Richt in Quarterback Knowledge (July 21, 12:30 p.m.)
Now that he is back at his alma mater, Mark Richt plans on making it a lengthy stay. At the same time, Miami’s first-year head coach plans on making it his final professional stop.
Richt, who compiled an impressive 85-40 (.680) SEC record and a 145-51 (.739) overall mark in 15 seasons as the head coach at Georgia, is a former quarterback and an offensive coach by trade. His first Hurricane pupil – rising junior Brad Kaaya – has learned a lot in the short time he and Richt have spent together.
“It's hard to pinpoint one thing,” said Kaaya, who has thrown for 6,436 yards and 42 touchdowns in two collegiate seasons. “I'd say one thing that Coach Richt has brought is a lot of blitz pickup stuff. I'm starting to understand blitzes more. I did have a general knowledge of blitzes last year, but it's improved more this year in terms of our run game and pass game, knowing how to identify fronts and (make) adjustments that Coach Richt has really helped me out with.”
The learning process hasn’t always been easy.
“I’ve played in three different offenses since I got here,” Kaaya said. “Last year I was in shotgun a lot more. This year we're going to mix it up a lot, a lot of under center. The verbiage, the terms and stuff like that at first were hard to get down … Certain signals, trying not to mix stuff up from previous years has been a challenge. So far I think I've grasped it pretty well.”
With Kaaya heading a list of 17 returning starters, the Hurricanes are expected to be immediate ACC and Coastal Division contenders under Richt’s watch. Long-term success, he says, will lie in the ability to recruit in an area he already knows very well.
“If you take the tri-county area – Palm Beach, Broward and Dade County – there's 150 Division I scholarship players coming out every year,” Richt noted. “If I average 20 a year, if I got all 20 out of that area, there's another hundred going all over America. There's a lot of good ones, too. You can't get them all.”
But Richt plans to land his share, and it starts with building relationships.
“I think the big thing is to make sure that the coaches, the high school coaches, know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates it,” Richt said.
2015 In Review
Tumultuous would be an apt description of Miami football in 2015...Al Golden began the year as the Hurricanes’ head coach and Miami alumnus Mark Richt ended the year as the Canes head man, while in between Assistant Coach Larry Scott turned in some excellent work as interim head coach...The end result was an 8-5 finish after a 4-3 start under Golden, who was let go at midseason....Scott then guided Miami to four wins in its final six games to finish 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, good for third place in the Coastal Division and a berth in the Hyundai Sun Bowl... The Hurricanes were led by QB Brad Kaaya, who completed 61.2% of his passes for 3,236 yards and TB Joe Yearby, who rushed for 1,002 yards and 8 TDs and CB Artie Burns, who led the ACC and tied for 7th nationally with 6 interceptions...Burns and WR Stacy Coley earned second-team All-ACC honors, while Kaaya, Yearby, WR Rashawn Scott and S Deon Bush were all third-team honorees...TE David Njoku was named a second-team Freshman All-American.
The Hurricanes lose seven starters, five on defense and two on offense... The defense will miss Burns and Bush, two key members of the secondary as well as DE Tyriq McCord, DT Calvin Heurtelou and DL Ufomba Kamalu...Offensively, the Canes will be without the production of WRs Scott and Herb Waters, combined for 93 catches and 1,319 yards.
Though Clemson rotates off the schedule, the Hurricanes will have a trip to Notre Dame...Miami will also host arch-rival Florida State, as well as Coastal foes North Carolina, Pitt and Duke.
Richt returns to his alma mater to find 42 returning lettermen and returning 17 starters, including nine on offense, six on defense and a pair of excellent specialists in PK Michael Badgley and P Justin Vogel...Badgley led the nation in field goals per game, averaging 2.08 a contest, while Vogel averaged 42.5 yards a punt...A former UM signal caller, Richt developed several talented QBs during his years as head coach at Georgia and he will have one of the nation’s best to work with in Kaaya....A classic pocket passer, the Los Angeles junior has thrown for 6,436 yards and 42 touchdowns during his first two seasons...Those totals should improve with experience, the comfort of five returning starters on the offensive line, an improved ground game led by RBs Yearby, Mark Walton and Gus Edwards, as well as playmakers in the receiving corps, including Coley (47 catches), Braxton Berrios, Lawrence Cager and the TE trio of Njoku, Chris Herndon and Standish Dobard...C Nick Linder leads a line that includes Ts Trevor Darling and Tyree St. Louis and Gs Danny Isidora and KC McDermott...Defense is an area where the Canes and their new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, will be looking for improvement...The Canes were ranked a very un-U-like 101st nationally in scoring defense and 77th in defense against the run...A pair of veterans in Jermaine Grace and Juwon Young return to head the linebacker corps, but a pair of true freshmen made significant impact in the spring in Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney and are in the running for playing time...Up front, Al-Quadin Muhammad returns after leading the team with 5.0 sacks a year ago, Chad Thomas and Trent Harris return to the DE positions, while sophomores R.J. McIntosh, Kendrick Norton and Courtel Jenkins are in the running at DT...In the secondary, CB Corn Elder and S Rayshawn Jenkins are returning starters, with CB Sheldrick Redwine, S Jaquan Johnson and S Jamal Carter competing for playing time.
Numbers & Notes
2nd - Miami QB Brad Kaaya ranks 2nd among all juniors nationally in career passing yardage. Kaaya, who has thrown for 6,436 yards, trails only Anu Solomon of Arizona (6,460).
3rd - Miami WR Stacy Coley ranks third among all ACC returnees in career all-purpose yards. Coley has 3,056 career all-purpose yards. Among active ACC players, only T. J. Logan (5,243) of North Carolina and Dalvin Cook of Florida State (3,146), have more yards.
9.6 - Miami PK Michael Badgley led the ACC in scoring, averaging 9.6 points per game. Badgley scored 115 points in just 12 games, making 25 of 30 field goals (.833), including all seven of his attempts from 40-49 yards.
79 - The number of tackles for LB Jermaine Grace, who is the leading returning tackler for Miami.
145 - The number of games Mark Richt’s Georgia teams won in his 15 years as head coach in Athens. Richt ranks 10th among active coaches in the FBS in career victories. He ranks seventh in winning percentage (.740) and fifth in games won per year (9.67).