Diaz: ‘We need a good old competition to find out who our best guys are.’
A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
▪ At least one UM coach hopes cornerback Trajan Bandy’s ejection for a targeting penalty — and other ejections for similar infractions across college football this season — will be ammunition to change that rule.
It’s an absurd rule to require that players be thrown out of the game if they make a tackle leading with their helmet.
“Trajan, coming up on that tackle, had his eyes up, threw his outside arm getting ready to wrap up on the guy. That’s football,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “Now, if that’s going to be a penalty, that’s fine. That should be a 15-yard penalty. That should not be a disqualification. There’s not another sport where we disqualify a player for a technique that had no malintent. It’d be like throwing a guy out of an NBA game just for a foul. There should be different levels of flagrant. I’ve said that before. I’m just talking to the wall right now, no offense. But I do think it’s unfair for defensive players in that scenario.
“Fourth play of the game, forced a fumble, if we get on that ball, what that does momentum wise for that game, that’s not any reason why we lost, but that was a massive, massive turning point in that game.”
Diaz added: “I don’t blame anybody for following the rules as they are written right now, but there should be two types of targeting penalties. I think we’ve done a good job … No one coaches tackling without the head harder than we do. We’re a dedicated shoulder-tackle team.
“The only player we’ve had get a concussion since we’ve been teaching this way was when an offensive player lowered their head into us last year. I think globally, we’ve done a good job of taking that egregious hit over the middle out of the game. That’s gone. But on a bang-bang play like this … the game’s not played in super slow-mo now.”
▪ Mark Richt was more positive in his postgame assessment than some might have expected, but he conceded on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline that “there were a lot of mistakes made. Every time you watch the film [you see them]. We could have done this better, should have done this better... Everybody wants perfection. But there’s no quarterback that’s ever perfect. We all pour our lives into this. When things don’t go well, it hurts.”
Richt mentioned, incidentally, that the blocking from the receiver position Sunday wasn’t “what we’re used to. We’ve got to get better at that.”
▪ Richt loves what he’s seeing from sophomore receiver Jeff Thomas, who had 132 yards on five receptions.
“He has grown up a lot,” Richt told WQAM. “He works harder in practice. When you come out of high school, there’s a different level of effort it takes to become consistently great. There was one crossing route kind of behind him and he could have said, ‘tough catch, but I made two or three other catches’ [but he still made the effort to catch that ball]. His effort, his route running as a ball catcher [are better].”
▪ Richt, on freshman receiver Brian Hightower’s 32-yard touchdown catch: “He’s done that at practice, too. The one thing he has done on the deep ball down the sidelines is he gives the quarterback space on the outside. We weren’t giving a lot of space to work with on the sideline.
“That’s where Hightower did a great job of holding his ground and giving space to the outside so when he got away from the defender, it was in bounds. That’s what we saw in high school tape, what we saw in practice. He’s a reliable guy. He got in the game because of it and made a couple of plays.”
▪ Saturday’s 6 p.m. home opener against Savannah State isn’t on traditional television and can be seen only in person (at Hard Rock Stadium) or online through the ACC Network Extra service that’s available to anyone who has access to ESPN3, plus AppleTV.
ESPN says all major cable, satellite and internet services get ESPN3 and thus, ACC Network Extra.
It’s possible that this could be the only UM game not on traditional TV this season, unless a network doesn’t carry the UM-FIU game (time TBA) on Sept. 22.
▪ Oddly, a greater percentage of TV homes watched Sunday’s UM-LSU game in Birmingham (16.9), Columbus, Ohio (9.4) and Jacksonville (9.2) than in Miami-Fort Lauderdale (8.6).
New Orleans had the highest rating for the game, a 25.5. Miami/Fort Lauderdale’s rating ranked fifth of 58 metered markets.
Dolphins games traditionally draw ratings in the range of 13 to 17, compared with the 8.6 for the UM-LSU game on WPLG-ABC 10.
Nationally, the major market rating for the UM game was 41 percent higher than last year’s Sunday night-Labor Day weekend game (West Virginia-Virginia Tech).
▪ Outside linebackers coach Jonathan Patke said on Hurricane Hotline that the team’s new “strikers” — Romeo Finley are Derrick Smith — played well.
And Diaz said he was happy with the defensive tackles: “I thought Pat Bethel did a good job in his first test. We saw what G [Gerald] Willis did. I thought Tito [Odenigbo] did a nice job in there. Jon Ford did a nice job in there. Anytime you have a performance you’re disappointed in, you are always going to have some bright spots. But not nearly enough. And not enough where anybody would be satisfied with our performance.”
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