Manny Diaz wants more toughness from Miami Hurricanes

CORAL GABLES, FL - JANUARY 02: Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes addresses the media during his introductory press conference in the Mann Auditorium at the Schwartz Center on January 2, 2019 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - JANUARY 02: Manny Diaz of the Miami Hurricanes addresses the media during his introductory press conference in the Mann Auditorium at the Schwartz Center on January 2, 2019 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

A huge part of football is a player’s ability to bounce back from adversity. Miami Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz said his team needs to be more mentally tough and he wants to see more toughness from them.

Manny Diaz discussed the Miami Hurricanes mental approach and their toughness during their appearance on the Joe Rose Show with Zach Krantz on Monday morning on the Hurricanes flagship station WQAM. Diaz also discussed the quarterback race and how they have performed this spring.

Diaz has repeatedly discussed the toughness of the Miami Hurricanes players before he was the anointed head coach in December. He challenged his defense as the coordinator in the Hurricanes 2018 season opener when they seemed to collapse after giving up a 50-yard touchdown run to LSU.

In the postgame after the loss to the Tigers Diaz said: “We didn’t look like we were very mentally tough.” Diaz has a very different mentality than his former boss Mark Richt. Richt had a more quiet and introspective confidence about him. Diaz wears his heart on his sleeve and is more rah-rah. He’s also intense and demanding.

Diaz expects his players to play tough and be tough mentally. He respects the Miami Hurricanes tradition and the coaches and players that came before him, his staff and players. Diaz spoke extensively about the expectation that the Miami players being able to respond to adversity.

"“My issue is, what is our mentality when things go well? And what is our mentality when things don’t go well? Do we flinch? Right now, we’re still a little too flinchy for me…For us to really be a big-time operation — and you’ve seen it in us — when someone comes, can we take a punch?That’s not a question you want to have on your team and right now, we have it. We tell our guys all the time if their toughness is in question, you better be scratching and clawing to try and get that out of the question…Because if they question your toughness, what else do you have? That’s really what we’re working on.It’s a matter of how you respond to anything — to a penalty, a guy who drops a pass or whatever…Every play operates independently from the plays before. We’re a long way [from that] … we can maybe nod our head intellectually, but, that’s our goal as coaches, to breathe that into existence.You get out there and my bigger concern is the mental toughness of our football team. … So when things don’t start going well, do we just start getting sad? You watch us at times in the past, and all of a sudden, you see guys lose their passion and their spirit.Like I mentioned before, new plays don’t fix culture, right? There’s still some mental rewiring that’s going to have to happen, not just on the offensive side of the ball, but really, the whole team. We know week in, week out, if you look at the games we’re going to be in, they’re going to be battles…You have to be able to persevere and think it through. Right now, we still don’t have that, to be honest.”"

Many fans and media members questioned the Miami Hurricanes ability to respond to adversity under Richt. They had four losing streaks of at least four games in Richt’s three seasons leading his alma mater. Some might point to that as a sign of weakness and lack of mental toughness.

Those that know Richt well said his inwardly tough and competitive. It was tough to detect from his personality. He was also extremely stubborn. He refused to make changes that could have helped the team. Being tough is a requirement being a head coach. You often have to make unpopular decisions.

Loyalty is a trait good in life but it doesn’t always work running a sports team, particularly football. Diaz has made clear from his introductory press conference as head coach one of his biggest expectations is toughness throughout the Miami football program. He said he wants his team playing fast, physical and violent.

All of those require mental and physical toughness. When it’s said a football player is tough it’s usually in relation to how he plays physically on the field. The mental aspect of the game is just as important. Some of the greatest athletes ever used their mind to their advantage to reach greatness more than their skills.

That’s where Diaz wants his players to be. The early 2000s Hurricanes that had a 34 game winning streak were led by Ken Dorsey at QB. Dorsey led the Hurricanes with a reserved nature but was tough when the Hurricanes faced adversity. Diaz needs one of his QBs to step up and provide toughness.

Next. Manny Diaz: Miami Hurricanes QBs playing too slow. dark

On defensive senior linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud should be the Hurricanes leaders and provide the toughness that Miami lacked in the loss to LSU. It going to be a summer of growing up for the Miami football program with Diaz new to being the head coach and a lot of staff being new.