The Miami Hurricanes returned to the Greentree Practice Fields Monday morning for Practice 12 after enjoying their first day off of #CanesCamp 2016 Sunday.
“It was a very good, fundamental day. It was our normal - lot of kicking, lot of fundamentals, our team run, our team blitz, our move-the-field stuff, offense versus defense," head coach Mark Richt said. "For a tough, long practice, they did a nice job, I thought."
The offense "won" the practice thanks to a late surge from the second-string offense, but the defensive line has been a key factor through the first two weeks of camp.
“I think they’re progressing about what I figured. I think we have some talent. I think we have some guys that look like you want them to look, play like you want them to play – in terms of athleticism," defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said. "Now it’s getting them to do the right things and do them the right way. So far, the guys have progressed in a way that I’ve expected."
A phone call placed by former Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel to Richt was the key in securing Kuligowski's services as Miami's defensive line coach.
"I called [Kuligowski] within five minutes and I would have hired him on the spot, or offered him the job on the spot, but I told him I needed to get my d-coordinator in line first," Richt said. "Less than 24 hours after that, I said I was stupid if I wait, because I guarantee everyone else is going to pursue this guy as well. I called him back and offered him the job."
Kuligowski's impact has been felt throughout the defensive line.
"He knows the answer to everything," Chad Thomas said. "He has been coaching a long time, and he knows how to get a defensive line together, get us all working, working right and working together as one. He’s a wizard.”
Demetrius Jackson mentioned Kuligowski's impressive body of work during his time at Missouri as reason to trust his new mentor.
“I love him. He brings a lot of technique that he’s taught some of the greats before, like Aldon Smith, Shane Ray, Michael Sam,” Jackson said. “He’s bringing it here, and we trust him, because his resume, the guys that he taught, things that he produced…we knew that’s a guy we can trust. We just take it to the field and it works. It works against our great offensive line."
Richt said that his team is getting closer to performing at the level of consistency needed to be successful come September 3rd and beyond.
"We're getting closer, and we're pursuing [consistency], obviously…we're getting better,” Richt said. “Even when you watch film, offensively, when you start out, you might have seven out of 11 [players] doing it right, and you get beat. When you get eight, nine, 10 out of 11 getting it right, you're getting closer, but you still might end up losing that rep. When everybody starts doing it, that's when you start really clicking.”
More from Richt on his new defensive line coach:
On his decision to hire Craig Kuligowski before hiring a defensive coordinator…
"I think he's one of the best in the business, if not the best. If I had a defensive coordinator who didn't want him, I figure I probably don't have the right d-coordinator. Any d-coordinator would be super excited about Coach Kul being a part of it."
On his relationship with Kuligowski prior to hiring him on his staff…
"I just knew him through Coach Gary Pinkel [former Missouri coach]. He and I got to know each other and become pretty good friends, through the head coaching thing. He actually gave me a call and said, 'It looks like Kul might not get retained. You ought to talk to him.' I called him within five minutes and I would have hired him on the spot, or offered him the job on the spot, but I told him I needed to get my d-coordinator in line first, but he's my first choice and all that. Less than 24 hours after that, I said I was stupid if I wait, because I guarantee everyone else is going to pursue this guy as well. I called him back and offered him the job."
On why Kuligowski has never been a defensive coordinator, given his success as a position coach…
"It's probably still a very real possibility one day. He has tremendous value as he is, and he's helping Manny coordinate, I can tell you that."