Warmth takes toll
Diaz: ‘Execution is a long way from where we wanted it’
All spring, the Hurricanes have been inside, their first eight practices all taking place in the new Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility while the outdoor Greentree Practice Field is being resodded.
And so, on Saturday, when Miami held its first outdoor practice — a closed scrimmage at Christopher Columbus High School — the warm temperatures seemed to take a toll, at least in coach Manny Diaz’s opinion.
In a statement released by the school that shared some details of Saturday’s scrimmage, Diaz said, “I thought our guys played hard. Execution is a long way from where we waned it. You could see, being outside and dealing with the heat for the first time, it took its toll. It takes a toll mentally. All of a sudden, you’re playing a lot slower. … It probably took us to the second half where it became more competitive.”
For Miami, one of the major storylines of the spring has been the progress of quarterbacks N’Kosi Perry, Tate Martell and Jarren Williams, all of whom are competing to be under center for the season opener against Florida on Aug. 24.
According to UM, the “quarterbacks took equal reps” Saturday with Perry finishing 5 of 7 for 126 yards with two touchdowns, while Martell finished 6 of 11 with one touchdown and Williams had 53 passing yards. The school did not provide any attempts or completions for Williams or a yardage total for Martell.
The top performers the school highlighted in its statement included running back Cam’ron Harris, who had five carries for 32 yards and tight end Will Mallory, who had four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns. DeeJay Dallas added 38 rushing yards and receiver Brian Hightower had three catches for 22 yards. Sophomore Mark Pope reportedly had a 52-yard touchdown grab and Evidence Njoku, who is working his way back from a knee injury, had a 51-yard catch.
“To me, the thing the offense did well was they responded in the second half. They scored some touchdowns late, which was good for those guys to see,” Diaz said. “They’ll see this film and they’ll realize that if we can get ourselves not to the point where we’re beat before the snap — which is to be expected during parts of the spring, it’s all new — we have a chance to be dangerous.”
Some of the defensive players Miami highlighted in its statement included defensive end Greg Rousseau, who had four sacks; Nesta Silvera, who had six tackles, including four tackles for loss; cornerback Trajan Bandy, who broke up two passes; Gurvan Hall, who had four tackles and cornerback Al Blades Jr., who had two tackles and broke up a pass. Freshman defensive end Jahfari Harvey, who coaches have said has been one of the pleasant surprises of the spring after arriving on campus in January, had five tackles and two sacks.
“You’re always concerned about he first time tackling. I thought, as the scrimmage went on, I thought our tackling was good. I didn’t see a lot of run after contact,” Diaz said. “For the most part, we did a good job of not giving up explosive plays. Then you saw some disruption that we define ourselves by, which you should have in spring practice because a lot will be dependent on how our guys play up front.”
The Hurricanes are scheduled to host two more scrimmages this spring, both of which will be open to spectators.
Their next scrimmage is scheduled for noon next Saturday at Traz Powell Stadium. A week later, Miami will wrap up spring drills April 20 at the site of their season opener: Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Miami is scheduled to return to practice Tuesday morning.
Steed to have surgery: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Waynmon Steed is scheduled to have knee surgery in the coming days, Miami announced on Saturday.
Steed — who appeared in five games last season and had three tackles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss — is not believed to have been injured in Saturday’s scrimmage. He was seen receiving attention from members of UM’s athletic training staff after Thursday’s practice.