With a little more than a week until the Hurricanes take the field for the first time this season, head coach Manny Diaz is feeling confident in the way his team has connected in the offseason.
“I think we are just a little bit of a more connected team then we were a year ago.” Diaz said. “It has to do with people..I think that’s part of it. When you’re establishing a culture, sometimes it’s not for everybody.”
“It’s just the way we work. In this offense, the fatigue is going to find you. There is nowhere to hide. You find out really who is for their teammate and who is for themselves.”
As for the first game against UAB on Sept. 10, which will have an 8 p.m. start time as announced by the ACC Tuesday, Diaz knows it will be an emotional night.
“I think there will be a lot of emotion, the feeling of just gratitude that we get to be back out there and play, but that’s got to quickly go because once we get lined up for kickoff, it’s all about ball. I think all those emotions will be short lived once the foot hits the football.”
Senior defensive tackle Jonathan Ford echoed those sentiments and said he is most excited for “going out and having fun with his team.”
“It’s going to be bittersweet. It’s going to be really emotional for the whole team,” Ford said in a post-practice interview Tuesday.
Unfortunately for many Hurricanes fans, the game will be broadcast on ACC Network, which isn’t available in most South Florida homes.
Other notes from Diaz:
- The Hurricanes will be holding another “situational” intersquad scrimmage on Friday night and Diaz says that after the scrimmage, he will be able to further determine the depth chart, and specifically a backup quarterback, headed into the game Thursday. Up for the role of backup QB is N’Kosi Perry, a redshirt junior who started some games last season, redshirt junior Tate Martell, true freshman Tyler Van Dyke and redshirt freshman Peyton Matocha.
- Running back Robert Burns, who is recovering from knee surgery, practiced for the first time this week. Diaz said his workload will continue to increase as his knee improves. It’s important to note there are only three healthy running backs on the roster as of right now.
- When asked about the possibility of the season being suspended at some point or players not being available, Diaz said, “We are committed to play unless it becomes to the point where you can’t play and i think we are all aware of that and what that is.” He also mentioned the possibility of having a defensive player play offense or vice versa if a situation like that were to arise.