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After "practice of the year", Diaz comments on VT and Silvera, Bolden returning

After "practice of the year", Diaz comments on VT and Silvera, Bolden returning

Stefan Adams
In his Monday afternoon game week press conference, Miami head coach Manny Diaz praised the effort and energy coming from his team during Sunday’s practice.

“We probably had our best practice of the year yesterday,” Diaz said. “We had a couple of days off, the guys came back with high energy.”

As the team prepares for 2-2 Virginia Tech coming to town this weekend, Diaz feels it will be nice to get back to playing a regular schedule after UM’s second bye in four weeks.

“We’re excited to be in game week. This is our 10th week of football practice, we’ve only played four games,” Diaz said. “We’ve had a very unusual schedule with a few byes, a feeling of just waiting to get this thing going, get into a routine. The routine is here.

“We’re expecting a great atmosphere, a great game.”

VT is a program that has continued a trend of yearly decline in Justin Fuente’s fourth year and the Hokies are coming off an embarrassing 45-10 loss to Duke in Blacksburg over the weekend. UM is favored by 2 touchdowns in the home showdown, however, Diaz is not letting his team overlook the Hokies, who have been a consistent challenger in the ACC Coastal in year’s past.

“Virginia Tech is a program we have a lot of respect for,” Diaz said. “They’ve had an identity there (on defense). And Justin Fuente on the offensive side of the ball, when he came to the league, he brought as creative an offense as there is.

“It’s a game where if you’re not locked in on both sides of the ball, you have a chance to look silly. It’s very hard to look at a team a week ago and say `That’s the team that will show up on Saturday’… We expect to see their best effort on Saturday.”

That’s easy to say in theory, but the Hurricanes did just underperform expectations in their last game, sleepwalking to a 17-12 close win over Central Michigan at home in a game they were favored in by over 30 points. What will Diaz do to ensure that doesn’t happen again this week?

“Number one, this is not a Miami-specific problem. I think every coach in the country is always guarding against their guys competing. All you can do is watch college football this Saturday - it is hard to be the same team every week,” Diaz said. “That’s why you see, all of a sudden, a game that was not supposed to be competitive turns into very competitive. You say, ‘This team played like this with that team, which means that, when these two teams play, this of course should happen.’ We know that that never happens.

“That’s exactly why, college football is, honestly, quite fun to follow. It’s a little nerve-wracking for the coaches that coach it. I think it’s about always getting your guys to compete at their highest level every week. When you say, ‘all your guys,’ you’re trying to get as many guys to their top form as possible on any given Saturday. That’s really been the challenge. I don’t think you ever sit there with your arms folded and say, ‘I think we’ve got it figured out. I think we understand how to compete.’ It is something that is a constant grind, because human nature is to just relax and think something is easy. We know every time we think something’s easy, usually something bad happens.”

After sitting out UM’s first 4 games, both S Bubba Bolden (NCAA eligibility) and DT Nesta Silvera (foot injury) have returned to practice in full and are expected to play this week against the Hokies. WR Mark Pope, who missed Miami’s last game vs. Central Michigan with a leg injury, has returned to practice as well.

“Mark practiced yesterday. He caught a deep post, which I thought was great for his confidence,” Diaz said. “Right now, we are probably as healthy as we’ve been. Nesta Silvera has been out there. It has been good to have those guys back.”

The Canes spent part of the bye week evaluating different combinations on the O-Line to try and find some consistency up front; UM is last among Power 5 teams in sacks allowed with 4.5 per game, and is 128th out of 130 FBS teams overall in that regard.

“Every week, we’re trying to take the best team to the field - we have very young football players,” Diaz said of the OL.

“We were watching 2016 Miami-Virginia Tech and I’m watching Shaq (Quarterman) and (Mike) Pinckney run around out there and you see them do a lot of really good things, but they were humbled that day like we all were on defense that night in Blacksburg. That’s all part of the learning process. They’re better for it now. So whether it’s Jakai (Clark) or Zion (Nelson), DJ (Scaife) is a sophomore, Corey Gaynor this is his fifth start. You have some inexperienced guys. So get them better, improve.”

