The Miami Hurricanes' hiring of new coach Mark Richt might be a little late for UM fans who have been waiting since 2003 for a 10-win season. But for quarterback Brad Kaaya, the timing couldn't be better. Kaaya said Thursday at ACC Football Kickoff Day 1 that the pro-style offense Richt is installing has already helped his development as a quarterback before the 'Canes have even played a game.
"I've basically been through three different offenses since I got here," Kaaya said. "After my freshman year, the offense changed. Last year, we were in shotgun more. This year, we're going to mix it up a lot, with a lot (of plays) under center."
That should be music to the ears of NFL coaches and scouts who must -- in preparing for the NFL draft -- sift through so many college quarterbacks who play from the shotgun formation full-time in spread offenses that don't translate very well to the pro game. Kaaya also said Richt has helped him improve in reading blitzes and defensive fronts.
Said Richt: "A lot of teams, the quarterback will look to the sideline and the coach will kind of tell him what he wants him to do. I like for quarterbacks to know what to do. Brad will be orchestrating what's going on up front the entire ball game."
Here are four other things we learned Thursday from the ACC Football Kickoff:
"He's got great feet, great quickness. He's a great sprinter, he's much faster than people realize -- he's explosive. ... He is truly a phenomenal kickoff return man," Cutcliffe said. "I've had Willie Gault, I've had some great ones. Nothing comes close to what DeVon Edwards is as a kickoff return man."
Edwards averaged 29.2 yards per kickoff return last year and broke three of his 24 attempts for touchdowns. Gault returned kickoffs at Tennessee, though Cutcliffe didn't join the UT staff until Gault was a senior in 1982. Gault averaged 23.9 yards per return that year.
3. Watson at the point. One big difference between the league's top two quarterbacks, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and Miami's Brad Kaaya, was evident to the latter on the basketball court. The two played some pickup basketball along with Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley at the Elite 11 event, per ESPN's David Hale, and Kaaya acknowledged Watson's superiority on the hardwood. "He's a point guard and I'm more of a 3," Kaaya said.
4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Watson got his due respect from one of the top defensive backs in the league in North Carolina's Des Lawrence: "One word to decribe him is, he's a problem. He finds ways to make plays. Coming into the game, you say you've got him. Everybody's hollering about him, but we're going to show the world. No, he showed us. He got a lot of respect from me in that game. He's the best quarterback in the country."
5. Networking. It will be three years before it's launched, but the ACC and ESPN announced a new partnership that will give the ACC its own channel on the cable TV platform featuring 24-hour programming on ACC athletics. In the meantime, the league will broadcast hundreds of live events on ACC Network Extra, a digital network that will begin this fall as part of the ESPN agreement.