UM community catches open practice

Courtesy UM Sports Media Relations

The Hurricanes opened up football practice Tuesday for all UM students and faculty to attend, free of charge.

The practice, which started in hot and humid conditions, was eventually cut short at 2:55 p.m. when lightning signals blared and ended all outdoor activities. However, UM fans will get another chance to watch the Hurricanes practice on Thursday at 2:15 p.m.

While media members were asked to leave 15 minutes into practice, the roughly 100 fans in attendance, some sporting Miami gear, others wearing hospital scrubs, were allowed to stay and watch the Canes in the last week of practice before their first spring scrimmage. The practice game will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton.

By bringing in students and faculty to the practice, head coach Al Golden hoped to better his program’s relationship with the Miami community. He also hoped for better performances from his players through sheer peer pressure.

“I can tell you from my experience that they’ll know if there’s a good fan base that they’re here,” Golden said. “So anytime we can get that kind of environment where guys have to perform with a little bit of energy with people reacting to them I think that’s fine, and I hope we have that this Saturday.”

As players began to make their way to the practice field in their various colored jerseys- denoting offensive and defensive players and their level of play as decided by the coaching staff- the additional onlookers took some players by surprise. Senior tight end Chase Ford didn’t realize that the practice would be under scrutiny by the community.

“I wasn’t even aware that it was open today,” Ford said. “But regardless, you gotta go out there and do the same thing like any other day.”

After brief pre-practice interviews, the players and coaches began an up-tempo practice that included live hitting, jeering from teammates and fans watching the collisions. And absolutely no walking.

Senior Eric Arencibic took a liking to offensive line coach Art Kehoe, the only person on staff to have been a part of all five national championships. Besides his pedigree, Arencibic sees Kehoe as an arbiter of toughness for a talented offensive line.

“I haven’t been to other practices but the toughness from Art Kehoe impresses me,” Arencibic said. “They look like they’re really trying to instill that with all the hitting they’re doing.”

Rising senior linebacker Sean Spence likened the atmosphere to a game scenario. He was named co-MVP of the 2010 season.

“Fans are going to be out there watching the games, so it doesn’t make much difference,” Spence said. “I think it’s great though for the students and the faculty to come out here and watch us.”

Austen Gregerson may be contacted at agregerson@themiamihurricane.com.