With the Florida State game looming and the University of Miami coming off its unexpected loss at Cincinnati, likely the only thing that diffused the public’s Al Golden bashing Monday was the firing of the other maligned Miami football coach — Joe Philbin.
Former UM quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta, the analyst for Touchdown Radio’s national broadcast of UM (3-1, 0-0) at No. 12 Florida State (4-0, 2-0) on Saturday, said in a phone interview he was “obviously disappointed in how the Hurricanes played” against the Bearcats, but that he’s basically waiting to see someone stand up and take charge in a game.
“At some point in time you have to take over the game yourself as a player and you have to hate losing so much that you do whatever you need to do to get in the end zone,” Torretta said of UM’s offense, which is struggling in the red zone and is ranked 126th of 127 teams in third-down conversion percentage. “The players are the ones who have to execute.
“Look at all the great teams. There are certain times the offensive line, or whomever, says, ‘Hey, the game’s on us. We’ll take over.’ Or defensively, ‘Hey, the game’s on us.’
“You need that on any successful team. You have to hate losing that much that you can’t be denied scoring, converting a third down, stopping a third down — whatever.”
Torretta refuses to put the blame completely on coaches.
“The players have to play,’’ he said. “I’m not going to put it all on Al — or on the players. But at some point you need to make plays to win a game. You have to close the deal.’’
Torretta, who would like to see quarterback Brad Kaaya pass a bit more, agreed that Kaaya struggled at times Thursday, some of that because the offensive line didn’t come through “in short-yardage situations where they were getting blown up.”
He pointed to the two timeouts an obviously confused Kaaya called in one drive during the fourth quarter. “It seems like there’s indecision with bread-and-butter plays because when you’re calling two timeouts in the red zone that means there’s miscommunication either from the sideline to the quarterback in what you want, or you’re not that confident in what you want to do.”
UM was off Monday and didn’t have player availability, but Golden spoke on his weekly radio slot with 560 WQAM’s Joe Rose.
“That was something that obviously hurt us,” Golden said of the timeouts. “Brad made the right decision because he just felt like he couldn’t get it off the first time and the second one we had to change groupings and obviously that can’t happen in that environment — no question about it.”
Kaaya indicated Cincinnati put some mental pressure on him late in the game.
“Yeah, they did some things,” he said Thursday. “But at the same time that’s on us to get the play off earlier.”
Golden was asked by Rose if the errors and penalties that he talked about fall back on the coaches.
“It’s me. It’s absolutely me,” he answered. “Penalties are going to occur, I understand that. But when you’re getting presnap operational penalties or getting things that are reoccurring, we’ve got to get it fixed.
“From a discipline standpoint I’m responsible for that. And from a personnel standpoint if we have a repeat offender, we have to fix that.”
Torretta said he wasn’t surprised that UM’s game was set for 8 p.m. — prime time on ABC — at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have won the last five games in the rivalry, but the intensity of this one is usually a crowd-thriller and draws a huge national audience.
“Obviously, my experience in the game will help me knowing the emotional side of it,” Torretta said. “One of my two losses was a night game there in 1989 when I was a redshirt freshman. The other trip was a noon game, Wide Right I, that we won.
“It’s a completely different environment as a night game and a lot harder on the visiting team. I think it’s going to be very difficult.”