CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami coach Mark Richt had one meeting after another after another on Thursday afternoon, and none of them was related to the game plan for the Hurricanes’ trip to Notre Dame this weekend.
Nostalgia wasn’t on the schedule.
As such, there hasn’t been much time to reflect on what was likely Richt’s biggest game in his short time as Miami’s starting quarterback — a 16-14 loss at Notre Dame in 1982, an outcome he blamed himself for — or the storied rivalry between the Hurricanes and the Fighting Irish.
The tasks at hand keep Richt’s mind far too occupied to take any long walks down memory lane.
“It’s not very hard for me to focus on my job, to focus on what I’m trying to get accomplished,” Richt said. “It’s just always been that way for me. When I get nostalgic or when I reflect on things, I’ll have times in the middle of the summer when something may hit me, but on game day you just focus on your job and your responsibility and all the things a head coach needs to do.”
Miami (4-3) is trying to stop a three-game slide. Notre Dame (2-5) is seeking to merely hang on to some realistic hope of being bowl-eligible at season’s end. Neither team is ranked, the first time that’s happened in a regular-season game between the Hurricanes and Irish since 1979.
Some of the details from Richt’s lone time as a starter at Notre Dame have gotten fuzzy. The pertinent ones, they remain indelibly etched in his mind.
“It was a close game that Notre Dame won,” Richt said. “We had the lead towards the end of the game, I think. Had a chance to keep a drive going and got stuffed on a short-yardage play, quarterback sneak, and then I think we punted it away. And if I’m not mistaken, Blair Kiel was the quarterback who drove the team down … like the last drive of the game, got them in position, and made the kick.”
Richt threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to put Miami up 14-10. The quarterback sneak was later in the game, a play where he called an audible and got suckered by Notre Dame having its tackles and linebackers set up wide. By the time Richt realized they were all pinching toward the middle, it was too late and he got stopped. And Kiel got Notre Dame down to the Miami 15 with 11 seconds left, setting up Mike Johnston’s winner for the Irish.
This time, Richt gets to call all the plays, and Irish coach Brian Kelly lauded what he’s done in Year 1 at Miami this week.
“There’s a specific pattern to what they’re doing offensively,” Kelly said. “I think their system works very well. They’ve got talented receivers. They’ve got a talented running back. They put themselves in good position. … There’s a clear stamp what Mark wants to accomplish on offense.”
Plenty of past Notre Dame-Miami games — in the 1980s, that is — have decided who will or won’t play in the national championship game. This one won’t be added to that list.
But for the winner, it could serve as a step.
For Notre Dame, it would be a rivalry win to help stop a disastrous season. For Miami, it would be the first taste of a postgame celebration in a month.
“There’s been great games throughout the years,” Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “And our players need to understand it’s fun to come to The U in recruiting, but you have to understand what made The U, `The U.’ And those battles, that went both ways back in the 80s, is really what made The U, `The U.”‘
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