Yes, it’s only April but there was a buzz in the air on both sides of the ball as Miami held its first scrimmage of spring practice.
“We basically had two halves,” head coach Mark Richt said. “We didn’t play a game but we had X amount of plays and then we had a break. And then we had another X amount of plays. The first drives started at the minus-25, meaning 75-yards to go.
“Second half, you start the drives on the plus-40. And then we would do some third-down situations. Then we would do red zone, a plus-16 drive.”
As with any scrimmage this early in the campaign, there were plays that got the coaches excited, as well as plays that served as teaching moments. The defense set the tone early, swarming to the ball and forcing some takeaways. But Richt indicated the defense is oftentimes ahead of the offense at this point in the year.
“If offense dominates in the spring, I can promise you it’s usually a long season,” Richt said. “Unless you have like a boatload of guys showing up in the summer. Some of the greatest offenses I have been around have got their butts kicked by the defense, at Florida State and Georgia. So it is not that uncommon, but it is a good sign.”
But the offense made some plays in the scrimmage’s second half, which was also encouraging to Richt.
“(The) second half was much more fun for the offense,” he said. “Scored a couple touchdowns, kicked a field goal, made some plays. Got encouraged. Last play of the game, threw a little touchdown so the offense felt good on the last play. I wouldn’t say the offense dominated the second half. But the offense made plays and made it much more competitive then the first half.”
The quarterback were live (no red jerseys) so the coaching staff got to see how Miami’s signal callers reacted to pressure in the pocket.
“Yeah, they could get sacked,” Richt said. “And one guy broke a tackle, and spun out and ran; I think he still threw it away. But normally in a game, where, hey that’s a sack. And there were a couple times where I know [sophomore quarterback] Evan [Shirreffs] once or twice had guys barring on him, and he just stayed in there and threw it, and completed a ball or two and still got hit. Which is a good sign.
“[Redshirt junior quarterback] Malik [Rosier] I think was the one who spun out of a tackle when it looked like they had him. I know there was a cornerback blitz one time that we missed. He had him, just no one blocking him. But Malik spun out of it. He ended up not completing the ball, but you know, I guess just proof that a guy can move and can create, make plays.”
Three full weeks of spring practice are now complete. The Hurricanes return to the field morning for their 10th session.