CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami football team returned to the Greentree Practice Fields on Tuesday for the first day of spring practice under head coach Mark Richt.
The Hurricanes began practice this morning at 9 a.m. during a sunny day in South Florida. The first practice placed the team in helmets and no pads as the Hurricanes ran through their first drills of the spring.
Following practice, Richt, wide receiver Stacy Coley, linebacker Jermaine Grace, quarterback Brad Kaaya, offensive lineman Kc McDermott, defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad and defensive lineman Kendrick Norton spoke to members of the media.
Miami returns to the practice field on Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. at Greentree Practice Fields.
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Spring Camp – Day One
Head coach Mark Richt
On the first day of practice
“It was definitely an emotional time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t sleep hardly at all last night. I didn’t think I’d be that way. But last night I got my eyes closed, but I just couldn’t fall asleep. I probably went to sleep sometime after midnight, but we had to be up at about five and get going. We had an early morning, a lot of anticipation. A lot of things running through my mind, making sure all the drills were right. I got here early enough to get with the coaching staff and just be sure one more time on the drills and where everything was going to be. Every single thing is brand new. We want the players to know we’re organized. We want the players to know we’re on our game too. We expect the players to do it, so we have to do it as coaches. I had a little bit of butterflies going into day one.”
On taking the field as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes
“It’s a blessing. It’s an honor. I don’t take it lightly at all. It’s a little bit surreal. When I think about my role as a player, you know a backup quarterback is important. I’ve been able to stress that my entire career because I was a backup quarterback. You know you are one play away from the entire team counting on you. But it is a little bit different responsibility now obviously. But to be here and to represent the University of Miami and represent the family means a lot to me. “
On the team’s conditioning
“Well, first of all, it’s smoking hot out here. You guys can feel it, it's hot and humid. Most of the work that we did in the mat drill program was inside. It was about conditioning, changing direction, team and all that, but it was indoors not outdoors. So being in this heat is a different deal. I just have to make sure that I give enough breaks and enough time for them to hydrate throughout the day. I’m not used to it being quite this hot this early in the day at this time in the year, so I have to make sure I make a good adjustment there.”
On his familiarity with the roster
“I’m learning. You see their names on their helmets; they’ve got their name on the front and their name on the back. We made it in such a way where it’s not going to fall off. Even the position coaches might be very familiar with their guys but aren’t sure on the other side of the ball who everybody is. I’m sitting here trying to learn 100 of them and little by little I’m getting there. But that’s why we have their names on the hats right now so we can keep identifying everybody.”
“When you get a number and a name together, and you start watching film, and you’re like who’s this and who’s that, before long you got it memorized. It does take a while to memorize all those guys, memorize all the recruits we sign, memorize all the 2017s and 18s that were trying to recruit; there are a lot of names and a lot of people, especially for one man being the head coach. If all I do is coach QBs, then I think I would know all the QBs and I would know all the recruits that were QBs, it’d be pretty simple. But as a head coach you have to know everybody and I know I love them all even though I can recognize them all the time.”
On the quarterbacks
“I’m very impressed with the QBs in general as far as really working hard learning what were going to ask them to learn. They have a lot to process. Brad did an excellent job. As a matter of fact, when they came back from spring break and then we started covering things again you could tell Brad and the rest of them did a good job of studying throughout spring break so when they got here it wasn’t like we just started again. I think Brad in particular; you can tell he’s a veteran. You can tell he has been around. There are some new things that he is learning, but mostly it's things he’s already done that have a different name. So far we haven’t really done things that are much different than what Miami would’ve done in the past as far as concepts and things of that nature. But the things that are new he’s really embracing it and I was pleased with what he did in the meetings and on the practice field.”
Brad Kaaya, Junior, QB
On how practice is different under Coach Richt
“I don’t really know, yet, because this is only day one. So much has happened since day one of spring last year. It feels pretty intense. I feel like the excitement level is pretty high right now.”
On whether or not learning a new offense can bring the team together
“Definitely. It’s new for everybody so just sitting down and watching film with guys and learning together will help us. Last year, some guys knew it better than others. Right now, everyone has a clean slate, and everyone is learning at the same pace.”
On what he wants to work on this spring
“Just getting back under center. My freshman year there was a lot under center, where last year we spread it out a little more. This is like my third different offense that I’ve been in so I am just getting back to under center work and play action, really fine tuning my footwork."
On the time he spent forging a relationship with Coach Richt
“It’s still fairly new. He’s only been here a few months and started really fine-tuning our offense after the recruiting season ended. So far it’s going really well. He’s an awesome guy. He is in every single meeting, play install and time we are working out and practicing. He is watching everything the quarterback does and to have your head coach be so hands on is helpful.”
Al-Quadin Muhammad, RS-Junior, DL
On whether or not he can be successful in the new scheme
“First of all, it’s not about me. This defense is beneficial to everyone. We’ve been working hard, and this defense is going to be great. As long as everyone buys in - which everyone has been doing – we are going to do some great things. As far as my skill set, it is great for me, but like I said, it’s not about me, it’s great for everyone.”
On the first day
“For the first day, it was certainly high tempo. It was unbelievable to see how hard everyone was working. Nobody was complaining, and everyone was taking the coaching. Everyone was out there executing. Everyone is embracing the changes, so it is a great thing.”
Stacy Coley, Senior, WR
On whether making his decision to go pro was a hard decision
“It was (a tough decision), but when I sat down with my mom, she told me her thoughts, and I just made my decision off of that.”
On what was his deciding factor on staying in school
“My mom wanted me to stay in school and get my education, so I felt I owed her that type of respect to stay in school.”
On the coaching staff
“Coach Richt has come in and has not steered us wrong. Everything he has said to us has been truthful.”
Jermaine Grace, Senior, LB
On the first day of practice
“It was fun. Everybody was having fun. It wasn’t just about learning the plays. It felt like being back in high school.”
On the defense
“The defense is not hard to learn at all, so it allows us to play fast.”
On how the new defensive scheme will help him
“It’s going to bring out my ability to play fast, so that I can blitz off the edge. I am more capable of just making tackles. I can sack the quarterback and go catch guys. This defense is going to bring out my athletic ability."
Kc McDermott, Junior, OL
On how Tyree St. Louis is coming along
“He’s always been a great player. He’s very athletic and very long. He has tons of potential. There is nothing that can limit any of us on the offensive line in terms of talent. We are focusing on our effort.”
On the new coaches
“I love Coach Richt. He’s awesome. And Coach Searels is great. Anytime you lose a legendary coach like Art Kehoe, it’s going to be difficult to replace him. But Coach Searels is the perfect man for us. From day one, he came into the meeting room, and it was perfect. We all love him and are excited for what’s coming up.”
On the differences between Coach Kehoe and Coach Searels
“They’re both old school guys. They both played back in the day. They both love their job. There are not a lot of differences. There are technical differences, like different drills and things Coach Searels has us doing. Coach Searels loves being with us everyday, and Coach Kehoe was the same way. I don’t think there is a big difference.”