Barry Jackson

UM identifies plan for standout freshman in wake of Richards’ injury

A six-pack of UM notes on a Wednesday when UM lost Ahmmon Richards to a season-ending knee injury:

▪ With Mark Walton turning pro and freshman DeeJay Dallas thriving in his move to running back, Mark Richt made clear Wednesday he doesn’t see Dallas moving back to receiver, where he began the season.

But Richt also said Dallas could get some receiver snaps in the future.

“DeeJay has got enough versatility where we’ll figure out ways to use him,” Richt said. “He’s going to probably live in the running back slot, but we’ll find ways to use him as a receiver and in the Wildcat.”

▪ With Richards, Walton and Chris Herndon all injured, UM is without arguably its three best offensive players.

With Richards out for the season, expect more snaps for Lawrence Cager and Darrell Langham — who back up Richards at the X position — alongside starters Braxton Berrios and Jeff Thomas.

Dayall Harris, who has come on the past couple weeks, also could play more.

UM also has tried to get Mike Harley more involved, and Mark Richt loves how he blocks.

▪ Forcing turnovers will be challenging for UM on Saturday. Clemson’s seven interceptions are tied for 30th fewest in the country. The Tigers’ six fumbles lost are tied for 31st fewest.

“The [turnover] chain wins games, turnovers win games,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We play in a league where games are close and competitive. We expect that Saturday night. Clemson is one team that does not turn the ball over, the quarterback does not throw very many interceptions. But we have to find a way to make it happen, because the players now understand that really relates to winning and losing.”

▪ Though UM’s defense was hardly at its best against Pittsburgh, Diaz said several players had their best games Friday, singling out Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman, Sheldrick Redwine and Dee Delaney.

“There were a lot of guys that played their best games as Miami Hurricanes,” Diaz said. “Now we need the group to continue to advance and take that going forward.”

Diaz said UM’s tackling in the game was its best of the season.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz says the tackling by his unit at Pittsburgh was the best of the season.

“What we showed our players after the game was on the fourth play from scrimmage, fifth play we knocked the ball out — Jaquan Johnson,” Diaz said. “We’re the first two guys at the ball, but we’re not the first two guys on the ground. We teach it like a basketball coach teaches it. Pitt gets the ball back. Now they punt — our offense gets the ball at the 10 instead of midfield.

“Twice in the fourth quarter the ball is in our hands, the quarterback throws the ball right through our hands. Both are arguably pick 6’s.”

▪ Freshman Jonathan Garvin has been playing more reps with Demetrius Jackson out for the season and Diaz said “he has not backed down. He’s done a good job when he’s in there.”... Stephen Morris and Vince Wilfork were former players at practice Wednesday.

▪ With Alabama fifth in the CFP rankings, it’s increasingly likely that the loser of Saturday’s ACC game will play Alabama in the Orange Bowl — unless Clemson loses and still makes the playoff.

Georgia and Wisconsin cannot be ruled out as possible opponents against UM and Clemson in the OB, as we explain here.

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