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Richt and Miami must implement physical running style

November 27 2015: Miami Hurricanes running back Joseph Yearby (2) carries the ball during the first half in the NCAA Football game between Miami Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire)

It’s true the Miami Hurricanes did have a 1,000-yard rusher last season in Joseph Yearby. The sophomore ran for 1,002 yards and six touchdowns.

But as a team, the Hurricanes were terrible at running the football. Averaging just 120 rushing yards per game last season, only Wake Forest was worse among ACC teams. The Demon Deacons averaged only 105 yards a game on the ground.

New head coach Mark Richt, whose Georgia Bulldogs teams churned out yards on the ground in machine-like fashion for 15 seasons, plans on bringing some of that relentless attack to The U.

But as Richt pointed out at the recent ACC media days, you have to have a certain type of personnel to get the job done. And that starts up front with an offensive line that goes about it with a certain attitude.

“You got to have guys that know what they’re doing, that will stick their hat on somebody and get after it, just fight,” Richt said.

He’s put a solid offensive line coach in charge of that. Stacy Searels comes to South Florida with more than 20 years experience coaching offensive lines. He was at LSU during the 2003 national championship season and coached with Richt at Georgia from 2007-10 before stints with Texas and Virginia Tech.

Another factor in the running game is a blocking fullback, something the Canes have not had.

“You need a fullback that can block in the system that I’m going to want to run,” Richt said. “We’ll do a lot of on-back runs, but there will be two-back runs as well. You have to develop a fullback or two.”

Obviously there’s a need for the tight end to block and the wide receivers to be good blockers as well. And it continues to be Richt’s intentions to develop that physical attitude.

But Richt also indicated that the run game won’t be dictated entirely from the sidelines. Quarterback Brad Kaaya will be in charge of making decisions at the line of scrimmage in certain situations. Richt said that he would sometimes send in combo packages. He might call two plays that Kaaya will have to decide on at the line of scrimmage.

“When you do that, you don’t call a run and run it against every defense,” Richt said. “Against this defense you might run this play, against this defense you might run that one. Brad will be orchestrating what’s going on up front the entire ballgame.”

Richt’s plan is to develop a stable of running backs to carry the load, rather than relying on one player to handle it.

“I think if you have one guy, you try to hammer one guy, it’s going to be tough on him,” Richt said. “It’s not healthy for him. We like to have two and maybe three guys that can carry the load, which I think we do at this point.”

In addition to scheme and ability, it’s a mentality that Richt is attempting to instill. If you look at the Georgia teams that Richt coached over the years, it was a physical style of football that the SEC has come to be known for.

That’s the style he plans to implement at Miami.

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