Canes Wrap Up Week 1 of Camp in Full Pads
By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The familiar pop of shoulder pads was audible Saturday at the Greentree Practice Fields, as the Miami Hurricanes held their first practice in full pads of fall camp.
While Miami didn’t have full tackling on Day 5 of camp, there was definitely an elevated level of intensity at practice.
“Football practice, today was Day Five. First day in pads,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Everybody kind of thinks, the first day in pads you start tackling. Back in the day, we did. We still do what we call ‘thud’ – it’s full speed, we’re striking. When people are face-up on you, they’ll fit a block or try to engage blocking and shed a block or thud a runner. When I say thud, I mean butt him up and let him go. The rules are, if a defender meets a guy sideways, don’t knock him down sideways – just tag off on him, and never from behind do you grab a guy. We’re learning that. When you’re going really fast and you’ve got 100 guys trying to do it right, there will be some guys on the ground. The goal is really to have no one on the ground and no one get blocked below the waist or anything like that. Even tackle below the waist, for that matter.”
Miami’s first week of fall camp wrapped up following Saturday’s practice, as the team is off Sunday before opening up Week 2. Richt has been impressed with how the Hurricanes are competing early in camp.
“Highly competitive five days in a row,” Richt said. “Even in shorts, our guys love to compete. We’re pushing them hard. It is hot. It is humid. It is a high heat index – but we’re taking enough little short breaks to hydrate and give them a little bit of a rest, and then go hard again. I’m not waiting until they get to where they can’t go [anymore] and then stop. I’m stopping them whether they feel like they need to or not – getting them hydrated, getting them rested and then keep going. Great tempo. It’s been very, very good. Today, I guess it’s like most days. There will be plays we’re watching, we’ll be so excited. I get excited about those plays this time of year, because when we do it right, I know with reps, we can do it right again. I know we can do it again. It’s when, if a guy can’t physically get the job done or our scheme doesn’t seem to be good offensively or defensively, I’m worried more about that than [if] you execute every time. What I like to see is, the times we do execute, ‘this is what it looks like, fellas.’ You show the team, ‘this is what it can be.’ If we execute on a consistent basis, on both sides of the ball, it’ll be a fun season for us.”
Following practice, Miami hosted its first ever “U Network” event focused on helping football alumni succeed after their playing days are done.
“We’re here because of ‘The U Network’ event. I’m really excited about it,” Richt said. “This event is designed for reunion, connection with all the former football alumni. But it’s also designed to help people find work, if needed, start careers, change careers, whatever it may be. Or if you have a business, it’s just a way to meet new people that might be good contacts to help your business thrive, if you’ve already got something on. It’s also, maybe more than anything else, a way of saying, ‘we love you and we care about you.’ I’m talking about our former players and current players, knowing that this type of thing will be there for them when they finish. It’s very important to me and our administration has been awesome in trying to help facilitate this. This is the first event that, again, will have a reunion aspect to it, but it’ll also have a job fair-type aspect, networking-type aspect to go along with it. We have a few companies here that have been wonderful to help us get started. We have a bunch of businesses that would have been happy to be here, but we don’t have enough room for everybody to help. We’re thankful for all the businesses that not only wanted to help today, but are going to be in our database for the future, if there’s some type of connection we can make between one of our former players and them, as far as an employee or a connection of some kind. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”
Among those in attendance were Miami’s radio color analyst Don Bailey Jr., who owns Don Bailey Flooring; John Fenton, who is an executive coach in Atlanta; Maurice Jenkins, who just received an award for excellence and innovation in airport technology; and Maurice Sikes, who went from patrolling the field as a safety to patrolling the streets of Coral Gables as a police officer.
Miami opens the season at home on Sept. 2 against Bethune-Cookman. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m., ET. Click here for ticket information.