No doubt we'll miss the always pleasant, always polite, often humorous, always frank, always outspoken cornerback Tracy Howard next season.
On Tuesday, when discussing the UM defense and the upcoming game at Florida State, Howard, a senior, answered questions about the loss to Cincinnati and the fan wrath aimed at coach Al Golden and his assistants.
“You’ve got to put things behind you,'' Howard said. "You’ve got to take the good with the bad. The loss did hurt. We gave it our all and didn’t come out on top. The only thing you can do is move forward to the next opponent. You can’t dwell on it. If you dwell on it, you’re going to get punished by the next team. You’ve got to keep your head up, and just keep rolling over. It’s life. Things happen. It is what it is.”
How tough is it when he hears the criticism his coaching staff is taking?
“At the end of the day, it is what it is. That’s life. People are going to criticize you. When you’re doing good, people are going to love you. When you’re doing bad, people are going to be down on you. At the end of the day, you have to stay level-headed, be the same person. It is what it is. It’s life. I’m sure my coaches, I’m sure they’re tough. They can handle it. And we can handle it. I know everybody doesn’t like our coaches, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We still have to go out there and perform and they still have to go out there and call plays. We still have to play for them, so, I mean…we can’t do much about it.”
How does Howard feel, and how does Howard think Golden feels when they look up and see the banner planes calling for his firing?
“I think he has tough skin,'' Howard said. We still have to go out there and play. We look at it, and we’re like, 'It is what it is.' It’s not going to stop. So at the end of the day, ain’t nobody got time to feel sorry. They don’t like him, we’ve been through that, but it is what it is. We’re still going to go out there and play for him. We’re still going to play.
"They’re going to call their play calls, we’re going to run the plays. It’s not like we’re going to go out there and say, ‘Forget the coaches’ and do our own thing. We can’t. We’re in it together at the end of the day.”
Howard said his last go-around against FSU "means a lot to me, but it is what it is. Most definitely looking forward to Saturday, going out there with my team and having fun.”
Al Golden said Tuesday during his press conference in advance of the Florida State game that “subtle” changes – “in both personnel and play-calling’’ will occur for Miami (3-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) against the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0).
“Whether that’s a [second string] becoming the [first string] or [second string] playing more, switching a position or whatever the case may be, we’ve done that,’’ Golden said. “We met as a staff on Friday, met with the kids on Friday, and a lot of that was implemented by the time we left on Friday night, in terms of how we want to proceed.
“To be perfectly frank, I’m not going to share it with you now, but some of what happened’’ in the loss at Cincinnati, Golden said, “necessitated it.’’
Some things you can expect: wide receiver Stacy Coley, who injured his left hamstring in the opener, sat out at FAU, then injured it again against Nebraska, will be back at FSU, according to Golden. The coach also said WR Braxton Berrios, who hurt his left knee in the opener and played sparingly at Cincinnati, “was the best he has been’’ on Tuesday. “I can see it in his eyes [Tuesday]. He feels better, he looks better. Those two guys will help us.’’
Weak-side linebacker Jermaine Grace is another matter. Grace, who already had hurt his right shoulder against Nebraska, as well as sustaining a head injury and going through concussion protocol, then injured his right ankle at 11:12 of the second quarter last Thursday against the Bearcats. But Golden said Tuesday that Grace, who was not with the rest of the team during the media’s 15 minutes of practice viewing and did not take any reps during the practice, “was much better [Tuesday] then we thought he would be.’’
Golden said the coaching staff had “more hope’’ Tuesday for a quicker recovery for Grace than they did Monday. “He went through a regimen today way ahead of where we thought he would be. There’s a really good possibility he could practice tomorrow. We’ll see. I did not feel that way Monday morning. He’s got a chance.’’
▪ Expect to see tackle Kc McDermott and guard Joe Brown in the offensive line rotation in Tallahassee. Neither of them played last week.
“Those two guys will play more, just to keep the rep counts a little bit more equal. …Both Joe and Kc need to help us. They need to step up. It’s going to help us stay fresher, play more guys there and hopefully be more effective than we were the other night.’’
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN