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Canes Camp Day 1 Notes/Quotes

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Courtesy UM

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The 2016 Miami Hurricanes successfully completed their first day of #CanesCamp Thursday afternoon on the Greentree Practice Fields.

With an appropriate first practice start time of 3:05 p.m., head coach Mark Richt and the team’s staff led Miami through a challenging day. 

“We’ve been here eight months, been to a lot of practices already,” Richt said about the opening practice. “We worked with them all summer. This is the third time we’ve installed the offense, so it didn’t feel brand new, but certainly it’s the first time for [fall camp]. I love being here, I can tell you that.”

Though it was the first day of fall practice, many Hurricanes preached a sense of familiarity thanks to spring practice and summer workouts.

“The first day went pretty well. Of course there are new coaches, but we’ve been through this before with spring practice,” quarterback Brad Kaaya said. “Our practice setup is similar to the springtime, so some guys are acclimated. But we also have newcomers like freshmen and transfers - it’s a new team, so everyone needs to get acclimated to how things function.”

Richt and the Hurricanes staff wasted little time in setting a high practice tempo.

“I’m optimistic about these young men. Everybody held up pretty good. There’s a few guys who cramped up a little bit – here we are in South Florida in the middle of the day. It’s pretty typical,” Richt said.

Kaaya, who Richt called the undisputed leader of the offense, took his normal position under center with the first-team offense.

“You can see me, I’m sweating hard right now,” Kaaya said. “Guys are soaked and we got after it today. It was full throttle, almost like conditioning out there with every single rep we did.”

A number of freshmen were competing in their first #CanesCamp, while two notable Hurricanes made returns after season-ending injuries suffered in 2015: linebacker Darrion Owens and running back Gus Edwards.

“It feels really good. I felt great out there today and my foot didn’t bother me at all,” Edwards said. “It was fun, and we got a lot of work in at the same time. It was fun to get back out there after a couple of months.”

Owens echoed Edwards’ confidence on his first day.

“Everything feels good. It’s just like I’ve got to trust it. I’m running around and I do something [and I think], ‘Oh, I actually can do this.’ So, it’s just a mind thing right now. So, I’m battling with that, just get that over with and I’m fine.”


Head Coach Mark Richt

On the optimism on the first day of camp…
“I’m optimistic about these young men. Everybody held up pretty good. There’s a few guys who cramped up a little bit – here we are in South Florida in the middle of the day. It’s pretty typical. I wake up every morning thinking about how we can do everything excellent as a coaching staff. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

On if the coaches were able to accomplish what they wanted on the first day given the heat…
“Oh yeah. We had great tempo. It got a couple guys, but again, that’s because we’re going high tempo, it’s because we’re making them sprint everywhere they go. We’re making them finish at the end of every rack of plays…through the hoops on the sideline. Like I said, we condition during practice, so it’s not easy. The great majority of them came out just fine. We’ll find out in a half an hour, too. Some guys, in a half-hour, begin to cramp or whatever. We just had a couple guys. It wasn’t an epidemic at all, but a couple of guys cramped out a lot.”

On the status of seniors Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace…
“I’ll tell you if there’s anything worth talking about with them, other than they’re just on the team and practicing right now.”

On what he has seen from freshman wide receivers Ahmmon Richards and Sam Bruce…
“Ahmmon is a little further ahead because he has been here a little longer. He’s doing a really good job of knowing what to do. Sam is a little bit behind, because he hasn’t been here as long. We’re really trying to get him to learn a couple spots – flanker and the “Y” slot. He has a little more to learn and less time to learn it. I think they have some great quickness and speed. Ball skills they’re still learning, but they caught the ball well today.”

On what his message to the team was on the first day of camp…
“We’re just trying to get better every day. We’re trying to get to the point where we’ll play hard, we’ll play physical, we’ll play disciplined, we’ll play with unity, we’ll play together, and we’re going to be a team that will compete.”

On if he sees junior quarterback Brad Kaaya embracing the role of leading the team’s offense…
“He has always embraced that role, since I’ve been here. He is the leader of the offense and the leader of the team. That’s undisputed. It couldn’t be in better hands than his.”

On the plans for freshman quarterback Jack Allison, who was throwing with quarterback Brad Kaaya…
“We don’t have any thoughts of redshirting [him] at this point. We rotate every day. Brad is always with the ones [first string], and the next guys rotate with the twos [second string]. When you talk about them throwing together, it was probably during our one-on-one time with receivers against defensive backs. What will happen is the next time we do one-on-ones with the defensive backs, Brad and whoever he is locked up with will be with the tight ends and running backs. It’s a rotation. It just started that way today.”

On what he has seen from the backup quarterbacks…
“I think they’re familiar with what we’re doing. I think they know how to run our offense. They know who to point out as the mike linebacker with some identification they’re in charge of. We have combo plays at the line where they have to run this play or that play, and I think they know when to check, which is good. Everybody threw the ball pretty good today. It was a pretty good day, really.”

On his trio of freshman linebackers: Zach McCloud, Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman…
“I see them as veterans, really. Two of them [Pinckney and Quarterman] are lining up with the first team, and McCloud is getting a lot of reps...he’ll be fighting for a starting job too. They’re really more veterans. They went through spring ball, which is huge. Really, they’ve had as much experience in this defensive scheme as anybody else on this team, because we were brand new in the spring. It was a big advantage to be a midyear enrollee this particular year.”

On the plans for linebacker Darrion Owens, who missed most of 2015 due to injury…
“Just work him in at one of the inside linebacker spots. Just see how he holds up. Hopefully he’ll be able to practice every single day, but it’s hard to come off an injury and be in that kind of condition and not fatigue in the area you were injured. Usually every once in a while there’s a practice or part of practice that you step out of, but so far he has done well.”

On the energy on the first day of practice…
“It’s very competitive. Guys are revved up. Coaches are coaching, getting on them. Pushing everybody. This is not an easy practice schedule. It is up-tempo. We are hustling. We are doing all kinds of special teams work full speed. It’s a grueling practice, quite frankly, in this type of temperature, but that’s why we need to get tough mentally and be in the kind of conditioning to finish games.”

On fullback Marquez Williams, who transferred from Mars Hill…
“He moves well. He’s about a 280-pounder – six-foot, 280. He’s very physical. If you look up the definition of fullback in the Webster’s [dictionary], you’d probably have a picture of that guy. He has the body type you’d love to have to do it, and the athleticism.”

On what he expects from junior running back Gus Edwards, who missed 2015 due to injury…
“Gus right now has to prove he is in good enough condition to play more than a play or two here and there, but he’s learning what to do. He came off an injury in the spring, which we know. He’s in much better condition now than he was in the spring. We’ll just watch him. Right now, he’s getting reps – I don’t know if he’s with the ones now, but he’s definitely getting reps with the twos. He might get some reps with the ones. As productive as he is how much he’ll play and how much he’ll get the ball.”

On if there was any significance to his first fall practice at Miami…
“I didn’t think of it that way. We’ve been here eight months, been to a lot of practices already. We worked with them all summer. This is the third time we’ve installed the offense, so it didn’t feel brand new, but certainly it’s the first time for it. I love being here, I can tell you that.”

Quarterback Brad Kaaya

On the first day of camp...
“The first day went pretty well. Of course its new coaches, but we’ve been through this before with spring practice. Our practice setup is similar to the springtime, so some guys are acclimated, but we also have newcomers like freshmen and transfers. It’s a new team so everyone needs to get acclimated to how things function.”

On the intensity level of the first practice...
“You can see me, I’m sweating hard right now. Guys are soaked and we got after it today. It was full throttle, almost like conditioning out there with every single rep we did.”

On the responsibilities he has as the quarterback...
“As a quarterback in Coach Richt’s offense, the offense flows through you. I’m responsible for a lot of things and I think I’m handling it well. I just have to keep working and keep getting better.”

Running Back Gus Edwards

On how it feels to get back out on the field and fall camp getting started...
“It feels really good. I felt great out there today and my foot didn’t bother me at all. It was fun; we got a lot of work in at the same time, but it was fun to get back out there after a couple of months.”

On what was going through his head while he was injured to get back to this point...
“At first I was just wanting to stay close to my team. I didn’t want to push away from them just because I couldn’t be on the field with them. Just watching film and giving as much support as I can to the other guys that are in the backfield, and just being around it. At the same time, I was motivated to come back out here and be better than I was when I got hurt.”

On where he sees himself fit in the backfield rotation and what he hopes to contribute...
“All I can do is just worry about what I can control; just go out there and try to show the coaches what I bring to the team, what I bring to the offense, and the backfield, and let them make the decision on how they want to utilize me.”

Defensive Lineman RJ McIntosh

On the intensity of the opening practice...
“We had a couple breaks, but it’s always tough the first day. Hopefully we can work through that.”

On what he’s noticed about Chad Thomas and Al-Quadin Muhammad this year...
“They’re more aggressive. They’re more competitive and are always pushing each other in the weight room and out here. I definitely saw them pushing each other out here today. Out there on the field, we definitely try to push each other and motivate each other. That’s definitely what Quan and Chad were doing and I tried to do that, also. This year we should be more aggressive and we are really counting on those two guys.”

On the importance of a defensive tackle in this defensive scheme...
“I’m moving around more than other players, me and Kendrick [Norton] are moving to different sides. I honestly think the tackle is the key because we are on the inside and you have to know what you’re doing to help others.”

Quarterback Evan Shirreffs

On how important it is to win the backup quarterback job...
“Obviously you want to be as high as you can on the depth chart. I’ve been working all summer, as well as all the other guys. That’s what everyone wants to be at this point, so it's obviously important to all of us, and how we can help the team.”

On what he was most proud of in the offseason...
“I feel like all the quarterbacks, including myself, got better this summer. We were all working hard with Coach Gus [Felder] in the weight room, and out here with the player-run practices. Personally, I am pretty proud of how I gained about 15 pounds, with the help of the weight training staff. So did a couple other quarterbacks, so I feel good about that.”

On what the coaches are looking for in practice...

"They are definitely looking at consistency - who makes the best decisions, who knows the offense, who knows what to do every play, who makes the least mistakes.

“Every practice they are charting every throw, every hand-off, and after every hand-off, they are making sure we carry out every fake. They are watching every aspect of our game."

Linebacker Darrion Owens

On his flexibility in his knee…
“Everything feels good. It’s just like I’ve got to trust it. I’m running around and I do something [and I think], ‘Oh, I actually can do this.’ So, it’s just a mind thing right now. So, I’m battling with that, just get that over with and I’m fine.”

On how it felt to be back on the field…
“It felt good. It’s been a little too long, so I’m happy to be out here with my teammates instead of sitting back. So, it was great to be back.”

On if there are any plans for him to sit out any practices…
“I feel pretty good. If I take care of my body, I don’t plan to miss any practices. So, I’ve just got to take care [of my body].”

Running Back Joe Yearby

On the first day of training camp...
“First day went good. Got a chance to see the new coaches, try out the new system. I feel like everybody made a good improvement since the spring.”

On what he is focused on improving...
“Everything, I’m not satisfied with what I did last year. Being a better person on and off the field. Being a better teammate and just being better player.”

On if there is a change of practice pace with new staff...
“It’s definitely a faster tempo and that’s really about it. It’s just faster, faster and faster.”

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins

On defensive coordinator Manny Diaz...
“I would say the overall difference is the relaxation. He allows you to play fast, puts you in a lot of situations for us to make plays as well as getting his ballhawks around the ball.”

On his conversations with  teammate Jamal Carter...
“We always talk about how we have to compete every day and be consistent, that we can’t take days off.  There’s a lot of communication between us, but also with the younger guys like Jaquan [Johnson] and Robert Knowles. Because if we go down those are the guys needed to step up.”