Coming off their first loss of the season versus North Carolina, the University of Miami football team looks to get back to their winning ways this Saturday night against Clemson. After struggling the past three games, the defense needs to perform as it did in the beginning of the season. Linebacker Tavares Gooden hopes to lead the defense back to its playmaking and overpowering form.
If Charles Dickens were to write a book about the Miami Hurricane Football team this season, he might title it the Tale of Two Defenses.
The past three games, opponents have racked up an average of 610 all purpose yards and averaged 39 points per game against the Canes. Conversely, in the first 4 games of the season, the defense only gave up a total of 296 all purpose yards while allowing just 6.5 points per game.
Linebacker Tavares Gooden is third on the team with 53 tackles. Gooden knows Miami has the athletes to get the job done, the defense just has to go out and execute.
“We just have got to know our responsibilities,” Gooden said. “When we are out there communicating, we shut down teams. The main focus for me is being in the right spots and wrapping people up. We got to get back to having fun out there, everybody has to be jumping around, and having fun.”
Defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon believes that once the young defense gets back to its early season form, they will be back where it should be.
“We gotta find a way to get back, it is just a matter of when it is going to happen,” Shannon said. “When it happens, then we will be back rolling the way we should be. I always said we were young. The one thing that scared me was not that we are young age-wise, but we are young playing-wise. That is the one thing I was worried about. But hey we have got to get it done.”
Many have cited that the recent defensive struggles have been because the Hurricanes are simply being out coached. Gooden is tired of hearing that excuse and is ready to take responsibility for the struggles.
“One thing I don’t like is people saying our coaches are getting outsmarted,” Gooden said. “That is ridiculous. It is the same coaching staff we’ve always had. It ain’t them, it can’t be them. The newspapers should put the finger on us. We are going to step it up, because we know what we got to do. We aren’t trying to let our coaches down. We know what we have got to do out there and we are starting to pick it up.”
The Miami defense will once again be tested by the balanced attack of Clemson this week. Clemson, coming off of their third straight win, has at times struggled offensively this season, but the Tigers have seemed to turn things around. Last week in a 26-20 victory over NC State, Charlie Whitehurst threw for 183 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions while wide receiver Airese Currie caught seven passes for 108 yards.
Gooden knows that Clemson will bring a formidable offense to the Orange Bowl Saturday night. He believes that as long as the defense covers all of its assignments and plays smart, they will return to the suffocating, stingy defense of the early season.
“We know they have a nice offense, and they are going to try to run and pass on us like every other team. We just have to go out and make some plays, it is time to get back to Miami football. We just have to get to the basics and play as a team out there. We’re Miami, and we are going to get back to the top. We got to.”
The most important thing to do no is to not dwell on the loss at North Carolina. There is still plenty of football to be played, and Gooden wants to focus on what is in front of him.
“The main thing about last weekend is that it was last weekend. We are not even thinking about last weekend. Whoever comes out here, they are going to have to come and play with us for four quarters. We lost, but we have to move on, or we are going to keep losing.”