UM coach Al Golden defended his defensive coordinator after last week's season-opening win at Boston College, saying he had the utmost confidence in what Mark D'Onofrio was doing.
Golden sounded a little less emphatic about that after Saturday's 52-13 blowout loss at Kansas State.
"We're going to look at everything tomorrow and see where we're at from a system standpoint and from a tackling standpoint and get it fixed going into next week," Golden told WQAM color analyst Don Bailey Jr. when asked what he thought the defense could do after giving up 499 yards including 289 on the ground to the Wildcats.
"This is just a tough one. We have to do a good job leaving this here and moving on. We can't let this game beat us twice."
Except from a handful of plays, the Hurricanes were dominated in just about every phase Saturday. As usual, Golden opened his post-game interview with WQAM with the company line after an ugly loss -- by saying there is no excuses.
"They beat us in all three phases, out played us, out coached us. We got to do a better job starting with me. That's it." Golden said. "No excuses."
UM's offense, which produced 34 points in last week's win at BC, produced a total of 264 yards. Freshman tailback Duke Johnson -- except for a 77-yard kickoff return late to setup UM's only touchdown -- had a forgetful day. He finished with 22 yards on 7 carries and had more drops (3) than catches (2 for 20).
"We didn't convert enough on offense. Clearly," Golden said."We didn't get the explosive plays we needed on offense and we didn't get off the field on defense. We had opportunities in the red zone on offense. We didn't score. We never put pressure on them. At the end of the day, we never put any pressure on them with the score. They played from the lead, which is tough to play them from the lead."
Quarterback Stephen Morris finished 19 of 25 for 214 yards, but was sacked a handful of times and fumbled once. Morris also had a shot at the end zone in the second half, but didn't get the block he needed from Mike James and ran out of bounds at the 3-yard line. Kansas State drove the length of the field after that to put UM away.
"Give them credit they did a better job then we did, they got pressure from a four man rush, had him running a little bit," Golden said of Kansas State. "We weren't very sharp in some areas."
UM ran the ball 29 times for a total of 40 yards.
"We never got the running game going for Mike, Duke and OT and got behind," Golden said. "It made it tougher, just compounded for us."
UM turned the ball over three times and produced one turnover -- a leaping interception by cornerback Brandon McGee. But it was the first turnover -- a fumble by Eduardo Clements with UM down 7-0 in the first quarter -- that hurt the most.
"Can't win like that -- especially the one of the first drive was tough. You're going down there to answer, get in a situation where you can compete. It ended up being a big play. We just got to protect the ball better than we did," Golden said.
A number of true freshmen played again for UM including defensive tackle Earl Moore.
"There were a number of guys that got a lot of reps," Golden said. "Again, we got to see how they responded and look at the tape. We can get better and see what changes we need to make and do that."
So what kind of things can UM do to make sure they don't get beat twice as Golden put it after this dreadful loss? Golden didn't really seem to have answer for that really.
"We're going to continue to be the same guys," he said. "We're trying to build a program. We're trying to get back to where we want to be and the way you do that with consistency. I know people want to wave a wand and I don't know if some people thought after 1 week we were right where we needed to be.
"[Winning at Kansas State] is a tough task, a tough out for a lot of people. In the last decade or so I think there's only been three people who have beat them here in the last decade. This is a tough out. Obviously, we were weren't as focused as well as we needed to be. We didn't execute as well as we needed to. That's on me. Bottomline."