Hurricanes football holds first public scrimmage since Mark Richt’s arrival

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Around 2,500 Miami Hurricanes fans got their first look at the football team since coach Mark Richt took over with an open scrimmage at Oxbridge Academy in Palm Beach on a sunny Saturday afternoon. No one side came away clearly superior in Miami’s second scrimmage of the spring, as the team “got a few cheers for the offense, got a few cheers for the defense,” according to Richt.

“Lot of nice plays [on]both sides of the ball,” Miami’s new coach said.

The first of those nice plays was a 40-yard pass from quarterback Brad Kaaya that hit wide receiver Stacy Coley in stride near the left sideline. Kaaya hooked up with Coley for another big gain a little later, but the cheers quickly turned to fearful gasps when Miami’s No. 1 receiver stayed on the ground after being tackled near the end zone. Coley eventually stood up and walked with help to the sideline, where two trainers looked at his right hamstring.

“It looked like he tweaked his hamstring a little bit. I don’t think it’s too severe,” Richt said afterwards of Coley’s injury. “Stacy’s had a great spring so far. I’m sad that he had that happen to him because he’s really played well.”

The 6-foot-1, 187-pound receiver out of Pompano Beach did not return to the scrimmage following the hit. Coley missed most of the team’s first four games last season with an injured hamstring. Other than Coley, Richt said, “everything went well on the injury front.”

Despite Coley’s absence, Kaaya had an impressive performance – for the most part. The defense racked up eight sacks on the day with most of them coming against Kaaya. When he wasn’t being “sacked” – the defense did not actually bring Kaaya to the ground – Miami’s star quarterback was finding open players, ending the scrimmage 16-of-21 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

Miami’s defensive line recorded seven of the team’s eight sacks, with cornerback Sheldrick Redwine responsible for the other one. Demetrius Jackson, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas all had two sacks while RJ McIntosh had one.

“Lot of times the pocket was real pretty, and some times it wasn’t so nice,” Richt said of the defensive pressure on the quarterback. “Some of that is Brad’s got to get rid of the ball and then some of that is that pocket squeezing on him and him not wanting to throw the ball up for grabs.”

While Kaaya didn’t throw errant passes, the same can’t be said for backup quarterback Vincent Testaverde, who threw two interceptions on nine attempts. Defensive back Robert Knowles was on the receiving end of both interceptions, and ran the second one into the end zone for a pick-six.

Kaaya’s last touchdown was the play of the day, but because of the catch, not his throw. Running back Mark Walton curled out of backfield seven yards out of the end zone and hauled in a left-handed grab for his only score of the day. Walton had five catches for 12 yards and three carries for 40 yards in the scrimmage.

“Yeah, he did a nice job,” Richt said of Walton. “Mark has really proved that he can make something out of nothing. He’s got a toughness about him. I liked the way he was playing.”

All in all Richt thought “it was good to get in front of a crowd,” and the fans enjoyed their first glimpse at this year’s Hurricanes squad.

“I’ve been wanting to see them play since they hired Richt. I thought they were great,” said 28-year-old fan Josh White. “Kaaya is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. I feel good about the team.”

The Hurricanes finish their spring schedule with the spring game at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Lockhart Stadium. The game is open to the public and will also be aired live on ESPN3.

 

“Yeah, he did a nice job,” Richt said of Walton. “Mark has really proved that he can make something out of nothing. He’s got a toughness about him. I liked the way he was playing.”

All in all Richt thought “it was good to get in front of a crowd,” and the fans enjoyed their first glimpse at this year’s Hurricanes squad.

“I’ve been wanting to see them play since they hired Richt. I thought they were great,” said 28-year-old fan Josh White. “Kaaya is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. I feel good about the team.”

The Hurricanes finish their spring schedule with the spring game at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Lockhart Stadium. The game is open to the public and will also be aired live on ESPN3.

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