July 21, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the University of Miami and Coach Mark Richt will offer an opening statement and then we'll take questions for the student-athletes.
COACH RICHT: It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to be a part of the league again. I did have an opportunity to coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference as a quarterback's coach and offensive coordinator at Florida State, when Florida State first joined the league.
It was a great experience. I thought it was a tremendous group of schools and group of people. I'm thankful to be back.
I'm really looking forward to the changes that have happened. More teams. I think the league is much deeper and tougher top to bottom than when I remember leaving it. Really looking forward to the challenge of it.
Being back at my alma mater is huge for me. It's kind of a good spot to finish my career. I have no intention of doing anything but finishing my coaching career at Miami. It's been great to have former teammates to come and support me, former players, different football alum to come on our campus and spend time with our players and even in our camp setting.
It's been a little overwhelming the outpouring of support. It's energizing. I hear we're breaking records in terms of season tickets, things of that nature. There's been a great positive buzz.
But now we got to get ready to play some games. I really enjoy the young men on this team. I remember first getting here in December. It was a little bit unique. Miami was still in bowl practice. I was there kind of as an observer. I didn't want to come in and try to change a system or anything like that, try to tell anybody how to have a recruiting weekend or whatever.
I was kind of watching from a distance, a little bit of a fly on the wall just observing, trying to assess the things that I thought we had, things that I thought we needed.
Blake James, our athletic director, has been phenomenal to help us with facilities, help us with the staff that I felt like I needed to bring in to have success. The cooperation has been great.
The thing that people want to ask, How do you think the team is going to do, all that. I really don't know for sure. The only thing I promised is that we're going to work hard and try to do things the way everybody will be proud of us, just a team that will play hard, play physical, be a disciplined bunch, just get after it.
Sometimes I think fans can see when a team is playing hard. I think fans can see when a team is well-coached and is pouring their hearts out. All we can do is ask our student-athletes to work as hard as they can, prepare the best they can, play as hard as they can. These guys are doing it.
I'm just thrilled to be a part of this thing and I'll turn it over to the players now.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.
We'll ask Brad to step up to the podium for questions.
Q. This is your third go around going into the season as the starter. What is different in your preparation and mentality from your freshman year going to this season?
BRAD KAAYA: One thing is I've done it before. This is my third season. I consider myself a veteran. I know my teammates do, as well. Just my preparation, how I approach the game, practice, workouts. Like I said, I'm just more mature is the biggest thing.
Q. It seems as though you've been able to accomplish numbers that might far surpass anyone's expectations. What goals do you place on yourself? How do you feel like you can elevate this upcoming season?
BRAD KAAYA: One thing for me is just being as consistent as possible. A lot of people just get caught in the stats, how many touchdowns you throw, stuff like that. On my side of things, if I'm consistent, my preparation is consistent, then our team play will be consistent as well.
Q. Having Coach Richt onboard, what are one or two things you picked up in the spring that have helped your game?
BRAD KAAYA: It's hard to pinpoint one thing. I'd say one thing that Coach Richt has brought is a lot of blitz pickup stuff. I'm starting to understand blitzes more. I did have a general knowledge of blitzes last year, but it's improved more this year in terms of our run game and pass game, knowing how to identify fronts, how to call certain Mike points, side adjustments that Coach Richt has really helped me out with.
I think it's improved my game and I'm getting a better grasp of all defenses in general.
Q. What can you say about the offense under Mark Richt, how he's improved you at this point in your career?
BRAD KAAYA: Yeah, like the offense in terms of scheme-wise?
Q. What you've seen in the scheme.
BRAD KAAYA: One of the things about the scheme is it makes it hard for the defense to be right. We have a lot of different personnel packages, 21, 12, 10, 11. I think we have the personnel to do it. Coach Richt knows how to use the personnel. He did it at Georgia and Florida State.
How to run the pass checks, when to run, a lot of opposite calls, stuff like that. It makes it hard for a defense, like I said, to be correct on a play or have a correct call.
