Barry Jackson

One thing used against Miami Hurricanes in recruiting has turned into a big positive

Miami's Mark Richt speaks to the media during the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl Head Coaches’ press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.
Miami's Mark Richt speaks to the media during the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl Head Coaches’ press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Canes notes on the eve of the Orange Bowl:

▪ According to UM coach Mark Richt, Hard Rock Stadium has gone from a perceived negative in recruiting to a positive, thanks in part to renovations, crowd noise and the enthusiasm the Hurricanes have generated this season.

“I think at one time people were trying to use the stadium against us,” Richt said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline. “When I took the job, [other schools told recruits] you don’t have an on campus stadium. [Now], even [Notre Dame coach Brian] Kelly said look at all these TV screens. The canopy accentuates our fans’ noise. It is so loud we have to use a non-verbal cadence on offense; when people keep cheering for the turnover chain, that doesn’t help either. It’s all fun, it’s all good.

“We had two night games [Virginia Tech, Notre Dame] that were spectacular. When recruits came to that, it was over. They saw how great we could be. They saw how great our atmosphere could be. It’s as good as anybody’s in America. It’s wonderful.”

Because of the big scoreboards, “guys will break away and will watch themselves as they’re running into the end zone,” Richt said.

But defensive coordinator Manny Diaz cautions: “There are going to be a bunch of Wisconsin fans. I think our fans will respond Saturday. The moment can get a little bit of the better of you. Now they kind of understand that. No matter what you say prior to the game, it’s a different stage, it’s a different level.” 

▪ Though some fans might expect a repeat of UM’s thumping of Notre Dame, on the perception that Wisconsin is big but not as fast as UM, coaches and players caution that Wisconsin — which is favored by oddsmakers — is not Notre Dame.

Defensive end Richard McIntosh Jr. pointed out how Wisconsin has “tight ends that are faster, that can block, catch and run. That is the big difference from Notre Dame.”

And Diaz said: “Stylistically, the teams are a little different. Notre Dame operated more out of a spread, Wisconsin is going to get under center and run power, counter, inside zone.

“You have got to stop the run, but it’s easier said than done, and you’ve got to love doing it because it’s going to happen over and over again. Where everyone misses the boat on this team is how well they throw the football. They are 25th in yards per carry, 21st in yards per pass attempt. When you are getting that many yards per pass attempt, you know you are getting a lot of big plays in the passing game. They are one of the best third down offenses in the country.”

Richt said Wisconsin is “into physically pounding you and wearing you down. Their defense is only averaging 60 plays a game. That’s like NFL teams have with a shortened game. Most teams averaging 80 plays.”

▪ Dolphins executive Dan Marino watched UM’s Wednesday practice at Nova Southeastern, adjacent to the Dolphins facility, and Canes quarterback Malik Rosier said, “It was actually funny. I didn’t know he was there until [UM quarterbacks coach] Jon Richt said: “Malik. Don’t mess up, Dan Marino is here.’

“I said, ‘Coach, you can’t tell me something like that. You tell me not to mess up, it will force me to mess up.’ It was kind of a joke we had.”

Rosier said: “It was nice having an iconic guy around our program like that. I was kind of looking for him after practice but we had to get on the bus. I wish I could have talked to him and picked his brain about football.”

▪  Rosier said he hasn’t had any of UM’s past quarterbacks regularly giving him advice this year, though he has spoken to Vinny Testaverde a couple of times.

“I talked to [Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach] Ken Dorsey for a while at the ACC championship game. He talked how I did a great job this year, how he’s happy to see Miami back on top.”

▪ Rosier said “coach [Mark] Richt said there is a six inch difference between hitting guys in the fingertips and hitting them in the chest. That’s the biggest thing we homed in on this week.”

▪ Mark Richt, on the state of the program: “We are getting there. If we win this game, we’ll finish in top 10. A year ago, we finished top 25 for first time in a while. We know we’re not done yet. We remember the last two [losses] more than we remember the 10 [wins]. We want to get that taste out of our mouth.”

▪ ABC assigned Steve Levy, Brian Griese and sideline reporter/draftnik Todd McShay to Saturday’s game.

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