A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday:
▪ UM people are pleased with how Malik Rosier responded to his brief benching against Pittsburgh.
“I think he’s responded well,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “He’s always been a very confident guy. This is his best week of preparation so far. Sunday night was his best night. It was our best night as an offense. Today was a great practice, one of the best Tuesdays all year. It starts with the quarterback and when he has the right mindset, taking charge, pushing the tempo. Everyone is fine.”
Mark Richt said: “Malik has responded great. I wanted to observe his demeanor, his body language, his voice. He knew when the game was over — he knew he was our guy. He knew there was no controversy. It could shake up a guy. He knows we believe in him and I do believe in him.”
Richt said that he was “glad to see he didn’t sit on the bench and pout” when he was benched for one series against Pittsburgh. Rosier told Richt during that Pitt game that he wanted to go back in “and lead this team.”
Richt said he probably would have put him back in the game anyway even if Rosier hadn’t said anything.
Richt said there has been no common theme when Rosier has had accuracy issues.
“His decision making has been excellent overall,” Richt said. “That game in particular he missed open receivers too often. We might have overcoached how to hit someone on a deep ball [Richt was smiling when he said this]. Probably our fault.”
Ahmmon Richards said Rosier “has more of an edge” this week. “He’s more vocal.”
Richards, by the way, is determined to have a big game after an injury-plagued lackluster sophomore season. “I feel I have to take advantage of this opportunity and step up,” he said.
▪ Several UM people admitted this week what’s obvious to everyone.
“We don’t respond well when we have success, when nobody is talking bad about us,” Brown said, noting his team does respond under a prime-time spotlight.
As Shaquille Quarterman said, when UM loses, people “like to say everything [about UM’s team] is a fraud.” He said UM players “feel that disrespect.”
Does UM play better when they’re angry? “I think everybody does … I think I coach better when I’m mad,” Richt said.
▪ Speaking of extra motivation, will coaches make an issue of UM having only one first-team player (kicker Michael Badgley) on the all-ACC team — something that Richt mentioned to the media Tuesday?
Richt insisted no: “I am not going to mention it to the players. They may catch it through the grape vine somehow.”
He said he won’t criticize having only one player on first-team All-ACC because “there are a lot of great players so you can’t say these players shouldn’t be first team.”
▪ How much will not having tight end Chris Herndon (out for the year with a knee injury) affect UM’s playcalling and what’s available to Mark Richt?
“We thought about it for a minute and then said we’ve got to do what we do,” Richt said. “We hardly ran a snap in our offense in two years without a tight end. It’s very important to our offense.”
▪ Conditioning was an issue earlier this season for new starter Michael Irvin Jr. Is his conditioning good enough now to play 50 snaps?
“We’re going to find out,” Brown said. “He’s a different tight end than Chris Herndon. He does a great job in route running and catching the ball. I think he’s up for the challenge. We’ll see.”
Richt said Irvin “gets a ton of reps in practice. He knows what to do and how to do it. He just has to do it. There hardly has been a player that didn’t raise his level of play when he became a starter.”
▪ Former defensive end Scott Patchan and freshman Brian Polendey are listed as either/or for backup tight end.
But Brown said that the decision on the No. 2 tight end Saturday is “still up for debate.”
▪ Brown said UM’s efficiency on early downs simply must change Saturday.
“We sucked” at first and second down against Pitt, Brown said. “You end up on third and long — it doesn’t matter who you are playing — whether it’s the last defensive team or the best team in America — it’s hard to convert 3rd and 7 plus.”