Mark Richt: We have team meetings strictly about ball security

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday July 16, 2017

Miami (FL) had the second-fewest turnovers in the country last year (10), and Mark Richt points to practice.

Their plus-9 turnover margin was 14th nationally, down from the plus-11 the year before Richt arrived, but that team had 14 turnovers. While on WQAM at ACC Media Days, Richt explained where the emphasis comes.

Like most teams, there’s the QB-center exchange drill before practice and the handoff drills, but it doesn’t stop there.

“Then every single drill we do, offensively or defensively, if we’re catching the ball, stripping the ball, we end up with great ball security, whether you’re an offensive player or defensive player,” he said.

We have team meetings strictly for how you secure the ball, how you strip the ball, how you rake it out, do all these things. Then you rep them. We have a period every day called ball disruption / ball security. Once you get it out, you’ve got to secure it, because you become the offensive player. We talk about it, rep it, then try to reward it, as well.”

Of those 10 turnovers, only three were fumbles. One of those players who has to secure the ball is junior running back Mark Walton. Last year, Walton rushed for 1,117 yards, caught 27 passes and plays on special teams.

Richt has been coaching for a long time, and has coached a lot of good players, and he says Walton might be the best all-around player he’s ever had. Now that’s saying something.

“He just embraces every bit of football. This kid loves the game of football and the lessons football can teach you in life,” Richt said. “He’s a super fun guy to coach. He may be the best football player I’ve coached, in that he’s the left guard on the punt team, he’s protecting and covering kicks, he’s covered kicks on kickoff and can be a great return man.

He could start on every one of our special teams, be the best back we’ve got, the best pass protector we’ve got, the best route-runner we’ve got as a back. He’s really a special player and a special person.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to