University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes balance business, pleasure on bowl trip

Miami Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) reacts after a play in the second quarter as the University of Miami plays the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.
Miami Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) reacts after a play in the second quarter as the University of Miami plays the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Denzel Perryman, 22, is not a gambler.

At least he wasn’t before he planned to hit the Shreveport-Bossier City boardwalk and casinos Monday night, the University of Miami’s first night in Louisiana for the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.

“I’m allowed to,’’ Perryman said. “I’ve never been to a casino. I may just go and watch — observe — but I’m not losing any money.”

The Miami Hurricanes’ top linebacker can have fun whatever legal way he wants to leading up to the Duck Commander Independence Bowl at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, figures coach Al Golden, as long as he returns to the hotel by curfew and is ready both mentally and physically to practice for South Carolina the next day.

“I always tell them that’s one of the greatest honors a head coach could bestow on any team — trust,’’ Golden said Monday after practice.

“We have to trust that they make great decisions, that they’re mature, that they can have fun without being silly or going overboard. That’s one of our challenges.’’

Members of the local police force spoke to the Hurricanes in a post-practice meeting at their hotel, the Hilton Shreveport. The team arrived Monday afternoon, then bused to practice at the First Baptist Church in Bossier City — the small city that connects to Shreveport, site of Independence Stadium.

Staying alert

“The police officers pretty much gave us where to go, where not to go and if you’re this age don’t show up or you’ll get arrested,’’ Perryman said. “That pretty much was the memo in that meeting, and I think a lot of young guys pretty much had a change of plans when they heard that.

“You’ve got to know when to have fun and you’ve got to know your limits.’’

Golden said in hindsight he realized that the Hurricanes, who lost to Louisville last year in their first bowl game since he became coach in 2011, probably spent a bit too much time partaking in the fun stuff around the bowl game and didn’t transition well to the football part.

“I’ve said it to you all along,’’ Golden said, “we’ve got to do a better job as an organization of learning how to do this whole thing and playing really well in the game.

“You need maturity, you need leadership and you need experience. I don’t particularly think we handled it well. I examined everything personally after last year. We got itineraries from multiple universities to make sure that we could be better.

“There’s not one thing we don’t want to do better this year than we did last year…”

Perryman said the transition from fun to work last year in preparation for the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando was lacking.

“We waited too late to snap into it and it showed.”

Cornerback Tracy Howard, who was back in the coveted black jersey Monday that chosen defensive players wear during practice, said he and the other veterans would talk to the younger Canes about the “ins and outs’’ of bowl week.

“We’ll basically tell them, ‘We came up here to have fun, but we also came up here to win. So don’t get it confused.’’’

Being ‘locked in’

Howard said his fun would consist of going to Hooters with his teammates.

“I’m 20,’’ he added. “Even if I were 21, I don’t gamble. I don’t like losing my money. I know it’s a high-risk, high-reward type of thing, but I ain’t with the high risk thing.

“I definitely learned you’ve got to have to have a winning mentality coming up to a bowl site. I think last year we kind of got caught up a little bit in the hype. It was Orlando, you know, Universal Studios, doing a lot of things.

“But I mean, good thing Orlando is not like Shreveport — or Shreveport is not like Orlando — so we can be more locked in. There’s not as much to do, so that’s a good thing.”

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