Q. Brad, has there been any difficulties that you've had with a new head coach coming in this year?
BRAD KAAYA: Yeah, just scheme-wise, at first. I played in three different offenses since I got here. Last year I was in shotgun a lot more. This year we're going to mix it up a lot, a lot of under center.
A lot of things, I guess the verbiage, the terms and stuff like that at first was hard to get down because some stuff in the past, it might have a rattler, last year might have meant divide. Certain signals, trying not to mix stuff up from previous years has been a challenge. So far I think I've grasped it pretty well.
Then just learning the different footwork for different routes. Coach might want me to speed up my feet. If I'm throwing to the boundary, he might want me to have more rhythm. It's getting to where coach can call a play, call protection, and I know exactly what the footwork is and I don't have to think about it has been my kind of point of emphasis this past summer.
Q. What was the biggest, noticeable change day-to-day when the new coaching staff came in?
BRAD KAAYA: Let's see. I mean, back to since December. Let me think about this one.
A lot more early mornings, that's one thing. 6 a.m. every day, a lot of guys are. Pretty cool. A lot of guys had the choice to be up at 6 a.m., be in the 6 a.m. without group. Stacy is in there with me, Mark Walton, Chris Herndon, a lot of key guys are up at 6 a.m. every day. It's a bit of an early morning operation, I guess you could say.
Q. Has there been much talk on campus and among teammates in the locker room about Miami becoming the first Miami team to win an ACC championship?
BRAD KAAYA: That's the plan as of right now. Right now it's a coastal and ACC championship. You can say all the things you want about Miami and all the championships we've won getting back to years past. One thing we've never done is won an ACC championship and a coastal championship. That's our goal for the season, yes.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Brad. We'll now take questions for Justin Vogel.
Q. Justin, looking at the media guide, there are a number of schools breaking in new punters this year. From your experience, how long does it take to be an effective punter in this league? Can you jump in as a freshman and be successful or what do you have to learn?
JUSTIN VOGEL: What I would say is it varies from person-to-person. A lot of kids coming out of high school, they don't understand the pace of the game at the college level. Everything is done very fast. They expect excellence every kick. It requires a lot of consistency and preparation. A lot of kids out of the high school level haven't put that extra effort in.
The new systems that colleges have, they didn't used to, as well. So I would say it's difficult for a freshman punter to come in and be very consistent. But it's definitely been done and any team can do it.
Q. What can you say about Mark Richt as a head coach, how him coming in changed the atmosphere for you, not only on special teams but the team as a whole?
JUSTIN VOGEL: At first there was always like a little shaky period, new coach. You don't know what to expect when he comes in.
He's come in, been honest with us from a start. Been a great guy. He's not only tried to improve us as players but as men. He's done many things for us in the community, pushed us in the community to be better people. He's trying to get us new things, like better meals at the dining hall, some things outside of football that some coaches may overlook but players appreciate.
Q. A lighthearted question. People drive by practice fields and see special teams kickers and punters off to the side. During the course of a long practice, obviously you're getting your reps in, but what is the conversation like amongst you and the other kickers? Different than the offensive line, yes?
JUSTIN VOGEL: We're a little more lighthearted because we don't need to kick the entire practices. But our plays, we only get three or four opportunities to prove what you can do. You got to make sure in that moment you're ready to lock in.
You can be all fun on the sidelines, but when it comes your time to play, you have to realize it's one of four kicks you'll have in the game and that will determine your season. You have to be able to lock in and focus on the task at hand.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.
We'll bring Coach Richt back for our Q&A session with him.
Q. Miami was last in rushing last year. Your teams at Georgia ran the ball effectively. What has to be done to make the Hurricanes more productive running the ball?
COACH RICHT: You have to have a certain type of personnel to get the job done.
First of all, I think it does start up front. You got to have guys that know what they're doing, that will stick their hat on somebody and get after it, just fight.
