Shanna Lockwood/USA Today

Spring Football Report: April 11

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – With five more practices and two scrimmages to go until spring ball concludes, head coach Mark Richt has been encouraged by the returns in his second spring at the helm of the Miami Hurricanes football program.

Having reviewed the game tape from the April 8 scrimmage, Richt said that, while the defense certainly made its fair share of plays Saturdayon Greentree, the offense showed glimpses of serious potential.

 

“Very few times did we have a situation where the play didn’t have a good chance of success,” Richt said. “A lot of times, if you get a minus two yards on a run, you might think that’s the worst thing that has ever happened. Then you watch tape, and you see everybody did their job, but you got a little double team up to a linebacker, and both guys go to the linebacker and the let the guy go.

 

“Everything else blocked beautifully, and if they just stayed on the double team a half a second longer, we’re ripping through there for a good 15- or 20-yard gain. That’s promising, when you see that on tape.”

 

Several early enrollees took part in their first official scrimmage, and Miami’s returners were impressed by their contributions.

 

Rising sophomore linebacker Shaq Quarterman, expected to take on more of a leadership role in his second year as the team’s middle linebacker, said there were a number of defensive standouts among the team’s rookies.

 

“I think we did well as a unit,” Quarterman said. “We have some new guys out there - B.J. [linebacker Bradley Jennings, Jr.] for example, who may not know all the material right now in the playbook. We just told him to go out there and play confident and run around and make plays. And he did that. [Defensive lineman Jonathan] Garvin had a nice sack, real technical with the hands. We did well for the first scrimmage.”

 

Veteran offensive lineman Kc McDermott singled out two early enrollees who impressed him on the offensive side of the ball: offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson and wide receiver Deejay Dallas.

 

“Navaughn Donaldson had one heck of a play during a power [run],” McDermott said.  “And DeeJay Dallas, you know, if you put a ball up there he will go and grab it. So everyone did well. Obviously, like I said we have got some stuff to improve on.”

 

Donaldson also caught the eye of Tyler Gauthier, another veteran lineman.

 

“Just his size and his strength and his physicality for being a freshman,” Gauthier said. “He is not scared to go out there and hit you. There was a play where he drove him all the way to the sideline and it was pretty incredible to watch, for a freshman.”

 

Richt said that Dallas is willing to take on any role for the Hurricanes, but will start out at receiver. He played running back, quarterback, defensive back and wide receiver in high school.

 

“We’re trying to let [Deejay] learn something,” Richt said. “We felt like, if we’re going to let him learn a position, receiver is one that is going to take more to refine. The running back position, you tend to be able to teach that a little bit faster. There’s a little bit less of a learning curve. So if we absolutely had to, by the first summer session, training him as a running back, we can. We’ve talked. All along, he’s been like, ‘Whatever you ask me to do, coach, I’ll do it.’ But our goal is not to do that.”

 

As always, however, the returners who gained experience from the 2016 season - which culminated in a Russell Athletic Bowl victory over a ranked West Virginia team - will be relied on heavily throughout the remainder of spring, starting with Saturday’s second closed scrimmage.

 

“I would say everywhere,” Quarterman responded about areas of potential improvement. “Like coach [Richt] has said, he just said it right now, ‘When we are really urgent, we are really good.’ So everybody has to focus on coming out, getting the crust out of their eyes and getting ready to be better every day. Because being great is being good every day. So we can’t take any days off, because you don’t feel like getting out of bed, this and that. We have to come prepared to work.”


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