In their previous game against Central Michigan, Miami took out both Nelson and Clark at certain points to experiment with various O-Line combinations. However, Diaz said Clark was actually dealing with an injury.

“There was also an ankle injury, I don’t categorize that as ‘benching him’,” Diaz said of Clark.

In terms of QB Jarren Williams’ play so far in UM’s offense, Diaz praised the redshirt freshman’s ability to deliver the ball on the money and protect the rock, but Diaz is still looking for him to get the ball out quicker after taking a safety in the CMU game.

“Obviously Jarren is very accurate, as we’ve seen with his completion percentage,” Diaz said. “I think in terms of the grand scheme of the offense, no matter what pass concept we have, it’s just a matter of getting that rhythm and getting that count in his head to be as quick as possible.

“The big part of why he was named the number one guy…in this offense, it’s just all about the decision-making. Remember, we talked about that as one of the three elements that would allow us to choose the starting quarterback. In terms of taking shots and his instinct for pushing the ball down the field, part of that is coming.”

Redshirt freshman OL Cleveland Reed recently transferred from the program, the fourth UM player to do so since fall camp started. How does Diaz handle players that express wanting to play more in the transfer-happy world of college football nowadays?

“I don’t think it’s anything more than what’s happened in the past. Look, you are allowed to have 85 guys on scholarship and only 11 can play at a time,” Diaz said. “The most important thing as coaches is to be honest and upfront about why they’re not playing, what they can do to improve and get more playing time.”

While Diaz says he is looking to play more players than Miami has through the first four games, it must be earned, adding the team charts both game and practice performance and is transparent with that data with the players. Eventually, Diaz wants to build “a two-deep with no dropoff.”

“We have to develop that,” Diaz said.

UCLA DE transfer Jaelan Phillips is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but has been participating in team workouts according to Diaz.

“The biggest thing is he’s worked out his arms now - he’s not the same guy as when he showed up on campus,” Diaz said. “That and incorporate him into our locker room, onto campus, going to class. That’s what he’s been about this fall.”
 

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In his Monday afternoon game week press conference, Miami head coach Manny Diaz praised the effort and energy coming from his team during Sunday’s practice.

“We probably had our best practice of the year yesterday,” Diaz said. “We had a couple of days off, the guys came back with high energy.”

As the team prepares for 2-2 Virginia Tech coming to town this weekend, Diaz feels it will be nice to get back to playing a regular schedule after UM’s second bye in four weeks.

“We’re excited to be in game week. This is our 10th week of football practice, we’ve only played four games,” Diaz said. “We’ve had a very unusual schedule with a few byes, a feeling of just waiting to get this thing going, get into a routine. The routine is here.

“We’re expecting a great atmosphere, a great game.”

VT is a program that has continued a trend of yearly decline in Justin Fuente’s fourth year and the Hokies are coming off an embarrassing 45-10 loss to Duke in Blacksburg over the weekend. UM is favored by 2 touchdowns in the home showdown, however, Diaz is not letting his team overlook the Hokies, who have been a consistent challenger in the ACC Coastal in year’s past.

“Virginia Tech is a program we have a lot of respect for,” Diaz said. “They’ve had an identity there (on defense). And Justin Fuente on the offensive side of the ball, when he came to the league, he brought as creative an offense as there is.

“It’s a game where if you’re not locked in on both sides of the ball, you have a chance to look silly. It’s very hard to look at a team a week ago and say `That’s the team that will show up on Saturday’… We expect to see their best effort on Saturday.”

That’s easy to say in theory, but the Hurricanes did just underperform expectations in their last game, sleepwalking to a 17-12 close win over Central Michigan at home in a game they were favored in by over 30 points. What will Diaz do to ensure that doesn’t happen again this week?

“Number one, this is not a Miami-specific problem. I think every coach in the country is always guarding against their guys competing. All you can do is watch college football this Saturday - it is hard to be the same team every week,” Diaz said. “That’s why you see, all of a sudden, a game that was not supposed to be competitive turns into very competitive. You say, ‘This team played like this with that team, which means that, when these two teams play, this of course should happen.’ We know that that never happens.

