Excitement Level Rising as Scrimmage Approaches
By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The excitement level on the Greentree Practice Fields is growing day by day as the Hurricanes inch closer towards the season opener on September 2.
While the Hurricanes are excited to officially kick off the season against Bethune-Cookman in a few weeks, their sights are set on Saturday’s scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Hopefully it will add some excitement, some energy,” Miami offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “I think, the one thing about our team – man, these guys love football. I’ve been around guys you got to motivate, and show a bunch of videos to, to get them hyped to go play football. [Our team] could go play on this dirt behind you, and those guys will show up and go full-speed. I think the atmosphere change will help those guys out, kind of give them a break from camp. But I think they’ll all be ready to go.”
Saturday morning’s scrimmage will be the first of three scheduled for Canes camp and will be the first opportunity for coaches to evaluate players in a game-like setting. While some may discount the importance of a scrimmage so early in camp, Brown believes every opportunity is valuable for players and coaches.
“Yeah, I think they’re all important,” Brown said. “I think even every day, before we get to the scrimmage, are important – [it’s] an opportunity we get to evaluate guys and get better. We definitely don’t let those guys relax. We don’t treat tomorrow more important than today, because we have to make it to tomorrow first. I think the guys have done a really good job so far of giving great energy, great effort. They understand the expectation that we have. We still have a ways to go before where we’re we want to be, but I think we’re going in the right decision so far.”
Preparing for a scrimmage has become routine for a veteran like wide receiver Braxton Berrios. But the senior is excited to see how all of the quarterbacks will respond while facing Miami’s talented defense for the first time this fall.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference for me,” Berrios said of the scrimmages being full contact. Obviously, the worry is that quarterbacks get hurt, but you do want to see who is going to do what under pressure. You want to see who is going to stand in there and take that hit.”
After playing his first three collegiate seasons with Brad Kaaya at quarterback, Berrios will be catching balls from a new passer in 2017. He has been impressed with all the quarterbacks so far and considers them to all be in a tight competition for the starting job.
“I don’t see much distance whatsoever,” Berrios said. “They’re all splitting reps and there is zero distance in my mind. I kind of expected that until the first scrimmage and especially the second scrimmage. Once people go live, you see a lot more from what they do.”
The excitement for the scrimmage is evident on defense, as well. Sophomore defensive lineman Joe Jackson, who had 8.5 sacks and earned Freshman All-America honors a year ago, is eager to show that he has gotten better since his standout debut season.
“It doesn’t matter where we scrimmage, but I am excited,” Jackson said. “We get to go against the offense and the quarterbacks will be live, so we get to see if they can take some hits. I’m just looking forward to making big plays and showing that I’ve improved since last year.”
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.