Just minutes after being humiliated by the Wisconsin Badgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, a few Miami Hurricanes reflected on some internal issues they faced behind the scenes in a disappointing season that ended with the 35-3 loss at Yankee Stadium.
Now, as UM laments what could have been during a campaign in which it began ranked No. 8 in the preseason, players will mull transfer and NFL Draft decisions while coach Mark Richt deals with the big-picture question of how he can escape the tailspin of this mess.
In late October, an upset UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said “too many’’ offensive players are not “on board to help this whole team.’’
“I’m not exactly quite sure that that was the only thing,’’ senior starting left tackle Tyree St. Louis said Thursday when asked if that were true and too many “me, me, me” players “doomed” the offense this season. “It was definitely a few other things that we all personally need to take care of and do, but definitely that. When you have guys that may not be completely bought in or are kind of selfish at times, it may hinder the performance of the rest of the team.
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“Some guys may feel that they need to be playing more. Some guys feel the offense should be run a certain way, the team should be structured a certain way — it should be less of this and more of that, but we’re all a team and we need to follow the same conduct that Coach Richt puts in place.”
Did those guys speak up to coaches or just tell each other and not tell the coaches about it?
“Half and half,” St. Louis said. “Some speak up and some just kind of float in the locker room talking about it.”
Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Garvin indicated the offensive inadequacies, in turn, affected a defense that became increasingly frustrated and took on a “victim mentality.”
“That’s another one of those things we have to correct — I would say the victim mentality,” Garvin said. “And I believe we’re guilty of it as a defense. You know, I don’t know they do on offense, but I know we’re guilty of it. We want to blame everybody else except for ourselves and it led to how many points they scored tonight.
“And that was all of us. We can’t blame that on anybody else.
“We’re playing the victim — like everybody is wrong but us. But we could have done better.”
Garvin, whose 17 tackles for loss were one fewer than team-leader Gerald Willis, said the defense must “correct’’ its relationship with the offense.
“It’s a thin line between being competitive [with the offense] and being split.’’
Senior safety Jaquan Johnson said it was more “a lack of execution’’ than a lack of effort that hurt Miami on Thursday, and that the offense and defense “are a total family.’’
“Sure, brothers, the fight or whatnot, but that’s not a problem. It’s not a cancer at all. I believe they go up from there.’’
St. Louis conceded that there were distractions this season, but that those distractions are part of life and did not contribute to Thursday’s poor play. “We have distractions everywhere. We’re still people. We have lives. There is still the outside environment.
“...I felt this was more of just some issues that we had the entire year that we didn’t pick up on.’’
Players on each side of the ball agreed the problems can be fixed.
“We’ve just got to continue building,’’ said junior running back Travis Homer, who said he still hasn’t decided if he will enter the NFL Draft as an underclassman.
Garvin said players on defense told one another at the end of the game to “take care of each other — it ain’t over. Don’t let this define us. The term ‘picking up the pieces’ is an exaggeration. I don’t think it’s that bad. Social media can make it seem that way.
“We’ve just got to bring everybody together, keep it together and be strong, and correct the little things that make a big difference.’’
St. Louis insists there’s hope for the Hurricanes.
“It’s not exactly ‘pick up the pieces,’ it’s more of a ‘next year is their time.’ None of us like this feeling. We’ve lost games before. We’ve had successful seasons. We’ve done amazing things, and we all know what that feels like.
“We all know what we need to do to get there. They’ll be fine next year. I’ll be watching.’’
As St. Louis realized this would be his final time on a football field for the Hurricanes, he embraced senior defensive backs Sheldrick Redwine and Michael Jackson.
“It’s just my guys,’’ St. Louis said. “We came in together, got recruited together. It’s been a long journey and I’m definitely going to miss them. It’s definitely an emotional moment when you played your last game with some guys you love and have been around for four or five years — especially the way it happened today.’’