses its personnel intelligently.
• ESPN assigned New York Jets radio announcer Bob Wischusen and former Washington and ex-NFL quarterback Brock Huard to Saturday’s UM-Syracuse game.