“That’s exactly why, college football is, honestly, quite fun to follow. It’s a little nerve-wracking for the coaches that coach it. I think it’s about always getting your guys to compete at their highest level every week. When you say, ‘all your guys,’ you’re trying to get as many guys to their top form as possible on any given Saturday. That’s really been the challenge. I don’t think you ever sit there with your arms folded and say, ‘I think we’ve got it figured out. I think we understand how to compete.’ It is something that is a constant grind, because human nature is to just relax and think something is easy. We know every time we think something’s easy, usually something bad happens.”

After sitting out UM’s first 4 games, both S Bubba Bolden (NCAA eligibility) and DT Nesta Silvera (foot injury) have returned to practice in full and are expected to play this week against the Hokies. WR Mark Pope, who missed Miami’s last game vs. Central Michigan with a leg injury, has returned to practice as well.

“Mark practiced yesterday. He caught a deep post, which I thought was great for his confidence,” Diaz said. “Right now, we are probably as healthy as we’ve been. Nesta Silvera has been out there. It has been good to have those guys back.”

The Canes spent part of the bye week evaluating different combinations on the O-Line to try and find some consistency up front; UM is last among Power 5 teams in sacks allowed with 4.5 per game, and is 128th out of 130 FBS teams overall in that regard.

“Every week, we’re trying to take the best team to the field - we have very young football players,” Diaz said of the OL.

“We were watching 2016 Miami-Virginia Tech and I’m watching Shaq (Quarterman) and (Mike) Pinckney run around out there and you see them do a lot of really good things, but they were humbled that day like we all were on defense that night in Blacksburg. That’s all part of the learning process. They’re better for it now. So whether it’s Jakai (Clark) or Zion (Nelson), DJ (Scaife) is a sophomore, Corey Gaynor this is his fifth start. You have some inexperienced guys. So get them better, improve.”

In their previous game against Central Michigan, Miami took out both Nelson and Clark at certain points to experiment with various O-Line combinations. However, Diaz said Clark was actually dealing with an injury.

“There was also an ankle injury, I don’t categorize that as ‘benching him’,” Diaz said of Clark.

In terms of QB Jarren Williams’ play so far in UM’s offense, Diaz praised the redshirt freshman’s ability to deliver the ball on the money and protect the rock, but Diaz is still looking for him to get the ball out quicker after taking a safety in the CMU game.

“Obviously Jarren is very accurate, as we’ve seen with his completion percentage,” Diaz said. “I think in terms of the grand scheme of the offense, no matter what pass concept we have, it’s just a matter of getting that rhythm and getting that count in his head to be as quick as possible.

“The big part of why he was named the number one guy…in this offense, it’s just all about the decision-making. Remember, we talked about that as one of the three elements that would allow us to choose the starting quarterback. In terms of taking shots and his instinct for pushing the ball down the field, part of that is coming.”

Redshirt freshman OL Cleveland Reed recently transferred from the program, the fourth UM player to do so since fall camp started. How does Diaz handle players that express wanting to play more in the transfer-happy world of college football nowadays?

“I don’t think it’s anything more than what’s happened in the past. Look, you are allowed to have 85 guys on scholarship and only 11 can play at a time,” Diaz said. “The most important thing as coaches is to be honest and upfront about why they’re not playing, what they can do to improve and get more playing time.”

While Diaz says he is looking to play more players than Miami has through the first four games, it must be earned, adding the team charts both game and practice performance and is transparent with that data with the players. Eventually, Diaz wants to build “a two-deep with no dropoff.”

“We have to develop that,” Diaz said.

UCLA DE transfer Jaelan Phillips is sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but has been participating in team workouts according to Diaz.

“The biggest thing is he’s worked out his arms now - he’s not the same guy as when he showed up on campus,” Diaz said. “That and incorporate him into our locker room, onto campus, going to class. That’s what he’s been about this fall.”
Thank you!
 

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