A six-pack of Hurricanes nuggets on Thanksgiving:
• There’s no doubt that UM’s home field advantage in the Orange Bowl was a tremendous asset during the program’s glory years.
But UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz believes Hard Rock Stadium might not take a backseat to the OB in creating an edge for the home team.
And who would have ever thought that would happen?
“I think it does,” Diaz told WQAM’s Joe Rose and Zach Krantz when asked if Hard Rock now compares to the OB atmosphere. “It’s been awesome. The fans have been unbelievable. Defensively, they are getting the feel of when a defense has the advantage of that home crowd behind them. On one of Trent Harris’ sacks in the Notre Dame game, he jumps off the ball and the tackle can’t hear the snap count.”
Diaz said: “You remember what it was like in the Orange Bowl when you went down in the west end zone. You weren’t going to score. The team had to go into the open end to have a chance. And now this stadium doesn’t have an open end. And they put a roof on it and it’s super loud now.
“You saw it in the third quarter [last week]. We had Virginia pinned down by the west end zone and that’s where the pick six occurred. We talk to the defensive guys, ‘Every time you take the field acknowledge the crowd, get them going.’”
A Notre Dame player said this stadium was the loudest he played in as a college player.
• Speaking of Harris, Mark Richt called Harris’ eight-sack senior season “amazing.”
Richt, on his weekly show with WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr., said “I’m really happy for him. When you play hard and do right and start getting a little momentum, it’s a lot of fun to be around. He’ll remember it for the rest of his life.”
And even though Chad Thomas has just 2.5 sacks (to go with 24 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss), Richt said Thomas “is disrupting a lot of things,” has been stout against the run and is “as physical as you can ask an end to be who has the pass rushing skills. He’s doing an excellent job.”
• Former defensive end Scott Patchan, who asked to move to tight end in August because of UM’s lack of depth there combined with Miami’s excellent depth at defensive end, played a few snaps at defensive end against Virginia.
Richt said Patchan asked defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski if he could play Saturday, with Demetrius Jackson out for the season and Deonte Johnson back home in Sacramento for a few days for an excused personal absence.
Kuligowski, according to Richt, asked him: “Do you remember what to do?”
Now, Richt said, “we have another two way player.”
Patchan received some snaps at tight end earlier this season during a game that backup Michael Irvin Jr. was benched for off-field reasons.
• More evidence how winning helps recruiting: Tampa-based Will Putnam, the nation’s No. 3 guard in the 2019 class, told Canesport that he is now considering UM and that Miami’s undefeated season has made him more interested.
“Honestly it has,” Putnam said. “But that’s the same way with anyone else. A really good team is really appealing.”
• Couple personnel items: Chris Herndon is “playing like a tight end should,” Richt said. “He’s going to make someone a really good pro some day.”
Herndon, a fine blocker, has 37 catches for 436 yards (an 11.8 average) and four touchdowns. No, he’s not as explosive as Cleveland first-round pick David Njoku (43 catches for 698 yards and a 16.2 average and 8 TDs last season), but who is? But Herndon has two catch-and-runs of 46 yards or more in the past month…
Richt said of freshman receiver Mike Harley Jr. that opposing cornerbacks “don’t like him because he’s so tenacious as a blocker.”
• UM’s 19 turnovers in the past five games more than 88 teams have the entire year, per WQAM’s Zagacki and UM’s ace PR man Camron Ghorbi…. UM has scored a touchdown on 10 of its last 13 trips to the red zone, a dramatic improvement from earlier in the season.
This is the second in several Thanksgiving posts. Here’s my post on the lack of growth by Dolphins’ young veterans, a stark contract to what we’re seeing with UM’s team.
Here’s my look at who Canes fans should root for this week and updated scenarios on how Miami could make the playoffs if it loses a game.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz