Coaches don’t like talking to the media. It’s an egg-shell like existence where coaches have to offer some information but no coach likes to give away too much. Coach Richt is actually more open and personable than most coaches, and many feel that being more accessible can actually improve your quality of life as a coach. The media can really pile on during hard times and if a coach has a good relationship with the media it can alleviate some of the constant pressure. However, most coaches hold strong to the coach speak. Here are a few quotes from the coaches this spring and a look into what they possibly mean.
“No one can block the guy,” Richt said, “I can tell you that right now, at least not on a consistent basis.”
There’s no coach speak in this quote from the Palm Beach Post, on the surface anyway. Yet I still see a message between the lines. This quote is about Miami’s Gerald Willis, the defensive tackle that’s been on-again off-again regarding even being allowed to suit up for the ‘Canes. Willis is back for another season on the Hurricanes and will have to replace RJ McIntosh in the middle of the defensive line. Getting a coach to offer up explicit praise isn’t easy, so for Willis that’s a huge positive in the spring. But the true coach speak lies in the players that weren’t mentioned- the offensive line.
Richt’s calling out the offensive line here to find someone that will step up and put hands on Willis. April 14th spring game will be fun to watch as Willis has elite ability and the Hurricanes have just been waiting for him to step up and play an entire season without being suspended or in the doghouse. The ‘Canes are breaking in new offensive linemen at right tackle in George Brown and left guard in redshirt senior Jahair Jones. If Jones can’t block Willis this spring, Miami will need to find someone who can.
Starting center Tyler Gauthier is already flirting with the idea of moving to guard to allow Corey Gaynor to be the starting center. Offensive line coaches like to get their best five players on the field and hope to make sure it would fit rather than rely on the less talented.
“He needs to be more consistent.”
In another Palm Beach Post article, Thomas Brown said George Brown, “Needs to be more consistent.” Consistency is usually a euphemism in the coaches office for effort. Players get beat, that’s going to happen. But consistency is often due to taking plays off, whether physically or mentally. For big men it gets hard to stay one hundred percent focused on every play but if Jones and Brown are going to hold off young studs like Gaynor, Hillery, and Herbert they’re going to have to prove they’re mentally and physically more mature.
A coach could say, ‘sometimes he loafs,’ or ‘he takes plays off,’ but many coaches will try to avoid overtly negative terminology in public via phrases like consistency or energy. Coaches do count loafs in practice, on the sidelines, and during games. If a player takes off, he loses points on his grading sheet and loafs are tallied every day. Geoff Collins, the head football coach at Temple, actually films the sidelines during games to see if players are hanging their head, not cheering on their teammates, or aren’t engaged. Collins wants to evaluate every aspect of body language and engagement he can.
“But it also comes down to player evaluation and player acquisition.”
This is actually a quote from Manny Diaz in the Miami Herald regarding the hiring of Jess Simpson to replace Craig Kuligowski who left Miami for Alabama. This sounds like a direct shot at the Miami Hurricanes missing on some of the nation’s top rated defensive line recruits in the 2018 recruiting class. “Coach Kool” is now a part of the Crimson Tide recruiting machine and there are plenty of recruiters on a Nick Saban staff to make up for Kool’s lack of recruiting chops.
At Miami, each position coach will have to hit the ground hard to keep players home or lure them down to Coral Gables instead of going to the big state powers like Alabama, Georgia, or Clemson or even Florida State. It sounds as if Jess Simpson will be able to connect, evaluate and sign defensive linemen that Kuligowski was unable to acquire.
“We lack leadership”
In a Sun Sentinel article, Thomas Brown is quoted as saying, “We lack leadership.” Any time a coach brings up leadership it’s a public shot at getting players to step up and take over. Good teams are led by coaches, great teams are led by players and supported by coaches. Do the coaches have to have the backbone to have final say? Sure. But that means that when the coaching staff has exceeded their hour allotment for being around the players that the players themselves continue to work out, run drills, and watch film. Championship caliber Miami teams have always been that way and that comes from recruiting the right players, developing their leadership skills, and allowing them to go out and be leaders in practice.
Hopefully a quote like that in the newspaper wakes up a few of the veterans, and even empowers younger players like Deejay Dallas and Amari Carter who can be game changing athletes in 2018.