Al Golden promised Friday there would be changes in the aftermath of the University of Miami’s first loss of the season at Cincinnati.
The coach said with Deon Bush and Jamal Carter back from first-half suspensions there will be “opportunities to play more of our safeties that have been very productive,” a signal that senior Dallas Crawford — who was beaten badly twice in the first half in coverage and was out of position on a crushing fourth-quarter run — is likely headed to the bench.
Golden said that after a rough night with penalties, a couple of bad run-blocking breakdowns in short-yardage situations and a big third-down sack allowed against a three-man rush, backups Joe Brown and Kc McDermott would become part of the search for “the right combination on the O-line.”
And Golden said coaches will continue to try and solve the team’s third-down and red-zone woes on offense, figure out why untimely penalties continue to crop up, and how to do a better job covering punts. “I mean there are other things [we need to work on],” Golden said. “There is a lot of things.”
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The Hurricanes (3-1) better do it quickly or the season could spiral out of control.
3-19 UM’s record under Al Golden when trailing at halftime.
UM opens Atlantic Coast Conference play a week from Saturday in Tallahassee against the 11th-ranked Florida State Seminoles, who have won five in a row in the rivalry. After that, Virginia Tech (2-2) and 12th-ranked Clemson (3-0) come to town before UM travels to Duke (3-1) on Halloween.
Although a trustee told the Miami Herald recently they didn’t believe a coaching change would be realistic in-season, two Golden Canes said there were a lot of angry phone calls made by donors and boosters Friday to school administrators. One said the feedback they received from the administration made them feel like “for the first time Golden’s job really is in jeopardy.”
Of course, that could also be the administration trying to appease angry donors and boosters. A win over Florida State, or a potential run to the Coastal Division title, could stem the tide. Still, it’s clear that with banners flying overhead calling for his job every week and pressure mounting internally, Golden has to start winning now.
His résumé and track record at Miami are not encouraging. With Thursday’s loss, the Hurricanes fell to 10-15 away from Sun Life Stadium (that includes two bowl losses) and 11-18 against Football Bowl Subdivision programs with winning records. Also, UM is 4-7 against ranked teams under Golden and 0-12 against teams that finished ranked in the AP Top 25.
Golden, though, remains upbeat. He said Friday there was no splintering in the locker room after Thursday’s loss and he believes the team has the leadership needed to turn things around.
“I’m not mad,” said Hurricanes safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who picked up his third interception of the season Thursday and figures to get more playing time next to Bush. “I’m just ready to get in the lab, watch some film and get ready for next week.”
Said quarterback Brad Kaaya: “Of course we’re upset. We hate losing. But everyone owned up to it. There wasn’t really much pouting. Guys kept their heads high. We all know what we have to work on to get better. This team will bounce back.”
▪ Golden said linebacker Jermaine Grace, who injured his ankle in the first half at Cincinnati, has a shot of coming back against FSU along with receiver Stacy Coley (hamstring), who missed Thursday’s game.
▪ Golden said UM’s third-down woes Thursday (4 of 15) were the result of having “nine plays that were 3rd-and-6 or more.” UM is 13 of 53 on third down this season for a 24.53 percentage, which ranks 127th out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
“If we can get more third-and-manageable, our short yardage will definitely help that,” he said. “We have to improve our short yardage. We’re looking at all of it, including who we’re targeting and what we’re calling and what we have to move to in terms of personnel and what our quarterback does good.”
▪ The Hurricanes are now 3-19 under Golden when trailing at the half.
▪ Sophomore running back Joe Yearby (17 carries, 113 yards, 1 TD) eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the third week in a row and at times put the team on his back. But the Canes inexplicably went away from him in the red zone. Of his 17 carries, only two were inside the Cincinnati 20-yard line (one went for a touchdown).
▪ Freshman Mark Walton had four carries for 15 yards and a score in the red zone. Walton, though, still isn’t ripping off long runs. He finished with 12 carries for 34 yards (2.8 average).