Blake James sees Canes football season as a step forward

Miami coach Manny Diaz congratulates quarterback D'Eriq King (1) after a touchdown pass against Duke during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Durham, N.C. (Nell Redmond/Pool Photo via AP) (Nell Redmond)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami Athletic Director Blake James spoke to reporters on Tuesday about the state of UM sports.

James was asked about the football team. The Canes went 8-3 and lost in the Cheez-It Bowl.

James said, “The season didn’t end the way we would’ve like it to. Overall, it was a real step forward from the previous year, Manny’s first year as head coach. I don’t want to take away from the fact that as a program, I thought we took a step forward. I think he as good as any coach, evaluates what needs to get better and what changes need to take place in order for us to get better.”

Diaz revamped his defensive staff, including taking over as defensive coordinator of his own team.

James said, “I think he’s got already in a short window, a track record of showing that he’s willing to make changes. So far, the changes that he’s made have really worked out well.”

James cited the Canes ability to clean up the punting and kicking game.

On Diaz taking over the defense, James said, “I think there will be a lot of defensive coordinator type support from the staff he has surrounded himself with. We did talk about the balance of being a head versus being a coordinator. Good open conversation back and forth. Manny feels very confident in what his role will be.”

James said there were many conversations with Diaz about how to do things differently.

James said, “I don’t think I would call it a stamp of approval. I would call it a good, open dialogue in understanding what our expectations are of our football program, there’s not a person who understands that more clearly than Manny and I’m excited to continue to support him. We’ve been able to make the changes we have and I’m excited to see them equate to success in the future.”

Concerning the baseball program, James said that Miami was hoping to have a socially-distanced crowd of about 20-percent fans. However, those details are still being worked on.

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