Though the defense earned the lion’s share of praise from head coach Mark Richt aftersecond scrimmage, rising junior defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh said he sees both sides benefiting from the competition.
“All of us [on defense] had a really good scrimmage,” McIntosh said. “And I think if we keep doing that every day, like next scrimmage, I think it is going to help the offensive line and the offense become better every day. If we keep putting pressure on them and making them better, I think we are going to be alright.”
Fellow defensive lineman Kendrick Norton, who teams with McIntosh in the middle to form one of the most imposing interiors of any team in the ACC, sees things similarly for an improving offense.
“[No.] 55 [offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson] the freshman, he has been doing well, he has been holding his own,” Norton said. “He is running with I believe the ones [first string] or twos [second]. He has been holding his own out there. Also, Tyler Gauthier is stepping up at the center spot. He has been doing really well this season.
“But you know everybody has been coming out here attacking the days; everybody is trying to get better.”
McIntosh said that with the number of returners on defense, 2017 has the chance to be an exciting season for the Hurricanes – provided each player holds up his end of the bargain.
“I think the defense is a big part of it, “McIntosh said. “We have a lot of players coming back Everybody is coming back. I think we are a big part of this team, so we have to become better. There’s a lot of things we got to work on and I think we are getting better at it.”
A member of Boca Raton High’s Class of 1977, Richt said that scrimmage will be special for him a personal level.
“It’s my alma mater, and they do have a nice facility,” he said. “I’m excited about going over there. If Hard Rock [Stadium] was ready for us to play the game, we’d play there. We’d probably have TV there and all that kind of thing. Knowing we couldn’t do that, I didn’t want to go back to where we were. I felt like, let’s have a small venue, let’s make it kind of a homecoming of sorts for me, to tell the people in Boca I love them kind of deal. Hopefully we’ll have a good day.”
Team Orange will matchup against Team Whitebeginning at in the scrimmage, which is closed to the public.
“It’s going to look like a game, but it’ll mostly be all ones [first string] versus ones and twos [second string] versus twos,” he explained. “They’ll just be having different color jerseys on them. It’ll play like a game, because if it’s a three-and-out, it’ll be a three-and-out.”
Perhaps – just perhaps – Richt will stop by an old haunt or two to celebrate the conclusion of a successful spring season.
“Now whenever I was in Boca, I would always go to Jerry’s Pizzeria and Fran’s Chicken Haven,” he said. “I don’t even know if Jerry’s is still open, but I hope Fran’s is, because I do hope to go back for some fried chicken.”