A quick six-pack off UM coach Manny Diaz’s conversation with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline this week:
▪ Diaz, one of the founding fathers of UM’s turnover chain, is considering ways to reward players on offense.
“There is going to be a turnover chain at the University of Miami,” Diaz said. “The question is what do we do for the offense? We did a survey. I’m pretty sure they like wearing gold chains as well.”
Allowing offensive players to wear something similar to the chain after a touchdown would be one easy solution, though some of those players might need to go back on the field for special teams responsibilities.
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Rewarding the player who makes a great block on a touchdown would be a more nuanced approach, but considerably more complicated to execute.
▪ UM, off a 7-6 season, isn’t listed in ESPN’s early Top 25 preseason poll, authored by Mark Schlabach.
But asked about his team’s potential this season, Diaz said: “I know what our locker room thinks. Our locker room thinks we have a team that can compete for championships this year.”
And Diaz said when recruits visit campus, “You kept hearing, ‘You have a hungry team in there, coach.’ You have a bunch of guys who are a little angry, a little ticked off over how last year ended.”
Diaz cautioned that when spring practice begins March 19, “in some aspects what some guys will be asked to do will be a little bit different. We are going to tear it apart with some new schemes. We have a chance to install those things.
“The most important thing is establish a culture of how we want to play. We’re going to be tough, physical, violent. We’re going to play fast and look like we’re having more fun than any team in the country. It will be intense. And you will see some guys who will embrace the competition.”
▪ Diaz conceded: “I don’t know in our first two years here if we did an outstanding job of recruiting the defensive line. We had excellent players but the numbers were not where they should have been.”
That’s why he was so pleased to add seven defensive linemen over the past two months, including two grad transfers.
▪ Diaz told WQAM, unsolicited, that “one guy who deserves a lot of credit for the month of January is [former Southern California safety] Bubba Bolden. We had been recruiting him throughout the fall. Bubba and [former Buffalo receiver] KJ Osborn were the two that jumped [to UM] in the first week of January that really started the momentum. Recruiting is really a momentum game.”
Osborn will be eligible to play this season as a grad transfer. UM expects Bolden also will be eligible to play in 2019.
▪ Quick stuff: Diaz, on incoming freshman safety Keontra Smith: “You can’t help but watch him and see some Jaquan Johnson in how he plays.”... One reason why punter Louis Hedley’s addition is important is because “we were bottom five in the country in average starting field position,” Diaz noted... Quarterbacks have been diligently working with receivers, more so than past years.
▪ The last word from Diaz: “There are a million places where you can be good, just not UM. Here, you have to be great. There are 130 colleges where being good is acceptable. Those that can’t live up to our standard have to find a different place to play.”