Better yet, nobody.
“We don’t blame anybody,” Miami coach Mark Richt said Tuesday regarding who’s to “blame” for allowing Brad Kaaya to be sacked eight times Thursday at Virginia Tech. “We correct.”
Kaaya was pounded so hard by the opposition that perhaps Richt thought his junior quarterback didn’t need to analyze the experience again in front of the media this week as the Canes (4-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare for Notre Dame (2-5) on Saturday in South Bend, Indiana.
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Kaaya was one of several requested players who aren’t being made available this week. But a few offensive linemen, their position coach, offensive coordinator and head coach did just fine Tuesday on their behalf.
“I’m responsible for everything,” Richt said. “I’m the head coach. All I can tell you is that when we meet, everybody has a piece of this pie, so to speak. Everybody has a job to do. It’s everybody.
“Sometimes you get whipped on a particular play. There’s about 10 or 11 battles on offense every snap. You go 60, 70 or 80 plays, that’s a lot of battles. You’re going to win some and lose some. We see the issues, we coach them, we correct them and we try to make sure they don’t happen in the future.”
After allowing two sacks in their first four games, the Hurricanes have given up 13 in losses to Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Fortunately for UM, the Irish are ranked 125th of 128 FBS teams in sacks, with six sacks in seven games — only one of them by a defensive lineman.
Richt told WQAM earlier this week that it takes run blocking, pass blocking, accurate routes, good ball-catching, making guys miss, a “quarterback putting it on the money” and plenty of physicality to have a successful offense.
“We’ve done just a little bit of everything that will get you. All the way around we’ve got to improve.”
UM rushed for 930 yards in its first four victories and 243 yards in its past three losses. Keep in mind that the yards lost on sacks are counted in the net rushing total.
“At times we missed reads from the running back standpoint,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “A lot of things go into what happened from a sack standpoint. Obviously, the number is the number. It’s a rough number. The worst number I’ve probably been around.”
Brown said Kaaya was in the shotgun as much as he was last game because it was a short week and the game plan was simplified.
“Obviously,” Brown said, “when you don’t execute on first and second down you get in third-and-long. I don’t care what offense you have, third-and-12 is rough, third-and-15 is hard. Third-and-20? You make a call. We’ve got to do a better job on first and second downs.”
The Canes are converting only 34.9 percent of their third downs and are 111th nationally in “first downs offense.”
Brown added that the quarterback needs to be “getting the ball out on time because when they’re bringing pressure we can’t hold the ball forever. We can block guys for a certain amount of time. We’ve got to give Brad answers and he’s got to be confident, throw the ball and let it rip.”
Offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who coached at Virginia Tech the past two years and had a most unpleasant homecoming, was asked his assessment of the offensive line play on Saturday.
He laughed ever-so-slightly before saying, “OK, let’s go back to our last quote [from last week]. ‘Did you see the game?’”
A bit later, Searels interrupted a reporter who asked him how many of the eight sacks could be attributed to the play of his line.
“You know we play Notre Dame this week and that’s all I’m going to talk about…
“We’ve got a standard and the standard is set real high here at Miami. There have been some outstanding offensive lines here and we’re not going to lower that standard and we’re going to demand that we do it right until we get it right. And we’ve got a ways to go there.”
Guard Danny Isidora said the line “needs to play more nasty” and “put a guy on his back.”
Tackle Trevor Darling said the line is taking accountability for getting the problem fixed. “Obviously,” he said, “it’s on us.’”
INJURED PLAYERS RETURN
Cornerback Sheldrick Redwine, defensive end Chad Thomas and safety Rayshawn Jenkins practiced Tuesday during media viewing. Defensive tackle Gerald Willis and defensive end Demetrius Jackson worked out on the sideline. All except Jenkins, who was injured in the third quarter Thursday, missed Virginia Tech. Richt said he didn’t know their status for Notre Dame but “we’ll definitely get some guys back we didn’t have last game.’’