LEXINGTON, Ky. - It seemed more like football season Thursday morning at the Nutter Training Center as the Wildcats practiced during their usual in-season morning time and players scurried to the weight room or the classroom at the end of the workout.
“Morning practice, first time. We have guys leaving a little early for classes, back into the school year, so we have to learn how to handle all those things and stay focused,” Coach Rich Brooks said after practice.
“(There’s) Just a lot of different things we have to cover (before the first game) and we have to understand now we’re on the NCAA four-hour-a-day clock and 20-hour-a-week clock and we can’t waste any time we have out here in not being focused and not being ready.”
Brooks said the team will have its final preseason scrimmage on Saturday, including a situational scrimmage and some preparation for the playing systems expected from Miami and its new coaching staff. The scrimmage will also help finalize decisions on a depth chart for the first game. The Wildcats will scrimmage on the field turf of the Tim Couch Practice Fields because of its similarity to the surface at Paul Brown Stadium, where the first game will be played.
The coach was asked about how junior-college transfer Chris Matthews was learning the offense and the possibility he could earn a starting spot.
“Well, since he’s running first-string right now, I think he has a pretty good chance,” Brooks joked. “He’s picking it up pretty good, still a mistake here and there, but we’ll have to work our way through that.”
Brooks also discussed the progress made by junior Will Fidler as the backup quarterback and the challenges that face true freshmen at the position.
“He’s (Fidler) probably (made) about as much (progress) as Mike (Hartline) has made,” Brooks said. “He’s made a lot of improvement in making better decisions and quicker decisions. He’s always had a pretty good arm, but now he’s making better decisions where to throw and when to throw it.
“They (freshmen) have to recognize the defense, set the defense, call the protection, change plays and then go throw the ball in a little quicker time than they used to throw it in high school,” Brooks said. “There’s a lot of things (they have to master).”
The Wildcats will practice Friday morning and have the scrimmage on Saturday.