A six-pack of Canes notes:
▪ There are going to be a bunch of NFL players off this UM team — perhaps most of the defensive line — but the good news for the Hurricanes is that many of them aren’t yet draft eligible.
But among those who are, three already have received affirmation. And more will eventually.
Tight end Chris Herndon has been invited to play in the Senior Bowl, an event that often has gone without a UM player in recent years. Mark Richt revealed that during WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline.
“That’s a great reward for a player like that,” Richt said. “He’s playing like a pro.”
The Senior Bowl, in Mobile, Alabama, is considered the most prestigious of the handful of postseason NFL showcase games.
Richt also told Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. that left tackle Kc McDermott and cornerback Dee Delaney also have been invited to a postseason game, the NFLPA game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Cal. McDermott has thrived since moving from guard a year ago and “left tackle is where he belongs,” Richt said. “He’s playing extremely well. He has a postseason game as well. He loves this place so much. He wants to be great so bad.”
▪ Meanwhile, UM is very much hoping that juniors Kendrick Norton and Richard McIntosh Jr. don’t turn pro, a decision that could go either way at this point.
Both defensive tackles were critical in UM being able to crush Notre Dame’s offense on Saturday. UM’s defensive tackle play, at times, has been its best in more than a decade.
Richt said his defensive linemen “were not going to get pushed around” against Notre Dame. “We did show some video of different telecasts of predictions of what would happen in the game. A lot of it was the run defense we had versus the great rushing offense of Notre Dame, which they do have a great rushing offense. It got under their skin. The [commentators] talked about ‘we can’t hold up. They’re too big and powerful. Nobody wants to feel like they’re going to be pushed around.’
“There was a speed factor in the game, but there was a physicality up front. Our d-line would not get pushed around and our o-line was going to push people around as well.”
▪ If Norton and McIntosh turn pro, then UM’s top three tackles next season would be, in no particular order, Pat Bethel, Gerald Willis and promising freshman Jon Ford, with incoming Nesta Silvera having an opportunity to play.
The jury remains out on returning tackles Ryan Fines and Tyreic Martin. UM loses Anthony Moten, who has been an asset in the rotation this season.
▪ Richt said something interesting on his coach’s show about kicker Michael Badgley, who’s also a pro prospect.
“He is one of the few kickers I’ve ever been around who has total respect of offense and defense and special teams,” he said. “A lot of times a kicker wants to say something and you’re like, ‘Shut up, don’t talk.’ But not Badg.
“He is a tough nut and everybody knows it. He’s got an awesome personality and guys respond to his leadership better than any kicker I’ve ever been around.”
▪ Richt told Zagacki and Bailey that “Braxton Berrios is the smartest guy on the team, including the coaching staff, by far. He’s got great game experience. Not many people can field punts like that, run routes like that. Not many people his size blocks the way he blocks. He understands what it takes to be a complete player. He wants to be that and he has been that.”
▪ Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly lavishly praised Travis Homer after the game, and Richt explained why he has been so effective:
“When you have the elusiveness he has, and then you’re dipping left on the guy and drives through him, that’s indicative of how [offensive coordinator/running backs coach Thomas Brown] ran,” Richt said. “He loved to punish someone at the end of the run. Do you want to be the hammer or be the nail? At the end of those runs, he’s trying to be a hammer. He’s not a big man. The amount of power he generates from 190 pounds is pretty impressive.”
Brown, incidentally, was a running back at Georgia and had a brief NFL career with the Falcons and Browns.
▪ UM has been allocated 7,500 tickets for the ACC Championship Dec. 2 in Charlotte and the Hurricanes have made them available to Hurricane Club members. Those club members are expected to scoop up all 7,500 by their 5 p.m. Monday deadline, according to UM, which said the response has been “overwhelming.”
Otherwise, the game has been declared a sellout.
Also, UM was given 550 tickets for band members and students.