New strength and conditioning coach David Feeley has upgraded the work ethic of the Miami football team in the weight room. Head coach Manny Diaz is more concerned about the mental makeup of the Hurricanes.
One thousand Miami football fans were invited to observe the Hurricanes first training camp practice of 2019. In a post-practice meeting with the media, Manny Diaz stated part of the reason he invited fans was because he felt the Hurricanes were mentally soft in 2018.
There were many examples from the 2018 season that can prove Diaz correct. The Hurricanes collapsed in a 33-17 loss to LSU, had a four-game losing streak by a total of 30 points and fell apart quickly and showed no fight in a 34-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. Showing more mental toughness is a 2019 Miami goal.
Feeley set the tone this summer to get the Miami football team in the right physical and mental condition for the 2019 season. The Hurricanes would lift weights and then run sprints after practice to test their physical and mental endurance. The running following lifting is meant to simulate the fourth quarter of a game.
Diaz was proud of the effort his team put in to get into shape physically. He mentioned to reporters it is where the Hurricanes are mentally he is more concerned about.
I think what we learned is that coming off of our summer program, physically we’re in shape. Mentally is more of my concern. That’s been our issue in the past — our consistency mentally and being able to stay with it snap after snap, period after period. I thought we kind of let it go a little bit, then we finished well at the end.
But that letting it go a little bit could be the difference in winning or losing a football game. In the summertime, we were trying to build our physical backbone. One of the big questions this camp is, ‘Will we build a mental backbone?’”
The crowd was brought out to observe the first practice of the 2019 season for a purpose. Diaz wanted to see who could handle the reaction of the crowd and how. Did they handle the adversity well or did it adversely affect them?
“I wanted to see mentally who could handle being out there and who could handle when we made a mistake, how they reacted. Could we bounce back from that? Again, I just felt like in the past we were a mentally weak football team. And we know we can’t succeed being mentally weak.
So, to me, one of the ways you do that, put people in front of you, get that performance anxiety Day 1 out there. So that’s something that, who knows, maybe we’ll try it again. We’ll see.”
Diaz has emphasized the importance of the connection between his football program and the Miami football fans. That was another reason for invited 1,000 fans to watch the inaugural practice of the 2019 season on Friday night.
“I’m always trying to build a connection between our fan base and our team. I want our fan base to be excited about our guys the same way our guys in the locker room are pretty excited about the season.
The Hurricanes will find out quickly how mentally tough their team is when they face Florida in the season opener in four weeks. The crowd in Orlando is likely to be partial towards the Gators. Miami is going to have to be tough and resilient throughout the entire team to get Diaz a victory in his first game as head coach.
Diaz’s personality is a lot different than his predecessor and former boss Mark Richt. Diaz is more of a players coach, but also a much stronger personality. His first loyalty will be towards what is best for the team. If Diaz sees a weakness or someone on the team being weak that player is likely to be replaced quicker than in the past.