There’s nothing like a comeback victory over a rival. Offensive coordinator/RB coach Thomas Brown admitted as much after last week’s win over FSU, saying the triumph was about more than simply moving Miami’s record to 5-1 on the season.
“Obviously we celebrated a lot after the game and it’s obviously a huge win to beat them and to get a little streak going,” Brown said. “I think the fact that we were able to continue to fight and battle through adversity and find the win is huge.”
It wasn’t all celebrations, though. After his offensive line had their worst showing of the season against FSU last week, Brown addressed the issues he’s been seeing from the unit.
“I mean, I think we were decent at times, obviously not consistently,” Brown said. “That was a really good defensive line we just played. I give them a bunch of credit. They have a bunch of top talent up front.
“We have to do a better job of helping our guys up front, especially on the outsides. They did it a couple of times, especially early in the game, we saw some issues and we kind of just waited until the second half to kind of help our tackles out. We have to do a better job of seeing it early on and helping out with that. We definitely have to play better.”
The coaches have started to hold the offensive line more accountable, using post-practice sled work and laps to get the message across. But Brown says players on the team, guys like Tyler Gauthier and DeeJay Dallas, have started to take more responsibility for not just their performances, but the entire team’s as well.
“I think it’s great. When I was in school, we had some regulars that weren’t afraid to call guys out,” Brown said. “It wasn’t about the whole friendship aspect of it. We could be friends later. This is about business and about us all being together. This isn’t an individual sport. If you’re playing golf or tennis, it’s all about you. If you win, you get all the credit, if you lose it all goes to you. We have to do a better job of understanding that, you can be a phenomenal football player by yourself, but if the rest of the guys aren’t coming with you, it’s not going to matter.”
The Canes have rotated a lot on the line the past few weeks, seemingly running out a different combination on every drive. However, Brown says getting better may require UM to whittle down their options on the line.
“We definitely have to play less guys,” Brown said. “I think a lot of guys had the opportunity to play and prove they were who we thought they were. Some of them were, some of them weren’t. We have to get that worked out and put the best product out on the field.”
As of yesterday, Miami moved Navaughn Donaldson back inside to his more natural guard position, after he struggled working on the outside at tackle through the first half of the season.
“I think he has to be better period. I don’t care where we play him, guard or tackle. I think he’s capable of playing both,” Brown said on Donaldson. “He can be really productive at either spot, but I think is inconsistent at times.
“It’s not just him, but a couple of guys not playing up to their ability level every time. You look at a couple of times during that game, guys did a great job of being physical and putting guys into the ground, and then a couple of times being lazy and getting beat by some guys.”
Brown got some news on Saturday that no offensive coordinator wants to hear when star receiver Ahmmon Richards was declared medically unable to return to the field of play due to a career-ending neck injury.
“I think it’s tough. You feel for him as an individual,” Browns said on Richards. “I think sometimes we have devastating news and you can put on a perception in front of everyone else, but you feel a bit different when you get by yourself. Now, I just worry about him and getting by himself and kind of falling behind from that standpoint.
“He’ll be around our program, we’ll keep loving him up. He’s a great football player, phenomenal person and credit to his parents. I love his parents. They're phenomenal people. They did a great job of raising him and the rest of their children, as well.”
Asked how the team responded to the Richards news, Brown said the players have been nothing but supportive towards him.
“Obviously, they’re very supportive,” Brown said. “It’s like a brotherhood and that’s one of the great things I’ve always admired about Miami, even just watching the former players who come back and not just for the biggest games, but every game they come back and show love. It's like no other place I've seen in my life.
“They’ve done a really good job of supporting him. It’s tough, obviously, when that career ends, but we always preach to them about the life outside of football. He’s still going to be a Cane for life and we’ll do whatever to help support him and he’s going to be around our program.”
Freshman QB N’Kosi Perry grew up a bit in the second half of the FSU game, leading the Canes back from a 20 point deficit to take down the Seminoles, and Brown sees that performance as just the beginning for the Ocala, FL native.
“I think he just scratched the surface. I think the sky’s the limit for him,” Brown said on Perry. “One thing I love about N’Kosi is that he’s normally pretty poised, confident guy. I wouldn’t say laidback because he’s got some really good juice, great energy, pushes the tempo well, encourages guys and he’s obviously super accurate. He throws a really good ball and can also escape out of the pocket as well.”
Brown also feels that Perry’s confidence levels haven’t changed much at all, saying “I think he came into the game a very confident dude. I don’t think he came into the game doubting himself or doubting his teammates at all. I credit our whole staff and team for not panicking, but obviously having a sense of urgency to get back into that game, continue to make plays, claw our way back in it to the end.”
Perry will be making his first career road start against UVA this weekend, and Brown sees the Cavaliers potentially giving him problems coming off an extra week to prep.
“They’re coming off a bye week. They’re already somewhat of a confusing defense and very smart guys, get lined up very well and disguise very well,” Brown said. “(We’re) trying to make stuff simple for him so he can play full speed, have confidence and execute.”
The Canes will matchup with UVA in an even more heightened environment than usual, with the game being played at night during homecoming weekend at Virginia. Brown doesn’t seem to be too worried about the game conditions, though.
“Who cares what the scenario is? We can play them in the parking lot or we can play them in Virginia, we still have to show up and do a good job of executing,” Brown said. “I’m worried about us staying demanding on our guys, continue to stay focus and focus for those guys to start holding each other accountable and being a more player-led football team.”
On Jeff Thomas’ performance this season: “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t doing what he’s doing,” Brown said. “He did a phenomenal job in the spring time, summer time, fall camp and even now of being competitive, understanding the correlation of how well he works in practice and how it directs to game day and making plays when we need him the most."
I like being accountable, but they need more in your face accountability and coaching up on the sidelines. IMO if the intensity is amped up on the sidelines it will translate on the field. Get some in yo face fire like days of old.
Dallas played a HORRIBLE LAZY game. His ass was lazy and giving minimal effort on damn near every special teams play. Brown always singing his praises let’s me know who the teachers pet in the group is. A real coach would’ve benched his ass !!!