Coach Searels, our offensive line coach is a guy I have all the faith and confidence in, from a scheme point of view, fundamentals point of view, get after them point of view. I think we're in good shape there.
You got to have everybody else blocking. You need a fullback that can block in the system that I'm going to want to run. 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. Tight end has to block, wide receiver has to block. You have practice in such a way to develop a physical attitude.
That's what we do. Brad had mentioned we have some combos and things of that nature, we might have two plays at the line of scrimmage, he'll choose the one that gives us the best chance, we think will give us the best chance. When you do that, you don't call a run and run it against every defense. Against this defense you might run this play, against this defense you might run that one. That's all you have to practice. It helps you when it comes to reps.
Obviously you have to have backs that can do it. I say backs in plural because I think if you have one guy, you try to hammer one guy, it's going to be tough on him. 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.
It's a mentality. It's a scheme. It's ability. A lot of it is the ability of your quarterback to get us in the best play possible.
Last thing on that. A lot of teams will call the cadence and the quarterback will look to the sideline, the coach will kind of tell him what he wants him to do. I like to teach the quarterbacks to know what to do.
Brad will be orchestrating what's going on up front the entire ballgame.
Q. You get to go back to Georgia Tech. Georgia fans know that to be some good old-fashioned hate. How do you feel that game will be back for you being at Georgia and seeing Paul Johnson?
COACH RICHT: I don't think I'll not be able to not have memories from the last 15 years, every other year going in and out of there. A lot of ballgames played in that place. It's a great venue. But we'll be wearing orange and green this time. That will be exciting, too.
It's going to be the first time around for me in this league, playing the coastal division, of course crossing over with Florida State and NC State. I'm looking forward to it.
But there's a lot of unknowns for me. I have a little bit of an idea what to expect with Georgia Tech, like you said. Been playing against them for the last 15 years. But it will be fun. It's a great place to play a game.
Q. What memories do you have as a college player from Miami when it was in the process of establishing that identity? What played a role in that? Is it different coming back to a program that's already done that before as opposed to the first time?
COACH RICHT: Coach Saban, Lou Saban, recruited a lot of players that Coach Schnellenberger had. Coach Schnellenberger recruited his tail off, too. He came in and had a great plan. He was an offensive coordinator with the Dolphins when they went undefeated. He put in a great offensive system for college.
He was ahead of the game when you play against most defenses in the college game at that time. That's where I learned a lot about the passing game. Earl Morrall was my quarterback coach. Gary Stevens did a great job, Joe Brodsky, all those guys, Kim Helton.
But, anyway, I don't know. Coach Schnellenberger, by year two is when he came in for me. He would always say, We're on a collision course for a national championship. The only variable is time. He believed that wholeheartedly. He did everything that he could possibly do to get us there.
We were just young enough and dumb enough to believe everything he told us. It was a great experience.
Not too long ago I watched that national championship game, that 1983 team. That team, it had some great players, but it had mostly a bunch of guys just playing hard, just tough, hard-nosed football players that maybe weren't the greatest athletes.
Like I said, some were. Some will go, What about me? That kind of thing. They played together. They believed. They kind of struck gold that night.
Q. You brought a punter as your defensive representative to Media Days. Not very common. Talk about what went into making that decision.
COACH RICHT: The biggest thing, obviously, field position is huge in any ballgame. If you do have to punt, you want to push them back as far as you can so your defense has as much grass behind them as possible.
Justin, in my opinion, he's one of the best punters I've ever seen. I've only seen him in practice in the spring. This guy is super talented. He can bomb it high and deep, he can directional kick. When you're kicking in, he can pooch it in there and land it where he wants to land it. He's going to be one of our greatest weapons. I hope we don't have to use him a lot.
When you're teaching your quarterback that sometimes it's okay to punt, at the end of every drive we'd like to have a kick, a punt, extra point or a field goal. So it's going to be very important that our punter can produce.
I just think the guy, if he punts like I think he can, like I know he can, I'd be shocked if he's not in line for a national award.
