Hurricanes play hard, but practice harder

Going helmet-to-helmet with instate rival Florida was not the toughest task overcome by the Miami Hurricanes so far in this young season, at least according to one player.

“They were physical but nothing more physical than what we do every day in practice,” redshirt sophomore running back Dallas Crawford said after Miami’s 21-16 win on Saturday. “Our defense is huge now compared to the other years. We hit every day in practice; Coach (Al) Golden is all about physicality. We are used to it.

“Practice is tougher than the game, always been tougher than the game, that’s Coach Golden’s biggest rules. He will always make practice tougher than the game.”

Asked about Crawford’s take on UM practices, Golden said the hardest part has little to do with actual contact.

“If our practices are tough it’s because they are mentally demanding and they’re conducted at a high tempo,” Golden said, “so the game tempo is actually easier than the practice tempo — I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

In a typical week before a Saturday game — and in this current bye week — the ‘Canes usually practice two hours on Tuesday, 90-100 minutes on Wednesday and 60-70 minutes on Thursday.

“It’s high volume, in short durations and we’re only in full pads one day (Tuesday) during the week,” Golden said during his Sunday conference call. “We practice at a high tempo. We move around a lot from drill to drill, we don’t stand around a lot. We don’t take a lot of breaks.

“It’s organized to every finite detail so that nobody’s standing around, everybody’s working on something. So even if we’re working on goal-line, all the receivers are in another drill, they’re not just watching us on goal-line.”

The 15th-ranked Hurricanes (2-0) have plenty to work on this week even though they won’t play again until hosting Savannah State on Sept. 21.

Golden and offensive coordinator James Coley need to address third-down efficiency (1 of 11 vs. Florida), a running game (50 yards) that contributed to being whipped in time of possession (21:40 to UF’s 38:20), and a passing attack that has seemed out of sync vs. both Florida Atlantic University and Florida.

Although the defense was great in the Red Zone, holding the Gators scoreless on 4 of 6 trips, the unit surrendered 413 yards total offense.

Hired to return the Hurricanes to national prominence, Golden entered 2013 determined to make his team stronger both physically and mentally.

He has raved about the players’ dedication to the team’s offseason strength-and-conditioning program, and Sunday complimented the ‘Canes for their approach in preparing for Florida and remaining focused during the game.

“It was a punch, counter-punch game and our guys kind of enjoyed the battle,” Golden said. “If we made a mistake, like the blocked punt, the defense just went out there. Nobody was complaining, there was no in-fighting. We’re a very mature team, great unity and clearly better conditioned than we were a year ago and markedly better than two years ago.”

“This team is very process oriented, It was all about them last week, it wasn’t about the opponent, it wasn’t about the event or the show.”

Miami committed half the number penalties that Florida (10) had, though Golden cited personal fouls on senior receiver Allen Hurns (during UM’s first scoring drive) and fifth-year senior defensive tackle Luther Robinson (last play of the first quarter) as ones the Hurricanes need to avoid.

“I thought we did (OK) overall, but we got to do a better job because sometimes we’re leaving it in the hands of the officials to decide, ‘Hey, was that really a retaliation? Was that a penalty?’ that type of thing,” Golden said.

“We just gotta do a better job of being disciplined and being a good teammate. At the end of the day, you gotta be unselfish and you gotta be a great teammate. There’s only two types of players in our locker room right now — great teammates and leaders. We don’t have room for a third party.”

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at
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