Some Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday:
▪ Besides showing more consistency and better grasp of the offense as well as an intoxicating skill set, the other factor that persuaded UM coach Mark Richt to play N’Kosi Perry was improved maturity.
The spring issue that caused Perry to be left home for the LSU game wasn’t his only misstep this year. There was another minor one that did not go overlooked in August, according to a team source.
But Perry, from all indications, has matured considerably since then.
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Richt concedes Perry and Cade Weldon (because Richt always seems to feel compelled to include Weldon in most discussions about Perry) started “a little slow on the maturity level.”
“They were not ready to push for playing time,” Richt told WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline, “because they were doing the football part OK but being a responsible human being, doing the things you’re supposed to [needed to happen]. There’s a trust factor.
“I am not going to put you in position of leadership until you prove you can be a leader.”
▪ Richt has tried to frame the quarterback change in the context of young players at different positions improving enough to warrant playing time.
“Guys may be starting and playing well and do nothing wrong but another guy is growing and getting better and has a good talent base too and is earning the right to play,” Richt said, noting D.J. Scaife has “earned the right to play” at tackle in relief of Tyree St. Louis and Navaughn Donaldson.
“Is Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas doing anything wrong? [No]. But we’re getting to the point where we’re getting a bigger trust factor with these guys” — Lorenzo Lingard and Cameron Davis.
And all of that pleases Richt.
“I am so excited about that part of it,” he told WQAM. “We have guys getting to the point where they can play and play well. Guys who are inexperienced can make mistakes that can cost you. [They ask] ‘Why can’t I play?’”
Richt said he responds to that this way: “Son, you are talented enough but can you function in this system and not have the mental errors that can cost us the game or the possibility of a Coastal division championship?”
▪ How high is UM on Scaife? According to Herald correspondent Daniel Gould, he logged 40 snaps against FIU.
Other notable snap numbers: The freshman receivers played more, as Richt wanted. Brian Hightower played 46 snaps, Mark Pope 29, Dee Wiggins 26 and Marquez Ezzard 11. Redshirt freshman Evidence Njoku played 19. More snaps were available because Jeff Thomas left early because of dehydration... Among freshman cornerbacks, Al Blades Jr. played 18 snaps, D.J. Ivey played 12 and Gilbert Frierson 7....
Among freshmen running backs, Lingard played 16 of UM’s 74 offensive snaps, Davis 11 and fullback Realus George two... And besides Scaife, freshmen offensive linemen Cleveland Reed and John Campbell played nine snaps each.
▪ UM is thrilled how receiver Lawrence Cager has come on.
Obviously he’s a guy that has been around, knows the system, is a veteran,” Richt said. “He’s enjoying the fruits of his labor in the off-season, because he worked super hard. It’s showing in the games.”
Cager told WQAM that he came to UM as primarily a jump ball receiver but receivers coach Ron Dugans “said I need to do more than that.”
▪ Pro Football Focus put UM defensive tackle Gerald Willis on its list of college football’s biggest breakout stories this season.
PFF says “Willis has made his name known on the Hurricanes defensive front mainly due to his pass-rushing. His 90.0 pass-rushing grade ranks fourth at the position while his overall grade of 86.1 ranks 15th. He has registered 12 QB pressures, including two sacks, two QB hits and eight additional hurries – all on just 73 pass-rushing snaps. His pass-rush productivity of 9.7 ranks tied for eighth among all interior defensive linemen.”
Here’s my piece from earlier Wednesday on a big oral commitment for UM basketball.