A day after the Hurricanes lost 30-26 in the final minutes to defending national champion Florida State during a breathless matchup witnessed by 76,530 fans, Miami coach Al Golden said his players will push forward after understanding what they did well and what they needed to do better.
“As a staff we’re going to look at all the positives,” and “certainly, we have to fix the things we didn’t do well,” said Golden, whose Hurricanes (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) travel to Charlottesville, Virginia., for a 7 p.m. game Saturday (ESPN2) with the Virginia Cavaliers (4-6, 2-4).
“Our kids prepared like they were going to win all week and had a confidence all week, so that’s not going to be lost in this. They’re all disappointed. But they took a team that hasn’t lost since basically 2012 — took them to the brink. Again, no one is here to pat themselves on the back. We’re crushed from it.”
Some of the best UM news of the day was related to the injuries of senior defensive end Anthony Chickillo and junior safety Deon Bush.
Chickillo’s apparent knee injury looked serious.
“If I was going to list them right now it would be day-to-day,” Golden said. “The good news on Chickillo’s MRIs is that they were good. It’s just going to be a function of how he progresses this week and the treatment and rehabilitation. We’ll see where he is by mid-week.”
Bush, who forced a fumble and intercepted Jameis Winston for the second year in a row, has a hamstring injury. Golden said Bush was sore Sunday and will be evaluated again Monday.
Golden reiterated that left tackle Ereck Flowers, who underwent surgery to repair his meniscus Oct. 29, is “a warrior” and “played his [behind] off.” Flowers was doing well physically and expected to finish the season in good shape. “No setbacks,” Golden said.
He added that tailback Duke Johnson, fresh off his 130-yard and one-touchdown rushing night, was fine after cramping during the game. “Another guy that left it on the field last night,” Golden said.
The coach acknowledged UM’s several inadequacies Saturday — fumbles by tight ends Clive Walford and Standish Dobard, a blocked extra point, an errant 29-yard field goal attempt, some critical incompletions, two costly personal fouls and missed tackles.
But the coach was adamant that the team “took some shots” and did not stop being aggressive in the second half. He reviewed several plays to negate the criticism, explaining what happened on each.
Golden added that with Johnson, an explosive play “doesn’t have to be a pass.”
In the end, Golden said there weren’t enough explosive plays to “knock them out.”
Golden said his young players are growing and called the FSU game “a great challenge.”
“They’re going to learn a lot. That’s not going to relieve anybody’s pain. More than anything, we’ve got to stay strong, stay together. The seniors and leaders have got to continue to lead. We’ve got to go to a bowl game and continually go to bowl games and start winning them. Most of the guys on our team have only been to one bowl game.
“It all starts with packing our bags and going to Charlottesville.”
After facing UVA, which was off this past week, the Hurricanes return home for the season finale on Nov. 29 against Pitt. The Panthers (4-6, 2-4) lost at North Carolina 40-35 on Saturday and next face Syracuse (3-7, 1-5).