University of Miami

‘We’re fired up for next week,’ UM standout says. ‘We learned our lesson’

Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz consoles his players near the end of the fourth quarter of UM’s 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.
Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz consoles his players near the end of the fourth quarter of UM’s 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. CHARLES TRAINOR JR

He didn’t speak to the media after his team’s 24-14 demise at Pittsburgh, but Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s Twitter post on Friday night said volumes.

“It hurts and it’s supposed to hurt,’’ Diaz tweeted. “This team has the heart of a champion, and next week it gets the chance to become one.

“The great thing in this sport…redemption is just a week away. #Canes #BeatClemson.’’

Of this much you can be sure: The Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be zoned in – and they hope, in the zone – when they face defending national champion and current College Football Playoff No. 3 Clemson at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The No. 2 CFP Hurricanes will certainly fall out of the elite top four when the new Top-25 rankings are released Tuesday night, five days before the final CFP rankings are announced at noon Sunday. The top four teams on Dec. 3, when those final rankings are revealed, will compete in the CFP Semifinals at either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl.

Miami no longer controls its own path, but an ACC title — the more dominating the victory the better — would put the Canes in the heart of the CFP selection committee’s conversation.

“I think there’s an awful lot to play for,’’ UM coach Mark Richt said Friday night after the loss. “We have no idea what’s even going to happen in the big picture. How many teams have lost a game on a Friday and got back in the top four? How many teams have lost one game and won a conference championship and got right back in it? Who knows? We don’t know.

“We have to keep our hopes up in those regards. But the bottom line is Miami has never won an ACC Championship. Miami has never played in the game. We’re about to do that.”

The variables abound in affecting who ends up where on Tuesday, but among the top four, besides Miami, Clemson (10-1 going into the weekend) was scheduled to play No. 24 South Carolina (8-3) Saturday night, the outcome of that game either making a Miami conference title have more value — or not.

“We don’t sit around worrying about what if, or what can happen, we just [have to] make it happen,’’ said linebacker Shaq Quarterman, who had eight tackles Friday. ...I know you always learn more from losses than you do [from] wins. I know we’re fired up for next week. We learned our lesson.”

UM wasn’t the only top team to tumble during the weekend. No. 1 Alabama (11-1) fell to No. 6 Auburn (10-2) 26-14, which will cause more CFP upheaval on Tuesday.

CFP No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1) crushed West Virginia (7-5) 59-31 in another Saturday game, No. 5 Wisconsin (12-0) shut out Minnesota (5-7) 31-0, and No. 7 Georgia (11-1) defeated Georgia Tech (5-6) 38-7.

Senior receiver Braxton Berrios said the team still has hope it will land in the playoffs.

“That’s still the goal,’’ Berrios said, “but first we’ve got to go play a very good Clemson team in Charlotte, and that’s where all our focus is. Losing magnifies everything and winning seems to mask a lot of things. We’ve tried to get better and better each week and I really think we have. This was just one of those games nothing really went right.

“We have to study ourselves and really look at the man in the mirror and see how we can improve, each one of us, and as a unit. We’ve got to learn from it and then we’ve got to flush it.

“We can’t lose two games because we lost one.”