The Miami Hurricanes has an early bye week after opening the season in Orlando against Florida, but they were not without an opponent.
The fear of Hurricane Dorian crashing towards Florida gripped the entire state, starting with South Florida.
Miami head coach Manny Diaz said during Wednesday’s media availability that the did “did not miss a practice,” and praised the “people on campus” for their help and communication during the week of uncertainty.
“We all know from personal experience but on Friday during a team meeting, we put up a map and this thing was heading to West Palm Beach,” said Diaz, expressing concern for the families of his players who were in danger of Dorian’s wrath. “The fact that it didn’t come here, how that’s caused devastation for the Bahamas and still may cause devastation for the coast line. We’re not happy it didn’t come here but obviously it was on everybody’s minds and all our players minds as we’re preparing for this game.”
It was certainly a challenge dealing with an unavoidable distraction.
“It was a really an up and down time for the team,” cornerback Trajan Bandy said. “We didn’t really know what was going to happen.”
“We just had to prepare,” linebacker Shaq Quarterman said, “going to get your gas, going to get your snacks, the power goes out and having to come to a meeting. We came in each day and Coach Diaz would show the most recent, most reliable information on the storm and go to practice after that.”
The Hurricanes are slated to travel to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. Dorian was seen to be moving as north as the Carolinas but Diaz doesn’t see it as something that will effect the game on Saturday.
“It shouldn’t be an issue and if you look at all the projections right now, I don’t see it affecting the game. All of our routines should be the same.”
Diaz will be coaching against his former boss, Mack Brown, who won his first game as UNC head coach. Diaz was the defensive coordinator at Texas from 2011-13 before spending a year at Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State before arriving to Miami.
The Tar Heels started their season with a comeback victory over South Carolina. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell engineered two touchdown drives of over 90 yards in the fourth quarter and finished the game completing 15-of-24 passes for 245 yards with two touchdowns.
“He’s definitely a young quarterback, plays with a lot of passion,. He’s not scared to tuck it and run. He doesn’t run away from contact either,” Quarterman said. “When you’re dealing with a guy like that, you gotta be weary of coming out of pass coverage, first response it to the scramble.”
The Tar Heels will look to lean on their strengths in the ground game. They totaled 238 yards on the ground on 39 carries against the Gamecocks. Running back Javonte Williams led the charge with 102 yards.
“They love to run the ball,” Quarterman said. “Whoever can run the ball, defend the run the best and tackle the best will win the game. That’s always been our theory.”