Q. You mentioned the unknowns, going through this the first time. In some ways is it possible to say you maybe are feeling less pressure than the last few years at Georgia?
COACH RICHT: I mean, to me, there's pressure and there's stress. There's pressure in this job of head coach. I mean, there's certain deadlines you have to meet, certain things you're responsible for. A lot of things have to happen. There's pressure to get the job done, so to speak.
I think whether you stress out about it is up to you. I've tried not to stress out about not much of anything. I have a solid faith that the Lord is going to take care of me. All I can really control is what I can control. That's how hard we work, how do we prepare, how do we treat our players, how do we go about our business in recruiting, are we doing the things in the right way.
I focus more on the process of doing things right. I feel like the results will come.
Q. What would it mean to you and to the program at this time to finally get over the hump and beat Florida State?
COACH RICHT: Anytime you beat Florida State it's a good day, if you're a Miami fan, no doubt about that. I don't even know who are the rival teams that have been developed over time in the league, over the last 10 years. I really don't know how our players feel about all the teams that we play.
I know that's the one, if you said to our fans, Which game would you want the most, asked our players, coaches, whatever, most of them would probably say that game.
The reality is our goal is to win the coastal division. You can win that game and lose the coastal, you can lose that game and win the coastal. Our job is to win that game and get back to the ACC championship game. Every single conference game is very important.
Q. You're a man of strong faith. As you come to Miami, how much have you used that to create unity in this team?
COACH RICHT: Yeah, well, everybody has a belief system. Everybody looks at life through a certain filter. I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe.
I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis.
In doing that, I know if I do that, I'm blessing the players I'm in charge of. We'll be doing things right in recruiting. We'll be working our tails off.
So I don't think much about it. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am.
Q. You have familiarity with your entire offensive staff, for the most part. Can you discuss the cohesiveness, the building of the family-oriented nature?
COACH RICHT: It's exciting. Thomas Brown, our offensive coordinator, runningbacks coach, I recruited him out of high school at Georgia, coached him. He coached with me at Georgia. Todd Hartley coached with me at Georgia for some time. Stacey Searels coached with me at Georgia. My son John, I've been sort of coaching his whole life to some degree. Ron Dugans, I recruited him while I was at Florida State and coached him while I was a coordinator at Florida State.
I know Ronnie really understood what we're going to do, how we're going to do it. He actually lived it out. He played the position that he's coaching. Thomas Brown did, as well.
They know me, too. They know what they're getting into. They know how I like to do things. They believe in that.
When you have everybody working together, you're not always going to agree on everything, but when you truly do care about each other, you know if you do your job well, you bless everybody around you, or if you don't do your job well, you're hurting the team, it's important.
I told the coaches this. I said, I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense again. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. If I have to motivate you, it's just like if I have to motivate a quarterback, I'm going to find another one. If I got to motivate a staff member to do his job well, I'm going to find another one. Not to be mean or anything, but everybody has to take care of their business.
I think I've done a really good job of hiring guys that are that type of people.
Q. Coming from Georgia, you had great recruiting right in your backyard. Lot of talent in South Florida. How has your recruiting strategy changed?
COACH RICHT: Not a lot. I mean, obviously you want to watch the tape, you want to find the best players possible.
I think typically the closer they are, the better chance you have of getting them overall. There are guys that want to leave the area.
But if you take the tri-county area, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade County, there's 150 Division I scholarship players coming out every year. If I average 20 a year, if I got all 20 out of that area, there's another hundred going all over America. There's a lot of good ones, too. You can't get them all.
The other thing, too, a lot of guys, they develop in different stages. A guy might be the skinny kid at age 17, at age 20, he's a beast. You may not see that. You got to try to predict that and project it some.
But I think the big thing is to make sure that the coaches, the high school coaches, know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates it.
Recruiting is work. It's being diligent, creating relationships with these young men and their parents and their loved ones to the point where they feel like, This is where I want to be. It doesn't change a lot really.
Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you. Welcome to the league.
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