Miami football: Canes open practice with new coach
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- After his first team's first practice during the spring, Miami (Fla.) coach Mark Richt admitted he was nervous and had trouble sleeping before leading his alma mater onto the field.
When the Hurricanes opened fall camp on a sweltering Thursday afternoon, there were no butterflies.
Instead, Richt and his Hurricanes were methodical and businesslike as they began, in earnest, preparing for the season ahead and their season opener against FAMU on Sept. 3.
"We've been here eight months, been to a lot of practices already," Richt said with a smile. "We've worked with them all summer. This is the third time we've installed the offense, so it didn't feel brand new. But certainly, it's the first time for [fall camp]. I love being here, I can tell you that."
The Hurricanes, who are coming off an 8-5 season, have certainly generated buzz in South Florida and beyond since Richt was hired last December. Before the team took the field Thursday, the school announced it had sold 10,000 new season tickets. And though Miami took its lumps last season -- one of those five losses was a 58-0 drubbing by Clemson that was the worst in school history and cost former coach Al Golden his job -- the Hurricanes were ranked just outside the top 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. UM lead the schools also receiving votes just behind No. 25 Florida.
Richt is undoubtedly one of the reasons both of those things happened. The fact Miami has a proven, talented quarterback in starter Brad Kaaya is another. But the Hurricanes acknowledge there is still much work to be done in the weeks ahead, particularly when it comes to shoring up its depth at several positions, including behind Kaaya at quarterback.
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In the spring, none of Miami's reserves -- Evan Shirreffs, Vincent Testaverde, Malik Rosier or true freshman Jack Allison -- distinguished himself as the definite No. 2, though Shirreffs took several reps with that unit on Thursday. And for his part, Kaaya said he wants to see one of his teammates step up soon.
"I've seen them put the effort in. I think it's just time for someone to take that next step and step up," said Kaaya, who last season threw for 3,238 yards and 16 touchdowns. "We still don't know who the backup is and this is a group that really needs to step their game up. I'm not calling them out or anything, but someone needs to really be assertive and step up from those four guys."
If the Hurricanes find themselves unexpectedly struggling for depth at the linebacker position, they can expect to have reinforcements from a trio of freshmen in Shaq Quarterman, Mike Pinckney, and former Santaluces standout Zach McCloud, all of whom earned praise from Richt on Thursday, picking up where they left off after a strong spring.
Quarterman and Pinckney saw time with the first-string defense, while McCloud worked with the second unit, but still made his presence known.
And for many of the Hurricanes, that's what Thursday was all about -- a chance to get back to work and start not just a new season, but what they hope will be a new era.
"The first day went [well]," running back Joe Yearby said. "Got a chance to see the new coaches, try out the new system. I feel like everybody made a good improvement since the spring."
This article was written by Christy Cabrera Chirinos from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.