As fan frustration over years of defensive deficiencies grew louder Monday on talk radio and Twitter, Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden indicated the best remedy now would be to fix the problems and “move forward” to Saturday’s Duke game.
He did not mention defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio by name, but addressed a question about fans being “very vocal and open and upset” regarding D’Onofrio’s “job they think he doesn’t do, or does do,” and his dealing with the public pressure.
“We don’t read it. We don’t listen to it. We don’t look at it,” Golden said during a Monday teleconference that he rescheduled after skipping his usual day-after-game teleconference to tend to a family medical-related situation. “I think the biggest thing for us is to just move forward.
“We’ve got a great opportunity here. We haven’t played a Coastal game yet. If we’re really honest, from what I understand there were a lot of the same people that wanted [offensive coordinator] James [Coley] fired after the first game.
Never miss a local story.
“I think for us, we’ve got to block all of that out. I’m sure there were people that didn’t believe in Brad Kaaya the way that we believed in him,” Golden said of the true freshman quarterback who has thrown for more than 300 yards the past two games. “I can go down the line of those decisions that we have to make. Obviously, you can’t please everybody. It’s really not about that. It’s about doing whatever is best for your ballclub.”
Golden went on to say the Hurricanes “can’t sit around and complain. It’s not going to help execute. It’s not going to help us win the game against Duke.
“Really, right now what we need to do is just stick together and everybody, starting with me, take accountability for what didn’t go right.”
Golden said there were plenty of players who grew up last Saturday and played well — cornerbacks Corn Elder and Artie Burns, linebacker Darrion Owens and end Ufomba Kamalu among them.
“… Let’s move forward on a unified front,” he said.
Golden has been a staunch defender of D’Onofrio, who coached with him before and played with him at Penn State and is a close friend.
But talk around the UM community is that big-money boosters are reaching their boiling point regarding the losses in big games – notably that UM is 3-7 against Top-25 teams under Golden. They blame the defense, which has allowed at least 200 yards rushing 15 times since Golden and D’Onofrio arrived in 2011.
One Golden Cane (donations of at least $15,000 a year), who asked to remain anonymous “out of respect to Al Golden’s family,’’ said he told UM the balance he owes them for season tickets “would be paid upon a better product on the field.”
“Do something to correct the situation,” the booster said. “In the company I run, if my general manager doesn’t adapt and doesn’t go with a game plan that works, I’m going to fire him.
“I’d rather lose the money I’ve given so far then have to sit there and watch that defense and scheme he refuses to change. It breaks my heart because I bleed green and orange.”
The Canes have dropped from 15th nationally last week against the run to 65th.
Golden was asked if he was more disappointed in UM’s defensive scheme, or, rather, execution, after watching game film — or if it was just the case of running back Ameer Abdullah, who ran for 229 of Nebraska’s 343 rushing yards, being that good.
The coach reiterated about Abdullah’s talent, and said the staff knew he would be good, and noted that the first passing touchdown to Kenny Bell was an error on UM’s part. “So we got them off to a fast start through the air,” he said. “So now you’re trying to defend the air, plus the running quarterback.
“Again, there are no excuses. It starts and ends with me. We didn’t make them pay with tackles-for-loss. … We did not create more third-and-longs. … At the end of the day, we’ve got to do a better job — that’s everybody. That’s tackling, play-calling, personnel, whatever it is. We have to look at everything.’’
Of the medical situation regarding a family member, Golden said he would not talk specifics, but said, “it’s not going to affect our week. Got a good staff around us, and we’re still working through something.”