’Canes show­ing their sec­ond-half met­tle

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos

CO­RAL GABLES — With 1:24 left in Tal­la­has­see last Satur­day, Malik Rosier trot­ted out onto the field at Doak Camp­bell Sta­dium, looked at his team­mates and de­liv­ered a sim­ple mes­sage: the Hur­ri­canes had plenty of time to score, plenty of time to win, and plenty of time to fi­nally end a frus­trat­ing seven-game los­ing streak to the ri­val Semi­noles.

The Hur­ri­canes quar­ter­back de­liv­ered on his prom­ise, en­gi­neer­ing a drive that moved Mi­ami down­field and ul­ti­mately cul­mi­nated with Dar­rell Lang­ham catch­ing a 23-yard touch­down pass with six sec­onds left that lifted the Hur­ri­canes to an emo­tional 24-20 vic­tory over Flor­ida State.

But for those who have been watch­ing Hur­ri­canes foot­ball in re­cent sea­sons, it was more proof that in its sec­ond-year un­der Mark Richt, Mi­ami has be­come a team that can’t be counted out af­ter first-half strug­gles and early deficits. The Hur­ri­canes seem to no longer be daunted by in-game ad­ver­sity.

Al­ready this year, Mi­ami has over­come a lack­lus­ter first-half ef­fort against FSU and the loss of sev­eral key starters, in­clud­ing run­ning back Mark Wal­ton, re­ceiver Ah­m­mon Richards and right guard Navaughn Don­ald­son, to put to­gether the fi­nal game-win­ning drive against FSU.

Against Toledo, the Hur­ri­canes ral­lied — af­ter briefly los­ing Wal­ton to an in­jury and fall­ing be­hind at the half — to even­tu­ally beat the Rock­ets 52-30.

In four games this sea­son, Mi­ami has outscored op­po­nents 97-38 in the sec­ond half. They outscored op­po­nents by 136 points in the sec­ond half in 2016. That’s a marked im­prove­ment from 2015 when they outscored op­po­nents by a to­tal of 91 points in the sec­ond half and from 2014 when op­po­nents outscored them 166-151 in the third and fourth quar­ters.

Have Richt and his staff made bet­ter half­time ad­just­ments than Mi­ami’s pre­vi­ous staff led by Al Golden? Has con­di­tion­ing im­proved? Have play­ers changed their ap­proach in games?

It’s all been a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, play­ers and coaches said, as the 11th-ranked Hur­ri­canes went through prepa­ra­tions this week for Satur­day’s Coastal Di­vi­sion matchup against Ge­or­gia Tech at Hard Rock Sta­dium.

“I think the only thing that changes is the way we ap­proach the game. We were in the same sit­u­a­tion two years ago and the mind­set was just dif­fer­ent. There was not one sec­ond in this game [against FSU] that we sat and thought, ‘Oh my God, we might lose this game,’ ” se­nior left tackle Kc McDer­mott said. “Ev­ery time we headed for the bench — whether we had a suc­cess­ful drive or not — we sat there know­ing that we are go­ing to be suc­cess­ful and that we were go­ing to win this game. It’s def­i­nitely a men­tal­ity that has been in­stalled

UF RE­PORT not just by the coaches but by the play­ers as well dur­ing sum­mer con­di­tion­ing and dur­ing the off­sea­son.”

Added Richt, “I would say, this year in par­tic­u­lar, I don’t know if we’ve made great ad­just­ments, but I know we don’t panic at half­time. I know we don’t start chang­ing ev­ery­thing at half­time. I think it’s more of a re­in­force­ment to do what we did all week — just re­lax a lit­tle bit, take care of busi­ness and do what you’re sup­posed to do.”

The Hur­ri­canes (4-0, 2-0 ACC) will likely have a chance to test their re­siliency yet again this week­end against the Yel­low Jack­ets (3-1, 2-0).

Ge­or­gia Tech is a me­thod­i­cal team that puts to­gether ex­tended drives that chew up clock and can keep op­pos­ing of­fenses on the side­line for long stretches.

But the Hur­ri­canes en­ter the game know­ing that so far this sea­son, they’ve an­swered ev­ery chal­lenge.

“Last year we were just get­ting to­gether with a new staff and ev­ery­thing. Now we have con­fi­dence in each other and we have trust in each other, which al­lows us to play for each other,” line­backer Shaquille Quar­ter­man said.

GERRY BROOME/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Malik Rosier and the Hur­ri­canes have outscored op­po­nents 97-38 in the sec­ond half this sea­son.

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