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ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz says his players are “picking up after lost time” now that Hurricane Irma is in their rearview mirror.

The ‘Canes haven’t played a game in nearly three weeks, and missed ten days of practices. The team is spending this week training at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The University of Miami campus is still closed to students as storm damage is being assessed.

“I don’t know how we could have done it any other way,” Diaz said, when asked about the team moving practices to Central Florida this week. “It almost has a training camp feel, just to get our minds back on playing a football game.”

Miami will host the high-scoring Toledo Rockets this Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. UM’s last appearance came in their season debut, a 41-13 win over Bethune-Cookman.

“Once you step off that train, it’s hard,” noted Diaz, “especially as a defense. You get into the rhythm of contact and hitting. When you don’t do that for 9 or 10 days, there’s no manual on how to deal with that.”

“We have to kind of be in midseason form Saturday at 3:30, no excuses,” Diaz proclaimed.

The extended layoff had to be tough in Diaz’ patience, as he’s eager to see his defense improve.

“It’s like opening a season again. It’s not just three weeks without playing, it’s three weeks after playing one game where really we played poorly on defense.”

Miami allowed FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman to rack up 350 yards of total offense and score 13 points, while converting 8 of 17 third down attempts.

The Toledo Rockets, who the Hurricanes see this Saturday, scored 54 points and put up 679 yards of offense last week against Tulsa. Quarterback Logan Woodside threw for 458 yards and six touchdowns in the comeback victory.

“You’re playing an opponent who’s scoring points for fun and has now played a lot of ball, so they’re into their season routine,” Diaz said. “They’ve improved every week.”

Miami hosts Toledo at 3:30 PM this Saturday, September 23rd at Hard Rock Stadium. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM.



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