OK, so for about 3 hours Saturday night it looked like my UM-Virginia Tech prediction (UM winning a defensive standoff 13-10) was about to come true. Then, like most UM losses this season, the Hurricanes offense went into malfunction mode.
Two Kyle Wright interceptions in the fourth quarter sent UM home 17-10 losers, ruining yet another outstanding defensive effort and putting UM on a path to its worst season since 1997. Yes, that's right. 1997. When the Hurricanes went 5-6 (while on probation and scholarship reductions). With three games left, it is hard to fathom UM winning out and avoiding what has been the worst mark (9-4 in 1999) since the bad old days.
At Maryland next week seems so much tougher now that the Terps beat Clemson Saturday. At Virginia, with this offense, is no cupcake either. And Boston College on Thanksgiving night? If UM loses both road games, what honestly makes anybody believe they'll have any heart left to eek out a 6th victory and become bowl eligible? It really does look that bleak, especially when your defense holds the other team to 139 yards and you still lose.
KYLE WRIGHT'S DAD LOSES HIS COOL
OK, I'm done venting. Now, I share the scenes from the postgame lockerroom. Rather, let's start with the final moments and the tunnel where after Larry Coker was booed off the field with "Fire Coker chants," Kyle Wright's father, Ken, got involved in some intense foul-mouthed conversation with a few UM fans in the stands, who had a lot of NOT nice things to say about his boy.
Mr. Wright exchanged a few f-bombs with the fans who were telling his boy to "Go back to California, you (expletive)." There was a lot more colorful language between the group before Mr. Wright called out stadium security guards by saying "why don't you people in yellow shirts get up there and shut that f---er up." Athletic director Paul Dee, always in and around the UM lockerroom after games, saw what was happening and along with some UM staff tried to quell the situation by yelling at Mr. Wright to hush up and not bother with the fans. Mr. Wright didn't like that and responded, "When the hell is somebody [f---ing] going to stick up for my son?"
Nobody on UM's staff did at that moment. They were too busy trying to stop Mr. Wright from possibly getting arrested in front of a pack of reporters, who didn't know the "guy who was yelling" was Kyle's dad. Mr. Wright's told one UM assistant "that's my son. Do you have one?" The UM assistant told Mr. Wright, "that's part of being here."
To hear what it sounded like, click on this link: Download nov4_kylefatheredited.mp3 . I will warn you, I tried editing out as many f-bombs as I could and I'm sure I couldn't get all of the foul language out in the distance for fear it would become one giant bleepfest. As for who is saying what, it is easy to figure out who Wright's father is when you hear him say "Hey, Hey! followed by the "you guys in yellow shirts" comment.
INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM
Inside the UM lockerroom it was a different story. There was silence. A lot of banging of shoulder pads and disappointment. Several players including guard Derrick Morse said "they still believe in Wright." Kirby Freeman, who looked spectacular and awful in matter of the four plays he got Saturday's game, was holding Wright's hand in the lockerroom (it was in a consoling manner). Assistant Andrew Swasey came over and tried consoling Wright too. Kyle, who didn't even shower after the game and sat at his locker in full pads for nearly half an hour, was red-faced and on the verge of tears all night.
BETTER PLAYCALLING NEEDED
In my eyes the bottomline is this: While Wright may have played the worst game of his career Saturday, this loss wasn't entirely his fault. At this point in the season after all UM has been through, somebody on this coaching staff has to realize UM can't win with Wright or Freeman having to do more than what they are capable of. What does that mean? That means Kyle can't be asked to drop back and lead UM to victory with his arm. He needs a running game to take the brunt of the work. UM had that Saturday night against Virginia Tech even without Javarris James. Tyrone Moss and even Charlie Jones were eating the Hokies up between the tackles.
Yet, every time Miami started moving the football on the ground, offensive coordinator Rich Olson called for a pass. On UM's second drive, the Hurricanes had a 3rd and 1 at the Hokies 49. Wright got into the shotgun, faked a handoff to James and fell down back at the line of scrimmage. I know UM struggled last week against Georgia Tech on 3rd and 1, but that was last week. It is the first quarter, you have the ball in Virginia Tech territory on a windy night -- RUN THE FOOTBALL.
Another example... on UM's third possession which begins at the V-Tech 45. Wright fakes a handoff and gets sacked on first down for a 10-yard loss. Why isn't UM just mowing the Hokies down on the ground? Then, on second down, Wright nearly gets picked off before firing a 30-yard pass up field to Lance Leggett who runs a 20-yard post. There are just so many times this offense could have just stuck to the run Saturday night and won the game. But instead Olson and Coker put the ball and the pressure in the hands of a quarterback who has cracked under pressure.
Anyway, the guys in the lockerroom were great. If you want to hear some of the interviews, click on the microphone on our UM page. It links to the audio interviews. Derrick Morse, Kirby Freeman, Tyrone Moss were all good. I would post the audio I got of Mr. Wright going bananas, but there is so much foul language it would probably be an FCC violation.
My last thoughts and then the forum is yours to vent. Here are some good things. As bleak as this season has been for the Canes, there have been bright spots. Calais Campbell is one of them. He is a straight up All-Star. The kid had three sacks last night and now has had a sack in his last six games. Jon Peattie's 55-yard field goal was also impressive. I'll say this and I think you'll agree: this defense is really, really good and if there was any semblance of an offense this UM team would probably be 8-1 today and not 5-4. And while UM may not have a first round pick this year, breaking a long string, Campbell is sure to get big NFL dollars in his future.
Now, it's all yours. Vent. Vent. Vent.